28.6.14

An Interview with a 5 Year Old | Video

Two years ago Emma from A Matter of Choice shared a fantastic idea of interviewing your child on or around their birthday, and continuing to do this every year to see how different, or similar, the answers were.
I chose to film my interview with Charles so we can look back on it in years to come, and also so his answers weren't edited at all.


I considered not doing this again this year but changed my mind after seeing Jenny's interview with Jenson and wanting to do the same with Harry.
If you want to join in these are the questions asked (I took out number 19 though and replaced it with a different one right at the end)

(please excuse the wobbly camera work and the fact you can hear me much louder than him)


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26.6.14

Capturing Colour | Purple

We are now on Week Four of the Capturing Colour project.

This week our chosen colour was purple. I thought this would be easy, there is purple EVERYWHERE. Except all these purples were discovered when I was out....without my camera.

A lonely peg | My husbands buttonhole from our wedding | A bulb | Polish I will never wear | 
My wedding bouquet | Cadbury's Chocolate


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24.6.14

Ultimately

In the days following Britmums Live I think a lot of people spend time reflecting. Reflecting on what they've learnt, who they've met, the brands they visited and so on.
I am no different. And I think it's all part of the process, all part of the "comedown".

Last year was a massive deal. I would be meeting so many people for the first time. It was my first blogging conference and my first time being in a big room with a lot of people whose faces I recognised from a tiny Twitter avatar, and people who I knew so much about by reading their blogs.
This year I felt a little more relaxed as I kind of knew what to expect. My list of people to meet wasn't as long as last year and I was really looking forward to catching up and having a proper conversation with those who I met briefly last year and had since become a reader of their blog and talk to them occasionally on Twitter or Instagram.

I think we all feel a bit fragile at events like this. Well, maybe not all of us, but I would imagine a lot of people do. To all of a sudden not being protected by a computer screen. To all of a sudden have to be us, to show the real us and that can be hard. It's easy to be confident behind a screen, not so easy in real life.
I think I became super sensitive and incredibly fragile, maybe unnecessarily, maybe not, but scrolling through Twitter and seeing people tweeting each other saying "I need to meet you" and so on I felt jealous. Jealous that this year, that wasn't me. My goodness, I know that makes me sound like such a brat, but I promise it will make sense at the end.
I felt jealous and somewhat hurt I suppose that those I thought were more than online friends didn't seem to want to chat other than a quick hello. And I suppose the worst thing about that is that you then analyse yourself and think "Why don't they want to be friends outside of the internet? Maybe we are not as friendly as I thought. Maybe I really am just "a reader" and not a friend".

On the train home I felt a bit deflated, as I saw people excitedly tweeting each other and I felt a little out of it. I was already super emotional after leaving my friends. I felt really open and also really alone.

And so the last couple of days I have been in a full on reflection mode. Thinking about what I could have done different, wondering if maybe I am just unapproachable or simply not someone people want to meet. And that's fine.
And then I realised that actually, it doesn't matter how many people you meet. What matters is who you meet. Quality not quantity I suppose.

And for me, ulitmately, it was those people who I have followed for 3 years. Those who I have talked to on and off for 3 years, or simply people I am aware of but never really talk to as our paths don't cross. Those who I recognise as if I have known them and see them everyday.
Sonia {This Mummy Loves} was one of those people, and I remember seeing her and hugging her as if I had met her before. It wasn't until yesterday when I realised we didn't actually introduce ourselves. And that is nice. The fact that we assumed the other knew who we were.
I had a total FanGirl moment when meeting Alison Perry {Not Another Mummy Blog}, so much that I think I may have just kept looking at her during the 2 days and wanting to spend time talking but not knowing what to say.
Meeting Kate {Wit Wit Woo} was amazing. It's fair to say I didn't think I would ever be friends with Kate, she is waaaay out of my league but sitting and eating dinner with her on Friday and having a chat on Saturday made me realise that maybe I am good enough to be friends with someone like Kate. One thing I appreciate in life is people who make you feel good, just by being around them. Those people who let out this amazing energy and who you can look up to yet feel equal too at the same time.
Someone similar to Kate is Mari {Mari's World}. Again, someone who I look up to and I felt kind if honoured to be able to have a really lovely chat with her at the hotel on Friday. I would love to have the presence of Maris and really admire her.
And one of the highlights of the whole weekend was FINALLY meeting Helen {The Crazy Kitchen}. Oh my, she didn't disappoint. If I could have spent every minute of Britmums with Helen then I would have done. Seeing her face squished against the window at Wagamamas was more exciting than I ever thought it would be.

Meeting these 5 women made me realise that it's not a popularity contest. I never wanted to be one of those people who is looking for the next person to meet, to go home with a massive list of people I had short and quick conversations with. And looking at that list, and seeing that I met people who have been a big deal in my whole blogging "experience/life/journey" so far is perfect. And I feel quite fulfilled at that.

It doesn't matter whether or not people want to meet you, or even know who you are. It doesn't matter if people are saying bad things about you, it doesn't matter if you lose followers.
It doesn't matter if you meet 5 people or 55 people, or even 105 people.
What matters is being yourself, leaving and knowing that you didn't pretend to be someone you are not.
Looking back at who you met and being happy, and feeling in some kind of odd way that you have achieved something.
Feeling good about yourself that those you admire will talk to you, and do have time for you. And them living up to your expectations.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter that my Twitter feed didn't include any "I want to meet you" tweets, it doesn't matter that people looked at me and looked away, it doesn't matter that people didn't know I was there.
What mattered was that I have been able to leave feeling good about myself without all that.

Ultimately, I didn't go to Britmums to feel popular, or to be popular. I went to learn, and to come away with experience.

And of course to spend quality time with my best friends, which made that time even better.


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23.6.14

In A Room Of So Many

One thing I really like about Britmums Live is the variety of sessions and how unpredictable the numbers are in each session. By that I mean that in one session the room may be packed, and in another there may be a select few making it a little more intimate.

One of my favourite sessions was Storytelling.
"Storytelling: Learn how to share your experiences, compellingly, from someone who’s turned motherhood stories into a musical CREATE
Emily Beecher, Good Enough Mums Club"

I went to a storytelling session last year and really enjoyed it and almost considered not going this year as I felt that maybe it wouldn't be that different. When I then saw the clip of the Good Enough Mums Club on YouTube I knew I had to go to the session. If someone could create a musical like that, then I would be silly to not go to a session run by her.
I found the session really good and made lots of notes, I had to leave early because....you know....too much wine the night before and that feeling of "oh my goodness, it might be reappearing anytime soon".
Anyway, part of the reason I loved the session was because of Emily.
There are some people who you can almost "fall in love with" without even speaking to them or knowing anything about them. Those people who, just by looking at them, you want to spend time with, you want to be friends with, you want to know lots about them. And I found Emily to be one of these people.

So after the session I was really looking forward to the sneak peak we were lucky enough to get from the Good Enough Mums Club after the bloggers keynote. When Emily got up to introduce the ladies performing she gave us an insight into her background and the reason for the show, how it started and so on. And all of a sudden, it felt like everyone else left the room. 
It felt like Emily was talking straight to me.

As she spoke about deeply personal things, images she saw in her head as if those things were happening, had happened or will happen I just wanted to run to the stage and hug her and tell her how much she had made me feel normal just by telling her story.

I've shared a lot about my anxiety and depression on my blog. It's not something I'm ashamed of. But I have held a lot back, mainly because when I have shared it with people they have laughed or just don't understand. And for the past few months I have been seriously considering just writing it all down. Putting it out there. And saying that actually, it's NOT funny to go through this. 
For people who can say "actually that will never happen" or "you should accept that it didn't happen and just move on" to actually realise that to me these things are real and although you don't experience it, or understand, it doesn't mean it's easy to get over. If it was, I would have got over it 5 years ago when it all first started.

I'm not usually the type to go over to someone after a talk at Britmums but when it was all over and most people had left I couldn't just walk away. And I was brave and went over. I planned to be cool and to say thank you and to give a little insight into what is going on with me. But I got nervous, and I cried (no surprises there hey?!). But we hugged and I thanked her for making me feel normal.
I told her that I felt she was talking straight to me, and not to anyone else. I felt as though I was supposed to be there at that point, like fate I suppose, like I was meant to hear that.
I realise that other people have anxiety, I have never thought I was the only one to suffer from that, but I always felt that I was/am the only one who saw/see's these intense and sometimes so real images and scenarios in my head. To the point that I stand there and wonder whether or not this thing has happened, will happen or is about to happen.

Emily made me realise that I am normal. And that there are others out there who are like me.

I realised that it's ok to talk about it, and that maybe it would be best to just get it all out. And if people find it funny then that's their problem, not mine.

Emily. Thank you for talking to me, in a room of so many.
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21.6.14

Too Much Wine, Too Many Tears

As I write this I am sat on a train on my way back from Britmums Live. I planned to hold back on posting about it until next week. To write a nice balanced post, but as I sit and reflect on the weekend and write in my notebook I notice a theme. And it's all to do with Friday night.
I feel if I don't write about it now then it will keep in my mind and I need to try and move on, and address a few things.

I am not a heavy drinker. I rarely drink at all. I never go clubbing or to the pub with girl friends. So I had planned to have fun with my friends and relax, have a couple of drinks (be merry not really drunk) and just be Lauren. Not mum, not wife, not daughter. But Lauren.
What happened wasn't me at all. It certainly wasn't the way I ever wanted to be seen by people in this community, by people I've never met before.....great first impression hey?! To say things I can't remember and maybe even say things I didn't mean.

I feel humiliated, embarressed and ashamed.
It's not really fun when someone is like that is it? When your friends have to look after you. When your friends have to escort you out of somewhere in search of carbs. When you are not aware that you are being too loud.
It's not fun to have people coming over asking if you are feeling ok. People you have no recollection of speaking to. When you wonder just how many people saw you in such a state.

When you sit there and cry because your friends didn't win the awards they were nominated in, and you are supposed to be supporting them and saying it's ok but instead are kind of doing the opposite, you know you have gone too far.

When you can't remember the awards finishing, you can't remember leaving the venue. You can't remember getting to the restaurant, you know it's not good.        
When you know you cried FAR too much for the most ridiculous reasons. You cry at people you've only just met, you interupt conversations, you become a pest, the kind of person people don't want to be around. That's when it's gone too far.

I am ashamed of how I acted and I can't help but to think that I completely represented myself in the wrong way.
           
I am sorry to anyone I annoyed.
I am sorry to my wonderful, amazing friends who had to look after me. Who weren't able to have their own fun because they had to watch me.
But I am thankful to those friends too. So so thankful.


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19.6.14

Capturing Colour | Green

We are now on Week Three of the Capturing Colour photography project and I am really loving it.
Week three's colour was green. After obvious photos for blue I wanted to stay away from the obvious "green = grass" and go for something different.
On Saturday we visited Duxford Imperial War Museum and I was noticed green in places I wouldn't have noticed before.
From buildings, to planes, to doors, to uniforms- and a sneaky photo of some people stood in their camoflauge great and a bright green beret, and some location pins. I was really spoilt for choice and rather than bombard this post with tons and tons of photos I have selected 5 of my favourites.

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16.6.14

Charles, Aged 5...Loves

Just before Charles turned 3 I saw a great idea a non-blogging friend posted on Facebook which I really liked. The idea was simple, take a recent photo of your child and add text to it listing things they love. I thought this would make a great blog project and had a few other bloggers with similar aged children join in too.
You can see my previous posts for both boys below:
I ummed and ahhed about doing it this year, as since we went on holiday last year I had major doubts about what a share about the boys online. But I really enjoy making it and think it's a great project to continue and look back on, so I just chose his 'loves' carefully and haven't shared too much.

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15.6.14

Happy Sunday | Week Sixteen

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

A Birthday

Charles turned 5 yesterday. I know a lot of people say "wow, can you believe he is 5? Where has the time gone?" but actually, I can believe he is 5. It seems odd sometimes that he is not older.
We had a really lovely day out as a family thanks to my husband booking the day off work, and ended up going to our favourite Italian restuarant in St Neots for a special birthday dinner. The boys both ate their food with no fuss, so we were really happy.
Charles loved all his presents and was so grateful for everything, and has more to open from other family members today!

Duxford and Planes

Despite living close-ish to Duxford 8/9 years ago we never visited, and finally just got round to it. It is amazing with hangers full of the most historic, beautiful planes.
The boys loved being able to go on Concord and Charles was super excited to see the Blackbird.
It was lovely to go somewhere we all enjoyed and that the boys didn't get bored at. We will definitely visit again.

A Photo

Charles loves being able to take over with my camera and as a special birthday treat I let him walk around Duxford with my DSLR. He is quite good at taking photos and I love this one he took of my husband and me as we were trying to be embarrassing parents.
I love when museums have items like this to try on. The helmet I have on is really light yet the one my husband is wearing was a lot more heavy.

Errands

I am rubbish when it comes to running errands and such. I tend to ask my mum to help out or will run somewhere just after I've dropped Charles at school in the morning when I am Harry free.
I decided this week to do something about it and with lots of odd jobs to do we set about and we had fun. He loved helping me when we took my watch to get a new battery, he loved helping me in Tesco with the cakes and buying a birthday card for Charles.
He loved helping with an Asda shop, helping me pick out which sprinkles to put on the treats at their party next week.
He loved helping me in Aldi, although did have a mini meltdown when I put Smoked Salmon in the basket. It wasn't allowed near his stuff so I had to carry it instead.
As a treat for being so good and so helpful I let him go on the toy plane outside Tesco. This isn't something I let them do that often so he knew it was a special moment.

Zebra or Horse

When I go for my walks I see this horse. It is really beautiful, and last week it was wearing this Zebra print coat. It really made me smile and the next day I went back, he was wearing it again, although the previous day he had a hood on too so it was even cuter. He is really friendly and came over to see me so I couldn't resist taking a photo of him.


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12.6.14

Capturing Colour | Red

I've really enjoyed being part of this 6 week project with a few other bloggers. The project is to make us focus on the colours around us, and to help us to pick up on the small places they appear that maybe we wouldn't usually notice.

Last weeks colour was blue, one I really enjoyed but at the same time struggled with as it didn't seem a common colour around here, other than the sky obviously.
This week's colour was red and it has been easier to spot and notice around, specifically during a day out at the zoo.
The flower photo below was taken at my Mother in Laws in her beautiful garden. 



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10.6.14

Siblings: The Family Portrait Project | June

June is a big month for my boys, Charles in particular, as he turns 5. Harry's birthday is next month but on the 22nd they will be celebrating their birthday with a joint party. Their first proper joint party, which I am both excited and scared about.

These photos were taken on our boat....again. And also in the garden of one of our favourite pubs in Norfolk. The boys had so much fun together, chasing each other, trying to do roly polys, making friends with a group of 20/30 year olds at a nearby table and getting one of the ladies to do cartwheels for them.

It was lovely to see them so confident and having so much fun together. I saw a lot of similarities to when I was little and would play with my brother. He was the confident one talking to other people and I would follow him around, wanting to be like him, or sticking with my parents.

One of the cutest moments was bed time when the boys snuggled on one of the berths and watched The Lorax on their portable dvd player. They laughed at the same bits together, would cuddle up, hold hands. Proper heart melting stuff.
I felt like a very lucky mummy.

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8.6.14

Happy Sunday | Week Fifteen

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

Reading

Since having the boys I haven't read many books at all. I have so many on my to read list, so many I have waiting to be read, waiting to be finished. I did decide to be strict with myself and to not start a new book until I had finished other ones, so last week I decided to finally get on and finish The Detectives Daughter. I didn't expect to so quickly become hooked to reading again. I have bought the Mary Poppins book series on Kindle for £4.99 and plan to read them on the way to Britmums, and then on the way home. I'm really excited, especially now I've finished The Detectives Daughter.

Summer Weather

Oh the weather has been so so lovely this week. The odd rain shower has been most welcome just to clear the air but then it has been glorious. I've really enjoyed being able to get out to do my walks and even managed a 3 mile walk down the beach with a friend on Wednesday evening.
My Jelly Shoes have been out again this week, I am really loving them.
I am now going to get the dresses and shorts out full time. Oh yeah. See you in a couple of months jeans (well, unless it rains).

Theatre and more Mum-me time

My mum had 2 free tickets to the theatre on Saturday so once we got home after the zoo we had a quick dinner and then walked to the theatre. The show was....meh. Which was a shame but it was lovely spending time with my mum, I also slept round hers that night too.

Zoo Day

On Saturday we headed over to Banham Zoo. My mum didn't have work so we decided to make the most of our spare day. The weather was shocking and we had to hide in a undercover area near the snow leopards. I wondered if the rain would ever stop. Within an hour it was BOILING. Really really really hot, so it was a really wonderful day.

Running and Opportunities

Blogging is amazing isn't it? For the people you meet and the opportunities you get. I have been doing fast pace walking for two weeks now and just feel I'm not getting enough out of it and want to take it to the next level and start running. Seeing Katie's passion for it has really inspired me and I'm hoping I can keep it up.
I was lucky enough to be send some running trainers and some running clothes to review. This now gives me no reason to not start and I'm oddly super excited. Me, excited, about running! The girl who one year missed every single Cross Country PE term because I hated it that much.

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5.6.14

Capturing Colour | Blue

When I got my first DSLR in 2010 I was shocked at how much it changed the world as I usually saw it. I noticed colours, shapes, depth, height. I realised how big certain things were, and how small other things were too.
Things I normally would have passed by all of a sudden became so interesting, and beautiful. Everything became a photo opportunity, and the perfect subject to snap....much to my husbands annoyance.

So I was delighted to be asked by Kirsty if I wanted to take part in a photography project called Capturing Colour. Each week we will be given a colour and then will be left to snap anything we see that is that colour. We choose what we take a photo of of course, we don't have to snap everything we see.

Blue is by far my favourite colour. No particular shade, I like them all, and this is the first colour for this project.
"Easy" I thought. I was wrong.
I might have lots of blue in my wardrobe, but outside of my house, there wasn't much around.
But then I remembered Kirsty saying about us looking for the small things. The things people don't notice and maybe the little things that don't matter to anyone else.

A blue shoe. Charles was stood at the front of the boat helping my husband put the sail on. His foot was resting on the porthole frame like this. He had no idea that I would use it as the perfect opportunity to take a photo. These are his new shoes. His favourite colour is green so it surprised me when he chose blue shoes. On warm days I love seeing him walking around in shorts then seeing his bare legs and a pop of colour on his feet in the form of these shoes, and small trainer socks.

Eyes. Sometimes I am too busy looking in the mirror and pointing out my flaws that I forget the things I actually like about myself. The important things.
My blue eyes. The very things that make it possible for me to see, and for me to appreciate the world around me. To see colours, shapes and so on.
My childrens eyes. The eyes that frown, smile, get wet when they are sad, close when they are tired. The eyes I look into everyday.

And then I got a bit stuck. I found nothing else blue, but the obvious was staring at me the whole time.

The sky. The most important piece of blue around us, changing colour and changing it's shade so so often.
We look out for blue skies, we want hot days, we check to see if there are clouds in the sky, but somedays we just look out of the window, get on with the day and we don't take notice of all that blue. The blue that can be scattered with white clouds.
The blue sky, that when reflected on muddy browny/grey rivers make you feel like you are sailing on clear blue water.
The blue sky that takes your breath away as you look up a mast and see it, a soft backdrop behind a big white sail.
The one thing that makes us question life. Is there anything beyond it? How long does it go on for?
A blue sky, something we desperately want, and sometimes desperately want to go away.
A blue sky, framing and proving a bright backdrop for a big ball of fire.
The blue sky which can hold our attention a lot longer than a tv screen. The one thing we can sit and stare at in silence, for hours on end.


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