Ellenah starting school is naturally something that I want to remember. Something that I would like her to look back on and remember too. So I tried my hardest to capture as much of the day as I could in a vlog (on my second channel). This new chapter for us both has at times made me feel afraid, made me feel sad, made me feel awfully strange…As bittersweet as it is, I am truly excited for her. I am excited about being a part of this new adventure for her. I’m excited for the school plays, school projects, school trips that I will nominate myself to chaperone…The school disco’s, church service’s and sports days.

In years to come, I want her to know that we chose a place that we believe to be right for her. A place that will make her happy. A place that she will enjoy going to, five days of the week. I want her to know that we chose her school in love. I want her to see how much we love her and how much these precious moments, milestones and times matter to us. How much she matters.

So I will probably show her this when she is older. And I will no doubt watch it time and time again when I am too!

With Love, Ria x

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Ellenah Is Starting School

Today is the day that my beautiful little girl starts primary school. My beautiful little girl  who has lived wildly and free throughout this summer. My little Ellenah with the grazed knees, muddy tan, bright blonde hair and big blue eyes. She still smells like summer. A little like freshly cut grass, berry stained finger tips, campfires and salty beads of sweat from a lot of running around, through the tree’s and out into the open space of the countryside.

Ellenah Is Starting School

The summer holidays are officially over…and with it goes our freedom to stay up late making Pinterest smores and snuggling under blankets so that she can fall asleep, her face aglow from the flickering fire that kept us warm.

Ellenah Is Starting School

And instead of the lazy mornings spent eating fruit salads, reading stories, playing hide and seek and making the day wait for us… suddenly, time caught up with us. And instead of the little summer shoes by the front door, now there are some black, patent school shoes which light up. They go beautifully with her little, grey skirt and emblemed, blue cardigan (which make her eyes smile). She has a book bag, a p.e. bag, plimsolls and some cute little gym shorts which make her legs look like twigs. It’s all labelled. All labelled with the name that she has spent the summer perfecting how to write. Ellenah. It is all ready to go.

But is she? Am I ready for her to leap into her next chapter?

Ellenah Is Starting School

Everything that I am has gone in to raising my daughter. Ever since I saw those lines on that pregnancy test I have tried my hardest to be everything that she will ever need from a mother. And even though some days she can be defiant, strong willed and dare I say it, tough… I love her unconditionally. I have loved watching her find out who she is. I have loved being a part of it. I love how she surprises me, everyday. I love how kind she can be. And even before all of this… I loved watching her learn to walk, talk, sing and dance. I loved watching her feed herself, hold her own cup, learn how to use her knife and fork. I have enjoyed watching her learn, reach her milestones and keep achieving. I have also held it close to my heart that she has let me play my part in it. She has let me play a role in her life. She has let me care for her, teach her and be there with and for her…each step of the way.

And now, things will have to change for us both.

Today, I have to wave goodbye to her at the same classroom door that started Noah’s ‘school chapters’. I have to stand there and hope that I don’t break..or at least that she doesn’t see it if I do. I have to let her say goodbye to me and me to her. I have to walk away. Without her. I have to start letting her go. I have to start letting her grow up and find out who she is, more than ever. She needs to know who Ellenah is…away from me.

It isn’t going to be easy.

I look at her and cuddle her at night before she goes to sleep and she is still so small in my arms, still so tiny. Still my perfect baby girl…Isn’t she?!

Ellenah has been waiting for this moment. She is desperate to know how to read and she loves playing with others. Every single day this summer, she has asked me how long there is left until her first day at school. Her smile has beamed when i’ve told her ‘it isn’t long now!’

Ellenah Is Starting School

As she goes off today to embark on her school career, I will wonder which miniature chair is hers. I will wonder if her desk has a slide out tray. I will wonder who she will sit next to and hope that she gets a seat by the window. I will think of her peg where she will hang her coat and bags. I will imagine her in her first nativity play where she may be cast as an angel. I will think of the mothers day service at the church, the easter celebrations…sports day! I will feel excited when I picture her trotting out of school happily, searching for my smile in the crowd of mums and leaping over to tell me about her day. When I think about it for a few moments, I can feel her arms wrap around me. I can feel her warmth. I can hear her say ‘hello!’… and I am so excited for her.

As she goes off today to embark on her school career, I will hope that she remembers her manners and how important it is to be polite, to say please and thank you. I hope that she will be kind-hearted to her school friends. I hope that she cares about their feelings. I hope that she is respectful of her teachers and of everything that they try to teach her. I hope that my sometimes slightly feral little girl continues to blossom and shine just like she always does and in the way that always brightens every day.

Ellenah Is Starting School

Today will be hard. Everything is changing.

But…

I want Ellenah to be everything that she can be. I want her to know and understand as much as she can. I want her to know about herself, that she is a force to be reckoned with. A beautiful force of energy who can make her dreams come true, whatever they may be…but she has to start somewhere, start small. I want her to fall in love with learning things. I want her to soak up as much as she can because knowledge is power. I want her to build true friendships with people who she will treasure in her adult years. I want her to have the freedom to love school without her worrying about me missing her.

I want her to be happy, always. I’m confident that school will make her happy…so how could I ever be sad?

Love, Ria x

 

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Happy Campers

The summer holidays started in the best way for my little family and me. As you grow up and older, knowing what makes you happy is so important, as is keeping things simple and smiling as often as you can. I don’t mean the kind of smile that is meant for anyone else’s benefit. I mean the smile that grows on your face because you are smiling from within. And I don’t mean the happiness that you are told to feel, I mean the kind of happiness that comes from knowing yourself, knowing what you like and endeavouring to always have it.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

When we bundled in to the car with our battered, outdoorsy clothes and very minimal other things for a few days away, I couldn’t wait to get on the road and make our way to our happy place. The place with the white cliffs that overlook the sea. The place where you can fall asleep around the fire, that crackles from the wood that you found for yourself. The place that when you look up into the sky in the black of night, you can actually see the stars. The stars that go on for days and mesmerise you.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

The place that isn’t glamorous, it isn’t exotic or in any way luxurious…but it is where we fit! It is where we are happy, truly happy. It is where we are away from the strains of routine, away from the lives that we are conditioned to lead and away from all of the ‘busy’ that sometimes conceals what is most important.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

‘Tent Life’ isn’t going to be for everyone and back in my early twenties, before I became a mother… It wouldn’t have been on my radar at all. I was busy bouncing around different countries and places during annual leave. My passport, suitcase and best clothes were my favourite things. The life I lead now, my reality… It is so different from life back then. I’m not saying that I never want to step on a plane again, I do! I want to see as much of the world as possible, I want to show it to my children. I’m just saying, I’m glad that I am someone we are a family who can find peace, excitement and joy in being outside. We can find the humour in showering under droplets of cold water, hair lathered and standing in the cold, waiting for the water to come back to our cubicle. We can feel true delight in the high pitched whistle of the kettle, once it has boiled after about twenty minutes (way longer in stronger wind)…This means it’s time for our morning brew. Up to half an hour to make and three seconds to drink so it doesn’t get cold. We can feel good about sharing our bedroom with a variety of insects, even seeing the opportunity to whip out my nephews new microscope to take a better look at the ones we didn’t recognise. We can feel right at home in our tent, we can sleep well and we always feel sad to go back home, to the ‘real life’ one.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

I know that I’m probably not selling it to you and I’m not sure that I’m trying to if I’m honest. I’m just sharing something special, something responsible for many happy memories, many smiley faces and a freedom for my children that this scary world doesn’t always allow them.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Camping is what it says on the tin. Especially where we go. It is basic. But… what more do you need when you are spending time, quality time with the people that you love. You are not ruled by the ticking of a clock. You are not a slave to technology. You don’t have to tell your children to ‘wait!’ because, well, for what? They have you, in the moment, in the now…They have everything that they need. Your time, fresh air, space to run and to breathe and to laugh…To hop and skip if they want.

Camping might not be for you…but believe me, your fingernails might get dirty… your mind, your soul and your spirit however, will feel nothing but clean.

Love, Ria x

Happy Campers

 

 

 

 

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His little tongue poked out of the side of his mouth and his beautiful, big eyes grew even bigger in anticipation. His little fingers shook with concentration and focus and the room was silent. I may have stopped breathing for a tiny while, worried that he would hear and I would throw him off. And there in the living room of our home, Noah tied his shoelaces for the very first time.

Precious Shared Moments

And like most milestones and the many wonderful ways that my children constantly surprise me, I felt the familiar burn of tears behind my eyes. And like most times, I didn’t let them fall but simply replaced them with the biggest smile that I can possibly fit on my face. A smile that often hurts eventually. Probably because it stays there for so long.

Moments like this remind me why I wanted to become a mother to begin with. To be there for these moments, to see them unfold, help them become. These moments fill me with so much pride, I could burst and it gives me a sense of togetherness with my two favourite people… and that feeling makes me whole and happy.

Precious Shared Moments

And there are those times, after a long day of to-do lists and elsewheres to be, when I lift my beautiful daughter with her smile that is so enchanting out of the bath and wrap her in a big, snuggly towel. I get to be there, to hug her and lose time in the smell of her damp hair and lovely songs that she sings to me in her post bath tiredness. I get to hold on to her while she is still little and lets me. I get to carry the weight of her sleepy body out of the steam filled bathroom and hug her until she is dry and warm. I get to look at her long, black eyelashes, stuck together by droplets of water and listen to her talk to me. We get to have that time.

This happens every day as a part of our routine. It’s easy not to notice just how special it is. It’s easy to take it for granted.

The truth is, Life can be so very chaotic and it’s so important to me to appreciate these little snippets of parenting bliss in the midst of life and all the busy that comes with it. It’s important to truly make them count. It’s important that I have these moments so that my children really know how loved they are, how special and wanted.

Precious Shared Moments

And like I say, it’s about togetherness, our bond… and not only how I feel about them. Not only about how I show it.

Precious Shared Moments

One of my most favourite moments is that glance at the clock, when it is so early and the rest of the world MUST be sleeping. And then two sets of feet meet each other on the landing. My bedroom door opens and my favourite faces in the world bundle through it. They’ve got books, which we will read together in bed as daylight rises and gleams through my bedroom window. Silence surrounds us and it feels like it is just us. Us and our stolen time. Almost as if we won against the expectations of the day, everything we have to do, achieve and give ourselves up for. Like we tricked the day.

Those mornings remind me how my children also feel about me. How they love me and how they think about me when they first open their eyes. How they need me. How we are a team, always on the same side.

Mornings like this are where I am something much more than a mama desperately trying to get it right, hoping I’m doing okay, always thinking I can be better. These mornings are my belonging, where I fit. It is where I don’t need to be anything other than Noah and Ellenah’s Mama…because to them, I am exactly enough.

Precious Shared Moments

These really are my precious shared moments. These and many before and beyond. Countless moments which make me feel blessed.

What are your precious shared moments? The simple, everyday moments that matter the most?

With Love,

Ria x

 

 

Collaboration

This video was sponsored by Cadbury Buttons but all views and opinions expressed in this video are my own and I only ever work with brands I truly love.

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The Sweetest Life has been a little sleepy this past week because in reality I have been hurdling the days. I’ve been existing thanks to coffee and some very supportive words and ways from my lovely friends and family. The past week has been a blur of emotion and now that I have made it through to Saturday, where I am sat in the work office writing this (and Sunday evening where I am finishing this at home), with quiet around me and space to breathe and think… I can truly reflect upon the chaos. The chaos which makes me smile, fully.

I came in to this week nervous, agitated, anxious and tense. On Wednesday and Thursday, Noah sat his SATs and because I’m his mama, his biggest support…and biggest fan, I gave my positivity, confidence and every good thought I had, to him. I just wanted him to smile this week and feel good about himself. I didn’t want him to feel tested, challenged and doubtful of what he can or cannot do, will or will not become. I know that he is only seven (almost!) and others around me were saying that ‘it didn’t matter’ but in my opinion, no good can come of comparison and grading, against their peers or even worse, to an average. In no situation would I ever want to hear, ‘Noah did well, he is average!’ – what does that even mean and what message does that send to our children? How does that send a positive message in the way they should see themselves…or their worth going forward in to their futures? Anyway, He did it. We managed to get through it with smiles on our faces…and we have decided that the results are not important. As Noah’s parents, obviously we will know how he did but he does not need to. It isn’t something that needs to be on his radar… and suddenly, we all feel much happier about it.

I had been incredibly nervous about Thursday all week on a more personal note too. I had been invited to a photo shoot, in connection with Lucy Diamond’s book ‘The Secrets Of Happiness’. I was to make my way in to London for 11.30am where I would meet three of the other Channel Mums (Did you know that I am a Channel Mum?) and we would have our hair and make-up done ready for the shoot. London is a big deal for me. Well actually, travelling anywhere out of my safety zone is. And, meeting new people has always made me nervous because I can be quite shy. Thursday made me feel like I was really pushing myself… and there was something about that which I really liked. I honestly had the best day, it felt so surreal and even now, a couple of days later, I feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure it was real. I had so much fun and I laughed so much with the others. I came away from the day with achy cheeks and a tired stomach as a result.

A Weird And Wonderful week

I did take a few snippets of footage from the day which you can watch (for free) by clicking HERE. I can’t wait to tell Noah and Ellenah about this when they are old enough to care at all. I can’t wait to show them the little video that I made of my day. I can’t wait for them to think that sometimes I can be a little bit cool.

And as if Thursday wasn’t busy enough, after the amazing time that I had in London, I came back home, dumped my bag and headed straight back out to watch Noah be invested at Beavers. He had to say a promise and then he was given some badges. a certificate and a scarf…It was all very official and very cute.

I also had to decide about ‘The Sleepover’ and whether or not to let him go. It hasn’t been an easy decision but… I signed the consent form to say that he will be there. Parenting can be such a constant battle. It can be relentless. It is hard to find the right balance between giving enough freedom to help raise independent people and the desperate, maternal urge to keep them safe. And trust??? It’s really f*cking hard to trust anyone with your favourite people who aren’t in your official trust circle. Well it is for me anyway!

BUT…before I talk myself out of my decision, I think that Noah will be absolutely fine and I think he will have the greatest time. And I can’t wait for him to tell me about it because I am old enough to care. And I wish he was able to make a video about it because I would watch it over and over and even if I had to pay for it, it would be money well spent. And he doesn’t have to hope that I will think he is cool one day because I am well aware of it, so aware of it… He is awesome and whether I like it or not, he is growing up. I’m not going to be the one to hold him back.

Friday was easier, apart from taking Ellenah for her leavers photographs at pre-school. I feel like I was the only mama waiting who desperately wanted to cry. It all feels very real now! The process is winding down and soon she will be turning the page towards her next chapter in life- starting school. It makes my heart feel very strange. The photographer was trying to make Ellenah laugh or at least smile with a soft Iggle Piggle doll… It was quite an uncomfortable situation! Els was looking at her like ‘This is not funny!’ and in the group photograph, she needed the toilet so I can only begin to imagine what the proof will come back like… but, I will buy it anyway. She will never be a leaver of pre-school again after all and as much as I find all of this change hard, I want to remember every little thing about it. I want to remember her, what she looked like and how we both felt. It’s bittersweet.

And after that, I let myself just exist. I let myself go on to autopilot… I let myself sleep well on Friday night, knowing the next day was going to be simple. Exactly what I needed to regain some strength. Exactly what I needed to regain everything that I had given away this week – positivity, confidence and good thoughts. Exactly what I needed for everything to make sense once again. And now it does!

With Love,

Ria x

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