Pillow stamping at the Snor Festival & Yvestown Fair this weekend!

pillow2I’ve known the fabulous Yvonne from Yvestown for a few years now and I just love everything she does. Her wonderful blog, her beautiful book, and her inspiring Yvestown Fair. Together with the wonderful girls from Snor Publishers (remember these cool activity books I blogged about), they’re organising a fun event this Sunday, and when they invited Babyccino Kids to join, of course we said yes!

pillow3 pillow4 Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetI will be there, offering the opportunity to stamp pillow cases like these ones I made with my kids. Such a fun activity (and I love the results!!).

Snor_festivalI really hope to see you there if you have the opportunity to come? I have a limited amount of pillowcases with me, so if you want me to reserve a pillow-stamping-placement for you, just send me an email and I will save you one!

xxx Esther

 

Smallable’s 6th Birthday! (And discounts to celebrate!)

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I remember when Smallable announced their launch six years ago! It was an exciting time in children’s shopping — an online department store with hundreds of the best brands of children’s clothing, toys and decorations all in one place. It was one of the first shops to offer such a stylish, curated selection of brands, making it easy to find unique products for your kids. In fact, six years later, it remains one of the very best still.

It’s been really exciting to watch the growth of Smallable over the years — they started at a time when we were also quite new, so it feels a bit like we’ve grown together. We are thrilled to wish them a happy 6th birthday!

To celebrate, Smallable is offering some exciting discounts this week (see below) and are offering a free candle to the first 200 orders of £160 or more.

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The perfect excuse to do a little back-to-school shopping! (The selection of winter coats and accessories have me (almost) excited for colder weather!)

xx Courtney

Cool 10 IS shoes

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My Little Square teamed up with cool shoe brand 10 IS and is offering these exclusive, limited edition (and super stylish!) velour shoes, printed with a patchwork of old persian rugs. I got a pair for Sara and she loves them!! Handy detail is that they open with a little zipper at the side of the shoe, so need to tie up all the laces every time. Snatch these great shoes up while you still can — they’re only going to be available for another two weeks, exclusively at My Little Square!

xxx Esther

Glasses for Sara!

sara_glassesWith two very nearsighted parents, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Sara started to complain about not being able to read the letters on the digiboard very well from the back of the classroom. So I took her to an optometrist, and sure thing: he measured a 1.25 nearsightedness.

I remember very well, that when I was about 10 years old, I had so much trouble reading the blackboard and the subtitles on the television that my mum scheduled an appointment with the schoolnurse for me. Admittedly, the whole aspect of having to wear glasses was appalling to me at the time — gosh, how I disliked that poor schoolnurse when she told me that I very much needed a pair of glasses. Glasses were definitely not as cool then as they are nowadays!

Thankfully, glasses are considered to be very fashionable and stylish these days and Sara was beyond excited when she was told she could pick out a pair. So we got her this darling purple beauty, which I think look so, so good on her. (But which also make her look so, so much more grown-up!)

When we picked up her glasses from the store last week and she put them on her nose for the very first time, she experienced that feeling that I remember so very well – the revelation! So much light, colour and detail to be seen! To be able to read the street signs! The pavement looks so much bigger! A whole new world! So sweet. Next day, she was so proud to show her glasses to her class, her teachers and her girlfriends. And I’m so very proud of her!

xxx Esther

The Dopper bottle

SONY DSCIn the Netherlands, schools don’t provide a cooked lunch so my children leave the house every day with a backpack with a packed lunch and a bottle of water. Recently, Sara has been complaining about her current water bottle making funny sounds when she drinks, so I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement. And I found it! The Dopper is a Dutch design water bottle, with an ingenious 2-in-1 function of bottle and cup: the cap becomes a cup when you turm it upside down.

The design and idea of the Dopper stems from the growing frustration of the founder of Dopper, Merijn Everaarts, with the enormous amounts of plastic waste (the ‘plastic soup’, floating in the ocean). Merijn organised a design competition and the clever idea of Rinke van Remortel was the rightful winner. The Dopper is produced following the principles of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy and consists of no harmful substances. It can easily be cleaned, and is dishwasher safe.

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Also – 10% of Dopper sales goes to the Dopper Foundation, which invests half of its proceeds in water projects in Nepal and the other half goes to water and plastic waste education projects.

An admirable bottle, don’t you think?

xxx Esther

Petit Bateau Rain Cape

PetitBateau_raincapeOh my, how adorable is this little Petit Bateau rain cape? And so practical for the coming months! We are a huge fan of the well known yellow rain coats (we have them for all of our kids!), and this new rain coat is just the perfect translation of this classic for any sweet little baby. (Do you think Casper would still fit in?)

xxx Esther

Amy & Ivor handmade moccasins

leather moccasins for kids
Amy & Ivor moccasins
leather moccasins

I’ve gotten moccasins for the kids before, but never ones this soft and supple! The moccasins from Amy & Ivor must be the closest thing to walking barefoot — perfect for babies and beginner walkers… and even busy toddlers who never sit still (as tested by Marlow).

Amy & Ivor moccasins are handmade to order and are made in England by a small team using high quality chrome-free and vegetable tanned leathers. The result is a wonderfully soft and absolutely beautiful shoe. (My size, please!)

x Courtney

p.s. Amy & Ivor is one of 25 amazing shops lined up to take part in this year’s ShopUp event here in London. Mark your diaries and look out for them there!

Cut-off Jeans

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This is such a simple idea that I am almost a bit embarrassed to write a post about it, but I was so chuffed with my discovery about how to make my girls some shorts that I am going to share anyway.

My children, like everybody’s children, grow way too quickly, and at the beginning of this summer they looked ridiculous in their winter jeans. I noticed how fashionable, at least in Paris, the cut-off jeans look was. So I just cut off everyone’s jeans and turned them into cut-off shorts and bermudas. I even did some little turn ups on Vivi’s shorts as she did not like the frayed look!
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It’s funny, clothes are so cheap often nowadays that I forget to up and recycle items. I remember my mom was always turning dresses into skirts, trousers into shorts, t-shirts into rags! I do like being thrifty!

- Emilie

The Sticker Club

sticker_clubSara and Pim are really into ‘clubs’ recently. They have a Club with their neighbour friends, in which (according to the minutes of their last meeting) they set out to ‘make loom bands’, ‘find insects’, ‘write letters’ and ‘build huts’. They also have clubs with their class mates, varying from the ‘Lunchtime Break Football Club’ to the ‘We Love Nature Club’. So cute!

I guess all kids love clubs. There’s something so magically exciting about it! I remember that as a child, I was a member of all sorts of clubs — some of them were so secret I hid the club paperwork underneath the carpet in my room!

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Tapping into the Kids love Clubs idea, The Sticker Club is a new business idea launched by two creative dads who share 5 kids between them. The concept is simple — upon joining The Sticker Club, your child will receive a really cool looking parcel, addressed to them personally, on the doorstop each week, retaining 9 different sticker sheets designed by different up-and-coming, hip designers. Pim has been a member for a few weeks now, and he LOVES receiving his stickers every week!

The sheets are made from high-quality paper with non-toxic inks and non-marking glue, and are really happy and fun. You can subscribe to the club here — there are also some gift options available which is a super good idea!

xxx Esther

 

PS The secret ‘White Lion Club‘ for Pim’s 7th birthday party, and a chain letter Sticker Club.

Last days of summer and the TULA baby carrier

beach walk with kids
beach walk
Our final week of summer holiday has been a really wonderful one. I turned my phone off, stuck it in the bottom of my suitcase, and haven’t checked it even once! I wanted to disconnect a bit and soak up these carefree summer days before we return to London and the kids go back to school. I’ve made a point of spending quality time with each of my children, asking questions, really listening to their answers, just being more present.  We’ve gone on long walks, played games, read books, hung out in our pyjamas and have just been generally slow and lazy. It’s not going to be easy going back to our normal routines and early morning wake-ups (plus jet-lag! eeek!), but I’m so thankful for our long summer away.

walking on the beach tula carrier
Speaking of long walks… I wanted to mention a new baby carrier I’ve discovered which has completely changed my life (or at least my walking-with-Marlow life).  Earlier this summer Marlow started to complain about being in the Ergo carrier. I would strap her in at the onset of our walks and within minutes she would ask to be put down. I started to wonder if perhaps she wasn’t comfortable in the Ergo anymore. (Sidenote: of all the baby carriers I’ve tried, the Ergo has been my favourite. I didn’t think it was possible to find a better option.)

Enter the Tula toddler carrier. I am convinced this is the best option for toddlers aged 18 months and over. The Tula is a lot like the Ergo, but it’s got a wider fabric body which is better for toddlers because it doesn’t dig into their little thighs. Also, the fabric is much softer and so it fits over their bigger body with ease and is really comfortable, both for the toddler and the mama.  Marlow has ridden comfortably in the Tula for several long walks without ever asking to be put down. It has made such a difference during the past couple weeks, especially since I haven’t had my husband to offer shoulder rides to tired children.

marlow in tula baby carrier
marlow laughin in carrier

I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few photos from a recent beach walk with my kids. I hid my phone away and haven’t taken any photos this past week, but my sister snapped these photos and I’m so happy to have them as a memory of our lazy late summer days.

x Courtney

p.s. I’ll be in London next time you hear from me. Wish me luck on that long flight back home. : )

Painting sand dollars

watercolour paints on sand dollars

We’ve been spending our final days of summer holiday at our little beach house on Bainbridge Island. The weather has cooled down in the past week and the days have become noticeably shorter.  Autumn is definitely in the air!

A couple days ago when the weather was cloudy and the kids were feeling a bit stir crazy, we decided to sit down for a little paint session. We’ve already painted rocks, so this time we decided to paint our collection of sand dollars. It was such a fun activity!

painting sand dollars
painted sand dollar

painted sand dollars

It was fun to see the different variations of painting techniques. Some of us chose to paint the star, while others decided the sand dollars should look like tie-dye! : ) In any case, it was a fun way to spend a cloudy afternoon.

x Courtney

Doodle books from Start Creative

Start Creative doodle books
We have one more week of summer holidays before heading back to London and diving straight into school and a busy Autumn schedule. I’m starting to psyche myself up for the routine that is coming… but first, I have a 9-hour flight with four kids to survive. I’ve been trying to convince one of my siblings to fly back with me to help with all the schlepping of children and luggage, but haven’t had any takers… so it looks like I will fly solo, just the kids and me. Eeeek!

Thankfully, a set of doodle books from Start Creative arrived this week for us to check out. The timing couldn’t be better.

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Each little doodle book provides the start of a doodle on each page — a simple line, swirl or scribble, which the kids can use as the starting point for their drawing. All your kids will need is a pencil and a bit of imagination!

I also love that the books are perfectly sized for travel, small enough to fit into any carry-on tote or child’s backpack (I’ve already stashed some in our travel bag, ready for our flight!).

x Courtney

p.s. Last year, after surviving the long flight back to London with all the kids, I jotted down some simple tips for flying with kids. I’ll be studying these tips to prepare myself for next week’s flight, and if you have any other tips to share, please do!

Mabo Kids summer sale

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When Mabo Kids announced their summer sale a couple weeks ago, I quickly scooped up a few adorable pieces for the kids, my favourite being this little chambray playsuit for Ivy. So sweet! I snapped a few photos of her earlier this week when we were out at Fort Casey near where my dad lives. I love how summery these photos are — the dried grass, the flower seeds blowing, her blonde wispy hair… and of course the cutest little summer outfit.

There are still some remaining pieces in the Mabo sale, and if you hurry on over you might get lucky with the right sizes, etc.

x Courtney

Back to school!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCan you imagine? My little Ava, who was born only yesterday, started school today! Sara and Pim are also in new classes (Sara is at the top level of the school already! Two stairs to climb!). It was pretty crazy this morning, preparing thee lunch boxes and having to bring three children to their new classes, but everything went well and Ava was a star. When I picked her up at the end of the day, her teacher told me she was ‘a natural scholar’. Funny girl! (Maybe she’ll be a professor one day!)

TopTenWith ‘Back to School’ on our minds, this week’s Top Ten is filled with a selection of 10 cute products which will make every (first) school day super fun. When are your children beginning school? It feels like we are the first ones to start!

xxx Esther

PS Ava’s cute ‘Doggy Bag‘ is from Nogaravin, and her dress from Kallio.

Old school boys look, and a new collection from La Coqueta

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It’s been so-so with the weather in the Netherlands since we came back from France last week. Lots of rain, and often we’ve been wearing cardigans and socks to keep ourselves warm! It really seems that autumn is early this year… I’ve been dressing Casper (who, by the way, had a huge growth spurt the last few weeks!), in shorts and knee socks a lot and I can just eat him up. I love that old-fashioned boys look!

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It seems like the new look book from La Coqueta came perfectly in time. Isn’t everything just so adorable? (Including the models!!)

la_coqueta4 la_coqueta2 la_coqueta_3 la_coqueta7The collection will launch today… I will definitely stock up on some old-school outfits for Casper for the coming season, because if the weather stays like this, he will definitely be getting lots of wear out of it!

xxx Esther

An easy way to transform a room

pim_bed_2We’re back from France, and we found our house renovation next door in full swing. Once again, I’m thinking of tiles patterns, paint colours, concrete floors and curtains. I even wake up in the middle of the night, trying to solve the most unimportant little design questions imaginable. Crazy! (And annoying!)

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One of the things that came to mind in my nightly brainstorms, is that I should most definitely use the painted rectangle idea again. A few years ago, to define Pim’s part of the room he currently shares with his big sister Sara, we painted a blue rectangle above his bed. It was really quick and easy to do, and it had such a cool effect. This is how we did it:

We chose a paint colour from the local DIY store, and bought enough paint to cover about 2 m² of wall. With (painters) masking tape and a level, we defined a rectangle above Pim’s bed, approximately 2 meters wide and 1 meter tall. With a paint roller, we painted the rectangle (in our case, two layers of paint were enough). After about half an hour (before the paint dried out too much), we carefully removed the tape. The next day, when the paint was totally dry, we hung the Ferm Living houses on the square, the work light and the knitted garland from Oeuf. I’m still so pleased with how it turned out!

Our children will once again still be sharing rooms in the new house, but this time, Casper will move in with Pim, and Ava with Sara. So I’ll have a boys bedroom and a girls bedroom to decorate. Fun!

xxx Esther

Weekend Getaway: Budapest

budapest for kids

Have you every been to Budapest? I would love to go! I’m a little bit obsessed by old European capitals at the moment, so Budapest is right at the top of my list of places to visit. One of our lovely readers, Diane, visited Budapest recently and put together a little lists of things to do and see.

Diane and her husband John are avid travelers.  They began taking their daughter (now 4.5) abroad when she was 18 months old.  They now travel with two kids (their son is 2). Here is their list of things to see and places to play, eat and stay:

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SEE:

Castle District – Located on the Buda side of the Danube, the Castle District is a must see for three distinct reasons. First, the trip to the Castle District is a blast for kids as it includes riding in a funicular. Once there, you will be dazzled by a wide array of buildings including the Royal Palace and the Matthias Church. But before you explore the charming streets of the District, stop and look across the Danube for the third (and, in my opinion) best reason for visiting the District – the views of Pest. You will have stunningly perfect views of Hungary’s enormous Parliament (third largest in the world), its distinct bridges and the lovely Danube itself. This is the perfect place for a family photo, if I do say so myself.

Heroes’ Square and City Park – City Park is a little like New York’s Central Park in that it has a bit of everything on its grounds including Budapest’s zoo and Szechenyi Baths. We elected not to visit the baths with two small kids but did spend an afternoon at the zoo. As it is located in the middle of town (and is one of the oldest zoos in the world), Budapest’s zoo feels intimate and the animals don’t seem so far away. After spending part of the day at the zoo, it is worth taking a stroll through City Park to visit Vajdahunyad Castle, especially if, like me, you have a child obsessed with princesses and castles. On the way out of the park, stop in (closed-to-traffic) Heroes’ Square and take in the imposing monument and statues of Hungary’s most important national leaders.

Memento Park – The final resting place for communist statues, Memento Park allows you to imagine what life was like behind the iron curtain. Although the significance of the statues will be lost on smaller kids (as it should be), they will enjoy climbing on the larger than life statues and sitting in the old Trabant car parked near the entrance. Once they are older and learn about the Soviet bloc in school, you can pull out the old photos and show them just how close they got to history. Memento Park is a bit out of the way in outer Buda but there are several easy public transportation options. Our kids enjoyed the trip out there just as much as they did the statues.

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PLAY:

Mini Polisz – Located at Nyugati ter, near the train station and WestEnd City Center, Mini Polisz is the ultimate interactive and roleplaying museum for young children. The space is divided into different businesses, including a Tesco grocery store, bank, mechanic shop, hair salon and doctor’s office. Children can move from one location to the next, taking on the jobs required of each business. Among the more creative sections is a roadway where kids can practice obeying traffic rules while riding scooters and trikes. There also is a baby room for those under one and a snack counter. For a more substantial meal, head over to the WestEnd City Center mall which offers over 50 dining options.

Children’s Railway  – Operated by children (under adult supervision), the Children’s Railway is a fun way to see the hills high above Budapest. The train’s route takes you past a number of sites, including Challenge Land Adventure Park, an outdoor park with several different ropes courses for visitors 4 and up. As we had a little one with us who couldn’t participate, we opted to skip Challenge Land but a lot of people recommend it!

EAT:

Verne Restaurant  – Verne Restaurant is just one of a seeming endless row of restaurants located on the popular pedestrian shopping street, Vaci utca. What distinguishes Verne from other restaurants is the enormous playground located in the back of the restaurant. We had not seen a playground of that magnitude at a restaurant not called McDonald’s. It came equipped with a slide, playhouse, sandbox and plenty of shovels and buckets. Our kids did not want to leave. For the adults, the restaurant offers a varied menu including pizzas and traditional Hungarian dishes.

Pizza Eataliano  – With three locations in popular tourist areas of Budapest, you are never far away from an Eataliano outpost. As the name suggests, this is the place for pizza and also pasta, all at a reasonable price (especially if you dine off of the lunch menu). The children’s menu offers several pizza and pasta options and includes dessert (ice cream or chocolate cake).

Gelarto Rosa – Rumored to be the best ice cream in Budapest and it certainly lives up to its hype. This tiny shop scoops the ice cream into the shape of a perfect rose. As a bonus, they offer dairy-free and other allergen-free flavors. This meant that my son, who is allergic to several common foods, was able to enjoy a daily treat. As the shop is small, there is generally a line out the door but it is worth the wait. Plus, the shop is just a few storefronts down from Szent Istvan ter (St. Stephen’s Square) and its beautiful Szent Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica). Take your ice cream over to the (car free) square and let your kids run around while you enjoy the view of the beautiful church.

Jegbufe  – Ever wonder what it must have been like to live in the Communist era? Jegbufe gives you a chance to step back in time. In business since 1952 (and apparently not renovated since them), Jegbufe is a Budapest institution serving pastries and drinks just as they did prior to the fall of the iron curtain. In addition to retaining the Soviet-era décor, Jegbufe has kept the communist system of ordering goods: first, you view the items you wish to purchase. Once you decide which you would like to buy, you get into a separate line to pay. Once payment is complete, bring your receipt back to the original counter and claim your treat. Not surprisingly, they only take cash, and it can be a bit of a challenge to use a stroller inside. No doubt just like in the communist days.

SHOP:

Játékvár  – If there is one item that makes a young child uniquely Hungarian it is their possession of an affordable, plastic ride on scooter. They ride them everywhere: in the mall, on the playground, at the zoo and on any and all pedestrian-only streets and squares. Naturally, we had to buy two for our own children (and find a way to get them home, but that’s another story). We bought ours at Játékvár at the Mammut I shopping mall, located near the Millenaris cultural center. However, these ubiquitous scooters can be found in various shops throughout town. If you have plans to tour the zoo, spend time in City Park or stroll down pedestrian-only Vaci utca., you can’t go wrong by investing in a riding scooter for your children. These scooters may just be the best souvenir we have ever brought back from Europe.

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Memories of Hungary  – There is no shortage of souvenir shops in Hungary selling cheap bags, magnets and other tchotchkes. However, for unique souvenirs of high quality, there is one shop that should be on everyone’s list. Memories of Hungary, located down the street from Szent Istvan Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica), sells a wide array of beautifully crafted items including clothing, handbags and ceramics, as well as wine and food. For little ones, they have books, stuffed animals and beautiful hand puppets. The store’s employees speak perfect English and can help you find the right souvenir for that hard-to-shop-for friend or relative.

STAY:

Apartment Rentals –  We had great luck with Golden Stars Apartments  which offered an array of apartments of different sizes throughout Budapest. They also arranged for an airport transfer with car seats. We elected to rent an apartment on pedestrian-only Vaci utca. Vaci utca was the ideal location for a family with small children. We were a stone’s throw away from many food options, including the kids’ favorite, McDonald’s, and the kids rode their new riding scooters to dinner each night. When my son lost his right shoe (we only brought one pair with us), we had several options for purchasing a new pair. When the kids got a little restless during the witching hour (you parents know what I mean), we took them around the corner to a perfect playground set against the backdrop of the Danube. And when it was time to head out and sightsee, we had several public transportation options available to us within a five minute walk, including trams and the metro.

For those who prefer hotels, you can’t beat the family activities available at the Four Seasons Budapest, located on the banks of the Pest side of the Danube. The hotel offers both baby- and kid-sized amenities for their littlest guests, including baby toys and child-sized robes and slippers.

- Emilie

P.S. Diane hired a local photographer to take photos of the whole family in Budapest. Such a great idea, I never have a single photo of the whole family when we go on holiday. She used Brita Photography.

Learning to weave on a peg loom

ivy weaving

weaving loom

My sister just gave Ivy a Peg Loom weaving kit and it’s been really sweet watching Ivy learn to weave this summer. She’s intent on making herself a little handbag, which is one of the projects recommended in the loom kit. I’m kind of hoping we can buy some pretty yarns and make some weaved wall hangings, perhaps with some driftwood found on the beach (I was feeling inspired yesterday when I saw this photo on Instagram). In either case, it’s a great summertime project (for both of us).  The PegLoom kit comes with everything you need to get started, including yarn and a weaving needle.

x Courtney

MAPS Activity Book

MAPS activity book
colouring MAPS activity book
Remember the MAPS book we all love so much? Well, they’ve just come out with an activity book version which my kids are loving nearly as much as the book!! (Easton did make sure to tell me that he still loves the book more!)

colouring american states

The MAPS activity book is filled with loads of great activities, all based on encouraging children to learn and discover the different countries, continents and cultures around the world. There’s a page, for example, that encourages children to colour the 50 different states of America, using only four colours, and without letting any of the colours touch — a fun, yet challenging activity that my 9-year-old really enjoyed.

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Another page asks you to colour the different flags from countries around the world and then asks you to design and colour your own flag. Another fun activity! The book is available from Amazon (US and UK).

x Courtney

Dinosaur / Skeleton Memory Game

dinosaur_memory_2Do you sometimes play memory games with your children? And do you win? I honestly have trouble beating my kids! I remember that as a child, I loved playing Memory with adults, because I could actually beat them. I wonder, is it true that children have a better (short term) memory than grown-ups?

dinosaur_memory1Anyway, I recently got this cool Dinosaur / Skeleton Memory game, and it’s so fun. We love playing (and of cours Pim beats me all the time) – and at the same time we learn the names of all the dinosaurs. Which is a crucial triviality, especially if you’re a mum of boys!

xxx Esther

PS Another game I love playing with my children (and they beat me all the time too)!

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