21 June 2017

Triple (not just double) denim: kids outfit of the day

When I first started my blog one of my favourite things to publish were my daughter's outfit posts. I loved selecting her nice combinations from her vast wardrobe. I think it is quite common isn't it, when as a mum your body is constantly changing and your own wardrobe is constantly in a state of flux. You know that at least the clothes you got for your kid will always fit and look nice, whatever the day is. 

But I haven't published any of these outfit posts of my daughter for ages now. I absolutely love looking back at them - not so much for the outfits, but because when I did these posts regularly, I always had some nice regular portraits of my daughter. Over the course of the year I could really see the change in her, as she grew and developed, as I had photographic evidence of it every couple of weeks.

Triple (not just double) denim: kids outfit of the day | Wave to Mummy

So I figured - it would be nice to try start doing a bit more of these again. Not every week of course - our weekends tend to be pretty hectic and I often forget to even take out my camera. And let's face it, trying to cajole a fournado into standing still long enough to capture a relatively non-blurry photograph ain't easy. I couldn't afford the weekly chocolate bills for one!

a denim outfit on a four year old girl

smiling four year old girl

four year old girl in a denim dress

kids flowery converse shoes

smiling four year old in a triple denim outfit
Dress Tu Clothing / Jeans H&M / Converse-type shoes SC & Co / Jacket Bluezoo 

These outfit post pictures were taken late April. We were going to a birthday party of her cousins, and I offered her a piece of chocolate if she would stop for a bit and smile for the camera. And she did, for a moment...

I wanted to take these outfit pictures because I loved her triple-denim outfit. I remember the time when double-denim was seen as pretty much the worse thing you could ever wear... But as time passes everything starts to look rosy again, and now it is one of those trendy things to do again. So we went one extra step, and made it into triple-denim! Jeans, denim jacket and a dip-dye denim dress she has worn for a long time already...

What do you guys think of double (or triple) denim?     

16 June 2017

A summer day stroll in the Epping Forest

Epping Forest is quite a gorgeous location to stroll through, as we discovered recently. For a metropolitan city, London has a surprising amount of woodlands areas and humongous parks to get your forest bathing on. I have never been to Epping Forest though. Despite having lived in the general vicinity of Epping Forest for nearly eight years, we visited it for the very first time just a couple of weeks back. And it wasn't even out of our own volition. It was a forest school, organised through the bilingual Saturday school we regularly attend.

A summer day stroll in the Epping Forest | Wave to Mummy

We started our walk from the Epping Forest Gateway, which is near Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge. Next to the lodge is also a nice cafe called Butler's Retreat to end the day in. Chingford, the town nearby, looks also pleasant and a nice place to stop for lunch. 

The kids were so excited about the walk, running around, and finding all the best trees to climb. The hollow tree trunk you could climb through to the branches, and the big gigantic tree, with a little hidey-hole through the roots... We practically had to drag our daughter away. The tree with the cave underneath the roots was apparently her castle, where she would stay forever with her dangerous magic powers. I didn't query what these dangerous magic powers were but I knowing my daughter they probably turn your heart into ice and create "frozen fractals all around"...

girl climbing a tree in epping forest

girl in a tree in epping forest

pond at epping forest

girl feeding geese at epping forest pond

family walk in epping forest

A summer day stroll in the Epping Forest | Wave to Mummy

toddler in a cave under tree roots at epping forest

Anyway, Epping Forest is just about 20 minutes drive away from ours, perhaps not even that. For whatever reason we have never went for walks there, but have favoured Whitewebbs, which is perhaps a little bit closer to us, again, again and again. We have been to Whitewebbs to hunt Easter eggs, to celebrate Mothers Day and to just walk around after a gigantic meal in their Toby's Carvery. 

But Epping Forest... Well, this was the first time we went there together, the three of us. I've always pictured it as a bit of a vast, dense woods, where there isn't an awful a lot to do or see, other than perhaps trying to avoid the East End gangsters who apparently (as told by hubby) hide dead bodies in the deep forest. Morbid, yes, but thankfully the only shifty characters we met were Canada geese. Bird feed kept them on our good sides...

girl walking in the forest at epping forest

epping forest tree branch hut

mum and daughter at epping forest tree branch hut

girl in a tree at epping forest

I thought it was a great place for a family day out, with plenty of easy walks and gorgeous greenery to enjoy, and lots of pleasant places to stop for a picnic. I think this will be one of those places we will have to visit again, perhaps take a picnic, or even treat ourselves to a nice pub lunch afterwards. Sounds pretty good to me!  

A free family day out at Epping Forest, London - ideas where to go when you are at Chingford, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, and lots of pictures of the type of things you might find in Epping Forest, London.

toddler girl smiling at epping forest

What is your favourite forest to walk around in?

You might also like: 3.3 miles of a forest

10 June 2017

A letter to my daughter on her fourth birthday

Dear Aili,

You are at that funny age now. You are so big and so independent, yet you are still so little. 

You constantly tell us you want to do it "by-a myself!" and you insist on doing everything by yourself. I love that you are making your own decisions. Unfortunately, when it is a decision such as wearing a summer dress on a chilly day or choosing to eat only cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it often ends up in a shouting match. As you, quite naturally, want it your way because well... You are four. And you want what you want. We just want you to be dressed, fed and healthy! And preferably go about it a bit more quietly. 

A letter to my daughter on her fourth birthday | Wave to Mummy

It is sometimes being stressful being the parent of a four year old. The 6AM wake-up calls are harsh. 6AM, on the dot, every day. I love the "Mummy, daddy!" shouts we hear from your room, and the cuddles we get afterwards, but I just wish you could stop wriggling so much and jumping on mummy so much at that time so we could get a bit more shut-eye... 

I think you are so keen because you miss me a bit during the week. While I get to spend those mornings with you and drop you off to pre-school, by the time I get back home from work you are already in bed, and we are left just the weekend. So quite naturally, when I am here, you want me, me, me, no matter what time it is. 

You are obsessed with baby bunnies, Frozen, Paw Patrol and puppies. Frozen and Elsa was your chosen birthday party theme, your favourite TV programme is Paw Patrol and one of the only guaranteed ways of getting you to be quiet, and you love to hop to school, pretending to be a baby bunny when we walk up there. 

You love all kinds of baby animals, and love pretending to be a baby bunny, hopping away, or a baby horse, neighing in a squeaky baby voice. I am of course, depending on the situation, a mummy bunny, a mummy horse, or occasionally a mummy dog. I love this game a lot, although your daddy doesn't, as he thinks it gets you a bit over-excited and silly. And fair enough, it does a bit, but it is still fun!

Four year old pre-schooler

three princess badges with number four on them

four year old smiling at the camera

One thing you have been talking over and over again is babies. There have been a few new babies amongst the wider family, and our friends in the last year or so and you just love them. You constantly talk about how they are "sooooo cuuuuute" and "soooo delicate". You have told us that you want to have a baby sister AND a baby brother. Twins. No tall ask that is! You've also told us that when you are a mummy, you will have ten babies. All at once. You definitely love babies!

Pre-school has gone really well for you. You have lots of friends, and you are a popular girl both at your school, at your ballet class and at Montessori. At one of your development meetings at pre-school, we were told that empathy was one of those things we should try and encourage in you, and after lots of talks about feelings and how other children perceive things you do, we are happy to see that you have blossomed into a genuinely inclusive and friendly little character. You play with others nicely, and insist on including everyone in play even when others might turn their backs on them. Not to say you are always sunshine and lollipops, you aren't, but we are getting there. 

You are very excited about going to the big school next year, and so are we. We spoke with you which school you might like to go to, and you said you preferred the one where you are now, with the friends you have, so that is the one we chose for you. I hope it goes well and you will enjoy it. I had to change schools twice in my first year and I am glad you have a bit more stability, and you will already know some of the children there. 

Smiling pre-schooler on her fourth birthday

You love going to the park, you love doing crafts, you love drawing and colouring in, and you also love doing your "exercises", something you mimic from your dad who has really got into going to the gym recently. You love going to the bath, and you always pretend to be a mermaid there. You love me and you love your daddy, and most of all, you love giving us cuddles and kisses. I love how you sometimes just laze in our laps, watching telly or videos on YouTube. 

There are so so so many things I could tell you about us, about you, and about the way I feel about you. But I will tell you just one thing. The thing I tell you every day. 

Mummy loves you very very much. 

What I want to say to my four year old daughter | Wave to Mummy

31 May 2017

What our family was up to in May 2017?

May has been a rather nice time. Lots of days off from work with the May Bank Holidays, and I've also taken a few additional days off. The weather has got really lovely all of a sudden - the spring has really come and brought the summer with it. We even manage to get our monthly portraits done without too much hassle and in time this month! It was just our local park, in the tree-lined walkway I love walking through and taking photographs at, often featuring it on my Instagram

Family portrait in May 2017 - Wave to Mummy

This month I have been enjoying the extra holidays, very much so. I don't think I have actually done anything particularly ground-breaking during the bank holidays. Just chilled back home, and done the usual stuff. I've had lots of plans how to best use the time, but in reality, we just enjoyed spending some family time, going to the park, meeting friends, going to the aquarium, going to a baby disco... 

The weather has been so so so hot here, and I have lacked on the appropriate summer office wear department in my wardrobe... So I have been shopping lots at Marks and Sparks. I've used their online stylist, and got a fab few ideas from them, and bought lots of clothes to take me through the summer. 

Mid-May I also visited Finland, to see my grandfather. He has been quite ill recently so it was nice to pop by for a few days and spend some time with him. I used to spend many of my school holidays at my grandparents when I was a little girl, and going back felt so homely. We talked, we went out, saw family, relaxed, just the type of things you do with your grandparents. 

Family photographs May 2017 - Wave to Mummy

As a family, we have been especially pre-occupied with the biggest party of the year... My daughter's fourth birthday party, at the beginning of June. A few days ago our dearest daughter told us: "I hope my friends will like my party. I hope my friends won't think it is boring..." so the pressure is on. Oh, the pressure is on. 

The party theme is Elsa, from Frozen, and I have gone slightly overboard with my Pinterest-pinning induced glitter Elsa-frenzy. If I tell you that I have ordered myself an Anna dress, just for the party, you can sort of tell how much I've got into the party planning mode. 

We have invited an awful a lot of girls, from her school, her Montessori class and her ballet. She has an awful lot of friends, and she has wanted to invite all the girls to her princess party. So we have invited an awful lot of girls, of which we of course secretly hoped not all could come. Because in reality, we could probably accommodate 25 girls and their parents but it might be a bit of a squeeze... 

As for my daughter she has enjoyed her princess games, and pretending to be a queen, and princess and Elsa, and Elsa again. We have had many heart-rendering renditions of Let it Go, complete with the whole choreography with Elsa throwing her gloves and crown away. 

She has suddenly decided that she is a big girl, and wants to do her things her way. She has her own style, and likes to choose her own clothes. Anything that is pink, is a firm favourite. She has been particularly funny, with witty one-liners directed mostly at my husband. I smell another post coming just on those one-liners... She has also been a bit trying, with her independence surging. It is lovely to see her getting bigger and bigger but it can also be a real challenge when you just want her to eat her greens!

As for my husband, we celebrated his 34th! It was a normal working day for me, so he went out with his mum to the Pink Floyd exhibition, and to celebrate the birthday, we ordered a Chinese takeaway in the evening. That's living on the edge, parental style! Gone are the days when you used to go out for the night, and have a wild time out on the town. Now it is staying in, and falling asleep before midnight. With belly full of Chinese. 

Other than celebrating his birthday, he has also been a rock for me while I have had to stay at work some late nights to finish some important pieces of work lately. Having a partner that can easily take an additional load with the kids when needed is so valuable when you are trying to build a career!

So that is what we were up to in May 2017. How did your month go?

12 May 2017

How to enjoy Kew Gardens with under 5's

Have you ever wondered if it is worth visiting Kew Gardens with kids - especially little ones? Kew Gardens here in London has been one of those places I have wanted to visit for the whole ten years I have lived in London. I finally decided to visit, and dragged my threenager daughter there too. Here are five of my top tips on how to actually enjoy a visit to Kew Gardens if you have a small child in tow...

Kew Gardens with kids - little girl looking at pink flowers

While Kew Gardens is a gorgeous location, absolutely stunning, it really is much more of an attraction for adults. Now, which self-respecting child actually cares much about flowers they can't pull from the ground? Yep, that's right, no-one. Especially my threenager. There is a reason why the tickets to Kew Gardens are free for under four year olds! There are however some things for very small kids to do, and things that they will really enjoy, and these are the things I found helpful when visiting with my young daughter.
How to enjoy Kew Gardens with under 5's - 5 top tips for the little kids visiting Kew Gardens.

1. Book tickets online. 

You can even book the tickets the same morning. On a beautiful sunny day, especially in the morning time, the queue to the tickets offices is horrendous and you do not want to wait there with your kids. I know mine would be a nightmare. So book those tickets before you get there, and bask in the smugness when you walk past the crowds inside. I bought my tickets from AttractionTix, and while they say you need to print the tickets, they accepted my e-tickets at the gate. You can get tickets online with Kew Gardens as well but they are about a quid more expensive.

2. Get on the Kew Explorer Land Train

This is one of those jeeps with carriages at the back - you know the ones that every single kid wants to go on everytime they see one... Anyway. I found this was a great way to get a small uncooperative child to cooperate enough for mummy me to actually see something and to enjoy the gardens. We sat on the train, it took us around the Kew Gardens, I saw all the main sights, and my daughter mostly sat still waving at people. Result! The tickets were a fiver for an adult and a couple of quid for kids - money well spent. 

On a busy day, do get to the train about 15 minutes before it leaves from Stop 1. No-one left or got on between Stops 2 and 3, and even from Stops 4 onwards it wasn't 100% if you would get on it. The train can be pretty packed on a busy day.

Kew Gardens pink flower cherry tree with child

Pink flower cherry tree and a kid at Kew Gardens

child picking flowers form pink cherry flower tree at kew gardens

3. For outdoor play head to the Natural Area (near stop 4 on the Land Train trail)

There are indoor and outdoor play areas elsewhere, but I found these were really ram-packed with older kids, and I would not have taken a toddler or even my three year old there. Possibly on a quiet day when there aren't too many kids running amok, but on the busy day we were there I just didn't feel comfortable. So I took my three year old daughter to the Natural Area, where there is a little badger cave you can walk into (and some areas you even need to crawl!) and a log-trail to jump around on.

4. Pack a picnic - or get food from the restaurants

If you want to visit with on a budget do pack a picnic with you as it can be quite expensive otherwise, especially for adults. You can grab something to eat on your way if you arrive by train - there is a small Tesco right outside Kew Gardens Station, and some other shops nearby too.

Otherwise, you can get a sandwich and a milk or juice for kids for about £3 from the restaurants, which isn't too bad and was enough for my little one. The quietest restaurant tends to be the  Pavillon Restaurant near Stop 2 if you want to eat in, and White Peaks Cafe near Stop 7 apparently has child friendly menu.

Bring a water bottle too - you can fill them at all the restaurants saving you few bobs!

Mum and daughter on Kew Explorer Land Train

The Hive bee nest structure at Kew Gardens from below

The entrance at Kew Gardens

5. See the geese at the pond outside Palm House (right next to the main entrance)

This was probably one of the highlights for my daughter. You see these massive koi carps circling below the murky surface, and these ducks and geese swimming in the pond, and lots and lots of other kids marvelling at the same sights. It was quite difficult to get her to leave! We got to see a very exciting fight with the geese too, where they had a proper pecking match right in front of us. While obviously not an everyday occurrence, we did feel a bit like having been plonked right in the middle of a nature documentary!

We did enjoy our visit, although I think Kew Gardens really is much more of an adult place to go to. There are still lots of pretty cool things for kids to see. Older, school-age children will of course get much more out of it in an educational way. There are a few more tips on what to do with kids (especially older ones) on AttractionTix blog as well as on Kew Gardens site. We spent the whole day at Kew so there certainly is lots to do over there!

We also filmed a little video of our day - I hope you enjoy.

Have you visited Kew Gardens with little children? What did you do?

8 May 2017

Sleeping better: 5 top tips from a sleep coach to the Olympians

I recently got a bunch of great tips on how to get a better night of sleep and wanted to share them with you too. Sleep isn't always easy for me. I've heard lots of tips and I still have trouble falling asleep and having a proper restful night, but it is getting better.

When I was invited by Clipper Teas to a pyjama party of bedtime stories and sleep talk at the 40 Winks Hotel, I was understandably quite keen. Alongside sipping herbal tea we also got to hear tips from a sleep coach to Olympians on how to improve our sleep cycles and I learned loads of new tips I want to share with you. As always, I also took lots of pictures from the event so you can see what the infamous Bedtime Story Nights at 40 Winks looks like...

girls standing in 40 winks hallway

pillows on the floor for bedtime stories

rolltop bathtub at 40 winks hotel

canapes at 40 winks hotel

canapes on a table

So, sleep. Sometimes I just can't sleep. I get anxious, and I toss and turn for what seems like an eternity. Hearing my other half breathing deeply and calmly next to me serves to make me annoyed on top of feeling anxious, and I'm stewing there thinking "Why is he sleeping! How is it possible for someone to fall asleep so quick?". 

Well, apparently it is quite common for women not to be able to sleep well. 

At the event the sleep coach told us that it is quite common for women to get stuck in this anxious cycle, worrying and planning for the next day. I have also had chats over sleep with the ladies from my office and SO MANY confessed how they just can't sleep properly, and just worry constantly over work and life in general. And speaking from experience, when you have babies, this just gets worse and worse... The tiniest little squeak in the night and you are right up, ready to save your baby. 

We got chatting about how people are really just animals and there are so many physiological things that determine how well we sleep. We, and men especially, sleep better on their non-dominant sides. If you are right-handed, you sleep better on your left side because that leaves your stronger arm open to fend against any attacks. And as humans really are just big hairless apes, we aren't really meant to cuddle or even sleep in same beds, and we usually sleep better with as much possible distance from others. Many of the tips we got followed from similar physiological issues.

steiff teddy bears on a window sill

a single bedroom at 40 winks hotel

dressing up table at 40 winks hotel

beige coloured bed at 40 winks hotel

woman taking a selfie through a mirror

So how can you get a better night of sleep?

1. You should start preparing for bed 90 minutes before you actually go to sleep. We sleep in 90 minute cycles, so it makes sense to prepare in a similar cycle. In this pre-sleep cycle do anything that helps you move from the hyper wake to a sleep mind-set. Take the time out, relax, move away from work and worries and wind down. De-cluttered settings can also raise your chance of getting deep sleep by 50-60%. This is something I have found particularly important and I decorated our bedroom with sleep in mind

2. Move from warm to cool - this recreates the natural cooling down of the day when the sun sets. A bedroom ideal temperature is around 18 Celsius. You can also mimic this cooling down by warming your body temperature by having a warm shower or a bath, or drinking a hot cup of herbal or de-caffeinated tea. 

3. Mimicking the setting sun, you should not be checking your mobile phone (which emit blue daytime type of light) during this 90 minute period. Moving from light to dark can help too, so get those candles out. 

4. Sleep on your non-dominant side, in a foetal position. This is a "sleep secure" mindset, which helps you enter the deeper sleep stages, which help you recover from the day. The idea is, as I explained earlier, to let your animal self feel secure. Your vital organs are protected in this sleeping position and you have your dominant arm ready to fend off attacks. 

5. Avoid rich, fatty and sugary meals in the evening. These take longer to digest, keep your body active and raise your body temperature.

After the event I have tried to create myself a pre-sleep routine. I don't follow this religiously, which perhaps explains why I still have trouble sleeping sometimes... But when I do it does help. I often have a shower in the evening, and I then prepare myself a hot cup of herbal tea. I read a magazine or a book until I start to feel so tired I can't concentrate and then make my way to bed. Usually I try to be in bed by 11PM so I am ready for my 6AM wake-up... Oh, the joys of living with kids.

clipper teas and canapes on a table

From the event I got a bunch of Clipper Teas to take home, and I have incorporated these into my evening routine. I've drank their teas before as well, as I have liked their fair-trade and natural ethos. The teas I got are all from Clipper Teas sleep range - Sleep Easy, Snore & Peace and their new Super Green Sleepy Decaf. Of the three different teas, my favourite has been the Super Green - I learned to love green tea when I lived in Japan and this had a lovely mild aroma to it. Unlike normal green tea it also has a bit of chamomile, lavender and lemon balm, meant to help you in drifting off later. 

The event was organised to promote this new green tea, the Super Green Sleepy Decaf, so we of course got to hear more about it there. Decaffeinated green tea was a new thing for me. Before the event I always thought that green tea is naturally caffeine free, thus I have enjoyed it in the evenings even if I have long deliberately avoided caffeinated drinks after 6PM due to the potential sleep issues. So if you too try and avoid caffeine due to sleep issues, make a note of that - normal green tea could affect your sleep!

a woman drinking tea on a sofa

It is tricky to try and unwind after a long day at work, and the hectic schedule that comes with living as a family in London. It feels like you are always on the go. Ready for action. Always doing something. Life really whizzes past you and I quite often feel just overwhelmed. But hopefully once my new sleep routines will bed in, and I start to be more strict with myself, my life balance will improve. When I sleep well, I feel like I do much better at everything... 
Sleeping better: 5 top tips from a sleep coach to the Olympians. If you have trouble falling asleep this post gives several tips how to get a better sleep routine.

How do you sleep? What kid of tips do you have for sleep?

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