Wednesday, 29 June 2011

CyberMummy 2011 - My Take on the Conference!


So I made it! In the run up to CyberMummy 2011 I was in fear that I wouldn't make it there as by the 25th June I would only be 6 days off my due date but as is true for most of my male friends, boys are never early, so I needn't have worried. So I strutted my heavily pregnant stuff around the conference and had a thoroughly enjoyable day!

As you know I was sponsored to go to CyberMummy by Mamas and Papas with whom I've been doing a few reviews on the blog of their wonderful range of maternity clothing. They generously paid for my ticket to the conference and supplied me with a fabulous new outfit to wear on the day - I really did feel good that morning!

There were 3 other bloggers sponsored by Mamas & Papas and we were all part of a competition that they were running on the day whereby bloggers could take their picture with us and then tweet it to Mamas & Papas with the hastag #lovelife and be in with a chance to win £250 worth of store vouchers! The lovely Maria from Mixed up Mummy won this after having her picture taken with me!

How my day started
Myself and 3 other mummy bloggers (ChocOrangeCityMum, Superamazingmum, Mummymummymum) were lucky enough to be able to drive to the conference in one of the Hyundai sponsored cars. We had a Hyundai IX20 which made it a nice comfortable drive up to town, there was also a hamper included in the boot for us to use on the way up with some goodies (thank you!). We chatted all the way there about this and that and also about our expectations for the conference.



Here's a pic of us all before we set off to the conference (with my bemused daughter, who was busy eating her toast when we dragged her outside!)


We arrived a little late but luckily the speakers were running a bit behind, so we didn't miss Sarah Brown give her keynote speech. I was really taken by her, she seemed like such an approachable lady and a great mum. She said that people always commented that it was nice that she was so ordinary, she liked to think that they actually meant 'normal' rather than ordinary! She opened by telling us that she had come to the conference carrying a ginormous box containing a Robot birthday cake for her sons birthday the following day, after the conference she was off to the train with the huge box on her way back to Scotland. She told us how she ensured her children could lead private lives while her husbands role was so public. She now has a huge twitter following and is very proactive in using her online influence to help all kinds of causes.

After the speech, we had a break and it was time to go and look at all the different sponsors and brands that were there on the day. I made my way to the Crocs stand because I'd promised them a short vox pops piece. They had also organised some pedicures of which I had one at lunchtime and was given a fab free pair of Crocs flip flops - these were my salvation for the rest of the day - nice cushioning for my poor weighed down feet!


I chatted with the lovely people at Leapfrog, they were promoting all the fun, educational toys that they have on offer. They marvelled at my determination to make the conference at 39 weeks pregnant!

Boots gave out a fabulous goody bag and to my happiness it included a gorgeous Champneys Bubble Bath - I didn't hesitate to try this out on the Sunday night when I was still wiped out from spending Saturday on my feet!

Johnson & Johnson were also represented, giving out information about their latest campaign 'Wipe Out Waste' - see previous blog post on this - we can all help the environment by sending our wipes packets to be upcycled and transformed in to new products!

Those were a few of my highlights in terms of the sponsors.

Adjoining CyberMummy Central was The Recharge Room sponsored by P&G - This was a lounge created to allow us all a bit of chill out time from everything that was going on. It was brilliant, they had the Caroline Barnes, the Max Factor Make Up Artist on hand to give quick make overs and give make up tips, two top stylists on hand to revive our hair, a Smoothie bar so we could replenish our bodies with some energy, 2 masseurs to take away the strain on our shoulders from carrying all the goody bags (hahahaha!) and finally a team of experts from Pampers. All in all, it felt like all bases were covered, I for one had a great make over, a delicious smoothie and chatted to plenty of people in there.

I also took part in the photo shoot organised by Tara from Sticky Fingers and Jay from Mocha Beanie Mummy . They organised a collaboration with SnapFish to produce a CyberMummy calendar in which I will feature as a Mum-to-Be - I can confirm I did have the biggest bump there!

The Workshops
I'm not going to go into too much detail here, I will link to the bloggers who live blogged the sessions I attended. 

I was late to the 'Marketing Your Blog' workshop but the speakers were very good and the session can be followed here at WitWitWoo

Worth a mention is the presentation that Erica Douglas made in the 'Working with Brands' workshop - she was very inspiring and was also a key influence for me when setting up my blog as I followed her Mummy Blogger e-course. Session blogged by WitWitWoo

I also caught some of the 'How to be a Blogger Activist' session, it was really interesting to see how wide a reach blogging can have in terms of raising awareness of charity campaigns. Session blogged by Jamandclottedcream

I missed the afternoon session because by that time I was dead on my feet and took the time to get into the Recharge Room and give the bump a rest!

Crowd Sourced Keynote
At the end it was the turn of the bloggers to read out some selected posts. Most were enjoyable but I have to say my favourite one from More than Just a Mother was entitled "how does one dispose of a vibrator?" - really had me giggling, go on - read it!!

Other Highlights of my Day:
Meeting other mum bloggers I hadn't met in person, can't possibly mention them all but amongst them are @chocorange @helloitsgemma @iamubermummy

Saying hi to those I had met before, again I can't name them all: @superamazingmum @_MummyManda_ @northernmum1 @iamwitwitwoo

The day had to come to an end and so I said my goodbyes and on my way out to my awaiting carriage I picked up my Cybermummy Goodie bag - it was filled with fab things, including a cool Leapfrog Toy that Isla already loves and some bits and pieces that will be very useful for Baby Boy. I had a really good day and I'd do it again. I was however really happy to get back to my Other Half and find out how his day had gone with our gorgeous girl!

The conference has been covered by national newspapers, if you want to read their take on the Cyber Mummy phenomenon then read on here:

The Independent
The Guardian

Bump Watch...Week 39

I'm nearly there, come on baby boy, no tardiness please!

Monday, 27 June 2011

NIVEA 'A Million Moments of Closeness' Campaign



NIVEA is 100 years old this year and they've chosen to mark their birthday by celebrating closeness in 21st Century Britain. Closeness can be so heavily associated with Touch, one of the most under-rated of our 5 senses. It's so important to feel touch, be it a hug from a loved one, or a pet brushing up against you for attention or simply the touch of soft sheets as we get into bed at night. It's a sensation that can make us feel good, make us tingle! It's something that is essential for human life to prosper.



Since having a family of my own I've felt closer than ever to my partner and our parents and siblings. I love spending time with them all and the bond I have with my daughter is so strong and especially now I'm pregnant with our second child I want to hug and kiss her all the time. I'm close to my own sister and I want the same kind of relationship to develop between my daughter and our new arrival. She is in a great phase at the moment where she loves to kiss and cuddle up with us and also wants to hold hands with her little friends when they're together. This is the kind of closeness that I think we should all encourage especially in this day and age, as I feel that we're not always connecting face to face any more, we're more likely to text or email and as a society we could fragment.

The findings of Professor Beattie's report show just how important touch is – which is why
NIVEA commisioned Professor Geoff Beattie (you may know of him as the Psychologist from Big Brother) to reesearch 'Closeness' in 21st Century Britain and interestingly he found that our increased use of the internet to make and maintain friendships actually draws us together as a society and he says doesn't have a negative impact. Obviously though face to face contact is the best way to Feel Closer to someone and failing that 84% of people said that the telephone was the next best method of staying intimate with our nearest and dearest. If these findings have stirred yoru interest then you can read further at the NIVEA UK Facebook page.



 
NIVEA are encouraging closeness with our million moments of closeness campaign. Help NIVEA celebrate 21st century closeness by uploading photos of you sharing a cosy moment with a friend, colleague, sibling, partner, parent or child at facebook.com/niveauk, or look out for their road shows, throughout the UK, where you can jump into a photo booth and have your picture instantly uploaded. Whether you share your photos on Facebook or at the roadshow, you’re in with a chance to win - every day, a picture of the day will be selected by psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie, who’s studied closeness for NIVEA. The winner will receive one of 100 prizes worth £100.





 Sponsored Post

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Tommee Tippee Sangenic Wrap & Go - Nappy Wraps & Dispenser - Review


Tommee Tippee have just launched a new product to compliment their Sangenic Nappy Disposal Range. The Wrap & Go Dispenser and Refill wraps are designed to be used on the go, with the wraps locking in germs and odours, allowing you to store used nappies with confidence until you're in a place you can dispose of them.

NEW Sangenic®Wrap & Go nappy wraps are anti-bacterial, killing 99% of germs on contact and infused with a fresh citrus scent to combat odour. The Dispenser is niftily designed so that it will fit neatly inside your change bag or can be clipped on to your change bag straps or can hang from your buggy or car door.

And how did I find them?
I liked the dispenser - it was neat and clipped on to the inside clip of my change bag. It was easy to tear off a fresh wrap each time. I liked that the wraps were contained within the dispenser, as usually my nappy bags are loose in my change bag. Isla has a tendency to empty the bag and the way these wraps are contained she will find it harder to pull them out, therefore there's less worry about her safety.

Each new roll of wraps comes with a spindle through the middle that slots in easily to the dispenser.

I liked the smell of the wraps - it was stronger and more present than with other nappy bags - and this is good if you have to hang onto a used nappy for any reason - sometimes when we're out there aren't always places to put soiled nappies and for a quick change on the go, the smell of the wrap would overpower the contents for a short while at least! The real test will be when we have our new baby boy. As we all know that newborn soiled nappies have an aroma of their own!

And not that it's massively important that a nappy wrap looks nice - but these bags come in bright colours (pink, blue, green), which makes a change!

So as with all things Tommee Tippee, we liked this product! To me the Tommee Tippee name represents quality and a guarantee of a good product.

The NEW Sangenic®Wrap & Go dispenser is priced from £4.99 and includes 30 wraps (15 per roll) , Sangenic®Hygienic Happy Wrap Refills are also available priced from £4.99 and includes 3 refills (15 wraps per roll). The Sangenic® range is available from Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Boots, Argos, Mothercare, Babies R Us, and Kiddicare.com.

Find out more about the range or buy online at
www.tommeetippee.co.uk.

We were sent a wrap & Go Dispenser and pack of refills in order to write this review. The opinions stated above are my own.

Silent Sunday



Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Goodbye Family of 3... Hello Family of 4


In the last few weeks I've really been thinking about how our lives are going to change when we become a family of 4. For the past 2 years it's been Mummy, Daddy and Isla. I'm not going to pretend it's not tough when you're new parents and the early years are not all plain sailing, but we've nurtured this gorgeous girl and now approaching her 2nd birthday she is really blossoming into this wonderful, enchanting being. I look at her and feel enormous love for her and see her changing and growing, talking and learning and most of the time so happy. I watch her with wonderment as she says new words and makes up little games with her teddies (I'm not going to pretend that there aren't other times where I want to tear my hair out though, when she's running around naked ignoring me when it's bath time!).

I'm slightly anxious about her reaction to having a new baby in the house, she will have a little brother and I'm feeling this mixture of emotions that I didn't think I'd feel. I'm so excited about our family growing and having a new family member but I'm also slightly apprehensive as to how Isla is going to feel. I'm sure most mums feel like this in the run up to having another baby. I'm feeling a lot of guilt about how our time will have to be divided and that she won't be the centre of attention anymore. I know however that it can be great to have a sibling, and it will help with teaching the valuable lessons in life like sharing and being kind and gentle. She will be a big sister and I'm sure she will be great at it - eventually.

We've tried to prepare her for the baby and there's no getting away from the sight of my bump - and she's been told there is a baby in there, but I think she's definitely slightly too young to grasp the reality, and so it will hit when he arrives. We've bought her a present from the baby and we know that we need to tread carefully and give her lots of attention in the early days and make sure other people also don't make her feel pushed out. We're doing all the right things but it's still hard and until Baby Boy arrives I think I will continue to be anxious and lavish loads of love and attention on her in a bid to ease my conscience.

All that said, I'm really looking forward to the new adventure of having a boy in the house and in the way that Isla is definitely Daddy's girl, I will hopefully acquire a Mummy's boy.....

How have you found it when you're eldest is joined by a new sibling? I'd love to have your comments - be they positive or negative experiences!

Cybermummy Meet & Greet


As you know I'm attending this years Cybermummy Conference with help from my fantastic sponsor Mamas and Papas. Carly at Mummy's Shoes is hosting a meet and greet, so to help you spot me here's a few pointers, but let me remind you, you won't find it hard to pick me out in the crowd as I'll be 39 weeks preggers....Eeek (Baby Boy, please don't make an appearance until after the 25th...)! Check out my bump page to see how enormous I am!

Name: Sharon Donnelly

BlogI Heart Motherhood

Twitter ID@iheartmuthahood

Height: Tall Bird at 5ft 11.5 inches (I always say this as I'm afraid that if I measure myself properly I will actually be 6ft and I'm not comfortable with that!)

Hair: Just past shoulder length dark brown hair, currently with fringe

Eyes: One is green and one is hazel, you have to look very hard to notice - was more noticeable when I was little when my Dad kindly used to call me 'Oddy' - thanks Dad.

Likes: South of France, Owls, Pimms

Dislikes: Banging doors, small wheely suitcases, olives (no matter how hard I try to like them!)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Practical Parenting - I Was July's Bump Blogger!


This month I was pleased to be able to be featured as a bump blogger in 'Practical Parenting' Magazine. It was fun and easy to do and I was really pleased with the final article. The thing that never occured to me that would happen was recognition from being in the magazine. Not me either, my husband! He was at work and a customer said to him, you'll think this a weird question but have you been in a magazine? I found this so funny as on the day we took a picture of ourselves as a family we had to do it so quickly and I hadn't warned him what it was for and so he had a nice 5 day stubble growing and was mortified that I'd sent that picture!

If you have a copy of Practical Parenting then take a look, it's a good read!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bump Watch... Week 38

I can't get much bigger than this.....can I?!

Friday, 10 June 2011

I ♥ Franck & Fischer


I came across this gorgeous baby sleepsuit by Franck & Fischer and I felt I had to share it with you. After having a little girl and being told that it's not as fun buying for boys, I've looked around and I have to say that it is harder to get excited about boys baby clothes, because the girls stuff always looks far prettier, but there are some really cute things out there for boys if you look hard enough. 

Franck & Fischer also have some fab baby toys - and a few owl related items too and I love owls.....Check them out.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mind Your Own Business!

I started maternity leave this week and I'm wondering if I've become slightly sensitive to other people's comments, pointed questions and observations about how I do things with my daughter purely because I've shed the skin of being a 9 - 5 worker and walked back into the world of being a stay at home mum? Maybe I didn't have time to listen to things that people have to say, or I had bigger things to worry about than whether I was doing what everyone else does.

What am I referring to?

It seems that now my daughter is approaching 2 years she 'should' be potty training, or even totally dry by now! This is news to me, my feeling has always been that she will show me when she feels ready for it and in the meantime I will do things to gently prompt her in that direction. We've had a basic potty in our bathroom since she was 18 months, she knows it's purpose, quite often sits on it, asks for tissue and mimics wiping herself, but it is very much a piece of role play at the moment. I feel like this is good enough and I don't want to push her but when someone mentions it in such a way that you feel like you've failed at something it can get you down.

This isn't the only thing. Isla also uses a dummy, some days quite heavily. It isn't my favourite thing of hers and I admit to feeling fed up on occasion about her having it, but when I rationalise things, she will give it up eventually and in the mean time it would be nice if again people didn't make it their business to help her rid herself of it, because as far as I'm concerned they're only raising her own awareness of it and making her more stubborn about not taking it out. Also referring to it as 'dirty dummy' etc. It's not dirty, and neither is she. It's a habit and for some of the people who say these things, they actually smoke! A habit that is definitely damaging and definitely dirty (I don't hate smokers though - please don't make something of this comment)!

I don't mean to go on, but this is my outlet for letting off steam and for a whole evening this week I felt thoroughly miserable thinking that I wasn't doing things right. Perhaps I'm being over sensitive? I'm in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy and tiredness could be distorting how I see things, but one thing I do know is that Isla is a very happy little girl (as pointed out by my best friend) and surely that is all that matters and from the many responses to my moaning on twitter, it's fair to say that there aren't many 10 year olds that walk around with dummies in their mouths, wearing nappies (thanks Northern Mum!).

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Johnson's Baby Wipe Out Waste


Johnson & Johnson recently invited me to an event to launch their new Wipe Out Waste initiative. It involved a trip to the lovely Maggie & Rose Family members club, so I took Isla, as well as my mum to help get around London as I'm on the MASSIVE side now at 8 months pregnant!

As parents we'd all like to do our bit for the environment and some manage to do more than others. Bringing babies into the world brings with it more waste products to get rid of from nappies to extra food packaging etc. One of the things us mums use plenty of is wipes, we go through them by the truckload, for wiping dirty bottoms, to cleaning faces and hands after eating and I discovered they're not bad for removing make up occasionally! So to find out that these packets are actually recyclable was quite a surprise, but the catch is that no one up till now actually had the capability to recycle them, therefore no point in putting them in your council collection box! But, see I said up till now. J&J are now working in partnership with Terracycle to 'upcycle' the wipes packets. Upcycling is different to recycling in that they will turn the packets into new products, like bibs and mouse mats for example:


Just 6 packets of Johnson's Baby Wipes can make one of these baby bibs!
And not only do Terracycle make waste into new products they will also donate 2p to the charity of your choice for every pack you send them.
It's so easy to get involved:

- Go to www.wipeoutwaste.co.uk and register with Terracycle
- Enter the charity you would like Terracycle to credit
- You will get sent a pre-paid postage label to use to send off your empty packs of baby wipes

The initiative starts this month and I would urge us all to do it - it takes very little effort and we could also benefit local charities or even our children's nursery with the donations that Terracycle will make on our behalf. You could start it as an individual or you could spread the word to your child's school, nursery or playgroup and get a collection box started, then we can all do a little bit extra for the environment!

Monday, 6 June 2011

My CyberMummy Sponsors - Mamas and Papas!

I'm going to CyberMummy courtesy of......



I have my ticket all ready for CyberMummy this year and I'm now proud to announce that my sponsors for the conference are Mamas & Papas! I'm such big fans of their products - maternity and baby related and I feel like we're a great match! The story behind our pairing goes like this....

Back in March this year I was starting to get a bigger bump and I was finding it so hard to find maternity clothes that I felt looked good and also were going to grow with me. I paid a few visits to some stores I'd relied upon during my first pregnancy and felt so dissatisfied with what I came across. Then I went to Mamas and Papas, a place I didn't even consider first time around for maternity clothes, and when I went in the store they were doing a fantastic offer on their denim jeans and I desperately needed them. The following week I found myself in there again and got another bargain - combat trousers in the sale - I have lived in these I have to say.

I tweeted about my maternity clothing dissatisfaction and Mamas and Papas tweeted back. I liked the direct contact that they were prepared to have with their customers (I'd tweeted M&S about my disappointment that they'd moved their maternity wear to online sale only and had received no response). It was then that I decided to contact M&P directly to see if they'd be interested in doing anything with a blogger. I explained how I'd found maternity clothing mostly a let down and that I'd discovered their range to be a cut above the rest. To my surprise they said they'd love to work with me and straight out asked what size and styles I liked. The following week I was astounded by their generosity, I received a box with some gorgeous tops (amongst them an excellent breastfeeding top, that I hope to put to good use), a fantastic maxi dress, a lovely pair of cut off jeans and some leggings.

Me in my maxi dress on my last day at work before maternity leave!
Since receiving these items I've put them to good use (read that as lived in them!), posted about them on the blog and have had some lovely compliments, at times I've felt I'm better dressed pregnant than when I'm not. So last week I plucked up the courage to ask the lovely people at Mamas if they would consider sponsoring me for CyberMummy and to my delight they said yes! I was on cloud nine about it to be honest as I've loved the brand since before Isla was born, her bedroom is decked out in the Gingerbread range and I regularly bought clothes for her online.

I'm really excited about going to Cybermummy and hoping that baby number 2 can just hold on for a bit and make an appearance after the 25th June! Thanks Mamas and Papas for making me feel well dressed for this pregnancy and also for helping me take 'I Heart Motherhood' to Cybermummy 2011.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Peter Rabbit Organics' Juices

The kind peeps at Peter Rabbit Organics' Juices sent us some of their delicious juices (Apple & Grape, Apple & Blackcurrant and Pear Juice) to try recently and I have to say that I'm very impressed with them and they're one of the few ready to drink juices that I would feel happy to give to Isla. Isla loves it when she is given a drink that comes in a carton or a bottle - I think it makes her feel grown up, and she likes drinking from straws too. So when the box came through the post and I opened it up, she wanted one immediately, 'Juicey', 'Juicey', was the demand, so I let her have one. She guzzled it all (the pear juice), so on that occasion I didn't get to try any!

The next time she had one I was determined that I would get some, so I opened it secretly myself, had a swig and was impressed immediately by how the drink was not 'strong' - the flavour was light and not in the least bit sugary, which is my main worry with these drinks. I worry about her teeth (as she's not always that co-operative when it comes to brushing them!) and so when she is allowed anything like squash or juice, I like to have a certain amount of control over how strong it is made. I now feel after trying this that I don't have any worries on that score with Peter Rabbit juices. 

They're so useful for out and about occasions and I also tend to use these drinks as a kind of reward or treat as Isla really enjoys the experience of drinking from a vessel other than her baby cups!

Peter Rabbit Organics are a small, privately owned company who are passionate about providing parents with healthy, organic children's drinks and snacks with no added salt, sugar or artificial ingredients and I'm sure that this will appeal to most of us mums. They are available in the baby aisles from Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Asda and are priced at 55p each. I Heart Motherhood recommends!

In order to write this post we were sent a box of 3 small cartons of Peter Rabbit Organics Juice Drinks - my opinions are my own. 




Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bump Watch...Week 35


Last week at work, then maternity leave....eeeek!