Saturday, 31 August 2019

A Summer of Exploration with Galileo

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Galileo Camps.

Summer Break has come to an end for another year and that means it's time to...

...start planning ahead for next Summer Break! 

What? Already? Yes!

This Summer Break was pretty hectic for us but we made sure to squeeze in a couple of weeks of Summer camp among all of the moving madness and our trip back to Australia. Despite how busy we were, it was important to me that the kids have a little normalcy and something special just for them during all the change. Plus, it got them out of the apartment while I was busy packing. Ha! Everybody wins!

Anyway, one of our very favorite Summer camps is Galileo. Ava has been going for the past three years and has always had a fabulous time. This year Lola joined her big sister for her first ever Summer camp experience. They both had a blast and learned new skills at the same time. 


Galileo camps are structured in a way that maximizes both the fun and the learning opportunities for kids of all ages, from incoming kindergarteners through to eighth grade. The younger kids (Pre-K to 5th grade) take part in Camp Galileo, a traditional Summer camp with science, art and outdoor activities focused on a fun weekly theme. The older kids (5th to 8th grade) take part in Galileo Summer Quest, a specialized camp focusing on a single major based on varying interests including drones, YouTube production, robotics and, Ava's choice this year, cooking. Both camps foster creativity and team work while teaching the kids important skills and boosting their confidence. The camps look so fun I wish I could sign up for myself! Summer camp for adults... wouldn't that be great?

Let's take a look at Ava's week at camp first...

This year, Ava's major for Galileo Summer Quest was Chefology: Decadent Desserts. As you can imagine, she spent her week learning how to make deliciously sweet treats. Seriously, this was the best camp ever as she brought something home to share pretty much every day! She learned how to make sugar cookies with royal icing, sweet crepes, ice cream sundaes (made with home made ice cream and sauces) and delicious fruit pies. She also learned important skills such as how to read and write recipes, how to accurately measure ingredients and how to use various pieces of kitchen equipment. It did wonders for building her confidence in the kitchen. The kids worked in teams as well as on their own throughout the week and came together on the last day to make a delicious presentation for family members. We were treated to sugar cookies, crepes and pies, and I've got to say, they all tasted delicious.   


Lola's week at camp was based on the theme Expedition Everest. This theme was carried across all parts of her day at camp including her art and science classes. In art class Lola worked on creating a Nepalese style puppet from paper mache, fabric and various craft materials. She kept her puppet's identity a secret all week, so it was a nice surprise to meet "Mr Whiskers" her purple cat puppet on the last day of camp. Mr Whisker's arms move about and Lola was pretty excited to show me that he can even dab! A very important skill for any puppet! Along with her creative work during art class, Lola put her imagination to work in science class creating a mountain rescue robot prototype. With popsicle sticks, foam, plastic tubing, lots of hot glue and a syringe she created a walking rescue robot designed to scale the heights of Mount Everest to rescue trapped hikers.


Along with their set curriculum, both Ava and Lola took part in plenty of fun outdoor activities including fun games and plenty of free play time. There were daily spirit days (dress in your team color, Galileo spirit day etc) with the highlight being Water Day in which the kids took part in all sorts of fun activities that left them dripping from head to toe! 

As I've already mentioned, the girls had a fantastic time at Galileo again this Summer. Ava's confidence in her cooking skills grew immensely and Lola became much more independent after her first week of Summer camp. Lola had been a little nervous about not knowing anyone in her group at first, but even after the first day I could see that her independence and confidence had grown, which is just what she needed with the move to a new school coming up.

At the end of their week at camp the girls both received certificates from their team leaders and a pin to attach to their name tag lanyard. Lola was pretty excited to come home with the Galileo rubber chicken pin (for first year campers) and Ava added another badge to her collection.


Galileo camps really are a special place for kids. The curriculum is fantastic, from both the parents' and kids' perspective, and the staff really are the best. The staff work hard to make all the kids feel welcome and to create a fun atmosphere while keeping everyone safe at the same time. They do such a great job, and I was happy to recognize plenty of faces among the camp leaders from previous years.


To learn more about Galileo camps and to find a camp near you head on over to https://galileo-camps.com/

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Back to School Sleep with Natrol

Dislcaimer: This post is sponsored by Natrol but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 
The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases.


Yesterday I shared everything we've been up to over the past few months, including our busy Summer break with our trip to Australia, moving to Colorado and our big road trip. Now that that's all come to an end there's one thing on my mind - and no doubt on the kids' minds. The new school year! 

Ah, the start of a new school year. It's always a time of year that's part exciting, part terrifying and a whole lot of tiring - for everyone involved! This year the emotions are extra big with all three kids starting at new schools in a new city and state, as well as Mathilde moving up from preschool to "big kid" school. All three kids go back to school this week (on different days!) and in the lead up we've had all sorts of school events, appointments and lots of back to school shopping. 

Among the pencils, markers, binders, crayons, new shoes and backpacks on my back to school list, I had another must have for the kids - and myself - this year. Sleep! Ok, so I can't actually buy sleep, but I can help my kids out with natural ways to promote a good night's sleep, which is so essential at this busy time of year.

After our recent trip to Australia the kids were hit with pretty bad jet lag. They were pretty good on the way to Australia (the time difference meant they were going to bed earlier and waking at a decent time) but when we got home their sleep was all over the place. Mathilde was up wide awake until 2am two nights in a row! Eek! Luckily help came in the form Natrol Kids Melatonin gummies. 

I'd taken melatonin myself in the past to help combat jet lag so I was excited to find that my favorite brand had released this gently formulated product made specifically for kids. Along with adjusting their schedules, the melatonin worked a treat and I soon found the kids not only falling asleep more easily, but waking so much more rested too. After a few days they were over their jet lag and back to their usual selves. 

But then I let their night time schedules slide! It has been Summer break after all, and I've been so busy with the move and settling into out new house that I haven't been as strict with bed times as I should be. The kids have been up late, they've been Facetiming friends in California way past bedtime, and they've had more than a little too much YouTube in the evenings. Not the best at any time, but especially not so in the lead up to starting school.

With the kids needing to adjust their sleeping patterns again in anticipation of the new school year (and their much earlier start times) I was reminded of their jet lagged days last month and how helpful Natrol Melatonin had been. Along with simple techniques Natrol Kids Melatonin has become a temporary part of our night time routine in the lead up to school going back this week.


Each night we've been creeping bed time slightly earlier, we've been limiting screen time, we've been reading together in their snuggly new beds, and the kids have been taking one Natrol Kids Melatonin gummy right before brushing teeth and jumping into bed. These changes combined have helped the kids get the much needed rest they need for the busy days ahead. And with school starting an hour earlier than what they've been used to in the past, trust me, they need all the rest they can get!


Are your kids struggling with getting enough sleep after the long Summer break? Along with taking a safe and effective melatonin supplement there are plenty of things you can do to help them get the rest they need. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Get active outside! Playing outside and staying active is not just great for keeping little bodies fit and healthy, it helps with their sleep too. Playing outside in the afternoon or maybe an after dinner family walk is a great way to tire kids out. With our new backyard the kids have been spending a lot of time outside, but even when were living in an apartment we made sure to get outside to play everyday and we went for lots of walks.


Create a cosy sleep environment. In our old apartment the kids shared one room which also doubled as their place and homework space. It wasn't the most most ideal sleep environment, but we made the best of the limited space. In our new house I've been able to give the girls their own spaces and have had them help set up their rooms with their favorite blankets, books and snuggly toys. My girls all sleep rather hot, so airflow from windows and ceiling fans has made a huge difference. Creating an environment where they feel comfortable is great for helping kids to enjoy bed time.


Limit screen time. I'll admit it, this is where I struggle the most. All three of my kids love playing games like Minecraft, and with all their friends either interstate or overseas, their electronic devices are how they keep in touch. This has been especially hard with our recent move as they're yet to make new friends here. Limiting screen time makes a huge difference at bed time though, so I'm working on being stricter with this one. 

Create a night time routine. Most parents understand the importance of a night time routine for their children when they're young babies, but maintaining a routine throughout the school years is just as important. Whether it be books at bed time, an evening walk before bed or a warm bath, find what works for your kids and stick with it. My kids love baths before bedtime, but they often get a little excited playing in the tub. A few drops of a calming lavender oil or a lavender body wash helps. I also spritz their pillows with a lavender spray and use an essential oil roller on their chests when they get into bed.


Don't forget that parents need restful sleep too! The adjustment to the new school year can be tough on kids, but don't forget to look after yourself too. Those early morning starts are just as hard for me as they are for the kids. Actually, given that I'm waking up before everyone else to get everything ready for the day, I think I'll go as far as to say that they're harder on me! It's not just the early morning starts either. Laying in bed at night thinking about all the things I need to be doing prevents me from falling asleep. I've been taking Natrol Melatonin at night myself too and it has really helped me fall asleep, stay asleep and wake rested. Oh, and they come in gummy form for grown ups too! 

Don't forget to add Natrol Kids Melatonin to your back to school shopping list! It comes in both gummies and fast dissolve tablets, is recommended for children ages four and up, and is 100% drug free and non-habit forming.  It's also vegetarian friendly, non-GMO and free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.



For more information and to download a coupon to save visit natrol.com

Monday, 12 August 2019

Catching Up...

Hello...

I'm still here!

I know it's been an awfully long time since I last posted (probably the longest gap ever between posts), but while it's been very quiet here on Little Hiccups, it has been anything but in real life.

Between the end of the school year, packing up our lives in Berkeley, our trip to Australia, Summer camps for the kids, our road trip to Colorado, living out of hotels (and an empty house) for weeks, and now the daunting task of unpacking, things have been pretty crazy for our family! On top of that we've had flaky internet and I've had no access to my real computer, Lightroom and all my photos until now, so blogging and social media have gone out the window.

Boy, do I have a lot of things to update you all on!

I really should be unpacking boxes (and folding the massive amount of paper that were wrapped around everything) but I'm going to take a break to give a quick update on the last month. Or, rather, a long update because I'm really not good when it comes to keeping things brief - and I really don't want to go back to unpacking!

Let's go back and look at the last few months...



Tuesday, 11 June 2019

New pastures...

A big announcement today!

It's one I've been putting off for a while as I'm kind of in denial, but with the Summer almost here and thing about to get extra crazy I can't pretend it's not happening anymore. So here goes...

The Masons are leaving California!

Do you know how hard it was to write those words? Putting it in writing and sending it out for you all to read makes it feel so much more real, which makes me sad because I'll terribly miss this place that we've called home for almost eight years and the wonderful friends we've made here.

Eight years! that's the longest I've lived in one place in my adult life. Can you believe it?  Our life here in Berkeley is pretty much all the kids have ever known. Ava was four and a half when we moved here from Australia so she still remembers a little of life back "home", but for the most part all of her memories have been formed here in Berkeley through preschool, elementary school and middle school. Lola had only just turned one when we left Australia (we waited to celebrate her first birthday with family and friends before our move) so life in Berkeley really is all she's ever known. And Mathilde? Well, she's our local girl born here in Berkeley and living in the one apartment for all of her five years.

So, I hear you ask... Just where are the Masons going? Back to Australia? Nope. To my dream city (and hopefully one day home) New York? Nope.

We're moving to...

(pause for suspense)

... Colorado!

If you're following along on Instagram you may remember that we spent our Christmas break chilling (quite literally) in the snow in Colorado. Well, that trip was kind of a scouting trip to see what we thought of Denver and Boulder. The girls loved the snow (the cold not so much!) and the idea of having their own bedrooms and a yard for a dog. While I would love to stay in the Bay Area, being able to buy a home here is becoming less and less of a possibility. Especially here in Berkeley. Buying a house big enough for the girls to have their own space would mean moving further east, and the commute to the peninsula for Kim is already pretty extreme.

Kim's work happen to have an office in Boulder where commuting is not an issue and where houses are much more affordable (although still rather expensive compared to most other US cities). A transfer was organized, and for the last month and a half Kim has been working in Boulder while the girls finish up the school year here in Berkeley. It's been kind of crazy, but hey, it's always crazy here!

Oh, and speaking of houses big enough for own rooms and a dog... we just bought one! A house that is. The dog will have to wait until we're settled in. After almost eight years in a 950sf two bedroom apartment, we'll be finding ourselves just a little overwhelmed by space in our new 3,300sf four bedroom house! So much space! I have no idea what we're going to fill it with.

We still have a few more weeks here in the Bay Area before we pack up and move so I'm trying to fit in every last thing that we planned to see/do in San Francisco but never got around to. The list is long so it'll be looking like California here on the blog for quite some time! It'll also be looking like Austin, New York, Boston, New England and Copenhagen too as I still need to share those travels here. Oh, and Australia as we're heading there for a quick trip before our move. I said it was going to be crazy, right?

If you live in Colorado hit me up with all your favorite places for us to visit once we get there!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Maker Faire 2019

A few weekends back we braved the (unseasonable) stormy weather and headed to San Mateo for my favorite event of the year - Maker Faire!

Maker Faire is always such a fun event - even in the rain! If you've never been before, it's a showcase of the latest innovations in the STEM world with a heavy mix of creativity and imagination thrown in. Cute robots and wacky vehicles, illuminated light shows and science experiments, crafting and upcycling scrap material... there's a little bit of everything at Maker Faire.

While Maker Faire runs for the full weekend (Friday afternoon through Sunday) we were only able to make it on the Sunday. We still managed to cram in a day full of STEM based fun. Here's a look at our day...


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Relief from Seasonal Allergies with Similasan

Sponsored post: I received these Similasan products for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) in exchange for my honest opinion. All photos and opinions are my own.

Spring! 

It's a favorite time of year for so many, but if like me you suffer from seasonal allergies, the new growth that Spring brings can be a real problem. All those beautiful blossoms come with pollen. Pollen that gets up my nose and irritates my already sensitive eyes. For me, Spring is a season of sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.

During our recent trip to Austin, Texas Spring's pollen bounty was in full force! The trees were gorgeously green and filled with blossoms, the grass was lush and green, and the sky was filled with pollen floating about! I'm not kidding. There was so much pollen in the air along the tree-lined waterfront in particular that you could see it and even catch it. Just 20 minutes out walking around and my eyes were red, itchy and watering like crazy. Unfortunately, poor Ava was just the same. 


Luckily, I was prepared for the Spring onslaught and had packed allergy relief products from Similasan. 




A post breakfast walk along the waterfront on our first day in Austin left Ava and I with red, itchy eyes so we headed back to our nearby hotel for some relief. Similasan Allergy Eye Relief, that is. A few drops in each eye and the redness, itchiness and watering were gone. 


Similasan Allergy Eye Relief contains natural active ingredients including flowers from the Eyebright and Sabadilla plants. Eyebright (Euphrasia) is known to temporarily relieve minor eye allergy symptoms including redness, swelling of the eyelid, watery discharge and thick mucus. Sabadilla is known to temporarily reduce watering eyes and eyelid redness.

Unlike other allergy relief treatments, Similasan Allergy Eye Relief does not contain harsh chemicals, antihistamines or vascoconstrictors (chemicals that constrict blood vessels) and therefore can be used as often as needed with no known side effects.

Knowing that we had a day of outdoor activities (and a lot more pollen) ahead of us I made sure to pack a box of single use Allergy Eye Relief droppers for relief on the go. 


With relief from our seasonal allergy symptoms we were able to have a fun filled afternoon kayaking along the tree-lined river without worry. Well, without the worry of itchy eyes, that is! I was a little worried about these kids of mine tipping the kayak and Ava was worried about the snapping turtles swimming in the water! Luckily neither of these things ended up being a problem.


Just look at all that pollen floating in the water in the photo above! It's making my eyes itch just looking at it!


Do you suffer from seasonal allergies too? I definitely recommend giving Similasan Allergy Eye Relief a try. It works fast to temporarily relieve allergy symptoms, and unlike other drops I've tried in the past it doesn't sting at all. It's perfect for my sensitive eyes and I love that my kids can use it too (it's suitable for ages 2 and up). It's a must have when I'm packing for any trip and also for use at home.

Make sure to click here for your coupon to save on Similasan allergy relief products.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Mathilde's Super Mario Party

This past weekend we celebrated Mathilde's 5th birthday with a Super Mario themed party.


Mathilde has been a big fan of playing Super Mario games lately and watching the cheesy cartoon from the late 80s, so it was only fitting that she chose it as the theme for her birthday party. She came up with all sorts of over the top ideas that she wanted for her party: life sized Mario Kart cars for everyone to race around on a track, a life sized castle made out of cardboard boxes and filled with piranha plants coming out of pipes and Goombas to avoid, a large screen on the wall and multiple Nintendo devices so all the kids could play Super Mario games together... Just a little bit of a stretch! Given that we only had three days between arriving home from our trip to Austin and the big party, there was only so much I could plan - not that any of these outlandish ideas were on the cards in the first place!


Super Mario really was such a fun theme to work with. While I didn't go with any of Mathilde's plans I did find a lot of fun ways to incorporate the theme into her party. I made a Mystery Block piƱata (filled with chocolate coins, of course), prepared a Piranha Plant puppet DIY for the kids to make, made mini Mystery Blocks filled with chocolate coins as party bags, baked a Super Mushroom shaped birthday cake and mushroom cupcakes, and wrapped Super Mario goodies up for Pass the Parcel. We also had Mario mustaches for the guests to wear, Mathilde had a Mario hat, and I bought Mario themed t-shirts from Uniqlo for the girls and I.

   
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