Friday, 7 October 2016

The mother's letter to the bullies who drove her son to kill himself. How we as parents can do more to prevent bullying in school and via social media.

The mother's letter to the bullies who drove her son to kill himself. How we as parents can do more to prevent bullying in school and via social media.

I watched yesterday on This Morning as the mother of Felix Alexander opened up about her sons death just six short months after losing him. 

Felix was just 17 years old when he took his own life because he had been bullied for seven years. 

Bullied in school and via social media. Every day he went to school and was taunted by classmates, one instance being because he wasn't allowed to play a particular computer game that others were playing.  

Over the seven years of bullying Felix's confidence and self esteemed plummeted and he became Felix, the boy who everyone hated. 

BUT WHY????? 

Why did this escalate to the extent that it did. Moving from bullying within the school onto social media platforms where, even at home, he was taunted and called names by people he knew, people from school. 

Part of the open letter that Lucy, Felix's mum, wrote following the death of her son.

There was no reason for this to happen. As I said earlier, one reason was because he didn't play a particular computer game. Why does that make him any different from anyone else. 

Why does the colour of your hair, or the way you dress, or the brand of trainers you are wearing define others perceptions of you. Why is it acceptable for people to sit behind a keyboard, behind their computer screens and mock and bully people for the things they do or don't do. 

I am certain that in our current social media culture people find it so much easier to say things online, like they can't cause offence with their words because they aren't saying them face to face. The word 'BANTER' gets thrown around a lot too. 

'Oh I didn't mean it, it's only banter' 

However, once those words have been said, they can't be unsaid. You've said that to someone and those words can make a huge negative impact on that person. You may think you are the only person to have said something bad but when someone is affected every day by words said by many they get battered down until they can't take any more. 

For this to have gone on for seven years is shocking. To go to school every day and be subjected to the bullying that he did and then to see it online too is awful. There is so much that I see on social media about bullying and none of it is positive. None of it is about prevention and protection. It is all about the aftermath, the effect it has on a person and then a whole family. We see videos of people being bullied physically and you wonder why someone could even stand there and film it rather than step in and help. How they can stand there laughing whilst someone else is hurt.

Just this week we have had an instance of hatred via social media resulting in my child having a huge meltdown. The whole family suffered whilst he dealt with the negativity he had received via social media. One person taking it into their hands and deciding that today is the day I am going to say things to someone else via social media because it's easy to type it in a message and press send and then not think about the consequences. 

My child bottled this up for days, he let his anger hide away until it got too much and then the fall out was immense. What if we hadn't have found out? What if he had let it stay bottled up and the abuse had carried on? After the fall out we witnessed the other day from it, had it got any worse I don't know what he would have done. 

That is how people are affected though. It eats them up inside, they can't get away from it. It carries on relentlessly and it doesn't stop because sometimes others aren't quick enough to step in. Others won't step in and say I will help, I will be your friend, this needs to be stopped. 

We as parents need to step in and take a closer look at what our children are doing when accessing social media. It doesn't matter how old they are it needs to be monitored. Do you know what your child is up to when they are online? Do you know who they are talking to or what kind of conversations they are getting in to? Do you know what kind of things they are watching online? 

KINDNESS. Where has our kindness gone. It seems that some find it easier to jump in and be nasty and bully someone rather than join in when someone is being kind. We are all the same, we are all human and we all have feelings that get hurt easily. 

Whether we play Xbox or PS4, have blonde hair or brown, where we live, what we wear, how much money we have, which school we go to or where we go on holiday. None of this defines who we are as a person, we are all the same.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

REVIEW; Featuring the NEW GB Pockit stroller currently the smallest folding stroller on the market and my first Youtube demonstration

A couple of weeks ago we were sent the fab new GB Pockit stroller to review. Currently the smallest folding stroller on the market we were keen to get our hands on this stroller and see what it was all about. 

Weighing just 4.3 kg and folding so small and compact it is ideal for travel in the city as well as on public transport. Transporting children from age 6 months to approx. 4 years it is ideal for families on the go and in need of a quick mode of transportation that is easy to fold and carry too. 

The GB Pockit stroller is available in 6 different colour ways. The 2016 collection currently includes Capri Blue, Monument Black,  Lizard Khaki, Dragonfire Red, Seaport Blue and Posh Pink and retail at approximately £149.95. 

With a five point harness, padded chest pads, small under seat basket, sun shade and lockable swivel wheels, this stroller still offers a wide range of features packed into it's tiny compact fold. 



My first Youtube demonstration! Showing you the great features of the GB Pockit stroller.

As you can see from my Youtube video the stroller folds amazingly small and compact and ideal for navigating busy cities, public transport and more. The stroller is freestanding when folded and can easily be tucked out of the way when not in use. 

The GB Pockit stroller has received a red dot award and also hit the Guinness book of Records 2014 as the worlds smallest folding stroller. 

It's dimensions when folded are just 30 x 18 x 35 cm and you can buy a carry bag as an additional extra which makes its easy to transport when not in use. 

The GB Pockit folds 2 ways to make it more compact if needed. Both ways are freestanding when folded. 

I would highly recommend this stroller whether you are heading off into the busy city and using public transport or underground trains. Travelling is made easy as it fits into overhead compartments on trains and planes too. 

The GB Pockit can be found at John Lewis as well as other baby product retailers too. 

A festive look at advent calendars. Getting ready for the countdown to Christmas with a little help from Thomas Minis, Smiggle, Yankee Candle, VTech, OPI, Clarins and many more

It's heading towards that time of year again already. Even the OH has admitted recently that the festive season is hurtling towards us far too quickly and he's not one to admit that until at least December 24th! 

In the past few weeks I have noticed lots of brands releasing their advent calendars and as I am always on the look out for something different for the Things to open on the run up to Christmas I thought I would take a look at what advent calendars are on offer this year. 

Usually my children would have a chocolate advent calendar each year but in the past few years I have bought ones that have something a little different inside. Last year we had Lego, Smiggle, VTech toots toots, Yankee Candle and a charm bracelet advent calendar. 

This year there seems to be more than ever on offer and so I thought I would share what advent calendars I had found online so far for all of the family. With prices from £5 up to £95 and beyond they can get quite pricey for the family but I have always incorporated the price of their advents into the budget I have set for their Christmas presents and as they are usually full of things that are useful or what they want they are left with 24 days worth of goodies unlike with a chocolate calendar! So here is what I have found on offer recently for the children and the adults too! 

Swizzels Matlow sweet advent, exclusive to B & M stores and priced at £4.99. With classics such as refresher bars, parma violets, love hearts and more this is a fab advent calendar for a sweet fan. 

O.P.I Breakfast at Tiffany's mini mani advent calendar, found exclusive to the John Lewis website and priced at £59.95. A selection of 25 shades from OPI to suit your every mood, outfit and occasion this season. Including limited edition colours from the Breakfast At Tiffany's collection, each mini nail lacquer provides gorgeous colour with a chip-resistant formula.

Contents include: Alpine Snow, Breakfast at Tiffany's, I Believe in Manicures, This Cost Me a Mint, Mod About You, Rich Girls & Po Boys, Champagne for Breakfast, Do You Lilac It?, Black Dress Not Optional, Stay Off the Lawn!, It's a Girl!, Lucky Lucky Lavender, A-Rose at Dawn...Broke by Noon, Meet My "Decorator", Apartment for Two, Five-and-Ten, Dulce de Leche, Got the Mean Reds, Fire Escape Rendezvous, I'm Not Really a Waitress, Sunrise...Bedtime!, Can't Read Without My Lipstick, Rich & Brazilian, Pompeii Purple and Miami Beet all in 3.75ml mini mani bottles. 

We always have an advent candle on the fireplace too and this one is lovely. Found on the John Lewis website and priced at £8

The Lego advent calendar is always popular with the children. This Star Wars version is priced at £24.95 and available from many retailers both online and instore. There is also a Lego Friends and Lego City version available. 

I found this Haribo advent calendar on the Ocado website, for anyone who prefers a chewy sweet rather than chocolate. Priced at £7 and with various Haribo favourites behind each window. 

The Smiggle advent calendar is a huge favourite of Thing 3's. She had last years advent and it was full of lots of lovely stationery items including pens, pencils, highlighters, rubbers, sharpeners plus a few novelty toy items. Priced at £28 and Smiggle say it's contents are worth £38

The Vtech toot toots advent calendar. Comes with 23 plat pieces including plastic animals and festive Christmas decorations. Also comes with a toot toot animals reindeer which features 3 sing along songs and 6 melodies. Thing 5 had last years version of this calendar and then all the pieces got incorporated into his toot toots collection which he still plays with now. 

 Clarins launched their limited edition advent calendar just yesterday and it is full of lovely Clarins goodies. The advent calendar contains 15ml Detox Booster,50ml Beauty Flash Balm, 7ml Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil, 50ml Hand Cream, 15ml Eau Dynamisante, 50ml Toning Lotion Camomille, Normal to Dry Skin, 3,7ml Blush Prodige #02, 4ml Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, 5ml Instant Light Natural Lip perfector #01, 0,47g crayon Khol Eye Pencil, 3ml Wonder Perfect Mascara Black #01, 10ml Instant Radiance Boosting base, 10ml Instant Eye Make-up Remover, 10ml Cleansing Milk, Normal to Dry Skin, 5ml Gentle Refiner, 3ml HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase, 5ml HydraQuench Cream Normal to Dry Skin, 3ml HydraQuench Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, 2ml Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil "Dehydrated Skin", 5ml One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, Bag Accessory Leaf, Bag Accessory Macaron, Bag Accessory Flake, 3 Gift Tags. Priced at £95 with over £145 worth of Clarins products included. 

The Yankee Candle advent has been a favourite of mine for the past few years. Each day you get one of seven scented tea light candles and on day 24 you get a votive candle. The scents included are; All in Bright, Festive Cocktail, Christmas Cookie, Macaron Treats, Snowflake Cookie, Star Anaise & Orange, PLUS one Christmas Eve votive for number 24.

    Thomas and Friends have launched this new Thomas minis advent calendar. With a Thomas mini behind each day including 6 festive exclusives. Priced at £24.99 and available exclusively at Asda. This is a great price as the Thomas Minis are £2.49 each when bought individually. 

    As Thing 2 and 3 get older they seem to covet the beauty and make up advent calendars! Thing 2 in particular seems to be seeking out the more expensive advents on the market but I found this one on The Works website for just £10. With a cosmetic item behind each door for the younger teens it is a great price. This Advent calendar contains: 2x duo eye-shadows, 1x eye-shadow brush, 1x eye-shadow sponge, 2x glitter lip gloss, 1x lip gloss brush, 2x blushers, 2x flower shaped nail varnishes, 2x mini nail varnishes, 2x pots of heart confetti, 1x sheet of nails stickers, 1x eye pencil, 1x sharpener, 3x glitters, 1x body stencil, 1x body glue, 1x sheet of gemstones.  

    I found this fab wooden advent calendar on the Matalan website and is fab for filling with your own goodies. Priced at £20 I love the colour and design and will last for years to come as it is reusable and becomes a part of the home decoration too. 

    Accessorise have this fab unicorn advent calendar from their Angels collection. Packed full of stick on earrings and rings and ideal for the younger children to sparkle each day on the lead up to Christmas and priced at just £10. 

    And finally for the DIY enthusiasts there is the Wera advent calendar. Priced at around £38 it will keep your toolbox stocked with screwdrivers, bits and even a bottle opener for all of your festive drinks, although please drink after you've done the DIY!

    So whether you want to stick with a chocolate advent calendar or go with something a bit different, there is an advent calendar for everyone. Which would your children choose? Which one would you like to treat yourself to? 

    Wednesday, 28 September 2016

    Taking a look at your finances. Where can you cut back, cutting your utility bills, shopping with discount codes and maybe a little lifestyle tweak!

    Recently, even though I now work and bring in a little bit of extra money into the household, we still wonder where it all goes by the end of the month. 

    We do live quite frivolously and could cut back on some things we do and so I decided we needed to have a little finance tweak to see what we could change and where we were maybe spending a bit too much whether it be downsizing the utility bills, the food shop, eating out or clothes shopping! 

    We don't go out a lot as a couple or even as a family. We try and take the children out to local parks, lakes, woodland walks rather than spending a fortune on theme parks, play areas etc... Even the local play area seems cheap at the time until you get sucked into buying a hot drink, a drink for the kiddies and then they came they are hungry whilst you are there and it all adds up really quickly. 

    Discovering local parks, woodland walks and Windsor Castle! All free and fun days out. 

    As a couple we hardly go out at all. I have my Tuesday night pub quiz night and the OH plays badminton with a local club which takes up one or two nights a week. I would love a date night each month, a chance to connect without the kids around our ankles or the daily grind of bedtime routines and nights where you are so tired after getting the little ones to bed that you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow! 

    We do spend too much on eating out or takeaways. Every month I say we will stop but it's so easy to do. On a night when you can't be bothered or when the kiddies have pestered you for a takeaway. Or we go shopping during the day and sneak in a quick lunch that ends up costing a small fortune. 

    In the past 2 weeks alone we have eaten out or had takeaways far too often and I worked out it amounted to nearly £170. I was shocked. It is so easy to do and easy to forget that you ate a quick fast food meal here or a restaurant breakfast there. 

    £150 is a decent week to week and a half food shop for us or at this time of year it's one child's Christmas presents sorted. It's the cost of a decent day out as a family for us yet if we even considered it we would probably think twice about spending that amount so why was it so easy to spend it on all those treat days?. 

    Eating out and takeaways should be date nights and treat days! 

    That is what it should be too, a treat. As children we rarely ate out and if we did it was because it was a special occasion. Yet the Things have become so used to it they expect it. If they ask for it they expect to get it or at least for their request to be considered and it's become the norm. It needs to be seen as a treat, something special and not a given that it will happen every week.

    So eating out was the first part of my cut backs. Going back to one treat a month for the children and incorporating a date night into our month so not only do we look forward to a treat of a meal out but also some time as a couple where we can talk and get out of the house together. 

    Next up are the bills. Cutting back on utility bills where you can is always good. Our gas/electricity provider allows us to downsize our bills if we are in credit or claim the money back and leave our monthly payments the same. I have compared prices with other providers and at the moment we can't really save on those but do look into it from time to time as different providers could save you a few £££'s compared to your current provider. Also look at your TV package and broadband/phone bills, there are always ways to cut your monthly direct debits with either a different provider or a deal from your current provider. 

    I also found when I was looking at our direct debits that I was paying out on a few monthly subscriptions that I didn't realise were still ongoing. Apple Music had been subscribed to on a one month free trial and then we hadn't cancelled before the trail ended. REMEMBER to cancel a free trial just before it ends otherwise you do then get charged and the subscription remains ongoing often without you realising. Another thing I cancelled was our sons subscription to a monthly Loot Crate. Whilst he was working he would give us the money for it but he hasn't worked in 8 months and we were paying over £20 a month for him to have a treat sent through the post, I don't think so! 

    Food shopping, the bane of my life!. I try and do a weekly food shop but I often end up going to the local shops for bread, milk, juice, fruit top ups and so inevitably what I thought was a £100 a week shop turns into £150-£200 before I realise. Meal planning is the way forward for sure. The three youngest get fed at school so I don't have pack lunches to worry about but some weekly food shops are just spent throwing stuff into the trolley and I get home and find I bought a trolley load of junk or stuff that won't make full meals! So meal plan your week and make sure you write all the ingredients down that you need before you go. Don't go shopping when you are hungry and try not to take children with you who throw stuff in the trolley without you realising. Also take advantage of money off online shopping for first time customers which most supermarkets offer on their online stores and do keep an eye out in the post for vouchers from supermarkets that you have shopped with before. I have had some through recently that have come in handy on the past few online shops. 

    Our weekly food shop, this shop was around £160 and I swear it only lasted a few days!

    And finally, always shop with a discount code is what I live by! If you are at the shops and see something go home and research online to see if you can buy it elsewhere cheaper or if another shop is running a discount or a code that will make it cheaper. Hold off buying something you like if you can and wait for the sales or often stores will run discount codes at certain times throughout the year, you don't usually have to wait long.