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31.3.15

"Ps Don't be so hard on yourself all the time!"

I was sent an email last week with these words. I can't say it's completely knew to me, I've heard those words a few times before, but this time I felt a little bit different
How do I make someone see the best in me?
It's simple. I put myself down, and bully myself, and list all the bad things about myself to them.
I guess that's the way I protect myself and by me saying all of those things stops them from saying them, or discovering them for themselves.

If I say I am annoying, all they can do is agree, and not figure it out by themselves (or lie and pretend they hadn't noticed).
If I say I am paranoid, jealous, ugly, fat, with no willpower then it's ok, because it's me pointing those things out and not someone else discovering them.
It seems silly I know, wanting to impress someone and then pointing out your flaws.

I have confidence in some ways. And in some ways I think I am a nice person, I have things about myself that I am proud of, and that I think can appeal to people. But I am quick to not want people to think I have an ego, or that I think I am amazing, beautiful, funny, and so on.
Because I don't think those things at all.
I find myself incredibly annoying, so annoying that I can't see how I have any friends or why anyone would want to talk to me.

I think a lot of the time that people talk to me because they feel sorry for me, or just don't want to hurt my feelings. Or they think "Meh, eventually she will go away". But I don't. And that is why I am annoying. Because I sometimes just can't take a hint, and I get caught up in the moment of thinking "HOLD ON. WOAH! SOMEONE MIGHT JUST LIKE ME". And I cling on, really tight.
I guess I kind of push people to be part of my life. If I annoy them and hassle them then they have a reason to talk to me. But how is that successful? How is that ever going to give me the result I want? Instead of pushing them to be a part of my life, I am instead pushing them away.

You see, here. This post was supposed to be my way of sticking up for myself. A way of being positive but instead I'm bullying myself again. And I suppose that's because it's just the way I am.
I was bullied at school, I was bullied as an adult, and I bully myself. I don't really know any different.
Those who say nice things to me are either my family, who kind of have to say nice things, or other people who I don't believe.

And it's hard because, and here is where I sound like a complete and utter brat, there are only so many times that you can hear that you are "nice" or "lovely" or "sweet" until you start to think...."hold on, is that all I am?" I'm not ungrateful, and if someone truly thinks that of me then that's great, and I appreciate it.
However, in my head, it feels like it's the first describing word that comes into someones head when they are panicking. In an almost "You are nice...but..." or "You are sweet....but..." and the word "lovely" is generally only really used because it shares the first initial of my name "Lovely Lauren", which sounds better and more catchy than "Nice Lauren".

I suppose me being an open, honest, soppy, over-sensitive person doesn't help. I would quite happily say to someone, be it a family member, friend, mum on the school run, teacher, key-worker, blogger, that they are amazing. I will tell them why they are amazing. Because everyone deserves to know that, I believe anyway.
But just because I am happy to do that, and to talk to people like that, I suppose I need to accept that I won't get the same in return. And my way of protecting myself from that, and that feeling of rejection or whatever you want to call it is to list my bad points. To point those out saves awkwardness of someone else having to. It saves my heart from being damaged and my pride from hurting too much.
I can accept that people would think these bad things about me. I can't accept that anyone would think anything nice about me.
I can accept that peoples list of 'dislikes' would be much longer than their list of 'likes'.

And maybe that is why I get overwhelmed when I meet new people. When I see a little bit of hope that they may see the good in me. And they might enjoy talking to me, or getting to know me. They might be the person who is able to bring out the side of me who I like, the one who smiles, the one who I look at in the mirror and feel happy to be.

"Don't be so hard on yourself all the time!"
It's hard when I don't know any different. I don't know how to not be that person.
And I don't think I ever will, because whenever I get close to easing up on myself and giving myself a break, things change again, and I am back in that same spot.
I will always be my biggest bully.

Discovered 2015 #1

Last year I started a monthly series called "Discoveries". It was going well, and it was fun to do, until I felt the pressure (I was putting on myself) of having to find something every month for each topic to include and so I gave it up.
Although for the last 3 months I think I've discovered some quite lovely things and thought it would be quite nice to share those things, some not necessarily new but new to me at least.

Films

The film that made me message a friend saying I was sobbing because I had never seen Tom Hanks die before. Saving Private Ryan, to me, was always a boys film. I never intended on watching it, especially as I am not particularly into those shooty-shooty gun type films but with this one starring Tom Hanks I gave into temptation and decided to watch it. At first I was a bit "woah!" at the gore although thankfully I had been warned about this, and as the film went on I LOVED it. Of course I bawled my eyes out, which I had to try and do silently as everyone else was in bed asleep and wouldn't have wanted to wake up to hear me crying!

It took me 2 days to watch as I felt asleep whilst watching this in the evening and then had to continue watching it the following day once Harry was at preschool but The Wolf of Wall Street was another amazing film! I was a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio when I was little (Hello Titanic, Hello Romeo and Juliet) and then I saw what his lifestyle and attitude was like in real life and it really put me off him. Watching him in Wolf of Wall Street did feel uncomfortable at times, and I couldn't help but wonder how much of his life experience he took with him when playing Jordan Belfort. It was a really enjoyable film, and as much as I gasped in some parts I also found myself laughing a lot in others. Highly recommended.

Another Leonardo DiCaprio film was The Great Gatsby. Oh what a beautiful, amazing film. I've always loved Baz Luhrmann's film style since watching Romeo and Juliet all those years ago. And Leonardo felt like he was back to that innocent Jack/Romeo style character rather than a bad boy.

Music

I am so late to the Ed Sheeran party but oh-my-gosh, how did I not appreciate his amazing-ness and talent until now?! I quite liked his songs up until recently anyway but didn't want to be part of the hype surrounding him so managed to avoid him really. Then, came the Brit Awards this year and, well...did you see it?! I pretty much decided then that I was a massive fool to not get his album X after watching his performance.
Now, that was one of the best decisions I ever made! I got the Deluxe version from Amazon which has 17 songs instead of the original one they had in Asda which has something like 10 or 12, for the same price!


I also bought Sia's album too. I was first made aware of Sia because of the video for Elastic Heart. It was quite controversial with people not really understanding art and alternative dance and instead wanting to believe that she was in fact promoting pedophilia. NOT THE CASE AT ALL. After Youtubing to watch the video I then spotted some of her other songs....and had to buy her album. It is so amazing. One of my favourite songs is number two on the album 'Big Girls Cry'. I really like the lyrics:
I may cry, ruining my makeup
Wash away all the things you've taken
I don't care if I don't look pretty
Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking

Her voice is stunning....although at times is a little Rihanna-esque which I look passed.



Books

I did have this big plan to read more books this year and have so far...well...not completely failed as I have read a book and a half, but I could do better.
The book I finished I wouldn't say is good enough to be listed as a 'discovered' because it was boring in places and also a tiny bit predictable.
One that is good enough to mention though is Caitlin Moran 'How to be a Woman'. Oh my goodness this is hilarious! Maybe not the best book to read when on a plane sat next to a stranger who will definitely be having a sneaky nose to see what you are reading, however if you are confident enough to then go ahead!
I am not a feminist in the stereotypical way but this book shows that I can believe in the things I believe in (ie, I do prefer men in particular job roles than women) and be a feminist in the more modern way which basically just involves being a woman. It's as simple as that.
The chapter titles are hilarious:

Chapter One: I start bleeding
Chapter Three: I don't know what to call my breasts

The reviews on Amazon are mixed and I think it's because people are being a little over-sensitive. Caitlins writing style is very honest and out-spoken but I wouldn't say that she is preaching to me or telling me "You are stupid for not believing this". It's just as if she is talking to you over a bottle of wine....or a cocktail.

29.3.15

Get Hard

On Monday this week I had yet another "date". It's funny, all of a sudden I seem to have this social life and it seems quite odd. I'm used to not really doing anything and being this person who is jealous of those announcing on Instagram that they are going out with a friend or a group of girls...and now I am one of those and it's odd.
Nice of course, but odd.

So this week I went to Norwich with a friend I met on the school run and who has now become one of my best friends. She had free tickets to a preview screening and asked if I wanted to go. Erm, YES PLEASE!
So with our children all sorted and a pick up time of 5pm (and various messages throughout the day of "SO EXCITED!") we were on our way.
We were rebels and stopped off at Poundland to get some drinks because you know, cinema prices ££££ and then parked up and headed in.

The thing I love about my friend, Christine, is that she lets me be myself. I seem to get on better with people if I can have a bit of banter with them, even if it includes saying some mean things which are obviously jokey and are not taken seriously at all. And I have that kind of friendship with her.
We also seem to be at this point where we try to embarrass each other as much as possible.
I think I am winning with that one, although I didn't quite expect her to turn round to the guy serving us on the food counter and telling him that we wouldn't be ordering drinks because I would end up going to the toilet all the way during the film!
After around 10-15 minutes of them faffing making our food, and us making even more inappropriate comments and jokes, and giggling far too much we were finally able to get to the screen.

Because it was a preview screening there were security guards at the door requesting we had turned out phones off and had no recording equipment etc. It was quite intimidating, however after making a joke about our food and me wafting our Nachos under their noses to distract them from the fact that I hadn't been able to take my phone out of my bag to turn if off we went in.
You know that awkward moment when the room is dark and you can't really see where you are going to you just sit at the first seats you see? Well, we did that, which we later regretted slightly as the screen was huge and we struggled to focus...and there was a particularly revealing part which had us covering our eyes and giggling like school girls!

We ended up having such a lovely time. Laughing, gossiping and being able to go away and have secret giggles over the word "Mayo" and "that toilet scene".

The only downside is having someone (male) ask you "which film did you see?" and then you having to reply with "Get Hard. It is NOT what you think". Awkward!


26.3.15

Walking in the Rain

I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and didn't want to be the person I saw looking back at me. I looked her in the eyes, and recognised that person who I just don't really like. The one I find annoying, the one with all of the flaws.
In the pit of my stomach I felt sick and disappointed, because I knew she would be with me all day. I would have to put up with seeing her in the mirror, or in any reflections but worst of all, I had to live as her today. I didn't want to do that. But I had no choice.

 This mornings Instagram photo. With the description:

I've never dressed so casually or slummy for the school run as I have today.
I'm stressed, feeling fat and horrid after not exercising for a few days and generally just a bit worthless.
Fun times.

I look at that photo and feel a bit disgusted really. I see chubby legs, a baggy top hiding a body I feel ashamed of. A head cut off because that added to the body is just too much for anyone to see. It's horrid.

I got in the car, took Charles to school and as we pulled up and I turned the engine off I just burst into tears. I had no idea they were coming so was a bit surprised and didn't really know what to say to Charles when he asked me what was wrong.
I managed to pull myself together to walk him to the school door without crying anymore. However, I was pretty aware that I felt oddly annoyed at everyone around, despite them not actually doing anything wrong (apart from the boy who decided to purposefully get in the way when I tried to open the gate).
I got back to the car, started the engine and turned up Ed Sheeran. Song of choice, Shirtsleeves, because at that point I suppose it best described how I was feeling. Some more tears came and then I cleared my eyes enough to see my way to drive home.


I got in, made a coffee, sat on the sofa feeling angry at myself because of the tasks I've set myself that I should have done a week or so ago before we go on holiday on Good Friday. There are some gifts I need to order and I'm afraid I've left it too late and am now beating myself up about it.
I had a look at Instagram, to read the comments left on my photo and I felt a mixture of emotions. I felt embarrassed that I'd done that whole "woe-is-me" thing and could have been seen as attention seeking and all "tell me I look great" thing. It wasn't that at all. It was a way to vent. But I also felt quite lucky at the kindness of people, even if I don't believe the things they say.
And then it was almost like I'd slapped myself across the face. 


How dare I sit there and feel that way. I remembered how I felt last year, when I was almost 4 stone heavier, and that moment that I went on my first power walk. The one that started off my healthier lifestyle. 
That power walk was done in the rain. It was muddy and not at all pleasant. And the weather today was worse but that inner me, the one who kicked my butt last year and made me go out, returned and I sent an SOS text to my mum and within an hour she was round, I was dressed in a pair of leggings with my running trousers over the top, a vest top, a long sleeved tshirt, a sweatshirt and my raincoat...and then my wellibobs because my running shoes would never have survived the mud I was about to face, and I was ready to go.
I even braved a cocky faced photo. That smile is a bit fake and I can see in my eyes that I'm not really into it, however, it was a reminder for the next time I feel like this that I can do it.
So looking like a hot bit of stuff (joking), with my headphones and Spotify playlist of Ed Sheeran, Sia and Sam Smith I went. 
It was quite eerie with no one else around. The weather wasn't great but I didn't really care. I was able to think and to walk out my frustration and anger. 
It wasn't until a mile into my walk that my anxiety set in and I had that feeling of being followed. Thankfully though, due to my "mad-at-the-world" attitude I just carried on walking, upping my pace a bit, thinking that if someone was really there to kill me that there was nothing I could do about it anyway.


I didn't really know which route to take. I didn't do the usual walk I did last year and I really wanted to push myself. So I walked as far as I could until there was a orange fence-thing stopping people from walking any further and then I turned back on myself and walked back the way I came.
It rained the whole time, but I could feel my body working hard to keep me going and that felt good. 
I was able to think all the things I needed to think about. 
I played out conversations in my mind, and everything I needed to organise I suppose. I can't say it helped, sometimes these things just make everything worse. However, being able to walk a little faster to make my leg muscles ache a little bit more helped. The pain in my legs helped distract me from my head.


An hour later, and 5 miles walked, I stepped into my house asking my mum if my legs were still attached because I couldn't feel them!
A cold shower....for as long as I could handle (fun times!) followed by a hair wash, coffee and healthy lunch of avocado, tuna, tomatoes and cucumber made me feel a little more human, although I was still mad at the world.
The good that came out of it was reigniting that passion for those walks. Knowing how far I can walk in a short amount of time, and how I can feel a little better about myself and my body after doing that.

I still don't like the me I am today, and hope that tomorrow I wake up as that Lauren that I like. The one who doesn't have to force a smile. The one who feels confident and not overwhelmed at the school run, and like she is drowning due to everyone surrounding her.
The Lauren who feels like she has self worth and is liked by people, and more importantly is liked by herself.



25.3.15

Springtime Surprise Project

You know when you have those weeks and days when you really need a pick me up? You need something special to put a smile on your face and to make you feel appreciated.

I signed up to the Springtime Surprise Project when signups first opened. I was so excited and I really like the concept of Random Acts of Kindness and thought this was ideal! It thought it would meet new people, and to really research someone (bringing out my inner stalker!) and to then put something special together especially for them.

I was paired with Sian, one part of Bone White China. Sian was completely new to me so it was lovely getting to know her through her blog and Instagram.
You can see the items I sent to Sian here.

As soon as my box was delivered by the postman I knew I was in for a treat. Sian had put so much effort into making it pretty and already it had made me smile.
I may have welled up a little at the fact that she had wrapped my presents in a beautiful floral napkin from her wedding. After noticing this, I spotted something on the inside of the box lid. Again, I may have got a bit teary. There were four quotes, and three pictures of Ricky Martin, Tom Hanks and Sam Smith. Proof that Sian had really studied me because I regularly post quotes I like onto my Instagram, and my bio says:
Lauren 
 📷Blogger|Mum|Wife|Twin👱
 ♡Loves..♡Blue Floral Dresses♡Sailing♡ 
♡Ricky Martin♡Tom Hanks♡Sam Smith♡ 
♡Animal Print♡Coffee♡Photos♡ Tweet @laureninsuffolk

Sian had put so much effort into making everything so perfect. From the wrapping, to the reason behind everything (something to eat, something to drink, something to wear etc) and I felt so so lucky and really quite overwhelmed at how kind and thoughtful she is.

Lucy is opening up the project for the summer too. If you are thinking about joining in then DO IT. There is such a lovely satisfaction of putting a box together for someone (although also massive pressure that you naturally put on yourself to make someone smile) and the most lovely feeling receiving something that someone has put together especially for you.

Sian, thank you so much for making me smile and for making me feel appreciated.


24.3.15

Sterna Winery | Visiting Cyprus

For so long now I have wanted to visit a vineyard/winery. Our Land Rover Experience day ended with a visit to Sterna Winery in Kathikas village.
Sterna Winery is a small, local, traditional winery. There is a museum in the winery which is a bit...random and although it was interesting we felt it was a bit basic.
However, then came the wine tasting.
We were served bread (I swear it doesn't matter where you go in Cyprus, you are given bread EVERYWHERE!) and the most delicious olives and then poured small glasses of the local wine to try.
Oh my goodness, it was all amazing. I'm usually a fan of sweet wine, mostly Rose or white as my second option. However, we were served the most beautiful red wine I have ever tasted. A really sweet red wine that I could have bought crates of!
We also tried some local made Shnapps, again like the bread it's something we were served pretty much everywhere we went. This one almost made my eyes water but was quite nice, and after trying one the following day at Omodos village which was super strong and a bit chemical tasting I definitely preferred the one sold at Sterna.

Looking at Google this winery seems to have some not very good reviews, with people saying they were forced into buying bottles of wine. We managed to leave without buying any, not because we didn't want to, but because it was all so nice and we were obviously restricted with luggage and also with money (each bottle was around 10Euros). Maybe our experience would have been different if we didn't have our guide with us and had gone independently.

Although I'm glad I was able to visit a winery, and to do a wine tasting, I still want the full experience of walking around a vineyard and seeing more of the wine making process first hand.




23.3.15

Konfidence Swimologist 2015 | £50 Konfidence Voucher Giveaway

For the last two or three years a friend of mine has talked a lot about how she thinks swimming lessons are really important and a life skill. I kind of always shrugged it off. Not denying what she was saying of course, but thinking more of it as a natural skill that surely we could encourage by taking Charles and Harry swimming ourselves.
However, life gets busy and I think swimming is something you need to really be in the mood to do. Due to getting changed, women's confidence issues, the water being cold or the changing rooms being cold, wet hair, make up running, silly things really.

Last year when we bought our boat the biggest worry for us was the boys safety. My husband wasn't as worried as me, but I became really anxious, asking if we could put some kind of barrier around the boat through fear of them falling into the water. The lifejackets obviously give us some reassurance but we needed something more than that.

I had been told that the waiting list for swimming lessons at the local leisure centre was really long, with some people waiting over a year to get in and this again was another thing that put us off. However, when Charles started school I made friends with a few of the mums, one of which has her own swim school! Not long after we put his name down we were told he had a place and a 4 days later I was ripping him from my side and passing him over to his swimming teacher who was waiting for him in the water. I think the fact I knew her made this a lot easier as he looked so sad and scared but in the end enjoyed it a lot.

Fast forward a few months later and I sit there amazed at how far he has come. This little boy who used to cry at home when his face got splashed in the bath now dunks his head under through choice.
The little boy who I ripped from my side will now happily get in the water, bounce along the side in excitement and spends half an hour smiling because he enjoys it so much.

We're not quite sure that Harry is ready for lessons yet, and will probably start him there after he turns 4, however just watching his brother and the other children in the water has made him a little more confident which showed when we went on our recent holiday to Cyprus.

When Konfidence asked us to be part of their Swimologist programme for 2015 I was delighted! I feel like swimming, at the moment, is such a big part of our lives. The boys don't have any other classes or groups that they attend and swimming lessons are therefore the only fixed date in our diary every week.

We were sent some wonderful goodies recently to try out, which obviously gives us the boost to get to a local pool on a Sunday to swim and with a change of preschool hours has also given me the encouragement to use my full day at home with Harry on a Friday to my advantage and to go swimming together. I'm particularly looking forward to trying out the Original Konfidence Jacket and seeing how it differs from other swimming aids we have used. The design of the jacket really intrigues me as I can see it being a lot more beneficial in terms of teaching a child how to float and tread water compared to alternative products.

For a chance to win a £50 voucher to spend on Konfidence products, scroll to the bottom of this post and fill in the rafflecopter form.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

22.3.15

A Night Out and a Painful Saturday

Saturday morning was not good. In fact, all of Saturday turned out to be a bit of a wash out.

On Friday night I finally had a girls night in with one of my closest friends. We've known each other since high school where we were friends but not the type to really hang out together. We then became friendly and met up a lot after she had her daughter 2 months after Charles was born.
Her fiance works offshore and for a while we've said "we should have a girls night" but it never happened. Then a mid week talk involving her saying that she couldn't imagine me drunk quickly turned into a date:
"We should have a wine date"
"Yes we should. When?"
"Friday?"
"Ok"
Done.
I was ridiculously excited, and also a bit nervous. I get a bit silly nervous knowing there is the possibility that I will be drunk in front of someone new and could possibly cry at them, hug them and declare my love for them or I will talk absolute gibberish and fall asleep. If anyone saw me the Friday night at Britmums Live then you may understand why I would be nervous of people seeing me drunk!


7 o clock came and it was almost time to leave. I felt this weird pressure of "oh my goodness! What should I wear?!" and kept on my check skirt, thick tights, cardigan and vest top. Then, she sent me a photo of a hole in her socks and that she had made the effort of putting on her jogging bottoms so I got changed. And instantly felt a little more relaxed, which is silly as I felt comfortable in the previous outfit anyway, but I think knowing I could sit down and not worry about showing her my knickers or my bottom due to wearing my new-were-supposed-to-be-kept-for-holiday sweatpants, and my 'My Weekend Sweatshirt' top took the pressure off a bit. For added classy hot-chick-ness I paired my new navy frilly socks and was ready to go.
The wine was opened as soon as I walked in and we talked, and talked, and laughed, and talked, and laughed. And then we talked and laughed some more.
And it was just refreshing and so nice to be sat round someone else's house, in my comfy clothes, with my feet up on the sofa, not worrying too much if my cheeks blushed due to the wine or if my eyes went a bit red and my speech slurred.
Before we knew it the time had reached 10.30....then 11.30...and then midnight. I could have stayed for hours more but I booked a taxi and made my way home.
I got in, slumped on the sofa, opened the Just Eat app, was disgusted that no Chinese takeaways were open and fell asleep. I woke up with the Just Eat app still open and my phone in my hand....as well as two empty packets of crisps next to me...goodness knows when I had those!

I was not ready to face the day at 6am when the boys woke me up. And despite having all the coffee, and a sausage and chips lunch my hangover lasted the whole day.
But it was all totally worth it.
That time to spend an evening being me. Talking about struggles of parenting and not pretending to have perfect children, knowing that neither of us would be judging the other, discussing my "mid life crisis" and plans for my 30th birthday as well as excitedly talking about her wedding next year!!

Plus, there is nothing quite like watching your drunk friend attempt a roley poley...which she managed quite spectacularly...despite hurting her head.

A Birthday and Mothers Day Joint Celebration

March can sometimes see a clash of celebrations with Mothers Day sometimes falling on, or very close to, my husbands birthday. I'm always quite strict and put my husbands birthday as the priority.
This year we were able to get the family together the Sunday before Mothers Day, which was a couple of days before my husbands birthday, and it was a mini-joint celebration.
As we packed the car up to head over to my Mother in Laws house I felt it would be silly to not take advantage of the Spring feel in the air and to use our Balloon Time Helium Kit.
I adore my mother in laws garden. She keeps it looking beautiful and it's quite enclosed so we can relax without worrying about being spied on by nosey neighbours.

As we turned up after an hours drive the sun was still shining, and we could get away without wearing coats. So we hurried to make the most of this and decided to get the balloons up.
The kit is so easy and simple! You simply get the helium canister, 30 balloons and some pretty white ribbon. I thought I would be giving the job of blowing the balloons up to my husband, however it was so easy to do that I had them all up, floating on the lounge ceiling in no time!

We tied the ribbon onto the balloons once they were all blown up as it worked out to be a easier to do it that way, and got ready to take them outside....


Of course this is England after all and just as we had gathered up the balloons the sky turned grey and teeny tiny droplets of rain started to fall. Typical.
Still, we popped outside anyway as Charles really wanted to see if he would float away if he held all of the balloons. He didn't. So we went back in.
We didn't have any other kind of decorations up. No banners, or streamers. And simply relied on the balloons to add a "celebratory atmosphere".
It was funny to see how the atmosphere and feeling in the room changed as each balloon bounced onto the ceiling. The boys in particular were excited and, in all honesty, so were the adults too!
I've always wanted to have a party or get together with a ceiling covered in balloons but thought it would be expensive and difficult to do. However, now I know how easy and simple it is to do, without having to go to a balloon shop and spending a fortune on them inflating balloons. And I think it may become a birthday tradition for us all.


I'm working with BritMums and Balloon Time as part of the “Celebration Club”, highlighting inventive and fun ways of using balloons. I was provided with a Balloon Time helium kit and have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit www.balloontime.com for more information and party inspiration.