Another fabulous interactive colouring book just begging to be illustrated! They seem to be popping up everywhere these days and with good reason too. Created by talented Melbournian Nicole Mandile, in the first of her My Picture Storybooks series, The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo kept my rambunctious 4-year-old son in check on a long-haul airplane flight recently. So naturally I am a big fan. He was totally engrossed in creating, drawing and pasting away, each page providing the perfect canvas for his masterpiece. It helps that he has a complete fascination with all things galaxy-related.
The book is created using uncoated paper, a great surface to sketch on and is staple bound so the pages open flat. It is printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper. It isn’t too long or too short — just perfect to capture their little attention spans.
Available through weheartbooks for local and international shipment.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Kid-friendly restaurants
We’ve just completed our 30-day drive up the eastern coast of Australia in a campervan, driving more than 4,000 km from Sydney to Cairns with a few detours in between. We did and saw some amazing things, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re happy our camping days are behind us! I’m still not sure whether it was the best or worst decision we’ve ever made – there were moments where I nearly divorced my husband, disowned my children (only kidding, of course!) and swore I’d never return to Australia. BUT it was a really wonderful way to see the country, and the highlights of our trip were well worth the struggles — snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was worth the journey alone! I think it all would have been much more enjoyable (and easy) if we didn’t have the kids, but the irony is that the kids LOVED the campervan and could carry on camping forever.
I’m sure in years to come we will look back at our camping trip with really fond memories but right now I’m happy to be sleeping on a mattress, eating good meals and staying put for more than three days at a time.
Anyway, now that I’m a ‘camping expert’ I’ve compiled a list of all the pros and cons of traveling in a campervan (with young kids). (more…)
Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike. It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration. So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids? No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets. A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!). If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around. (more…)
After two children I felt I just couldn’t justify putting my third one in that same old car seat. For some reason (hormones?) I felt it should be new, clean and pristine, like the little baby who will be in it. I had already started working on convincing my husband that we really need to buy a new maxi cosi (he doesn’t automatically feel the same way about it as I do, so odd), until I came across the universal car seat covers from Hagou Originals. (more…)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Eva and Oli
All those scorching Australian summers that I spent oiling myself with ‘Hawaiian Tropic’ –- how it makes me cringe! If only this product was around when I was in my late teens… okay, who am I kidding, I still would have ignored the facts, all for a deep bronze tan that didn’t ever last. The fact is that the sun ages your skin prematurely and causes cancer. Whilst I did come to my senses long ago, I am sure that I still wear the damage of those early reckless years. These days, I don’t leave home without having applied Invisible Zinc to each and every member of my family (husband excluded here, he is not partial to me assaulting him with ‘goo’ every morning — not for want of trying, mind you).
The concept behind Invisible Zinc is technology that provides a physical (not chemical) barrier between you and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. They use a world patented form of Zinc Oxide that has been milled down so that it is no longer visible to the naked eye …fortunately you can banish all images of the white zinc-nosed, speedo-clad Aussie lifeguard, not quite the look I favor either when I head for the beach! Zinc Oxide is a natural sunscreen agent that sits on the skin reflecting dangerous UVA and UVB rays without unnecessary chemical sun-filters (incidentally, most chemical sunscreens offer little or no protection against UVA rays).
So Courtney, take note! This Aussie product is a must-have for you and your family over the coming months… and for those of you shivering in the Northern Hemisphere, as strange as it may seem, summer is just around the corner! (-:
Last week we had snow in the Netherlands, which doesn’t happen very often, so when it does we make the most of it! We took the children to the south of the Netherlands (where I’m originally from), and enjoyed the beautiful white landscape on foot. Even though my kids were well equipped with snow boots, they started to complain about walking fairly quickly (such wimps!), and so we carried them on our backs for the remainder of the hike.
I had my nearly-3-year-old in our conventional back carrier, and my husband carried our 4-year-old daughter using our new organic ERGObaby carrier. Which is, by the way, such a great invention! Using the infant insert, you can use it for a newborn baby (which I will hopefully be able to try out soon), and without it it can safely be used for kids up to 18 kilos!! Which will spare you a trip to the gym, thinking about it (at least, that’s what I kept telling my husband).
The ERGObaby can be used in front, hip and back carrier positions, depending on the age of the child and the specific need. It’s really simple to use and according to my husband (and daughter) very comfortable! I like the simple look of it (we have the chocolate coloured one), and the fact that it’s fairly small (especially compared to a conventional back carrier), which makes it easy to take with you while traveling.
P.S. The guy in the picture is not my husband. (Cute nevertheless.) And, might you be thinking, it is also not my daughter! (I like her outfit though.)
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Monster hat
Now here is a concept I wish I would have created… mittens that stay put, really. They’re mittens with long, stretchy cuffs that reach the elbow, making sure that no matter how much your child wriggles, runs, or plays, those mittens won’t budge, and they won’t fill with snow either.
With sizes ranging from baby to 5-year-old, and with loads of different colors and styles, the Mimi TENS mittens are made with waterrepellent nylon, insulated with Thinsulate and lined with Oeko-Tek bamboo fleece for extra warmth and softness.
They’re made in Canada where they are no strangers to snow, so you know you’re in good hands, literally. Click here for retailers. And can you believe I’m thinking about snow already?
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Cumin cheese
I’ve still got the travel bug. I’m off to Africa to write a travel article. And while I’m not taking my family, I can’t wait to do so one day. You see, during my research I came across a photo from Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and I thought, “wouldn’t this be the most amazing place to take my child”. In my opinion, it would beat Disney Land hands down. I can just see the wonderment on my son’s face when a giraffe pops his head through the window. Priceless. If any of you have been there, I would love to hear about your experience.
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• School Memories Book
We are doing quite a lot of driving this summer which is not really the most exciting thing for kids to do. Sooner or later on every drive my eldest daughter informs us that she needs to vomit! She is mostly crying wolf and is only just bored, but it is always a great way of getting my attention. I have now figured out that the best way of testing if she is really feeling a bit crock or not is by getting her to sing. My reasoning behind this is that a person who is about to vomit does not feel like singing…
So now there is a lot of singing going on in our car (most of my friends would freak at this notion, as I cannot sing for the life of me) and this is our repertoire: ‘Old Macdonald’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Molly Malone’, the first verse of ‘Lemon Tree’ by Peter, Paul and Mary. We also mix in a bit of ‘No No No’ by Destinys Child, prompted by the 16-month-old as that is the only song she knows the words to, literally. Now, I am interested, what do other families sing? Any suggestions on how to expand our repertoire?
We have another 6-hour journey ahead of us soon and I do not know how often I will be able to deal with these old faithfuls…
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Kid’s digital camera
I had a big “ah-ha” moment when I realised just how important travelling was for me. It’s quite common for Australians to do a big trip to Europe when they’re in their twenties. Many live there, as I did for a couple of years. But once those people return to Australia rarely do they venture back out into the wide world, other than to, say, Bali or Fiji. But I can’t live without travel. It’s the one time that I actually switch off completely from work and my day-to-day responsibilities and allow myself to dream.
I don’t need a big house or new car or designer clothes, but I do need to travel to new places. All of this sprung to mind when I saw this picture — I started to yearn to take Little C away with me. It’s from Australian brand Infancy’s Spring Summer collection.
Hooks of all sorts can come in quite handy. Think Captain Hook, what could the poor man have done without his handy hook..?
These hooks by Think King are INGENIOUS. I wish I had them years ago! They fit any buggy or pushchair, look cool, are well priced, and are in my opinion a must-have buggy accessory for any parent-with-pushchair!
Think King also makes a handy buggy cup holder/key bag. Again, fits any buggy, but also any wheelchair, scooter, bike or bed.
Available through the Think King website, and in the Netherlands at zozwanger.nl.
I’ve just returned from a vacation in Paris, and realized how much stuff you need when you have a baby! With my older daughter already 4 years old, I’d forgotten about all the gear one needs for a little one when traveling. And in France, there are two baby essentials that are often lacking in public places: a changing table and highchairs. The changing table you can get away with, making do with a park bench or even changing a diaper discreetly in the stroller. But what to do without a high chair? I tried the first few days feeding my 8-month-old in her stroller, which was a disaster– she had orange puree all over herself and all over the stroller. Ick. Then I remembered seeing the Sack N Seat in a shop and ran out to get one! (I got mine at Monoprix in Paris.) The Sack n Seat is a great portable high chair option– it fits over almost any chair, straps your baby in securely, and then folds up teeny tiny to stash away. That way, baby C was happy as could be to “finger paint” with her lunch all over the cafe table, and not on her stroller! (If you look on the Sack n Seat website, they have a whole list of where to buy the product in countries all over.)
As I contemplate the terrible task of packing for summer vacation, I’m making a mental checklist of all the baby necessities I’ll need to bring. One on the top on my list is my Diapees & Wipees case. I’ve had this thing for years now, and it has served me well– it holds a few diapers & a small pack of wipes. I’ve also managed to squeeze in a baggie or two for extra dirty diaper disposal and even an extra onesie for the inevitable accident, along with a disposable changing pad. Everything fits in a neat, cute, package — you have got to love the Eiffel Tower toile! (Other great fabrics are available too.) The case envelope is so compact that you can stash it easily in your purse and ditch the diaper bag. And it is great when you travel– leave hubby with the luggage, grab your Diapees & Wipees and make a quick trip to the bathroom. My daughter loves to play with it and gnaw on it when she is getting her diaper changed. If you check out the website, there is a whole list of international resellers for this super-handy mom-invented product.
My daughter has gone through all the typically girly phases between 3 and 4 years old– first ballerina, then princess, and now mermaid obsessions. In a quest to come up with something other than more dress-up clothes for her birthday, I came across this: Mudpuppy Magnet Figures. They are truly adorable — great illustrations, tons of magnets (not like some of the skimpy magnet sets I’ve had in the past), all in a great carry case. The website says for ages 6+, but my daughter, who is just 4, has no problem with them. The sets range from ballerina and princess kits to the cheeky “city girls” and on to monsters and robots for the boys. I’m thrilled because they are a creative plaything that is also easily portable — great for upcoming summer vacations, no? They offer international shipping too — just email them for a quote.
Courtney wrote about Bambu bowls before, and I always thought they were really pretty until I saw one in reality: they are actually REALLY BEAUTIFUL. The shapes of the bowls, the colours, and the matte lacquer — all extremely attractive, I must say.
Bambu also makes another very cool gadget: ever heard of a spork??
A spork is obviously a cross between a spoon and a fork and it has quickly become one of our favourite food utensils. It’s fun, and really handy! I like to pop it in my daughter’s lunch box — great for yogurt and fruit! My son loves it at the dinner table and I like it because it looks so cool. And because it’s completely eco-friendly, of course.
Available at the Dutch eco-boutique Shakshuka, and guess what: if you order at Shakshuka and quote ‘BAMBU’ as a discount code, you will receive a 20% discount!
Vacationing is great. We love going to the south of France, La Douce France, with its beautiful countryside, yummy food and good weather (at least better than Amsterdam). The trip to France however is less fantastic — it’s an 11-hour car drive! Kind of a challenge to keep the kids entertained… I’m getting more and more organized though. This time we left with plenty of books, snacks (good & bad, pardon me), portable DVD players, blankets, crayons and loads and loads of bottles of water and wipes.
To keep everything sort of tidy in the car I installed an Auto Trash Bag on our stick shift. And I must say this little invention came in really handy! It’s designed and made by Allyson of The Mod Mobile, and besides the fact that it looks very cute, it’s also very sturdy and cleverly designed. The Auto Trash Bag comes with an adjustable strap and can be installed on the stick shift, the head rest or wherever you think handy, and fits standard degradable bags from the pet store.
A must for every car with kids, I daresay!
ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:• Merry go round
Although my daughter baptized it her ‘bear suit’, I think with it’s part skinny and part fluffy leg it looks more like a poodle! Very cool, I think, and very comfortable too, according to my daughter. It’s a great travel outfit (just tested to the max in an 11-hour car ride to France) and also very nice for lazy summer days.
Made by the cool and conscious Swedish company Shampoodle (they claim they were about to open a dog grooming parlor in Vegas before settling for kids’ clothes in Sweden), these track suits are 100% organic cotton and can be conveniently washed at 60°C. Due to the extra long rib in the arm and leg, the garments will fit over at least three sizes!
You can find them in the new and super-cool online eco-boutique Shakshuka. Shakshuka is based in the Netherlands, but they will ship worldwide.
For a lot of people a summer holiday is a real holiday only if it’s spent on a beach. But, if you are like me and love mountains and have still not planned your next trip, you might want to consider the Alpe di Siusi area in the Dolomites, here in Italy.
The Alpe is a plateau at about 2000 mt that is surrounded by beautiful mountains and to me is the closest thing to paradise on earth! On a sunny summer day the scenery is breathtaking, with endless grassy fields punctuated by stone and wooden huts, a few nicely built hotels and a few spruce woods. And, what has kept us going back for 4 years now is that it is an extremely family-friendly environment! (more…)