27 August 2016

Happy 2 year blogiversary Wave to Mummy!

The first post I wrote for my blog Wave to Mummy was two and a bit years ago. It has been a great ride. I've met some fun people, worked with some interesting companies, and learned so so so much about social media, SEO, and other internet content creation strategy thingymagickies I feel I could do it for a career. I suppose it is always good to have an alternative skillset, even if you are well established in your career. You never know!  

If I am honest, I often feel like I just don't have enough the time to do all that blogging malarkey very well. I work fulltime, and commuting to work takes another couple of hours a day, Monday to Friday. At the end of the day I am spent and can't form legible sentences to save my life. In the morning I want nothing more than  those few more (tens of) minutes of snoozing. Weekends are pretty full on trying to catch up and have fun and meet friends and all. I do have a swanky new phone now though  which will be useful for blog post drafting whenever I am not pretending to be a sardine in a smelly shaking tin can (read that as commuting in the rush hour tube).

So, while I would love to blog more I find it difficult to find the time. And if you do blog, you know that it takes tons and tons of time. It all adds up. I have so many ideas, and so many things I want to write about.  And tons of video material I want to edit. I've tried my hand at vlogging and I loved it and I loved the creative side of editing and would love to learn more about it. 

I am not sure what I want the third year of my blog to bring. I am planning a proper refresh of this blog, so in the next couple of months I am hoping to have a prettier and more professional looking blog platform. Watch this space, I've already started my discussions with a designer!

I want to learn more about photography, improve both my skills and upgrade my equipment, perhaps get some new lenses. I have loads of photography books bought but still currently unread. I have, or would like to think I have a decent eye for composition, but I'd love to learn more about picture dynamics and design aspects like colour and movement. I'd like to finally start using my camera on a manual mode, as opposed to semi-manual, and I would love to get a new portrait lense. 

I also want to improve those pesky rankings I really haven't had much time to dedicate to - a bit more readers, a bit more social media followers and a bit higher rankings across the board. My current combined social media follower numbers are around 3,000, and my blog ranks usually somewhere amongst the top 250-500 parenting blogs as according to Tots100. Altogether I have published 209 posts, this being the 210th. 

Blogging has been fun. Some of the blogging highlights I've had last year have included being selected as one of Butlin's blogger ambassadors. I haven't gone on a holiday with them yet though! I was also selected as Trunki ambassador, a company I absolutely loved when I first saw them on Dragons Den. 

I have also developed some long term partnerships, such as with Tidy Books, and collaborated with Tidy Books twice and most likely soon a third time. Not to mention all the other great companies I have worked with like Huggies  (on potty training expert tips) or Wayfair (on decorating our daughters bedroom according to Montessori principles). There has been some great partnerships, but also fabulous events, like being treated to a performance by a prima ballerina  at an event for Boots No7 Lift & Luminate range launch, or hobnobbing with Towie stars (ha ha I know) while encountering animals

It has been a great ride and I have really enjoyed blogging. If only i could find time to do more of it! 

And P.S. the pictures are from my daughter's second birthday... Not a blog cake although I do feel my blog would deserve a blag cake!

What do you guys think of blogging?

23 August 2016

11 fun things to do with toddlers in summer London

We live in London and quite often go out as a family to explore our home town. Because of our daughter's age we tend to go for the toddler-friendly activities and places in London. This summer we have explored London and found lots of great, toddler-friendly places to have a summer family day out. I figured since we have so much experience (this is our home town after all) I would share my favourite picks for what to do in London with a toddler during the summer months of June, July, August and September. 

Enjoy the fresh air
There are loads of great parks in London and let's face it, toddlers love nothing more than running around outside. My absolute favourite park is Coram's Fields, which you can only enter accompanied by a child. This park is near Russell Square.

Another fun kids park located near Central London is the Diana Memorial Playground, where you can play in a giant pirate ship! The closes tube stop is Queensway.

Best thing - both are free!

toddler and sheep statue looking at each other at coram's fields park

a giant climbing frame and slide for children at coram's fields park

toddler walking up a slide at coram's fields park

Admire the gorgeous views
On a beautiful day, I absolutely love to take the boat on the Thames. It feels like a luxurious way to travel after having commuted all week long in the smelly tube... It is a fun way to travel for the kids as well, who wouldn't love being on a boat?

My favourite day out combination is to get a boat ride from Westminster to Greenwich. You get to see all the sights, from Westminster and London Eye, to the Tower and London Bridge, and Canary Wharf before arriving to Greenwich, where you can spend the day admiring the gorgeous Cutty Sark (a big boat) and having a picnic at the Greenwich park. You can check out all kinds of sights and the market over the weekends, but my favourite activity is just to chill at the park and enjoy the views. The historic buildings are gorgeous and the park is very popular amongst Londoners.

MBNA Thames Clippers are an easy choice, as all you need is your Oyster card and this is the cheapest option for a one-way ticket. City Cruises are probably better for the views as you can sit on the deck, but is more expensive and looks pretty packed most weekends.

view of the city from a boat on the thames

greenwich old historic buildings

See some wildlife
ZSL London Zoo is a great place for toddlers - all those animals are really exciting. We have been the the Zoo twice. I have written about my top tips for toddlers when visiting ZSL London Zoo after our first visit, and recently we also visited the Land of the Lions, a new attraction that opened in 2016. It is a brilliant addition by the way, and they put up interactive shows suitable for children throughout the day.

If it is raining, many of the animals withdraw indoors, so it might be a fun idea to go the the London Aquarium. They opened their Penguin enclosure in 2016 too, which is a lovely (albeit small) addition to the great big aquarium. You can see sharks and huge tortoise and manta rays amongst other fist, and it really is quite special.

Both are free for kids under three! (But adult tickets are quite pricey)

children watching monkeys from behind a glass in london zoo

mother and daughter in front of the london zoo land of the lions yellow mural

london zoo land of the lions decoration lion transport box and a toddler inside

land of the lions london zoo wall of posters and a toddler

father and daughter watching a bird on a walking path in london zoo

Have a blast indoors too
Natural History Museum is brilliant place to visit with kids (those dinosaur - wow!), and you can also pop by the Science Museum which is practically next door. Natural History Museum also has a butterfly exhibition stationed outside it during the summer which is really exciting for kids, even if it can get very tropical inside. The special exhibitions cost, but the museums are free.

Nearby you also have Harrods, that occasionally hosts free story time and face painting for kids, which can be fun addition to the day for calm and quite toddlers. I haven't taken my daughter to any of these as she is a bit hyper and I worry she would ruin it for the other ones.

But, for the active and hyper toddlers there are other things to do! You can get your boogie on near South Bank! I had never heard of baby disco until this summer, and we visited Monski Mouse Baby Disco Dance Hall, and it was fabulous fun! It was a strange but booty-shaking mix of proper retro disco hits and nursery rhymes, and my daughter loved it. We still regularly sing one of the songs back home...

toddler looking at a fish at london aquarium

toddler standing in front of the shark tank in london aquarium

These are my favourite things to do in London with a toddler. A bit of outdoor activities, a bit of indoor activities, some sights, and some animals. To be honest, with toddlers it can be a bit difficult with all the travelling you have to do, so I tend to choose one activity and that is it. We go in, do it, and come back and that is enough. I also think it is worth choosing wisely - many of the activities in London are quite pricey, and quite frankly, with toddlers, they don't always appreciate the things you think they do.

Do you have any other recommendations for toddler-friendly places and attractions in summer London? 

6 August 2016

I love maxi dresses: see my summer style

Contains a gifted dress from JD Williams

I pretty much live my summers in maxi dresses. They are just about the perfect summer outfit in my opinion. They are cool on and just float around you in the warm summer winds. The fits I go for are usually quite generous and floaty at the lower half, cinched in the waist and fitted around the bust, and flattering on plus sized women too.  

What I especially love about maxi dresses are that they are so practical and make my busy mum life just that little bit easier. Forgot to shave your legs? No problem, maxi dress! Need to sit down for a teddy bear picnic? No problem, maxi dress! You can even sit cross-legged and all is covered? Need to bend down to pick that umpteenth of stick your toddler dropped? No problem, maxi dress! Covers all flashing ha ha. So I thought it would be fun to show my ever-expanding collection of these super-dresses and a bit of my summer style. 

jd williams maxi dress plus sized for office

wearing my JD williams maxi dress at The O2

I recently received a gifted maxi dress from JD Williams. I usually wear this at work on casual Fridays, or at functions where I want to be that little bit smarter than I do at the beach front. It is a lovely fit around the tummy, comfortable and slightly ruched so you don't need wash-board abs to pull it off. 

buggy walk at hamsted heath

wearing my linea dress at hamsted heath

My favourite ever maxi dress is this number by Linea. Sadly the fabric was a bit poor quality, and it faded and bobbled quickly, but I still wear it as the fit is lovely, and it is long enough. I find it is difficult to get maxi dresses that are long enough and stay long enough through several washes. Many my maxi dresses are more like midi-dresses on me and at 5'7 I am not even that tall. 

wearing a nanso maxi dress

wearing a maxi dress when pregnant

Maxi dresses in my opinion are perfect for pregnancy. They hug that bump beautifully and really show it off. And when you are pregnant, I've always thought you should try and make a feature of your bump. It is there, everyone sees it, so there is no point in trying to hide it!

Most of the summer time, as long as it is reasonably warm, you can find me in a maxi dress. In fact, I am even wearing one right now as I am typing this post! It doesn't really matter what size I am but maxi dresses always feel like the right choice, and they are the ultimate summer outfit for me. I feel comfortable and they just feel like summer. And now, I feel like I should go off and find a few more to expand my selection!

Do you wear maxi dresses?

28 July 2016

A Fresh Up facial at New York Laser Clinic

In collaboration with New York Laser Clinic

I recently went for a Fresh Up facial at the New York Laser Clinic in London Baker Street. Being a mum with a busy busy schedule it is difficult to find the time for myself, let alone take care of the outer me. Last time I had a facial was before I got married. It's our fifth anniversary soon. So it was nice to take a bit of time for myself and get a proper facial MOT.

new york laser clinic at baker street

My facial MOT started off with a chat with my cosmetologist Nadine. We chatted about my concerns (blemishes nearing adult acne in severity; uneven skin tone) and my skin (sensitive combination), and after assessing it, she recommended a 'Fresh Up' peel. On hearing the word peel I was quite concerned, but she assured me it was a very light peel and would be based on natural extracts, with no harsh chemicals involved. Essentially, it wasn't the sort of peel that really strips layers off your skin, but more like an enhanced exfoliation / facial.

The peel consisted of cleaning the skin, preparing and exfoliating it with Dr Schrammek products and finally a facial massage with a white mateo cream. The sensation of the peel was quite strange. Every time my skin was touched, there was a strong tingling sensation. Not inherently unpleasant, but very strange. I would imagine that if my skin was pressed with lots of tiny needles, it would feel roughly similar. Despite this, the treatment felt relaxing.

treatment room at new york laser clinic baker street

buddha decoration at a cosmetologist new york laser clinic

dr schrammek products

my treatment plan at new york laser clinic

The best thing about the treatment was that it actually worked! Afterwards, my skin was more even-toned and felt refreshed. The biggest change was in the blackheads on my nose. They were smaller and not as dark as before. This was a really noticeable change in person. It doesn't translate to pictures that well but I have taken a before and after pictures for reference. This effect lasted about a week and a bit, after which my skin has started to return back to its normal state. Two weeks after the peel my skin still feels cleaner and smoother than before the peel.

I also liked that the treatment was individually tailored - it addressed my skin concerns and when my cosmetologist noticed I was cracking my wrists after a long day at the office, she ended the treatment with a hand massage.

janmarini products

new york laser clinic baker street

Would I do the treatment again? Yep, most definitely, the change in the blackheads on my nose was noticeable. However, at £100 a pop it is an investment I personally couldn't find the funds to do on a regular basis. This treatment is recommended to do once a week, and they also have harsher Fresh Up peels (to be done every two or four weeks) you can work up to. It would be interesting to see how much of a change a month-long treatment plan would do to my skin when one treatment already had a significant effect. If I had a big event (such as a wedding or graduation) coming up, yep, I'd shell out the necessary funds for a treatment or two, and I could certainly consider making this part of my yearly skincare routine!

before and after pictures after a green peel at new york laser clinic
Before (left) and after (right)

Can you see the change in my skin in the before/after pictures? Have you been to a peel at a cosmetologist?

26 July 2016

10 simple and easy ideas for a toddler Paw Patrol party

We recently hosted a Paw Patrol birthday for my daughters third birthday. We wanted to have a nice toddler-friendly birthday party with activities and other ideas suitable for pre-school children. Since we knew we will have lots of guests (12 kids, ages ranging from 1 to 3 plus adults) we knew we wanted to keep it simple and easy.  Here are ten of the simple but fun ideas we used for our Paw Patrol birthday.

toddler in marshall costume looking at paw patrol cake

Like so many kids at the moment, out daughter has gone nuts about Paw Patrol. Everything is Paw Patrol now, even our family. I am Sky and her daddy is Chase - she herself is Everest. So it was no surprise when I asked her what kind of party she would like to have. It was fun to come up with ideas for the party. 

paw patrol table cloth

paw patrol happy birthday bunting

paw patrol honey biscuits in a dog bowl

1. Paw Patrol branded decoration. You can buy these from many different suppliers like from Party Pieces. We had cups, plates and napkins, as well as a table cloth and some "Happy Birthday" bunting. Granted, these won't make your party look a stylishly Pinterest-worthy, but kids loved them!

2. Doggy bowls. As part of the decorations these work a treat. You can get cheap doggy bowls from pound shops (which is where we got ours) and they are perfect to serve snacks in. I matched these to the Paw Patrol colours by choosing sky blue!

3. Labelling snacks. You can make pretty much anything sound more Paw Patrol like with some clever labelling strategies... How about some Pup-corn? Or Paw-peroni pizza? We also had some Paw-tilla chips and Huu-mus, not sure if those names really worked that well but hey, sort of!

hot dog

paw patrol honey biscuits

rubble paw patrol chocolate slide cake

4. Main course: hot dogs! We wanted to keep things simple so we only had one main course, and hot dogs fit the theme paw-fectly. We had a hot dog station, with the frankfurters on a pan in hot water, and buns and condiments next to them. People could pop by and make their own whenever they wanted to so it was minimal hassle for us.

5. Dessert: doggy biscuits! I made them using this recipe by Nigella - this dough retains its shape well. I got bone shaped cookie cutters from Ebay, and I used a straw to make three holes in the middle. These look exactly like the "Honey biscuits" the pups get given in Paw Patrol, and kids LOVED them. For a cake, an easy way to decorate is to create a "Malteser" slide and stick a Rubble figurine on top. A good tutorial on how to do one is here

6. Modelling balloons for entertainment. In case the kids needed some entertainment, I got modelling balloons. It is so simple to make a balloon puppy, and fits the theme great.

7. Paw Patrol stickers and party hats for an activity. Pre-schoolers love stickers, and having them decorate their party hats with some Paw Patrol stickers is a fun little activity for them. We got Paw Patrol stickers from the pound shop so this was a very low-cost option.

toddler wearing marshall paw patrol costume

8. Paw Patrol costume. For the birthday girl or boy, a Paw Patrol costume is a great idea. We got one of these. Word of warning though, the sizing on the ones we got is weird and is very wide. On our three year old the smaller size (1-2years old) fit better, but the hat was too small. With the bigger size (3-4years old) the hat would have been right size but the costume humongous. The fabric is pretty cheap too, and the Skye outfit discards glitter everywhere... Anyway, she loved her costume which was the main thing!

9. Paw Patrol toys as a decoration and to play with. If you are hosting a Paw Patrol birthday party, I'd say it is pretty likely you already have some puptastic merchandise in your house... We brought all her Paw Patrol themed toys to the living room for kids to play with. Alternative ideas are to make your own dog house out of cardboard - we didn't have time unfortunately but I think this is a fabulous idea. We did consider buying a cheap fire engine play tent for kids to play in, but decided against it in the end as we already have a lot of toys.

paw patrol magazines given out as party bags

3 paw patrol magazines

paw patrol baby friendly party bag with soft toy puppy

10. As a party favour we gave out Paw Patrol magazines. These are great for kids aged between 2 and 5 and is such a great idea for a time-poor parent as all you need to do is pop by a supermarket and get a few copies. The magazines have stickers, stories, activities, and colouring pages, and of course a toy! Occasionally there is also something extra, like a poster or a sticker book. We have bought a few of these magazines for our daughter as the toys are always good quality and sturdy enough to last a long time, even with a threenager. This is such an easy way to do a party favour for a birthday! The kids absolutely loved these and were in awe when they got their hands on one.

For baby guests we got an alternative baby-friendly party bag. I drew paw prints on plain paper bags, and filled the bags with soap bubbles, and a soft toy puppy. These were also from pound shop so didn't break a bank.

The Paw Patrol party we hosted went great. We had loads of guests and everyone had fun, especially the smallest pups. You don't need to blow your budget on a themed party - you can easily do much of the decorations yourself, and with some smart shopping the rest won't cost a bomb.

Do you have any other good ideas for a Paw Patrol party?

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