Category: Family Life

The little gem that’s Pinewood Resort

Pinewood

There is no better feeling than that last sleep before a planned holiday… especially if you are going back home to see family and friends after 2 long years! Yes!… It was time to fly home to Kenya 😀 2017’s trip was extra special – it was going to be Teo’s first proper holiday, his first time in Kenya, plus the first time he meets most of my side of the family. Imani’s excitement at the thought of seeing her cousins again was too much to handle, she could barely sleep a week before… let alone the night before the flight! We were finally going to spend another warm Christmas, with my family, in the most beautiful country in the world – and am not just saying that because it’s home, it really is beautiful!

Whenever we are in Kenya, we always plan a mini holiday within THE holiday… often a relaxing week at the coast. We love Diani beach in the south coast of Kenya, and that’s where this gem of a place, that am selflessly going to share with you today, is located.

Pinewood
Entrance to paradise

We first found ourselves at Pinewood in 2010, and it was love at first stay! From the minute we walked into the reception area, the warm and genuine smile of the front desk staff, the deliciously refreshing welcome drink, and the personalised welcome message displayed by the entrance, for all to see – making us feel like some VIPs – we were sold!

Pinewood
The gorgeous compound

Pinewood is a small, family owned, resort with just a few beautifully furnished, suites, executive suites and a family suite. The compound is a beautifully maintained garden, with mature trees and loads of flowering bushes. There’s a lovely pool with pool bar… perfect to cool off from the coastal heat as you enjoy a cold Tusker (local beer). There’s a functional gym for fitness junkies like myself, and a relaxing spa that offers a good variety of treatments…from manicures to massages – for when you’ll need pampering. Down by the beach, they have their Jahazi restaurant and bar – this is where we love having our lunches à la carte… their pineapple boat salad… to die for! The Jahazi bar is perfect for a sun-downer pina colada 🙂 The main restaurant, Bahari, is where the scrumptious buffet breakfast is served daily… including a variety of delicious fresh tropical fruits! Dinner is a different theme every night. My favs are the BBQ nights down by the beach at the Peponi beach restaurant and the Swahili nights 😊

Pinewood
Imani’s excitement over the pineapple boat salad…

One of the things that we love most about Pinewood, and one of the major reasons why we keep going back there is the second to none hospitality. Kids… these people takes the meaning of the word hospitality to the next level!  From the first day, they make you feel like part of the Pinewood family. These guys go out of their way to make your holiday as pleasant and memorable like you can’t imagine! They’re genuinely happy to help… with anything! Plus it’s absolutely kid friendly… they even have a baby pool 🙂 Perfect for families, even with small kids.

Pinewood
Sibling fun 🙂
Pinewood
Pool time

As regulars… think we qualify for that title by now, every stay is like going back to visit old friends… they have really made us part of the family. And something that hit us during this last visit is that staff has never changed… since 2010! There’s been promotions and changing of departments…. but we still found the same faces… to our great relief obviously! To me, this says a lot about the place, and it’s management! These people have seen Imani as a baby to the young little lady she is now, saw Teo as just a bump, and got to meet him. And man, they know how to spoil kids… to the parents’ delight! 🙂

Pinewood
Water sports equipment just waiting…

There is a ton of activities within Pinewood itself, or nearby, to keep you busy – table tennis, darts, kite surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat rides… which the kids will love! – at very reasonable prices. And as they are located a bit further from all the other hotels along the beach, you are lucky enough to have the lovely, white sand beach all to yourself most of the time.

Pinewood
Did I already say it’s paradise?

So if you are in Kenya right now… or ever plan to visit Kenya, make a point of staying at Pinewood, even just for a couple of days… you can’t afford not to! You can thank me later 😉

 

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Our family’s Christmas traditions

Christmas

***This post may contain affiliate links***

It’s December people! Christmas is upon us! This is my absolute favourite time of the year. Even before the kids came along, Manu and I had our little traditions… getting a tree together, buying one special ornament each year, decorating the tree while blasting Christmas songs. And now, with the kids, it’s gotten even better! I wish I could see Christmas through a kid’s eyes… it must be unbelievably magical. Believing in Santa, going to bed on it’s eve, waking up the next morning to find that Santa has been, and has left gifts under the tree! Can you imagine how mind-blowing that is for a child? And so when Imani came along, I decided to take the magic up a notch.

Our family’s Christmas traditions… so far 😉

  • Fifi – The Elf on the Shelf
When Fifi got in a jar so we could take her Christmas shopping with us without touching her

Every 1st of December, Fifi, our elf, returns from the North Pole to spend time with us. The idea of The Elf on the Shelf is, Santa sends his little elves to families, and their assignment is to check, record and report on what the kids have been up to, small acts of kindness, mischief etc. Every evening after the kids have gone to bed, Fifi flies back to the North Pole, using magic, to give Santa the day’s report. She is back before the kids wake up the following morning, and she’s normally hiding in a different spot than where the kids had left her. The kids then run around the house trying to find her.

Kids can talk to the elf, pass messages to Santa through the elf like what gifts they would like, or why they did something naughty that day. But they are never to touch her, as this may make her lose her magic and not be able to fly back to hand in her report.

Christmas
Fifi used Teo’s potty… of course it orange juice and chocolate buttons

Fifi is a bit of a cheeky elf herself, and loves playing games and tricks on the kids. Last year, she covered our decorated tree with Imani’s panties. The other day we woke up to find that she had drunk Papa’s beer while watching TV and eating popcorn… and had made a huge mess on the sofa.

Christmas
The sweet note Fifi left the kids last year on her departure back to the North Pole

On Christmas eve, all the elves return to the North Pole because that’s when their assignment ends. Its a sad time for the kids. Last year, before she left, Fifi left us Christmas pjs, a sweet note for the kids and even baked and decorated some cookies for them. I can’t tell you the joy on Imani’s face when she saw Fifi this time… of course Teo is still too young to understand, but Imani is taking him along the ride and they are absolutely enjoying it. For anyone with small kids, I cannot recommend this enough 🙂

  • Christmas pyjamas and sweaters

On Christmas eve, Fifi leaves all of us wrapped presents on the beds… Christmas pjs! We wear them the same night. We then have a chocolate milk while watching our fav Christmas movie, Arthur Christmas. Am also a complete sucker for Christmas sweaters, I get everyone one, and they have no choice but to wear them… LOL!

  • Special ornament
Christmas
Imani chose the clown in a air balloon last year

 

Each year while shopping for a tree, we each chose a special ornament to add to what we already have. I like a tree with a good mix of ornaments, and everyone gets to choose whatever they want… no rules.

  • The tree
Christmas
The tree Imani chose… all decorated 🙂

We’re a ‘real’ tree folk… I love the smell of it. Last year we let Imani chose the tree herself, she was so proud telling everyone who visited that she’d chosen it herself 🙂 We then decorate it all together.

  • Arthur Christmas Movie by the fireplace

Yes… we love Arthur Christmas, and watch it every year. I move the coffee table aside to make room, so as to be closer to the fireplace, throw some pillows and cushions on the floor and get cosy with a cup of chocolate milk. My kids are not allowed to watch TV much… but during this period, a nice family movie is allowed. Plus Arthur Christmas is such a lovely story.

  • Christmas markets

We have to visit at least one Christmas market every year. We try to discover new ones every year. My love for Christmas markets has a lot to do with my love for mulled wine 😉 Last year we went to Valkenburg Christmas Market, this is in a cave, quite really impressive. We have also been to Medieval Christmas Market in Luxembourg, which was also nice, though smaller than I expected. Of course we have been to Brussels’ Plaisirs d’hiver several time, and still remains our fav so far. But I have heard very good things about the Aachen one, it’s now on top of my list.

So, that’s where we are with Christmas traditions… so far. Am definitely going to add more as the kids grow… just because I stupidly love Christmas. What are your family christmas traditions? Any I can copy for my family?

 

A chronological account of my daily routine

daily routine

As a full time working mum of 2 small kiddos, my days can get pretty hectic, pretty fast if I don’t get organised, and have a daily routine. A normal day starts at 6.15am… that’s when my alarm goes off, I struggle to get out of my very possessive bed, normally 6.30am, get into my workout gear, and hit ‘the mum gym’ for a 30 minute workout – I can’t afford a gym membership, and even if I could, I wouldn’t have the time to actually go! Plus am quite happy with my gym, in the comfort of my home, and can workout in my knickers and a bra if I wanted to… so hey! And for the sceptic ones amongst you… I am walking proof that you can get great results with discipline and hard work, exercising from home with no personal trainer! But that’s another post for another day.

Now where was I… oh yes, at the gym… the munchkins will be awake by the time I finish, 7 ish… 7.15 ish, if am lucky. While I hop into the shower, Manu attempts to get them dressed, ready for school and daycare. This takes a while! It needs a lot of patience, some yelling, and a lot of holding back tears! You don’t want them seeing you crying because you are tired of fighting Teo over his resistance to lying down to get his diaper changed! By the way, is it just my kids or do your little humans also not function normally in the morning? I mean, it can take Imani 10 minutes to put on her socks!!! 10 MINUTES people!!!… I mean, how complicated is it to put on a pair of socks? And… AND, why does she always start with the socks??? Aren’t socks supposed to be the third last item of clothing you put on, just before your shoes and coat??? She’s a special kind of weird my little muffin… love her to bits though 🙂 – Anyhoo, by this time Manu has lost his will to live, and has given up on trying to catch Teo, who’s running… waddling more like – from room to room mumbling things only he understands – I always imagine he’s saying something like, “they will never catch me alive!!!”… hahahahahaaa **evil laugh**. So I go in for reinforcement, teamwork…right?! And eventually, somehow, we manage and everyone’s ready.

The kids have their breakfast at around 7.45, Teo gets him milk first – a hungry Teo is an angry Teo! So yeah, lil’ man gets served first. My Imani is little miss Independent… always has been, she likes preparing her own breakfast – I, normally, have set out the table the night before… time saver by the way! – all I do is heat up her cup of milk. She butters her toast, or serves herself a portion of cereals, or whatever else I will have laid out. I try my best to vary their breakfast so they don’t get bored of having the same stuff every day. We are a family of foodies, so they will have buttered toast with a piece of cheese and ham, or apple cinnamon porridge, scrambled eggs with toast, maandazis etc. Unfortunately, we never have time to have breakfast seated at the table with them on week days, but am always in the kitchen while they eat, preparing the bags and anything else that needs to be done, so it’s not like they are all alone. Breakfast is done around 8, they are fast eaters in the morning, don’t ask me why, I’ve never had to repeat the usual ‘please eat up’… that’s always reserved for dinner time, and for Imani.

We aim to be out the door by 8.10, I drop Imani at school, and Manu does Teo at daycare. I get to work around 9.15ish – depending on traffic, I earn my dues for the day till 5pm. I get home around 5.45 – 6ish, kids’ will have been picked up by Manu, or our lovely nanny, Jessie. One of us starts on dinner… while the other does bath time. Teo prepares his famous roasted potatoes, to be served with the Imani’s speciality meatloaf… lol… got you! Of course I don’t slave my small kids into cook dinner… but I sure do wish I could. ***sipping wine thoughtfully*** Dinner is always something fast, but healthy, we always cook from scratch. We are all seated, eating by 6.45pm. We are a family of very fast eaters… Manu literally inhales his food… like seriously, his plate will be half gone by the time am finished tying up Teo’s bib! By 7pm, plates are empty… apart from Imani’s, who’s still counting her peas. Teo has his bottle of milk, then we settle down for some ‘quiet time’, normally we read a book or 2. By this time, they are both exhausted, we brush teeth, and are off to bed latest 8pm.

Manu and myself then crank up the music and party like it’s 1999!!!!… Ha! I wish! wouldn’t it be nice though?! **sips wine reminiscing about when she thought tiredness was for the weak.** We either watch telly… series on The Flix, with a glass o’ rouge for me, and an Orval beer for Monsieur. We then both pass out hardly 10 minutes into whatever we were intending to watch – exact time of passing out is unknown. All those times we used to party till the break of dawn are now nothing but a distance memory! We are both surprised if we make it to 10.26pm… especially me! We then drag out limp bodies off to bed, leaving the wine glass half drunk, to be finished tomorrow morning just before the workout. And repeat…

 

 

Changes

Changes on family finance

After lots of hours surfing the net, reading blogs like Gillian’s on managing family finances, I have decided to make a first list of changes that need to happen in our home, changes that, hopefully, will save us a few euros here and there.

I have studied how we’ve been running our home, how we’ve been handling finances… and obviously, it’s not the correct approach, as we always find ourselves struggling before the next pay day.

Here is my list of things I will be trying:

Changes list

  • Switch off

I need to pay more attention to this, more than once I have come back from work to find one of the bedrooms, or bathroom light had been on the whole day.

  • Reduce heating

My thermostat is set at 21 degrees… which is high. Manu has repeated this to me his whole life, and with winter round the corner… this is a good time to try it out.

  • Stop bottled water

To be honest, I don’t even know why we buy bottled water, we prefer tap water anyway.

  • Stop with the baby wipes

Not necessary… and very bad for the skin – especially with our dry skin. Again, one of those things you convince yourself are necessary

  • Collect coupons, shop wisely

Make a proper shopping list, shop in bulk when products are on offer, shop local and seasonal products. Manu is fairly good at thinking of these, I , on the other had, lousy!… but not for any longer.

  • Sell the junk

As they say, one man’s trash is another’s treasure! I have pile and pile of stuff that I could sell and make a few euros. Boxes full of children’s clothes, shoes, toys, and other stuff we no longer need. I’ll gather the courage, sort them, take some pictures, and hopefully sell.

  • Start weekly meal planning 

This makes total sense, knowing what’s for dinner well in advance, plus a time saver – especially if I can prepare the meal in advance too!

I will update this post after a 3 month trial period, hopefully, with some spare change in my pocket.

What do you think of my list as a starting block?