30 September 2018

What happened in our lives in September 2018

This month I've only got one family photo. You know how it is when you hand the camera over to a stranger to take a picture. You are lucky to have any useable pictures! We were at Kensington Palace and with a whinging 5 year old there never seemed to be another opportune moment to start taking family portraits, so this will just have to do. And just to make it go a bit further I've also cropped it in two different ways ha ha. 

But anyway, without further ado, let's see how our September went. 

family photo in front of kensington palace

I have loved:

  • Watching GBBO - although I haven't done quite as many bakes as I had planned... 
  • Going to a talk about bilingual families, understanding the issues better and learning loads of new ideas I can use in our family. 
  • Being proud of my little girls - Aili got a Headteacher's Award and Aija has learned to bounce herself on her bouncer. And is loving it. 
  • Our new smart kettle. It's a game changer. Turns out green tea, if you brew it at the right temperature, doesn't need to taste bitter! It has pre-set temperatures for different varieties of tea and coffee, and of course a normal boil. Makes it easier to do milk bottles too. I love it. (It's official, I've reached the age where I get excited about good quality utility items...)
  • The last sunny summer days.
  • Reading books gain - this month have finished The Secret Barrister and This Is Going To Hurt.

Aili has loved:

  • Starting swimming school. We've been lazy about finding time to teach her to swim, so this year I decided once and for all, it's time for her to learn. So swim school. Thankfully she loves it. 
  • Getting back to ballet. Last term ended up in a high with a ballet show, and soon it's time for her first ballet exam.
  • Starting school in general - and she is going to her first after-school club too and doing gymnastics. 
  • PJ Masks and The Incredibles - this girl is obsessed!
  • Getting her hair cut to a short bob. This is apparently the Elastigirl haircut, and she brought Elastigirl with her to the hairdressers to show what it needs to look like. 

Aija has loved:

  • Milk and cuddles. 
  • Lots and lots of cuddles - our velcro baby does not like to be put down. 
  • When she does get put down, she loves her BabyBjorn bouncer and her Moomin play gym
  • Gnawing on her fists, but no teeth yet. 
  • Moving and grooving. She manages to advance about a meter or two on her own, doing a mixture of shuffling, rolling and pulling herself ahead with her arms. 

Hubby has loved:
  • Our new smart kettle. A perfect cup of coffee everytime. 
  • Going to the gym. 
  • Getting the little one out of the house and back to school - makes it so much easier to work from home.
  • Dozing off very early every night, seems like the life being a dad of two is knackering!

family photo

How was your September?

You might also like: What happened in our lives in August 2018

29 September 2018

My second-born at four months old

I can not believe how fast time is passing. Only yesterday I had a newborn, and now I've got a four month old chunky baby. Gosh. So here is how she has been over the last month.

baby with number four made out of conkers

baby grabbing its toes

Physical development
She has started moving a bit, and cover a decent distance if you leave her to it. She doesn't quite crawl yet, but she is exercising those muscles, lifting her bum up in the air and trying to get those legs underneath. She does move a fair bit though, and that she does by either rolling, or pulling herself  forwards with her arms, and sorta shimmying ahead. She can advance a meter or two if we leave her to it.

Gnawing her fists and chew toys is a regular occurrence now, and I suspect we may have teeth appearing soon. Occasionally I let her gnaw on my knuckle but so far no sharp little nubbles!

It's probably the fate of the second-born, but I have forgot to get her measure this week, so not sure how much she weighs exactly. She has been growing at the 50-75th percentile, and looks pretty much similar so I am guessing she might be something like 6.5 to 7kg. And also, the fate of the second-born, I still haven't updated her baby book, bad mummy me, but at least I can retrospectively fill it using these blog entries I suppose!

baby in a circle of conkers

baby smiling

baby smiling

baby with number four made out of conkers

Special happenings
She has had all of her vaccinations now, including the 16 week mega-vaccinations, which affected her a fair bit. As nowadays the vaccinations have the Men B included, babies can get quite poorly. Our normally well-sleeping baby was running a mild fever (despite giving her Calpol) and was up and crying all night long. It was a long two nights, but thankfully lots of cuddles and a bit of time helped, and she was back to normal fairly quick.

Personality and loves
As for personality, she has a gorgeous smile but is also a real velcro baby. Often you cannot put her down, or it is a crybaby time instantly. So in many cases days end up with me cuddling her on the sofa, trying to do something useful but mostly failing miserably.

When we do manage to get her to sit on her own in her bouncer, we often spot her just observing us, sitting in her seat, staring. How interesting it would be to know what she thinks! She also loves watching her big sister and follows her around with her gaze, although complains about the rather rough cuddles she often receives...

So that's that, she is not quite crawling yet but for sure soon will, she loves observing her family members, and is very cuddle-hungry. And knock wood, she is quite a good sleeper!

baby grabbing toes

baby at four  months old

7 September 2018

What is the SEALife London Aquarium like for kids?

The London Aquarium is one of the attractions in London I always recommend families visit. It is a fantastic place for both younger and older kids, and there is such a great variety of things to see, everyone will find something exciting about it. When they recently invited us over to come view all the new things that have been set up, I jumped at the chance to review it. Here is what we thought of the attraction and also my top tips for visiting the London Aquarium.

London Aquarium - review and top tips for visiting

london aquarium tunnel

girl in front of shark tank

woman and baby in front of fish tank

Over the last few years the SEA LIFE London Aquarium has done loads of work on their premises and increased both the exhibition space and spruced up some of the existing areas. Newish additions include the penguins and the jellyfish, and the rainforest area has new decor and play areas for the kids. 

We visited the jellyfish section last year, and absolutely loved the strange world of the jellyfish - it was another fun and interesting addition to the aquarium. This time my daughter was very keen on seeing the penguins, and it was great to see them toddle on their icy little enclosure. The rainforest section had loads of creepy crawlies, crocodiles, tortoises and fish (like piranhas!) and my daughter loved playing at the new play areas - it made it a bit more fun and play-oriented for little ones, enabling us adults to really look at the animals and have a moment to read the signs too, which was great.

mum and daughter in front of fish tank

peep hole

piranha at london aquarium

girl looking at tarantula


penguins at london aquarium

penguins swimming

woman looking at jellyfish

jellyfish london aquarium

Other than that, my absolute favourite is the big ocean tank, with all the sharks and giant turtles. It really is fantastic, and you get to view it at so many points during your tour. You get a glimpse of it at the very start, when walking above the sharks and then later when you walk through the tunnel. 

This year we also attended the Behind the Scenes Tour. I would really recommend this from years 5 upwards - our daughter found it absolutely fascinating to learn more about the aquarium practices and see the areas normally only the staff get access to. As an adult, I found it fascinating too! We got to see the quarantine area, hear more about the aquarium practices, and also see seadragons, fish that is not on display as they are so delicate and get disturbed by the noises of viewers. We got to hold a shark and a ray egg (empty of course) and see their breeding areas. We learned what they feed the fish, and how thick the aquarium glass is, so lots of learning. It all felt pretty special.

london aquarium back room

quarantine tank london aquarium

sea dragon tank

sea dragon through a peep hole

aquarium glass

coral tank

family photo in front of coral tank

The unfortunate thing about the aquarium is that it gets very very busy, especially between the hours of 11AM and 3PM. It can be difficult to secure good viewpoints, and you may have to wait quite long. As the tickets are expensive, this can be quite disappointing. On our visits we have always used the priority entrance, although this time as we visited in the afternoon, it was quite slow and we had to queue a relatively long time (15 minutes I think). On previous occasions when we have visited as they have opened, it was a lot speedier and you were pretty much waved straight through which was great.

Another slightly problematic thing of the aquarium is also that it is quite dark (as aquariums are!). Because some of the passages are narrow and winding, you have to be quite careful and keep an eye and a hand on your kid at all times as they can get so excited and start running off!

mum and daughter in front of shark tank

London Aquarium - review and top tips for visiting

So that's what we thought about the London Aquarium - great place to visit, loads to see, kids love it, but it can get VERY busy around midday. Definitely worth a visit though. See my top tips for visiting below!

Top tips:

  • Visit before 11AM or after 3PM - it is very busy midday.
  • It is fully buggy and wheelchair friendly. The closest buggy/wheelchair friendly tube station is Westminster. 
  • Under 3 year olds are free!
  • Lovely place to visit in the heat of summer as it tends to be very cool down there.
  • Don't bother too much with taking photos - unfortunately due to the darkness most photos just won't work. 
  • Best place to have a selfie is right after the see-through tunnel - a little enclosure that goes inside the tank. 
  • Behind the Scenes Tour is great- well worth it for both kids and adults. Best suitable for kids over 5.
  • You get to pet a starfish - so amazing! Don't rush though as it can take a while for kids to gather the courage to touch it. 
  • If you are peckish, there is a McDonald's right next door - as well as other restaurants nearby. 
  • South Bank is lovely to walk on before or after the Aquarium - there is also a small playground next door to the Aquarium, in Jubilee Gardens. 

Review of the SEALife London Aquarium and the Behind the Scenes Tour, and top tips for visiting. There are sharks, sting rays, jellyfish, penguins, and all kinds of bugs and fish. We think it's great place to take the kids in London!

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