Monday, 1 September 2014

Lessons I Learnt this Summer...









When I decided to take a blog break, back at the end of June, it wasn't something that I considered lightly. I'm not suggesting for one minute that I expected people to be devastated at my absence, (I'm still amazed every day that people actually read what I write!) It was more that I felt I might lose the will to write it altogether. Find life too simple without it, and never return.
I'm not known for my stickability, and when you step away from something for a bit, sometimes going back can be all-the-more difficult, can't it?
And it is only blogging after all. In the grand scheme of things, it is a teeny-tiny part of our family life as a whole.

But I really, really love it. And so here I am.

I had a little think though, over the holidays, about the bits I love most about Life at the Little Wood.
I am naturally a creative person. I love the craft of putting together posts. I adored designing my blog layout, and I love the process of writing - shaping sentences and moulding words.
I love that I feel accountable - and so I take the photos that otherwise wouldn't be taken. I write about moments that I otherwise wouldn't record.
I love the community, and my experience of it has been nothing but a lovely one. Perhaps I am naive, and perhaps it is because my posts are generally light and fluffy, but that's me to a tee really. Whilst I love reading something challenging or controversial that others have written, it's not my default setting to be that way.
And if I've learnt one thing in the past six months of blogging, it's that a truly genuine voice resonates louder and clearer.
If people read this at all, I want it to truly reflect me, us, our values and our realities. None of us are perfect, there is no way to 'win' at Motherhood. But equally there is such joy in the everyday too. Parenting is tough at times, but to dwell on that constantly is to do it a massive injustice.
We have our ups and our downs - all of us do. I hope this shows the best AND the worst of us. And that you maybe see a little of your own family in us too.

When I thought about the blogs that I love the most, I realised that they are the ones that document the whole of the person writing them. I love reading of family trips, days out, parents letting off steam, kids up to mischief. But also about fashion, home, new nail polish, recipes, a good book. Much as they have their place, there is so much more to us mums than Bento lunchboxes and four-hourly routines.
Life is full of tiny, simple pleasures and frustrations, that perhaps seem insignificant.
And then you put them out there, and a whole troop of people say 'Me Too!'
And you realise that perhaps they weren't so insignificant after all.

So with that in mind, I'm hitting September refreshed and with new direction.
Here's to the coming months - the photos, the chat, the support of amazing people, the new friends, the shoulders to cry on.
Because if you're going through it, you can be pretty sure I am too.
And isn't that the joyous wonder of parenthood? Of life in general?

We really are all in it together.


E x



If you fancy a little bit extra from us, and to find out what we've been up to in August, take five and hop on over to the Sanctuary Spa blog (you'll find the link button in my sidebar!)





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Friday, 29 August 2014

Love the Little Things #23




Oh my goodness, how have you been? I've missed you!
I hope you had a beautiful, restful Summer.
With the littles starting back to school, I'm all set to return to my little blog once again. We had a great holiday period, full of lazy days and adventures - I think that the break did us all the world of good, and we are starting this new term refreshed and ready to meet it's challenges head-on.

But today, a little look back at the past week! As always on a Friday, I'm linking up with the lovely butwhymummywhy and the rest of the gorgeous girlies, to share our #littleloves.

This week, the little things that we have...



 Read




Brummymummyof2 'Dear Parent...' - Everything Em writes is amazing, but this one really resonated with me, both because I was a teacher (and TOTALLY get where she's coming from, particularly on the pencil case bit!) but also because my smallest will be starting school today.
It's an emotional time, putting your babies in the care of another adult for a large part of their day. But this letter reassured me that they will take the very best care. (I did still sob a bit though!) 




Watched


Transformers ('Robots in Disguise!') Did you sing it?? - Now. We saw a trailer for this and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Hmmm.
I think Mr M did appreciate Megan Fox, truth be told, but I have to say it wasn't for me.
I'll reserve the right to retract that statement totally though if for any reason Ryan Gosling should happen to appear in a sequel. Just sayin'.



Made








As ever, this will be tenuous. I know that you expect nothing less of me now.
Lots of money! - This week I had a massive wardrobe clear-out and decided to have a go at selling some bits and pieces on Instagram, donating the money to two very worthy causes. I have been overwhelmed at how well #frocksforfolks took off.
When I popped the first few items on on Sunday evening I thought it might be a few days before people got wind and bought the odd piece. But within ten minutes I was totally sold out, and this was repeated on Monday and Tuesday evening too. In short, I sold 47 out of 50 items, and just over £400 was raised for Cancer Research UK and Transform Burkina. Proving that shopping really can be beneficial. (As if we ever needed convincing!)
If you joined in with the live selling fun then, once again, thank you so very, very much. 





Worn


Autumn has definitely arrived early with us. From all accounts it has in most places across the UK! With that in mind, and spurred on by my newly tidy wardrobe, I decided to dig out last years A/W faves. If you follow me on Instagram (it's so worth joining if you haven't already - honestly, I am addicted!) you may have seen these already!

Hats - I'm so going to attempt to wear this with confidence this year!








Boots - I think this has surely got to be some sort of record. Boots in August? Actually, I even had some on in July. It has been an odd Summer weather-wise!









Tights, shorts, brogues and tunic blouses. This is standard Autumn, Emma-uniform. Maybe I should do a wardrobe challenge and try to mix it up a bit?











Enjoyed



Bank holiday weekend trips with my little family (more on this next week!)









Dressing up and attending the press launch for Belfast Fashion Week. A lovely afternoon with a lovely friend!










Granola, Greek yoghurt and Honey. Seriously - heaven in a little creamy, crunchy dish!









And that was our little week!

Normal blog service will resume for me next week. My oh my I have missed it. But two months passes in the blink of an eye, doesn't it?
As ever, I am so thankful for every little person who reads my ramblings, and every single comment. You make me smile lots!

Have a lovely weekend. And September? Let's be having you!



E x





butwhymummywhy




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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Yup, we're travelling with kids...










Sound familiar?



  • Before you even leave the house you play a little game of 'Suitcase Tetris'. A fun ten minutes of trying to a) make the car boot magically bigger and/or b) make the amount 'o crap you have brought reduce to a vaguely manageable dimension. Sweat and swearing almost certainly guaranteed.

  • Arrival at the airport will herald three toilet trips, all at different times ... 'but I didn't need to go a minute ago...'



  • The check-in queue will be mahoosive. But only ever when you have a small child hanging off you, three Boostapacks, five straw hats and someone needs a pee (see point 2). You negotiate half of EasyJet's orange roped queueing 'system', only to have to duck under it all again. 



  • You will pass at least one gorgeous, flawless honeymoon couple in matching TOMS, swinging their Louis Vuitton flight bags. They look at you pitifully. Ah, the ignorance of youth! 
          Buggers.


  • Someone will fall off the escalator.


  • Despite methodical planning, several pre-flight bag checks and clothing choices to ensure maximum comfort with minimum bleepability, something will ALWAYS set off the security alarms.
    Two body-scans and a bag-check later you'll realise that someone didn't put the portable DVD player in the PISSING GREY PLASTIC TRAY. (true story)

  • At least one child will be trodden on (ensuring removal of a jelly shoe) by fellow plane inhabitants actually running to make it to the boarding gate. Folks. You have a seat. For the love of all that is good and holy, CHILL THE HELL OUT.

  • There'll be a row over the window seat.

  • You will order £30 worth of plane food, and then be told that there is a quota of one sachet of tomato sauce per bacon baguette. Not even the pleading faces of your children will break the stewardesses steely resolve. Children will not eat unsauced sandwiches. Shame on you EasyJet, shame on you.

  • Airport negotiated, children fed (in a manner of speaking. Crisps and Fruit Shoots. Needs must and, quite frankly, you're broken) and ensconced with various electronic devices, you finally breathe out.  And make the fatal error of switching on your Kindle.


    'Mummy, I reallyreallyreallyREALLY need a wee!'


    Fantastic. Just Fantastic.



    E x
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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wicked Wednesdays...



Hello there! No, you're not seeing things m'dears - 'tis me!!

I'm taking a break from my break to join up with my gorgeous chummy, blonde Em, over at brummymummyof2 for her new link up.
Basically, one must post a piccie each week which displays the reality of family life through this glorious Summer and beyond.
Our Instagrams, Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds are full of smiling children turning cartwheels on freshly mowed lawns, or cute pictures of babies covered in just the right amount of Mr Whippy. But what about the heat induced temper tantrums? The sweaty heads? The 'havetobaththemeverynightasthey'vehadsuncreamon' (don't judge us, we have three, it takes an AGE!)
And not to mention the actual Ben Nevis proportions of washing?

What about the rainy days when we have to bake with them? Or worse, do crafts.
The crapola family snap potential is high there lovelies. Even if it's only a panicky selfie of moi.

Anyhow, on to today's Wicked Wednesday shot.


Heat + one hugely overpriced and totally crap toy + one small boy desperately needing the loo =












Beaut!

If you fancy embracing the reality and joining in, hop on over to Em's. Now, I'm off to check out the other linkees - oh the LOLz!





E x






brummymummyof2


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Friday, 27 June 2014

Love the Little Things #22



Today, for us, heralds the start of the school Summer holidays.
When I was a teacher, my friend and I used to refer to it as 'the glorious Summer'. Funny how your tune changes when you have three overactive kids to occupy for the guts of two months.
Lord, give me strength.

Of course the weather has decided to flip me the V's and has been PANTS the past two days.
If you need me, I'll be by the wine cupboard for the duration.

Anyhow, on to the week that's passed, and our #littleloves. Please do pop over to butwhymummywhy, and read the other little lovelies posts. The few I met last weekend were every bit as gorgeous in person as I'd imagined.

This week, the little things we have:







Read




  • The Vintage Teacup Club - I started it last weekend whilst travelling and am half-way through already. Lovely, easy, Summer reading - I'm looking forward to finishing it off in the next week or so!
 
 
  • Many, many BritMums posts - it's so interesting to read how everyone experienced it differently. From the outright ecstatic, to those on whom it had the opposite effect. You can read my post on it here. Spare a moment too, to read the amazing comments at the bottom of my post. Fabulous ladies with very wise words. I'm so lucky to count them all as friends now.


  • And the Little Wood bunch are live over on Sanctuary Spa again this week.  I'd love it if you'd pop by, and please do say Hi in the comments - I read every one!
 
 
 
Watched
 
 
 
  • The Soloist - Wow. Amazing performances from Jamie Foxx (I think he was maybe Oscar nominated for this, wasn't he?) and Robert Downey Junior (who I have loved since the moment I laid eyes on him in Only You - remember that one? When the Mr and I went travelling Italy we searched for that Bocca/ mouth thing that you put your hands in for days. True story!)Anyhow, a beautifully acted film, with such a heartbreaking and heartwarming story.
 
 
 
 
Made
 
 
 
  • New friends! Cheeserama, eh? But it's true. There's something about being thrown together for something in which you all have a common interest, that forges bonds more quickly than normal. It's also true that, from reading their blogs, I probably know more intimate details about some of those women that I met for the first time, than I do of even my closest friends. Such is the power of the written word. And the relative anonymity of a computer screen. Lovely women, who I sincerely hope I'll come across again very, very soon...








 
 
 
 
Worn
 
 
 
Yikes, I'm failing a bit at this one this week. Not in that I haven't been wearing clothes (cheeky!!), more in that it has been nothing wildly exciting.
 
 
 
  • For a day out with the Mr and the littles on Sunday, I went for comfy and cool...With matching shoes for Annie and I ...








 
 
 
Enjoyed
 
 
 
 
  • Sunshine (though it has upped and left now!)













  • A very special Coke bottle ...








 
 
 
  • Eva and Noah's school held a charity water fight on Monday, and the Fire Brigade came too, to offer watery assistance in the form of their water canons. Lordy - SOAKED!!









 
 
 
 
And that was our little week!
As I mentioned on Tuesday, I'm taking a little blogging break from today, in the sense that I'll not be around just as often over the Summer holidays. I do hope to pop in to littleloves from time to time though, and you'll still find me as active as ever on Twitter and Instagram. So do follow over there if you can.
Basically lovelies, you'll probably not even notice I'm gone.
I hope that you and yours have the loveliest Summer. Stay safe, and here's hoping for a sunny one!
Much love,
 
 
 
E x





 
butwhymummywhy







 
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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Personalised Baby Gifts from My 1st Years...




When My 1st Years contacted me with an opportunity to review one of their beautiful products, I was more than a little bit excited. You see, a while back I had read Morgana's post on them and, I'm not gonna lie, I WANTED that Ukulele.

Neither I, nor any of my children can play the Ukulele you understand, but that doesn't stop it from being a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing gift - I may just stare at it in the box for a while.









My 1st Years are a gifting website that specialise in personalisation. All their products, from beautifully made teddy bears to silver cutlery, can be made that extra bit special by the addition of your baby or child's name. This makes them the perfect choice for New Baby, Birthday or Christening gifts.

Or just because you really want a Ukulele.

Our parcel arrived with speedy-fast delivery, and was all wrapped up in the most beautiful packaging - like a Tiffany's box for little people.  The lovely box is a gift in itself, and would make the perfect memory-box storage for baby's first mementos.











To avoid arguments amongst the three littles, we opted to have 'Little Wood' engraved on the silver personalisation plate. In fact, I may have said so many times that we all have to share it, that the kiddos now refer to it as mine. Oops.











Annie got to grips with it quickly though, and I'm really surprised how much she enjoyed it, and even managed to produce a tune.









Musical stimulation for children of a young age is something to be encouraged, and this definitely makes a prettier (and more tuneful!) alternative to the manky old Peppa Pig recorder that lurks at the bottom of our toy box!


All-in-all we have been very impressed with the service and quality of product from My 1st Years.
We love our Ukulele, we really do.
Now, just to find a very high shelf to display it on...










E x



**We were gifted this item for the purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely our own though!**
















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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Me and...BritMums!



So. It happened. I got there and back in one piece. And the experience itself was a bit of an epiphany for me. Epiphany, for want of a better word.
It is just blogging after all.
The thing about BritMums, you see, is it's BUSY. Like crazy busy. Between the seminars and Keynotes, the chatting to friends, the food, wine and copious amounts of tea, it all becomes somewhat of a blur. Added to this I had two 5.30am starts and one very late night. I may have been slightly delirious on the journey home. My actual eyeballs ached.
I met some wonderful people. Girls that I felt like I've known for years, and wish I'd had longer to chat to.  During the BiBs I sat at a table full of women that I am totally in awe of - some finalists this year, and the rest who I am absolutely certain will be next year. Truly talented, inspiring, lovely new friends.









And the obvious thing to say would be that I felt energised, ready to seize the day, ready to come back and take my blog to new levels. And yet it was, and is, quite the opposite.
It's funny, isn't it, how sometimes your best intentions lead you off in a very different direction.

On Saturday morning, at the crack of dawn, we listened to Benjamin Brooks-Dutton deliver his Keynote speech. Benjamin is a blog writer, an author, and at 34, a widower with a tiny son. His story was emotional and inspiring and he finished by encouraging us to enjoy our families and to really think about the best moment in each day. To take account of the small things, acknowledge the little details, appreciate what we can't get back.
For many bloggers this is exactly what blogging is for - recording those special moments. For me it was too I think. Well, that was the intention anyway. But six months in, I can see it becoming all-consuming. I can sense my perfectionism taking hold, can feel the balance slipping away from quality moments with my children, towards more and more time spent on iPads and laptops, cameras and phones. Negotiating SEO, and trying to understand Google+. Trying to get to grips with increasing influence, and too caught up in rankings and statistics.

And that, I fear, will be something I regret in years to come. 

So. Here's the thing.
I'm going to take a little break.
I always wondered how I'd keep up with it all through the school holidays, particularly when I have other writing commitments that take time too. My kids are at that age where I'm fortunate to have mornings free while they are at school, but for seven weeks now I am taking on the role of full time, solo entertainer - I have three, they like to be busy, there are no nap times.
It's one big roller coaster of exhaustion, let me tell you.

I'm quite emotional writing this - I guess it is difficult to take a breather from something that you have poured everything into, and something that you love dearly. Part of me wants to stay in 'the loop', not lose what I've worked for already, not lose friends. But the bigger part of me says that I started this for my family, and that if I lose the heart of it, then it's really worth nothing anyway.

I don't want to be too morbid though, it's not really my style. And it's not as if I'm going to 'find myself' in the Peruvian mountains, I'll still slip a post in here and there to keep you on your toes. Albeit a little less often.

So thankyou for reading this, thankyou for following. I hope you'll still pop in from time to time, check by if I feel motivated to document a little holiday moment or two.
And I hope you'll still follow us over on Sanctuary Spa too. We'll still be there each month, large as life.

The blogging community is amazing. I'm so proud to be a part of that, however small that part is.
I do consider myself a writer now, in the least pretentious way I can make that seem.
But first and foremost I'm a mummy.

And just for a bit, I'm going to enjoy, uninterrupted, every good and wonderful and challenging little moment that brings.

And then I'll be back.


E x


Just before you strike me off your Bloglovin' feed, and unfollow me on Twitter - I still have a few more posts scheduled for this week, so please do stick around for those!

And check out some more of my pictures from BritMums below, and the blogs of the beautiful ladies in them - I feel so privileged to have met them...





Sian and Morgana cosy up - pretty in pink!
Katrina and I do our best station selfie.
And the ever-so-lovely Emma and Elfa give their best dramatic action pose.





The lady it took me hours to find, but so worth it - gorgeous Suzanne!
My personalised Coke bottle!
The very beautiful surroundings of The Brewery.
If we were a girl band...







Some of the #littleloves crew, Sian, Jenny, Katrina and Morgana



 And the ones I didn't get a picture of...

Beautiful Jude at Make me an Earth Mother
Alison at Complicated Gorgeousness - one of the nicest people I've ever met. Truly.
Katie at Hurrah for Gin. Loved her!
Wallymummy at Just a Normal Mummy - totally hilarious in person too, and she won an award!
The very glamorous Jess at Wry Mummy
Lovely Katie at MummyDaddyMe and Becky at Spirited Puddle Jumper
Gorgeous Sara at Mum Turned Mom - a fleeting chat, but so very glad to have met her!



There were so many more besides, but my head is still a little fuzzy, truth be told!
BritMums, you were a beaut!