Monday, 21 November 2016

Finding Balance

Earlier this year I went from being a stay-at-home mum to a working mum. I came home from long shifts at work only to have my partner leave for his work shift and a long list of chores ahead. I spent nap-times, early mornings and late nights struggling to keep on top of all the housework, fitting in some exercise and trying to keep my hobbies. It felt as if I was barely treading water and even if everything was done, I never had sufficient time left for spending quality time with my son, date nights or anything that was remotely fun. I didn't know where I was going wrong.

A few weeks later it hit me. I was striving for a "perfect balance" that didn't exist. Why doesn't it exist? Because I'm not perfect, and that's okay. Over the following weeks, I revaluated my ideas of balance and my goals. I came to the conclusion that although I can do it all, I shouldn't. Trying to do everything was making me (and subsequently my family) miserable. So I let it go - my unrealistic expectations along with the stress and anxiety they created in my life. Ever since, I've been so much happier and have found more time for the things are important for my happiness and my family's happiness.

Here are my top tips of how you can have better balance in your life -

Remember Balance is NOT Perfection
- accept that even though you can do it all, that you don't need to and don't set unrealistic expectations for yourself.

- sort out your to-do list in order of importance, only picking a few that must be done that day.

- split chores with your partner, get your children to help out and don't be afraid to ask for help from friends or family if needed.

Take some time for YOU.
- mark out some time every day for you; whether it's reading, watching Netflix, going out with the girls or taking a bubble bath.

Know that you're not alone.
- everyone is trying to find balance in their lives and we don't always get it right, and that's okay.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

As a lot of our family live a fair distance away, we decided not to throw Toby a birthday party this year and instead take him somewhere new. So we asked friends, family and other parents in and around the local area for their recommendations and most of them recommended Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. After taking a look at their website, and being kindly sent the link to a Wowcher offer by a local mum, we decided it was a good fit.

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm is conveniently based minutes away from Junction 19/20 on the M5 and 6 miles from Bristol city centre. It boasts an array of zoo animals like lions, rhinos and giraffes as well as having birds, reptiles and farmyard animals. Additionally, the zoo farm has a cafĂ©, gift shop and 12 indoor and outdoor play areas including; an adventure playground, trampolines, mazes and an indoor soft play for under 5s.

Toby watching the Farmyard Animal Talk

Our visit to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm was fantastic. The staff were friendly and there was plenty going on, including live feedings and educational talks about different animals. There were food areas and bathroom and baby changing facilities in different areas, which made the day a lot easier. My only complaint is the changing area near the elephants is in the ladies toilet and is quite small.

Overall we loved our visit. Toby loved seeing all the animals and exploring the mazes especially. We are even planning to bring our nieces and nephew with us to visit next summer, when the zoo farm will also have bears! If you want a good day out, I'd highly recommend Noah's Ark Zoo Farm as it will appeal to children of all ages.

This is an honest, unsolicited and unbiased review.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Toby Turns 2!

This past weekend my baby boy became 2 years old. I still can't believe it! How quickly time flies!

Toby is such a happy little boy who charms everyone he meets. He is an adventurous soul who knows his own mind and isn't afraid of voicing his opinion. I love that his personality is developing more and more everyday.

Although Toby is very stubborn and doesn't often like to repeat words, he is learning how to communicate more clearly. My heart skips when I hear him say a new word or try to string together a phrase.

The best part of my Toby being a fully-fledged toddler is being able to show him and teach him more about the world around us. We celebrated this by taking him to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm and showing him all the animals. He loved it so much! His favourite animals were the meerkats, the owl, the ducks, the giraffes and the tigers. He even said "tiger" for the first time.

I love being this boy's mumma and being blessed enough that I can stay home with him each day.

An honest and unbiased review of Noah's Ark Zoo Farm will be coming soon.

Friday, 4 September 2015

A New Start

Previously, I wrote a purely book-related blog; full of reviews, upcoming releases and bookish thoughts. Now, however, I wish to turn my attention to writing about other things too.

My reasons behind this are simple. A desire to write about my thoughts and experiences on a whole range of topics and a willingness to share this with others. Throughout our lives we often feel alone in our thoughts, feelings and experiences. My hope is that by sharing some of my life, others will see that they are not alone.

I am also writing as to keep a record of how my family and I grow and develop, like a journal I suppose. In doing so, our family and friends who live a distance from us,who we don't see as often as we'd like to, will be able to feel more a part of our lives.

Having said that, I should probably introduce myself properly. My name is Bethan Marie. I am a 22 year old Welsh girl living in a Cotswolds market town with my husband, Joe, and our son, Toby. I love literature, film, travel, adventure and good food. You can often find me exploring the countryside around my home, cooking in my tiny kitchen and generally enjoying life with my little family.

I hope that you will be able to relate to me and follow my journey.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Auto-Tune: The Future of Music?

Auto-tune is a topic that crosses many music fan's lips. Many are opposed to the use of the technology, arguing that the music industry is employing "pretty faces" rather than people with actual talent. With many songs auto-tune cannot be detected due to rare use, leaving some people blissfully unaware, while as in other tracks the technology is used to the extreme that the artist's voice sounds unnatural, almost robotic.
The technology was originally developed for oil detection by Andy Hildebrand. Hildebrand had spent eighteen years in seismic data exploration, working in signal processing. He originally used auto-tuning hardware to map out the earth's subsurface by sending out sound waves and recording their reflections via a geophone. Soon enough Hildebrand, who had taken some music courses, discovered that the technology he had produced could detect pitch as well as oil. Upon this discovery he turned his talents to the music industry, pop music in particular.

Since it's discovery, auto-tune has been used increasingly in music. The first example of increased overuse of it was Cher's 1998 heit "Believe". Cher sounds unnatural and robotic, despite the producers' attempt to add more emotion through the pitch correction technology. Since the release of this song, overuse of auto-tune has been known as "The Cher Effect". Despite this, more artists have chosen to auto-tune their tracks, and more recent examples of auto-tune in music include tracks such as; JoJo "Too Little Too Late", T-Pain - "I'm Sprung" and Maroon 5 - "She Will Be Loved".

Many producers argue that the use of auto-tune is a time-saver when budgets are tight. Craig Street, a producer who has worked with Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson, said "If you have a smaller budget what you're doing is trying to cram a lot of work into a small period of time; so you may not have as much time to do a vocal.". Street argues that the like or dislike of auto-tune is down to aesthetics. Other producers such as Craig Anderton oppose the overuse of the technology. He states that "If someone uses it tastefully just to correct a few notes here and there, you don't even know that it's been used ... But if someone misuses it, it's very obvious - the sound quality of the voice."
Some musicians, such as Jay Z, are opposed to the use of auto-tune. Jay Z made a huge statement to the rap community by releasing the song entitled "D.O.A." or "Death of Auto-Tune". Some of the lyrics include statements like "This is anti-auto-tune, death of the ringtone, this ain't for iTunes, this ain't for sing-a-longs.". Indie band Death Cab for a Cutie are also anti-auto-tune. Thier lead singer, Ben Gibbard, said this of auto-tune at a Grammy Awards ceremony "Auto-tuning is ... affecting literally thousands of singers today and thousands of records that are coming out. We just want to raise awareness while we're here and try to bring back the blue note ... The note that's not so perfectly in pitch and just gives the recording some soul and some kind of real character. It's how people really sing."

The problem that really stands with the use of auto-tune is how unnaturally robotic it can sound. Many music fans argue that auto-tune takes the human emotion out of a song; when the creative release of human emotion is why we listen to music. If we cannot relate to music then what does it become?

As Hildebrand once said regarding auto-tune being evil "Well, my wife wears make-up. Is that evil?". Although evil is an overstatement, Hildebrand's analogy is fitting. In a world of people striving for perfection in everything, where many unnatural modifications are widely accepted, is it any surprise that the music industry has taken this step?

What do you all think? Is Auto-Tune ruining music?