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-

Fueling the West – Eating Station, Ravenhall

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A while back we had brunch at Eating Station. It’s one of those places that makes you feel at ease as soon as you walk in, even if you have a pram and a couple of kids in tow. Spacious and modern, clean and well-lit. The staff were attentive and while we waited for our order, the little garden outside with a slide and other little materials for the little ones to play with, kept our three year old occupied until it was time to eat.

The menu offered a variety of options and with seating inside and out, we felt spoilt for choice. I was so happy with what I ordered – no plate envy for me! The veggie fritters with poached egg and salmon hit all the right notes and the pancakes were presented so nicely with the pink fairy floss covering a ball of ice cream.

A great way to start of the day and a beautiful weekend.

Mama Mondays – 10 & 11 months post partum update

The Urban Ma blog post partum updates
Mama Mondays – 10 & 11 month 
post partum update

Only a few weeks to go and our baby girl turns the big O-N-E! We had such an exciting couple of months recently with our first ever trip overseas as a family of four! So this post is both a ten and eleven month update rolled into one.

Height/Weight: Hannah is growing fast and we haven’t had a maternal nurse check up this month but she already feels a lot taller and heavier! She is currently fitting into size 0 and 1 clothes and some of her dresses are still size 3-6 months old! Not sure if the label is wrong or maybe that brand just has bigger sizing.

Routine/Sleep: This month Hannah has been waking up at around 6am and sometimes even as eearly as 5:30am…she has been going to bed at around 8-8:30pm so I’m not quite sure why she’s up so damn early! Naps are still happening at around 2-3 times during the day depending on what we’re doing and she always falls asleep in the car.

Eating/Feeding: I breastfed Daniel until he was thirteen months and I think Hannah will probably be feeding until about the same age. We have already started to slowly eliminate her night feeds. The hubby sleeps with her in our room and I sleep with Daniel in his room so she can’t smell me at all. When this is the arrangement we are able to have her sleep straight through the night. Like Daniel, Hannah loves sleeping with one of us, especially her big brother so her cot has become just a play pen!
Hannah is eating practically everything and anything. She has tried a little bit of peanuts, honey and cows milk just in this past week and she hasn’t had any reactions. She loves to hold her food and whilst she hasn’t started using a spoon on her own yet, she is getting lots in her mouth by getting her hands dirty! The other night she had a gherkin in one hand and a spear of asparagus in the other and was alternating gobbling up the two. She loves eating oranges and lemons and doesn’t even flinch at the sourness, she just keeps eating until only the rind is left.

Hannah has still not taken to drinking milk from a bottle and I think she’ll end up skipping that all together. We bought her a drink bottle from Disneyland as a souvenir and the first time we gave it to her she couldn’t figure out how the straw worked – she kept tilting the bottle to get her water. After only the second time of giving it to her she had quickly figured out how to suck the water up the straw. Babies are so smart!

10 months post partum update

Milestones: Our baby girl finally has teeth!! Two weeks ago her bottom tooth cut through and then just this weekend we saw one of her top central incisors also make an appearance. It looks like there are three more top teeth waiting to erupt any day now. I tried so hard to take a photo of them because this will be the only time we’ll ever see her cute little gums like this but it was impossible with her moving around so much. I’ll have to get the hubby to help me. And to think just two weeks ago we were wondering when her teeth were going to come! – Daniel’s first tooth erupted when he was eight months.
no-teeth-yet“Where are my teeth?!!!”
hannah-asparagus“It’s all good – I can still eat without them!”

Hannah sounds like a little beat boxer in the making at the moment. The sounds she makes are so funny! She is still constantly babbling out words I can’t quite recognise but more than twice already we heard her say what we swear sounds like “hello!”. She absolutely love it when I ask her “What does the sheep say?” because she giggles as soon as I say “Baa-baa”. She must think that sound is so funny!

Hannah can stand and sit herself down easily now while she’s holding onto something and is still yet to master standing on her own.  At ten months old Hannah went on her first ever trip on a plane! We went to Hong Kong and from there boarded an amazing cruise and I posted part one of the trip last week.  


Both Daniel and Hannah were so excited being on a plane and on the cruise. They were well-behaved as we kept them occupied with lots of games and food. As long as both of them have food, it seems they couldn’t have a care in the world! Daniel has been planning his next “family holiday adventure” ever since we got back. He’s been obsessed with making collages.

How cute are the hand/foot printed cards the kids made for Daddy!Our personalised Mickey ears! Happy 7th wedding anniversary!

We celebrated both Fathers Day and our wedding anniversary while on our holiday. The kids had an absolutely blast! Can you tell? Hannah’s face says it all – that smile melts me every single time!img_2874

This past month Daniel and Hannah also watched their first ever live stage show. We watched some shows on the cruise and also at Hong Kong Disneyland. The live music and singing and dancing has them both mesmerised – I’m glad it wasn’t just me enthralled by the singing Disney princessses hehe!

11-months-post-partum

Lately this mama has not been eating very nutritious foods at all. So I feel like I was much more fit at eight months post part I’m and now. I really need to get my butt into gear. Luckily Daniel is such an active little boy. He wants to go for a bike ride every minute of the day so at least that pushes me to get some walking done. My eczema flared up quite badly towards the end of our trip, especially the first week back home. Not sure if it was the weather or my bad diet but after heaps of moisturising twice a day and getting a new script, my skin is now slowly healing and feeling smooth again.

Hannah’s first piggy tales! Hannah’s hair is growing and at that awkward stage where it gets so messy if I put a headband on. It’s still short but strangely long enough to look wild when it’s not held back with a clipThank you Kids Business for our family night at the movies! xx

Movies with a toddler?

The firsts kept rolling in these past couple months as we took Hannah with us to the movies for the first time. With no one to babysit and Daniel wanting so badly to see Storks, we decided to go. I had my snacks, toys and patience packed and ready so that we wouldn’t be disturbing anyone in the theatre. We watched the 7.20pm session and after having some dinner and a bit of playing on the seats Hannah fell asleep towards the end of the movie since it was her bedtime. All in all a successful night out phew! If you have to bring along a toddler to the movies then our top tips would be:

1) pack lots of food
2) bring quiet things for them to play with
3) watch a session that is during their down time, not a session that’s just after they’ve woken up
4) book seats where you have easy access to the exit in case you need to soothe them or they start making noise and,
5) be flexible! I don’t expect little ones to sit still through an entire movie so if they need to get up and about then at least you’re near the exit 🙂

Hope this helps if you want to go to the movies but need to bring a baby along!

Wishing you all have a wonderful week! And if you’re heading out this weekend you might want to check out this enchanting place. It’s just over an hour’s drive out of Melbourne so it’s a great day trip out to get some fresh air and indulge in stunning scenery.

What is your favourite road trip destination?

-xx-

Travel Diary – Family Itinerary Hong Kong + Cruise

First family holiday overseas? We’ve got the perfect itinerary!

Hong Kong Travel Diary Royal Caribbean Cruises

Happy Thursday everybody! I hope you’re having a fulfilling week so far and the weekend is right here so it can only get better. I apologise for my absence and lack of posts in the past few weeks. I’ve missed posting for you but if you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll no doubt know that we’ve just come back from our first family holiday overseas with Little Miss H. First time taking a toddler overseas = planning, preparation, may a little strees? = lack of blog posts. This is just a quick little post to give you an overview of our itinerary and then I’ll  have some separate posts for you on each different places. Hopefully this info will be of help or interest to you if you are visiting Hong Kong or Okinawa, Japan soon, or if you are embarking on your first family holiday!

Our son Mr D is three years old, almost four, and Little Miss H was ten months at the time of our trip so packing a bunch of nappies and carrying around a pram as well as our luggage was just one of the extra things to think about when planning for our trip. All in all it was one of the most happiest and amazing weeks we’ve had yet and I can’t wait for the next one.

Hong Kong cruise Family Travel Diary

Day 1: Hong Kong sights & board ship
Day 2: Xiamen, China
Day 3: Cruising
Day 4: Okinawa, Japan
Day 5: Cruising
Day 6: Hong Kong & Dinsey’s Hollywood Hotel
Day 7: Disneyland
Day 8: Disneyland & depart for Melbourne

Depart MELB 14:30 Arrived in HKG 21:00
We flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong which was around a 9.5hr long flight and arrived at ten in the evening. We saw the bright city lights as we had a taxi take us to our hotel (we stayed overnight at L’Hotel, Causeway Bay) where we checked in and slept ready for the next day.

Day 1: Hong Kong sights then cruise departs for Xiamen at 17:oo
We checked out the areas of Victoria Harbour and Causeway Bay seeing the sights, doing a little shopping and, enjoying the cuisine before catching another taxi to the Kowloon side to board our cruise ship Voyager of the Seas, which is part of the Royal Caribbean fleet. We had never been on a cruise before and were in awe as we walked through the check in terminal at how huge the vessel was that stood there docked in front of us. It was all happening on the pool deck where vibrant music played and a dance party greeted everyone as the ship left Hong Kong.egg waffle Hong Kong food Discover

Day 2: Xiamen – Day 3: Cruising – Day 4 Okinawa, Japan – Day 5: Cruising
Our cruise was the 5 Night Okinawa and Xiamen Cruise that alternated between days of cruising and days at the ports in Xiamen, Okinawa and of course, Hong Kong. There was such a great variety of activities on the ship and without spoiling my upcoming blog post, let me just tell you that from sports, to music, the ship had it covered. We were spoilt for choice when it came to which experience to pick from each day. We were even so spoiled for choice when it came to the food (I’ll talk more about this in the coming posts!). One thing I hadn’t expected was how much we all loved and missed the staff/crew on the ship when we had to disembark. Imagine if we went on a cruise longer than five days! I think I’d be crying having to leave everybody that made our trip so special. (Or maybe I’m just a tad bit too sentimental!).Royal Caribbean cruise Family travel

Day 6: Hong Kong sights & Disney hotel check-in
After saying our goodbyes to the amazing staff on board, we made our way to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel on Lantau Island at around . We decided to explore more of Hong Kong and spent the rest of the day in Central and Causeway Bay eating and shopping our way through the busy and wet streets (it was pouring rain!). We made it back to our hotel in time for to see the nightly fireworks show (upon our arrival at the hotel we upgraded to a room with a view of the fireworks). The kids were squealing with excitement seeing the explosions of colour in the dark night sky. 
Hong Kong Causeway Bay Family travel blog

Day 7: Disneyland – Day 8: Disneyland and departed HKG 19:10, arrived in MELB 06:25
The next two days were dedicated to the magic and happiness that is Disneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest of the six Disneyland parks around the world and it was such a great one to visit with Little Miss H and Mr D. We spent one and a half days there and still didn’t get to see all the things we wanted (we missed out on watching the Lion King show and seeing the Paint the Night parade as it wasn’t running due to Halloween preparations) so we will definitely be coming back to catch Lightning McQueen in the night parade. With shuttle buses running every few minutes between the two Disney hotels and the Disneyland park, it was so convenient traveling with the kids to the character breakfast and Disney dim sum we had booked. I’ve posted a few photos of the most adorable little buns you’ll ever eat on my IG feed and I’ll post more here in my upcoming posts!Hong Kong Disneyland

Our flight back home was a night flight and with all the wondrous things the kids saw at Disneyland during the day, they both slept through almost the entire flight They were still sleeping when we landed in back in Melbourne.

How the cruise and trip to Hong Kong ticked all the boxes on First Family Holiday Wishlist
The above itinerary totally hit the spot when it came to all the things we wanted to do and see. The hubby and I love trying new things and visiting new places together and having Mr D and Little Miss H there with us made everything even more unforgettable. When planning the trip we had a few things on our wishlist and below is how the above itinerary ticked all our boxes.

1) Somewhere we’ve never been – We wanted our first ever holiday as a family of four to be somewhere we’d all never been before. That’s the thing about traveling. When you’re in a place that’s new, unfamiliar and far from home, it immediately brings you to the present moment. No routines, no auto-pilot, no pre-existing behaviours allows for total immersion into something new and, either exhilarating or terrifying. And with that something new shocking your system, it brings about learning and growing as you are forced to learn about and adapt to the environment around you. With the cruise we were able to unpack just once and visit multiple destinations. You’re traveling and covering ground (or water!) while you’re asleep so it’s a great way to get from one place to the other. Okinawa’s Shuri castle was grand, Hong Kong Disneyland was a dream and we took the obligatory pic with Bruce Lee’s statue. Somewhere we’ve never been? Tick!

2) Warm and sunny – We wanted to go somewhere that was summery and bright. It was hot in Hong Kong (although it did rain there during our time at Disneyland) but not as hot as it was in Okinawa. The suns rays helped us to defrost from Melbourne’s winter chills. It was just so nice to lay around in the sun all day and the kids coped rather well with the change of climate. They didn’t complain and Mr D loved covering himself with sunscreen.

3) A bit of shopping and trying out the local cuisine – The hubby loves city destinations and Hong Kong with it’s amazing food, shopping and bustling city vibe was just the ticket! When the hubby had booked our trip and I had started Googling things to do and see in Hong Kong, I couldn’t believe we had never been there before. And now after having been, I know we’ll totally be back for more!

4) Ease and Convenience – Haha I did say “wishlist” right? But yes, we wanted to go on a holiday that would be as fuss-free and as relaxing as you can get with two little kids. Hong Kong is not too far away but still far enough to feel like you’ve gone somewhere totally exotic. The time difference is only two hours so none of us experienced any jetlag and we were able to get straight back into the swing of things when we arrived home! The availability and options of food on the cruise was perfect for our little ones – they could have ice cream whenever they wanted and they could pick from so many different types of dishes (our kids love to eat!). Swimming pools open 24/7 and meet and greets with the Dreamworks characters were another things the kids loved. With everything organised, all the hubby and I had to do was relax and just show up. Ease and Convenience? Big tick!

I think one of the biggest things that surprised me was how much we were able to do and see in such a short amount of time however our energy levels stay high and we weren’t ending each day feeling exhausted. I think what helped with this was that we stayed right near the Disneyland theme park and it was super easy to get back to the hotel and relax. And the other thing that helped was the cruise. Cruising has never really been something that’s on my bucketlist. I never had the urge to really want to go on a cruise ship, but my parents had recently been on one and raved on and on about it when they got back from their trip. The hubby also spent a lot of time trying to find something that would suit what we wanted to accomplish during the short amount of time he had off work that wasn’t too expensive. With all inclusive packages and super friendly crew on board, I now see why cruising is such a crowd favourite.

I think one thing to think about before booking a cruise is to check that the cruise line you’re inquiring with are actively doing something to combat the impact that they have on the environment. It wasn’t something I had thought about before but after spending time staring out at the beautiful big ocean on our trip, and seeing such a huge vessel carrying thousands of people to different destinations across the seas, I wonder how air pollution, waste management and fuel consumption is being addressed. I’m so new to the world of cruising and would love for everyone to enjoy a holiday on one as it was so incredible – all the more reason for us to be aware and choose wisely.

We had the most wonderful experience traveling as a family overseas for the first time and we can’t wait for the next adventure! Royal Caribbean were amazing and we’ll definitely be looking into cruising with them again. Hong Kong has just way too many things for us to see and do so we’ll have to come back for more! Next time I really want to see the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. We didn’t get to visit it this time round because we didn’t want to cram too much into our days but it looks ginormous!

Hong Kong Noah's ark Family travel blog

The hubby and I are very similar in the way that we are quite open to trying new things, cope well with unexpected situations and are organised but also flexible – thank you Wes for being such a good travel buddy, baby daddy and all round companion. Thank you for carrying  Little Miss H so close to you even though the sun was scorching down. Thank you for looking after our kids while I waited in line to try the FlowRider hahah! Thank you choosing the cruise and the places you did! Our holiday wouldn’t have been as fun as it was if it weren’t for you!

We celebrated our wedding anniversary while we were away and here’s hoping we have many more adventures to come! I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions at all leave me a comment, or if you are going to Hong Kong soon let me know what sights, restaurants or shops you’d recommend to visit!

Night! xx

Hong Kong Disneyland Family Travel Blog the Urban MA Avenue of the Stars Hong Kong Family Travel Blog The Urban MA