I have written about our ongoing renovation project which is finally drawing to a close. The focus now is getting the outside space in good shape too. I love chilling in the garden, cup of coffee in one hand and newspaper or book in the other. I find there is something therapeutic about being outside.
We are starting with pretty much a very blank canvas so things can only improve 🙂
Having built an extension we don’t have a huge amount of space left therefore we need to be clever about what we do with the space we have. Key for us both is a safe outside space for the kids to play too. I would love some new garden furniture, they want a playhouse or climbing frame! Given the space constraint one may have to give. I have totally fallen for the rattan furniture, I think there is something very elegant about it. They have totally fallen for a raised playhouse with a slide and climbing frame!
I have romantic notions of a garden in full bloom with an immaculate lawn! He wants to pave it all to keep it low maintenance. I fear I may loose that battle. While I have no doubt we will have some planter beds my notions of dramatic beds of colourful arrays of flowers will have to wait another while.
One thing we both agree on is lights for the garden, solar lights would be ideal as we have the early sun in the back of the house giving them plenty light for the evening. I love sitting out at dusk with the lights on always makes me feel like im on holidays! If only!! Another item we both agree on is a bbq – while neither of us are at Michelin star quality we love to host and would love noting more the summer party out our newly renovated back garden.
The kids showed little interest (their own bedroom aside) in the interior renovations but they are very keen to get involved in the planning and designing of the outside space. I think that is crucial for the success of any garden particularly on with as limited space as we have is to keep the needs of all of the users in mind and try to compromise.
Ill be sure to share some before and after pictures here when it is all done. When being the operative word!! Sorry Dada Fairy! If you have any inspiration do send it my way.
With the weather not looking the best for the long weekend ahead and the kids off school, we have you covered with some great new Netflix picks for the long weekend ahead.
Jaws (Available from 1 April)
I still remember watching this a kid! Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, this really was the movie of our time. The village of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.
It’s hardly a secret, my obsession with travel and seeing the world is both well known and well documented. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly when it began but I think a trip to Copenhagen in my teens was the spark. When we decided the time was right to have kids we vowed to continue to travel albeit slightly differently! Traveling with kids can be more challenging but not less rewarding. We have had comments like “how can put your kids through that journey etc” I smile nod – my kids love to travel. They count the days on the calendar to their next adventure. We involve them in the planning from the start. Its is a family trip so we aim for something for everybody.
My bucket list trips
Last year we made lots of short haul trips and one long haul to one of our bucket list destinations Niagara Falls so where to for 2018? We haven’t quite decided yet but some of our top picks for the moment include;
Cape Town – when I started to look into Cape Town further I was quite surprised at just how much there was for kids to do. I have romantic notions of outdoor adventures, water activities and good food. The kids love animals and love being outdoor which is why I think Cape Town appeals to me so much.
New Zealand – In a similar outdoorsy vein New Zealand appeals for the same reasons. As a farmer my husband would love to see the large scale farming operations of New Zealand. For me id love to see first hand Queenstown the stunning lakes and glacial formations. However at over 24 hours flying time from Dublin I do think this one will have to wait a little longer until the kids get that bit older.
I reached out to my fellow bloggers to see where they would travel to with their kids if money was no object:
Lyndsey of Me, Him the dog and a Babywould go back to Orlando, where they got married this time to experience it all again with their daughter.
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Pete of Household Money Saving would go for a cruise around the Mediterranean for the great weather, the variety of places to visit and the abundance of activities on board.
Catherine of Rock & Roll Pussycat would love to visit Borneo to visit an Orangutan sanctuary. That sounds really cool to me too!
Vicki of Family Travel with Ellie would definitely go on safari as its a dream of theirs. I totally agree on that one, hopefully one day we make it to South Africa to do similar.
Sam of Travelling with our kidswould do Route 66 in an RV! One big road trip. I hear you!! This would be an amazing trip, also one which ill add to our bucket list.
Last weekend we had friends over, we have been friends since way before weddings and kids. A few bottles of wine later, the fours kids between us fast asleep we began chatting about the “old” times (aka pre kids!). One memory that sticks out for all of us was that couples wedding in the beautiful surroundings of Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote.
Prior to getting married there they had been multiple times but hadn’t until the week of their wedding. We arrived to balmy evening sunshine on a Saturday in September 2011. Its was actually our first wedding abroad so we really didn’t know what to expect.
On the Sunday we took a trip up to Teguise to see the market which afforded us an excellent opportunity to see some of the Island too. I find myself drawn to old architecture and cobbles streets and thats exactly what you will find here with some buildings dating back to 17th century. Well worth a visit. They sell all sorts of crafts here so do barter and that’s half the fun of it! It really is s lovely way to wile away a few hours.
Puerto del Carmen
Pic Credit – The Mamma Fairy Blog
We were staying in a central villa in the busy tourist town of Puerto del Carmen. While I can’t recall exactly who we booked it through at the time, I have found lots of similar properties at Holiday Gems.
In Puerto del Carmen you can find pretty much everything you need from bars to restaurants offering most types of food options. If a vibrant nightlife is your thing you will find plenty of it here too!!
Not forgetting the 6km long beach with blue seas where you can pretty much do most of the usual water sports sports from windsurfing, to marine excursions, deep sea fishing and scuba diving. There is also of course plenty bars directly overlooking the beautiful beach.
The wedding took place on the Wednesday in a stunning church just outside Puerto del Carmen however I understand now that non nationals can’t have a church ceremony anymore in the Las Palmas province of Spain. The reception was in the Hotel Fariones which had the perfect setting right on the beach. I believe recently there is a lot of building work going on at that hotel so worth checking that out before you book this particular one.
Hopefully one day we will return this time with four kids between us in tow. While traveling with kids is an altogether different experience its no less magical. Travel is good for the soul and for as long as we can we will keep doing it.
Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control.
I think we all have that one thing that bothers us about ourselves or something we would perhaps like to change. For me since I was in my late teens it was my teeth. They didn’t warrant braces as a teen but as I got older and wisdom teeth appeared it changed them a little. I rarely, if ever smiled in a photo. I became very conscious of them. A number of times I made enquiries about doing something but life got in the way or large outlay house car etc took precedence.
Roll forward another couple of years, add a husband and two kids to an already busy life style and fixing my teeth fell lower down the list of proprieties. One night the kids were in bed perhaps there was some wine consumed! I mentioned it again to my husband, he said do it – go and make enquiries so that is exactly what happened.
I had some criteria in my head, I needed something that didn’t require a massive time commitment as any busy parent will know, time is a precious commodity. I feel silly saying this, I was also quite self conscious of being the wrong side of 30 and having braces so I was naturally drawn to the clear aligners being quite discreet.
Why Your Smile Direct
Your Smile Direct ticked all the boxes for me. My initial dealings with them were informative without being pushy. I like that! A sure way to loose my custom is the hard sell!
The first box to arrive contained little tubs and a tray to make the moulds of your teeth to send back together with some photos from different angles of your teeth. My top tip here would be to do as many moulds as you can with the putty substance supplied to ensure you have at least one good top and bottom set.
So I did the moulds at home, posted them back and a couple of weeks later a box of aligners arrived in the post. I received an email in advance with the treatment plan. I needed to change aligners every 2 weeks for 20 weeks. The process so far was so smooth and I was kept informed at all times. The advice is to wear your aligners all the time except for eating and drinking. Another top tip here is straws become your friend if you need to sip (water only) during the day.
The Verdict so far
I am currently on my 3rd set of aligners and hand on heart im so so happy to date. I never anticipated that I would notice a difference after one month. The progression in such a short time has filled me with so much excitement for the final reveal. A couple of things to bear in mind. There certainly is some discomfort for a day or two when you change to your new set but this is to be expected for the required change to occur. It does take a little getting used to, another unintended benefit for me is no snacking! I only take them out for my main meals which has resulted in a dramatic decrease in my nibbling during the day. I used to be cooking for the kids and be eating along with it!
The beauty of Your Smile Direct is the process has just slotted into daily life as a busy working mother to two young kids. All dealings with the team have been professional, helpful and courteous answering any questions in a timely manner. Price wise is it very reasonable and costs a lot less that I expected.
Sometimes mammies need to put themselves first too, having been guilty of saying I don’t have time to do things for myself for many years I am thrilled to be in the middle of this process. My confidence has increased and my close family have even commented on my teeth.
Its not often I devote an entire post to a hotel itself often favouring to include them as part of trip reports however I feel this hotel deserves a post to itself for a couple of reasons set out below. The Heikotel was our home for three nights while in Hamburg. It calls itself a premier three star hotel however to be totally honest this label does it a disservice.
The hotel is located about 20 minutes from the central hub of Hamburg. Admittedly at first I was a little apprehensive staying out the centre of the city as travelling with kids can be often mean trips back to hotel for changes of clothes, forgotten teddy etc. However the hotel is less than 5 minutes from an U-bahn station which leaves you in the city in 20 mins. The U-bahn is so efficient we rarely waited more than two minutes for a train to arrive. I was worried having no German I might find the transport system difficult to navigate – not at all. Is is so easy to follow the signs inside the station and the trains clearly announce each stops location well in advance.
The street itself which the hotel is located is a quiet residential area, which felt very safe. Just minutes from the hotel were coffee shops, restaurants and a supermarket. To the far side was the Stadtpark a huge park (over 350 acres) known as the green heart of the city. An ideal spot for the kids to burn off some energy before bed. Everything you needed pretty much on your doorstep when you returned after a days sightseeing.
The hotel has 46 rooms, a small lobby, workout room, breakfast room and access to the bar in the sister hotel opposite Heikotel Stadtpark Residenz.
The first thing that strikes you when you walk in the door is the impeccable cleanliness. Its the fist thing I notice when I check in somewhere. The reception is manned 24 hours. Speaking of receptions, the staff on reception during our stay were very accommodating and helpful. Upon check in we had an initial wobble with the room allocation which was dealt with swiftly and competently by a lovely girl named Jessica. I think it says a lot about a place about how any issues are dealt with. The reception staff were great offering suggestions for food places nearby or local attractions for the kids. Kids loves the mice sweets at reception!
The rooms have a lovely calm vibe with warm neutral tones. We had floor to ceiling windows which gave tonnes of natural light. Our room faced the front and we heard very little noise. The wifi was free and really good. The TV had sky (a plus for the kids!) there was a mini bar and coffee machine and the bathroom had underfloor heating.
The bed itself was so comfortable and adults and kids alike all slept really well. The bathroom was a good size too, no bath in our room but a great shower with plenty hot water.
I had read a number of review of this hotel prior to arriving so I knew the breakfast had a great reputation. I can safely say I was not disappointed. The selection was great, the coffee tasty and both kids and adults ate their fill each morning. The hotel was busy during our stay with a conference on yet the staff at breakfast were efficient in looking after guests so it didn’t pose any problems at all. One lovely touch at breakfast was the lady who remembered each morning which coffee we wanted and brought it straight over. For me its little subtle touches like these that add that bit extra to a hotel stay.
Try the scrambled eggs! Honestly my mouth waters every time I think about them – seriously tasty. If you are considering staying here, just trust me on this, book the breakfast, worth every penny. Its €12 for adults and €6 for kids which when you consider the selection and quality in my mind this is really good value and a great way to set yourself up for the day.
The hotel has a small fitness studio, conference facilities and the use of ipads at reception. We visited the bar across the road in the sister hotel early in the evenings. Its not big but has a good selection of drinks. I understand from staff it gets busy during soccer matches and after 9 in the evening. We were there with kids so we were back in the room long before then! The hotel had no issue calling us a taxi or keeping our luggage while we had a last minute wander while waiting for our flight home.
Mamma Fairy Insider tips:
Book breakfast – so worth it
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant however if you come out of the hotel and go left there are lots of options of places to eat. We really liked Tieg Fabrik a pizza place so much so we went back 2 nights in a row!
Ask the helpful staff for recommendations, they were so helpful to us especially Jessica
The free WIFi is perfectly adequate I think you an purchase high speed but not necessary unless you are perhaps working on laptops remotely
Dont fear the U-bahn! I know I did, it was a dream to use. We had the Hamburg Card which gave us unlimited travel and with the stations being barrier free this made the process very simple especially with no German and 2 kids.
If you have a buggy/pram or need assistance walking be mindful the local U-bahn doesn’t seem to have any lift or escalator access. This would make accessing the platform difficult as there are probably 20 or so stops up to it.
Taxi from the airport isnt expensive if you didnt fancy braving the Ubahn with luggage. However do bear in mind if you have 2 kids you might need to consider bringing one car seat. A lot of taxis had one seat so thankfully we had one with us for the oldest.
Bookings can be made directly with the hotel for the best value including pre booking breakfast and early check ins. Prices start at €79 upward for s double room excluding breakfast which is very good value for a hotel of this calibre.
For a sneak peak into what else we did on our trip to Hamburg we have a short clip below.
Note: We were provided with complimentary accommodation as part of this trip as part of our participation in the Come to Hamburg Project. We retain full editorial control and all view are mine of my family where appropriate.
It impossible to keep up with my pair and the cartoons they like. Zak Storm is the newest dude on their radar. I thought he was a superhero however I am reliably informed by an almost 6 year old that he most certainly is not! Rather he is a really cool pirate who ended up with sucked into the Berumda Triangle after taking his fathers necklace. From here he captains a ship called “The Chaos” (how very appropriate for my house :-)) and goes on many adventures in an attempt to find his way home.
The are lots of different toys in the collection available however for the purpose of this review we were sent the hover vehicle and figure together with the coins which are available to buy separately.
While I can’t profess to know much about the TV series what I can tell you about is the cool add on feature to this toy. You can download the Zak Storm app for iOS or Android for free. From this you can play the game or if you wish you can buy the coins (4pk) which feature a unique QR code that you scan via the camera feature on your tablet to reveal digital rewards, including weapons, powers, and health. This was the biggest selling point for my oldest. While he still loves playing with toys, the ability to add Tech to the mix and he is sold right away. For hims its almost taking it to the next level.
He had no problem scanning the codes nor playing the game. I was impressed by the fact the coins aren’t an essential part of the game rather a bonus add on. They are a little pricey at around €5 but do add value to the game.
All in all its a thumbs up from us. My son claims the app feature is seriously cool so I can see this one sticking around our house for a while.
Note: We were sent the hover vehicle and 2 packets of coins for the purpose of this review however all view are mine and/or the boys where appropriate.
With the news dominated by the so called “Beast from the East” and commentators noting this could be the coldest February in 5 years, my mind is wandering to sunnier climates! So where are the Mamma Fairy crew hoping to head to this year?! We have a couple of short haul flights lined up but we are still debating out next big adventure.
So where are we thinking?! See below some of the places on our 2018 Family Travel Bucket List.
Phuket – Thailand
We visited Bangkok as part of our honeymoon adventure but unfortunately didn’t get to visit any of the Islands. I have heard so much about Phuket and also how suitable it is for families. Whats not to love with stunning beaches and year round sunshine. From elephant rides to ancient monuments there is plenty to do. And if partying is your thing the famous or perhaps infamous town of Patong is where its all at. I have visions of us chilling by the beach cocktail in hand in the balmy sunshine…pure bliss. Hopefully this is the year we get to experience everything Phuket has to offer.
Pic Credit: Pixabay
New York New York
No discussion needed! Whats not to love about the city that never sleeps. I spent time working there and holidaying there pre baby days however we have yet to return with the kids. Perhaps this could be the year. It doesn’t matter how many times I have been I fall in love with this city over and over again.
Our honeymoon adventure included a short (too short) 2 night stop over here. We have vowed to return and spend more time exploring all this eclectic city has to offer. I arrived with zero expectations other than a city to break up a 24 hour flight. I was so pleasantly surprised once you adjust to the humidity its just wow so much to see and do. I’d love to go back with my little men this time. The zoo is so spectacular and if Disney takes your fancy this is also one in Singapore.
Lots of friends and family have emigrated or holidayed in Dubai over the last few years and im insanely curious just to see what the lure of the city really is. Year round sunshine, iconic skylines buildings (worlds tallest!), thrill seeking sports and opulent hotels. Sounds just perfect. Its also reported to be a very family friendly destination with a wealth of activities on offer from young to old. Hopefully this is the year we get to visit.
Have you been to any of the above? If so we would love to hear from you particularly if you had recommendations for family friendly activities etc.
Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control.
Friday is treat day in our house if the kids are good all week at minders. I like to avoid rewarding them with sweat treats therefore toys like Smashers appeal to me! Reasonably priced yet have plenty of play with them. We first came across Smashers on a visit to our local Smyths and the kids were intrigued!
Hopefully its not just my pair but they can be so destructive! Smashers seems like the perfect toys for them! As its name suggests you quite literally smash the ball to reveal a sports character with 100 different ones to collect across themes of Football, Rugby and Basketball.
There are lots of different products in the range from 1 pack, 3 pack up to 8 packs, in different sports themes – Rugby, basketball and football. Like most collectable products there are matching tins to stores your characters in each of the respective sports ball shapes!!
However probably most excitingly for the boys is the “Team bus” which comes in either a football or a basketball theme. It hold up to 50 characters and folds out to either a football pitch or a basketball court. Its a very clever way of making a fun use out of the storage.
I suspect with over a hundred characters to collect the Smashers will be sticking around our house for some time to come! For more on Smashers see here
Note: We were sent some Smashers to try however this in no way influences mine or the boys views
The Rubik’s cube is pretty iconic, I suspect there aren’t many people who don’t know what one is. Originally developed in 1974 and its been gracing homes around the world ever since. However in a world so engrossed in all thing technology, old school toys such as the Rubik’s have to jostle that bit harder for their place and to grab the kids attention. Quite excitingly that exactly what Rubik’s have done.
Range of products
Rubix Junior “Bear”
I will admit I always though Rubik’s just sold the stand cube we are all familiar with however that could be further from the truth. They start with Rubik’s Junior which are “cubes” shaped like animals (four different ones to collect).
These are most suitable for ages 3 up wards. My youngest really likes this and it has become my changing bag staple when we are out and about as I prefer during meals out to avoid the phones and tablets if we can.
Admittedly I always thought Rubik’s just came in the well recognised 3×3 version however again there are lots of different combinations from 2×2, 3×3, 4×4 and even 5×5. Added to this is lots of variants of these from the tower to the void to the twist (for more on these see here).
My oldest thought the 2×2 cube would be easier as there are less cubes however there are still 3,674,160 permutations and only one solution!! His personal favourite is the 3×3 cube. He hasn’t solved it yet but its only a matter of time according to himself.
Mamma Fair Verdict
We love these and they have become a birthday present staple for the boys friends. From €10 upwards they aren’t expensive and give hours of play. Ideal for us for travelling with the kids as they are very portable. They are readily available online or in toy shops such as Smyths, my local Tesco even stocks them!
Note: We were sent a selection of Rubik’s products to try however this in no way influences mine or the boys views of the product.