Sunday 28 December 2014

Silent Sunday: Christmas Day at the Seaside

On Christmas day!


Saturday 27 December 2014

Our Christmas was....

Getting dressed up and opening presents in the morning. Toddler wore his Santa & snowman outfit. Here he is playing with his new lego - absolutely loves it!

Admiring Christmas trees and decorations :)

Going on a lovely Christmas day walk to the seaside. So many people were out and we even saw a swimmer in the sea without his wetsuit (crazy)! Toddler always loves the sea, although he tries to walk in it these days!

Eating a huge Christmas dinner and lots of delicious food including this cute Christmas cake.

Thinking about the people living in real little town of Bethlehem in the Palestinian West Bank who struggle every day because they're living under occupation.

And finally ... playing with all of toddler's new toys, reading his new books to him, speaking with family & friends, watching Christmas films and even having some time to relax. A very chilled out Christmas (with a couple of toddler tantrums thrown in) :)

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. How did you spend your day? 

You Baby Me Mummy

Monday 22 December 2014

Burning the Clocks

Yesterday we went to ‘Burning the Clocks’ for the first time with toddler. It’s an annual parade that takes place in Brighton to mark the Winter Solstice. The procession included people carrying white lanterns, dancers and musicians, some in costumes, making the streets come alive. It was cold and windy but thousands of people had come to watch, us included. It was an amazing sight and well worth it. Even toddler was dancing along to the drummers from his pushchair. 

The parade went through the centre of town, along the seafront, pass the pier and the wheel and then congregated by the sea for the actual burning of the huge clock lantern and the finale - fireworks! Toddler didn’t enjoy this bit too much, understandably. We were pretty close and they were too loud for him. Luckily they didn’t last too long though. Next year we’ll miss out the fireworks but definitely go to the parade again. Thanks Brighton city :)

Please note: All photographs are my own. Please don't use without my permission.

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Thursday 18 December 2014

My Wish List: What I really want & need this Christmas

Christmas is such a special time of year. I see it as a time with loved ones, a time for parties (usually baby related these days), some time to relax and watch Christmas films, to eat good food and feel the christmas spirit with friends and family. Sometimes, I feel it’s easy to get wrapped up in buying presents (like the pun?!) instead of focusing on the things that truly matter. So here’s my Christmas list of things I really want and need.

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

1. Family time. This is what Christmas is all about isn’t it! This year, on Christmas day itself, it will be just the three of us and our first Christmas as a family in Brighton! It will also be toddler’s first Christmas where he’ll actually be aware that the day is somehow different and special. He was just 6 months last year but now at 18 months he’s aware of everything and is particularly good at noticing when something is different or unusual (he pointed to a small spot on my face the other day and frowned!) Sometimes, it can feel like we are living in the fast lane, so it will be nice to spend some quality time together, relaxing, going for walks, playing, dancing, eating, having fun and just enjoying the moment. 

2. Good health! This is one we often take for granted. Toddler has been sick for weeks now. It started with a bad cough then an ongoing cold combined with teething and then just a few nights ago vomiting! He was sick six times in the night poor little boy. The doctor says it’s just a bug and he seems more chirpy today so fingers crossed he’s on the mend. I know toddlers are sick a lot, all my mummy friends seem to be going through the same thing and it seems there are several things going around, it's that time of year. I’ve been exhausted and we’ve been stuck indoors for most of the time which isn’t much fun as we usually go out every day. Of course, there are children all over the world that are suffering far worst. It makes you realise how important good health is. So, it’s top of my wish list with family time. I wish for us all to be in good health over Christmas. 

3. Memorable fun & happy experiences. As toddler has been sick we had to cancel a few things recently. I’d like to show him a nativity scene explaining the story of Jesus. We’re still hoping to take him on his first trip to see Father Christmas. I want to show him more of the Christmas lights in Brighton and just do some fun and silly things with him like chasing him around the house :) 

4. Good food and drink. Need I say more? Any excuse to indulge. I breastfeed so can never drink too much but a glass of bubbly will be nice ;)

5. Rest & Sleep. Along with all this I need some sleep! I often feel like I’m in a constant state of sleep deprivation (anyone else?) so it would be lovely to truly relax over the festive period.

6. Presents for toddler. Our little cheeky monkey has loads of toys and more to come for Christmas. For this reason we haven’t bought him too much. I don't think you need to spend a fortune. There are amazing boutiques in Brighton but also some wonderful charity specialising in babies/children & you can get some amazing finds, occasionally brand new for a just a few pounds! You really don’t need to spend a bomb. At the moment thought he loves lego and I think he’ll like a lego zoo!


7. Presents for toddler (part 2) What he also needs are some cute winter jumpers as he’s outgrowing all his current ones. Here’s a couple I like from one of my favourite shops, John Lewis! :) 

8. Present for me. What do I need? Ok, I would love some more help with baby, and a cook, gardener, cleaner would all be nice but realistically what do I really need? I really need a new pair of pyjamas. And I really need a new pair of boots! Mine are literally falling apart! 

9. A Massage. Oooo, a massage would be lovely too. My back feels like it’s permanently in need of repair from carrying toddler around (especially when he’s sick). So, a relaxing massage would be ideal :)

10. Giving something back. I love giving presents just as much as I do receiving them these days, if not more. At this time of year though it's especially sad to think of all the people in the world who have very little, who struggle to survive every day. I have volunteered in the past and worked abroad for a charity which I continue to support. I would like to in some way help a bit closer to home. I don't know what exactly but I'll do a bit of research and see how I can contribute in 2015.

So, that's my wish list. What do you really need/want this Christmas?

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The List

Saturday 13 December 2014

A Winter's stroll along the promenade

It was gloriously sunny today so I headed to the seaside for a coastal walk along the promenade (in Brighton). Toddler was napping with his daddy so I took the opportunity to go for a quiet stroll, just me and my camera! Oh what a beautiful day it was. The sun was shining magnificently, the air was warm, the sea a gorgeous blue and the atmosphere was so calm. I passed walkers, couples, families, joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, a little boy who looked like mine, kids playing on the pebbles, ships sailing out to sea and seagulls flying ahead. It's been a hectic week so this is just what I needed. After the wind and rain storm a couple of nights ago it felt that I had landed somewhere else but nope, I’m still in the (mostly) sunny seaside town of Brighton :)

Do you have a favourite photo? What did you do today?
Please note: All photographs are my own. 


Monday 8 December 2014

My first PR event/blogger meet up (even as an anonymous blogger)!

The weekend before last I attended my first blogger PR event where I met bloggers in person for the first time! I’ve been blogging for nearly three months now and had previously written about whether to stay as an anonymous blogger or not. One of my reasons for not staying anonymous was because I wanted to meet some bloggers in real life. So when I got invited to an event arranged by Hillarys and the Joe Blogs Network I jumped at the chance! I met up with four other local bloggers before the event all of whom I’d either been ‘talking’ to on twitter/facebook or reading their wonderful blogs. They included Lauren from Belle du Brighton, Chelle from The Mumington Post, Clare at Little Pink Teacup and another anonymous blogger from Time Waits for no Mum

Sunday 7 December 2014

Silent Sunday: Advent Calendar


Monday 1 December 2014

Braun thermometer review & giveaway

I was recently asked to review the Braun’s new ThermoScan 7 Ear Thermometer with Age Precision IRT6520 and thought it would be useful for us. I have a toddler who is particularly wriggly at the moment and very fussy about anything being put on his face, including in his ears. When he is ill that fussiness can increase and something like taking a temperature can occasionally turn into a mini-meltdown. The Braun thermometer is incredibly quick and gives your a precise reading in seconds. After a week of testing it out my little boy became so familiar with it that he now actually likes it in his ear and hearing the little ‘beep’ when the reading has been recorded. 

What is interesting about this thermometer is that it has an age adjustable fever guidance system. I didn’t know, or maybe I did and have just forgotten, that the definition of fever changes with a child’s age so what is a normal temperature for a five year old, for example, can be classed as a high fever in a newborn. This thermometer can be set to three different aged settings; 0-3 months, 3-36 months and 36 months to adult. Therefore, this thermometer can be used by the whole family.

The best benefits for us are that the reading is taken in a matter of seconds, the little beeping sound is appealing to my toddler, the thermometer has a night light which is ideal if you want to take the reading in the dark and the reading gives a colour coded display depending on the level of the temperature. I wouldn’t usually spend this much money on a thermometer but actually think it’s really beneficial and I’d happily recommend this to any parent. 

For your chance to win your own Braun ThermoScan 7 Series Thermometer (IRT6520) worth £49.99 please enter your details below. Good luck! :) 

Please note: We were sent the Braun thermometer to review. All words and opinions are my own. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Giggles Family

Tuesday 25 November 2014

To blog anonymously……or not?

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

I’ve been blogging for just over two months now, yay! In this short space of time I have discovered so many wonderful and diverse blogs and connected with so many people through my blog and other social networking sites that it feels like I have been blogging for much longer!

Before I started blogging I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reveal my identify. I told very few people and use ‘Brighton Mama’ as my name. I set up an independent email address and social media profiles and chose not to reveal my real name. Starting out as an anonymous blogger has been pretty straightforward and I am surprised there are not more out there however as time has gone on I’ve started to question my reasons for anonymity. So why did I start blogging anonymously? Here are some of my reasons.

Reasons for blogging anonymously

1. No pressure. In certain situations I find that telling people around me that I’m doing something can create more pressure than it’s worth. I didn’t want people asking about blogging when I wasn’t sure about it myself and wanted to go with the flow without any added pressure. I didn’t have any plan so just wanted to see where writing would take me.

2. Free writing. I wanted to have the freedom to write about any topic I wanted without too many people I know reading it. I also didn’t want to be influenced to write about certain things or in a particular style. I just wanted to write how I write. I didn’t want my professional background blending in with my personal life. With being anonymous you can write about any topic without offending people close to you should you want to write about them or something they disagree with. I’ve mentioned before that I have written articles on various topics (some slightly controversial) and initially I didn’t wanted my previous work linked to my blog. 

3. Comfort zone. Writing anonymously means you do not have to go out of your comfort zone straight away. Having a blog means anyone in the world can see and read about your life and everything you get up to! If I think about that more it can actually feel quite daunting. So blogging anonymously allows me to stay in my comfort zone.

4. Privacy. In many ways I am quite a private person. I don’t mind expressing my thoughts and putting opinions out there but at the same time I’m quite guarded about my private life so am not entirely comfortable about showing photos or revealing personal details about myself. In some ways I would love to post a million photos of my little boy on here because he’s the cutest thing in the world. In another way though, I feel like I would like to keep our family private. 

5. Shyness. In ‘real life’ it takes me a while to get to know someone. I love meeting people but am not the type to reveal my life story on a first meeting, unless it involves stories about birth, baby poo, nappy rash etc. Haha, just kidding…..well nearly! So, I guess I was a little apprehensive about putting myself out there at first. 

Now that I've been blogging for a couple of months and have lots of ideas about posts I have an urge to reveal my identity. Now ironically or maybe not so ironically, the things that attracted me to blogging anonymously are actually hindering what I can write about. Here’s why:
Reasons for not blogging anonymously 
1. Writing about personal issues and interests. I’m not only a 'stay at home mum'. I’ve had so many different experiences in my life and would now like to share these on my blog. It would be difficult to write a post on one of those experiences without sharing personal information or photos for example. So for that reason revealing who I am makes sense.
2. Connecting with my career. In previous posts I’ve written about leaving my job and putting my professional life on hold to look after baby but haven’t gone into details about what my job was. This was a one of the reasons I started blogging anonymously but now I actually want to reveal more personal things and share my career and actually write articles connected to that.
3. Connecting with other bloggers/readers. I have chatted to so many readers and other bloggers online now and that interaction has been wonderful. There is a really strong community of bloggers. But because I don’t use my real name or have any photos of me anywhere I feel like I’m a bit of a fraud in some ways, hiding behind a rock when I don’t really have any reason to. Sometimes, I have had a comment from someone with the same name as me or even from the same town! I have wanted to say, ‘Oh, that’s my name!’ or ‘I was born there’ and of course I could do that but because I blog anonymously it wouldn’t make sense. I’d like people to know what I look like, to see a face behind the writing so they can perhaps relate to me better or just know I’m human! Signing off with ‘Brighton Mama’ in an email is getting a little tedious! 
4. Meeting with other bloggers in ‘real life’. I have chatted to other Brighton bloggers and joined some local facebook groups and it will only be a matter of time before I go to a meet up. Meeting bloggers in person really appeals to me. You can’t beat face to face contact. So, again, blogging anonymously goes out of the window. 
5. Networking/PR events. I’ve had contact with some brands/agencies and have been invited to a couple of PR events. I didn't go but am sure there will be other events that I would love to go to. This is one of the perks of blogging so if you blog anonymously I don’t know how you could get around this.
6. Telling people I know I’m blogging. I’ve told very few people that I blog (for the reasons mentioned above). Now though because I’m really excited about this blogging journey I want to share these things with people I know. So when someone asks what I’ve been doing apart from looking after baby I can actually tell them ‘I’ve been blogging!’
7. Blogging anonymously is restricting. Of course I can be whoever I want and write about whoever I want. But I haven’t tried to be someone else. I’ve just been me and want to continue being me but even more so! 
8. I don’t have a secret life. For me, there isn’t really a good reason to continue blogging anonymously. I can totally see why some people would choose to stay anonymous. If I were a spy or dishing out the secrets from inside the industry (think Belle du Jour) anonymous blogging would be the way to go. Alas, my life is not that exciting! 
9. The boundaries aren’t clear. I could tell everyone I know I am blogging and leave my online presence anonymous but not sure how that would work. If friends comment they might use my real name or reveal things about my identity. 
10. Keeping the reader interested. I am also wondering as a reader of a blog if you are more likely to be interested in it if you know the person behind it. I have come across various anonymous blogs and although I am just as interested in the writing I am more likely to remember the blogs with real names and personal photos.
These lists show that for me at least the reasons for ‘being me’ are stronger than remaining anonymous. Oh course the debate goes much wider than this. If you do reveal your identify how much other stuff do you reveal? Are you comfortable to share your life on your blog or are you a little more guarded about names and photos? 
So at some point I would like to say ‘this is me’ and include a photo of myself. At the same time it’s quite nice and comfortable blogging anonymously. So what do you think? I can’t sign off everything with ‘Brighton Mama’ forever ..……or can I?
Are you an anonymous blogger? Maybe you love sharing every aspect of you life on your blog? Do you relate more to a blogger if you know what they look like? Share you thoughts with me.

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Sunday 23 November 2014

Silent Sunday: The Pavilion behind the bushes

  TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Can you guess the location?

Thursday 20 November 2014

Getting back into reading fiction - an early New Year’s resolution!

I used to be quite a reader. I belonged to a book group and we’d read a book every month then meet over a drink to discuss it. Our group was pretty casual really. We’d meet in a pub or at someone's house and I’d enjoy hearing everyone’s opinion on the book, analysing the characters in more detail and reflecting on the storyline. Some of the time we had completely different views but I loved this part of the review process. A book can be interpreted in so many ways and what one person can think is an amazing piece of literature can be utter drivel for someone else! This made those chats stimulating and usually quite entertaining.

Books I've read on Goodreads

Then I had a baby…..! I was reading all through pregnancy (I probably knew I wouldn’t get much chance after baby was born) but have not read a single novel since giving birth. What I have read is a lot of baby books, newspapers, magazines, blog posts, articles and anything that I can generally read in a short pace of time usually before baby wakes from his nap. When baby was younger I found that in the evening I was too exhausted to do anything however, now he is 17 months and in a good bedtime routine I don’t have any more excuses left!

Here’s why I want to get back into reading:

1. Jade from Bits and Bobs has inspired me to start reading fiction again. Her blog includes interesting and personal book reviews and general reading posts. She is mummy to a lovely little boy and her blog contains a bit of everything. It’s quite refreshing to read something that is a little different to a lot of the parenting blogs out there.

2. I am a ‘stay at home mum’ and after a tough day where I want to pull my hair out submerging myself into a book will put me into another world.

3. I miss the routine of reading a book just before bedtime. It’s relaxing and will make sleep better.

4. Like watching a good film I want to immerse myself in a good book, get hooked on the storyline, be riveted by the characters and never want to put the book down. 

5. I am so over baby books and need some adult fiction back in my life!

6. Reading and finishing a book is a satisfying experience especially if it’s a good read and I’ve missed that feeling.

7. The time I spend browsing randomly on the internet can be better spent on reading fiction!  

8. There are many books that have been sitting on our bookshelves which I have been meaning to read. 

9. I have set up a Good Reads profile (widget also added in sidebar) and it’s a great place to list all of the books you’ve read, want to read and contains wonderful recommendations for future books which I'd like to read.

10. There is no time like the present!!!

So tonight I’m going to start reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This has been on our bookshelf for ever and I’ve been meaning to read it for years!

Would love to hear your suggestions/recommendations for future books! 

Have you had a break from reading? What books would you recommend?

Mums' Days

Friday 14 November 2014

Competition: WIN baby clothes from new ethical brand, Darlo!

I am delighted to be holding my first blog competition from the new and exciting ethical company, Darlo! The London based ethical baby wear brand is on a social mission to give back to the Indian community. With every purchase of their baby clothing, Darlo will provide a whole week’s worth of meals for a child in India. Yes, that’s right - a whole week of meals for one child!

When Chloe, founder of Darlo, asked me if I wanted to hold a competition I jumped at the chance. In the past few weeks I have actually been approached by other companies that offered products that I wouldn’t buy myself because I disagree with their ethical stance and wouldn’t want to promote for various reasons. Darlo, on the other hand, are an inspirational company and I am more than happy to spread their wonderful work.

The Darlo range is produced from Indian organic cotton and manufactured in Indian GOTS (global organic textile standard) accredited factories to further enhance their ethical credentials. The desire to give back to the community where the clothing is made was a key reason for Darlo supporting children in India. UNICEF also report that one in three of the world’s malnourished children live in India. Furthermore, Darlo have teamed up with the Indian charity Projects Crayons, based in Mumbai, who provide education, shelter, food, love and support for the children under their care. Darlo will aim to cover all food costs for the charity and eventually set up further projects to help children living in poor conditions.

Darlo founders Chloe & Jim with girls from Udann Ghar who are supported by the charity project Crayons

Having travelled to many poor countries myself, including India, witnessing how some families live is truly heartbreaking. So it’s great that Darlo is helping children in the Indian community that need it the most. At Darlo’s core is the belief that a little giving changes lives. The little difference here goes a long way to making a big difference there!

As my little boy is 17 months now he is too old for Darlo clothing (boohoo - I’m hoping they have an older range in the future) but I think their clothing range will make wonderful presents too and of course you’ll be helping children in India. Whether you’re pregnant, have a baby or have friends with babies please spread the word about Darlo!

Now for the competition! Darlo are generously giving away a cotton comfies gift pack. This includes a vest, joggers and a neckerchief bib all made from soft organic cotton. The winner will be able to choose the size: 0-3 months or 3-6 months, and the colour: grey & mint, grey & coral or mint & coral.

Just enter the draw below. Good luck! 

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