I could definitely hear little chatters coming from the other side of the wall. There was whispering and I could feel the effort to be quieter than usual, seeping through the wall and in to the pitt of my stomach.

Of course, they must have found the eggs!

The biggest child sneaked into his little sisters room, probably climbed under the duvet with her so that she knew he was there and would open her sleepy eyes to start the day with him. This happened almost every morning. But on this day, I could see it. On this day, Easter Sunday to be exact… hand in hand, they tipped their little toes softly past my bedroom, over the landing and down the stairs. Here they found all of the goodies that the ‘Easter Bunny’ had left them for being so wonderful.

MAJOR CRAPOLA! Why didn’t I set my alarm and wake myself?

WAIT! Was that…. yeah…..foil wrapping being pulled apart? Shit! I could practically smell the chocolate from my bed!

I crept out of bed quietly, opened the door the same way and followed the sound of little voices.

I opened Noah’s bedroom door expecting to find both children, surrounded by shiny foil while shoving chocolate by the handful into their little mouths but trying to wipe their chocolate moustaches away with the other.

But, I opened the door to a tidy room, bright with morning light which danced beautifully over the two little faces looking up at me as they played with lego together. They smiled. I smiled.

Relief washed over me.

I sat down and joined in with the game and helped build a house with white walls and flowers. I said ‘Happy Easter’ and they said it back. They told me how they didn’t think that the Easter Bunny had made it in time…perhaps because of the heavy rain in the night. I smiled to myself and said ‘Maybe?’ and I asked them if they had checked downstairs.

And because they like to surprise me… They said ‘No’.

I told them that maybe they should!

And Ellenah bolted.

‘NOAH…YOU SHOULD COME DOWN HERE!!!!!!!!!!!! EASTER IS HERE!!!! WE GOTS EGGS!!!!’, we heard the little one shout in her biggest voice.

So we quickly followed.

Easter Sunday 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

Our home backs onto a woods and as I looked out of my kitchen window, I saw the tallest trees swaying around, the rain lashing against the window and saw the wind slice across the slightly overgrown grass in the back garden. It wasn’t exactly the ideal setting for an Easter egg hunt really…but… my big brother was coming around to hide one hundred and thirty eggs anyway, for Noah, Ellenah and two of their cousins (plus the tiny new one) to find together.

Easter Sunday 2016Easter Sunday 2016Easter Sunday 2016We are very much an ‘If you wait for the perfect day or time to do something, it will never come’ kind of family…so we went ahead, threw on our wellies and went out to face the elements. We ALL had such a wonderful time.

Yes, we got incredibly muddy! Yes, it was cold! but boy, did we laugh?!

Easter Sunday 2016

Our afternoon was something along the lines of a pretty great Easter egg hunt, all wrapped up with hot cross buns and a hot brew on top. Lovely! You can’t beat family time like it.

Easter Sunday 2016

And then, everyone went home.

So to round up such a lovely day, me and mine decided to head out for dinner at our local Ask Italian restaurant for some delicious food.

Easter Sunday 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

And…it was really nice to regroup, talk about our day and discuss the memories that we had made. Just us. We came away ready to collapse underneath our blankets and get all kinda cozy, to watch The Croods together … but completely unable to really make a start on the mounds of chocolate eggs which had taken over my dining table.

And there we stayed, happy and occasionally drifting in and out of sleep in each others arms, until bedtime rolled around and we said ‘Goodnight!’ to Easter Sunday 2016.

With Love, Ria x

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A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Ria,

Do you remember when thirty years old felt a million years away? Well I’m coming at you from twenty nine years old with our flirty thirties lingering. It used to feel so old but actually it’s quite nice living here, peaceful almost.

The best thing about it is hindsight, I say best thing sarcastically (yes cherub, you’re still pretty sarcastic and yes you know it’s the lowest form of wit…and no, you still don’t care too much about that!)… because actually, it can really sting sometimes. Oh the things I wish we would have known Ree!

This is so weird, I feel like a wise relative or something, like it’s not us… but it is. When you get here, you will have learned some lessons, some really hard ones too. You are naive now… you don’t stay that way completely. I’m afraid to say, I’m still figuring out if that is a shame or not. It means that life has hardened you a bit but it also means that you are learning not to let people control you so much or better still, try and break who you are.

You still like to see the best in people and life but you’ve seen another side of it, you’ve seen how you can’t control everything that happens in the world or the people in it. You’ve felt it hurt you. You’ve learned that it’s the people closest to your heart that will break it. You’ve learned how to piece it back together and you have understood that every crack changes you…and it is absolutely meant to. True to who you have always been, you hold on to the lessons and any good that you can possibly keep hold of in the palm of your hands. You know that you will need it to help you move on, move forward and grow.

You don’t hate yourself in your late twenties. In fact, you are pretty happy with how you turned out. You’ve never lost sight of the path you could have taken and what that would have meant for you. Unhappiness, loneliness, pity and unfulfilment. I’m proud we didn’t choose that life… our smile is too big for it.

I’m proud of us for a lot of things. I’m proud that we stopped using Dream Matte Mousse on our skin which was two shades too dark. I’m proud that we always wrote down our feelings, it helped us to better understand ourselves. I’m proud that we knew how to walk away from people who were not good for us and i’m proud that we respected ourselves enough to put ourselves first in some real life defining moments of our journey.

We didn’t always get it right. We gave too many chances sometimes and not enough in others. We have always struggled with finding the balance between being too harsh and too soft, too forgiving. Some of those people and friends didn’t deserve that extra time, those extra chances… and some really did.

We have always struggled with expecting people to live up to our expectations of them. I’m happy to say that we are working on that, most definitely. We accept people as exactly that these days, people…in their own right! It’s pretty liberating and I wish we had done it sooner. We feel more free for it and the world suddenly feels a lot more exciting, new almost!

You have two children now… can you even fathom it? They are literally incredible…like so cool! Noah is six and a half now and Ellenah, she is four. You have been on one crazy adventure through motherhood so far Cherub but you wouldn’t change a thing…apart from maybe you would try not to be so perfect. You wasted energy on that and nobody actually cared about it. I think that you were trying to prove something to yourself. I know that we are bad at math but do the sums, you were a young mama at the fresh age of twenty-two. Honestly, it has all worked out well but you spent a while building a wall around your bubble so that it wouldn’t burst or break. So that you wouldn’t break. You didn’t break! It has truly been the greatest thing that has ever happened to you…or ever will I’m guessing.

You are a good mum! So in the future when you see that line on the pregnancy test and you start laughing to stop yourself from crying out in self doubt… please know that it will be okay, you will be okay… it is okay. The reality is, it blows okay out of the water. It is amazing and wonderful and awesome and super and glorious and yes hard, I won’t sugar coat it but so completely worth it because nothing has ever up until this point, made you feel so proud of yourself than being the mother that you are.

Noah and Ellenah love you. And that is all that you need to make every day bright.

Katie- Fay is still your firm best friend and I don’t doubt she always will be. She really was a find when you grabbed hold of her at play school and hoped that she would be your pal. I’m pleased to say your friendship has NEVER faltered since that day. Rich is still your brother from another mother. You don’t see Anna enough and that bond is special. Nobody will understand your childhood like she does!!! Laura, you wouldn’t have met yet but that friendship is one in a million. When you go on a course with work to Brighton for a week (when you worked in finance…haha, I know right?!)… it is going to be special. You will get drunk, almost end up in the sea, invent the best inside jokes that will make you laugh every time and she will be the bridesmaid at your wedding.

Yep, we grew up and got married! His name is Matt! He is handsome and love has been an adventure. It has been perfectly imperfect and he will teach you the absolute best and the hardest lessons in your adult life. Think of a tornado and take a deep breath before he sweeps you off of your feet the day after you packed your things and walked out on the home and life that you had started to build with your long term boyfriend at the time.

Remember what I said about walking away, giving too many chances, hurt and heartbreak…but more importantly, what I said about choosing yourself in some life defining moments. That was one of them.

You grew yourself some balls over the years Girlfriend… and I don’t mean your boobs…they didn’t grow much. Gumption though, you developed that…strength and courage. And…I’m really glad!

Of course, there are many chapters and adventures in between all of this and a lot of fun but you need to experience it first hand. Those moments bring you to now and regardless of the good and bad…you wouldn’t change a damn thing! Because…You are happy now! Not just content. I know we’ve always had a bit of a thing about the difference between the two. I will say though, you have learned that ultimately, happiness is what you make it. You can actually choose it… and you must, always!

The thing that I’m thankful our adult life has taught us is that anything bad that has ever happened, anything mean anyone has said or how negativity has made you feel… It really is empowering. You survived it! You realise that nobody comes out of life unscathed and the more people you talk to about their stories, you will often feel sick, surprised, sad… and you will be ever so grateful for your own.

You’ve said goodbye to the bad parts. Others aren’t as lucky as you.

And on that note… I’m excited for everything to come ‘Smaller Me’… I can feel adventure in our heart, our smiler is bigger than ever and I’m really looking after us. Please don’t be in too much of a hurry to get here, okay? Promise me?

Love, Ria x

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For the last two months, my go to lipstick which I have been reaching for on a daily basis is Angel by Mac Cosmetics.

Mac Angel Lipstick

Believe it or not (because it is one of Mac’s bestsellers!), this is quite a recent addition to my make-up collection and it only found its way there because the shade ‘Creme Cup’ wasn’t available at the time of purchase. Creme Cup is an oldie but a goldie to me and ‘Angel is the next best thing!’ as the lady behind the counter told me. I actually prefer Angel now.

It is a frost finish which gives it a very pretty pearl effect to the lips and it is supper flattering for an every day look. I am in love with how much control I have over the colour payoff. It applies quite sheer but it is so buildable and can result in quite a few different looks… you could easily take this little beauty in to the night.

I have fair skin and I really like the way that it looks on me. Some pink nudes can wash me out and make my face look very flat. This shade really lifts my face and makes me feel super confident… and dare I say pretty?

I don’t wear this with a liner or a gloss, it is very low maintenance and because I don’t have much time, I really appreciate that in a lipstick (and anything where beauty is concerned really!)

It lasts really well on the lips, especially for a formula that is quite sheer and actually what I like most about this product is that when it starts to wear off and away, it leaves your lips looking so moisturised, plump and like you have still made an effort to pull yourself together. Because the colour gradually wears away, it leaves that slight pearl tint to your lips for hours which looks beautiful. It doesn’t go patchy and you don’t need to worry about what your pout looks like so you can wear it with confidence. I am terrible at re-applying so this lipstick is simply perfect for me.

I would definitely recommend and truly believe that it is well worth the £15.50 price tag.

With Love, Ria x

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‘Okay, I just need to weigh you and take your blood pressure, would that be okay?’

‘Sure, no problem…’ I replied. I know the drill- quick, quick…do all the normal checks, get handed a prescription and I’ll be back again in three months time to see how it’s going.

‘Did you know Mrs Langner, we have the same weight for you since you were seventeen years old?’

I knew, it’s not the first time that they have mentioned it. Surely the fact that I am at my natural weight can’t be that baffling to science really, can it? Plus, I’m not that sure how I’m supposed to answer that question, I’m not sure if I’m being scolded, congratulated, questioned… If i’m honest, I don’t know why they bring it up every time. I know for my height I’m classed as ‘under weight’ but I know as well as they do that I am healthy. I would rather we didn’t talk about it. It’s not the reason that I came.

I kind of grunted and said a meek ‘oh!’, I grabbed my prescription and left.

It got me thinking about my body and what I think of it.

I grew up hating it in some ways and loving it in others.

I always hated being tall, I was bullied for being lanky, I never felt in proportion…especially not to how invisible I wished I was in secondary school anyway. My limbs were long and skinny… You couldn’t miss me and I was an easy target. In secondary school I hated being me.

I walked a little crooked just trying to be shorter, I never looked up incase people were staring. I had an unhealthy obsession with food… I just wanted to ‘fit’ somewhere, be like the other girls…. be and look like someone else that wasn’t me, even for a little while.

People were mean to me. People were mean about my body. Being a teenager was hard for me, it’s hard to think about.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad.

I could dance. And those limbs that I had grown to despise helped me to fly. I felt like I had wings as I leapt through the air and moved so gracefully. The neck that I would crane over so that nobody would see my eyes would elongate and I felt so high up, like I could really breathe from up there…like I could love my body forever because it allowed me to fly, to breathe, to see and to be me… away from the opinions and horrible things that people said.

I could run too, really far and really fast. My body let me push it, further and further and I got better and better. I got stronger and stronger and as I held the medals in my hand that basically told me to love my body, I still couldn’t bring myself to give it much credit. I told myself it was all in the mind.

And in the wake of the school years, away from the toxic people that had broken my confidence, I realised that I was wrong. I started on a journey to truly love my body and be happy in my skin.

Of course, early adulthood wouldn’t be the same without drinking a little too much, partying a little too often and eating the wrong foods with your friends as you talked into the the following day. Early adulthood wouldn’t be the same if you had enough sleep and didn’t abuse your body in some ways. It’s part of growing up and a part of life.

And then I reached the age of twenty two and I learned that I was going to become a mother for the first time. At first it was daunting. I was worried how I would look and feel after having a child, I had come so far in my journey of self-acceptance… I didn’t feel ready to deal with more body issues.

And then I felt that flutter like little butterflies. My son.

From that moment, it wasn’t just my body… it was a home. The first home that I lived in with my little boy. It’s where I grew him, fed and watered him and where I kept him safe… and later on, my beautiful daughter too.

I watched my body change in front of my eyes. I watched it push its limits, further and further, life felt better and better and my body was the reason that my baby grew stronger and stronger. And then, I started to give my body the credit that it deserved all of those years ago and especially in that moment when I was growing a child, the first and second time.

I realised that my body is capable of such incredible things. And I loved it a little more.

Of course, my body changed. Yes, three days after having both children, I was back in my jeans and if you didn’t know me, you wouldn’t ever have guessed that I had just had children.

I knew.

It was almost like Noah and Ellenah had carved their names into the walls of their first bedroom and in it’s place, left me with a couple of faint stretch marks to mark the occasion. Over time, they have become almost invisible but they will be there forever. And, I will treasure them until my dying day.

I don’t hate them like once upon a time I thought that I would. How could I ever?

And that brings me to now, approaching thirty this year and more in love with my body than I ever have been. It has been a journey, one I won’t ever forget.

My body is more than ‘a weight’.

My body is more than a statistic.

My body is more than a comparison to anyone else.

My body is mine and there isn’t another one out there like it.

And I do, I absolutely love it and everything that comes with the privilege of ageing it.

My Body

With Love, Ria x

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Jo Malone, Orange BlossomIt’s no secret that I am terrible at spoiling myself. It’s no secret that I am terrible at allowing myself the essentials in life too. I don’t like to buy myself things, as much as I may want them or need them. I’m quite conscious of consumerism and I don’t buy in to having lots of ‘stuff’ or ‘keeping up with the Jones’. I’m also a mama and I tend to put my money to better use or for other things. How many other mama’s can identify with that sentence?

At the same time though, I spend a lot of time on social media and I am exposed to the ‘things’ and ‘trends’ which seem so perfect and are everywhere I look. I’ve never been a follower I’m proud to say… and not much of a leader if I’m being realistic. I really am just an individual, just me. If I like it, I like it it… I’m that simple.

I didn’t come across Jo Malone from a blog or a video or an advertisement, my love is completely organic.

I’m from a small town, some would debate it as more of a village. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside, it has a brewery… It’s a place where people say ‘Alright mate?’ when they say hello and a place that you could live quite happily and safe. I grew up free. I climbed trees, ran as fast as the boys and lay on my back in the grass in Summer to make pictures from the clouds in the sky. I grew up with the scent of fresh vegetables and munching fresh strawberries pulled from the plant. It was in this time that I changed from a tomboy with muddy knees, darting through the trees and mud in my finger nails into a girl, a girly one and then a woman.

A woman who knows the difference between something I like and something I love.

And when my husband started taking me to Bluewater Shopping Centre when we first started dating, I walked past a ‘Jo Malone’, the window minimalistic and simple. But…the scent! The scent cascaded over me. The scent wasn’t simple. The scent was like a thousand memories surging through me and I couldn’t pinpoint a single one. I just knew where I could find them if I ever needed to. I didn’t know of Jo Malone, the luxury, the unique spell that it casts over anyone who dares to walk by. I just knew something that smelt as beautiful as that and something that could make me feel as connected to myself as that…it would come at a price. So I had no choice but to carry on walking with my head held high and tell myself  ‘One Day Ria!’

My husband Matt gave me ‘`One Day’ for christmas in the form of Orange Blossom Cologne.

And I love it.

Orange Blossom Cologne (£42 for 30ml) is a floral scent of ‘clementine flower sparkles over a heart of orange blossom and water lily’ and it has ‘warm undertones of orris and balsamic vetiver’… and it is just lovely. It makes me feel truly wonderful, calm and awake… and as a mother who has to fight hard not to lose myself completely, it makes me feel like, well… ‘Me’, Just me… and it’s nice.

From the first spritz, I felt refreshed, confident and involved. I felt like I wanted to walk, pick my head up and look the world in the eye… and from then, I have cared for this little bottle of happiness. I have nestled it in to my handbag like a secret weapon. I really believe in it, I believe it will make the difference to any day… because when I wear it, I believe in myself.

Have you tried any of the Jo Malone Cologne’s? What is your favourite?

With Love,

Ria

x

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