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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My 30th Birthday

I have started writing this from the comfort of my bed on a grey but brightening Saturday morning. Saturday the 15th of October, the day after my 30th birthday. I feel content, in a sleepy bliss from the lovely day that I had before.

I woke up first, in the dark and I lay there with my thoughts. Thoughts about turning thirty. My sister calls these the ‘who gives a f*ck’ years and after spending many years caring a little too much about what people might think, might say or might do, I’m over it. I’m finally confident enough in myself to just be happy with who I am, the decisions and no doubt, the mistakes that I make. It’s empowering!

So anyway, there I was, alone with my thoughts… being all thirty and that. Waiting in the silence to suddenly feel like a grown up. For the mental clarity to wash over me and make me wiser, sophisticated, mature. I didn’t!

I could feel a new chapter begin though. I could feel the excitement in the pit of my stomach for all of the memory making opportunities ahead of me. Me and Matt. Me, Matt and ‘The Children’. I may not have felt much wiser or sophisticated… but I did feel different.

I did wake up feeling a little like ‘I Don’t Give A F*ck!’

I did ponder how far I have come in my years. I was that girl once, with little to no confidence. I was that girl who walked hunched over to blend in. I was that girl who people tried to tear down. I was that girl who was afraid. I was that girl who doubted my worth in most things that I did. I was that girl who didn’t go for any of the things that I wanted. I was that girl who smiled to conceal any real emotion. I was that girl who was naive. I was that girl who had her heart broken. I was that girl who had her heart broken again. I was that girl who had her heart broken again still.

And then I started to give myself the credit that I deserve. Because I am not that girl anymore. I haven’t been for a long while.

I am that girl who has picked myself up, brushed myself off and faked my confidence until it started to become real. I am that girl who will walk tall now. I am that girl who yes, is her own worst critic… but I won’t let myself be torn apart from spite. I am that girl with fears and worries just like every human being and that is okay. I am a girl who knows my worth. I am that girl who knows exactly what I want and I will work hard at making my dreams come true. I am that girl who smiles because I am genuinely happy. I am that girl who is naive because I want to see the best in everything and everyone and that too, is okay. I am that girl who may or may not have my heart broken again. I am that girl who survived it a few times. I am that girl who is stronger now, a fighter but more importantly, I am a lover, a forgiver, a learner and a better version of myself because of everything that has got me to this point. This person.

Nowadays, I am that girl who actually, is not a girl (and without sounding a bit like Britney Circa 2000) I am a woman.


And then, my thought process was muted by the swing of my bedroom door being banged in to my shiny, white wardrobe. Ellenah stood in the doorway, smiling so sweetly as her two pigtails draped loosely on her shoulders. I sat up and held my arms out for her. She fell into them saying ‘Happy Birthday Mama!’

Matt opened his eyes and blinked out the sleepiness. He looked handsome as always but like he had a bad night. If at all possible, for the few days before he looked more excited about my birthday than I did. ‘Happy 30th Birthday Ree!’ He croaked.

And then Noah came. He bulldozed in to the room, eyes wide with happiness and his infectious smile, beaming, ‘Happy Birthday Mama’ He sang.

And there were gifts and cards in bed. And I was very spoilt on ‘My 30th Birthday’. And I loved waking up, being with my most favourite people in the whole world. I felt so special.

My 30th Birthday


The next hour went by so fast. Uniforms flew everywhere, teeth were brushed, faces washed, breakfast gobbled and the school run was upon us. I said goodbye at the door, half ready for the day ahead and I missed them already.

My 30th Birthday

Matt came back quickly and whisked me off to breakfast in The City of Canterbury. We visited ‘The Skinny Kitchen’ which was literally incredible. There were friendly faces and chit-chat from the second we walked through the door. The decor was so cute and the menu was out of this world incredible. The Skinny Kitchen is a based around a nutritious, wholesome and healthy-eating menu to make you feel great.

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

Matt had steak, eggs, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes with a honey latte and I had smashed avocado on sour dough bread with chilli, black pepper and two poached eggs.

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

I had a date smoothie to go with it. We were so impressed and want to go back so desperately…and quickly. We thought that perhaps we would try out the evening menu next time and make a date out of it. We couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone in the area.

My 30th Birthday

Then we had a wonderful day of shopping and holding hands. It was kind of lovely.


Once we could shop no more, we went back home to collect the children from school who were both so excited to see me and continue the celebrations. It was so nice when I came back home to find a flower delivery from my best friend who lives in Southampton. It was such a stunning surprise and it hit me really hard how much I miss her because I haven’t seen her in such a long time.  And honestly, they were so beautiful, see for yourself…

My 30th Birthday

Matt did himself and me so proud and started preparing a Mexican Fiesta for my rather large family.

My first visitor was my biggest sister, Nicola and my nephew, Zack who have just moved back to the area after so many years away. It was a complete surprise. There were tears, hugs and we cracked opened the fizz.

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

And then the usual suspects filtered in. My Mum and Dad, My other siblings and their families. I was spoilt some more, more overwhelmed and just so excited to spend a part of the day with them all, because they mean so much to me.

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

We all laughed, had photographs taken, acted silly, ate cake and had a pretty epic time. It was simply perfect in every way. I didn’t want the night to end. I didn’t want everyone to go home.

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

My 30th Birthday

And so the day after, upon reflection of my milestone, one of importance,  I just wanted to say a big thank you for all of the kindness, birthday wishes, surprises, gifts and the most gorgeous friends and family a gal could ever ask for. I feel so grateful, emotional and overwhelmed. And not in the way of material things (as spoilt and thankful as I was and am). More in the way of noticing who I have in my life, who I will be taking in to this next chapter with me, those people who truly get me. The ‘woman’ who sings in to her hairbrush daily, truly wishes for world peace and thinks that life is so much better when you’re laughing/ dancing.

My 30th Birthday

I feel truly blessed!

With Love,

-Ria x

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It isn’t an easy decision to make. To decide whether or not to extend your already lovely little family by one more. Some could call you crazy for even thinking about it when your children are seven and (almost) five years old. Some would think you were mad for wanting to go back to square one, to start all over again. Some would ask you why you would want to go back to the sleepless nights, dirty nappies and sore nipples. I understand that it doesn’t sound that glamorous and I would probably find it harder now, now I am a little older and a little more used to an easier way of life.

But it just doesn’t make sense to me to not have another little human in our family, to love. It isn’t for a number, an ideal goal… but because Matt and I love raising our children. We love watching them grow, change and become who they are meant to be. We love being a part of it, throwing ourselves in to it and cherishing it. We love being parents, a mother and a father. We love being a family. Our family unit is so very special to us, so unique. We could give another baby a loving family with two amazing siblings, a place in the world and open arms to always be there for them, whatever it is that they need.

We made the decision out of love to start trying for another baby, about five months ago.

I didn’t announce it or make a big deal out of it. I didn’t fancy the pressure. In the same way that I have never used an ovulation test. We have let nature take its course but as it goes, it isn’t our turn just yet. I understand that the best things are worth waiting for but waiting and trying is completely new territory for Matt and me. Noah and Ellenah were both our most lovely surprises… and I realise that I definitely took it for granted at the time. I absolutely did.

And lately, I have found myself isolated and upset with my body, just like so many other women in the same position as me. So I have turned to them and their journeys on YouTube and in the Blogoshere. I have found myself taking comfort in such a beautiful online community. I have found a place where myself and my headspace best belong right now.

Negative pregnancy tests are hard to get over. You know the ones? When you felt so sure! You were certain that this was your month. And then it wasn’t…again.

I know that five months isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things. I know that I must sound impatient and dramatic but I can only feel what I feel. I think all of us in this situation are important. We all want to love a child, or another one in my case, at the end of the day. All of us and the different stages of our journeys matter. We are all in this thing together, this guessing game, this waiting business.

And with that in mind, I wouldn’t feel right about keeping my positivity to myself. It wouldn’t be nice of me to keep it to myself when it has helped me so very much. So in the video below, I introduce myself to the TTC community, with such precious common ground, a smile and some positive thoughts and suggestions to make this time a little happier. I want to help in some way. Please let me know if I do. Even if it is just a smile in the corner of your mouth or a slightly happier heart?

As I said, I have taken such comfort from other people in the past few months. I would love for you to share this part of motherhood and my life with me. It would mean so much to know that you will come back to this space and to see you subscribe over on YouTube Channel. You can do that by clicking here. It’s nice to have people around right now x

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#IAMWHOLE

It’s 22:21pm as I write this… but better late than never. It is still #worldmentalhealthday and Rizzle Kicks star, Jordan Stephens has launched a mental health campaign to normalise the stigma around mental health and to fight for the support that the campaign needs, for young people and simply for us all.

More than one in three people between the ages of 11 and 24 suffer with mental health difficulties. That is quite a statistic. That is a scary amount of young people in this day and age who feel like they are alone, who feel like they shouldn’t speak up and get the help that every human being deserves. Jordan created the hastag #IAMWHOLE to soar throughout social media giving anyone suffering in silence the opportunity to click on it and have their eyes opened to a circle of people, holding out a hand so that they don’t have to feel isolated anymore.

Like my photograph above, many of us have joined in with the campaign by drawing a black circle on our hand. We have joined in because we have personally been touched by the effects of mental health difficulties, we want to help raise awareness to a cause that matters or like me, have suffered personally.

It took me a long time to accept that the anxiety attacks that I would have, the ones that would frighten me and effect my life so dramatically, fell under the mental health umbrella. I don’t know why but when I finally realised how I was ‘labelled’, I felt ashamed of myself. I felt weak, alone and embarrassed to admit it to my friends and closest family. It defined me for quite a long time. I was afraid a lot of the time, it stopped me from enjoying life as much as I wished that I could. I hardly said ‘yes’ to anything anymore, I limited myself completely and when I got so bad, my chest would go so tight, beads of sweat would drip from my face and I would be convinced that I wouldn’t get another chance to breathe. Panic would take me over completely and I was left, crying on my bed…a shell of the person that I used to be.

It was incredibly hard, to accept and to fight.

I know how it feels to feel so far from who you used to be, so out of control…So tired.

I want to help anyone who feels like I once did. I want you to want to help. We have to help.

I am a mother. This campaign matters for the future, for our children. For us all.

#IAMWHOLE

Are you?

With Love,

-Ria x

 

 

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