Friday, October 24, 2014

Is Zoella A Positive Role Model?


A couple of days ago I was involved in a really interesting conversation on Twitter, following the recent article on Zoella in The Independent. This article questions whether this Youtube sensation is a suitable role model for children, given that she talks about beauty and make up, and therefore the benefits of altering our appearances. A few of us shared our thoughts on whether a young girl who is now a Youtube phenomenon should be using her platform to encourage young girls to celebrate their natural beauty rather than her usual beauty videos.

The first thought which came to my mind was that the article in question only served to demonstrate once more one woman attacking another. We hear over and over again how women as a whole should support each other and yet so often I read pieces like this which demonstrate the opposite. Quotes like 'her eyes are enormous' and 'she looks like a startled bird' begin the article with as little integrity as the writer claims Zoella's videos to have, and throughout the article she claims Zoe is 'sickly sweet', 'flippant' and exacerbates her followers' body image issues. She also suggests the Youtuber should do away with her beauty tutorials and use her 'soapbox' to speak out about feminism.


During our conversation there were arguments for both sides:





Whilst some felt that the Youtuber should be using her platform to discuss other subjects and make a difference, others felt that she has the right to talk about what wants.

As a blogger I am aware that I have put myself out there for the world to see and judge me. In the same way that Zoella has shared her videos with her audience, I too share my thoughts, feelings and life with anyone who comes across my posts. However I am fiercely defensive of my right to do so - this is my space and I can write what I want within it; if readers aren't happy about that they can choose not to read. Therefore why should Zoella talk about anything else than she wants to and has always done? If her claim to fame are her beauty videos, tutorials and purchases wouldn't it be hypocritical of her to suddenly turn around, stop talking about them and start telling young girls not to listen to her previous videos which got her where she was?

It also saddens me to see a young girl, who has struggled confidence and self-worth and yet has overcome this and become a huge success, criticised for doing so. Whether you like her videos and their content or not, there is no doubting that Zoella has gone from sitting in her bedroom talking to a camera to winning awards, attending film premieres and having her own beauty line.  Isn't that inspirational in itself? And isn't that determination and ambition something we want our daughters to aspire to?

Zoe also works considerably with Mind and has shared her own story about her battles with anxiety. So she is also doing her part for issues that are personal to her. Who are we to state what she should and shouldn't discuss? Yes she now has a huge platform with which to speak from, but it is her choice to share what she wants.

In my mind we should support these young girls who are building a business from their own initiative and hard work, by doing something they love. Whether it is a topic we enjoy ourselves or not, there is no doubting Zoella's success is remarkable. And at least she has done it with integrity.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why America Will Always Hold A Piece Of Our Hearts


Growing up my parents took my sister and I abroad every year, since we were born. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world - America, Australia, Singapore and even Pakistan are just some of the countries I have visited. Back then it was just the norm for us to fly overseas every year, sometimes twice a year, and my sister and I really thought nothing of it, in fact learnt to expect it. Most years we stayed in a private villa with its own pool in Spain and the big trips would be over Easter, flying long distance for many hours to stunning destinations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Meet The Midwife With Cussons



Last week myself and a few bloggers enjoyed a lovely afternoon at PZ Cussons HQ. It was a special day for the brand and one special lady in particular, Kerry Evans, who is their chosen midwife to receive the financial support of £60,000 to enable her to undertake a PhD, starting this month. Working with the Royal College of Midwives and Wellbeing of Women, the sponsorship is the first of its kind to enable research for a PhD whilst allowing the midwife to continue working in the field.


Monday, October 20, 2014

My Holiday With Mark Warner


Last month I was lucky enough to visit Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes with Mark Warner. I wrote up all about our trip not long after I returned home, however after a few weeks of reflection and the post-holiday glow well and truly dampened by the English autumn, I wanted to write up my thoughts on the resort and what you can expect from your stay.

The Hotel

Photo courtesy of Carissa
We arrived late at night after an eight hour trip via Athens. We were greeted by several members of staff and taken into the restaurant where they had opened up the buffet for us. This was such a welcome sight as we were all hungry and thirsty from our travels.


The next morning gave us chance to see the hotel in the daylight and from opening up the curtains to see the adult pool right outside my door, I was thrilled. The main building of the hotel is set back from the beach and as you walk through the resort from the activity pool past the adult pool and finally to the beachfront pool, you can walk right onto the hotel's beach within about ten minutes. All of the pools were crystal blue and spotless and there were plenty of sunbeds to go around. It was out of season when we visited but we were assured that even in high season there are still enough sunbeds to prevent the need for early morning towel claiming.


Throughout the resort you can see how well it is cared for. It is a relatively new resort to Mark Warner and some of the grounds are still growing in, but everything was fresh and well-kept and there were flowers all over the place.

Childcare


One of the most impressive features of the resort, and something which they pride themselves on, is the childcare on offer. They cater for babies from six weeks old to teenagers and have a whole host of activities for all age ranges. We were shown around the childcare centre and I was really impressed with what was provided. They had as much, if not more, than at my children's' nursery and everything was really clean and like new.


The staff all have to be fully qualified to British standards (to full NVQ  or CACHE level) and to see them with the children without the resort you could tell they were in safe hands. One of our group had brought her one year old with her and although she wasn't sure whether or not she would leave him, he settled pretty well and she was thrilled to enjoy a few child-free hours, safe in the knowledge he was happy and well looked after.



Over the course of our stay, we saw the kids clubs around the resort and it was lovely to see groups of toddlers enjoying sailing in the pool, all wrapped up in life jackets and sun hats and having a whale of a time, and the babies enjoying playing in the sand on the beach or having a dip in the baby pool.

As well as offering childcare over the course of the day, they also have an evening slot from 7.30pm until 11pm, where children can watch a film in the centre, tucked up in their own sleeping bag, whilst mum and dad enjoy a meal in peace and quiet. I think this is a fantastic service as it can be hard as parents on holiday to find time for yourself and really get a rest, so childcare as a parent is crucial, and to be able to actually enjoying a couple of hours together on an evening really adds that extra touch.

Food

There are several places you can eat within the resort. The main restaurant provides buffet-style breakfast and dinner and it is here you will be for your half board and full board meals. Next to the main pool there is a Greek snack bar where you can expect sandwiches, pizza and salads. Further down the resort near the adult pool there is a Pan Asian restaurant which I can highly recommend, the food there was delicious and everyone in my group commented how tasty their meals were.


The main restaurant, Almalthia, has a huge range of food. Each morning we could choose from fresh fruit, omelettes made to order, cooked breakfast, cereal, pastries and yoghurts and the hugely popular fresh crepes and waffles served with syrup, sauce or ice cream, which I can say were absolutely yummy!

The evening meals varied each night we were there, which lots of choice for everyone. One night there was a fish and seafood theme, another it was Italian. We had different requirements within our group including a blogger who was vegetarian and one who was gluten-free and both were well catered for.

Accommodation


I stayed in a family room, which all on my lonesome seemed absolutely huge, but it would be perfect for families. There are two rooms, divided by sliding doors, so once your little ones are asleep you can shut the doors and sit on the terrace enjoying a drink or two. There was also bags and bags of storage space so definitely no need to worry about having room for all those baby things! The king size bed was lovely and comfy and I slept like a baby!


The bathroom was lovely with a shower and a bath, which was a great size and may even fit Mr H's size 12's! There were his and hers sinks and lots of lovely toiletries on offer if you forgot your own. Beach towels were also provided so you don't need to worry about squeezing those into your case.


Activities


We were treated to whatever water sports we wanted to try whilst we were at Levante. Myself and another blogger gave windsurfing a try (great fun, but be prepared for a workout!) and other bloggers did sailing, paddle-boarding and kayaking. Each activity is led by a qualified instructor and there are speedboats on the water all the time watching over you and staff ready to jump in if you need a hand. Some of the activities are extra, such as water skiing and the inflatable sofa ride, but there are tons to do for those who are feeling active.


There are various organised activities such as yoga, water polo or aqua aerobics, which some of our group had a go at. There is a sunrise stretch which I was really keen to do, but unfortunately I just couldn't drag my bum out of bed in time!


The resort also offer on-land sports, such as social tennis and bike hire as well as hiking if you should desire. You can also hire cars from the desk in reception if you want to explore the area further, which I can highly recommend as Rhodes is a beautiful island.

Overall

Within the group of 12 of us, we all thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Levante Beach Resort, and on a personal note it was exactly what I needed after a tough few months. Despite wind surfing, visiting Lindos for several hours and not napping throughout the day, I came home feeling more rested than I have in months. If you are looking for a resort which will offer plenty of things to do, or not if you prefer, and will give you the chance to rest knowing your children are entertained and happy then I can highly recommend Mark Warner and this resort.

I am extremely grateful to Mark Warner for giving me the chance to go on this trip and to all the girls for making it so much fun.

For even more on our stay, you can watch my video of our trip:



*We were sent on this trip FOC as part of the Mark Warner Mum programme, however all opinions are my own.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Giveaway: The Ideal Home Show At Christmas


Earlier in the year my mum and I attended The Ideal Home Show at Event City in Manchester. We had never been before and weren't really sure what to expect but we ended up having a great day, helped greatly by a sighting of George Clarke!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Family Photo Shoot

Last week my lovely friend and photographer, Jemma Lambert, came all the way from Yorkshire to take some beautiful autumnal photos of us. If you have read my previous post you will know I was really looking forward to the shoot and had even been planning our outfits.

I love to have regular photos taken of the family as I love photos and I want to look back and see the children growing through each picture. The last family photo shoot we had was in February this year and taken by Amy Russell, who created some gorgeous images.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Who's The Boss?



As some of you may be aware I have worked with online baby boutique, The Essential One, many times over the last couple of years. They sponsored me for my first ever Britmums event and we have tried out many of their beautiful baby clothes when Little J arrived.


This week we have teamed up once more to offer one lucky reader the chance to win one of their super cute 'I'm The Boss' rompers.


As with all of The Essential One's clothing, this romper is made of 100% superfine cotton and extremely soft and comfortable on your baby's skin. It features an embroidered patch saying 'I'm the Boss' and is fully poppered including down each leg for easy nappy changing. The romper is made in lovely neutral tones so perfect for either sex or for those parents-to-be who are wanting to keep the gender a surprise.

If you want to win this gorgeous first outfit, available in either newborn or 0-3 months, you can enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pregnancy & Birth USA Vs UK: Antenatal


Some of you may be aware that Miss H was actually born in America and is technically an American citizen. We were living out there for Mr H's work, and it is there that I began blogging. I have been wanting to share my thoughts on my experience of having her out there compared to Little J's birth in the UK for a while now, and I have finally got around to getting these thoughts down.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Doc McStuffins Party

Last week we took part in our second party in the last few weeks, this time a Doc McStuffins one! My two both love this show and already H has several Doc figures and a dress-up outfit. We were thrilled to be invite to party and really grateful for the toys and goodies we received for the party.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Fisher Price Little People Skyway

My little man has been a car fan, pretty much as soon as he could move. Last Christmas the majority of his toys were on wheels and his collection is pretty vast now. I wasn't sure there was much else we could get him at this stage that would spark his interest, until we received the Fisher Price Little People Skyway to try.



Saturday, October 4, 2014

#What2Buy4Kids Twitter Party


I'm really excited to let you know about another Twitter party we will be taking part in, with a brand I have just recently come across and who I am so happy to support - What2Buy4Kids. Started five years ago, when the owner, Lisa, failed to find somewhere to buy special and unique birthday presents for kids. Using her experience as a primary school teacher, Lisa is able to select fun toys and games and also encourage development and learning.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Top Buys This Week

Last month I wrote a post on my top buys of the week, and thought I would share them again this month. As usual I have been hitting the high street - both virtually and in person - much to Mr H's concern.

Got To Love A T-Bar


When I saw these shoes on ASOS I absolutely fell in love. They are so cute and I've always wanted a pair of dolly shoes. I'm still trying to figure out what to wear them with without looking a complete idiot, but they are definitely a favourite.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Autumn Family Photoshoot


This week we are having a family photo session. Since the children were born we have tried to have relatively regular photoshoots as a family, as we both love photographs and it is important to us to capture those memories with the children as they grow.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Sofia The First Party

A few days ago we took part in a Sofia The First twitter party. Ran to celebrate the launch of the new Sofia The First Micro Sets, we had some of our friends over to help with the celebrations.

Within my friend group there are two sets of twins - one set are one year old and the other two years old. It's always fun when we get together and we are certainly outnumbered by children - between us there were three mummies and seven children under five! It was great fun though.

The twin mummies with one set of twins

Friday, September 26, 2014

Doc Mcstuffins Carry Along Clinic Review


For the past week we have been trying out the new Doc McStuffins Carry Along Clinic from Flair, so today I am sharing our thoughts on it.


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