27.7.14

Happy Sunday | Week Nineteen

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:

Like Mother, Like Son

I took a photo of Harry, Charles and Charles' girlfriend outside the school on the last day this week. It wasn't until I looked back at the photos that I noticed that Harry has clearly been paying more attention than I thought when I take my in-the-mirror-selfies.

Teddy Bears Picnic

On Tuesday parents were invited to Charles' school to celebrate their wonderful year. We were treated to a slideshow which was quite emotional to watch, especially as the children called out each childs name as they appeared on the screen and then all sang along to 'Let It Go' at it was played towards the end of the slideshow.
We were then ushered through to the other classroom where the teachers held an Oscars Ceremony. Each child recieved an Oscar. Some were funny like 'Most Likely to Marry Harry Styles' 'Longest Plaits' and others were sweet like 'Most Fantastic Friend' and 'Best Manners'.
Charles won 'Most Likely to Sail Around the World'. They had a little red carpet to walk down and then stood proudly on top of a box to smile for a photo, at which point I also stood and told him to smile as he looked so nervous and took my own photos.
We were then able to stay and join the children for a teddy bears picnic. It was such a fantastic end to a wonderful year.

Iced Espresso

We had to go to Norwich this week for my husband to have his weekly check up at Optical Express following his Laser Eye Surgery. I walked around Norwich with the boys whilst we waited for him to finish and then he treated us to a Starbucks. I went for a Espresso Frappucino which was AMAZING. I knew I wouldn't be able to recreate this at home, and usually make a fantastic (if I do say so myself) Frappucino but you know, on a diet now, so I went for an Iced Espresso instead, which was really quite tasty and refreshing.

Daisy Chain

We popped down to the boat this week briefly just to check a few things over. The bank is covered in daisies which the boys always insist on picking for me. This time I couldn't resist but to try and make a daisy chain. The boys were so impressed with me and although it didn't work as the headband I hoped it would, it was perfect as a necklace.
We are meeting up with some friends soon and we will be making daisy chains and flower crowns which I am super excited about.

End of School Year Beach Time

On Wednesday we headed to the beach straight after school. Armed with lots of bags of toys, towels, a change of clothes, swimwear and a picnic we made our way onto the sand and in no time at all the sandwiches were covered in sand accidently kicked on them and the blanket to sit on was wet due to feet which had been paddling in the sea.
The boys can be nervous of the sea but I've always found the best way to get them to be brave and to get over that initial fear is to force them in. I know, it sounds mean, but it works for us. One minute Harry is saying 'no mummy' and the moment I put his legs in the water and swing him so his legs crash into the waves he is laughing, giggling and screaming for more.
It made me so happy to see them enjoying themselves. I just regret not doing it sooner but....I have a summer to fill so more beach time is definitely on the cards.


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24.7.14

Banana Pancakes | Recipe

Lets get something out in the open right now.
Bananas are evil.
They smell, they have a horrid texture, they smell, they are messy, they smell, the taste funny and they smell. But.....I ate one...and enjoyed it. I feel like I have cheated myself through doing this. How could I?! I adore pancakes and would eat them until I burst. Earlier this year I ate them almost everyday for a week, covered in chocolate and marshmallows and a healthier savoury option although this probably would have been covered in cheese and mayo.

I regularly watch Vivianna Does Make Up on Youtube. If you are not aware of her then go and seek her out immediately. Although predominantly about make up and fashion her weekly Vlogs are my favourite, and this is where I first saw "banana pancakes".
A healthy version of pancakes...how can it be?!
The recipe is super simple but also really quite adaptable so you can make up your two main ingredients and then throw in whatever else you like. I wanted raisins but didn't have any in so opted for desiccated coconut instead.
What you need:
A tiny bit of oil
1 banana
2 eggs
Other bits you may like to add. For example...I added 2 teaspoons of coconut and then included a sliced apple to the side of the bowl once the pancakes were made.
If you feel naughty you can always add some Nutella or (as I used but only as a taste test of course) ice cream sauce.

Simply mash your banana, whisk up your eggs, combine the two together, then either dry fry in a non-stick pan, or add a tiny amount of oil to a pan, and pour as much as you'd like into the pan (depending on the side of the pancake you want!) and flip once it looks like the pancake is done on the bottom side. It does take longer than other pancakes I find and if you flip too soon it will just end up looking like a banana-ery scrambled egg.

Once cooked both sides, serve. And enjoy.
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Capturing Colour | Silver

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

Week Seven | Gold

This week's colour was silver...which was really fun and easier to find than I thought it would be.



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21.7.14

This is Motherhood. For Your Real Life.

I'm driving along in my car, down a country lane. I pull over at a layby. Stop the car. Undo my seatbelt and get out.
I'm exhausted but I know this needs to happen, I have threatened it enough, I expected changes which didn't happen, simple and easy changes.
I go round to the other side of the car, open the door, unclick the seatbelt and remove Charles from the car. I stand him, safely, next to the car (obviously not the side near the road) and wait. I wait for him to just.stop.crying. To stop moaning. To calm down.

I planned a lovely evening for the boys. We met a friend and her daughter at the zoo, only for a short time as it closed at 5. They played, we talked although not as much as either of us would have liked, and the children put on a pretend show in the area the bird of prey demonstration is usually held.
We notice the time and say it is time to leave.
Charles breaks down. He cries and cries and screams. I ask a member of staff to confirm what time the zoo closes because Charles doesn't believe me. They say in 5 minutes.
He carries on. I show him the sign outside the main entrance and he read it with me "zoo closes at 5pm". He still cried.

We get into the car and he carries on.  My friend is wonderful and tells me that I'm not the only one that goes through this.
It continues and I realise that a few times I have threatened to pull over and take him out of the car until he stops. I realise I need to stop with the empty threats, and at that point I pull over.
I expect to cry but I feel empty. And this is becoming something that happens all too regularly.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is motherhood. It isn't all about the easy life, the fun times, playing, learning, love and cuddles. It's not the image we long for when we fall pregnant or even dream of one day being a parent.
Fun trips to the park followed by ice cream and feeding the ducks.
Picnics and country walks.
Days down at the beach, splashing in the water, building suncastles, eating chips and burying legs in the sand.
The perfect family dinner, where the company was enjoyed to the full, food is enjoyed and a dessert is rewarded.

Motherhood isn't that dream.
Real motherhood is unpredictable. Full of good days and bad days.
Real motherhood is hard. Your emotions are up and down and one minute you are celebrating a good school report and the next you are frustrated and at boiling point because once again simple instruction has been ignored.
One minute you are praising a fantastic sports day and you feel so so proud and the next you are asking your child the same question 5 times because that's how long he tells you the truth.

Both boys are making life hard. And there are days when I want to walk away. When I question whether or not they love or like me...they certainly don't respect me.

I keep blaming myself. I keep blaming them. I make excuses for myself. I make excuses for them.

Maybe sometimes someone is to blame, maybe sometimes the excuses are justified, and maybe sometimes it's just motherhood, nothing else.
Parenting is full of a wide range of "moments". There are those ones which make you wonder why you ever thought you could be a mum. Those moments when you think you are doing everything wrong, and you don't know how to fix it or if it will ever end .

And then there are the ones which make you feel like being a mum is made for you and that you can do anything and deal with anything.

I am learning everyday to expect the unexpected, be it in a good way or a bad way.
Not being or feeling able to cope or control situations doesn't make me a bad mother. You can't prepare for every moment, every phase, every difficult situation that you will face.
You won't always react to things the best way, and will quite often look back and realise that you could have handled certain things differently.

Motherhood is all about learning and to learn you have to go through these horrible, hard moments. Moments that make you doubt yourself, moments you think you can't handle. Moments that break you down. And it might take a while to learn, and you may have to go through these things 2, 3, 4 or 10 times until you work out how best to handle it.

To try and resolve those bad moments I always try to have a nice cuddle with the boys at night. Whether or not it's at bedtime or if I see them when they are asleep, or end up waking them up. I hate to go to sleep without being friends or saying I love you.

This is Motherhood.
For your real life.


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20.7.14

Happy Sunday | Week Eighteen

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:

Different Style

On Sunday we went to a Country Fayre in a town nearish to us. The fayre is held every year at a stately home and I love going. The weather was forecast as rain and storms but it was still hot so I embraced a style I have always envied and went for shorts, a vest and wellies. The shorts are two sizes too big but with a belt were reasonably ok. It actually turned out to be SO hot and I regretted the wellies....and not putting on suncream.

Changes

I hadn't been able to find a before and after photo to show my weight loss and the change in my body shape. So when I tried on this leopard dress to see if it was suitable for our date night I remembered I had posted about it before on Instagram. Seeing the changes made me quite proud...and also surprised me as usually I would look back on photos of me with long hair and want to grow it back, but this made me happy I had it cut short.

Date night

We haven't had a date night in a while and with my husband booked for laser eye surgery on Thursday we wanted to just have a bit of time together to talk about life in general and of course to discuss the surgery too.
We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed a bottle of our favourite Rose Prosecco...which seems to be a tradition for us to purchase when we visit this place.
The view was amazing as we looked over the Norfolk Broads and watched the sun set. We'd finished our meal by 8 o clock so sat in the garden area, by the water (once we managed to find a small spot that didn't have goose poo on it) enjoyed our wine, and a whiskey for him and Baileys for me. It was wonderful.





The Laser <say this in the same style as Dr Evil>

My husband was so so so brave this week and finally took a big step and went for Laser Eye Surgery. We got to shop for some new non-prescription sunglasses for him which was a novelty.
So far things are going great and his eyes seem to be doing well. I'm so proud of him for going through with it, I'm not sure I could!

No33

The day after my husbands eye surgery we had to go to Norwich for him to have a check up. The appointment was at 9 in the morning so we went for some breakfast after. I've always wanted to visit No33 Cafe in Norwich and after finally realising where it is we couldn't walk past and not go in. I had a delicious Salmon Benedict (although it wasn't as good as the one my husband makes) washed down with a big cup of Americano coffee....black with 2 sugars of course.
Hopefully we pop back soon to try some of their cakes which looked amazing!


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19.7.14

She Keeps Leaving

I keep seeing hints of this girl, or woman as I suppose she is now classed as. When I look in the mirror, in photos, and in myself.
That Lauren that I quite like. The one who makes me feel confident, a bit safe, happy and...well....just makes me feel like me.

But she keeps leaving. And I don't know when she will be back. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a week or more.
It scares me, and it confuses me. Just as I feel things are getting back on track something happens that ruins it all. The reflection, the girl I recognise and like, is gone. Sometimes I can feel her leaving, and I cling on for as long as I can but then, she's gone.
I've lost her again. And I don't know how to get her back.

I almost beg her not to go. Promise to change and all that jazz but it's too late.
I await her return. I hope and pray that it won't be long because the darkness, emptiness and confusion is all getting too much to cope with.

I feel like a broken record. I *am* a broken record.
And maybe that's why she leaves? Because she doesn't like this me. Maybe she feels that this me is too over-powering. Too much to handle. I understand that. I can feel that. But I try. I try my best to keep her close.
To be her as much as I can.
But sometimes it's so tough and it's beyond my control.

I just want to be her again.
But she keeps leaving.
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17.7.14

Capturing Colour | Gold


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


This week's colour is Gold.
 The project has now moved from blogs to Instagram but I love to use it as an excuse to use my DSLR to take photos of the most random of things.

Gold was difficult, until I looked around my house and spotted a lot of gold in everyday things.



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16.7.14

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?

  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?

  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

  22. Why are you, you?

  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

  25. What are you most grateful for?

  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

  27. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?

  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?

  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

  32. If not now, then when?

  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?

  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

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15.7.14

Interview With (another) 3 Year Old

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.

This is Harry's first year answering the questions. Charles has answered them for 3 years now and I thought it would be lovely to be able to do it with Harry also.

 
If you want to join in these are the questions asked.
1. What is your favourite colour?  
2. What is your favourite toy?    
3. What is your favorite fruit?
4. What is your favourite tv show?
5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch? 
6. What is your favorite outfit?  
7. What is your favourite game?  
8. What is your favorite snack?  
9. What is your favourite animal?  
10. What is your favourite song? 
11. What is your favourite book? 
12. Who is your best friend?    
13. What is your favourite dinner? 
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  
15. What is your favourite drink?   
16. What is your favourite place to go? 
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? 
18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?
  19. What do you want to be when you grow up?  

 
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14.7.14

Breastfeeding and How I View My Body Now

I've never really been a fan of my breasts. I always wanted them to be bigger, rounder, firmer. Perfect really.
"Page 3 boobs" as I've always thought. Those perfect shaped breasts to be proud of, not to show off on Page 3, I wouldn't want to do that (although I have no problem with Page 3) but ones which made me feel beautiful, even if they were just hidden under a tshirt and bra all the time.

In 2009 I realised why none of that really matters, to me at least.
When I was pregnant and I had those first few signs that my breasts were getting ready to one day feed my baby was shocking but really quite wonderful. Although I had difficulties breastfeeding at first down to Charles having tongue-tie resulting in my nipples being so sore and cracked that they bled, and then with us dealing with thrush, I embraced breastfeeding and my breasts never felt more beautiful, even when one was engorged and squirting milk across the room whilst the other was left drained by a milk-drunk baby.
I finally realised why I had breasts, and the purpose of these things that I had had issues with for 10 years.

I breastfed Charles for 18 months, then took a 6 and a half month break to continue growing a new baby who I then went on to feed for 2 and a half years.
Again, I continued to love my breasts, and more importantly, my children did too. Not because of what they looked like, but because the benefits to them.

Both boys fed A LOT and I produced A LOT of milk...which was just as well really!
Feeding my children from my own body made me feel like superwoman. Being able to comfort them just by pulling my top down and within seconds of feeling sad or of hurting themselves they would be fixed. It was like magic.

Medela recently conducted some research into breastfeeding patterns and behaviours to try and give mums some reassurance that each and every breastfeeding experience is unique. They know new mums can worry about how much milk baby is getting, or how often baby is feeding and even start comparing themselves to their friends and other mums.  What their research showed was that there is no such thing as normal! For example:

•             4-13 – the number of breastfeeding sessions per day
•             12-67 minutes – the duration of a breastfeeding session 
•             54-234 ml – volume of milk consumed in a breastfeeding session
•             478-1356 ml – the volume of milk consumed in a 24 hour period

Breastfeeding isn't easy. And as much as I am pro breastfeeding I do understand why women either choose not to do it or choose to stop, but for me it was, and in the future if we were to have more children, the only way I wanted to feed my children and I had to fight through immense pain, a few rounds of thrush, mastitis, altogether 4 years of being my childrens main source of comfort which can be restricting if you need some time to yourself to achieve that.
And I do feel like it's an achievement. I feel like I should be really proud of myself.
And I am. Very, very proud.

And now, 6 months after breastfeeding and since losing over 2 and a half stone my body has changed in a lot of ways.
My bottom is smaller, my thighs are smaller, my tummy is smaller and of course my breasts are smaller.
I looked down at them this week (whilst I was wearing a bra and fitted vest top), and I noticed how much they had changed. They are no longer full, or have a nice "lifted" shape.
I have to rely on bras to give me that shape and that lift but, I am happy with that.
Of course I would like fuller, rounder, perkier breasts but I can't change that, I don't want to change that.
My breasts are the way they are because not only is that simply how I was made, but also because of the job they have done for my two children.


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13.7.14

Happy Sunday | Week Seventeen

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.

So, I got behind on this, which is annoying. Britmums happened, then the boys birthday party happened, then Harry's birthday happened and before I knew it it was now 3/4 weeks later BUT I'm sticking with it despite the break.
Here are a few things that have made me happy over the past few weeks.

Espresso

I appear to be turning into a proper coffee fan now, always black. I had a latte this week and felt so bloated and meh after it so I know clearly my body prefers it without milk. I found a jar of Nescafe instant Espresso on the Sainsburys grocery site. It is so yummy. Easy to make (obviously) and is part of my morning routine now.

Cute Times

I've said a few times recently, and don't want to go on about it too much, but sometimes this whole parenting thing is really tough.  In those moments though are one's like these. Where children do something that makes you forget the tough times you are having. When one child pretends to ride his Uncles motorbike whilst his baby brother snuggles in.


Getting Outside

We had a weekend on the boat recently. I met my husband down there once he finished work, and we headed to the nearest Chinese takeaway and took it back onto the boat.
The weather wasn't it's best, it rained a lot, it was windy but my sister in law and her step son came to meet us and we went out for a sail (big mistake as a couple of things broke down to it being too windy) and went for a pub lunch. I'm hoping the weather is nice for the school holidays so we can spend some time on the boat as well as getting out and about elsewhere.

Size 14

I've always been the type of person to not really get too worried about the size on labels, well, if I do worry my mum is always there to tell me to ignore the label. Creeping up to a size 18 wasn't great for me. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being that size, but for me it wasn't what I wanted. I almost got used to being that size and accepted that my wardrobe would be full of clothes a size 16 or 18, but I worried that at some point the 18's would be replaced with 20's. It was definitely heading that way.
So this month I was OVER THE MOON to finally be able to buy a size 14. Something I didn't think I would ever do again. I thought my lowest would always be a 16.
So I was able to treat myself to some new dresses, jeans and tops and feel amazing.

Fitting Back In

To go with the above, I've also been super happy to be able to fit into a lot of clothes that I haven't worn since 2008 and 2009. I kept some of them, mainly for sentimental value, not thinking I would ever wear them again. It's been quite emotional really, which sounds ridiculous because they are just clothes, but I feel really proud and almost in shock at how far I have come.


Uncle Dale

My brother has been home for a week and it has been wonderful. We watched him do a track day at Snetterton last Sunday and he has joined me on the school run on 2 occassions too. 
Charles' class were not in school on Thursday due to the strike so we went to a local soft play centre. The boys love it and always associate it with my brother as we only tend to visit when he is home.
The boys adore him and it's wonderful that they are all so close despite the distance between us and that they can go 3-4 months without seeing him.
I feel like the proudest mum and sister when I watch them together.

My Mum

My mum is a star and does a lot for us. When we went to the track day she looked after the boys and let them play on the playpark so I could go to another area to get photos of my brother.
On Saturday she took the boys out for the day for me, along with my brother, so I could have some time by myself. I'm suffering with a silly cold at the moment and along with how stressed I have been the past two months I just needed some breathing space.

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10.7.14

Siblings: The Family Portrait Project | July

Brothers
Ride together
Ride side by side
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