7 April 2018

"The best Easter ever!" said our daughter

This Easter we tried something a bit different. We did our Easter egg hunt at our local park - and had some very special non-chocolate Easter eggs to boot too. 

On Monday (no judging, we were just too tired on the Sunday!) we finally decided to grab the bits and bobs I had prepped and go and stage an Easter egg hunt. Somewhat unluckily, after a fairly nice Sunday, it was actually raining on Monday. But as needs must and our daughter insisted, the hunt had to be done and off we went baskets in hand. 

As the whole family drudged ahead in the drizzle avoiding puddles as best they could, mummy went ahead to check whether she could see Easter Bunny anywhere. Luckily, after about 5 minutes of quick staging, mummy could announce that she saw the tufty tail of the Easter Bunny disappear behind a bush and that it looked like he had been leaving some clues in the park... 


easter egg hunt sign

girl finding an easter egg

Easter egg and a sign saying start here

little girl holding an Easter egg

Easter egg with sign this way

Little girl picking up an Easter egg under a tree

Easter egg hunt sign saying go back



She absolutely loved the hunt for the Easter eggs - as non-chocolate prizes we had filled these little see-through Easter chicks with a variety of small items. There were Easter stickers, bunny hairbands, bunny hair clips, some little princess bracelets, little Easter decorations and two new bag decorations, a fluffy Easter chick and a fluffy bunny. It was so much fun, and she shrieked with joy as she found the little chicks filled with special gifts.

I would definitely recommend this approach, as we always feel like post-Easter is spent in a slump of chocolate. As the non-chocolate gifts I tried to choose little things that would either keep her occupied (stickers) or were anyway needed (you can never have too many hair clips!), and admittedly, did pick up some small bits and bobs from her toy box that she hadn't played with in ages and had forgotten all about. 


little girl smiling

little girls holding a fluffy easter chick toy

little girl with fluffy easter chick toy


It was getting quite wet in the end and us parents were glad to start making our way home. As we did though she insisted she would have to check the last few remaining potential hiding places. Because maybe, just maybe, the Easter Bunny had left a few eggs in this flower field. Or perhaps in that other flower field... She enjoyed it so much she didn't really want it to end! It didn't matter that it was drizzling, it didn't matter that she had already soaked her wellies and trousers by jumping in the puddles - it was all about the egg hunt now. 


little girl holding a basket of easter eggs

little girl walking amongst flowers


And as we got home I asked her if the Easter Bunny should have left her chocolates... And apparently, no, the toys were much more fun and that this was "The best Easter ever!".


Did you do an Easter egg hunt?





1 April 2018

What happened in our lives in March 2018?

Well - Easter is sure one thing that happened! We don't really celebrate Easter much, although we do give into chocolate and we do enjoy the long long weekend. Two-day weekends are just far too short, I never feel like I have managed to recuperate enough for the following week of work, so a long bank holiday break was very welcome. 

Easter blackboard with easter egg drawn on it


I have been:
  • Coming up with new Easter things for us - and planning a non-chocolate Easter egg hunt! Some other things planned are baking bunny buncakes and of course some more blackboard art. 
  • Feeling the baby kick more and more - it is crazy feeling and seeing those strong movements and makes me remember we are going to get a new little one here soon!
  • I have been impatiently waiting for the start of my maternity leave, and pretty much counting the days. Not long to go anymore, just a few more weeks. Can't wait. 
  • At work I am starting to turn towards finalising things, thinking about handover, finishing long-standing mini-projects and generally just feeling like I am ready to move on. I've already said I want to move teams when coming back, so I get to try something new. 
  • As far as pregnancy goes, I've been feeling really good. Getting more tired now yes, but as opposed to previous months, I've actually felt healthy and normal, which has been such a change! No aches or pains of which I am very grateful for.  


family picture in front of easter blackboard



Aili has been:
  • Loving bunnies. Anything to do with bunnies is her thing now. She has long loved them, but her fascination with all-things-bunny has really ramped up recently. apparently she wants to have a bunny birthday... 
  • Drawing - everyday we get fantastic little drawings. I am loath to throw any of them away but we are drowning in paper!
  • Writing - she absolutely loves writing and we get little notes of all sorts all the time. She is particularly keen on writing stories now. 
  • For the World Book Day Aili wrote and illustrated her own book, "The cow girl is happy" and went as the cow girl. In the book there was a queen, king, prince and princess. Princess went for some travels with a unicorn, met lion cubs, went on a swing with her prince brother, and got a balloon and there was a rainbow. It was a fantastic little book. Next thing to practice is to have a beginning, a middle and the end to the story!
  • Consequently, for her Easter holiday homework, she had to do a book report. She did it about her own book...  


girl pointing at an easter egg drawn on a blackboard



My husband has:
  • Enjoyed getting his back finally sorted and going back to rugby. Unfortunately the joy didn't last long as he then broke his little finger after just three training sessions. 
  • Loved feeling the baby move - especially kick directed at his hand. 
  • Been happy that I have been feeling much better now with my pregnancy - it isn't easy when your other half is constantly feeling a bit under the weather!
  • Had so much fun at the Secret Cinema Blade Runner we went to last weekend - it was such a fun experience for both of us!
  • Making a paper guitar for Aili to go with her World Book Day costume - and of course being a very proud father seeing his little girl write her own book!


How was your March?




25 March 2018

What was Secret Cinema: Blade Runner like?

If you've never heard of the Secret Cinema, the best way to explain it is to say it is a London-based immersive theatrical experience based around a film. You dress up, you get ready, and at the event you engage with the setting and the actors as much as you want (but no-one is going to force you if you rather not).




This spring the film chosen was the sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. I thought I'd share a quick review of the experience, and a couple of tips for anyone attending it in the future - all spoiler-free of course! You are not allowed to use your phone inside, so photos are from outside only. (I wouldn't want to spoil the surprises for anyone attending, but once the run is over in July I might update this post with a more detailed description!)

I've never been to Secret Cinema, have wanted to go for years, but never got around to it until now. In fact, thanks to a friend on Facebook who posted how they were waiting for the ticket website to open, made me impulsively buy tickets the same day. Blade Runner is a cool film, and I was excited to see what kind of a treatment it got.


dressed up for secret cinema in goggles and a scarf over face


The whole experience and the setting were just fabulous. I loved the attention to detail, from futuristic food and vending machine snacks to the variety of actors mingling with the audience. As soon as you got through the gates you are transported to the Blade Runner world and were treated as your character. As part of the online process, you get assigned a character (we were scavengers) and your entrance and treatment in the world is dictated by that. All the actors and staff stay in character and help you get into the atmosphere. 
As we got in the venue the actors directed us to do a few activities to get in the mood. The venue was fantastically decorated, exactly the way you would imagine the streets of Blade Runner world be. There was something to look at everywhere, stalls and rooms to explore, and acting and dancing scenes to watch. It really was quite spectacular. And interestingly, the website states that "Check meteorological forecasts before heading Downtown. High levels of rain may occur. Please dress appropriately". Just to say, when Secret Cinema says something, they do mean it. In addition, during the film, actors enact the scenes around the screens, which adds interest to it. 

The world was really fantastic and I loved it. It felt like we were in Blade Runner.


standing in front of a burning car


The only bad but unfortunately a very big point was that watching the film was not enjoyable - and that's a big part of the whole Secret Cinema experience. 

Throughout the film the bars remained open. The one at the main venue was right at the back of the seating arrangement behind a curtain and as people were there sitting, drinking and chatting it was so noisy it seriously distracted from the movie, particularly the quiet parts. The sit-down bar should be located at a further distance, maybe on the other side of the venue or in a separate closed room. Additionally, perhaps because we went there on a Friday, it was much more geared towards drinking and some people in the audience were getting tipsy and disruptive during the film. 

Even worse, the seats were incredibly uncomfortable. I am 5'7 or 5'8, and I was finding it difficult to fit in the tight space between the benches. I felt pity for the men in the audience - there were lots of big blokes around. Now, you get what you pay for - if you went for the VIP seats they looked very luxurious... But the cheapest and the middle range ticket seats looked about the same level of uncomfortable.


couple standing in front of graffiti

graffiti saying do not fear the darkness

woman standing next t discarded suitcases props


Would I go again then? And did I think the tickets were worth it?

Like I mentioned, we got the cheapest tickets, which were on a weekend night about £75 per person. So yes, pricey. In addition we spent about £40 on food and drinks. Drinks were about normal London bar prices, food was on the expensive market stall prices, think Borough market. 

As for outfits, we scavenged what we could find from home so didn't spend anything but you can go as full out as you want obviously. And many people did. And if you feel like spending a bit more, the venue has a shop and vending machines with some key items! Like those see-through umbrellas and raincoats you might need in the future world of sudden acid rains... 

There are different ticket price levels - the cheapest (weekend prices) were £75 and the most expensive £150. I felt the cheapest tickets were alright, I didn't feel like we missed out on anything crucial. During the film there was at least one scene that was enacted only for the holders of more expensive tickets, and obviously some areas were restricted to more expensive tickets, but  there was plenty of everything else going on we didn't even notice it. 

After the film during the weekend there was also an extended after-party, which meant the dance floor was open for another hour and a bit after the film. However, as the location was in Canning Town and we wanted to get home using the train we had to leave well before midnight. 

Overall, yes, I thought it was a brilliant night out and I would definitely go again! It was pricey, but well worth the experience. 

I for one can't wait till they announce the next one! 




21 March 2018

A Japanese cherry blossom dress: Kids outfit of the day

I used to love sharing outfit photos of Aili when she was younger. Now, well, most of the week she is in her school uniform and the weekends are just manic-panic rushing around trying to do everything, so we rarely have time for those nice leisurely photo-shoots. These ones I snapped on route to a NumNoms-party a while back - she is wearing her new favourite dress, a gorgeous Japanese cherry blossom dress from Kiki Crafted with Love


girl smiling in a pink flower dress


It's just the season for cherry blossoms right now, that is, if you are in Japan. When I went to Japan (gosh, it was over 15 years ago!) I arrived just at best time for hanami, and loved the pink flurry that was everywhere. One of my early Japanese memories is of sitting for a picnic on a cherry blossom tree alley, eating onigiri (rice ball) stuffed with pickled plum and inarisushi (sweet tofu-wrapped sushi). 

Ever since I have been a huge fan of all things Japanese. Every time I pop by Spitalfields Saturday market I always make a beeline for Kiki's stall, and check out what new products she has made. OK, granted, I haven't got the time to visit the market very often nowadays, but when I do, you find me at her stall. I've first dressed Aili in one of her designs when she was just 1.5 years old


close up of girl smiling

girl with eyes closed

girl in a pink japanese flower dress



Last time I had a chance to visit we had a good natter and she gave me this dress for Aili. It being pink and having flowers meant Aili loved it instantly and wanted to wear it straight away, so on we popped it and went our merry pinky way. And now that I've got a new baby on the way I can't wait for a chance to pop by Kiki's stall again and buy one of her gorgeous babygrow kimonos



four year old girl smiling

girl showing off her dress



You might also like: Baby OOTD: Baby kimono and A year of toddler outfit posts




8 March 2018

10 inspirational women I want my daughter to know about

I want to talk about strong women. Of women that are inspirational, courageous, and you probably have not heard of.

Last summer we saw a pilot doing aeroplane aerobatics - loops, rolls, you name it. Our four year old was predictably excited and we talked about who the pilot might be. After we talked about how he must be so brave for doing all those rolls, my husband mentioned, well, it could also be a she. 

My daughter's eyes lit up. It COULD be a she. A girl, just like her. Doing rolls, doing something exciting, scary, brave. And for the rest of the day, and several days afterwards she talked about her, the pilot, how "She was certainly having fun". 

That made me realise that we don't talk about women's achievements enough. We don't make that connection between something exciting and interesting, and a woman doing that. Think about it - if you hear something amazing that has been done and you start thinking who did it, your default option is probably always a male. And that really matters in the way we raise our kids. So for the International Women's Day, I wanted to share ten women, you may have, but probably haven't heard of. Women that were inspirational, that were courageous, and who every little girl and boy should know of.


here's to strong women quote on chalkboard


Irena Sendler - a Polish nurse in the World War II. Codenamed Jolanta, she was estimated to have smuggled 2,500 children (of which 400 directly herself) out of the Warsaw Ghetto as part of her work in the Polish Underground. She provided them with false identity papers and hid them in Christian families. She kept details of their real identities hidden in glass jars buried in secret locations intending to return the children to their families after war. She was arrested, tortured, and interrogated by Gestapo, and sentenced to death, but never revealed her secrets. Almost all of the parents were killed at Treblinka or went missing during the war. 

Nellie Bly - In the late 19th century women rarely worked as journalists, and if they did, they were confined to the society "gossip" pages. In 1887 Bly put herself in jeopardy as a deep cover investigative journalist and set to expose the oppressive conditions in women's asylums. She faked a mental illness and was committed to an asylum in Blackwell's Island. The only guarantee she would get out, was the promise from her editor to come to her rescue. Her expose detailed the brutality and neglect women endured, prompted reforms and additional funding for the "poor unfortunates". 

Katherine Johnson - An African-American mathematician, who worked for NASA and provided critical calculations to United States aeronautics and space programs, including the first moon landing. When she started her career in the 1950's she faced not just gender but also racial biases, and started work as a one of the "computers who wore skirts" (essentially data entry) and worked in the office titled "Coloured Computers". She soon proved herself though. 

Mary Anning - A British paleontologist in the 19th century, who made her living through the dangerous trade of discovering fossils, started her trade when she was just 12. She was nearly killed in a landslide while on her expeditions. She discovered many complete skeletons, including the first complete plesiosaurus, and learned paleontology on her own, through dedicated efforts. As a working-class woman she was an outsider in the scientific community, and in Britain at the time, could not vote or attend university. She is now however understood to have made a lasting contribution to science. 

Ada Lovelace - An English mathematician and writer, she published the first algorithm written for an early computer and is often recognised as the world's first computer programmer. Daughter of the poet Byron, her mother taught her mathematics from an early age in order to "cure" her from her father's insanity, but she often integrated poetry and mathematics, questioning basic assumptions.

mum and daughter in front of chalkboard


Margaret Sanger - Born in 1879, Margaret Sanger is credited as the founder of modern birth control movement. A Nurse in the early 20th century, Margaret fought against the illegal and dangerous back alley abortions and believed the best way to prevent them was to guarantee birth control for women. 1916 she opened the first birth control clinic in United States and was arrested - she later lobbied extensively for legalisation of birth control. 

Alfonsina Strada -  A daughter of a peasant family, she loved cycling even if her family considered a woman cycling to be the work of the devil. She grew up as a tomboy, and as an adult, she competed in three major Italian cycling races, disguising as a male and beating many men. One of her Italian records in cycling stood for 26 years, and her world record in women's cycling stood for 17 years.  

Violette Szabo - After the death of her husband in Second World War Violette joined the British Special Operations Executive. She learned fieldcraft, navigation, weapons and demolition, and parachuted twice to occupied France to gather intelligence - and her reports helped Allied Forces destroy bomb factories. She was captured on her second mission, and executed, at the age of twenty-three. 

Hedy Lamarr - A starlet in the 1940's, described as "the most beautiful woman in the world" also loved science and was a self-taught inventor. Between takes and in her trailer she would concentrate on her other passion, inventing. She is today credited with contributing to the invention of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology through her work on non-jamming signaling system for torpedoes. 

Betsi Cadwalar - Born in 1789, Betsi is today recognised as one of the greatest Welsh of all time. She worked as a nurse in the Crimean War alongside Florence Nightingale, who disliked her for being Welsh and working class. While the two did not get along, Nightingale recognised her efforts in improving the hygiene and fighting the bureaucracy while ensuring her hospital got supplies. Betsi worked close to the frontline, tirelessly, giving up her own health in the process. 


chalkboard wall with here's to strong women quote


10 inspirational women of history to teach our children about


So there, ten inspirational women from history, in science, adventure and war. Who inspires you?



28 February 2018

What happened in our lives in February 2018?

This February our monthly family pictures were quickly shot on our way to ballet. It's been a proper snowday here in London, with the Beast from the East )or whatever it was called) brought a flurry of snow. We didn't go out to enjoy the snow though, as I was off sick from work with a chest infection, hubby recovering from surgery and our daughter also off sick, with conjunctivitis and coughing. We felt well enough to walk to the ballet practice and back though later in the day, and took a few sly selfies on the way.  


family selfie


What have we enjoyed this month then?

Me, I have really enjoyed:

  • Finally feeling like I am properly pregnant, with my third trimester starting. 
  • I love Jaffa cakes, and found these really interesting raspberry jelly, Milka chocolate jaffa cakes from our local Turkish convenience store. They appear to be Romanian imports and are veeeeery nice!
  • Finished a big report for work, and got loads of good comments on how interesting and enjoyable it was to read.
  • Margaret Atwood's The Handmaiden's Tale - what a fabulous and gripping book. I found it difficult to get to bed at evenings as I just wanted to read on. 
  • My orchid flowering again. 
  • Buying tickets to the next Secret Cinema in London - Blade Runner world, here we come!





Aili has loved this month:
  • Writing and illustrating her own book for the World Book Day. She is going as a cowgirl from "The Happy Cowgirl" book.
  • Writing little messages to everyone she can think of. We get little letters written everyday. Her future sibling has got a few too!
  • Singing to the bump. I love this so much - every evening she sings a lullaby song to the bump, and in the mornings she sings a wake-up song. It is just the cutest thing ever and makes my heart melt. 
  • Kissing and cuddling the bump. And feeling the baby movements for the first time! She put her head on the bump and baby kicked her in the ear, and apparently it was very very funny.  





Hubby has loved:

  • Finishing another client project.
  • Feeling the baby kick and move - some of the kicks are getting very very strong now and my belly can even be seen to move. 
  • Getting his back (hopefully) now fixed, and hopefully getting back to playing rugby again. 
  • Getting our garage cleared of most of the "stuff" and finally being able to use it as intended - as a garage. OK, this may have happened already in January, but the joy continues even now!
  • Crafting with Aili - they spent several hours crafting together a paper guitar, and it looks great, and will probably be part of the "cowgirl" outfit for World Book Day. 

And talk about one of the things I didn't like this month... My damn double-chin in the pictures! Ha ha, I was paying far too much attention into faffing with the phone than checking out the way I was posing. 

So there, that was our February. What were the highlights of your February?





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?



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