Over the long weekend we had a brilliant time checking out some of the great family friendly places around Dublin. A highlight had to be Imaginosity , the Dublin Children’s Museum. All four of us had fun playing in the interactive play areas, especially the American-style diner (home sweet home) and the construction area. Alex loved the special baby areas on each floor. It was packed on Good Friday, but not too crazy that we couldn’t enjoy everything. I can’t wait to go again as the boys get older and can appreciate more of the exhibits and play in new ways. I can definitely see us going regularly to focus on specific areas (like the hospital to learn about the human body or the shop to learn about money) Fingers crossed, one day it will be nice enough to follow the Eco Badger up to the roof garden.
Alex wanted to be Baby New Year, but decided to try and eat his paper sash. Happy New Year nonetheless!
Do you have any New Year traditions? Since Nate arrived, we’ve celebrated by heading into town to visit the Natural History Museum. It’s open, free and Dublin is empty since everyone else has a sore head on New Year’s Day. Nate loves looking at all the animals and hasn’t quite figured out they aren’t alive. On this trip he discovered the moose (or Big Moosh) and was mighty impressed.
So it has been ridiculously busy around the Dare homestead. August and September flew by and I haven’t been able to update, but fingers crossed no new calamities will get in the way. We’ve already had broken bones, hospital stays, weddings, holidays, birthdays and general business – there’s not much more we could take.
So to celebrate a clearing of the fog, we took the boys out for a brilliant day out to the Newbridge House & Farm in Donabate, Co. Dublin. I could tell you about the lovely grounds, picnic area and adventure playground (all accessible for free) or about the tea rooms and massive farm yard with everything from baby chicks to bulls. I could tell you all about these things, but I think it would be much better to show you.
Very, very special thanks to Capturing Childhood for showing me the ropes of creating awesome videos through the Shooting Stories course. If you have children and a camera, you must sign up for one of their courses!
We had a blast at the Picture Book Picnic today hosted by The Dare’s favourite bookslinger, The Gutter Bookshop (along with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Walker Books and Children’s Books Ireland). The event was part of the Made in Temple Bar festival, so it really was the perfect storm of all the things we love! The Wood Quay venue was the perfect spot for an indoor picnic and Nate had a blast trying to steal other picnicer’s food and making as much noise as possible (sorry guys).
Everyone at the event was extraordinarily lovely (I was in a little love bubble after the event that soon got burst on our post-picnic trip to Henry Street in a rainstorm…) We learned all about the adorable Niamh Sharkey’s creative process and met her silly characters. We heard tales of Dublin’s lesser spotted creatures and Nate danced along to the songs of Paul Tubb (big ups for the Spurs mention!). And we brought out our teddies as Patricia Campbell from Dublin City Library read some lovely stories.
Nate picked out two books–A Bit Lost and The Ravenous Beast (that’s probably about him), and made a long wishlist of other fab books he wants for his birthday. Well, you know where to get them. You can find so many gems in The Gutter (Cows Lane, Old City Temple Bar)
Nate is a Water Baby (remember his Big Splash?). I’m super proud to say that because for 28 weeks and counting we have worked so hard together to learn how to be champion swimmers. 2032 Olympics, here we come! We adore Water Babies and I highly recommend the classes. Here’s why:
- It’s fun – 30 min full of fun splashy games, songs and safety drills
- It’s nearby – classes are held in tons of pools available in Dublin, we tried out the Harold’s Cross Hospice pool and the new Swan Leisure Centre in Rathmines
- It’s great for building your confidence with your baby and for teaching the baby swimming skills before he learns to be afraid.
- It follows four 10-week terms (Beginning, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Advanced) so you really feel like you’re accomplishing something!
We started the course in November at 3 months old. I’ll be honest, the first 10 weeks he cried the entire class. He loved the water, but our class fell between nap and lunch time so he’d get cranky. We pushed through it and on the start of Intermediate 1 class, something changed in Nate and he giggled through the entire class and never looked back. Although the class was difficult for us in the beginning, it was really good for me to learn how to respond to Nate when he gets upset in public (smiling and bouncing in the water distracts like a charm), how to move and play with him without fearing I’d break him and of course how to swim with him with confidence.
Nate was under 12lbs when we started and at the time I didn’t know if there was a problem with his low weight or not (there’s not by the way) and it was refreshing to see him excell in something that his peers weren’t. He might be slow to roll over, sit up and crawl but Nate has been swimming underwater by himself since he was 4 months. And he loves it. He could be sick, lethargic and fussy all week but get that boy in the pool and he comes alive!
As the classes progress, they become much more fun and include skills that I would never have learned on my own. The goal of the programme is to teach your child to swim while they have a natural instinct for the water and before they learn to be fearful. Nate will never need floaties because once he has the muscle strength, he’ll be ready to swim unaided. We’re also learning safety skills like how to hold on to the pool wall and how to climb out of a pool. I grew up swimming and believe its an essential skill, especially living here on an island.
Now, I have to set the record straight on something. I hear a lot of people complaining about how Water Babies charge you for the next course without your consent. This is totally NOT true. Water Babies tells you up front that they will keep your credit card on file to automatically register you for the next term so that the rebooking is seamless. There’s a huge waiting list, so logistically it makes sense for the system to work this way. Otherwise, you could loose your spot. They send you several texts and emails weeks in advance letting you know that you’ll be charged for the next term, unless you call to cancel. Everything is very transparent, and for people who wish to follow the four-course series, very easy. I’ve found their customer service amazing.
You also have an opportunity to do an underwater photo shoot. We waited until Nate was comfortable in the water during Intermediate 1. It was pretty expensive, but as you can see, totally worth it. I love our Water Babies days and love the unique and special time we spend together in the pool. I know I’m a much better mommy because of it!
Got any fun plans this weekend? Nope? Well, if you’re in Dublin we’ve got you sorted!
Saturday: Pack up the family and take them to Airfield. Dad can herd the kids around the farmyard while you shop for amazing designer goods at a discount price, all in the name of charity. Yep, that’s right. Shopping on the farm never looked this good!
Sunday: Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic! It’s Teddy Bear Picnic time in Blackrock Park. Bring your tired old bear for a bit of repair and while your at it bring the family along too! There will be lots of fun for the kids and with any luck a bit of fun too.
The picnic begins at 1pm. It is free, but you must bring a bear to get in. It’s their picnic after all.
Looking for more family friendly fun? Check out our Go Baby page for a calendar of events perfect for the fam. I’m still working on building the calendar, so let me know if there’s an event that should be added!
On the bank holiday, Chris and I took Nate to the zoo for the first time. Our little explorer loved it and was very impressed by the animals and other children. We visited Dublin Zoo before Nate (as well as many other zoos around the world), but visiting as a parent put the park into a new persepective. I was so impressed by the facilities and the extremely family friendly nature of the zoo. Obviously families are welcome at zoos, but here I felt they were celebrated.
We got there early (by 10am) and walked straight in without queuing. Just to be safe, we prebooked tickets online. Once purchased, you have 45 days to use your pass, which is amazing as we all know that plans can change on a dime with little ones underfoot. Upon arrival we went straight to the Meerkat restaurant to feed Nate and get some coffee. The restaurant is huge and definitely the best spot in the park. It’s to the far right of the entrance and seems to get less crowded than the African area cafe. There’s a nice range of food with healthy snack options at reasonable prices and tons of high chairs. You can also watch the meerkats play during your lunch or maybe get a unexpected visit from a peacock.
Nate’s favourite animals were the baby goats in the petting zoo. I thought he was going to explode from a cute overload. They were pretty fuzzy and pretty amazing, but personally I preferred the sleeping piglets. There are lots of babies in the park — elephants, gorillas, hippos; giraffes. It’s nice to see so much new growth, the animals are obviously very happy. So are the kiddos with tons of animal themed playgrounds, humorous signage and (of course) awesome animals! We’ll be going back soon and will be asking Santa for an annual membership!
A few weeks ago we took Nate to Airfield Farm, a wonderful gem in the middle of Dublin. Unfortunately it started pouring rain and Nate was getting sick with a cold, so we had to cut the trip short. We did get to see a calf, a pregnant mini horse and eat some ah-maz-ing cakes by the outstanding Louise Lennox. If you haven’t been to Airfield, you absolutely have to go. It is a great day out for kids of all ages and a wonderful way to get some country into these cityslicker babies.
On Sustainable Saturdays there’s a great vintage and craft market. There’s also a book exchange, so be sure to pack along a few of your old books and you could take home a pressie for yourself.
Chris and I strapped Nate into the trusty Baby Bjorn and visited the Peas & Pods Market in Dublin’s Co-op. The last time we went to the market he was only a few weeks old. It was fantastic taking him out now, almost 7 months old and flashing that great smile at all the vendors. Such a flirt! Because he was so damn cute, Nate got to take home a bright green, knitted T-Rex (€12.50).
The market was pretty busy, so I’d definitely recommend taking your baby in a sling. There were a lot of interesting stalls with eco-friendly baby products, baby clothes, booties, wooden toys, stick horses and more. Plus there’s yummy food and activities for the bigger kids. I can’t wait for Nate to get his face painted for the first time!
Isn’t Nate the cutest little thing? I just love his cheeky smile.