When I saw these snaps of Paige’s 5th birthday party I thought, “that’s the best idea”. Mama Candice threw Paige a flower themed 5th birthday party complete with DIY pot plants, flower crowns and a beautiful garden cake. Have a party to plan? We think this is the best idea.
We live in Marbella, Spain. I first moved here with my family when I was 15 to complete my schooling. After university in the UK, then living and working there for some time, I moved back to SA as my husband (then boyfriend!) couldn’t get a visa to move to the UK. It was never the plan to move back to SA permanently, we agreed at the time we would give our relationship a proper go in SA, and if things progressed, he promised we would move back to Europe, which we did soon after we were married a couple years later. Marbella was the natural choice as although Alfie didn’t speak Spanish, my parents were here and I always considered it the perfect place for us to start a family. We have been here now almost 4 years.
How did you ended up living in Marbella, Spain?
My family used to holiday here every European summer and we all just fell in love with it! It’s not the most conventional place to move from SA, but it had better international schools than Greece (my parents are Greek) and we wanted somewhere “outdoorsy” that could offer us the same quality of life we grew up having in SA.
The weather and the family aspect. The weather is simply sensational- mild, sunny winters and awesome summers! There is a constant “feel-good”, holiday atmosphere and everyone is generally care-free and very chilled. The people are extremely family-orientated, even though Marbella is known as a party destination, kids still come first everywhere you go. It somehow manages to strike a great balance between party/flashy lifestyle and chilled/down-to-earth, not entirely sure how! You have to visit to understand.Oh, and no traffic! The Joburg traffic kills me so I appreciate this a lot more than others who live here!
Describe your house?
We live in a 3 bedroom townhouse in a little mountain village 10 minutes from the coast called “Benahavis”. We initially stayed with my parents when we first moved across, until we had settled work-wise, got some Euros in our pockets, etc., then we were lucky enough to find out little dream home!
What I love most about our home is our view of the facing mountain and river valley. All the houses in our community are on one side of the valley, and the opposite side is protected natural park, so the view is unspoilt. It is a very serene environment. Some might prefer being amidst more hustle and bustle but Alfie and I are real homebodies and love nothing more than being able to escape to such tranquillity while still having the buzz a short drive away.
Do you have a housekeeper/nanny/babysitter? What is the culture in your city regarding help with babies and child rearing?
We have a cleaner who helps me out a few hours once a week with the big jobs, thank goodness, but no nanny or babysitter. 11pm laundry is the norm in this household.
Schools aren’t too difficult to get into and there is a real mix of public and private. The international schools (UK, USA or other European curriculums) tend to be private and there is a mix of both private and public Spanish schools. Academically, all are great, although in our research so far (and we are by no means the experts on this!) the private schools generally have better sporting and extra-curricular activities that we feel are important after our schooling in SA. Regarding Curriculums, living in Europe means you need to consider which school-leaving certificates you want your child to obtain, so depending on the country you are considering to send them for University, this could be a deciding factor as well.
We have decided to send Alecsander to a particular Spanish school here that is more difficult to get into if you start them much older than 3. Schools usually starts with “playschool” or nursery from 3 and then the child stays at that same school until actual academic school starts. So, for example, if we waited until he was 5 or 6, he may not get a place at our chosen school. But there is no such thing as putting their names down at birth or paying big deposits, so nothing is guaranteed but it doesn’t tend to be a problem if you get them in young. I think we will reassess once Alecsander is older. Our top priority is having him totally fluent in Spanish from a young age, then we can possibly move him to an international school later on which will allow him to apply to both Spanish and UK / other European universities to give him as much choice as possible.
There are nurseries here that cater for very young babies as well as normal nurseries and playschools. They seem quite good and a lot of them are funded by the government so aren’t expensive , some even free. A few of my friends use them and have had good experiences.
How do you get around town with your little one?
It depends on the occasion! If we are going to our local park or the village for a meal, we will walk, in which case we use the pram or Baby Carrier. I am obsessed with my ErgoBaby (and so is Alecsander!) so walking normally means being on mom or dad in the Ergo. If we are going further we drive.
Where do you hang out with your babes for play time?
Besides my parents’ place, which is by far his favourite play spot (imagine the fun 2 Greek Grandparents will implement to entice me and babe there as often as possible!) we love going to the park or for walks along the beach and to music, swimming and various play groups with other local moms and babes in the area. Spain really does a good job catering to families with children so there are parks and swings literally on every corner.
Do you have pets?
Yes, we have 2 kitties who made it across to Spain with us from SA. It’s hilarious watching real-life “cat and mouse” between them and my boy.
Do you have a favourite coffee/lunch spot to head to with your babe?
Not really! I don’t tend to head to the same place very often. There is a sweet coffee shop that caters for babes, too, called “Funky Forest”, with bunnies to feed, baby swings outside, some fun classes and baking, which we enjoy, but we don’t go there more than anywhere else unless we are heading there to do a specific activity or class.
Do you have a favourite spot to head to when you need some “me” time?
Totally! Benahavis has a path along the river which I adore walking along, beautifully quiet and clean mountain air = my food for the soul! Although, getting back up the hill home is quite an uphill challenge, I don’t do it as often as I should. Lying by the pool in the summer is another of my favourite “me” moments.
What is your little one’s favourite food?
Currently loving lentils, risotto balls and anything with meat.
What is your favourite Spanish thing to do with your babe?
Walks on the “paseo” (promenade) along the beach. It’s a very typical activity where the whole family usually gets involved here – Granparents, pets, the works!
Describe a typical Saturday.
Saturdays tend to be the day when hubby and I can squeeze in a decent-sized workout, so we normally take turns getting some exercise in first thing. Then we’ll head out for brunch or lunch, depending on when Mr decides to take his nap, and in spring/summer sit in the sun or at the pool and in winter, go for walks or take Alecsander to an indoor play center or something fun.
Saturday nights we most likely have friends over for dinner or a braai, especially our friends without kids. We love entertaining, so host dinners at our place often.
What languages do you speak to your baby?
English and some Greek. The songs etc. are mostly Greek ones I grew up with and ones my mom and dad sing to him. We dont’ push the Spanish on him just yet, we figure he will pick it up super quickly at school.
Where do you go on holiday as a family?
So far, we have taken him to Cyprus, South Africa and the UK, but plan on doing a local summer holiday this year in Spain, either a short flight to Mallorca or a drive somewhere up the coast.
What tip would you give a family with a babe the same age as yours if they were visiting your home town?
Bring lots of sunscreen, comfy shoes and your baby carrier! There is so much to do with them outdoors.
What is the one not-to-be-missed activity to do/place to visit with a baby in your home town?
It’s not really a sightseeing place, more a place to come and relax with your babe and eat good food. The great thing about the Spanish is they take their kids everywhere with them. There is no such thing as “bedtime”- kids and babies come along to even fancy restaurants and sleep in their prams (or run around until midnight, especially in summer!) so the aim of your holiday should be to be as relaxed as possible, enjoy the late sunsets and late sunrises, and let your kiddies body-clocks readjust. Everyone loves babies and they will be very adequately catered for everywhere you go.
Oh, one thing to bare in mind if coming in summer, there is an amazing festival every year, called “The Starlite Festival”, which is held in an outdoor amphitheatre cut out the side of a mountain! It’s pretty awesome and really well organised! So if you are heading here between July and August, try book tickets. You can either just go and chill there, they have DJs, food stalls, and entertainment, or you can book an actual concert. They also do a free “park and ride” service and it’s impeccably clean with amazing food and cocktails, so a great night out. Last year’s acts included Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli and Anatsasia.
What is the biggest difference in raising a child in Spain versus South Africa, where you grew up?
I think the obvious answer would be the safety aspect. I still appreciate my freedom here on a daily basis and won’t ever take it for granted. I am also excited Alecsander will grow up fully bilingual, whilst keeping his African blood alive by visiting our family in SA as much as we can. He is blessed to have two countries to call “home”, with loving families in each.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
We celebrated Kimmy’s 60th birthday with a high tea at 54 on Bath with all her girls. You both loved it, feeling all grown up sipping on herbal tea concoctions and nipping delightful tarts with purple flowers on top. There were four generations celebrating my mother – your great granny, your gran, your mama and my sisters, and you and your cousins. The significance of time, and how fast it goes was really highlighted on this occasion as we watch a slideshow of photographs of Kimmy’s life, looking down the line at all these moments and women who are part of you in some way. It brings back memories of my childhood adventures and carefree days. It’s mind blowing for me to contemplate that I have memories of my mother at my age, and how that doesn’t seem so long ago. It makes me think about my parents being parents to children your age, and how my mom was a mom at that age. And of my grandparents being grandparents and now my gran being a great gran. And then her mother and all the generations before them in all these different phases of life from child to mother to grandmother. Witnessing the passing of time and the continual circle of life so clearly fills we with a type of fearful wonder, and yet grounds me to the present.
We’ve just been in the bush for our annual family holiday. I love being there with you – watching you play make believe games in the dirt, bundling up for early morning drives armed with rusks and jackets, spotting the hippo every time we crossed the main road bridge, renaming impala pea-hogs, spending all day with your cousins, sleeping under mozzi nets, braaing sausages around the fire at night after running around the camp with glow sticks, looking for owls with Bear. The slower rhythm, the last rays of hot weather, the carefree barefoot days, magical sunsets. I always wish we could stay longer.
I never particularly loved my body. I gave up bikinis at the end of high school- whenever I looked in the mirror I would see things I wanted to change or swap out. I know I am not the only one who wished for a different tummy or for more defined arms… I saw the faults, or not even faults but imperfect bits. There were parts I liked but of course, I never focused on them. This all changed as a mom. I now see strength when I look at my body. My legs have swayed to and fro for hours on end, chased a toddler around the house and I’ve crawled on my knees to mimic my baby girl in a game. My feet have ached after hours of standing but they have taken me on hour long walks around the neighborhood as I have carried a baby on my chest. My arms have held my ever growing babe- often they have been shaking as I wait for her sleep. My hands have patted and tickled, changed and dried, picked up and put down too many times to count. I have lifted a pram in and out of the car, pushed it up endless hills and I can do pretty much anything with one hand. My fingers have danced to the sound of a song and even my toes have picked things up. My breasts have nursed her for every nap since the day she was born, over a year of feeding each time she needs milk. As for my big eyes I see them now on her beautiful face, watching her grown and constantly checking in with my sweet girl. I hear each sound – whether I am awake or asleep, I can decipher her cries and I laugh with joy as she does. My mouth has whispered lullabies on repeat and my lips have kissed softly a million times. My curls, that I once absolutely hated, I now adore on my baby. As for my tummy it’s a machine, growing a baby until nine months ripe and then birthing her safely. Now often acting as pillow in the early mornings. Motherhood is a funny thing – it does so many things to one on the inside, it tugs at one’s heart, it alters your soul, it makes your tummy ache with pride and your brain go into overdrive with worry but it changes the outside too – not for worse, like many people say, but it makes it stronger, more resilient, it’s got stamina that’s for sure! I am proud of it.
When we came across Don the Father – the dad who blogs about parenting, we had to ask him for his top tips for new dads. Here’s what he said:
Tip #1: Learn to survive without (or very little) sleep.
Unfortunately the reality of this is that babies will not fit into your sleep routine at all. Thinking that they will is only going to send you into a mind state of paranoia. The odd few will surprise you, in that case, ignore tip 1 and move on.
Tip #2: Manage stress.
Your new baby is 100% dependant on you and your wife. This can often be quite stressful as many of the caregiving responsibilities may be brand new. Eat well and try and get a morning or evening run in to de-stress.
Tip #3: Accept help.
I cannot stress this point enough. Accept help, welcome family bringing ready-made dinners over and don’t feel bad when someone stats washing the dishes.
Tip #4: Establish a routine.
From as early as possible, try and get a system going. There is a lot to do and no-one wants that overwhelming feeling. Both you and baby will benefit from this.
Tip #5: Follow your instincts.
Listen to the advice of others, read about parenting, consult the experts, but consider yourself the authority on your child. No one will know your baby as well as you and your partner do.
Tip #6: Take a break.
Baby is crying, the phone is ringing and you can’t find the dummy. Stay calm, attend to the situation and once everything is under control, go outside and take a few minutes for yourself.
Tip #8: Give mom a break.
As much as you may need a break, consider taking baby for a walk or a trip to the shops and give your wife an hour or so to herself. Trust me, she will appreciate it much more than you realize.
Tip #7: Wetwipes.
There is no such thing as using too many wet wipes…especially in a poop crisis.
Tip #8: Take on bath time.
Make bathing your time. It is a great way to bond and connect with baby.
Tip #9: Baby wearing.
Not only Mom’s make use of this trend. Many Dad’s are also taking on baby wearing. In the early days, if baby was unsettled, putting her in a wrap calmed her down almost immediately…5 minutes later she was fast asleep. Worked every time.
Tip #10: Enjoy
Enjoy every moment and every second. I was told time goes by quickly…nothing can bring back these precious times.
On our book wish list this month is a story about a bear and a hat, one about digging a hole, a tale about waiting and one that tells children just how much they are loved.
- I want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen – The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor– and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
- Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett -Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.
- Waiting Hardcover by Kevin Henkes -Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?
- The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin – A book that celebrates the dreams, acceptance, and love that parents have for their children . . . now and forever!
Model Doutzen Kroes does have one of the most beautiful families, doesn’t she? She recently took a trip to Kenya, with her family, to help protect our precious elephants. She shared the pics with Glamour Magazine. There were so many that we loved we had to share more than just one for this week’s ‘family album’.
Happy weekend lovely mamas. This weekend we are heading to the Kingsmead Book Fair, helping our granny move into her new apartment – which means a trip to the nursery to buy some indoor plants and spending Sunday under the big Oak tree at Kimmy & Bear.
Here some interesting reads from around the web this week:
15 things Cup of JO wants to tell a new mama
Kim Kardashian opens up about being a mama (and a whole lot of other things) – she’s surprisingly honest!
This looks delicious
The best board games for toddlers to primary school goers.
- Children perform better when a strong sense of value and respect is associated with school, teachers and academic outcomes.
- We need more excellent teachers to be better paid and valued in society, of course.
- Reading to your children, as we know, is invaluable in their future academic success as is conversation at home and the parents approach to education.
We love this little photo series that photographer Lily Glass took of her mama-to-be friend. Lily photographed Ashley through her pregnancy and then once her baby girl arrives. We love pics that celebrate the journey of pregnancy and a beautiful growing bump.
While your babe’s nursery is a super important part of nesting and once baby arrives, baby time. Nurseries don’t have to be enormous! If you think about it, your baby is teeny tiny so he/she really doesn’t need the biggest room in the house. This nursery proves just that: it’s only 1.1m wide and 3m long (a closet really) but it looks beautiful, intimate, cosy and perfect for a newborn.