The Half Term Cheer

I have been waiting for this moment for what feels like so long. 7am on Saturday 22nd October 2016. The start of half term with my little crazy one’s. It has been a long six and a half weeks. A long time to spend more time than ever by myself. A long time missing them and wondering what they were up to. Wondering if they were happy and if they were thinking about me.

It has been so long and now I get to steal them back for a whole week. I get to be the one that they come to when they have made a lovely picture, they get to come to me when they fall over and they get to remember just being us again.

And yes, they will both fight. I won’t be able to provide them with a snack quick enough because they are ‘starving’. They will pull at my legs when I am cooking dinner for attention to something. They will constantly ask me what we are doing next. They will demand each and every second of my time and sanity…

And I will love every single second of it.

I need this time with them. They are my favourites. The little people that make me smile without even trying. The little people who taught me about unconditional love. The little people that make my world better.

I hope y’all have the best half term with your little loves and you embrace the half term cheer. Let me know what you guys are getting up to? We will be busy getting autumnal in ‘The Sweetest Life’ family! Apple picking, autumn leaf collecting, pumpkin patch strollin’ and cozy blankets, big hugs kinda snugglin’.

With Love,

Ria x

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Harvest Festival 2016

The Harvest Festival is one of my favourite school events of the academic year. I love the build up, of listening to the children singing and practising their songs over and over. I love it when they ask to teach them to me, to practice their lines, their part in such a beautiful assembly. An assembly with such an important message, about giving and thinking of others.

The Harvest Festival takes me back to my childhood. It takes me back to the church school that I attended for my primary education. I can remember how grand and special our church felt, how small it made me feel as I sat their with my bright, blonde hair, having donated a couple of tins of soup, some baked beans and some rice. I was right about the church, years later, Matt and I were married there.

I remember singing the lovely songs about crops, God, giving to others and looking after each other. I remember the warmth in my heart. I remember feeling kind, happy to have helped and like it just made sense to pull together, so that everyone feels like they are cared about.

I remember passing the baton of my youth to Noah a few years ago. He started school and it all became his turn. The Harvest Festival was the first event I went to after I lost my first child to education. I can recall the way that my eyes welled up when I saw him walk in with his class. My little boy who smiled his biggest one for me. His little legs shuffled along to make enough room for everyone and I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hold on to him in disbelief that this would be his life now. His face locked on to me in the crowd and he sang so beautifully, with such care.

I remember saying to him once (about Harvest, about life) that if we had nothing in the world to offer someone in need, absolutely nothing of value… we always had kindness. I hope that he remembers that still. I hope that he is learning something from these songs. Like I did. I hope that they both do…

Of course, this year I lost my second child to education. It was Ellenah’s first Harvest Festival. Honestly, If I ever manage to forget her singing ‘You Can Pick A little Bean, It’s Harvest Time You Know…’ I will be very surprised!

Again, I saw her walk in with her class and shuffle along to make enough room on the stage. She searched for my face in the crowd, found me and locked her eyes and pretty, little smile on to me. It wouldn’t have been hard, I was standing up, in the second to back row, waving vigorously until we found each other.

I felt the familiar sting of tears and my cheeks were mildly twitching to prevent me from full on sobbing on the mama next to me’s shoulder because my daughter is just so lovely.

And then she started to sing and sign the cutest actions with her arms. She looked so happy, so pleased to sing in front of everyone. I think my heart grew a little more, if that’s even possible.

Unfortunately, I only managed to see one performance from her and never did manage to see her singing the song about picking a little bean. The different classes were rotated on and off the stage and unfortunately, my short little beauty was behind a bunch of older, taller kids. The most I could see was the top of her head. It was quite sad. It made me feel flat all day, a tiny bit upset, selfishly.

Harvest Festival was tiered between classes and stages so Noah’s group was small. It was full of song and I had managed to move into a seat closer, to see him sing at the front. It was wonderful. His class managed to rewrite and perform ‘I Will Survive’ relevant to Harvest and it was really good, It completely picked me up.  And just because he is a little bigger and things like this have become more normal, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get the prickle of emotion behind my eyes anymore. I absolutely do. I think that I always will!

Today’s Harvest Festival might not have been completely perfect but you know, the whole reason that it is so special, so necessary, is because life isn’t. Sometimes the world and the people in it need a little help from their friends and today, my favourite people in the world helped make a little difference.

This makes me happy!

With Love,

Ria x

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All schools have that smell, don’t they? They all have a school hall, that you know the children think is huge. The school hall that when the children get older, will feel so small to them. They will wonder how they found the space for p.e. lessons, in their little gym shorts and plimsolls. They will wonder how the tables fit in. The tables where they ate lunch with their friends. Made memories. Grew too quickly.

Last night, Matt and I sat in the school hall of our children’s primary school for parents evening. As we waited, we looked through our two beautiful children’s work and I looked around, imagining them here. Feeling thankful for the place that takes good care of them, brings out the best in them and knows them when I am not around.

I started to feel a little nervous, as I always do. I played out the things that the teachers might say in my mind. Usually I’m not one to think the worst, especially about my little humans. Parents evening has always made me feel a little unsteady though. The unknowing, the hope that I’m doing enough, the smidgen of self-doubt that creeps in when I’m faced with the person that gets to spend so much time with my child all day… It all gives me sweaty palms and wobbly legs. And it makes me smile even more, so that the teacher doesn’t sense fear.

Ellenah

Parents Evening, October 2016

Our appointment with Ellenah’s teacher was first, at 6pm. Her teacher is sweet, bubbly and pretty wonderful. Honestly, she is everything that you could ever want from a reception class teacher. She told us that in just a few weeks she has seen Ellenah’s confidence grow so rapidly. She told us how focussed and creative she is and how popular she is in her class. She beamed about how polite our little girl is and how bright… It was just so reassuring to hear.

It’s no secret that when my darling girl started school, I found it difficult. I missed her terribly and still do. So, to hear that she is happy, doing well and fitting in beautifully as well as standing out for all of the things that make her so wonderful… It was just what I needed to hear,  just what I needed to know.

Noah

Parents Evening, October 2016

6.40pm- Time for our appointment with Noah’s teacher. Noah’s teacher who is just as lovely as Ellenah’s, albeit a lot more serious and to the point. I guess that is what comes with the jump to key stage two. She told us that Noah has settled in well into year three and that he is coping well with the higher expectations and workload. She told us that he reads and writes so well and her face was beaming as she spoke. She told us that he is confident in math and is absorbing the class project with such interest and effort. She told us that he is lovely, popular with his peers and a pleasure to teach.

Like most mothers, I am very proud but when it comes to Noah, it feels a little different. He was my first child, my son. He was my main learning curve in motherhood. The boy who I had to ‘wing it’ with. The boy who I hoped I was doing right by. The boy who would be in every single thought of mine. The one who I hoped I wasn’t failing. The one who I worried about because he had the slightly younger mama. The mama who judged herself all of the time. The mama who read parenting books at every opportunity. The mama who tried to be the best but almost always felt like she wasn’t. Wasn’t good enough. I know it isn’t much, it isn’t the be all and end all but to be told that your first child is doing well is a small validation that you are doing okay. You can be proud of you both. You can be happy in the knowledge that you managed to get some things right. And, you are actually the best person to raise him.

I walked out of parents evening feeling content, proud and like ‘The Sweetest Life’ kids are pretty darn awesome. I hugged them both, back at home and told them about all of the lovely things that their teachers have said about them. They smiled and felt pride from within themselves which was lovely, for their self esteem and because when someone notices how hard you are trying and how well you are doing, It’s nice to be told. It’s nice to know that people believe in you, people are in your corner, on your side… and that mama is proud of you.

With Love,

Ria x

 

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Sometimes things happen that stop you in your tracks, right? Sometimes things happen that make you feel a little unsteady, forced to prioritise and a little like you are just about keeping your head above water. Well… As you may know, lately I have been on the verge of a New Chapter. Ellenah has started school and as amazing as it has been for us both to search Pinterest each night so that she can choose next days hair and to constantly take photographs of her in the morning before she trots off happily…Normal hasn’t yet started! All of the extracurricular clubs have started back up which have kept us busy but Els is still not in school full time. This week she is staying a little longer and her cute, little Disney Princess lunch bag goes with her each morning. As of right now, I still get to keep hold of her in the afternoons to play together. This does mean though, I have had to change my shift pattern to complement her settling period in school and because I don’t like to write and create too much when she is around (because this time together will run out in a few days and I want to make the most of her)… I haven’t been able to sit here, at my desk with a brew (and by that I mean the coldest beverage I can find as I write this in the 31 degrees heat…In Autumn??) to write and to give myself to anything that isn’t my children at this time.

I’m currently trying to focus on creating a new back to school routine that works for us. Like many Mama’s, I have to find a way to make sure that homework is done, we have read together enough and they are attending their clubs…all of this as well as ensuring that they are enjoying their childhood. Always in the back of my mind, i’m reminding myself that this is their time. My main priority is to help them shine in all that they want to do and achieve… and shine with happiness from their beautiful little souls.

That is how I envisioned motherhood. That is what I strive for. They will always come first!

Next week, it will all change once again. Ellenah will be in school full time with Noah and my work pattern will balance out. In my spare time, I will be (as I’ve said before) embarking on a new chapter and in that time I will be focussed on giving my little blog the time and  attention that it deserves. I will also be looking to create better video content for my YouTube Channels – The Sweetest Life & Ria Langner (Which runs alongside Channel Mum). For the kind of person that I am, it takes great courage for me to hold my hands up and say ‘I can’t do this right now, well I can but not well!’ and it takes great courage to remind myself that I am one human, doing all I can and trying to make it work in a way that my children are blissfully unaware because they have everything that they need from me’.

Next week, let’s meet here again, shall we? Next week I will have a plan to share with you, a new lease of life. Next week I will be able to tell you which days I will post new blog posts and video’s, so that we all know where we stand. Would that be okay? It will be here at 6.30am on Thursday 22nd September.

For now, I will be enjoying the rest of the time that I get with my sweetheart and I will be pouring time and energy in to Noah who is now in year three, key stage two… A big deal! So far we have made a turtle (Els), read a lot about planet Earth (Noah), practiced how to write ‘M M M M M M M’ (Els) and revised number ordering (Noah)… As well as reading a lot of lovely stories together. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I love watching them create things, learn things and have a sense of achievement… It’s just amazing! I love that they let me be such a big part of it all.

A New Lease Of Life

See you back here next week? In the meantime, leave any questions, comments, blog or video requests below and catch me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, I will try and keep things lively over there when I can.

Big 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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