Letting Go On The Ocean Breeze

I haven’t posted here for a while and there are reasons for this. My first post for the year was so full of joy, hope and expectation for a great year with wonderful things to look forward to. Truth is, this year has been tough. Tougher than I ever imagined it would be… I never anticipated for one second that I would have a miscarriage. When we found out we were pregnant, we were overjoyed! A sibling for Emily! How wonderful. We started to talk about the baby room, if it was a boy or a girl, how we wanted to spend the next 8 months before baby arrived, how we were going to break the news to Emily when the time was right… But then, everything changed.

That moment you begin to bleed but it takes you a second to register… “But, I’m pregnant, this does not seem right??!!” You go to the doctor and she confirms what you have been dreading… you are miscarrying. It’s taboo, nobody talks about it… like you are ashamed of your body and how it has ‘malfunctioned’ and left you with a gaping hole in your soul. Grief overtakes and your heart breaks into millions of tiny little pieces. All the joy, excitement and hope, shattered.

I am not new to loss or grief. My father has never been around. My mother died when I was 13, my gran shortly after, leaving my sister and I with virtually no family except my wonderful Aunt and Uncle and each other. Life has been hard, a roller coaster and I have hated life and the hand I have been dealt and other times, I feel liberated for my struggles because I am the person I am today because of my hardships. Hindsight is a wonderful thing… Emily was born on the same date my mother died. It was like God saying to me, enough sorrow and heartache, here take this child, be it’s mother. I am giving you something back for your loss.

When you are in the midst of your grief, it can be difficult to see the woods for the trees, and months later, I still sometimes feel this way. I find it difficult to comprehend, to digest and sometimes, I struggle to believe it even happened. “Why me?”. “What did I do wrong?”. “It’s my fault!”. “Was there something I could have done to prevent it?” These are some of the the things that have been on repeat in my head. But the truth is, miscarriage happens… to many woman. I am not alone in my suffering. I never realised just how many woman trudge their way through this life experience in silence, until I started to talk about it. I realised that most woman I know have experienced miscarriage at some point and in some way it is comforting. Please don’t get me wrong, I would never wish this on anyone but knowing that there are other people out there who know what you are going through, can offer words of comfort and advice makes me feel less isolated, less alone and that in itself is part of the healing process.

I am also acutely aware that this happened to Matthew too. Sometimes we can forget that although the dads are not carrying the child, they feel the loss the same way we do. Although he has suffered so much through this, he has been a rock and my strength. We have leaned on each other and we are stronger for weathering this together.

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We recently spent time back in South Africa with family and friends. We took some time out one day in Cape Town and drove around the west coast. We arrived in Melkbosstrand and took a walk on the beach. There is something about the ocean that is healing and restorative. Some of my biggest decisions in my life have been made while walking along one of the beaches of South Africa. As we were walking I separated from Matthew and Emily and took a few minutes to myself. I watched the two of them walk, laugh and collect shells together and my heart filled with joy. I am lucky to have the family I have and I am so grateful for them. And while I still find my mind drifting to our baby and how far I would be in my pregnancy now, I took that moment and let him/her go. Like as if the wind on the beach that day scooped him/her up and drifted out to sea. I cried and then let go. Turned around to face my family and busied myself with helping my daughter pick up the best shells on the beach we could find. We have not fallen pregnant since the miscarriage and I have no idea what the future holds for our family but if you ever wondered if we would like to have another child… My answer would simply be, Yes!… desperately.

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*Thank you to family and friends who have been such a lifeline and support. We are so grateful to each of you for asking how we are doing, allowing us to talk about it openly and for allowing me to cry on your shoulders. Some of you are so far away but so dear to our hearts.*

 

 

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The Mother Lode of All Tantrums

If you ever thought you were alone when it comes to your toddler putting on an incredible performance, well I can assure you…you are not.

Emily’s tantrum last night was certainly something to behold. I was busy cooking dinner and she likes to play this little game… where she dresses her doll up, packs her bag and knocks on the kitchen door to drop Rosie (her doll) off at school (I’m the teacher) and heads off to “work”. It’s a cute game and I enjoy playing it with her. She was taking a while so I opened the door and stuck my head around to see where she was… Well, I don’t know why, but this made her so upset she slumped to the floor and began to cry. “Sorry Emi, come knock on the door” I say to her…that seemed to offend her even more. So I figure, OK… a bath may help. I get her in but now she refuses to brush her teeth, normally I can brush her teeth for her once she is out the bath and in her towel… when I attempted to do this well she screamed so loud I thought she was actually going to make herself sick. I cuddled her a bit to see if I could calm her, nope…nothing worked. In the end, I lay her on her bed, cuddled her, gave her a kiss and said she must call me if she needs me. She lay there for about 15 minutes having a good cry and she then called out “Mamma, I are ready!”

By this time daddy had arrived home which offered a distraction and she then calmed down. Sjoe!! I needed a glass of wine after that!

As I think back, I could have done a few things differently to change the situation or handled some aspects of her tantrum better but also on reflection, I think she just needed a good cry. Most of us hold our kids to an incredibly high standard. Sometimes higher than we could ever achieve ourselves and we forget that they are little humans with emotions and feelings. I know I have been guilty of doing this! But as a “grown up” (as she likes to call us) I realise that I have my days where I am in a bad mood, I am snappy, miserable and sometimes sulk in a corner and cry.

If us as adults do this regularly, how on earth can we expect our children not to? I am on this journey of discovery and there are many lessons I am learning along the way but one thing I have leant is to show some understanding to my little girl and let them know that you are there for them through thick and thin.

This morning was like nothing had happened and she was back to her happy, lively and playful self. Nothing a good cry can’t fix eh?

Thanks Emily for teaching me about humility and to watch myself and my actions but also, thanks Emi for being you!

Eweleaze Farm – The PERFECT camping spot

If you are looking for a great camp site that is around 3 hours drive from South London… We have the spot just for you. We were invited to join friends of friends last year that were camping at Eweleaze and we decided to jump at it. We hadn’t been camping since before we had Emily so it seemed like the perfect time. We loved it so much, we did it again this year!

The farm is a running farm for 11 months of the year and they open up their fields to the public for the month of August. It is located a short distance from Weymouth with the most beautiful views of the sea. It is situated on a hill top and at various vantage points on the site, you feel like you are on top of the world!

Family Friendly
It is a family friendly camp-site, with fantastic activities for children. They have an indoor and outdoor, hay bale, obstacle course, scheduled times to walk the puppies and petting times for the smaller animals. They also have arts and crafts activities to give the mums and dads a break. Full timetables of these activities are found in the brochure you receive at check in.

Amenities
Ok, the list is too long but some of them are: A shop filled with local, organic produce. Local ciders, beers and wine. Full camping equipment section, in case you forget the pesky torch!! A full organic bakery with freshly baked bread, pastries and pies every day. A barrister to make your favourite coffee, ice cream shop, wood fired pizza oven and restaurant. There is also a sauna and spa as well as yoga and other exercise actives for you take part in.

Beach
This little gem of a camp-site is situated on the Jurassic coast. Their private beach is a short walk from the camp-site and it is a great place to look for shells and fossils which will capture the imagination of your little explorers!

Weymouth
Weymouth is a short drive from the camp-site with all you can expect from a large town. Shops, restaurants and of course the bustling promenade with the lovely sandy beach.

We spent 4 nights in this beautiful spot and our spirits couldn’t be dampened even though it rained for the first 36 hours of our stay. We just wrapped the kiddies in rain coats and wellies and off we went!! As the rain dried up, we were gifted with the most beautiful sunset. From then on, the weather was amazing! Gorgeous sunshine and it was warm enough for some of us to actually have a dip in the sea!

Because we are a large group of people we try and set up our tents in a “kraal” style so we have the centre space for socialising. This is great at meal times and we all try and bring something for everyone to enjoy such as cheese platters, cake and I always bake my aunt’s famous rusks which everybody loves! Of course, we did what any respectable South African would do when camping and had a potjie (A slow cooked stew done on the coals of a fire in a cast iron pot). We had 3 varieties and all of them were delish! We also braaied… a lot! and did the compulsory marshmallows on sticks… the only thing we didn’t do was sing kumbaya.

It was important (for our sanity) that the children had various activities so not only did we take advantage of some of the activities on offer but we also came up with a few games ourselves such as painting the rocks around the fire pit, playing go fish, egg and spoon race and bubbles!! It is so wonderful to see them run around with wild abandon, they almost didn’t know what to do with all the space!

So, if you are looking for a great little spot, with so much to offer, this camp-site comes out trumps for me!! We are looking forward to our trip next year and hope to hear your wonderful happy stories of your visit to this little slice of Dorset heaven.

For more photos, visit their Facebook page

Happy Campers!!

Summertime fun so far!

We wait with baited breathe for the sun to come out and the weather to warm up so we can officially call it summertime!! I know, sad really… But one thing could not be more true… Britain (particularly London) is one of the most wonderful places on earth during the summertime and I am happy to be here.

It is a crazy busy time of year as everyone tries to make the most of the good weather by spending as much time outdoors. I saw an advert for a supermarket that read: “Sunshine… Quick!! BBQ” Made me chuckle cause this is really what it is like and we have been no different. It has been a lovely summer so far and these are some of the things we have gotten up to.

DIY Projects
We have been busy in the garden and doing up various bits of the house. Matthew does most of the heavy lifting, sawing, and sanding etc and I am always on the sideline shouting instructions! We have completed our new headboard with left over pallet wood and our pallet furniture for outside is almost complete. We have painted the table in our kitchen and the next project will be the chairs. We have also built a new outdoor table with left over decking boards. It is so rewarding to see the transformation although, I cannot take the credit… Matthew is a DIY machine!

A day on the beach
The weather has been great the last few weeks and we decided to make the most of it! We both took the day off and spent the day on Camber beach in Rye. It only takes about 2.5 hours to get there. We started by having breakfast at The Ship Inn in Rye. They have the BEST French toast. The most delicious door stop piece of eggy bread with cinnamon, blueberries, bacon and syrup. Even though gluten does not agree with me, I made an exception on this occasion.

We then spent the rest of the day basking in the sunshine! Emily, of course, was in her element! Running around on the sandy beach, building sand castles with daddy (her favourite thing to do) and collecting shells. It fills your heart with joy to see your child run around with wild abandon. We ended the day with an ice cream before heading home at which point Emily passed out.

Cycling the Wandle Trail
If you live in South West London, I can highly recommend this trail for walking and cycling. We love cycling and to be able to do it as a family makes it even more special. We don’t head out on the bikes as often as we used to but whenever we feel the need, we haul them out and head off for a few hours of exercise. We love the Wandle Trail and it has been recently redone with new paths and bridges which make your cycling experience that much better. Morden Hall Park is our stop off point where we have a cup of coffee, go for a walk and pick flowers. This park has a number of activities throughout the summer such as outdoor cinema, beer on the river, summer food fares and camping nights with night trails for kids. Check out their website for more details. Put both the trail and the park on your “to do” list for the summer holidays.

Picking Carshalton Lavender
Carshalton is known for its lavendar and every year they open up the fields to the public to go picking. We didn’t do it last year but this year we decided to give it a go. As you walk into the field, you get these little wafts of lavender and with the beautiful surroundings, you really feel like you are away from it all. Emily enjoyed picking the flowers and smelling them. “Mmmm, beautiful!” She says. I love doing things like this with her. We have a strawberry plant in the garden that Matthew bought for her and they would go out every day to see how the plant grew little flowers which then turned into fruit. I feel like it teaches her patience and appreciation for the things around her. What a lovely morning! Of course, we took our pickings home and dotted small bunches all around the house.

So much love for the summertime and while we have a couple months of summer left, we certainly have a few other activities up our sleeve. Some great Summer ideas are:
Udderbelly festival on the south bank
-Visit a “pick your own” farm
-The beach near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
-Camping in the garden/or camping at a camp site
-Local summer festivals (check your council website)
-Do a wine tasting tour
Outdoor Cinema
-Picnic in your local park

There are loads of activities for adults and kids alike. Have a look at your local council and parks for ideas. Make hay while the sun shines and enjoy the rest of the beautiful British summer. Happy long, lazy summer days to you all.

Have you got any great summertime activity ideas?

A Salt Dough Garland

We woke up on Sunday morning and felt really disappointed to see the overcast weather and I thought to myself, what am I going to do with a toddler indoors all day today??

I then remembered that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree last Christmas, but I just didn’t get round to it. As it requires ingredients in every kitchen, I figured… today is as good a day as any!

Recipe:
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Mix everything together to form a fairly wet and sticky dough.

I then scooped the dough from the bowl onto a floured table and let Emily really get stuck in. She absolutely loved it!

Once the dough becomes more workable from kneading and playing with it, you can then roll it out with a rolling pin.

We then used Emily’s choice of cookie cutter, which on this occasion was a whale, and cut out our shapes (Tip: the dough needs to be quite thick)

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We then poked holes into the shapes with a skewer and placed them onto baking paper and baked in an oven (100°c for 2 hours).

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Once they were cool, I strung them up to make a garland and Emily and I walked around the house and garden to figure out where she wanted to hang her new creation.

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With a little persuasion from dad, she agreed that the chalkboard wall was a good place. We were both very chuffed with our creation and luckily, by the time we were done, the sun had come out and we decided to go out for a family walk with Emily on her scooter.

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Of course there are many things you can do with these. You can add food colouring during the dough phase or paint them once they are are dry and cool. I have seen some of them with a dried flower embedded into the ornament. You can also use a twig from the garden to make pretty impressions. Be as creative as you like.

We thoroughly enjoyed our arts and crafts day and hopefully, this will provide hours of entertainment for you too!