Blogmas 2016 – Day 3 Our first Wiggles concert

Melbourne Town Hall projections Christmas in Melbourne

Just got home a couple of hours ago from attending our first ever Wiggles concert and spending the rest of the evening in the city. It was the perfect evening to be out and about as the weather was so balmy it really felt like summer may finally be here. Tonight I am grateful for:

– having my parents close by who are so happy to look after our little ones while we went out and partied last night. It felt so good to be able to sleep in and wake up together and just be
– being able to take the kids to their first ever Wiggles concert. Music and dance. What more could you ask for? Makes me so happy inside!
– living in such a vibrant and interesting city with both amazing sights and beautiful people
– being close to my siblings and being able to make memories with my niece and nephew
– our two kiddos for constantly giving us new things to experience. If it weren’t for Mr D wanting to go, I never would’ve thought I could enjoy a kids concert so much hehe! Thank you little munchkins for always being so full of wonder and appreciation. Here’s to many more firsts with you!

Blogmas 2016 The Wiggles concert

Blogmas 2016 – Day 2

acts of kindness advent calendar img_5285

Last year for Daniel’s advent calendar I made these little cards for him for each day leading up to Christmas Day.

Little acts of kindness or more commonly, RAKs (random acts of kindness), are such a beautiful way to spread the spirit of Christmas. You never know just what role that kind little deed might have in giving someone hope and happiness that day.

  1. Leave a bright message in chalk on the footpath for passersby
  2. Wear your happiest smile today
  3. Pick up litter and put it in the bin
  4. Bake some cupcakes for your friend
  5. Invite someone over to play
  6. Give outgrown clothing to a small friend
  7. Sing a song for someone special
  8. Bring bubbles to the park and some extras to share with other kids
  9. Write a thank you note for someone who has helped you
  10. Leave a friendly note in a library book
  11. Visit your grandparents or relatives. Spend some time talking and playing with them
  12. Write down 5 things you are grateful for
  13.  Give Christmas cards to your neighbours
  14. Light a candle and sit still thinking happy thoughts for the world
  15. Draw a picture for someone
  16. Gather a few items you would like to donate to St Vinnie’s
  17. Write a letter to a loved one and read it to them
  18. Call a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while
  19. Volunteer your time in the community
  20. Give someone a compliment
  21. Offer your help to someone
  22. Make your cousins a Christmas card with lots of stickers and glitter
  23. Give a gift to the donation tree at your local church or grocery shop
  24. Give 5 people today a great big bear hug
  25. Tell your mum and dad 3 things you love about them

 

Blogmas 2016 – Day 1

Happy 1st of December!

I don’t know if it was just me but I’m certain I could feel a lively buzz in the air at work, home and at the shops today. Nothing like the first day of summer to get people excited for Christmas. I’d love to experience a white Christmas one day – it’s totally on my bucket list, but for now I just can’t wait for all those balmy nights to come and summer drinks and BBQ’s that go along with it.

Blogmas 2016 Day 1I love how it looks like Little Miss H is telling her big brother how to decorate the tree!
Blogmas 2016 Melbourne bloggerMum always used to make us put the tree up while she played Christmas tunes in the background. Now Mr D and Little Miss H are getting into the Christmas spirit too!

So in past years I’ve seen so many people do Blogmas which basically means they blog every day leading up to Christmas! Mostly Christmas-related posts. Seems like such a challenge but let’s see how I go! I have so many posts still in draft mode just sitting there waiting to be posted so even if it might not be Christmas related I will attempt to post everyday.

Today I thought it would be great to share some awesome blogs that I’ve been loving lately. I don’t get to read too many blogs these days but the below posts that I have come across are totally worth sharing!

1) The Organised Housewife – I’ve followed Katrina’s blog for a few years now ever since I met her at one of the Problogger events on the Gold Coast. Katrina shares her daily dose of domestic advice to make a mum’s life simpler and tidier. I love her easy to follow posts on how to clean and tidy up (I hate clutter…it makes me feel stressed out and exhausted just looking at it!) and last month she started a Christmas Tasks To Do countdown. It’s been so helpful in the lead up to Advent and the task archives can be found here.

2) Tot Hot or Not – So just last week Joyce posted a Christmas Activity Advent Calendar which has so many fun things to do it’s like she read my mind! Now I don’t have to come up with my own list because Joyce has  covered it beautifully and created a printable for you to keep and follow along as December rolls by. Lots of great ideas to see many amazing things that Melbourne has to offer during this time of the year.

3) MeeToo – Just saw this post of Kate’s yesterday on 7 Gifts That Aren’t Toys and it’s so perfect for helping us give kids the gift of experiences rather than toys which they probably have so much of already! I have a few memberships that we use throughout the year like the Zoo and Scienceworks memberships and they are just brilliant! Check out Kate’s post here if you want to save time shopping (most of these you can purchase online) and give something the kids (and their parents) can enjoy together!

Have you got any favourite blog posts you’ve come across recently? Share them in the comments below and spread the Blogmas love!

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2016

Daniel at Santa's Magical KingdomMelbourne events Melbourne bloggers inviteThe Urban Ma Melbourne blogger Santa's MAgical Kingdom

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2016
Caulfield Racecourse, Dec 18th – 23rd

After 4 successful years in Melbourne, Santa’s Magical Kingdom has become a Christmas tradition being visited by thousands of families from across Australia. This year it also opened its doors in Perth.

With an excited little four year old having looked forward to the opening night ever since he received the cute little invite in the mail, the event didn’t fail in putting a huge smile on his face from the moment we entered the place to the time we had to leave. Mr D headed straight to where it was “snowing” and then led us to Gingerbread Land where he knew exactly what he wanted to do – decorate and devour one of the scrumptious gingerbread men. All included in the entry price, except for a few games and the extra take away food, this year there was:

– A magical Christmas walk-through wonderland
– Snowland and meet the Snow Queen
– A free gift, when you meet Santa
– A brand new International Christmas Show Spectacular
– Roving Christmas characters
– Christmas Craft Village where you can make your own Christmas tree decoration
– Gingerbread Land, where you can decorate your own gingerbread man
– Interactive Letter Writing area and Storytelling area with Mrs Claus
– Amusement Rides & Games, including:
Santa’s Sleigh Ride,
the Giant Ferris Wheel
one of the Largest Super Slide’s in the country
The Elves Magical Train Ride and more

It has become a yearly tradition for us and such a wonderful way to welcome the festive season. Such a great gift idea too for those of you wanting to give a child memories to last a lifetime. Open until December 23rd there are still sessions available for some magical fun with the family.

Santa's Magical Kingdom Santa's Magical Kingdom Melbourne events Santa's Magical Kingdom 2016Santa's Magical Kingdom 2016 Melbourne events

In case you wanted to check out our previous visits to Santa’s Magical Kingdom, links are below -xx-

Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2013
Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2014
Santa’s Magical Kingdom 2015

Foodie Fridays on a Monday! – Latin Foods and Wines, Deer Park

Grilled meat South American bbqInterior Latin Foods and Wine

Latin Foods and Wines, 809 Ballarat rd, Deer Park

I had never really paid too much attention to the strip of shops near the corner of Station and Ballarat roads in Deer park until a few years ago when Chef Lagenda opened. And more recently when we wanted to get our fix of Vietnamese soups but didn’t want to drive over to Sunshine or St Albans to get it we found ourselves Vinh Thuan restaurant. And yes I have no idea why I’d never been to the infamous kebab instition that is Roxy’s Kebabs who’s fans claim have the best kebabs in Melbourne. It seems that this eclectic row of shops which, by the way, includes an awesome costume store (we hired some costumes for the kids’ birthday party recently and the ladies were extremely help and efficient), is successfully covering nearly all the continents in terms of choice of cuisine – South America is the latest addition.

It was just over a couple of years ago now that we first met Maria and Marco at their La Morenita shop in Sunshine for a feast organised by Kenny from Consider The Sauce. We were seduced by their hospitality and handmade empanadas and were so excited to see them again at their launch event to celebrate the extension of their opening hours to now cater for the dinner crowd as well as the popular lunch time rush. Operating in Melbourne for over 20 years now, Maria and Marco recently moved from the small Sunshine store to this space in Deer Park that is more than double the area with not only table service but fresh hot bread, drinks, and other goods – your one stop shop for all things South American!
Empanada Latin Foods and Wine Melbourne's West

Our South American BBQ journey took the form of a set menu feast that was further enhanced by the gorgeous bottle of red we tried from Chile – I can’t remember the name and will totally have to go back and grab a bottle or two it was so good. Our meal was complimentary and the dishes were part of the $50 set menu that is now available for dinner and also includes a drink. We devoured:

Appetisers
A trio of empanadas including pork, mash n’ meat and vegetarian accompanied by a tomato and onion salsa (I could totally eat this salsa on its own. So fresh tasting and full of flavour

Surprise!
Pan de bono with mayonesa de ajo. These little bread rolls full of melted cheese were a hit with the whole table and weren’t on the menu so it was a nice surprise!

Entree
Ceviche
– Chillean style, shredded haku cured in citrus juices. Such a refreshing light dish that I can imagine would be perfect to eat during the hot summer days. Now if only Melbourne would keep it consistent – It feels like winter again!
Causa limefia – mashed potato with chicken and topped with a slice of hardboiled egg. This tasted like an amazing homemade potato salad but all mashed up. The kind you keep going back for at a family bbq.
Anticucho – a slice of chorizo sandwiched between two pieces of beef on a skewer fresh off the bbq

Mains
– Costillar – pork with a little cumin. 
– Pamplona –
grilled stuff meat, in this case chicken stuffed with cheese and ham
– Lamb – Parrillada (South American BBQ) with a sprinkle of rosemary

 

Typing it all out, it looks like so much food and thankfully they were portioned out quite well and I left feeling fully satisfied without feeling like I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant. I was so pleasantly surprised by the last trio of delights that came out for dessert. I almost licked the plate clean.

Dessert
– Pineapple gelato – tangy, cool and perfectly garnished with golden piece of caramelised pineapple – I almost tried to steal Wes’ little piece after finishing mine. This gelato held the rest of the desserts well together giving that refreshing feeling after eating the two other creamy, sweet samples.
– Tres leche. Oh gosh, this moist sponge cake with layers of cream and other sweet goodness on top was just heaven. I will defnitely be ordering this all on its own next time I visit.
– Merengue lucuma. I popped my lucuma cherry with this bad boy of a dessert that consisted of a biscuit base topped with chocolate, topped with cream sweetened by lucuma. I was told by the friendly staff member doing the whisking that lucuma is also known as the “Gold of the Incas”. It is found in Peru and Ecuador and kinda looks like a mini avocado slash mango but tastes totally different. It is a natural low GI sweetener that is rich in antioxidants and has the same amount of calcium as a glass of cow’s milk according to this article. I was given a  teaspoon to try and it was sweet and tasted a little like dates. Hooked!

Cheese bread Latin Foods and Wine Melbourne restaurantsEntree Latin Foods & Wine Melbourne restaurantsThe Urban Ma food blogger MelbourneSouth American bbq Melbourne's west
dessert Melbourne restaurants Latin foods and wine
Melbourne's West South American restaurant
Whisking the lucuma into the cream
Kenny Consider the Sauce Latin Food & Wines Melbourne's WestKenny trying his hand at Latin kareoke? Heheh!
Latin Foods and WineI made my way over to the grill after our meal and this friendly guy gave me some pieces of different chorizo to try – I ended up buying some to take home for my dad.
Thank you Papa for looking after our kids while we went out for dinner!

Exterior Melbourne restaurant Melbourne Latin foods and wine
It was a great casual night out with the hubby and Kenny and a chance to hang out with some new and familiar faces including bloggers Maggie from They Call Me Maggie and Nat who I had met previously. And some new friends, Cassandra from Hungry Cookie, and Susan from Point Cook Dining and her friend Saba. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories about life, food and blogging!

Thank you to Kenny and Latin Foods and Wines for having us. With all the food so delicioso, warm-hearted service, music and entertainment, we had such a fun night out. The live dj made me want to get up and salsa! Latin Foods and Wines are open daily and have some popular lunch specials. Try the egg tart or fresh bread if you’re in a rush and if you have time to sit and relax, they have indoor and outdoor seating available.

Where: Latin Foods and Wines 809 Ballarat road, Deer Park
When: Open daily. Call them on or check their Facebook for the latest updates
Cuisine: South American

Buenas noches amigos and have a great week!

Mama Mondays – 12 months post partum update

Mama Mondays – 12 months post partum update

…and twelve months later we have a one year old!

Height/Weight: Last time we weighed her, Hannah was almost 9kg. Our check up with the nurse is next week so we’ll get more of measurement details then. She is still fitting into some size O clothes and is now wearing a few more size 1 pieces of clothing. It just depends what brand it is. She has started growing out of her adorable Bobux shoes and they’re so comfy and cute that I’ll have to get her some more. The Attipas sock shoes are still fitting well and even more so now that she’s standing up a lot more and trying to walk along the furniture.

Routine/Sleep: This past month Hannah is slowly dropping her third nap. She normally wakes up around 6:30am which is a little later than last month (thank goodness!) and by 9:30-10am she’s ready for her first nap of the day – anywhere from one to three hours long! Then after lunch she’ll nap again at around 1:30 or so. It’ll be another long nap, especially if she’s in the car driving somewhere. After dinner Hannah loves playing and hanging out with Daddy and Daniel and then she loves going to bed cuddling Daddy at around 8.30pm. Unless her gums and teeth are really hurting, Hannah is now sleeping through most of the night.

Eating/Feeding: I think Hannah had her last breastfeed on the weekend 🙁 It’s so bittersweet. Amongst all the complaining about breasts hurting, feeling hard or swollen or nipples feeling cracked, pulled on and bitten, nothing can take away that content and close feeling I had when we just hung out together on the couch or bed while I watched my body nourish her and help her grow. Now she doesn’t need me in that way anymore I feel kind of sad. But then at the same time I feel like I can now start doing things for me like going to the gym and getting a lot more exercise than before. I’m really going to miss breastfeeding but I feel like thirteen months is long enough and now that Hannah is eating everything she sees, it’s comforting to now that she’ll get her nourishment from lots of different, yummy sources!

Hannah has finally drunk milk out of a bottle! The other day Wes got so excited – he was sitting quietly with her on a couch and he got up and held an empty bottle in the air like it was some sort of trophy! Hannah had finished a whole bottle of milk while watching the news or some tv show on the couch! She’s not as attached to it though and there are days and nights where she goes without it and just drinks milk and water from her cup. I’m not even sure what brand or type of bottle it is because she got it as a birthday present, so thank you to the person that got it for us!

Milestones: It was like once one tooth cut through, all of them decided to show up because in a matter of three weeks, Hannah went from one tooth to six teeth! Now she has a seventh tooth cutting through the bottom gum. This has meant that she has been eating so much more because she seems to love biting through everything like bread and fruit! Go Hannah!
Her hair is also getting quite long and messy now. It’s at that in between stage where it looks a little short to tie up but it’s long enough to look super messy. We’re still trying to figure out what to do to make it look more neater and so far we’ve found that little clips work well on top of her head. If I try and use a hair tie she tends to pull it out straight away.
Hannah is still content crawling around and crawling up the stairs and isn’t walking yet! She did however stand for a few seconds all on her own while Wes was playing with her so she’s working on her balance and strength and slowly getting there! Hannah absolulely loves dancing and by dancing I mean she holds out her arms and ever so delicately moves her hands in such a pretty motion I swear she’s training to be a Disney Princess or an orchestra conductor.
In the past few weeks it was Hannah’s first time playing dress ups. We celebrated her first twelve months on this earth with family and friends at Croc’s Play Centre. Daniel was adamant that he wanted a dress up party after seeing a Woody costume at Big W, and since they had a joint birthday party, their theme was Supermagical with superheroes and princesses in enthusiastic attendance! Hannah dressed up as Cinderella and Daniel finally got to wear his Woody costume which he had been wanting to parade around in for weeks! Then two days later we attended a Halloween party at my brother and sister-in-law’s house so Hannah dressed up last minute and even let Kaie put some make up on her. What a doll!

The biggest milestone to date is that Hannah celebrated her first birthday! So this time last year I was screaming my head off after giving birth to Hannah wondering what the H was going on down there as the doctors and midwives tried to stop my post partum bleeding. I thought once I’d given birth the pain would be over, but this time round the pain was excruciating as they tried to figure out why I was bleeding so much. Reading back on Hannah’s birth story here still gives me the chills. So for those of you who ask about baby number three – I don’t think so buddy! That was just way too much.
Fast forward one year (and gosh has it been super fast) and now Hannah is playing with her big brother, loving the beach and knows just how to get anything she wants from Daddy by tilting her head and flashing him that pretty little smile of hers.

It’s been a hectic couple of months for this hard working mama. I think I was worrying so much about who would look after Hannah when I went back to work and worrying about whether I was doing the right thing by leaving her that I stressed out and now my hair is falling out. I have an appointment with the specialist on Thursday and am hoping that it goes back to normal but seriously I don’t know why I worried so much. Everything has turned out so well and Hannah sleeps so much better now and I love having two days on my own continuously learning new things and being back in the city. I have really learnt lately to stop worrying about what other people think and also learn to say no to some things and to clear out my weekly calendar to spend more time with family at home or exploring the great outdoors. We’ve visited some beautiful places lately like the Redwood Forest in Warburton and recently I finally had the chance to laze around at the Peninsula Hot Springs – it is totally my new happy place! I can’t wait to take the family there.

How are you doing lately? Feeling relaxed as the year ends? Or overwhelmed?
What can you say no to in order to make room for some down time?Hannah totally loves her big brother and is always wanting to play with him and his cars. We hardly have any dolls in the house and if it weren’t for her party and the generous gifts she received, there’d be nothing but monster trucks everywhere! Now she is obsessed with this little play cat and cat carrier that she got from one of our dear friends. She loves it because there’s lots of buttons that play different types of music and meow sounds. She wiggles away happily with her hands twirling in the air as soon as a tune comes on!It is just the best feeling ever to see brother and sister playing together and especially watching Daniel look out for Hannah making sure she’s safe and ok. Sometimes he doesn’t want her touching his nicely lined up cars and train tracks but for the most part, he is so attentive to what she wants.These two little munchkins have been so lucky having gone on lots of roadtrips and sleepovers lately. Just the past weekend we stayed over in Rye for a friend’s 30th birthday and everyone had such a great time. Sun, sand, beach, friends, family and food – what more could you want. She ALWAYS has her foot up while she eats – is that a Filo thing? I keep trying to put it down but she just creeps it back onto the table again. Manners Hannah, manners!

7 favourite Christmas traditions plus Santa’s Magical Kingdom – Giveaway!

Christmas is such a magical time of year when everyone seems so cheerful, decorations brighten up the place and a sense of hope and togetherness touches us all. The year draws to close paving the way for a new year of discovery and learning. Whether it’s staying up until midnight on Christmas Eve, cooking and eating your favourite dishes of the festive season or, spending some thoughtful, quiet time in reflection, we all have our different Christmas traditions that we love to share. Here are some of ours!:

1. Seeing the Christmas projections on Melbourne Town Hall and various Christmas decorations around Melbourne cityMelbourne Town Hall

2. Driving around to see the local Christmas lights

3. Attending Simbang Gabi – the traditional Filipino dawn masses leading up to ChristmasSimbang Gabi Resurrection Kings Park

 4. Donating to canned goods or clothing to St Vinnie’s

5. Baking gingerbread biscuits with Mr DChristmas gingerbread man

6. Decorating our Christmas tree whilst listening to our favourite carolsChristmas in Melbourne

7. Sharing a meal with all the relatives on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

The great thing about family traditions is that you can always create new ones together and there are so many amazing ways to share the joy of the silly season! In the past couple of years the kids (and us big kids alike!) have absolutely loved visiting the wonderland that is Santa’s Magical Kingdom. It has been a must-see for us leading up to Christmas with sessions being sold out annually.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2014 The Urban Ma

Where else can you experience dreamy snowfalls, creative activities for the kids, jaw-dropping performances by the awesome International Spectacular Christmas Show crew and keep the kids happy and enthralled for three hours where everything is organised for you (Mums join in with me as I heave a sigh of relief!)?snow fall The Urban Ma blog SMK

Santa’s Magical Kingdom this year will include:

• A magical Christmas walk-through wonderland
• Snowland the Snow Queen
• A free gift, when you meet Santa
• A brand new International Christmas Show Spectacular
• Roving Christmas characters
• Christmas Craft Village where you can make your own Christmas tree decoration
• Gingerbread Land, where you can decorate your own gingerbread man (this is always a favourite of ours and we end up eating our gingerbread on the car ride home!)
• Interactive Letter Writing area and Storytelling area with Mrs Claus (Mrs Claus is a darling!)
• Amusement Rides & Games, including Santa’s Sleigh Ride, the Giant Ferris Wheel, one of the Largest Super Slide’s in the country, The Elves Magical Train Ride and more (love the giant Super Slide!)
There’s so much fun for the whole family

Help Celebrate Rudolph’s Birthday!
In addition this year, Rudolph will be celebrating his birthday at Santa’s Magical Kingdom. Rudolph loves parties, so we need to impress him and celebrate in style! Rudolph will be joined by Mrs Claus, the Snow Queen, as well as Trolls: Poppy and Branch to celebrate his birthday. You will be able to meet and greet Movie Stars – Poppy and Branch. Every child will receive a special gift. All activities are inclusive with your Santa’s Magical Kingdom Admission Ticket. Rudolph’s Birthday will be celebrated on specific dates during the season.

Mon 12 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm
Tue 13 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm
Wed 14 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm
Thu 15 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm Session 2: 2pm – 5pm
Fri 16 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm Session 2: 2pm – 5pm

The above times are the sessions where Rudolph will be celebrating his birthday and there are also more session times available for you to choose from! Tickets are now on sale so get in early to avoid missing out.

Santa Melbourne blogger

Santa’s Magical Kingdom will be open from November 18th to December 23rd, 2016 with the big top at Caulfield Racecourse being transformed into an unforgettable event to suit all ages. I think it would even make for an awesome early Christmas present for those of you who have started planning early and are thinking of what to get for those on your Christmas list!

Mrs Claus the Urban Ma blog Melbourne

Santa’s Magical Kingdom Giveaway (This giveaway is now closed!)

++++++++++AND THE WINNER IS….NICOLE! (Updated 20/11/16)+++++++++++

Please email theurbanma@hotmail.com with your postal address and the ages of your kids by 5pm 22/11/16 in order to claim your prize otherwise another name will be drawn. Congratulations and thank you so much to all who entered. We look forward to sharing more events and products with you in the future.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks to Santa’s Magical Kingdom, we have a Family Pass (2 x adults and 2 x kids) worth $140 for Friday 25th of November 6pm session to giveaway.

To enter, simple leave a comment below on this blog post and let us know one of your favourite Christmas traditions. Competition closes November 14th, 2016. The winner will be randomly selected and will be given 48 hours to respond via email with their name and address. Good luck and have a great week everyone.

P.S Thank you so much for your support throughout the year. It is because of you that am given the opportunity to give away such fun, awesome experiences like this. So if you like discovering new places and experiences, check out the latest on my Instagram and Facebook pages and follow along with our adventures!  Much love, Jacqui.

-xx-