All change: Going from a family of 4 to 8

Thanet-kent-beach

For the first time, in the longest time, I feel compelled to write. To write about me and what’s going on in my life, as this morning I have woken with a feeling of stepping into a new chapter. It feels like I’m stepping over the threshold into another important phase in my life and I feel the need to document these feelings and thoughts so I can come back to them in years to come.

I have done this a few times throughout my life, the biggest time being when I left Italy for good back in August 2004. I remember hugging my BFF with the knowledge I wouldn’t be popping around for a coffee whenever I fancied. No more aperitivo after work, lunches on the ski slopes, going for a pizza together or trying out the new restaurants and sharing a bottle (or two) of good Trentino wine. I still miss her today.

But that’s just it, when you have these life changing moments in your life, where the axel of your world shifts there will always be parts you miss, bits you don’t like and an underlying sense of, ‘Can I make this work? Am I doing the right thing?’

Ever since I left Italy I have missed my children, Thomas and Megan. At the time they were in their teens and had no inclination to leave the life they had always known for Britain to stay with me. It’s not the age you, the parent, pulls the shots so I had to begrudgingly accept their decision and work it out to the best of my capabilities.

I mentioned about the changes in Mari’s World a while back, and today the final pieces of the jigsaw are going to fall into place. Only then will we start to discover if this is such a great idea we all thought it was during the initial chats back in July.

As I write, Oana, Evan and Sophie are heading towards their aeroplane in Bucharest (which I really hope to visit one day – in case the universe is listening). Thomas has been here since the end of August, working in London and settling in to his new life, and I have been changing rooms around, emptying cupboards of crap I have been hoarding forever and making room for him and his family to join us, for an undefined period of time.

Until they get on their feet.

Until they are capable of running their own home.

Once the children are settled in their schools.

Once Thomas has proved his worth and gets his promised promotion to a larger wage packet.

I count myself very lucky we have the room to bring them into our lives comfortably, without too much disruption but there will be disruption and we’ll have to tackle it all one day at a time.

We will be welcoming a preschooler who apparently doesn’t like to sleep before midnight. I’ve made her a princess bed to see if I can help coax her under the covers a bit earlier.

We will be home to a 4-going-on-five year old, a boy. A boy who loves Marvel, who wants to play loud, raucous games and likes thinking he is the Incredible Hulk.

I know this is a big responsibility, I know it is a huge challenge that will affect me, my husband, the twins and Baxter and I hope I am capable of navigating my ship sensibly and successfully through the seas that lie ahead.

I hope we can work it all out. I hope with all my heart we have the positive outcome I envisioned back in July.

Wish me luck as I embark on my next chapter and open my doors and my heart to

Baebox – a feel good monthly subscription to empower girls

Baebox monthly subscription for girlsBe strong   Be bold   Be brave   Be unique   Believe in yourself   Be you

You may have noticed that for the past month or two I have been proudly ‘wearing’ a new badge on my sidebar. It’s Baebox and it is a unique idea created by a lovely friend of mine, Rosie Shelley.
Her genius idea is a monthly subscription box aimed at young girls to promote a healthy and motivating message to make them feel good about themselves and positive about their future.

Rosie chooses the contents to put in the Baebox very carefully from brands who share her vision, she wants the monthly subscription to be powerful. Her idea is to make young girls feel more confident about themselves, be more courageous and bolder in life. To have faith in themselves and trust their instincts. Qualities that can rank low during the delicate transition phase from child to young woman.

The BaeBox ambition is to help circulate the message to tweens and teens that they are just right as they are, that they are not defined by how they look and how society says they should look, that they are unique, they have choices, and they can be whatever they want to be. To empower our daughters. To empower the next generation. — Rosie Shelley

Above you can see for yourself the twins reaction to the unboxing of their first Baebox, I hadn’t told them anything about it as I wanted to capture their reactions. They were very excited and intrigued to the contents. Once I put the camera away I watched them take a closer look at the gifts and re read the quotes. It was an amazing moment to witness from afar.

I am fully aware of the fact that my babies are growing up. They are conscious of how they dress as they’ve heard certain items (vests for example) are for babies. They no longer want white socks for school but are wearing black socks which are for ‘older girls’. I get this, it was similar back in my day but we do hear so often about the pressures on kids to look right, act right and to be right in order to be accepted into the gang.

I am also conscious of the precarious stage in life we are fast approaching, we have a lot of attitude in the house right now from one of the two. She doesn’t even realise she’s doing it, she’s picking it up from her environment and trying it out at home. It’s my job to make sure she stays a ‘nice girl’ throughout this phase, that she remains confident in herself to be able to make her own choices and not following the others like a sheep with no mind of her own. Plus to stop her bossing her sister about.

Tricky one to put across but I personally think Baebox can help me do that.

Baebox monthly subscription for girls

Don’t you just love the vivid colour scheme chosen for the boxes? This is how you will identify the real box as sadly there are already copycats out there jumping on Rosie’s genius idea and interpreting it badly. Be warned.

What’s included in a Baebox?

September was the first month of the subscription and in it we found

  • A notebook to write down thoughts and ideas.
  • A heart tin to keep little things safe.
  • A yoyo to play with outside.
  • A special plaque to display in the bedroom.
  • Positive cards to look at every day.

There was a slo a card with an inspirational message about Katarina Johnson-Thompson which I found very empowering. We read it together and talked about it afterwards.

Baebox doesn’t finish on the day of opening but offers a lot of things to do throughout the month, a plaque to look at every day, inspirational and motivational quotes and a notebook to encourage young ones to write down their thoughts and feelings.

baebox

What does Bae mean?

“Bae,” Urban Dictionary says, is an acronym that stands for “before anyone else,” or a shortened version of baby or babe, another word for sweetie, and, mostly unrelated, poop in Danish.

Sign Up

This is where you need to go to sign up for Baebox

 

Unicorns in 3D puzzles by Ravensburger

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

We haven’t done a puzzle in ages and it’s a task that once we start we really enjoy completing. I’d go as far to say puzzles are therapeutic and great for stilling the mind and creating at the same time.

Ravensburger continues to be a huge favourite of ours, we’ve been using them for years, and we have been asked to review some of their latest 3D puzzle range.

This will be a new challenge for the girls, working out how to make a 3D puzzle and the beauty of these jigsaws is that the finished puzzle is also a handy object that they can use and keep in their bedroom. No more breaking it up to put it back in the box!

There are many different kinds of 3D puzzles, the first that I ever saw were of buildings, like Big Ben which we gave as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago to my nephew, who loved it. The latest range of 3D puzzles includes unicorns, and we love unicorns in our house so we were delighted to take a look at them

3D puzzle Ravensburger

Discover unique puzzle fun in the third dimension with 3D Puzzles from Ravensburger! Thanks to ourEasy Click Technology, the plastic puzzle pieces fit together precisely. Create stunning 3D objects with individually shaped and bendable puzzle pieces – no glue required!

There are four products in the unicorn range, a vase, a vanity box, a jewellery tree and a pencil holder. The puzzles are different sizes and this may help you decide which one to get judging on the age of the child.

Unicorn Vase – It’s aimed at children 9+ but the twins, who are 8 can do this with a little help. There are 216 pieces in the box and the finished vase stands 24 cms high. There is also a water container to place inside so your vase can hold real flowers.

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

Unicorn Vanity Box – Also aimed at children 9+ and also has 216 pieces. The finished dimensions of the box are 23 x 16 x 13 cms (LxWxD) and there are some handy plastic containers that sit inside to hold the objects you wish to place in it. The box is perfect for hairbrushes, hair bands and paraphenalia, nail varnishes, make up and jewellery.

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

Unicorn jewellery Tree – The jewellery tree is aimed at children 8+ and contains 108 pieces. The finished product is a flat picture of the unicorn held in a pink and purple plastic stand with branches to the sides which can hold all manner of bracelets and necklaces, plus the tray at the bottom can hold hair grips and bows, rings or earrings.

3D puzzle verdict

I think they are really cool gifts, they will keep children occupied whilst they are constructing their toy and afterwards they are able to use the product in their room and be rewarded daily by their creative efforts.

This is a toy that challenges the brain, keeps children occupied and away from screens and also offers a purpose once completed. They are reasonably priced

One last mention, if unicorns aren’t your thing then you might like the owl range.

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of puzzles to review from the unicorn range, all opinions are my own.

Project Mc2 dolls – Cool is smart!

 

Project Mc2

Being part of the Netflix #StreamTeam has meant we have discovered a whole new meaning to watching television. Each of us has our own area where we can find programmes suited to us individually, one of the twin’s favourites is Project Mc2.

In fact Project Mc2 is a huge hit amongst girls their age and also parents. When I was a kid I played for hours with a couple of Cindy dolls. I would change their clothes and role play with them. But dolls have come along way for today’s kids, we now have a group of geek chic fashion dolls to play with that not only allow girls to change their clothes but also encourage them to role play intelligent games, not just, ‘What shall I wear today?’ of ‘I’m going to a party, I need a new lipstick.’

The group of friends are McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth and Camryn Coyle and they are on a secret mission to make sure that tween girls (and boys) know that cool is smart and to love S.T.E.A.M subjects (that’s science, technology, engineering, art and maths). The new season launched over the summer on Netflix presents two new recruits, Devon D’Marco and Ember Evergreen and together the group of girls complete undercover missions, as part of secret organisation NOV8. Their missions uncover themes such as hacking, cyber bullying, anarchy and the threat of technology blackouts.

I love the underlying message of the show that allows girls to think they too can be super heroes and change the world.

We have been sent two dolls to review and as the girls opened the parcel you could hear shouts of glee as they discovered the contents. We were sent Adrienne and her bath fizz experiment and Ember who comes with a hanging garden to make.

Here’s a quick run down of each doll and the experiment they are presenting.

McKeyla’s Glitter Light Bulb
The show’s main character comes with her own glitter light bulb experiment – that shows how simple tap water can actually conduct electricity. Mix water and food colouring, add glitter and glycerine and watch as it really lights up!

Adrienne’s Bath Fizz
Culinary chemist Adrienne teaches children how to make their own bath bomb in this innovative kit. Using citric acid (because it is a solid) and baking soda – plus optional ingredients such as glitter, sprinkles and food colouring – in the mould provided. Guaranteed to make your bath more fun!

Project Mc2 dolls

Bryden’s Panda Speaker
Tech genius Bryden comes with a Panda speaker – you just have to complete the electrical circuit to make the music play. Feed an apple slice to the panda to play your favourite song!

Devon’s Puffy Paint
One of the new members, Devon teaches you how to mix household ingredients such as flour, water and salt to make ‘puffy paint.’ The salt forms crystals when the paint dries (to make it sparkly) and the process of the water evaporating makes it appear ‘puffy’.

Ember’s Garden
Learn about the science of gardening with Ember’s Terrarium (an aquarium for plants). Add rocks, soil and seeds to see the water cycle in action and learn why it is essential to plant life.

Project Mc2 dolls

Project Mc2 products

Another couple of products to keep in mind with the upcoming gift season that shan’t be mentioned yet –

Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag (SRP £39.99)

The Ultimate Spy Bag – as worn by Adrienne Attoms in the show contains a forensic fingerprinting kit, an air blower disguised as a perfume bottle, a magnifying glass hidden in a make up compact, a torch hidden in a nail polish bottle, a secret message launcher disguised as a lipstick, test tubes and much more!

A.D.I.S.N – Advanced Digital Intelligence Spy Notebook (RRP £24.99).

Just like McKeyla McAlister become a secret agent with your own personal, digital notebook. With fun phrases directly from the character in the TV show, a booklet containing secret missions, hidden compartments and a special NeRDy bracelet. The Notebook also ties into the free app, Project Mc2 Case Files, for even more action.

Ultimate Lab Kit (RRP £49.99).

Conduct your experiments on the go with this ultimate lab kit! Unzip the “bag” to reveal over 30 pieces, including a real microscope, test tubes, lab flasks, safety goggles and more! Using household ingredients, you can perform over 15 experiments with this clever kit.

Play games and find out all the information at www.projectmc2.com

Disclosure: We were sent two dolls for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own.

It’s all change in Mari’s World, again!

thomas oana me and the grandkids

Never a dull moment in Mari’s World, as I approach my first year of ‘Back to work‘ I am also preparing for even bigger changes within my household which are equally exciting and frightening at the same time.

Over the summer, Tommy got in touch and said he would like to come and work in England, it was time for him to spread his wings and deepen his knowledge in the catering trade. Tommy has been a chef since he left school and is very good at what he does but he wants to be better. He wants to work under some of Britain’s top chefs and gain all he can from them, a big ambition and one I am fully ready to support.

thomas struffi starter

He arrived at the end of October, had an interview, landed the job and has been working ever since with great prospects of promotion on the horizon.

Of course, Tommy coming to live and work in England also entails bringing his partner, and mother of his two children – my grandkids – along too.

Fantastic news, it’s like the dream I have been waiting for since I arrived back in the UK in 2004 is suddenly about to come true, or half of it at least as Megan will still be in Italy.

I have yearned with all my heart to have my family around me for so long, to be able to watch them grow and develop into wonderful people, to be able to help out when I can, to be able to get to know the grandkids on a personal level, a continuous level. Family means so much to me and I am over the moon that finally I will have them close by.

However, this also means a huge range of tasks and hurdles to overcome to ensure the transition is a peaceful and positive one and that is where the scary bit comes in to play.

To start off with they are going to come and stay with us. We are fortunate to have a 4 bedroom house and can comfortably put them up but, an extra 4 bodies in the house full time is bound to be noticeable and change the routine we have become so accustomed to, my head is spinning with ways to make this as seamless as possible allowing space for everyone, wish me luck!

Evan and Sophie

Evan will be 5 in January and this means he should have started reception at school this year. Our school at the top of the road is full and he will have to go on a waiting list but in the meantime I need to get him into a school so he doesn’t miss out too much and I have also got to start teaching him English so he can understand his teachers. A mammoth task that I can’t wait to start but frightens me a bit at the enormity.

Sophie is 3 in October and should start nursery this year which will be fantastic for her. She can meet and make friends, start to learn English and become accustomed to our teaching. I am hoping this won’t be so difficult as I think our nursery may have a few places available, please keep your fingers crossed xx

Oana, their mother will be here too and together I am hoping we can make this work for all of them.

The dream is to be able to move into their own place, for them both to work and enjoy life here in the UK, please cross your fingers with me that this next step in our lives works out well.

Mari x