90+ Days in Lockdown Auckland:  How’s your homeschooling going?

90+ Days in Lockdown Auckland: How’s your homeschooling going?

Does parenting through a lockdown get any easier? Have you adjusted to the ‘new normal’ or has your adjustment just felt like a slippery slide into a very average, daily grind like mine?
Stepping outside of my own feelings and frustrations during Auckland’s extended lockdown and I can see 8yo Nixon experiencing the same emotions and lack of motivation that has been hitting me in waves.
Nixie’s 12pm online learning each day brings the social interaction, routine and structure that he desperately needs right now as well as the basic reading, writing and maths tuition that has all but disappeared while school has been closed.
90+ days into lockdown, the association between these regular online touch-points with his peers and teachers and ongoing digital learning (complete with those feel-good success vibes) is only getting stronger.
Recognising this, it’s definitely time to get proactive around successfully wrapping up the school year for Nix and what that looks like. With return to school days set at a grand total of 8 (omg) before the summer holidays begin, I’ve realised that perhaps the best strategy in our home is to capitalise on the digital learning routines that are already in place – and that means fleshing out our digital tool-kit.

The price of 1-on-1 online tutoring quickly ruled that out as an option, plus, I wanted something more flexible that Nix could sit down and get into whenever the mood struck him – strike when the iron is hot right?!
That’s exactly what Reading Eggs has given us.
We used Reading Eggs years ago when getting Nix ready for school and I had entirely forgotten about this awesome programme until now, a time when if I think too much about Nixon’s schooling this year (or lack thereof) I can get whipped into an anxiety attack pretty swiftly!

Reading Eggs Online learning in lockdown
Nix can work through his Reading Eggs lessons at his own pace, completely self-directed.

Like most kids, he has his favourite subject (maths), and as a result, leans towards the maths work offered via his school’s online platform. My problem until now has been trying to ensure that reading and writing are not entirely cast aside as we navigate the rest of the school year in a format that is different each day.
I’m all about POSITIVE screen time and Reading Eggs delivers that for our family. Nix is engaged at a level that is perfect for him, he is willing and even, eager (!) to spend time working on his reading and motivation hasn’t waned as this child is all about rewards and certificates and I can print those out for him and celebrate his successes.

I have been increasingly nervous about how Nixon’s learning has suffered through this lockdown and Reading Eggs has done a great job of bringing a realistic, practical and ongoing reading curriculum into our home, just when we needed it.

The results and change in Nixon’s attitude to his literacy work have been so great to see and I’m so happy to share a 30-day FREE trial with you guys!

The trial includes access to Reading Eggs 2–13 yrs, Mathseeds 3-9yrs, Reading Eggs Junior 2-4yrs, Reading Eggs 3-7yrs and Reading Eggspress 7-13yrs.

Tap into this award-winning resource, with the free trial perfectly timed to finish our school year here in New Zealand on a positive note.

Boy using online learning platform Reading Eggs
PlanetBox Review: Nixon’s quirky eating and the Lunchbox that makes it all ok

PlanetBox Review: Nixon’s quirky eating and the Lunchbox that makes it all ok

The arrival of PlanetBox lunchboxes in New Zealand has been long awaited by Mums and/or Instagram food stylists for a long, long time.  With a picky eater on my hands, these bento-style lunch boxes looked like just the thing to help Nix make the most out of his packed lunch each day.  Little & Loved kindly provided the Rover for review, check out their range of PlanetBox products and accessories here > PlanetBox Lunchboxes available in New Zealand!

I’m writing this mid-bedtime battle with Nixon, so I feel like I’m banging on a bit about his somewhat ‘difficult’ behaviours at the moment but it is what it is.  Our little guy is a gorgeous wee package full of surprises and challenges and we love him for that, as trying as they may be.

Anyhow, food is the topic de jour, in particular, Nixon’s LOVE of food.  

This statement comes with caveats, of course, doesn’t everything when you’re discussing a 4-year-old?

Nixon loves all food that is;
  • Quick to eat
  • Not touching other foods
  • Not mixed with other foods ie he loves berries and he loves yoghurt but he can’t stand berries IN yoghurt.
  • Not in any way being devious about vegetables.  “Just don’t try and hide veges in my shit Mum, just don’t”.
  • Not past it’s prime, even slightly.  no brown bits on bananas, apples or avocados, please.
  • Not a fancy hybrid of any kind.  A croissant is perfection.  A pain au chocolat is abhorrent!
  • Not in excess of any one element; too cheesy no good, too buttery no good, too much mince in a mince pie?  No good.

So meal times at our house are usually a two-step process.  We usually cook all the components of our meals separately, serve Nixon in his divided plate and then combine the ingredients for everyone else’s meal.  Last night we had an amazing turkey and vegetable fettuccine.  Nix had roasted turkey, fettuccine pasta with alfredo sauce (no bits!) and chopped tomatoes and beetroot on the side.

Kindy lunches are a similar scenario, complicated further by the fact that lunch must be packed separated and stay separated throughout the day – bento style.  Needless to say, we’ve had lots of semi-full lunch boxes (with the contents inadvertently mixed together) return home at the end of the day with a very hungry wee boy.   Nix needs to eat a lot and to eat often, so finding the right lunchbox for him to get used to before he heads off to school later this year is key right now.

I’m totally aware of how OTT this sounds (it’s just a freaking lunchbox right???), but, Zoe from Little & Loved took some time via Instagram to chat me through lunchbox options for Nix and his ‘requirements’.  There’s no doubt that PlanetBox as well as other bento-style lunchboxes have become popular in recent years BUT, they are quite an investment.  If you’re looking at purchasing online it’s amaze being able to ask questions before dropping 90 bucks on your kids’ school lunch receptacle right?

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox

So, Nixie’s PlanetBox Rover arrived and I was immediately in love; the gorgeous, retro packaging, the seemingly indestructible nature of its eco-friendly, stainless steel construction…….. I know a friend who has had 3 PlanetBox lunchboxes for her kids since her eldest began school over 6 years ago and they are still going strong, so the longevity of these guys is amazing.

However, I underestimated the depth of my son’s food ocd.  That river runs DEEP ya’ll.  I was all set up to send him off to kindy on Friday with his new PlanetBox lunch box but, a ‘Farewell Day’ for his plastic Systema was required.  Literally, I had to agree to one more day before we could recycle the lunchbox I thought he disliked so much because his food got all mixed up inside it!

Strange little fellow lol.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Two weeks into PlanetBox Life, both Nix and I are converted and convinced.  I initially worried that the latch system might be a bit tricky for him (no idea why I presume my 4.5yo is a baby still?!) – it isn’t, that it might be a bit heavy – it isn’t, that it might not hold enough – it does.  But my most overwhelming observation comes from the fact that Nixon’s PlanetBox comes home from kindy four days a week completely empty.  These are the most perfect, rubbish free, bento-style lunchboxes I’ve personally ever used or seen.  Nix eats everything now because his food stays separated………no matter what.  I’ve flipped it, shaken it all about (as does Nix on the daily!) and the smart design stays true every time.

Zoe has a great range of eco friendly Planetbox stainless steel lunch boxes and accessories in stock here in New Zealand, all with a five year warranty.  Dishwasher safe, eco-friendly, non-toxic and built to last, I know I’ll be using this awesome lunch box for years to come.

Shop the Little & Loved collection here > Stainless Steel PlanetBox Lunchboxes

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox



Raising Kiwi boys – the good, the bad and the muddy

Raising Kiwi boys – the good, the bad and the muddy

Karicare Toddler is about as Kiwi as the kids that are we are raising here in New Zealand. As a Mum to a couple of Kiwi boys, Karicare Toddler asked me to have a think about what it means to me to be a Kiwi mum.  Made right here in New Zealand, Karicare Toddler have been committed to using the goodness of New Zealand cows’ milk from Kiwi cows on Kiwi farms. How awesome is it that our kids can enjoy the benefits of amazing NZ dairy from their earliest years?!

13 years ago when I thought kids were (maybe?) a distant possibility in my future, I could only imagine parenting boys. The thought of raising a mini-Melissa terrified me – and rightly so if you ask my mother!

So imagine my ‘surprise’ when Dave and I fell pregnant whilst in the very early stages of planning our wedding. “Boys it is!” I assured Dave, only to be told at every single scan that we were expecting a girl.

The pink presents began rolling in. Despite living in Southern California at the time, baby girl had more pink blankets then she would ever be able to use and Mum had Pumpkin Patch on speed dial ready to snap up every cute girls outfit released that season.

Luckily most shops these days have a fantastic return policy.  Baby girl was indeed, an Ethan. And then 8.5 years later, another bouncing, 10.4lb bundle of joy – Nixon – arrived.

Those are my qualifications for writing about Kiwi boys. I know nothing I can assure you, and what I and other mothers of boys do know is learned (or earned) through the school of hard knocks, lost socks and empty pantries.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi KidsTwo children deep, hindsight has proven what an absolute angel our first child was. It’s almost unfair that we didn’t realise how easy those first 8.5 years of parenting actually were. Because the bomb sure dropped when Nixon arrived.

The large age gap seemed like a dream initially. Ethan was completely smitten with his little brother, he’d waited for him a long time after being present at the sonographers appointment where we found out I’d miscarried during my previous pregnancy.  He was/is a proud and protective (exasperated, tormented) big brother.

Nixon is ::: dramatic pause:::, the exception to every rule I thought I knew about parenting.  He is, without doubt, the loudest person in the universe, the most full-on, stubborn, energizer bunny, tackle everything in his path then poke his finger in your eye just for kicks kid I have ever encountered.  He is also, unerringly cuddly, affectionate, verbose and crazy smart.  

We completely redecorated the house in 2011/12 and post-toddler-Nixon we will have to completely redecorate again.  Rimu windowsills, painstakingly stripped and refinished are now scarred, scratched, chipped and dented.  Walls, all re-plastered and painted have met the same fate.  Cushions vs marker pens, couch vs ballpoint, carpet vs play dough/dirt/dinner, brand new kitchen flooring vs laundry basket zoomed across it at top speed.  If you scoff and say “well, that’s just life with kids”, well perhaps.  Toddler destruction totally caught me by surprise as Ethan in his 13 years on this earth, has never, ever damaged our home or furnishings.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi Kids

Nix must have known I needed a great shot of him for the blog today so he obliged by mixing dirt for his vege planters………in his bedroom!

So, despite looking very, very similar our boys are as different as chalk and cheese and are also probably as different as night and day to the other million or so little boys that are growing up around New Zealand at the same time.  That’s really the beauty of our little country in these modern times, differences are (for the most part) tolerated and celebrated.  We are all raising our children in different family configurations, different housing arrangements, with different cultural influences and religious beliefs, more diets than you can shake a stick at but we are at peace amongst an alarming and ever-increasing rate of intolerance in the world around us.

The joy of both being a Kiwi kid and having the immense privilege to raise one – or 2 or 10 or however many you want – is an awesome journey to be on.  Of course, it’s made infinitely easier when there are fab products such as Karicare Toddler that are made in New Zealand and help us give our kids a great start in life.

This post is brought to you by Karicare Toddler.

Win with The Best Nest!

I’ve got three $50 Gift Cards to the Warehouse to give away.  To enter, just comment below with one thing you love about raising kiwi kids or one thing you love about living in New Zealand!  

Competition closes Dec 10 2018. NZ residents only.

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The Magic Schoolbus – When Netflix Reads My Mind

The Magic Schoolbus – When Netflix Reads My Mind

When you love Netflix, you really love Netflix.  It might happen gradually, it might happen overnight but it will happen and when it does it’s easy to appreciate the amazing learning potential that exists in the combination of a medium that’s often relegated to the ‘mindless entertainment’ category, with the tangible, precious experience of books and the modern luxury of the world at our fingertips à la Google.

It’s enough to blow little (and big!) minds in a quiet way that sneaks up on you and creates educational experiences in your living room when all you’re looking for is 5 minutes of peace and some downtime for your overtired little ones after school.

And that is the Netflix Effect.

The Magic Schoolbus series of books were handed down to Ethan by one of my cousins many years ago.  He never even looked at them, to be honest, but we kept them and they were eventually relocated to Nixie’s bookshelf.  He discovered them earlier this year and they’ve since become a bedtime staple.  Mrs Frizzle and the class have introduced Nix to phytoplankton and zooplankton, the water cycle and decomposition, the concepts of water pressure and air pressure – these are my least faves to be honest!  I used to groan when these (l o n g) books would be chosen night after night, and I do have to skim read a little here and there, but, like Nixon, I’m now a fan of the Magic Schoolbus.

I’ve written before about his peculiar viewing habits; the thought of watching a movie sends him running for the hills, and trying to introduce new shows is like pulling teeth.  He simply likes what he likes.  Luckily, he LOVES watching The Magic School Bus on Netflix.  I say ‘luckily’ because there are four seasons of the early series as well as the first season of the Netflix Original, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, streaming now.  Dave, Ethan and I have been desperate for some new ‘Nixon approved’ content to beef up his current obsession, the single series of the fishing show, Chasing Monsters.  If you need to know what ‘noodling for catfish’ means, I’d recommend you watch this lol.

The combination of mixing our quiet, bedtime reading routine with the Magic School Bus content on Netflix has seen Nixon’s interest in the world around him multiply so quickly, it’s hard to keep up.  A conversation about volcanoes over the weekend quickly moved to windows.  We finally caught up with his busy little brain and realised the connection he was making between rock and sand being heated by lava and the manufacture of glass from silica.


TV, (or should I say, the ability to watch digital content on a television or device) is so much more than the Saturday morning cartoons and Coronation St we grew up with.  Moving away from the negative screen-time paradigm and making choices around the content your kids are watching can provide some awesome and very entertaining educational opportunities for the entire family.

If you’ve made any kid-friendly discoveries on Netflix lately, let me know in the comments below, especially if you’ve been integrating them into a wider learning experience!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Netflix

Kids Health Insurance – Why I pay for it

Kids Health Insurance – Why I pay for it

(The irony of what I’m writing right now doesn’t escape me as we are on what I call, ‘hospital watch’ with Nixon after a day of vomiting and 2 days without a bowel movement.  Fingers crossed x).

I’m sitting here blogging and thinking back to 3 years ago when we had a very sick child.  Multiple GP visits had come to nothing and no-one seemed to be quite as concerned as we were about the fact that Nixon hadn’t passed a bowel motion in 45 days.  This had been his (and our!) lives for the past 9 months since he was born; obsessing over diaper changes, hoping for action in the downstairs department and fretting constantly over the lack thereof.

After two general anaesthetics and invasive biopsies of his large intestine, he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a congenital condition meaning (basically) he couldn’t poop.

Shit.  Literally lol.

Life with a newborn is frantic, multiplied by 100 when they’re sick.  Had I remembered to add Nixon to our health insurance policy?  Who knew?  Did I remember my failure to do so literally minutes after his diagnosis?

Of course, and that was cool as I totally needed something else to beat myself up about at that time.  Not!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Health Insurance

My brother and I were fortunate enough to inherit ‘legacy’ health insurance as we moved into adulthood, meaning that my parents had insured us as kids (with no pre-existing conditions) and these policies had been renewed continuously until we took ownership of them in our adult years.  Similarly, Ethan has also been insured since birth.  Nix obviously has a pre-existing condition (because of the delay in purchasing his insurance), so as Hirschsprung’s is a congenital disease, anything related is excluded for him.  Nix receives treatment via the public health system thank goodness, and the kids are both covered for the other great worry in our life – Melanoma.

I only realised the immeasurable value of our health insurance when my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma, a horrible battle which he lost after 9 months.  Dad’s treatment and condition warranted numerous scans, which to have with any urgency (or without the associated inconvenience of huge wait times and the very real risk to my immune-compromised Dad of spending large amounts of time in a hospital waiting room) would have cost Mum and Dad $1300 for each scan!  The mental/emotional support the policy gave our family was a huge relief in a time of massive stress and eventual grief.

So, HECK YES I love health insurance and continue to prioritise its place in our household budget.

This month, I switched the kid’s health insurance to KIDSmart by Accuro.  Both of the boys are now insured under a policy customised for kids that does NOT require an adult to be insured.  Our old health insurance saw the kids piggy-backed on to my policy without the ability to adjust individual amounts of cover as needed.  I found this incredibly frustrating and for parents who want to want to prioritise health insurance for their children but can’t afford the combined expense of an adult policy, this archaic way of issuing cover can make the whole exercise unaffordable and simply too hard.

There are some super cool perks to this kids policy as well, my favourite two are;

  • Your child will be charged the Kids Premium Rate until they are 25!
  • After 3 years of continuous cover, your child will receive an exercise-based loyalty reimbursement of $150 per year to be used towards school or sports clubs, swimming or dance lessons.  How cool is that?!

For a free online quote (it literally takes 5 minutes!), visit KIDSmart by Accuro and find out exactly what they mean when they say they take care of their people when they are healthy and when they’re not doing so well : )

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Health Insurance

Thanks to Accuro for sponsoring this post!






We Love:  Dough Queen Natural Play Dough

We Love: Dough Queen Natural Play Dough

Here in New Zealand, the first school holidays of 2017 are very quickly approaching and if the recent unsettled weather is anything to go by, we better get prepared for some rainy days inside!

Nixon is our hurricane child, whom we often struggle to settle down into focused, prolonged play.  He tires quickly of traditional toys but, give him creative options and he’s good to go and engaged for at least half an hour – that’s amazing for our little guy!

Despite having to be carried out in the football hold under my arm during the show last year (epic, most public meltdown either one of my kids has ever experienced!), Nix LOVES Mister Maker and often asks for time with his ‘Making Box’ full of art supplies.  His other favourite form of creative play is sitting down with some play dough and letting his imagination take over – I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him play the same way twice when he’s working and squishing with dough.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Natural Play dough

Over the past couple of years, it’s pretty apparent that as Kiwi parents, we are changing the way we choose and shop for products for our kids.  When we have the option to purchase great quality, natural products it’s a no-brainer, especially when it’s going to be a guaranteed hit with the kids!

Fellow Kiwi Mum Claire Shannon has taken this movement to market with her Dough Queen range of natural New Zealand made play dough.

Dough Queen’s NZ-made natural non-toxic play dough is produced with food grade ingredients you can find in your own kitchen. That means if someone takes a nibble there’s no need to panic. We like our little customers to have a good amount to play with so each resealable pouch has 500g of dough. DQ dough will last around 5 months, as long as it is returned to its pouch or stored in a sealed container after play time.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Natural Play dough

We’ve been playing pretty hard out with Claire’s lovely dough since before Christmas and I’m totally hooked – as is Nixie.  I’ve made my own dough before, and whilst it’s not a particularly difficult thing to do, it is time-consuming and messy.  Let’s face it, the beauty of tactile play with play dough IS that it’s messy and you can smush it into a million little pieces (that get into every fibre of every fibrous thing in your entire house lol), so mess is good.  But avoiding a pre-mess before the Main Mess Event is much more my style.

In short, I’d rather buy natural play dough then make it myself – #LazyMum, maybe.  Time poor?  Definitely.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Natural Play dough

Dough Queen Natural Play Dough retails at $9 per single pack, with bundle pricing available as well as lab-tested, gluten free options, making beautiful handmade dough safe and healthy for everyone.

There are two new colours in the Dough Queen range, DQ Colour #10 and DQ Colour #11.  Both come in the super generous 500gm resealable pouch, both are bright, fun colours, they last for ages, and they both need names!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Natural Play doughHelp Dough Queen name the two latest colours!

Come up with the winning name for either #10 (teal) or #11 (purple) or both, and a twin pack containing each of the new colours could be all yours!  There are two prizes to win so comment below with your name suggestions and Dough Queen will choose 2 winners 3/4/17.

NZ residents only.

Science and Skincare for your baby – Start Fresh with the Facts

Science and Skincare for your baby – Start Fresh with the Facts

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FamilyJohnson's Baby

This post is sponsored by Johnson’s Baby, all copy and opinions expressed within are my own.

For an expectant parent, the 9 months prior to the arrival of a new baby is one filled with choices. To find out the gender of your most awaited delivery…….or not, to paint the nursery this colour………or that, this name, that name, hospital or home birth, breast or bottle, cloth or disposable……an endless keep-you-up-at-night intro to the never-ending decisions that mean you’ve made it – your choices will affect the welfare of your small-person for the next 18 years or so. Congratulations!

Our second son Nixon arrived in 2013, we were in NZ this time, and I realised once again that I knew absolutely nothing about being a parent – the only familiar thing was the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing lol. What was vastly different from 2004 when Ethan was born, was, the digital landscape had become a very real, almost tangible part of our daily lives, especially mine as a blogger and a mother. As parents, we now head online to research, discuss and vet our social audiences of their opinions on every aspect of our lives. We have intimate access to the lives of people that we barely know, we ‘friend’ people that are perhaps just a passing acquaintance and are then subject to their own views, lifestyle choices and social media ‘highlight reel’.

The influence of our own parents, close family and trusted friends has waned, taking a back seat to the ever accessible opinions and choices of those on the other end of a Twitter or Instagram handle. As a result, the choices we make as parents, both for ourselves and our kids can become based upon strong, reactive emotions, such as guilt, fear, inadequacy and envy.

I’ve had the ‘Mummy-guilt’ discussion with every single one of my female friends at some point over the past 11.5 years and though it manifests differently for each of us, it’s a massive driver when it comes to making purchasing decisions for our families. As new parents, we have literally 100’s of things more pressing requiring our attention than allowing ourselves to feel guilty for not purchasing the latest celeb endorsed green/vegan/organic/quinoa based/activated/squeezed-through-hemp-filters-held-by-yogis bubble bath for our precious bundles of joy.

Am I right?

In an effort to help shift this feeling of guilt from at least one aspect of daily life, I went straight to the company with the most research published, & the most peer reviewed baby skincare brand, Johnson’s Baby, and got the answers I need to make buying baby care products a choice that doesn’t require a referendum on Facebook – or a science degree!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FamilyJohnson's Baby

4 things you need to know about Baby Products

  1. Are they safe? Pretty much a key concern I’d say and rightly so! Johnson’s baby products meet or exceed government standard in the countries they are sold. In New Zealand, baby personal care products are classified as cosmetics and Johnson’s Baby adhere to the New Zealand Cosmetic Product Group Standard.
    Prior to that, a robust internal safety mandate should be in place. Johnson’s Baby use a 5 step safety process that begins by sourcing raw materials from their trusted suppliers who comply with J&J’s strict safety standards, these materials are then tested, and are rejected if a full safety profile is not met. Next, different experts such as dermatologists, ophthalmologists & paediatricians clinically test the products for safety, suitability for use on s The products are also tested for environmental impact.  The next step is in-use testing of products by volunteers around the world, in their homes, the ‘uncontrolled’ environments of the real world. They also tested their products in the lab under several conditions such as extreme heat, cold, and humidity to make sure the products are safe and consistent. Only after this scrutiny are Johnson’s Baby products ready to hit the shelves. The 5th step is ongoing evaluation and consumer feedback as well as continued research into new and better ingredients to further improve products.
  2. If a product is marked as ‘natural’ what does that mean? I have a big issue with this one as it seems like certain terms such as ‘natural’ are bandied about in both product labelling and marketing without too much explanation of what actually constitutes a completely ‘natural’ product. I would argue that a natural product is one that contains no synthetic ingredients at all. This can seem like an attractive option for those concerned about synthetic products in skincare. It’s worth noting that some natural products and ingredients can be harsh on baby’s skin. For example, plant extracts will vary in quality and performance depending on how they are sourced and this can lead to irritation. In fact, some synthetic ingredients offer high performance, consistent quality, low impurities and excellent safety, that is why sometimes synthetic ingredients are added into Johnson’s baby products.
  3. How to understand ingredient labels? Much like reading food labels, reading product ingredient labels has become de rigueur for the modern parent. There is no simple how-to here, only reassurance in that there IS a global system for labelling personal care products called the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) labelling system. What this means is that ingredients are required to be identified using standard scientific names so it’s easy to compare products across different languages. This system is in place on all Johnson’s Baby products so you can compare apples with apples right there in the supermarket aisle!
  4. Are there ingredients I should be concerned about? This is the million dollar question isn’t it and probably one of the main reasons why there is now so much choice in the baby care category. Remove an ingredient from a product or switch it out with an alternative and you’ve immediately got a point of difference. Most of us have probably heard of parabens, phthalates, SLS and maybe formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (I had never heard of this last one!), but, what you may not know, these ingredients are not added into Johnson’s baby products . Ah-maze!

I’m what I’d describe as a very ‘moderate’ parent. Until just 2 weeks ago we’ve never had to implement exclusion diets in our house but, moderation, exercise and family fitness is non-negotiable. Likewise, I don’t purchase products based upon their ingredients list, I simply purchase products that I like from brands that I trust. I’m sure this sounds more than a bit familiar to some of you right?! In between the housework, chauffeuring, grocery shopping, household admin, working, cooking, management of sports teams and breathing, if my mind happened to drift to the phthalate content of Nixon’s Johnson’s baby shampoo, I can now rest assured, safe in the knowledge that there isn’t any in there!

One less choice to make and one less thing to feel guilty about ; )

For more information on Johnson’s Baby products please click here.

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Toddler Snow Gear – Warm, Dry and Super-Cute

Toddler Snow Gear – Warm, Dry and Super-Cute

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

Last week we braved the long drive, the blizzardy weather, the LOUDEST two children on earth and made a family mini-vacation in the snow happen.  I’m going to need a whole year to recover before I attempt that again so I hope our little guys loved every second of it lol!  (Secretly I did too x).

Getting your family snow-ready is really an exercise in layering.  Dave and I have plenty of snowboarding gear – enough to outfit Ethan, so we just needed some updated thermals to get the 3 biggest Jacks packed.  This would be Nixon’s first visit to the snow so we needed to outfit him from the ground up.  Much easier than it sounds when your scheduling means you’re shopping for snow gear in Spring!

I found some little snow boots for Nix in a clearance sale and picked up everything else at Macpac.  They launched their new Spree Kids Ski range this season and it’s filled me with envy – I want his ski jacket and pants in an adult size, they are seriously amazing!


New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

Spree Ski Jacket Kids $199.99, Spree Ski Pants Kids $159.99, Kids Mitts $29.95, Geothermal Crew Top Kids $29.99 (Now 2 for $30!), Geothermal Pants Kids $29.99 (Now 2 for $30!), Ski Socks Kids $19.99

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

The first day we headed up to Turoa was in gale conditions, but, as the kids were jonesing to see snow we headed up the hill for a little play.  It was freezing!  I’ve never been so cold in my life.  Dave and I had neglected to put on our new Macpac Geothermals that morning but thankfully the boys were toasty and warm in theirs!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wearI couldn’t believe that despite making snow angels in those conditions Nixon remained completely dry and warm – he pretty much spent the whole time we were there crawling around on his tummy in snow drifts so the waterproof membrane on the Spree pants and jacket passed the toddler test really well!

Our second day on the mountain was much improved.  Nix got on skis for the first time and had a blast, Ethan nailed his snowboarding lesson in the morning and charged hard all day with a friend he’d made in the class and I rented some skis for the first time (after snowboarding for 14 years!) and loved it!  Dave got the solo-mission and headed way up the hill for some good runs while I hung out with the kids and cheered Ethan on throughout the afternoon.

Our final runs were made with blue skies overhead and big smiles on everyone’s faces.  An awesome day made super-easy as neither of the boys ended up cold or wet, which meant no complaining!

A parenting win!  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

Things I LOVE about the Macpac Spree Ski Wear

  • The Spree Ski Pants come with the ‘Space to Sprout’ system meaning Nix will get two seasons from one pair!  You just unpick the red stitching in the lining to grow each leg by 4cm!    
  • Both jacket and pants have a waterproof, breathable membrane with insulation
  • Available in sizes 4-12
  • The hood on the jacket doesn’t fall down!
  • Waist snow gaiter on Spree jacket – perfect for preventing cold tummies during snow angel sessions
  • The Spree pants have velcro waist adjustment tabs
  • Nixie’s Mitts stayed on all day with no fussing from the little guy – snowballs ahoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Kids ski wear

My toddler believes he’s a bakery worker.

My toddler believes he’s a bakery worker.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Toddler Sleep

I mean he must.

There is no other reason why he would be waking every day at 3.50am but to get some buns in the oven, maybe rustle up some mince and cheese pies or get his eclairs ready for the glass cabinet.  Lord knows the Jack boys love pies.

I spent $79 dollars today on a fancy clock that people swear by for sleep training.  Pick your jaw off the floor, a blogger who PAID for something?!  The earth has indeed tilted on its axis and I’m sure it’s Nixon’s fault.

A couple of months ago when we were facing the same problem I implemented all of the advice you guys gave me;

  • Maybe he’s getting cold?  Heater in his room with thermostat on all night.
  • Try a little bit earlier.  Tried this.
  • Try a little bit later.  Tried this under duress – when your Nixon-day begins prior to 4am a later bedtime is not ‘quality’ family time.  Rather, it consists of violent pajama protests and torturous OCD screaming about which order he takes his vitamins.
  • Lavender.  Tried it.
  • No nap?  Sleep aversion is a lifestyle choice for Nixon, he spits in the face of a daytime nap.
  • Cry it out.  Love it.  But the child is about 100db too loud to let him have at it.  He also has an 11 year old brother who is  only *slightly* better at sleeping in then Nixon and I sure as hell don’t need both of them up in the dark cold hours searching for their damn iPads in the dark!

I can’t remember what else we’ve tried because I’m TOO DAMN TIRED.

Nix is also full of a cold and hacking up phlegm (again) so the odds are not (never?) in our favour of a good night’s sleep tonight.

Nix had a fever of 38.2 so we Pamol’d before bed and that probably helped him to set a new August sleep record – 5.45am!!!  I feel like a new woman!  I had set the magical sleep clock to 6am and explained how it worked so when he woke, I took Nix back to his room and we waited until the sun came up.  Small victories I guess.

Some people have ‘No sleepers’ and this is torturous.  Trying and trying to get your kid to fall asleep for the night is an agonizing exercise requiring you to forget absolutely everything else you need to do and simply switch off, lay down like the corpse-mother you probably feel like and give in to chubby arms around your neck.  Nixon will go to sleep at night so bedtimes are sometimes drawn out, but not too cringeworthy.  His/our problem is that when he wakes, whenever that may be, HE WAKES.  That’s it.  No more sleep for anyone.

Basically, it all sucks.  Whichever style of problem sleeper you have, the Sleep-Denyer, the Wake-All-Night, the Early Riser……..it’s hard for everyone involved, kids included.

I’ve just finished my first double coffee of the day and I raise my mug to you mama’s – May you coffee be strong and your nap times long xx


School Holiday Craft – The Seven Day Mural

School Holiday Craft – The Seven Day Mural

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art CraftThere’s only one thing better than a great art project and that’s one that lasts for 7 days!!!

This one’s all you need mamas; the 7 Day Mural can be customized to use up whatever craft supplies you have on hand, will suit whatever age/stage your kids are at and can easily incorporate whatever creative project the kids have been dying to try.  

The foundation of this crafty creation is definitely the Science Project Board.  Ethan spent last term working away on his project and Nix became quite fixated on that damn board (that had to be protected from him at ALL costs!) so I decided to create his own ‘project’ and let him at it.

So, the plan here is to divide the board into multiple art-boards and create a different, amazing, fun, visual medium in each, working on a different aspect each day.

For Nixon’s board, I had to use some restraint and keep his projects simple and fun.  I also wanted to use as many different materials as possible, resulting in a really textural, multilayered experience that he looked forward to working on each day and that he was super proud of at the end of it.  Being conscious of the age of your kids is key here – Nix has just turned three and his attention span maxes out at around 20 minutes. Quick and easy to complete is definitely what you want to shoot for.


New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Ummmm, anything goes in this art and craft tutorial!  I shopped my own craft stash for my supplies plus headed in-store to Warehouse Stationery where I really had to pare things back when I went to the checkout!  Create Month is on right now so there are heaps of inspirational ideas to be found at your local store.  Not a crafty bone in you body?  Don’t worry, sometimes you just need to get started – plus the kids’ enthusiasm and ideas you can find at the in-store Inspiration Station might be all you need to get those creative juices flowing!  As you can see in the photos I popped a cheap plastic tablecloth down on our dining table, which was one of the most genius ideas I’ve ever had to be honest!  No worries about mess and I’ll reuse it as a playdough drop cloth after this project is over!

Day 1, ongoing – Colouring pages

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Print out some pages that relate to your theme (if you have one, we didn’t) or just something your kids are really going to enjoy colouring.  I did a Google search for dinosaur colouring pages and lots of printables popped up.  I left these out over the week so Nix could potter and colour bits and pieces when he felt like it.  When we were finished with the mural I cut around his gorgeous colouring and glued the dinos onto the board.  The crayons we use are Jovi Wax Crayons and they are perfect for stubby little fingers!

Day 2 – Watercolours and Stickers

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Watercolours are the best!  Barely any mess and they dry quickly.  Once again I just let Nixon freestyle here (there’s not much else you can do with a 3 year old to be honest – remember that attention span!).  In the afternoon, when the paint was dry, we went back and decorated this panel with some assorted stickers that he had picked out in-store. Easy and great for fine motor skill development.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Day 3 – Geometric ArtWork!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft
The inspo for this activity came from a flyer I picked up at the Inspiration Station desk at my local Warehouse Stationery.  I used some masking tape and simply pressed it down firmly at multiple angles across the board.  Nix got stuck in and, voila!  I love this section of his board, he was amazed at how it looked when I peeled the tape off to reveal the clean white lines underneath.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Day 4 – Painting and Sticky Foam Shapes

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

I’ve always wanted to use a chipboard letter or word in a project so this was my chance!  I let Nix loose with some Crayola paints and told him to “cover up all of that yucky brown!”.  He did a brilliant job and we popped this off to the side to dry.

I had picked up a foam shapes ‘jungle scene’ in-store, but you can also buy a 10 pack of foam sheets if you wanted to cut up your own shapes.  Nix had a great time placing the sticky shapes and then went to town with some markers for an extra splash of panache lol!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Day 5 – Dressing Paper Dolls

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

When I saw these boy doll cutouts, I wasn’t too sure what my plan was, but look how cute they turned out!  I cut some pants and tops from my fabric stash, unwound some old knitting to make curly hair (just like Nixon’s) and used some googly eyes from the Fuzzy Craft Kit I picked up – just in case!  This was definitely his favourite activity; he loved dressing the wee boys and making them look cute.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

Day 6 – Mixed Media

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

You could do whatever you like here depending upon the age of your kids.  I wrote ‘NIX’ in sharpie and popped some paper scraps, feathers, pompoms, coloured foil, bits of pipe cleaner etc in front of him with some glue.

Day 7 – Felt and Velcro

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft
I couldn’t believe how cheap a 10 pack of felt sheets was at Warehouse Stationery – something crazy like $2 a pack!  You can almost pay that for 1 sheet at other stores that I’ve visited.  I had some velcro dots that needed a home so popped those on the project board and cut some random shapes from the felt.  Nix loved this activity as he could take things off and move them around; he obviously had a ‘vision’ and knew when he was done lol.

The Finished Product!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Family Toddler Art Craft

So that’s it!  Isn’t it so cool?  Nixon is really proud that he created something so BIG – size is everything to a toddler and I’m quite proud that we did something creative every day for a whole week!  

Guess what?  The project board has TWO SIDES!  Start planning now for round 2 during the next school holidays lol.  

For more fun and creative inspo, check out our Dinosaur DIY’s here.

There’s heaps more inspo in store at Warehouse Stationery, plus lots of take home activities the kids can do, totally a School Holiday desperation destination!



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