17 February 2018

What is London Zoo's Land of the Lions like?

We visited Land of the Lions in the ZSL London Zoo right after it opened in 2016. It was one of the new attractions in London that had been anticipated for a while. We have always enjoyed visiting the zoo and we also enjoyed the new section, so I thought I would finally share our visit and thoughts about the Land of the Lions. You might also be interested in my top tips on how to get the most out of a visit to the London Zoo with kids!  

indian posters on a wall

lion floor mosaic

looking at monkeys

people looking at monkeys

Overall, we enjoyed the Land of the Lions and I thought it is a lot of fun for the kids. It was quite an immersive experience. You walk through to the Land of the Lions, and you walk through to India's Sasan Gir, vibrant, colourful and exotic. It was almost like walking to a set, transported to a different type of land. Lots of little touches here and there, with posters, wheelie bins and so on making it quite distinct from the rest of the zoo.

builders sign

lions area at london zoo

wheelie decoration

girl in a lion transportation box

safari tent lodge

The lions, well, you might get to see them close by or you might have to peer through to catch a glimpse of them. On the day we visited the lions were just chilling at the back. We did however get to see a moving and breathing lion brought to the main square. It had been injured and the zookeepers told us it needed immediate medical attention. It was oh so very exciting seeing the kids being so keen to go and pet it, and help with administering the medicine to the lion! 

This show (with a giant stuffed lion) was a nice touch and definitely got the kids excited. It wasn't pre-announced or anything but I think they are every hour, on the main viewing square, so it is well worth hanging back to wait for it.

viewing hole for lions

lions through a viewing hole

london zoo lions

I almost didn't spot them, but near the main square are few small huts where you can stay overnight. In the London Zoo. How cool would that be! Listening to the lions roar in the morning... Having breakfast watching the animals... Just amazing. I've been on a safari, sleeping in a tent and being petrified of hippos wandering in my path on a night time toilet trip - now this is the type of a safari that seems pretty chilled out and fun. And easier to organise than a trip to the Serengeti!

Overall, London Zoo is absolutely massive. I don't think we have ever managed to see all that the zoo has to offer on one day - and with kids about five hours is more than enough to knacker them out. My favourites are the lemurs and the monkey enclosures, as you get so close to the animals it actually freaks you out a bit. I have also really enjoyed the penguins, especially hanging back after the show and checking them close-up. I did love the Land of the Lions as well - it was colourful and fun with the immersive experience and the extra shows it was well worth the visit. In fact, I think we should go and visit it again this spring!

standing at the land of lions square

Have you been to the zoo or the new lion enclosure?

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14 February 2018

I'm 27 weeks now - nearly third trimester!

Oh gosh hasn't time just flown by! 

It seems like just yesterday I announced our happy news. I still haven't posted our gender announcement here although I did film a gender reveal video with the future big sister... well over a month ago. I am hoping to get it online before the baby is actually born. This post is actually the second pregnancy post I have done during this whole pregnancy. Not great for a family / parenting blogger, eh?

sister hugging the baby bump

Maybe this is just what it is when you are pregnant the second time? Time just seems to flow by. With my first pregnancy I could always tell how many weeks I was at the time. Now on the other hand if anyone asks, I just tell them it is something like 25 or maybe 26 weeks, not sure but the due date is in mid-May... I had to go online and use a pregnancy calculator to figure out how far along I really was. 

Having an older child and the busyness of life that comes from school runs and pick-ups and the constant laundry distracts you from bump watch. Not to mention the day job as well. Last time I was pregnant was five years back. My job at the time was half the pay and half the pressure of the current one. It certainly left a lot more time for the idle Googling of pregnancy symptoms and day dreaming about the baby. 

wearing best ever sister shirt

So how am I feeling now, being on the final stretches of this pregnancy?
  • I'm developing the waddle. I can feel it and hubby says he has been seeing it a while already.
  • I am starting to find it difficult to get off the sofa / bed.  
  • I am feeling some very strong movements, and hiccups, and some of the stronger kicks can be seen and felt by others. 
  • Compared to the absolute exhaustion I felt in my first trimester, I am not feeling half bad. 
  • That said, I've been marred by colds all winter, battling a chest infection and for the first time in my life having to use an asthma inhaler to manage the constant wheezing. 
  • Other than that, no particular aches or pains, which I am thankful of. 
  • I really wish I could/would do more exercise - but with business of work and the constant colds I haven't managed to go to the gym much, nor do much anything else. 
  • I'm starting to worry about the birth. It was a dire experience last time, with poorly managed pain and ending in a forcible extraction, an infection, several days in a miserly post-natal ward and nearly two months of slightly hobbled walking. I am hoping for something better this time. 
  • I am really looking forward to starting my maternity leave. I am hoping to leave 3 weeks before due date - enough time before the birth, but maximising the time spent home with the baby. 
  • I've already told work that I plan to be away minimum six months and that I want to move to a new position when back. Might as well try something new!  
  • We haven't got anything ready for the baby yet - eek! It doesn't need much, right? Just a crib and some nappies, right? Thankfully, we've kept most of the things from our daughter's baby years. Now, just to find where we stashed it all... 

sister kissing the baby bump

It really feels like this is speeding ahead. Time is passing so fast, and it still doesn't feel quite real, that in just a couple of months we will be a family of four. Just wow, what a change that will be...

Aili, the big sister has been so great and is very excited, and talks about the baby non-stop. She is so keen to help and will not forget to give the baby (or rather, my tummy) kisses and cuddles every single day. She will be such a great big sister! We took a couple of photos together to mark this 27th week - plan is to do a couple more of these photo shoots in the coming weeks. I had originally been planning to take a picture a week, and do one of those speeded-up progression videos but oh well... You can guess what happened to that project ha ha! 

heart sign on a pregnancy belly

Are any of you on the other side of the screen expecting too? How's it been?

1 February 2018

How to choose the best fuller bust and plus size bras: Expert advice

Like many women, I am atrocious at lingerie buying. Pregnancies, child birth, gaining and losing weight (OK, mostly gaining...) and just plain simple ageing has meant my body shape and size over the last five years has been in a flux. You lose touch of what your body needs. But now I have been taught on exactly how to find a perfect bra for a fuller bust (that's DD+ cup size) and/or a plus size lady, and I would like to share this newfound wisdom for the benefit of all you other ladies! And perhaps even some men shopping for their significant others this Valentines?

Last week I was invited to a blogger event with Very, to have a look at Very's Valentine's lingerie collection and to chat with the many lingerie brands present. And chat with the brands I did, and through that I got some excellent expert advice on how to choose a good bra for the bigger boob.

lingerie on a bed

First I had a chat with Pour Moi technical expert on how exactly plus-size and fuller bust (DD+) bras are made. Turns out, there are quite a lot of technical differences compared to "normal" bras:
  • The best support comes from a three-(or more)-piece construction - so for best support look for bras where the cup is made from minimum three stitched-together pieces. 
  • The moulded cups are OK too - some women prefer to smooth look underneath their shirts. I know I do! It is a matter of preference and the quality is still pretty good, but not as supportive.
  • Because there is more filler (so to speak) at the front, the plus-sized / fuller bust bra straps often need to be shorter length and/or more adjustable. 
  • Wider straps are a must with bigger boobs! They are heavier and if load is not spread properly, your shoulders will hurt. 
  • Because of the bigger breast tissue, the middle of the bra (center point) usually needs to be smaller and the cups closer together than in average size bras. 
  • Like with any boobs, also bigger boobs are different in sizes and shapes so to find the best fit you will have to try different models. 

chemise and underwear on bed

I then popped by to chat with ladies at the Freya stand, who suggested I go to a bra fitting with their expert. I came out three to four cup sizes bigger. Mind. Blown. 

At the bra-fitting I learned several tips on how to ensure you have a well-fitting bra, even if they are on the bigger side:
  • When fitting the bra, put it on, put your hand inside the cup and move your boob towards to middle to position it correctly.
  • The band should sit straight around the body and have a secure fit. It is supposed to be quite tight, but if you can fit your fingers underneath and pull it out a bit, it fits. Fit the band on the loosest setting, as over time your bra will start to stretch.
  • The cup should not pinch your boob. Pay special attention to the sides and top of the cup and examine whether it presses down on the flesh on either size making you spill out.  
  • The underwire goes surprisingly far to be able to accommodate the whole breast - it extends well underneath the armpits. 
  • The middle between the cups should lie flat to your skin between your breasts. It there is a gap in the center gore, the cup is too small. 
  • Fit to the bigger boob! Most women have odd-pair boobs, and you have to accommodate the biggest one first. It is a balancing act between finding a cup size that does not create a double-boob for the bigger, but doesn't look too gappy on the smaller side.
  • As you get older, your breast tissue generally expands, so it is likely you will need to go for a bigger cup size. 
I was so comfortable in my new, correct size, that I on my way home I ordered two of the bras (Fantasie Rebecca) I tried on at the fitting. As soon as they arrived two days later, I joyfully threw away my old poorly fitting bras and rejoiced walking around with my boobs feeling nice and comfy and properly supported. Ladies, go for a proper fitting. You will not regret it.

underwear on bed

At the event I got to chat with quite a few brands present and I was pleasantly surprised what a range of sizes and styles they offered. Pour Moi? goes up to 44 and J cup, Gossard up to 38G, Ann Summers up to 44H, Elomi 42K, Fantasie up to 40 and JJ cup, Curvy Kate goes up to 44 and K cup, Wonderbra up to 36 and I cup, and Freya up to 38 and a K cup. All these brands are available from the Very's Valentines collection, although sizes available might vary.

The best thing however was that all these brands had a multitude of colours and patters and beautiful designs available. You know, the type of underwear you don't actually want to wear _underneath_ your clothes... It wasn't just the boring granny-beige, black and white often offered for bigger breasts, but real stunners. Not that there is anything wrong with the granny-beige, hey, they are the most useful underneath white shirts and I'm sporting one right now too, it's just that a girl, even when she's a bigger size, also needs variety!

What kind of lingerie do you like? Any other ladies there who have also been lost with what size they are?

31 January 2018

What happened in our lives January 2018?

Right. I really enjoyed looking back at the family photography project results from 2017, and this year I've decided to do it again. It is lovely looking back at our family, and the things we have done and where we have been and what we look like. So here goes again. 

This month I haven't really taken my camera out and we haven't been out anywhere much due to constant colds and constant busyness. So on the last day of the month, as we were about to run out of the door via the school to work, I set up my camera for a few shots. I dress quite casually for work, little monkey is of course in a school uniform (although already wearing her jacket) and work from home hubby is sporting a massive bedhead, as usual for this time of hour. Just a candid shot in the mayhem that is our mornings!

This January I have been loving:
  • Being shortlisted for the Working Parent Blogger of the Year by Mum and Working awards. And because I am not cool that way, I'm just gonna say please go and vote for my blog Wave to Mummy here (link)
  • My tummy getting bigger and finally feeling lots of movement. You can even feel some of the stronger kicks from outside now. 
  • Starting to get that second-trimester boost, or rather, not a boost but finally feeling normal again so compared to first trimester I am positively glowing now. 

Aili has been loving:

  • Reading and writing and her phonics. She is getting so good at reading and can read quite advanced books for her age. She's moved up to the advanced group in her phonics now. 
  • She also loves writing, and writes little letters to us and her friends. One of hers addressed to me said: "To mum. I no(sic) baby is bad. But too.". They don't always make much sense, but she tells me it was a joke. 
  • The baby in mummy's tummy. The sweetest thing is how every morning when I drop her off to school she insists on giving me a hug, and then the baby (my tummy) another hug. 
  • Being a big sister - something she likes to remind everyone now, and how she is a big girl and a big sister. 

Hubby has been loving:
  • Finishing a big project for his work - took a couple of months! 
  • For the first time feeling the baby - I got him to put his hands on my belly one night when the kicks were very strong, and he could feel it. And now every once in a while he tries to get the baby to move again by poking me.
  • Learning to nit comb...  Well, maybe loving is too strong a word but it seems to be the same sort of pleasure you get from pimple-popping videos! Both me and Aili got nits, and we've had many many combing sessions since. Joys of having school kids eh (although hubby insists I must be the patient zero as I had more of them...)?
  • Peaky Blinders TV series - apparently it is very very good! 

How was your January?

27 January 2018

I am up for a blogging award!

This January I was short-listed for the Mum and Working Business Awards, in the Working Parent Blogger of the Year. There are other fabulous bloggers up for the same award and it is such a great honour to be amongst them. Obviously, they are all wonderful and great so I am sure you can pick someone nice to vote for amongst them... wink wink nudge nudge! 

(No, seriously, click on it and the voting form is at the bottom of the page! And my blog is called Wave to Mummy.) 

I often jokingly call this blog my other, part-time side-job. It certainly sometimes feels like it! Alongside this labour of love, I also have an interesting full-time career in research and the third hat I occasionally wear is one of a school governor. Not to mention the mum hat. So a lot going on. 

All us working mothers can appreciate the constant juggling of many balls, the constant wearing of many hats. It is incredibly challenging and also incredibly rewarding at the same time. I've been a working mother nearly five years now, and during that time I've learned many things. At the office I've learned that upwards management is an actual thing, and that it is just as important to make sure people know what you are doing, as it is doing it. At school governing I have learned that an outsider perspective can be genuinely refreshing and shaking up group-think can only ever benefit you. At home I've learned that work, at the end of the day, is just work and best left at the office. When you are old and wrinkly, it won't be the work or the achievements you look back at fondly, it is the everyday family memories... 

My blog has also taught me many things - from totally new skills such as marketing and social media management to more technical skills like coding. I have done a fair few commercial collaborations through this blog, and they have always been fun and interesting to do, and most of all, huge learning experiences. And while, alongside my many other hats I can't actually devote that much time to this blogging malarkey, I do feel that I have built some solid, marketable skills. Should my full-time job not pan out, I would always have something else to fall on. And in this flexible, constantly-moving world we live in, that is pretty valuable. 

And I keep on learning. At the office, at home, at the school and at my blog. And that's pretty cool. Although a few more hours of sleep a night would do wonders too!

And going back to the awards business, if you do have the time, I would really appreciate your vote in the Mum and Working Business Awards, in the Working Parent Blogger of the Year category. I am not really one that does a huge amount of blogging or is up for awards that often, so if you have the time to put a vote in for little old me before the 5th February, it would really warm my heart!

21 January 2018

My 18 goals for a happier and more fun life in 2018

We're well in 2018 and for the past couple of weeks I've been mulling over what I want to get from this year. There are quite a few things I've thought about, and pondered about. In the previous years I've often chosen a word for the year - it is meant to guide your actions towards the big goal you want. In 2017 I chose "me" and in many ways I did achieve more me-time, and more relaxing. 

This year however, rather than choosing a word, I want to choose a few things I want to do - things that will make my life more fun and just generally happier. And because it is 2018, why not make it into 18 things?

mum and daughter laughing at a lavender field

Do more fun stuff

1. Read more. It's one of the things I miss most from my pre-child, pre-husband, pre-blogging, pre-commitments life. I used to read voraciously, and while time-wise it is not quite possible to do that anymore, I could certainly carve some time out from commuting or late-night social media scrolling.  

2. Do my make-up. Looking at me, you wouldn't believe that I do actually love make-up. I'm just far too lazy and sleepy to ever bother in the morning before work, or before anything really. I'd love to start getting into it again, try new ideas, and getting some use out of my mahoosive (and rather expensive) make-up stash!

3. Learn new hair-dos. Currently my skills extend to a a) leave to dry naturally and brush, b) ponytail, c) blowdry. And because maintaining my long locks can be a drag, it sort of makes me wonder why do I even bother? So I'd love to learn new hair-dos, from braiding to bananas, and finally actually use my hair, of which there is a lot of.

4. Do something fun as a family every weekend. Recently we've been ridiculously busy with just life and and weekends have just been spent on doing important adult things. I've felt rather bad for our four year old, who must be very very bored of it... So more family activities! It doesn't need to be anything special. Maybe swimming, walking in the forest, doing some baking, just anything fun to do together.

5. Visit new places in the UK. There are so many gorgeous places to see here in UK - so many beautiful nature reserves, castles and historic towns, and London, oh London, just packed full with wonders. I've armed us with a English Heritage membership and plan to use it too!

mum and daughter at a lavender field laughing

Make life easier

6. Sleep more. I am one of those night owl that naturally falls asleep late, and would prefer to rise late too. Over the past year I've had some trouble falling asleep at a decent time o'clock, and have had some minor bouts of insomnia. So, this year, I should really start following my own tips around good sleep hygiene!

7. Implement a "Super-Sunday". It was an idea I've heard of ages back, and have occasionally dabbled at. It involves using your Sunday planning and prepping all kinds of things to make your coming week a bit smoother - such as planning your work wardrobe, or checking the priority tasks for the week, or any other type of prepping. And it does help, and I really want to start doing more of it.

8. Meal plan. I'm sick of spending a fortune at work for lunch, as I got into bad habits last year by not prepping my packed lunches ahead of time... I'd also like to do more prepping over the weekend and then less time in the kitchen over the week. OK, let's be honest here... I don't actually cook much, I mostly just bang frozen stuff in the oven when it is my turn to cook so it would be nice to have more variety. 

9. Buy less. I'm not a big shopper but for quite a while I've been intrigued by the stories of people embracing minimalism and buying nothing for a year and so on. With pregnancy and an ever-changing body and a baby that will need stuff, a whole year won't work, but a month here and there definitely. Less stuff, more time, is the idea.

10. Get rid of stuff. We've got a fair few bits and bobs that moved from our previous place to our current home, including some furniture that just doesn't fit us anymore. Charity and recycling donations, and getting acquainted with freecycle/Gumtree/FB selling groups will hopefully help us shift some of the stuff away and maybe get us a few bob or two!

mum and daughter at a lavender field smiling

Explore new things

11. Get rid of my "unflattering" colours. A while back I got my colours done - I'm a Summer, and on a neutral/soft side. I've instinctively often chosen "my colours" for a long time already, but I do still have some hard blacks and others unflattering colours mucking up my wardrobe chi, and it's time to say good bye.

12. Learn a new skill. How about a mouth harp or an ukulele? Or basket-weaving? It sounds good to learn something new! I'm not sure yet what - currently I'm most interested in trying crocheting.

13. Dabble in Youtube. Speaking of learning new skills, I've really enjoyed trying my hand at Youtube and I have my own channel now. I'd like to do more editing of my own videos and film myself doing stuff. It has been fun and perhaps on my maternity leave I will find some time to try this out.

14. Try new things in photography. I have a few photography books I bought meaning to learn from them, and huge and active Pinterest folders filled with photography tips I never read. I'm stuck in a photography rut of thirds and semi-auto so to speak, and this year I'd like to try new techniques, trick photography and maybe cinematographs too.

15. Try a capsule wardrobe. Realistically, I am probably already living in a capsule wardrobe as I use similar outfits most of the time. I've been looking at planning it a bit better, using my lifestyle and needs a bit more (cue need for casual office wear) to guide it. 

mum and daughter smelling lavender

Live a better life

16. Go swimming and aqua aerobics. During my last pregnancy I really enjoyed swimming as a way to keep fit. And every-time I've managed to get to aqua aerobics I've really enjoyed it too. On maternity leave I am hoping to do a lot more of both!

17. Get back into yoga. I've done yoga on and off for over ten years. When I started doing weekly classes at the office I started to progress quite well and I was quite excited about learning new things (headstands, crows and all). I sort of lost it though when I moved to a new job, and would love to get back into doing regular yoga and also classes, which would push me more.

18. Do charitable giving. As my child is getting older, I have been wanting to teach her more about charity and the importance of it. I myself have lots of things I have wanted to do for ages, including getting a sponsored child, investing in micro-financing and swapping my birthday and Christmas gift lists for inspired gifts. I do, and have always done community work in some capacity, and have promoted charity here on my blog as well. This year I would like to up my game further.

mum and daughter at a lavender field

So there. Things I want to do this year to have a happier and more fun life - do more fun stuff, make my life easier, explore new things and live a better life through sports and charitable giving.

What are you planning for 2018?

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