Mamma Reviews

Omega-3 and Vitamin D to Boost your Child’s Brain and Immunity!

Children need Omega 3 for every stage of their development. It boosts their brains, strengthens their immune systems and lifts their mood. It is also claimed to improve behaviour, reduce anxiety and helps to improve language. Sounds too good to be true – yet scientific research continues to show impressive results. We first began using Eskimo in 2015 and have used them almost every day since. I firmly believe that giving them the best start in this respect is critical and will stand to them long term. Kids are busy, between school, activities, play dates etc. We want them to preform to the best of their abilities and I really do feel that supplementing is a viable alternative. I simply couldn’t get the quantity of fish into the boys that I would like so for me the best alternative was a high quality fish supplement. I have done my research, I have spoken to other mothers online and in person and the brand that was mentioned most was Eskimo 3.

Brain Food for Kids

Eskimo 3 kids

Ready for the day, Omegas for adults and kids. Plus our sun-cream another essential component.

Omega-3s are important for every cell in the body, but for children, most of the research has focused on their role in promoting healthy brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most critical building blocks of the brain – they are considered essential and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Without these important fats, it can become difficult for children to concentrate, learn new information, and balance their moods properly.  DHA in particular is recognised as essential for normal brain function. It helps to improve membrane fluidity, which means that nerve impulses, or messages, are transmitted more effectively.   In animals, low brain DHA results in changes in behaviour and is associated with learning problems and memory deficits. In humans, studies indicate that DHA supports normal IQ and preserves learning and memory. Perhaps its the accountant in me but I like to do my research, I do read up on things to make sure I am making informed decisions. Lets face it, its our kids future I feel like I owe it to them to give them the best start in life I can. Having spoken with the lovely people at Eskimo 3, my attention was drawn to some important research which is summarised below.

A review of 7 different studies which reported on the results of DHA supplementation on school performance, found that 5 of the studies showed DHA improved school performance, including learning ability, reading and spelling.(1)  In a 2012 study (Richardson et al) found that Omega 3 DHA had a profound improvement in reading age, concentration and learning ability in children. Lower levels of DHA were attributed to poorer reading and impaired performance.(2)

One 2013 study by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine looked at how boys responded to Omega-3 DHA. Omega-3 DHA is as important to our brains, as calcium is to our bones. It accounts for 97 percent of the omega-3 fats in the brain. In the study, (McNamara RK et al) showed that subjects who consumed less DHA had slower reaction times and exhibited lower levels of concentration compared with subjects who consumed more DHA.3  

Early omega-3 exposure may reduce incidence of children’s allergies

A recent 2017 article reported that eating oily fish or fish oil supplementation in pregnancy may be a strategy to prevent infant and childhood allergic disease, whilst a study in infants from birth to 6 months found that omega-3s were able to modify markers of immunity and potentially be protective against allergies.(4,5)  In addition, Bisgaard et al. reported a significantly reduced incidence of persistent wheeze or asthma at ages 3 to 5 years in children whose mothers took fish oil during pregnancy.(6)

All of this indicates that consumption of omega-3 during pregnancy by the mothers or intake of omega-3 in infancy may well be able to help reduce the incidence of allergic diseases, including asthma.

How much is required?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) state that you need 250mg DHA daily to support healthy brain function. Eating oily fish twice a week (think SMASH – salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring) will provide a healthy dose of omega-3 EPA/DHA.  Since it is almost impossible to get children to eat enough fish to meet the requirements, it’s smart to supplement their diet with a premium Omega-3 supplement such as Eskimo-3 Kids. If I get one fish meal a week with cleaned plates its pretty close to a miracle here. 

Vitamin D for Bones and Immunity

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, is well known for its role in building strong bones and teeth. It’s not just about bones though. Vitamin D is needed for a healthy immune system – helping the body to fight off infections, making it a very important supplement during back to school time. The Irish Osteoporosis Society has called on parents to keep vitamin D intake top of mind. Some 88% of primary school children in Ireland have been reported to have vitamin D intakes below the recommended amount. Kids who do not get sufficient calcium and vitamin D are at increased risk for rickets (softening and weakening of bones in children, poor growth).

 

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Fairy Travels

Eclectic Edinburgh — 10 travel tips

Edinburgh

Pic Credit: Pixabay

For many visitors, Edinburgh is Britain’s most beautiful city and one of the most scenic capitals in the world.  With an elegant Neoclassical New Town and historic Old Town crowned by a castle perched atop a volcanic rock, it’s no wonder it impresses.  But away from the picture-postcard sights, Edinburgh’s a diverse city with working-class traditions which have fueled and enriched its cultural output and reputation.  If you’re ready for an eclectic Edinburgh tour, here are 10 travel tips.

Trainspotting walking tour

A Trainspotting walking tour with Brit Movie Tours takes you to the real-life filming locations of the cult film in areas like Leith, which are slightly off the typical tourist track. You’ll also learn vital insights about the seminal Irvine Welsh novel that started it all.

Hibernian FC

Known as ‘Hibs’ or ‘the Hibees’ to fans, Hibernian FC are Irvine Welsh’s favourite football team and feature heavily in all of his literature. Catch a game while you’re there and soak up the atmosphere.

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is located in Corstorphine, just outside the city centre and it’s home to the UK’s only giant pandas, as well as countless other cool creatures. Well worth a visit.

The Bongo Club

You’ll find The Bongo Club in the city centre’s Cowgate — a cultural hub with live music and comedy venues aplenty. If you want to groove to roots reggae music, Estonian hip-hop or UK Garage, this is the place to get down.

Brew School

Most Scots enjoy their beer, and if you like a tipple too, an Innis & Gunn Brew School session allows you to pick up pro tips from master brewer’s and take home a five litre mini keg of a beer you’ve created yourself.

Scottish Rugby Union

Edinburgh Castle

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium is the home of Scotland’s national rugby union team and local side Edinburgh Rugby.  Find tickets at scottishrugby.org and take in a game while you’re in town.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the world’s most dramatic and it dominates the city skyline. It’s worth paying for an official tour to learn all about its fascinating history. And if you’re there at lunchtime and hear a loud bang, don’t panic — it’s probably the famous one o’clock gun going off. 

The Scottish Parliament

In Scotland, certain political powers are devolved from the UK parliament at Westminster, so Scottish lawmakers meet and debate legislation at The Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. It’s a marvel of modern architecture that resembles a series of upturned boats.

Edinburgh Trams

The modern Edinburgh tram system is one of the best ways to get around the city and the line extends out as far as the international airport. Book tickets ahead of time on their website.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh is Scotland’s biggest and busiest air hub, with daily flights to countless domestic and international locations. You’ll find Edinburgh airport parking from Looking4.com, popular restaurants like YO! Sushi and boutiques like Michael Kors.

That’s our list! Share your own Edinburgh travel tips in the comments section.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post 
Fairy Travels

Top Tips When Travelling by Car With Children

With the rising costs of airfares and package holidays, and the increasing time it takes to get through security at the airports, more and more families are deciding to travel by car for their holidays.  Families are electing to take more road trips, both within the UK and Ireland, and wider afield in Europe. To make your journey easier here are some top tips to remember while travelling by car with children.

Most of us with young children are returning to the days we grew up in, where our holidays consisted of our parents packing up the car with us, bags and other essentials, and setting off to travel within our home country. My parents couldn’t afford holidays abroad, so we often travelled to other counties of Ireland for our summer holiday. I fondly remember a hot week in June spent in Salthill in Galway when I was 15. I also remember the windy beaches of Tralee in County Kerry when I was around 12. There were also regular camping trips to Brittas Bay or Courtown, two seaside towns on the east coast of Ireland. And getting there was a road trip.

As a family we’ve been travelling by car with our son since he was four months old. The first long trip was to Ireland via the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare. And since our epic two-week USA road trip in 2017, we’ve become huge fans of travelling by car with our son. You can move from place to place and see much more of a country than just holidaying in one spot for a week or two. This is a huge advantage to road trips that we’ve come to love.

But, how can you beat the age-old question “Are we there yet?”, uttered by little people in the back. Well, here are some top tips to help your car holiday go a lot easier with the kids in tow.

Top tips when travelling by car with children  

1 Decide what time of the day suits your kids for travelling.

You need to decide if your kids do better in the early morning or evening hours for travelling? You know your kids better than anyone, so this is really your choice. Some people elect to travel at night when the kids are bound to be asleep. However, you need to ensure who ever is driving isn’t too tired behind the wheel. Others, like us, prefer to travel during the day, taking in the scenery and sharing the driving between the two of us. Whichever is best for your kids, plan your travel to match. For us, leaving early in the morning is best and our son will nap in the car is he gets tired. I’d also prefer us to sleep in a bed and get a proper night’s sleep than try and catch the zzz’s in the car.

2 Don’t leave home without the snacks and drinks.

Make sure to pack some snacks and drinks for everyone in the car. Yes, you might be able to stop along the way, but snacks can calm hangry children and they can also fill a gap if there is a way to go before your next stopping opportunity. Drinks are also essentials, particularly if you are driving during the summer on a hot day.

Stock the car with water or juices and bring snacks consisting of fruit, cereal bars, biscuits, crackers, crisps and even some homemade sandwiches. Keep them handy so you can pass them over without having to stop the car to fish them out of the boot.

3 Bring some entertainment.

Bring some colouring books and crayons or pencils, sticker books, travels games and even electronic devices like Gameboys and tablets. And let the kids use them if necessary. You could even bring personal DVD players and use a mounting brace to mount them to the back of the front seat headrests. Just remember individual headphones if you’ve got more than one child so that you don’t end up with a volume war.

Pic Credit: Passports and Adventures

 I’d also recommend ensuring you have some music that the kids like in the car. We’ve created a playlist on our Spotify account for our son with his favourite songs and we add to it from time to time. This can be a sure-fire way of keeping him entertained for a while in the car.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to this type of entertainment. Playing I-Spy or other games can be fun. We even created a game in America called “Spot the Mack truck” shouting out “Mack” every time we saw a truck that looked like Mack from Disney’s Cars. And a pair of toy binoculars provided hours of entertainment for our son in Yellowstone National Park.

4 Pack an overnight bag and keep it handy.

If you have an overnight stop somewhere, or are only staying a few nights in one location, why not pack a 3-day bag with 3 days’ worth of clothes for everyone in it, rather than packing one individual suitcase for each person. Use colour coordinated packing cubes for each member of the family so every knows where their clothes are.

This is much easier than hauling 3 or more suitcases into a hotel or AirBnB every night or two. You can do this for a road trip that consists of several short stops along the way. It will mean you take one suitcase of clothes in every three days. Keep your family toiletries in one large clear bag so it can be brought in with your one bag.

We did this during our road trip in Central Portugal at the end of the summer. We were stopping at three different locations for either two or three nights each and I packed one 3-day bag for our first stop, rotated clothes for the second stop and then we brought everything into our last location’s accommodation as the car was parked in a shared carpark and away from our accommodation. It made it much easier when it came to empty the car with a boisterous four-year-old in tow.

 

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Home & Interiors

Our sitting room makeover with DFS

Over the last number of years on the blog you will have seen references and posts about our renovation project. We are so very close to completion. The final piece of this mammoth undertaking was the sitting room. We decided that this would be the last room completed. Its the first room you meet when you come in the front door and what we really wanted was a calm, relaxing, clutter free place to chill out together as a family or to entertain family and friends when they called over.  We deliberately took our time on this as we wanted it to be perfect.

Generally my house is like any home to young kids full of toys, food stains. I had the kids well warned in advance that the new sitting room would be a food free zone!  There are plenty other places to eat in the house, the sitting room just wont be one of them.  Life in the Mamma Fairy is hectic, from full time work, to school work, to kids sports/ activities and day to day living therefore quality downtime is paramount, that’s time to chat, converse and enjoy each others company. I suppose in reality the sitting room is the heart of our home. If I was on Home of the Year I would be putting the red circle here as my favourite spot.

Here a little pic of the before, there wasn’t anything wrong with it as such but it didn’t invite or encourage that vibe that I wanted to create.  The wallpaper  had got to the stage I pretty much couldn’t look at it any longer, I was so sick on my second wee man that I spent days on end staring at that while on bed rest.  The mere sight of it brings back those emotions.

The Dada Fairy is in the construction business so he is mega fussy and incredible safety conscious about all work that goes on in the house and products we buy. Quality products are of paramount importance and he knows quality when he sees it 🙂

The products

A little drumroll please……………………and here is the finished product. I love love love it, its exactly the vibe I wanted to encapsulate, calming, welcoming, soft natural tones.

Panelling

The panelling was completed by Customised Creations by John O’Shea.  We paid for this ourselves, not sponsored or gifted in anyway, we are just extremely satisfied customers. The carpenters who were on site with us were professional, discrete, and so tidy in terms of cleaning up after their days work. The spent some very long days and nights here to get finished up in time for Christmas and we are very grateful for that.  Honestly, would have no hesitation in recommending them. We have had them back since to do built in wardrobes which I will also be sharing on the blog when completed.

Sofas

I’m not sure many purchases generate as much argument debate than the purchase of the sofas in a house.  I really thought I wanted leather, thinking about the kids and cleaning the inevitable spills etc, however a visit to DFS provide a wealth of valuable information.  You can get the fabric sofas coated with a stain proof prior to delivery to overcome this very obstacle.  We fell head over heals for the Zinc collection, fitted my brief perfectly, natural tones, relaxed yet stylish.

However one of the lesser known facts about DFS sofas are that have been awarded the BSI Kitemark indicating they reach the highest possible standards and are guaranteed for 15 years.  That to me shows a dept of confidence in their brand. 15 years of bottoms on seats, of kids jumping around and they are willing to stand over their product for 15 years?? To my mind that shows trust in the quality of their brand.

DFS has was the first and only UK and Ireland furniture retailer to be certified to the BSI Kitemark™ for upholstered furniture.  The BSI Kitemark is one of the most established and  recognized symbols of quality and safety throughout the world thus giving consumers an independently verified quality seal of approval.  Interestingly as a result DFS factories will now receive annual audits to ensure this consistent high standard is met.

 

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Fairy Travels

Lapland on budget – a how to guide

santa claus village

Accommodation at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Last year we ticked one item off our bucket list when we visited Iceland. Little did I think a mere two months later we would have managed to tick another one off the list – an ultimate dream come true….Lapland. It cost us a fraction of the price that tour operators were quoting for our two night stay therefore I though id set out just how we did it including costs.

 

Feel free to comment below or DM/ email and im more than happy to answer any questions or queries:

Flights

We weren’t overly keen on the over night train, I know some people love it but my thinking was tired kids = nightmare! Therefore we knew without booking with a tour operator we were limited to connecting nights flights so off we went researching.

  • We flew Dublin to London Gatwick, Cost €9.99 per person each way with Ryanair
  • London Gatwick to Rovaniemi £35.99 each way with Easy Jet

They above were the cheapest I could find anywhere and I did buckets of research in terms of timing I booked in August for December 2018. You also need to factor in the cost of an overnight stay in the airport as the Easy Jet flight is 6.20!! A very early flight!! We booked the Hilton Hampton airport hotel via booking.com for £90 b&b for the four of us. Nothing overly exciting but did the job and its literally next to the Easy Jet check in desks.

santa claus village resturant

Lunch time at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy blog

santa claus village

Santa Claus Village at 4pm Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

There is also the option of flying with Norwegian or Finnair from a few of the UK airports. The alternative is to go via Helsinki from Dublin, think its around an hours turnaround in Helsinki so tight but doable im informed. Of course the overnight train is an option if you fly from Dublin. Sign up to their newsletter for and discounts.

Accommodation (3 Nights)

There are a wealth of option to suit lots of budgets and requirements in Rovaniemi. We stayed at Santa Claus Village which yes is pricey but it was so handy to be so close to the airport and all activities were on site from Snowmobiling, huskies and of course the big man himself. We crossed over and under the arctic circle and Santa Claus Village is a 30 min or so walk to Santa Park. (Full reviews on both to follow).

The town of Rovaniemi is really nice and hosts the worlds most northerly McDonalds im told (and 2 Irish bars)!! I know a lot of people like to stay closer to the town for a variety of eating options and to be close to supermarkets etc. As above booking.com and Airbnb are good places to start. Food is pricey so do bear that in mind that you might like the option of self catering to be able to save money and cook at home.

Activities

Santa Park

Santa Park Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The best piece of advice I can give here is to do your research. My kids are young so seeing Santa was top of the list but that list could be endless, there is just so much to do.  What we did was we decided early what activities we would like and booked and paid for some of those in advance.  Also highly recommended is the Rovaniemi Culture Pass which covers the top 3 attractions in Rovaniemi at €20 for adults and kids under 7 free this works out at really good value.

One thing I must do is commend the staff at Visit Rovaniemi, they are incredibly helpful at assisting with all queries in relation to upcoming visits. I literally spoke to them most weeks in the lead up to our trip and I can say hand on heart it would not have been  half as good without their expert advice and guidance. It can be a bit of a minefield with so much on offer and the sense of wanting to see all that’s on offer in this magical place so do contact them for assistance.

I do have a full review to follow of each of this but I will say some highlights were:

  • We saw Santa at Santa’s Office in Santa Claus Village, just amazing, we went early no queue as the tour buses hadn’t started to arrive yet
  • We did the husky ride at Husky Park located in Santa Park, you get to spend some time at the husky farm before going on the ride which my kids just loved.  The puppies…..so so cute. You can tell the staff genuinely love what they do and have a special bond with the animals
  • Santa Park is about 2km from Santa Village, its a really lovely walk via a forest trail. Id probably say this was the kids highlight. They loved the entire experience start to finish. The entrance alone is pure magic. You walk down this walk way which is all lit up with beautiful coloured lights. Almost like stepping into a fantasy. At Sana Park you can underpass the arctic circle which we all thought was super cool. I can’t recommend Santa Park enough, well laid out and just wonderful.  We only did Santa in one place to stave off the questions so the activities here were really thoroughly enjoyed:
    • elf show – one word mesmerising I could not take my eyes off the lead female, just incredible ,
    • angry birds play space, the grown ups enjoyed a coffee while the kids played over head at the place centre,
    • gingerbread decorating, this was really lovely and relaxing and kids had plenty time to decorate and use all the various toppings on offer,
    • ice-bar
    • train ride

All in all we estimate the total cost for the 4 of us for 4 nights flights bed and breakfast was around €1,000 activities extra bus that’s very much a matter of personal preference. The food is pricey but do factor that into your budget but I would urge you to try some of the local cuisine. Our favourite was probably the dinner at the Nova Skyland yes pricey but yes so worth it.  My kids are snacky eaters so I had lots of their favourites with me when the (hangry) hunger took over!

Mamma Fairy Insider Tips

  • Take snacks!!
  • Bepathan, my kids are fair skinned so I knew the cold would bother them, we used this on their faces and lips and no issues at all, definitely recommend
  • Good ski gear/ cold gear – kids wore good quality thermals and outerwear from Reima boots from Sports Direct and adults Regatta and Sports Direct boots, nobody got wet and nobody moaned about the cold….. winner!
    entrance to santa park

    Santa Park Entrance Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

    Chat to Visit Rovaniemi they are excellent, I did it via email and definitely made our trip what it was.

  • Whatever clothing you need only take half, we took way too much.
  • Plan and plan some more, know what you want to do before you go and either pay in instalments or in advance makes planning easier.
  • You only have very short day time hours so plan accordingly
  • This year there was much stress about the snow levels so my advice  – book into December. Nothing is guaranteed but it does increase your chances
  • Sign up for all airlines newsletters so you know when flights are released. I understand both Easy Jet and Norwegian will be releasing theirs in April this year.
  • The Airbnb and Booking.com links above will give you a small discount so you are welcome to use them as every little really does help.
  • Savour every minute, honestly its magical.
  • For some top tips on surviving  the winter holidays see this great post from Mother Distracted

Hopefully this is helpful for anybody planning their trip of a life time. Although in saying that im eagerly awaiting flight releases for this year so we can go back and enjoy all that the Official home of Santa Claus has to offer.

 

Note: The above post contains afflinks
Features

2019 – the year we all could swim!

Naturally as 2018 come to a close we began to chat not only about our holiday plans but our 2019 goals for us and the kids. We uniformly agreed the the four of us knowing how to swim confidently was top of the agenda. I can swim, im by no means good at it but I can manage. The boys love the water, but can’t swim properly, now they are only 6 and 3! The Dada Fairy again loves the water but isn’t a swimmer.

child swimming

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I have been on a waiting list for some time to get the boys into lessons and finally last week the email came through and Sundays at 1pm will be “swim time”.  We have various bits of swimwear from our holidays over the years but we do need a full suite of swimwear for all of us.

We are all going to improve our swimming ability this year every one of us!  Encouraging each other will spur us on and help us achieve this. We have Alvor, Portugal  booked for October and the goal will be…..all being competent in the water. We don’t need to be at Olympic standard just able to hold our own.

Legs in pool

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The thought of buying swimwear for myself fills me with such dread. I’m very body conscious in swimwear, I suppose lots of us are. I stumbled on these absolute beauties by Tyr. The brand is of California origin so expect lots of cool prints. My absolute fave is the Tyr Thresher Baja open back knee suit. This is right up my street, covers plenty!! There seems to be a great sale on the these at the moment with 30% off lots of the swimsuits too. There are some stunning swimsuits for only £17.99 too. Bargain!!

My pair are typical little men, the swimwear will have to be loud and adorned with the favourite characters, currently anything Star Wars related. I saw some swim shorts which would be ideal but they were more excited about the Star Wars logo swim hats! I actually find it so funny my aim in the pool is to be as less noticeable as possible however at 6 the louder the better!! I have no problem investing in decent swimwear for the kids. This is the year we will do this. It was mooted in 2018 but with a lot less enthusiasm. We travelled quite a bit in 2018 and the kids saw the benefits of swimming and using all the amenities at their disposal when they travel.

I have vowed to up date this post in January 2020 with our progress so ill re share then.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however all aspirations and goals are my own!!!
Fairy Travels

First up on our 2019 wish list – Alvor Portugal

Generally we like to try new places, countries, cities etc when we travel however that said the only place where we have routinely returned year on year is Alvor Portugal.  We didn’t make it for 2018 for family reasons and as we closed out 2018 and rang in 2019 one thing we did agree on was that we missed our annual family trip to Alvor. You see its not just the immediate family, we go as a party of our extended family. For our first trip we were a party ranging in ages from 6 months to plus 60 years and hand on heart every single person enjoyed.

beach

The beach at Prainha Credit: Clickstay

For us and the age range of our party Alvor has it all, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, seriously good food and wine and a lovely chilled out vibe. Given our party size we always opt for a villa preferably with a pool and bonus points if its a covered/ sectioned off one as my crazy crew have little fear around water. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a bad thing id just rather that they were aware of the dangers of water and that I didn’t need 300 pairs of eyes for the daredevils! Thankfully holiday rental companies such as Clickstay offer a number of accommodation options from 2 beds upwards.

With young kids having the ability to cook for them and just have some extra space for chilling is pretty invaluable, again with a large crowd rooms for a breather are very useful too!

I would have said im not a creature of habit but maybe am I after all! Our resort of choice from our first trip is Prainha Village for a couple of reasons:

  • Location – location just outside of the main town area means it quiet and peaceful and a stunning secluded beach is just minutes from the properties
  • Size of property – we choose the 4 bed option and its perfect for our needs. See for example see this Clickstay villa in Alvor
  • Pools – there is an incredible salt water pool in this complex. The setting over looking the sea is breath taking

    view of rocks on beach

    View from Canico Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

  • Canico bar – this deserves a special mention, quite honestly the highlight of our trip whether having coffee while the kids place on the beach or sipping champagne as the sun goes down on the ocean. There is a magic here that’s impossible to convey.
  • Miss Pasta – my kids just love this place. The staff are just brilliant and go out of their way to make all ages fell welcome and valued. This is something I find very important in any resort.
pool view

Atlantic Salt Water Pool Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

While there are many fantastic properties on offer with sites like Clickstay in many different destinations throughout the world, every year I leave a piece of my heart at Prainha Village. The great thing is given the size of our party its very budget friendly that’s both the accommodation and the eating and drinking!

Honestly you will not regret a visit to a place like Prainha, we have been very fortunate to have travelled to many countries around the world, however Alvor is currently the only place we have gone more than once and that is a true testament to the calibre of the place you are going to.

So Prainha we will see you later in 2019 and young and old members of The Mamma Fairy house cannot wait.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control, pic’s and memories are my own too!

 

 

 

 

Reviews for Mama & Babas

STEM toys for Birthdays and Christmas

I strive every year to purchase functional, educational toys. I loath the sheer quantity of plastic rubbish that appears every year. This year I have compiled a list of tried and test STEM toys which we love in the The Mamma Fairy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths. The concept has evolved so much over the last number of years and is now viewed almost as cool and trendy much to my enjoyment (as a woman in STEM!)

  • First up is OKIDO – OKIDO magazine, an award-winning, high-quality, interactive publication designed for children aged 3-7.  Each month, you will receive a magazine covering topics from Coding to Architecture to Robots to Breathing to Planets and Outer Space. Each issue starts with a story from the much-loved, hand drawn character Messy Monster and also includes science answers from Zim, Zam, Zoom, regular character features, stories, puzzles, doodles, games, activities, science experiments, a poem, a recipe and a pull-out card activity.  OKIDO was created as an antidote to the plastic-wrapped, poor quality publications on the market. OKIDO is a content-heavy, beautifully designed, quality product with high profile contributors including artist Paul Noble, illustrator and author Benji Davies and illustrator and animator Lesley Barnes.  Since its first issue in 2007, OKIDO magazine has won a host of awards and celebrity fans. Lauren Laverne wrote in Grazia “A kids design delight that has become a cult favourite for adults too….as fit for gallery walls as it is for playroom floors.”

 

  • Salt Water Car,  This is pretty genius and very budget friendly. Salt Water Fuel Cell Engine Car Kit contains everything you need to construct your own 4WD. But, instead of requiring endless batteries or electricity, this nifty bit of 4 wheeled kit is powered by water. My oldest just loves this. From the initial construction to the play after that. Its fun, educational and eco friendly whats not to love! It makes an ideal gift for the kids birthday parties. Its pocket friendly and educational too.

 

 

  • Top Quarkz by the Remarkablz is a game designed to encourage girls in STEM. A 2018 take on Top Trumps, showcasing some of the best female (and male) STEM role models to inspire children and young adults to explore exciting disciplines and aspire to their own superpowers regardless of gender, ethnicity or disability. As a female in STEM I just love this! 

 

  • Slime Factory What kid doesn’t love slime! I ignore the mess as my kids just love it. This slime kit was a big hit, is messy, its fun, it interactive! Lots and lots of play for my two boys with this one particularly the glow in the dark ones. My pair literally wiled away hours and I mean  hours playing with this kit. Yes it is messy but go with it, its educational and fun and kept mine entertained for hours.

 

  • Clementoni Mind Designer Robot this is heading up the price scales but in my view very worth the heftier price tag (€59.99). This innovative robot guides your children through the process of learning maths, arithmetic and geometry. It introduces your child to design using the precision motors which enable them to create geometric shapes and designs of varying complexity with extreme precision. This robot can be programmed manually or by voice using the innovative voice recognition function.  Using the exclusive free App, your child can experiment with coding instruction blocks, create complex geometrical shapes and play with loads of original interactive code-games. My oldest adores this, he is in the right age bracket for it and used the app feature on my ipad for it.  Its really clever its functional and provides hours of independent, educational play.

 

  • Meccano  was around even back in my day (and long before!) and its really stood the test of time. Its doesn’t have to high tech to be STEM.  Meccano is one of the brand names that have endured the generations which is obvious a testament to its strength and popularity. Our current favourite is the Ferrari kit, I mean whats not to love. Admittedly its pitched at a slightly older age group but this have proved some great fun for the Dada Fairy and my oldest to have some bonding time.  The bits are small and at times a little fiddly so do keep away for teeny hands!

 

  • Power Tracks Back to the theme of coding, next up is Power Tracks. Power Tracks helps stimulate curious minds and teaches elements of STEM with Volty – the friendly programmable robot! Kids can take their first steps into coding and the exciting world of programming and circuit building.  Connect the large tabletop tiles to make 1 of 20 circuits, or design your own. Use the direction of the buttons to program Volty with commands to guide around the circuit. Discover Volty’s many hidden features as Volty travels over special tiles. We love this one as its portable and the kids have endless fun with the different combinations of play available. I love the fact it encourages independent thinking.

Has anybody any other favourties? Id love to hear them.

Mamma Musings

My journey to a new smile

There are loads of phrases we see and hear when it comes to our smiles….”our smiles are the windows to our soul” or “smile and the world smiles with you” or my personal favourite “smile..its the prettiest thing you can wear“.

But you see for me for many and I mean many years I thought that this wasn’t the  case. I never smiled in photos, actually I deliberately avoided photos on nights out at events etc. On the rare occasion I did end up in a photo, I preferred to hide in the back and certainly never smiled showing my teeth. I always promised myself I would do something about it. They weren’t terrible. I just wasn’t happy with them and it didn’t matter what my friends and family said that was my opinion and that was that.

Last year I hit 35, a bit of a milestone in my own head and thought you know what.. im going to do this. So I began a treatment programme which used clear aligners. 

Thus beginning a journey I wanted to take for some time.  This is all done online, you take impressions of your teeth and they get sent off and a couple of weeks later your clear braces land in the door.  So so simple and efficient. However in advance its important to have consultation with a dentist, do shop around as you may even be able to obtain a free dental consultation. 

Following completion of the programme which took all in all about 8 months, I could not believe the different, each aligner change brought subtle but noticeable changes but it was only at the end when I saw the before and after pictures I realised just how far my teeth had come. But it wasn’t just my teeth. I lecture and I found my thoughts on my teeth really impacted on my confidence. I hid behind the podium, behind my hands or pages. Always aware and to be honest probably overly consumed by it. Now, its an entirely different story, I don’t mind getting into photos. I smile!! I actually truly smile.

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Fairy Travels

Golden Circle DIY drive with Lagoon Car Rental

We arrived in beautiful Iceland after a short 2 hour WOW air flight from Dublin on a Friday afternoon, grabbed our bags and quickly headed towards the meeting point to meet the rep from the car rental company.  Having carried out a lot of research we choose Lagoon Car Rental for our trip. Lagoon are a family owned business with offices at both  Keflavik airport and Reykjavik.  Some of the key factors which influenced our decision to go with Lagoon were firstly; their cars are all less than two years old, there was a huge selection of options and additional extras.  While getting value for money is important one thing I will never scrimp on is car safety.  That is even more important in a country where we are driving on a different side than we are accustomed allied to the fact the weather conditions in Iceland have the potential to be unpredictable.

The Car

lagoon car rental desk

Pic Credit: Mamma Fairy Blog

We met the Lagoon Car Rentals in the arrivals hall of Keflavik airport and took the short trip in their mini bus to their desk just outside of the airport grounds.  We were lucky it was nice and quiet at the time being later in the afternoon so the entire process was quick and seamless and we were sitting in out Kia Sorrento in a very short space of time.  The kids loved the hot chocolate in the waiting area! We went for a 4*4 automatic and added on the 2 car seats and gps.   The vehicle itself was immaculate inside. We took our time going through the condition before signing off to take it away. This is something I would strongly urge anybody to do. I took a lot of pictures too in case of any disputes, of which thankfully there were none! And with that we hit the road for our hotel in Reykjavik.

We spent the first night relaxing at the hotel and get to bed early so that we could depart early for our Golden Circle tour. I had read loads and done a lot of research so I had it more or less planned out so that we could make the most of it.  We were truly blessed with the weather. While it was cold it was bright and crisp without a drop or rain or snow in sight! There is a saying in Iceland that if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes.  Iceland is prone to huge variations in the weather conditions even within the one day so my advice is to have the car well equipped.

We had changes of clothes, food, rain gear and walking gear.  Just in case! But that is the luxury of having a car you can just dump all in the boot!.

Golden Circle Stop 1- Thingvellir

car at thingvellier park

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We departed Reykjavik bright and early. The sky was so clear and so blue, we were so excited. Stop one was Thingvellier National Park which is a UNESCO listed site which once housed the Icelandic Parliament. The kids were particularly excited to see the rift in the landscape cased by the separation of the 2 tectonic plates. Its quite remarkable to think where you are standing and what is going on in the ground beneath you!

We parked up and walked one of the trails, which is a little uneven so do bring good walking shoes. It wouldn’t be buggy or wheelchair friendly the particular section we choose so do plan your route in advance.   The entire landscape here is breath taking. I actually don’t thing any photos could even do it justice.  No matter which way you look its simply stunning. One thing I did notice was how crisp and fresh the air felt.

You could spend hours here, looking at the old stone ruins and walking the trails but we were on a tight enough time scale so departed after maybe 2 hours and a hot cup of coffee!

Mamma F Top Tip– Parking needs to be paid for in the visitors centre as apparently they read the registration on the way out. Loads of toilets and coffee shop there so well worth a quick stop.

After a quick coffee and rest of the legs we headed back to the car to get to our next stop – Fontana Thermal Spa.

Golden Circle Stop 2 – Fontana Thermal Spa

Fontana SPA

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Fontana is ideally located about half way along our Golden Circle route.   It serves as the ideal spot for some lunch and a total relax in their geothermal baths.  We opted for the buffet lunch upon arrival and it was so good. The food was tasty, fresh and plentiful with something for everybody. However I cannot forget the bread. In fact im drooling right now thinking of it.  It was incredible. It is baked underground for 24 hours in the hot black sand.   It is no exaggeration to say it was quite possibly the tastiest bread I have ever eaten. (Quite the accolade for a bread loving Irish family!)

Lunch eaten and we headed to the changing room to get ready for our dip in the geo thermal pools. One thing to bear in mind is that you must shower before you go to the pools and not doing so is viewed as being very disrespectful by the locals.  The changing rooms have lockers and plenty space to get organised.  The layout and setting of the pools is really lovely. There are a number of pools each with different temperatures. Onsite there are also sauna and steam room and for the brave amongst us you can take a dip in the ice cold lake. Its apparently very good for the body and heart to alternate the temperature but im quite happy to take somebody else’s word for this!!

 

fontana geothermal spa

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We met a lovely couple here who were doing a similar trip to us but in the reverse direction and advised us of a lovely farm with home made ice cream just before our next stop. He mentioned salted caramel ice cream and I was sold! We dried off and hit the road again for Geysir via the ice cream stop!)

Mamma F Top Tip – have lunch at Fontana and follow up with home made ice cream at Efstidalur II, you will not be disappointed. So so so tasty and the setting is lovely looking out over the farm.

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