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.

   

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Mathilde's Kiwi Bot

If you frequent Downtown Berkeley, or if you've been following along with my Instagram stories you're sure to be familiar with Kiwi Bots, the cute food delivery robots that zoom around Downtown and the Cal campus. If you don't frequent Downtown Berkeley or watch my IG stories, then you're probably wondering what on earth a food delivery robot is!


Kiwi Bots are super cute robots that have taken over the sidewalks of Berkeley. Created by the Kiwi Campus team at UC Berkeley, Kiwi Bots are the cutest way to get your meals delivered from local restaurants. You order through an app, chose a delivery location within the zone and the Kiwi Bot brings the meal to you in its insulated body that keeps food hot or cold. As you can probably imagine, Mathilde is obsessed with them! She loves seeing them on the street when we're out and about and always wants to stop to chat to them - or give them a hug.


In the lead up to Mathilde's birthday she kept asking for a pet Kiwi Bot as her present. While a delivery robot of our own would be amazing, they're not really something that's available to purchase - and if they were I imagine they'd be super pricey. What is available to purchase, however, is a plush Kiwi Bot! Perfect as a gift for Mathilde's birthday.


Now, there's only one way to get a plush Kiwi Bot, and that's to order it through the Kiwi app and have it delivered by a Kiwi Bot! How fun is that? 

Easter 2019

Time to play catch up with a look back at our Easter celebrations...


Things have been pretty crazy around these parts with travel, conferences, parties, some major changes coming up, and just general life taking up pretty much all of my time. If you've been following along with my Instagram stories you'll know what I mean! And if you're not following along with my Instagram stories make sure to check them out here.

Anyway, back to Easter...

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Cal Day 2019

This past weekend we spent a day at UC Berkeley for the annual Cal Day event.

Cal Day is the university's open day, but it's not only for prospective students like you might think. While there is plenty on hand for students planning on attending Cal, it's also a day filled with fun activities for the whole the family. At Cal Day you'll find spirit rallies, musical performances, campus tours, booths from every club you could possibly imagine (and lots you would never imagine existed!), hands on science experiments, campus police displays, animals to pet, sporting events and so much more. In fact, there's so much on offer at Cal Day that's it's impossible to even see half of it.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Macy's Flower Show 2019

The heavy rains this Winter and Spring have brought a mass of blooms to California this year. But the desert isn't the only place experiencing a blast of color. Macy's right here in San Francisco is in full bloom at the moment thanks to the annual Spring Flower Show.

This week the kids and I headed into the city to check out this year's displays. Macy's annual Spring Flower Show is always one of my favorite events of the year and despite a little construction work going on in the store, the displays were as beautiful as ever.


Every year the Flower Show features a different theme. In past years we've seen woodland fairytale, hidden urban garden, carnival, fine art, and Americana themed displays. This year's Flower Show, "Journey to Paradisios" features a space theme with astronauts, aliens and rocket ships throughout the store.


This year's display is a little smaller than previous years due to construction work in the accessories department, but there is still plenty to see with the main displays located in the cosmetics and fragrances departments, as well as smaller displays on other floors.

Here's a look at this years Flower Show...

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Epic Snacks for Epic Play

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Goldfish® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

My karate kids are growing up!

A few weeks back it was belt test day for all three of my girls and they all passed. Blue belts for both Ava and Lola, and a white belt with two black stripes for my littlest ninja Mathilde.

The girls worked so hard preparing for their belt test. They practiced their kata moves and their sparring skills every week at karate class in the park until they had perfected them.

All that karate work makes for hungry kids and hungry kids need tasty snacks that pack a punch like a blue belt!

Goldfish crackers have been one of the kids' favorite go to snacks for such a long time, so we were super excited when we discovered the new Goldfish Epic Crunch Nacho flavor. A classic favorite with a new twist for my growing girls. The perfect after karate class snack.


Talk about packing a punch! These tasty little morsels sure do live up to their name. The zesty nacho cheese flavor was a big hit with the kids (and grown ups!) and the extra tortilla crunch made for epic snacking fun.


Goldfish Epic Crunch are baked with whole grains and contain no artificial flavor or preservatives. They're always baked, never fried.


The big, bold flavor of Goldfish Epic Crunch comes in a big, bold new size. With a flavor and crunch that appeals to bigger kids, these tasty snacks come in a bigger size for more flavor and crunch in every bite.


A knock out hit with my karate kids!


Looks like we've found our new go to snack for lunch boxes, road tripping and sharing with friends after karate class!


To learn more about about all new Goldfish Epic Crunch Nacho and to find a retailer near you click here.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Summer Camp Fun with Galileo

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Galileo Camps but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

It may be a grey and rainy day here in the Bay Area, but Summer is just around the corner.

And Summer means Summer camp!

For the past few years Ava has been attending Galileo Camps here in Berkeley and she has always had a blast. This year is no different and she can't wait.

This week the kids are on Spring Break and rather than travelling like we usually do we're staying home and having "Camp Mum". A week of hands-on craft and STEAM activities inspired by Galileo as well as a little exploring out and about. I'm keeping the kids' minds active and learning while we have fun together.

Today we took a fun activity from the Zoom, Fly, Bolt, Blast Steam Handbook from Galileo and made grabbers with simple materials. They were easy enough for the kids to make on their own and provided a ton of fun when done. 


Friday, 29 March 2019

Dino Days at California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences has long been one of our favorite museums to visit in the Bay Area. With the addition of its new Dino Days exhibit the number one place has been locked in! You know we can't go past some good dinosaur fun!

girls with tyrannosaurus rex
kids riding t-rex

Dino Days is a fun exhibit featuring five life sized animatronic dinosaurs that roar and move in a realistic way, a climb on t-rex that makes for fun photos, two dig sites for future paleontologists to practice their skills, and plenty of informative displays. 

girl with parasaurolophus dinosaur
digging for dinosaur bones

Monday, 18 March 2019

LMNL at Onedome

A few weeks back the girls had a day off school so we decided to make the most of it and visit LMNL, an amazing new exhibition in San Francisco.

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