31 July 2015

Toddler OOTD #28 - Becoming a big girl

A while back we went to Coram's Fields and at their city farm met some furry friends.The goat was the best thing ever as far as my daughter was concerned - so exciting, so furry and so much fun to look at and take photographs with. 

It is quite shocking to look at these pictures and see my tiny little baby look like a trendy little lady. She is growing up, fast. She is becoming a big girl. She now chooses her own shoes and her own dresses. Not everyday, but she certainly sometimes has her favourites that she insists on wearing (or not wearing in some cases...). On several occasions she chooses, well, let's say imaginative clothing combinations. 

This time I got to choose her outfit, and went for something more considered. Something a bit trendy, something that is a little bit colour-matched, but not too much. Something a trendy little girl wouldn't mind wearing. 

She herself picked these neon pink sandals up from H&M. The big girl she was she grabbed them from the hangers, sat on the floor, put them on, and tried to walk out of the shop, very happily wearing her new fabulous neon pink shoes. We of course had to do a little detour via the tills, but she wore the new sandals right after. And she loves wearing them. Maybe it is the bright colour. Or maybe it is that she "bought" them herself, like a big girl.

Jeans / Benetton
Patterned blouse / H&M
Neon Pink Sandals / H&M

Do/did your toddlers choose their own clothes from shops? At what age?

25 July 2015

Celebrating our fourth anniversary

It has been four long years... He he, just kidding. Time has really flown by - I can't believe I have been wedded for four years. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were choosing the wedding colours and thinking about the wedding menu. Time really has just flown by. In that time we have had our first baby, I graduated from Masters and started my career, and now we've bought our first home. 

We've always made a conscious effort to celebrate our anniversary. The first anniversary celebrations were thought through ages beforehand. I booked us a table at an Italian Michelin star restaurant nearby Bond Street, and we ate a glorious three course meal with a Bellini. Now that is a tradition to have, I thought to myself, going to a Michelin star restaurant on our every anniversary. 

On our second anniversary we had a seven week old baby - leaving her with anyone just wasn't an option for us, so we traipsed to a local Mexican restaurant to have some fajitas and beer. Our third anniversary happened to be during the working week, and no reliable childcare for a toddler in sight. I ended up picking a bottle of champagne and frozen Ristorante pizzas from the local convenience store. 

Yesterday was our fourth anniversary. Renovations at full swing and a little two year old terror in tow, we put her to bed, sat on the couch, ordered an Indian takeaway and I ran to the supermarket to grab us a bottle of bubbly... I fell asleep after the first glass. Next year we will probably end up going to the KFC drive-through for a Bargain Bucket and lemonade or something! Ha!

In one of these coming anniversaries I will resurrect that hope-to-be Michelin tradition of ours - something nice, something a bit indulgent, something a bit experimental, just for the two foodies we are. But until then, it is just nice reminiscing our beautiful wedding day and going through the pictures once again. I don't look at our wedding pictures that often anymore, but every time I do, they bring a smile to my face. 

It was the happiest day of my life. 

How do you celebrate your wedding anniversaries?

24 July 2015

London with toddlers: Coram's Fields

Coram's Fields is a lovely little place near Russell Square. Tucked behind Great Ormond Street Hospital, between Russell Square and King's Cross Stations. I used to live practically next door to this park for years but I never visited. Not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't.

Coram's Field is a park for kids and young people up to 16 years old. It really is a children's park - if you are an adult, you can only enter when accompanied by a child. Last week I took my little one there for the first time.

We ran around, up and down the slides, after the pigeons, with the other kids, away from the other kids... For about two hours straight, running around this huge park, from one place to the other. There were so many new little playmates and so many new and exciting things to play with. The whole park was just non-stop fun. 

We loved it. We stayed there two hours, and we could have easily spent even more time there.

As far as parks in London go Coram's Fields is quite special. It has everything for all ages. Climbing frames from little toddlers to big and strong kids, fields and courts to play ball games in for tweens and teenagers, a sandpit, swings, slides, round-a-bouts, and water features. There are even a couple of goats and chicken and bunnies, and a little cafe for weary parents to grab a cup of tea at. I didn't have a chance to sit down and enjoy my cuppa, but maybe next time. 

After hours of fun and running around, I would have thought my little one was just about to fall asleep... Well, no, and we ended up going to another park for another two hours. Toddlers and their toddler energy, it is just never-ending!

We loved the park and I am sure we will find our way back there. If you ever end up around Kings Cross / Russell Square area with your kids and have nothing to do, well, you now know a place where you can go! 

Are there any other good parks to visit in London?

19 July 2015

Little chats with my toddler girl - the ordinary moments

I love having a chat with my little girl. She is still so little there aren't many things she can say yet.  What she does say, doesn't always make sense to anyone else than me and her daddy. They say that kids are either walkers or talkers. Well, she has always been a runner...

We do have our little conversations nonetheless. We talk about different noises we hear - as we live in London we often hear planes around. We talk about where people are. We talk about where things go and about rubbish. We do talk about lots of things, even if it might not be apparent to anyone within an earshot. 

The little phrases she says make me gushy and I wish I never forget how she says them. Maybe someday I will try to film her, but for now I will just record them here on my blog. 

The things Aili says:

"Na na noishe?" - means What's that noise?
"Plaaaaaane" - means Plane
"Wa wa wii youuu?" - means Where are you?  
"Ba ba bin!" - means To the bin! 
"Kyek" - means Milk
"Swish" - means Splash, often coinciding with either muddy puddles outside or bath time...
"Mo Mummy!" - means No Mummy / I don't like it / I hate it / no no no / stop.
"Nunninni" - means her favourite plush toy Snork Maiden from Moomins (we call it Niiskuneiti in Finnish, which sort of could be translated into toddlers speak as Nunninni)

She can also say some single words, like dummy, mummy, daddy, no, park, out, down, up, cugle (cuddle), juice, wawa (water). Some of them she says only in English, some only in Finnish, and a few of them she says in  both languages. We are trying to raise her bilingual so it is wonderful to hear her say words in both languages, and she understands both languages very well.  

A very typical conversation we might have when walking to the park goes something like this... In fact, I think we had pretty much this conversation today!

"Na na noishe?"
"It's a plane. Look, up there."
"Wheeeeee, plaaaane!".
"Yes, plane, exciting isn't it. It flies up in the sky, just like we do when we go for a holiday."
"No no no, not in those shoes, you need wellies if you want to jump in puddles!"
"Oh... Stick!"
"Yes, it is a stick. Nice stick!"
"Stick, stick, stick!"
"Yes it is a cat. Pretty cat, but don't touch, the cat is sleeping."
"OK, just a little cuddle, then let's walk again. To the park!"
"Park! Yeeeeh!"

I might be a bit sad when she stops asking me "Na na noishe" or "Wa wa whii youuu", but I am also looking forward to having proper little chats with her, asking her questions and really getting to know her and her personality and the way she thinks. I am even looking forward to the endless stream of why questions, and finding out about the little things that she wonders about. My little girl is growing up, so fast, and I love getting to know her better and better, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. 

Do your little ones have any catch phrases?

16 July 2015

Gorgeous new British children's fashion brands from Bubble London

I have always been interested in fashion, materials and dress-making and as a parent children's wear and children's fashion has become a natural extension of that fascination. To indulge in this fascination I recently popped in by a children's wear trade show.

Armed with my press pass, trusty Sony Nex-7, and my sleeping blog model as my charm assistance, I went off to work to find you some new and exciting, homegrown British children's fashion brands! And oh boy was there plenty. Some are so fresh you can't even buy them yet. Just remember, you've heard about them here first! *wink*

I've provided links where I can if you want to learn more about them. 

I loved the concept of Model My Own. You buy a dress, and customise the dress neckline with the attachable accessories. The accessories range from little flowers to full-blown collars. I can see this really making it as occasion wear (one dress with different accessories will last all year long) and as dresses for wedding flower girls. So many possibilities for customising!

model my own dresses at bubble london 2015

model my own dresses at bubble london 2015

Where's that bear? brand offers a variety of colourful models and fun ideas for kids. This collection really felt like it was enjoying and celebrating childhood, with colours and little details appealing to kids (or the little kids within us all). I loved the fun hand-made pompom-knit, nodding (but not too obviously) towards a ladybug. Within each garment there is a little bear tag, hidden in different place in each item so you get to wonder Where's that bear? (See, fun, just like I told you!)

where's that bear? at bubble london 2015

where's that bear? at bubble london 2015

The Little Shoemaker was a funky art-inspired shoe brand. Drawing inspiration from an arts background the shoes were an explosion (quite literally) of colour and modern ideas. Handmade in Britain, each shoe model tested by two little eager sweethearts brought up as shoe aficionados from an early age. I particularly loved the metallic pastel coloured brogues - incredibly beautiful!

the little shoemaker at bubble london 2015

the little shoemaker at bubble london 2015

 the little shoemaker at bubble london 2015

Dotty Dungarees is a brand I had already heard of before the event and I eagerly popped by their stall to check the quality of the fabrics and feel of the cuts (both great). Their unique selling points are the unisex dungarees, but now they have also included cute little dungaree skirts due to customer demand. The soon to be released collection has gorgeous corduroy and autumnal colours, loving the mustard corduroy.

dotty dungarees at bubble london 2015

dotty dungarees at bubble london 2015

Peacheyboo is a very recently launched brand straight from Brighton, inspired by the childhood memories and colours of Brighton. I loved that Hannah combines her childhood memories in the her illustrations - like her Nana's recipes, and her favourite teddy bear. Loving the colours and the fun little illustrations which are gorgeous on babies.

Peachyboo at bubble london 2015

Peachyboo at bubble london 2015

Tails and tales is London-based brand that does seasons based on fairytales. This season the theme is 'Alice in Wonderland' and I loved the bright colours and graphic cuts. The Queen of Hearts dress and jacket (pictured) were to die for, with an inspiring cut. The idea for inspiring your seasons fits so nicely to childhood, and I am dying to know what fairytale they will choose next. Unfortunately next seasons theme is still top secret!

tails and tales at bubble london 2015
tails and tales at bubble london 2015

La Pitchoune does luxury dresses for girls - gorgeous fabrics and cute cuts. Only the best materials, would go perfectly for a very very special occasion or perhaps for a little flower girl in a luxury wedding (one can always dream can't they!).

le pitchoune at bubble london 2015

And finally, I quite liked the idea behind Magnet Mouse - no more fiddly buttons as instead of buttons you just snap the magnets. And off you go!

magnet mouse at bubble london 2015

I wish I could have spent a bit more time at the event. Alas, my blog model decided on Sunday she would not sleep until 4PM and I have a full-time job so Monday was a no-go either. But come January I will leave the little assistant home and do a proper walk-around and get a really good view of everything out there. There were loads of really beautiful and fun brands I had a chat with at the event, even more than the ones I have featured here, and will hopefully see them again at the next show.

Until then, hope you enjoyed this little peak into new British children's fashion brands! 

A slightly different link-up than usually but I hope you found it fits within the outfit theme nonetheless - I chose a few different brands from everyday wear to occasion wear and at quite different price points too.

What did you think of these brands? 

12 July 2015

10 simple tips to make car travel with kids safer

There are a few really simple ways how to make car travel with kids safer. I regularly see people make mistakes in a variety of 'kids in cars' situations and wanted to give a few really easy tips. If you drive, and you have kids in your car it is worth going that extra mile and thinking of all the possibilities. You never know what might happen.

Now, I am not claiming to be a car security expert of any sort, or a qualified car seat fitter, but I am a seriously risk-averse mummy who likes to read statistics and technical papers. Some of these tips I am giving might seem pretty obvious, based on my experience (albeit anecdotal) are frightfully common. So please read on, feel free to disagree but if you do disagree, I would suggest you do some research of your own (which would hopefully point you to what I am saying). 


1. Get a rear facing car seat for kids under four

Kids should travel in a rear facing car seat until they are four. UK law currently says that kids up until 15 months old (height-based seats) / 9 kg weight (weigh-based seats) should be in rear facing car seats, but that is not enough. Kids heads are heavy compared to their body weight. Their necks can't support them very well in the case of a sudden forceful movement, such as a frontal collision. Their body is attached to the seat but the head lunges forward. Serious injury, or even death may follow as the vertebrae in the neck comes under huge force.

Now, I can tell someone there is thinking 'Oh well, but you could be rear-ended too, so a rear-facing car seat wouldn't help you there would it?'. Well, fair point, but unfortunately it's not that simple. The forces expelled in a full-on frontal collision are much stronger than being rear-ended. Think of your car coming to a sudden stop at 50 miles per hour. Now think your car being rear-ended. Chances are it gets pushed forward (less forceful impact), and you may already be driving it anyway, meaning even less force being directed towards your neck. It is likely to happen in an urban setting at lower speeds. What you want is to protect for the most serious situation, likely to cause significant injury which is a full frontal collision. Additionally, frontal collision is more common than being rear ended.

This video shows both forward facing and rear facing car seat in action, highly recommend watching it. And Car Seats for the Littlest tells a bit more about children's necks.  

2. Position the child car seat in the middle of your vehicle

The safest seat in a car is the middle back seat. Furthest away from any potential impact. It is not always possible to fit a car seat in the middle seat though, for example ours was too big for the middle seat. The second safest seat is the back seat on passenger side, third safest the back seat driver side, fourth safest the front passenger seat. Fifth safest the driver - think frontal collisions and impact from cars driving on the other side of the road (the drivers side).

3. When fitting a car seat disable the air bags

Car seats and air bags do not go together, if you have an air bag for the seat where the child car seat goes, disable it. And for the love of God, if you choose to put your child in the front passenger side (2nd most dangerous seat in the car), at least disable the air bag. An airbag and a baby / child car seat do not go together. Feel free to Youtube other crash test dummy videos to see what happens with kids and airbags, not pretty.

4. Winter time - remove thick puffy coats

This is such a simple one, but during the winter time or if for any reason your kids are wearing something puffy or thick remove it. They can easily slip from the harness and that can be very dangerous if there is a crash.  

5. Ensure you have the right car seat for the age/size of the child

The safest type of a car seat is a rear-facing baby car seat, like the ones you take your child home from the hospital with (Group 0 / 0+). It is well worth investing in a Group 0+ seat as your child can sit in it for longer and safer. Our little girl fit in hers until she was nearly 15 months old - as long as the top of their head is not peeking above the seat back and they can fit into the harness it is safe to use, even if the legs don't fit in anymore. 

After Group 0/0+ you will need a new car seat. Like already mentioned a rear facing car seat is best until four years. Until about four years old kids should be in a car seat that has a harness, not a booster seat. This is because in an accident the belt would be in an incorrect position for a small child, most likely damaging their neck. After four they can start using proper booster seats, but booster cushions are best left until they are a bit older. Good site to check different types of car seats is Child Car Seats by RoSPA

If you travel or use taxis a lot, it may be worth buying travel booster seats. These are not as safe as proper seats with a supported back, but safer than not having any booster seat. Good ones are Bubblebum, Trunki Boostapak and mifold. 

6. Ensure your tyres are safe

A pretty basic issue is of course tyre safety. Maintaining your car is pretty important to avoid getting into an accident to begin with! 

For tyres the most important things are tread, wear, pressure and overall appearance. New tyres have a 7mm tread to ensure a good grip on the road. Tread less than 1.6mm is illegal, but safety is compromised already at 3mm tread depth. The wear of the tyres should be inspected at regular intervals for damage and wear, and gadgets such as Tyre Wear Indicator can help. Pressure should be correct, not over or under inflated, so monitor and fill up tyre pressure before long journeys in particular. Any odd appearances on the tyres like bulges or cracks... DON'T IGNORE. Pop in by a reliable tyre specialist. Point S car tyre dealers for example have depots all over UK and you can book an appointment with them without any prior payment on Point S website. They also offer free summer tyre checks this summer!

7. Child lock on doors

Self explanatory - those little monkeys try to touch everything!

8. Place everything in the boot or secure it

Never anything unsecured on the back seat, or in front of the rear window - it is just a mini missile waiting to happen. Bags on the floor, pets in pet harnesses, and everything else strapped in or in the boot. 

9. Wear seat belts, properly

Sadly I see this often on the roads - kids in cars without seat belts. Really there is no excuse! By properly this means in the right child car seat, and the strap running from shoulder across the body, not cutting in to the neck. Otherwise serious injury can occur.

By the way, I remember a time from my childhood when you used to not wear seatbelts on the back seat. I even remember cars that didn't have any seatbelts at the back. Very bad - sure fire way of killing both the back seat passenger and the person on the front seat as someone slams in the back of them.   

If you have a Houdini for a tot, who escapes their car seat you can get anti escape systems designed for kids car seats.   

10. Don't ignore any strange sounds or indicators

Another basic car safety tip is of course to make sure your car is maintained and if it acts in any way strangely (sounds, indicators, anything) get it checked out immediately. With our old car there was an occasion we had just set off on a long trip and as we did the turn to M25 our car suddenly had this beep and a strange indicator light we had no idea what it was. We went round the roundabout and straight to the garage, and learned that the car could have just stopped any moment - glad we decided to abandon the journey on the motorway right away!

Oh yes, and while I would have loved to include a "tip" such as don't drive like a buffoon (of which there are sadly too many on the roads nowadays) accidents aren't always your fault. So it is good to try to secure yourself against bad driving by others!

Any tips you have for safer car journeys with kids?

How to make car travel safer for your kids - 10 tips including types of car seats, position of the car seat, and packing the car amongst other ideas.


9 July 2015

Toddler OOTD #27 - Can a pair of shoes make a girl happy?

Can a pair of shoes make a girl happy?

The answer to the question is of course yes. Especially if they are pink and sparkly! 

As soon as the box from ShoeZone was opened my little girl who they were for exclaimed 'Shoes!'. She continued 'Shoes, shoes, shoes!'. As she grabs your hand and shouts 'Park, park!' you know it is time to take the new shoes out for a spin. Your vocabulary isn't the widest at two years old, but translated to adult speak 'Shoes, shoes, park, park!' would probably mean something like 'OMG these shoes are to die for they are so sparkly and pretty and I must wear them immediately so I can be pretty and sparkly too!'. 

If shoes can make you happy, they can also make you feel better about yourself. As she exclaimed 'Jump, jump!' and proceeded to hop like a little bunny towards the park it was almost as if she was suddenly jumping higher and further, each jump she made powered by the magic of sparkles and pink. 

After over two three weeks, and plenty of runs to the park, and jumps to puddles, and strolls to the town they are still just as exciting to wear. They still are 'Shoes, shoes, shoes!'. And they are still sparkly, and still pink, and they still have a great big heart stitched to them making them even more "shoes!". Mummy has helped keep the magic in them a bit by scrubbing the white bits to get rid of the inevitable grass stains to keep them sparkly and fresh.

Shoes really can make a little girl happy. And a big one too I have to admit - as they say, like mother like daughter...
toddler girl in park playground

toddler girl looking at park playground

pineapple studios pink sparkly girls trainers shoezone

pineapple studios pink sparkly girls trainers shoezone

Skinny jeans / H&M
T-shirt / H&M

So, is it true, can shoes make a girl happy? If at least for a fleeting moment?

*Thanks to ShoeZone for sending us the pink and sparkly shoes as a PR sample.

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