Monday, 7 November 2016

Travelling with Children - Japan - The Carry On

We are just over a week out and the scariest part of traveling with children? The flight of course. The fact that you're trapped with nowhere to escape or take your child for time out if it all goes to hell and they meltdown - pretty much guaranteed with CB.

I have no concerns for flying with E, with the ipad, snacks and a few surprise new Star Wars toys, I won't hear a peep from him. C on the other hand ... he's two, a typical two year old with short attention span and is completely egocentric expecting his demands be met instantly or pay the price for his dissatisfaction.

Needless to say, I have researched the heck out of flying with children for tips, tricks and advice. The key seems to be preparing for the worst, accepting that the flight part will eventually end no matter how bad things get and a properly stocked carry-on could be the difference in at least 20 minutes of peace.

I'm going to let them pack their own little Skip Hop backpacks with a few treasurers (nothing too precious for fear of loss) and based on the boys' likes, ages and the trip, my Carry-On(s) is going to look something like this:

  • Mini fishing magnetic game - I played this as a child and bought 2 off ebay for $3 - it should buy a good 15 mins
  • Pipe cleaners for craft - they take up no space and the boys have never used them before
  • Wrapped toys from the dollar shops - maybe mashems or blind bags or cars
  • Star Wars micromachines playset for E - it will be a surprise and should keep him occupied for at least an hour (I got a Storm Trooper head set for $7 on clearance down from $35 and have stashed it for the flight)
  • Thomas mini trains - maybe ... they take up no room and are fun to zoom around
  • Mini puzzles - E loves a good puzzle so I might surprise him with 2 different mini ones - they cost all of $2 so can be given away or tossed if need be
  • Snap/fish/memory cards/Magnetic tanagrams/Mini Guess Who game
  • Plasticine & mini cutters - C loves playdough so this could be a lifesaver
  • Crayola colour wonder books - no mess, I love love love these sets!
  • Smiggle triangle crayons - because triangular crayons don't roll (great tip from fellow mums)
  • Busy book/quiet book - we have a few of these but they are bulky so might not make the cut
  • Ziploc bags - for everything, dirty clothes, snacks, toys, rubbish, you name it (Ikea do great ziplock bags and one box comes with 2 sizes of bag)
  • Pullups for C & a change mat & a pack of wipes
  • Uniqlo parkas (fold down to nothing & change of clothes which will likely be PJs for once we land and clear customs
  • Both ipads loaded with games and movies - S has discovered a hard drive with bluetooth capability so we will just fill this with their favourite TV shows and movies 
  • Headphones x2
  • Country Road blankets - they have both had their CR blankets since birth and I figure they're perfect for travelling being small, lightweight and something familiar from home
  • Drink bottles of course 
  • Child nurofen - goes without saying
  • Snacks – fruit pouches, tiny teddies, gummy bears, pre-cooked cheese tortellini, shapes biscuits, skittles/m&ms, baked beans, cereal fruit/muesli bars, strawberries, mandarins, yoghurt buttons, pretzels, frozen yoghurt squeezies, dry Star Wars cereal, cup noodles and Star Wars lollypops for take off and landing (you cant have too much food I figure)

All stashed in a Skip Hop wheel suitcase.

I considered packing a small new Lego set for E but as a friend pointed out, 
it won't be much fun looking for tiny pieces that get dropped/pulled off etc - clever friend I have.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Travelling with children - Tokyo Disneyland Resort - part 2, still planning

Following on from my post about our family trip to Tokyo later this year, I thought I'd update on the planning involved with a visit to Tokyo Disneyland including booking hotels. Turns out there is quite a lot to it all and I'm really glad I started researching early.

S and I visited DisneySea on our last trip and absolutely loved it. Its the only park of its kind in the world and amongst Disney park fanatics, its widely touted as the best Disney park in the World even. Like most of our last trip, we really did just wing it including showing up at DisneySea on the day, buying a ticket and having a great (long) day at the park. It seems we really benefited from dumb-luck in this instance as any visit to Tokyo Disney should be meticulously planned ... the park often reaches capacity and you cannot buy tickets to enter (plus busy in TDR is not even close to anything you've seen elsewhere). I've read that a quiet day at TDR is among the busiest you will see at other Disney parks around the World.

So with our flights booked and dates locked in, I researched the best recommended days within our visit to go to TDR. Weekdays of course being the best for minimising crowds and midweek days better still than Mondays and Fridays. We I decided we would go with Tuesday Wednesday Thursday to ensure we maximise our days there with the boys and 3 days will give us a day at each park plus a 3rd day to split between the 2 - park hopper passes are not typical at TDR and I believe are only available to TDR hotel guests and as part of a 3 day pass.

Once I had confirmed the days to go to TDR, my attention turned to hotels. We had already decided staying at one of the 3 TDR hotels would make the most sense for us despite the exorbitant prices. It just makes sense with young children for ease and is our major holiday splurge to indulge all four us. Being so close/onsite will definitely make life easier for S and I if one or both of the boys needs a nap or some downtime, we get early access to both parks to beat the queues and snag our fastpasses, guaranteed park access regardless of capacity and my personal favourite, anything we purchase anywhere in the park can be sent straight back to our room ... no having to lug around our gifts and souvenirs for the day or make a frantic dash to the gift shops before the park closes - winning right!

While we would have loved to stay at the MiraCosta after seeing it on our past adventure, it was a little lot more expensive to stay at on the parkside and that would be our only benefit compared to the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel - so we could watch the night show.
We ruled out Disney Ambassador for being just slightly further out given we have 2 children to juggle and that left TDH. Still expensive (starting at $500 per night) it was slightly cheaper than the MiraCosta and we went with a deluxe room as we will be spending 3 nights there and wanted the boys to have a little extra room to play and move during our downtime. Plus I hear TDH has the best gift shop - again, priorities.

I've found accommodation doesn't become available in Japan typically until 6 months out so was anxiously waiting to book our Disney nights after making the final decision on where to stay. To be honest, I was terrified the hotel would book out in minutes given the 3 hotels have about 700 rooms each and operate at 95% occupancy all year round - they are never discounted. So finally our week opened up just last week and while I was only an hour late booking from the open window, the cheapest rooms had already entirely sold out at TDH - which is why we went with the deluxe. If we couldn't get the lowest price, then there was only $100 difference between the next two levels on offer and the extra space made sense.

I was more than a little excited to finalise this booking - think squealing like a little kid and high 5'ing myself- and so very relieved. But now I have months to wait before the guest priority booking window opens to secure shows, character meals and reservations for other Disney park events.

If you are considering visiting Tokyo Disney Resort, do your research early and book as soon as you can.

Accommodation done and dusted for Disney, next up, itinerary planning, Shinjuku and Fujikyu accommodation, packing lists and preparation for flying with children still to come - bet you can't wait.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Spring Bucket List

Spring is pretty much the best time of the year on the Gold Coast, the weather is beautiful and clear without being too hot and humid so its the perfect time to get out and about.

We're almost a month down for Spring and we're away for 2 weeks in November so I'm not leaving myself much time to complete a Spring bucket list but here goes nothing:

1. Get to the beach - to swim, to play and just enjoy it. We live only 15 mins from some of the World's best beaches but we just don't seem to get there much. Not sure if the sand puts me off - through the car, the house and every crevice in between, or the amount of gear we have to lug along or if its just the thought of chasing a screeching CB across hot sand trying to apply sunscreen. Anyway, we need to get to the beach.

2. Halloween. We've never really done anything to celebrate the holiday/season/whatever it is but I do love (obsessed with) the movie, Hocus Pocus, and the boys love a good dressup so I want to try and get a couple of girlfriends and their children (and husbands - to watch the kids) together for a Halloween party. A good excuse to actually make some of the grown up drinks I keep pinning on Pinterest - for the adults only of course.

3. Spring clean! It wouldn't be a Spring bucket list without this one. I'm talking architraves, skirting boards, windows including screens and tracks, wardrobe culls, the roof and guttering, wash the lounge covers, replace the lounge room curtains and sort out our garage which has become a dumping ground for the masses of trucks and ride ons the boys have accumulated.

4. Seaworld. We have passes to all the theme parks, we just never seem to make it to Seaworld despite it being a favourite. Probably because its a total PITA to get to thanks to nightmarish traffic conditions around the area. That aside, its on the list and we need to get there as the boys love seeing the Ninja Turtles and the marine animals.

5. Buy fresh flowers weekly to enjoy more often - no need for a special occasion.

6. Picnics, lots of picnics and fish and chips in the park at dusk.

7. BBQs with friends. We love to entertain, we just have to be better at actually organising events.

8. Fly a kite. We've never done this with the boys - although we must have intended to as we have 2 kites floating around somewhere.

9. Go to an outdoor movie / open air cinema. There are a few locally so I'll have to find a date and get on it.

10. Feed the ducks - but first I'll need to find a pond with ducks ... or maybe not, they're aggressive creatures and scare me - maybe I can find a pond and send S with the boys?

11. Plant a vegetable garden ... might be one to assign to the green thumb father in law as I'm not known for my ability to keep plants living. I'm an accomplished plant murderer sadly, I even killed a succulent in less than 2 weeks - still trying to figure out how.

12. Bubbles, ice blocks and water play in the yard - the boys favourite things.

13. Camp out in the yard with the boys. E would love this adventure.

14. Take as many pictures as I can, and especially of the boys and I - I want photos they can look back on that actually have me in them.

15. Go on local adventures to new places - farms, new places to eat, find different parks, places to swim.

Wish us/me luck!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

I confess...

My ongoing confessions to a not so perfect life:

I live for wine o'clock aka 5 o'clock for non-mummas. Pouring that glass right before getting the boys in the bath makes everything seem so much easier. Although, I rarely get to drink it until the boys are bathed dressed and watching bedtime shows ... but its just having it there that I find reassuring.

I used to wash my hair daily. Then I had kids. Its a slippery slope and now I'm down to once a week, sometimes twice if I have something on for work. Gross I know.

I'm cheap, (or spoilt by my hairdresser) but as much as I love my hair (despite irregular washing), I bring myself to pay a fortune on having it done. My hairdresser was away recently and I had an event where I needed an updo. I rang around and after the cheapest quote of $75 for a high ponytail, I had my sis research pinterest and fumble something together - she did a pretty great job. Note: my HD charges me $30 for any kind of updo! I know, ridiculously cheap, see why I can't spend more than $50.

I'm a plant killer. Like can't even keep basil alive plant killer. I'm determined to change this though and was recently convinced to by a real Fiddle Leaf Fig for indoors (instead of the plastic one I was leaning towards). One week in and its still alive - babysteps.

C still needs to be bounced to sleep some nights in his Baby Bjorn bouncer (thank goodness they are long). Do I like, no. Does it get him to sleep with minimal fuss, yes. Choose your battles I say.

The boys have developed an obsession with 2 minute noodles. I know they are not a well-rounded wholesome meal but meh, I had them many a night for dinner (by choice) growing up so I let them too. 

But you know what? 
I'm a really great mumma to E and C and a really great wife to S.
I'm not perfect but they don't need perfect, 
they just need me, imperfections and all.

What are your confessions to a less than perfect life ...

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

I confess ...

My ongoing confessions to a not so perfect life:

I'm sad that my husband no longer has a regular sports night or boys night to go to every week. I know most wives prefer the extra set of hands for dinner bath bed but I would love my own company one night a week to watch trashy tv and eat popcorn for dinner once the boys are in bed.

I am doing an exercise program run by the Bachie, Sam Wood. I  never watched The Bachelor but some girlfriends got me on to his 28 exercise program and I'm loving it ... but I haven't shared the Bachie connection to it with anyone yet. 

I bribeE to eat all the fruit in his lunchboxes by adding just 3 Allens Jelly Tots to the treat compartment. If he doesn't eat all his fruit, no lollies the next day. Let me tell you, those teeny tiny jellies are prime negotiating tools. 

I'm over the washing grind. Sort, wash, dry, fold, put away. Especially as S doesn't even bother putting his clean clothes away... its all he has to do in the process but no, they sit in a neat folded pile in front of his side of the wardrobe for weeks until they end up back in the wash. So I've taken a stand and while it is killing my OCD, I'm leaving them there. Oh, and I'm not even turning his clothes in the right way before folding. Its my petty protest.

My car is a tip at the moment. Wrappers, odd shoes (mine and the boys), drink bottles, paper, random happymeal (shhhh) toys, bags of things to donate or take to kindy/mums/sisters, sand/crumbs everywhere and not to mention the outside could use a clean too.

My littlest kid spent 4 mins in time out this morning in his cot. He is out of control crazy hysterical lately and S had to leave early for work today. After 15 mins of him screaming at my feet or attacking his brother while I was getting ready, I put him in the cot in time out. Every 5 mins or less I went in and was told 'go way, out!' so I went on with my makeup etc.
When it came time to change him including nappy, he fought me tooth and nail and was deposited with much relief (by me) at his grandmother's in a nappy, long sleeve tee and nothing else. I admit, I gave up this morning and needed my mama to come to the rescue - which she did thankfully.

But you know what? 
I'm a really great mumma to E and C and a really great wife to S.
I'm not perfect but they don't need perfect, 
they just need me, imperfections and all.

What are your confessions to a less than perfect life ...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Traveling with Children - Tokyo, Japan - part 1, The Planning

Japan is possibly S and my favourite place in the whole World together. We have both traveled, S far more extensively than I having grown up a British citizen and Air Force brat, but there is something magical and mystical and oh so fun about Japan. We spent our honeymoon there, complete with the biggest earthquake ever felt and we traveled back again 6 months after the EQ to finish said honeymoon that was cut short.

I've dreamed of heading back ever since our last visit but 2 children under 4, a mortgage, renovations, work etc and the timing (and finances) was just never right. Until a few weeks ago when Jetstar had one of their amazing flight sales. I saw the advertisement and ran some dates for fun. When the results returned that the 4 of us could fly to Tokyo return for under $1,600 incl. baggage, I text S and it went a little some thing like 'Ummmm how much do we have to spare right now? Japan for 4 of us $1,566' complete with shocked emoji and a screenshot of my summary.
We went back and forth with dates for a few texts and then he sent the magic words, 'Just do it' ... I may have cried happy tears.

We always said Japan would be a perfect place to holiday with children, even when we were there honeymooning and now we are actually going. We are both so excited at the prospect of making some unforgettable memories with our boys and to be sharing our love of this beautiful country with them.

Of course I now can't think of anything else and have gone into overdrive with my planning ... we also filled E in on the excitement and I'm not sure now if he or I will last the 6 months till we go, especially after we also mentioned the magic word 'Disneyland'. I've had to make a countdown calendar for the poor kid to cross off daily with pictures of airplanes, Disney, Mt Fuji etc on the days of our travel.

I'm having so much fun researching a family holiday and have learnt so much more about Japan that we never even came across on our previous trips. I've already worked out a basic itinerary (that includes 3 days at Disney of course) and have lists a mile long of things to do and places to see. The only painful part is booking accommodation at the moment as you can't book more than 6 months out for most places in Japan so I'm watching the calendar carefully so we can lock in some of the high demand places asap - the main one being Tokyo Disneyland Hotel which is prohibitively expensive but we think a worthy splurge for our convenience and to make our visit truly memorable for the whole family.

My only concern for this trip is the flight with C. I know E will be a dream with the ipad and few activities and books but C on the other hand is a wild one. He hates being restrained, is rarely quiet and has a very short attention span. I won't lie here, I've considered upgrading myself and leaving S up back with the two boys - but that's probably not the best way to start a family holiday. I guess the best I can do is just immerse myself in planning and hope he settles down in the next 6 months like everyone keeps promising me he will.

So, any tips or trips for packing for Tokyo Winter, flying with children, travelling with children and specifically Disney & Tokyo with children? I'll take anything.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wish list

My current wish list looks something like this...

Wish list

1. New sheets for our bed ... nothing beats fresh linen in a high thread count.

2. Victoria's Secret Mayfair pjs are my all-time favourite pajamas and I love the swiss dot flamingo print.

3. Inflatable gold swan for Summer - even though its now Winter.

4. Artis makeup brush set . I've only just discovered these and I NEED them in my life. Now to justify the price.

5. Prada sunglasses - I have a pair in tortoise shell and am in need of some basic black.

6. A new Oroton wallet. I love Oroton for their quality. I buy a new one every 2-3 years and love the size of their zip arounds for everyday use.

7. Beauty Blender sponge. Its a cult I hear and once you try it, you will never use anything else for makeup application.

8. Scholl Velvet Smooth Foot File. My feet are so dry and nothing I do seems to help that so I want to give this a go.

9. Glasshouse Rendezvous candle. I may have already added this one to my extensive collection.

10. Rag & Bone black Newbury boots. Late to the party on these but my Winter wardrobe needs them - or a good dupe.