All Posts By

Maria Longhi


Your child’s inner voice

It’s no secret that both of my pregnancies were tough on me. During both I suffered from complications that made my last few months a challenging time. I was tired from not being able to sleep, I was sick with bronchitis, and just generally feeling somewhat ill-tempered from carrying this really large tummy around. Add a husband’s stressful job and a demanding toddler to the mix and things got even more complicated. To top it off everyone in the family had been ill, and that included the two family Labradors!

Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed when things caught up with me and I would say to my husband “I can’t do this anymore.” It was a moment of weakness, we are all allowed them right, but sadly it was also heard by another pair of little ears, always listening, and seen by another pair of little eyes, always watching.

Amy had been sick with bronchitis too, she had been very ill for a number of weeks and it had been taking its toll on all of us. At the end of a very long day I was sitting by her at bedtime, and she wasn’t going to sleep. I grew impatient as my back ached and my stomach was uncomfortable perched on her bed. She sensed my impatience and started to cry. To my absolute horror she then sobbed “I can’t do this anymore.”

Not only had she been listening, she had also understood the depth of my exhaustion and despondence at how hard life had been for us. When I heard her say those words and mirror my desperation my heart broke and my breath caught in my throat. It was my job to protect her from the harsh realities of life, to keep her safe from sadness, and instead I’d given her an up close glimpse right into it. It seemed like a failure, and the only thing I could think of to do was draw her close into a tight hug and say I love you.

So let this serve as a reminder that our children are always watching and listening, no matter their age. Let’s be aware to make their inner voice one of positivity to protect them for as long as we can.


Take time to smell the flowers

Like most children at age three, my daughter Amy is an inquisitive soul, and loves to ask me questions. She is always wanting to know what day of the week it is, what the weather is predicted to do, what month it is, and what season we’re currently in. All these questions keep me on my toes, and I have to make sure I’m always up to date to keep little madam informed.

We have a ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ bush next to our garage, and for the past few weeks Amy has been watching this bush with a keen interest. During the Winter months it hasn’t had flowers, and she has been monitoring it daily to check whether it’s still in fact Winter. But, as you know, Spring is in the air and the bush has been hard at work producing its first batch of flowers to present to the world. Just last week she came home from school, and when she climbed out of the car she spotted a few flowers on the bush.

Her excitement was so pure and real, that I couldn’t help but to be infected by it too. “Mom, Mom, is it Spring?” she asked, “the bush has flowers on it.” Once I confirmed that it was in fact almost Spring she started her happy dance along with a loud chorus of “yah, yah,yah!” She then asked if she could smell the flowers, to which I replied “of course.”

It served as a reminder to me to enjoy the little things in life, and, yes, to slow down and smell the flowers once in a while. The passion with which this little girl begs for more bedtime stories, hugs her baby brother, checks for post, dances to her music, negotiates for more treats for her dogs, and fiercely loves her friends and family inspires me on a daily basis. The other day we went to the shops and she said to me “let’s skip Mom.” And skip we did, which left me a little out of breath, but we both had big smiles on our faces and we were giggling together like, well, like little girls!

Today is a special day, it’s Spring Day! A day to celebrate with your children and always remember to be inspired by them, and to stop and smell the flowers.


Barbie Estate: Beach picnic outdoor furniture

You may have spotted the Barbie Estate range in stores, it includes a wonderful story house, fun moped, as well as great indoor and outdoor furniture sets to bring even more excitement to your little girl’s Barbie play time.

I love that the range encourages our children to role-play, and I’ve seen how Jenny can spend hours enjoying setting up her dolls’ zone and then using the accessories to create imaginative stories. Those lucky Barbie friends get to go on holiday a lot with her!

Now Barbie can even go to the beach with the cool beach picnic outdoor furniture set. The set includes an umbrella beach chair, cooler box and beach towel, and what would a trip to the beach be without fun sunglasses, suntan cream, and a drink with a straw. You’ll also receive a cute puppy in the set, and she’s very happy to sit in the shade and share your day out.

Barbie’s drink and suntan cream can slot nicely into the top of the cooler box or the chair, or she can even hold them in her hand. Jenny loves that the cooler box can open, and she stores all sorts of goodies inside for Barbie. The sunglasses fit nicely onto Barbie’s head to help her keep her cool. All the furniture and accessories are brightly coloured and will have you counting down the days to summer! Barbie sits nicely in the chair, but it will topple over without her in it.

I had to smile when I saw Jenny arrange this outdoor furniture set for the first time. Barbie was placed in the chair, with the puppy on her lap. The cooler box was within reach with the drink on hand, and the towel was laid under the chair. It was Barbie’s perfect day at the beach.

The Barbie Estate: Beach picnic outdoor furniture is available for a recommended retail price of R199 from toy stores and online retailers.

Last word from Jenny: “I like to play with the doggie sitting on her lap because it’s so sweet. I love the cooler box because it has drinks. It’s fun because we can pretend with Barbie.”


In the trenches

Chances are that if you’re a mom or a dad you’ve been in the trenches before.

It may have been when illness popped into your house for a visit, but then seemed to put in an application for permanent residence. You know the kind, it circles around to make sure that it introduces itself to everyone in your house, until one day you wake up from the cycle of re-infection and realise it’s been few weeks of being quite miserable and housebound.

It feels as if you’re emerging from a cocoon, the scales fall off your eyes, the sun feels warm on your skin, and you feel happy again. Not just the kind of happy that your kid’s nose has stopped running, or that your other kid has their appetite back again either…the real kind of happy. The kind of happy that makes you want to go and smash a piece of cake into your face, or high-five a stranger to say you survived.

But only one will know, only one will truly understand what you have endured and what you have survived. And that will be your partner in the trenches, for me it’s my husband. The person who stayed up all night with you to monitor your child’s fever, who helped you to battle the onslaught of vomit attacks with bowls and towels, waited with you at night for your child to be seen at the emergency room at the hospital, travelled far and wide to find a chemist open after-hours, held down crying children to administer medicine, reassured them together that it would help them feel better, slept perched on the edge of your daughter’s bed to help her sleep, fell out of said bed, debated whether you were doing the right thing, and then debated it some more.

In the trenches of this parenting war together. Fighting bravely against tantrums for triangle toast, meltdowns for brushing knotty hair, misunderstandings about new favourite foods, and outfit malfunctions.  Fighting for patience over shoes and socks, vegetables being tasty, sharing with siblings, stronger immune systems, a lower volume level.  The small things, and the big things, all rolled up into one. This is life in the trenches.

Thanks partner, I got your back.


On grief and sadness, and having that talk

From the moment my children entered this world there has been nothing more important to me as a mother than to keep them safe. That saying from Elizabeth Stone that says “making the decision to have a baby is momentous, it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body” is so very true and resonates with me daily. In the world we live in today there are so many dangers and you really have to just trust your faith to keep your children safe.

I’ve tried to keep my children protected from the concept of death, believing it best to not expose them to the harsh realities of the frailty of life until it was necessary to do so. We have been fortunate as a family not to suffer any direct losses within our close circle, and so I haven’t had to shatter my daughter’s innocence about the insect being ‘asleep.’ I still remember the day I overheard my mom telling Amy that an insect had died, I was shocked to hear her say this to my little girl, but realized my protection could only last for so long.

This past weekend the gentleman who tends to the gardens at Amy’s school passed away unexpectedly. He was someone that Amy knew, who she spoke of as being a kind man who helped the kids at the school, specifically after he was highlighted at Helper’s Day recently.  Tomorrow the whole school will gather to plant a tree in his memory and say a prayer to remember him and his family. The school has encouraged us to talk to our children beforehand if we choose to.

It’s been weighing heavy on my heart since I heard the sad news. He was a friendly soul who I often encountered while collecting art for Amy in the afternoons. He was a part of our children’s lives, and now he is gone, and I’m left wondering if I should discuss the concept of death with her. She seems so small still at the age of three, and my instinct is to protect her. But I also don’t want her caught off guard tomorrow at the ceremony, confused and without her mom there to wrap her so tight in a safe hug.

Tonight, my heart is sore. The world is a tough place and we can’t protect our children from grief and sadness forever, even though we want to. Have you had a discussion about death with your children?


Busy Nativity

Busy Nativity is a wonderful first story of Christmas for toddlers to enjoy. This board book features push, pull and slide mechanisms for little ones to help bring the story of the first Christmas to life.

The cover features the stable scene with baby Jesus in the manger, and children will be able to slide the tab to bring the Three Wise Men into the picture. The story is presented simply, in a way that kiddies will be able to understand it. Each page features different tabs to be pushed, pulled and slid to show Mary and Joseph traveling on the donkey to Bethlehem, the animals in the stable, and they will even be able to rock baby Jesus in the manger!

The book is filled with beautifully colored pictures which help to tell the story of Christmas, and accompany the rhyming text. Each page also poses a question to help little ones practise their knowledge of animals and counting.

Busy Nativity is available now. It would make a wonderful present for any little one this Christmas time to teach them about the real reason for the season.


Leaning into love

Have you ever felt so much love that it’s almost too much? The kind of sit close, preferably on your lap all day, but if not that then have to be at least touching, kind of love?

To be loved so much can be all consuming, to be honest it can also become a little claustrophobic at times. By the end of the day I feel like isolating myself for just a few minutes so that I won’t have a child sitting on me, wanting to be held, or leaning into me. When I’ve pointed out to my daughter that she doesn’t have to actually sit on me all the time, she’s simply said ‘but I love you mom’ in reply. To her mind loving someone and being in close proximity doesn’t make sense, you must be touching!

When I do manage to sneak away for a few moments when husband gets home from work it won’t be long before the bedroom door will open and her smiling face will pop around and her question to me is always ‘what you doing mom?’ Quite hard to be honest and say ‘hiding from too much love.’ And so as she climbs onto the bed and snuggles into my lap I take pause to once again marvel at how much this little girl truly loves me. May I always live up to her expectations and prove to be deserving of her unflinching and deep affection for her mom. It makes me want to be the best mom I can be, so that she will always think of me so highly as she does now.

And when at bedtime the house breathes a sigh of relief as the two children finally drift off to sleep in their beds, this mom settles on the couch to enjoy a hot cup of tea. It’s then that the two Labradors come with wagging tails towards me for their special one on one time too. I guess it’s true what they say, a mom’s job is never done….climb onto my lap for a quick snuggle you two fur babies!


Sad dad moment

My husband was pretty upset yesterday morning when on the way to school my daughter told him that all he ever does is moan at her. He messaged me once he had dropped her to say he’d had this ‘sad dad moment.’

Anyone with kids will know what a rush it is getting them out of the house in the morning and to school on time. Good intentions, planning, it all goes out the window when little people are involved!

You didn’t choose their favourite breakfast cereal, shoes can’t be found, toothbrushes are wielded as swords, the postbox must be checked, dogs hugged, instructions given to take care of the little mister because he will miss her while she’s at school, another round of high-fives, forgotten library book bags, recycling day, and yet another round of hugs for everyone. It’s a logistical nightmare, and as a result I will admit there is a fair share of moaning in the mornings.

Yesterday afternoon I set out the clothes for the morning, and I packed the school bag with her ballet gear for today too. Now if only I could find that missing shoe we may just be on track for less moaning and a more timely departure!

Do you have any tips or tricks that help your family get ready in the morning?


Emirates makes flying with kids fun!

Before I had children I was lucky enough to do quite a bit of international travel (sadly I’ve been grounded since then). Many of those flights were on Emirates, and I always had a good experience with their planes, food, and friendly staff. Exploring the Dubai airport was also a highlight of course!

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to travel overseas with my kids, despite my three-year-old daughter being desperate to go on an airplane. We often read books about planes and chat about what she would do on such a long flight. To this day she doesn’t believe me that there are no beds on a plane!

If I did have to choose an airline to travel with my kids, it would be Emirates. Even before our family was invited to attend a media briefing and special screening of The Jungle Bunch movie with Emirates, I had seen them in action with families on my trips before. I knew that Emirates offers pre-boarding when traveling with kids (and now that I have kids I realize just how great this must be) and the free use of strollers at the Dubai International Airport (essential for tired little legs and parents who have hardly slept to help them navigate through to their next flight). I had also seen all those happy kiddies being handed little packs when they’re settling on the flight to help keep them entertained (and I now realize just how handy these are).

Fouad Caunhye, Emirates Regional Manager, Southern Africa, was just one of the friendly faces that greeted us at the press event. Can you believe that Emirates won the World’s Best Inflight Entertainment System award for the 13th year in a row? If you have little ones you’ll know that distraction is key, and so having an amazing 2500 channels of on-demand entertainment with 90 exclusively dedicated to kids is quite a drawcard.

Flying to over 80 different countries straight out of Durban is a big deal, cutting down on significant travel hours when you’re traveling with children. If you’re a parent you will know that food is the next important distraction. There is a special menu available on Emirates for kids between two and 12 (even served on a colorful tray), and a snack box of treats to help pass the time too. Onboard baby meals are also available so even the smallest passengers are taken care of.

Each child flying will also receive a Fly With Me Animal toy. Amy was gifted with a fluffy Travel Buddy Eagle called Eric who can clip onto her bag, as well as a matching Carry Buddy Eagle who has a soft little blue blanket inside to cuddle.  Young adults can look forward to a  Lonely Planet inspired kid’s pack which includes a travel journal, a magazine with puzzles and activities as well as a coloring book and eye mask.

I’ve experienced Emirates hospitality first hand, and always enjoyed hearing how many different countries were represented on each flight with the cabin crew. It truly is an international crew with 135 nationalities represented and over 60 different languages spoken.

Have you traveled with your kiddies before? What have your experiences been? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share with us?


Bittersweet moments

I’ve been doing this parenting gig for close on four years now, and the one thing that I’ve discovered is that being a mom is filled with bittersweet moments for me. Spending each day with your children is an amazing gift, and not a day goes by that I don’t notice the little changes in them. They seem to grow before your very eyes, not only in length and breadth (do they ever stop snacking?!), but in their capabilities too.

Ethan is still small and for him the achievements are smaller, but no less important. I remember celebrating when he could roll over, sit up by himself, clap his hands, and wave. Small things to most, but all big deals to us, his family. It’s been incredible to watch him grow and learn, and to share in the excitement with his biggest fan and encourager, his sister Amy.

And yet with each new thing learned I feel I’ve lost another small piece of him being my little baby boy. I rejoice at his development and at the same time I mourn at how quickly this stage passes us by. I remember shedding tears when his first tooth peeked through, sad to say goodbye to that brilliant gummy smile. I know of course that it will continue to light up my life for years to come, but can’t help feel a bit sad too. Another heart-stopping moment when he turned around to climb down the stairs backwards, pride at him having learnt this but also yet another reminder of how fast this is all happening. His learning to walk was a big milestone, at first his steps were wobbly and slow, but it wasn’t long before those steps became less unsure and more steady, and now he’s already trying to run!

As they grow, learn and become more independent, life does become that much easier. And yet why does my heart wrench at this new freedom, at those words from my daughter “it’s ok Mom, I can do it by myself.” The days may be long, oh so very long, but it’s true that the years are very, very short. And as he wraps his little arms tight around my neck, and she folds her hand into mine, I hold onto them tightly. So tightly. Perhaps if I don’t let go time will slow down just a little and they will stay small for me just a little longer.