Sunday, 12 November 2017

What it's like having children....

A friend of mine recently asked me what it's like to be a parent. Does it change you?
She doesn't plan on having kids, so it wasn't a question to prepare her. It was just geniune curiosity, which meant I could be brutally honest and it wouldn't matter.
Half of my mind wanted to reply with "Being a parent is messed up."
Because it is.
Loving somebody more than yourself, loving them more than anything else in the world, is a seriously strong emotion to feel. It is literally like watching your heart walk around outside your body. Your extremely fragile, delicate heart, that manages to sense danger and gravitate towards it.
In the case of my daughters, that's certainly what it feels like to me. 

From the second they entered the world, I knew I would do absolutely anything to protect them. Every decision I have made since they were born has been made while thinking of them first.
And that's messed up. 
For a start, it goes against survival. If both my daughters needed a kidney, I, without any hesitation whatsoever, would give both of mine up.

It's difficult to comprehend if you've never felt something like that before.
It's even harder to explain.
Loving your children is a very different kind of love than the love you feel for your partner.
It is entirely all-consuming.

The other half of me wanted to tell her it was the most wonderful thing in the world.
Because, to me, it is.


My kids bring me more happiness than anything else. Simply by existing, they make me grateful. I am grateful for every sleepless night, for every tantrum, for every skinned knee. Because it means that they're here with me. They're growing and learning, and I am so lucky that I get to watch that.



But sometimes it's fecking hard.
That brutal honesty?
It allowed me to tell her that it is, really, really fecking hard.
And it is. That isn't a lie.
Having kids IS fecking hard. Emphasis on the fecking, because if ever there was a need for expletives, it's when you're describing parenting.
You've made this life (lives in my case) and suddenly every decision you make has this ridiculous weight behind it, and that is absolutely petrifying.
I have made pretty much every mistake imaginable, and cursed myself into the ground several times over.

I'm not even including in the whole pregnancy malarkey. That was a totally different barrel of expletives, entirely in a league of its own.
Pregnancy failed pretty much every expectation of it that I had.
There was no glow, unless of course by glow, you mean the sheen of sweat covering me from head to toe while I repeatedly vomited bile into the toilet, for absolutely no other reason than my body hated being pregnant.

So, in general, parenting isn't a walk in the park. Parenting or pregnancy.

But would I change it?
Would I swap places with my childless friend?

Not a chance.
Does parenting change you?
Yes without a doubt.
As a parent, you will scrutinise yourself from every possible angle, in every possible way imaginable, and you will rebuild who you are a thousand times over.
But I am a better person because of my children.
They have helped make me who I am today, and as they grow, so will I, one parenting mistake at a time.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Future... and where we're headed.

When I first started this blog, away back in 2013, I had this ridiculous notion that it would be a beauty blog...
Not that there's anything wrong with beauty blogs - I LOVE reading them! But beauty is such a small (and often neglected) part of my life, that writing about it long term was never going to be practical.
The last four years have massively changed me as a person. For a start, I now have two daughters, so I kissed 'free time' goodbye, a long time ago lol.
     
I think this blog is just going to turn into my own personal think-space! I've recently started planning, and have been developing my own business so the two will go hand in hand - hopefully!

It'll also be a chance for me to record some of our memories, and my current thoughts on different situations.
Like, for example - dogs and babies... 

The more time I spend with myself (and lately, that's a lot) the more time I have to think about what kind of life I want to share with Barry and our children. Together, we've already decided that traditional town living isn't for us.
Hopefully, we won't be stuck in town for much longer! 

We definitely prefer being out in the open...


So, I think this is a heads up that if you followed this blog with the expectation that it would be a beauty blog, it's most likely not going to be... sorry!

Instead it's going to be a mixture of daily blogs, living green blog posts, parenting (or in my case, failing at parenting) and other random stuff most likely in no way associated with beauty....

Thanks for reading!
Sarah x


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Dogs and Babies...


Due to recent events involving my Silhouette Cameo, I'm not able to work tonight, so I thought I'd put the time to good use, and blog for a bit.
I would have chosen sleep, but in my stressed out state earlier I was downing coffee like I used to down vodka shots... I'll be buzzing for a while.

Today, I thought I'd write about our dogs, and children.
That's always a touchy subject. Dogs and babies.
There's always one person who thinks dogs shouldn't be near children.

I partly
agree.
I have four dogs, who I love dearly. And I have two daughters, who are my world.

When I first fell pregnant, there were a lot of people who voiced concerns that keeping my dogs was a good idea.
Let me be 110% clear here, for anyone who isn't sure. I will NEVER, EVER give up my dogs. I didn't get them because I didn't have children.
It wasn't actually even my choice to end up with four dogs. Long story, and not that interesting, but the bottom line is, now I have them and I love them. And they're FAMILY.

So it never occurred to me to get rid of my dogs when I fell pregnant, and if I'm really honest, I was disappointed that people assumed I would. I thought people knew me better than that.

There were some unkind comments regarding whether I'd cope with a baby and four dogs. And here I am, more than 3 years later with two daughters 15 months apart and all four of my dogs, coping just fine.
Okay, I'll admit, sometimes I don't brush my hair enough. And my house is generally untidy. And I will forever and ever be covered in dog hair.
But I'm happy. We're happy. I believe that for all the downsides having four dogs brings - and there ARE downsides - the positives vastly outweigh them.

So why do I partly agree with the idea that dogs shouldn't be near children?
I don't agree that dogs are dangerous, but I do agree that they have the potential to be. 
Because dogs are dogs.
 They're descendants of wild animals (however domesticated we think we have made them), and bottom line is, dogs can do damage.
Unfortunately, so can people.

I trust my dogs around my kids, as much as I trust my kids around my dogs.
I don't leave them alone, because why risk it?
 But they all understand boundaries, and in our case I am very lucky that our dogs adapted so well to our children. Not only did they adapt to cope, but they genuinely enjoy the girls' company. And that to me is special.

I feel like growing up with four dogs will hopefully give both Rayne and Harli some wonderful memories, and an early understanding of compassion and fairness. The girls know if the dogs get up and walk away, they're not allowed to harass them. The dogs know they have the option of doing that instead, when they've 'had enough'.
The girls understand that our dogs have feelings, just like we do, and they need to be respected as beings too. They're not 'just animals' to the girls, and I feel like this will massively benefit them in the long run.

I took these photos today of Rayne and Simba. He's alert, he's happy and he's comfortable. Rayne enjoyed minding her baby, tucking him in and talking away to him.
Simba,being Simba enjoyed a belly rub and any and all attention sent his way.




The memories that they make together are a massive bonus.
 My children are growing up to see our dogs as part of the family.
 Whether people agree with that or not isn't really my problem.
I think it's a good thing.
:)

And anyway. Doggy snuggles are one of the best kinds. Who wouldn't want to share them?? ;)


Feel free to share comments of your furbabies/babies below!
Photos always cheer me up :)


Until next time,
Sarah
x

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A life lesson I had to learn... and a future reminder to myself.

Being stolen from is not a pleasant experience.
Being stolen from by your FRIEND is an even worse one.
Unfortunately, just before Christmas, I learnt just how unpleasant that actually is.

We hadn't always been good friends. Since having children though, we got on very well. I trusted her- in both my house, and with my children.
And that's how she stole from me.

She arrived with her kids to swap Christmas presents.
After admiring a Christmas gift I had bought for someone else, she offered to watch my girls while I got the chance to nip out to the tumbler dryer in the garage and turn it off, as I needed to head out. I gratefully thanked her, and when I came back in, it was my turn to watch the kids while she lifted her present bags off the counter and nipped out to the car with them. It was her suggestion to do this, so 'nothing got left behind'.
Then she offered to give me a lift out, while Barry stayed with my girls. Now, this part is important. I walked her youngest out to the car, and lifted her into the car seat. Then I stood at the open car door until the child had been strapped in properly. I'd attempted the straps but hey, its me lol. Unless it's a Joie Stages, I can't work car seat buckles!
Once the child was strapped in, I got into the front seat and got dropped off to my destination.

I noticed the gift was missing the very next day.
I immediately texted my friend, who denied all knowledge and went out and bought me 'replacements' - just incase her kids had moved them into their present bags. Which was fine, that seemed like a decent thing to do, however she assured me later that night that her kids didn't touch them and the more I thought about it, how would her kids have reached a box I'd deliberately put out of reach of my own children?

So I tore my house apart, because where else could they be hiding? I even went outside to our bins and - I am ashamed to say- emptied their entire contents onto our driveway lol.
I'm sure my neighbours have labelled me 'The Bin-Hoker' , but hey! Needs must!

When I realised the presents were nowhere in my house (or in my bins) and had taken a very long shower, I texted my friend and gave her another opportunity to come clean.
She again denied all knowledge and swore on her life.

After another few days of emptying the house I had to accept what had happened. I wrote a Facebook post because I was hurt and confused and devastated that it had even come to that. I did not name my friend -but I didn't have to.
She immediately messaged me, and swore on her AND THE LIVES of her children that she hadn't seen them. But by this point I knew she was lying. And I told her as much. She brought up that she had 'went out of her way' to get me the replacements and cheer me up.
I genuinely doubted myself, I really did. I have anxiety, and this situation did not help.
But I had originally thought 3 things were missing, and I eventually did find one of them. I didn't tell my friend, but her replacements only included the two items that were actually missing. When she dropped the replacements off to my house - she didn't even mention the third.

So I decided to distance myself from it. And tried to drop contact. At first I was polite, but the less that I replied, the more she messaged me. She even texted me after seeing a post I'd put up In a group we were in, about having a hard time.
Of course I was having a hard time. My friend had stolen from me, then outright lied about it.

This, by the way is the same friend who made me a cup of tea and let me have a bath while she minded my children for an hour when I was having a previous hard time and wasn't well.
I was so conflicted. And I began to feel GUILTY every time she messaged me.
Because I missed her, and it was hard.

The final straw came when she tried to place an order with my new business.
Don't get me wrong, I needed the money. I am most certainly not in a position to just turn business away willy nilly.
But I could not sell to her while barely speaking to her. It didn't sit right with me and the idea made me feel very uncomfortable. Like I was using her or something.
So I messaged her again, explaining. And when she blanked me and acted like I was somehow being cruel, I messaged her explaining how I felt and that it was unfair that she expected me to act like nothing had happened.
And finally, finally, she admitted it.
Well, when I say admitted it, she tried to say that her daughter had taken the makeup out to the car and destroyed it.
Except that she'd forgotten about giving me a lift. And that I had walked out to the car with the child, who was empty-handed, along with her sister.
And when I reminded her of that, my friend blocked me.
Blocked and deleted me from every aspect of her life, because I had caught her out on another lie, and instead of having the decency and respect for me to admit to it, instead she has chosen to pretend the whole thing just didn't happen..

Which, right now, is fine by me.
At the time, I was even more hurt. I was angry, and upset, and I had a good cry.
But this entire experience has taught me something.
That her actions are not my responsibility to deal with. Her behaviour and the decisions that she CHOSE to make are not my fault and not a result of anything I did.
And that I should not feel guilty. At all.
I did the right thing by trying to gently cut contact. Every single one of her actions since have been proof of that. Our friendship obviously did not mean to her what I thought it did, and therefore it is entirely okay for her to not be in my life anymore.
I spoke to a few other friends about what had happened, and I was absolutely speechless to realise that this experience was not wholly my own.
Many of my friends had been through similar (although not with the same person), and ALL of them had felt the same guilt that I had. But I'm glad to say that all of us - me included, eventually realised that we didn't have too.

I have not shamed my friend. I have not named her.
I have not done that because that is the right thing to do.
Writing this blog post, has been more than just cathartic. It's my hope that someone in a similar situation will one day realise this and realise it's not their fault either.
The way that people treat you is NOT a direct result of how you treat them.
Not 3 weeks prior to being stolen from, I gave my friend a bucketload of Christmas decorations and lights for her tree, because hers had gone mouldy. I didn't do that for the thanks, I did it because the idea of her and her kids not having a tree at Christmas genuinely really upset me.
And at the time, I know she was grateful.
So no, I didn't treat her badly. Nothing that I did triggered the chain of reactions that eventually led to her stealing from me. And that was extremely important for me to realise.
It was NOT my fault.


And that has helped...


If you've reached this point in the blog without disappearing - well done! I promise we'll be back to boring and drama-free by the next post!!


Until next time,

Sarah  

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Parental Adventures, and what I'm crap at.


See, here's the thing. Kids don't come with an instruction manual. 
There are a million and one books about parenting, including, ironically, a book called 'The Instruction Manual for Kids'.
But let's be honest here. They're all useless.
Every child is different. 
What works for one, will not work for another.
Case in point. 
I am a mother of two daughters, born exactly 15 months, 3 days and around 12 hours apart.
For those of you new to my blog, the eldest was 3 in January. The youngest is 2 in April, and I'm not even remotely ashamed to admit that I really don't know what the hell I'm doing.
I wing it, every day.
EVERY DAY.

Before I had children, I had this very naive idea that yeah, it wouldn't be easy, but I'd just read a book and gradually get used to it.
I'd learn as we went along and I'd just figure it out.
GET USED TO IT.
LEARN.
FIGURE IT OUT.
HA HA HA.

Just off the top of my head, here are a few things I'm still not used too, haven't learnt, and haven't figured out over the last 3 years.

- Being woken up at 6 am.
Nah, scrap that.
Being repeatedly woken up, any number of times at any time in the middle of the night, from about 3am onward.
I am a lazy, selfish person. This is not a secret.
I like my sleep, so I massively struggle with being woken up early. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it knocks me for six.
I am definitely not used to it yet. Nor have I learnt how to cope with it, or figured out how to prevent it. The parenting books were utterly useless.
Imagine that.

- My daughters' ability to escape ANY SITUATION whatsoever.
ANY SITUATION. 
IN A SPLIT SECOND THEY ARE GONE.
In case you think I might be exaggerating, this is a photo of me on my wedding day.
Chasing after my escaping daughter, while trying to hold up my dress, hold in my boobs, and not fall flat on my face.

I had turned away and let go of her hand for a second, to fix my dress.
A second, to make sure I didn't expose myself to the photographer while my boobs attempted to escape.
Rayne saw her chance and legged it.

Where is the other daughter, you ask?
Gone. Being adopted by a seagull. 
Floating away into the breeze. Who knows!
Your guess is as good as mine.

- Multitasking.
But! I hear you say. Surely as a mum you have to multitask, or you'd never get anything done?
Yes. Yes, that is correct. And I can multitask. Sort of.
However, there is one aspect of multitasking that I am absolutely dreadful at. And that, my darlings, is controlling my child.
Nah, scrap that. Children. Plural.
An example?
A few weeks ago I took about 4 microseconds to pee. By myself. A rare luxury. 

Just as a side note, do you know what a luxury urinating by yourself actually is? Are you aware of this? Being able to sit down and pee without little hands flushing the toilet on you, or trying to help you wipe your ass.
No?
Well, you do now.

So, as I was taking my 4 microseconds of ABSOLUTE LUXURY, I was aware of a sudden silence.
Silence, when you have conscious children, is an awful, awful sign.
It means that you are in serious danger. That something is very, very wrong.
I was immediately nervous, and THOUGHT that I was thinking the worst.
Ha. HA.

Until recently, I was under the very incorrect impression that the worst thing a child could get hold of in the kitchen would be something like a hot cup. Or, you know, the kettle.
Rayne proved me wrong.
In the time it had taken me to pee, Rayne had gotten up onto the kitchen counter and got hold of the easy squeezy tube of honey.
I don't know if anyone not faced with this situation before could really understand the true gravity of the situation.
I didn't. Do you know what destruction honey can create in the hands of a three year old?
Absolutely traumatizing.

I have a phobia of sticky things. 
As does Rayne.
When she realized that every surface she could possibly touch was covered in sticky goo, she panicked and began to scream. I panicked and began to pray that it would all go away, while at the same time accepting that my life was pretty much over.
Harli, my youngest, thought that this was the best thing ever, and Nova, one of our dogs immediately took advantage of the situation by licking the cupboard doors.

I still haven't learnt the trick to peeing by myself without unleashing destruction on our house.

She does that a lot, by the way. Proves me wrong. 
Pretty much everything I assumed about raising children, Rayne goes out of her way to convince me that I may as well just not bother assuming anything.
So lesson learnt. That's what I do.

PRIME EXAMPLE.
While taking 5 minutes out of my day to write this blog post, I allowed Rayne to stand at the sink and 'wash' a few spare dishes. 
Multitasking at it's finest. My brain thought it was an absolute genius.
What could possibly go wrong? 
I get to sit down for a few minutes and Rayne learns a valuable life skill.
(We don't have a dishwasher. Well, actually we do, his name is Barry but he's currently on strike.)

It might result in a bit of water on the floor, maybe and some extra dishes to go over. 
No big deal. I could cope with that.
Obviously, I am a moron.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ha. Ha. Ha.

Rayne - being the absolutely delightful, helpful wee Bean that she is, spied the two flower pots full of soil and seeds and clearly thought I was trying to get out of washing them as well.

As I'm sure you can imagine, my kitchen now resembles a muddy swamp. 
I also have a LOT more dishes to do, as anything on the draining board got an extra wee scrub by my dutiful daughter with the soil-covered dish brush.

So with that, I will say goodbye, and ask you to send me your cleaning power.
I have an extremely dirty kitchen full of extremely dirty dishes to clean, and Rayne has decided she doesn't want to do dishes anymore.
"Something else, Mama. I want to do something else."
I'm going to tell myself she isn't eyeing up the fridge.... like the time she got hold of the eggs...

Bye for now!
Sarah






Friday, 2 December 2016

My Obsession with Christmas Trees.... Photo Heavy!

I can't be the only one obsessed with christmas trees, right?
It's a massive thing for me at Christmas.
I grew up obsessed with them, real, fake, in movies, at home.
When people think of Home Alone, they probably don't think of the Christmas trees...
it's an obsession, I know.
Don't judge me.
Or do - to be honest I get that much joy out of it (ya with me, my fellow KM'ers??) that I really don't care what people think.

Now, let me be 
entirely honest.

I am not Christian. I was raised Catholic, but I don't follow any specific religion. I have great family and friends who do, and I am respectful of any religion, but it's just not for me.
 Why does this have relevance?
Well, Christmas is originally a Christian celebration. I celebrate Christmas now because I believe, like many holidays, it has evolved for many into something more than just a religious holiday. For me - and many others, religious or not, I think of Christmas as a time to celebrate with family and friends, to show people that they are loved and cared for. I will raise my girls with the historical aspect of Christmas as well, and I've always been open to them following a religion when they're old enough to understand and choose for themselves.
For now though, Christmas is both a history lesson and a time for love in our family.

And for pretty Christmas trees.
Back to the trees. Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, you name it, I'm all for it.
Regarding my previous post, I'm quite happy to say that when I think about it, despite my obsession, I've always been pretty ethical and low-impact when it comes to decorations.
And so. I give you. The Brookes- Lundy Christmas Tree timeline. From 2012, up until this year.
If Christmas trees bore the shit out of you, look away now lol.

Christmas Tree 2012.

 Not in our current house, but a recycled tree and recycled decorations! My mum had owned the tree for a few years before she gave it to me, as well as the majority of the decorations. The rest I picked up in a pound shop the year before.

Christmas Tree 2013

The same tree as 2012, and the same decorations! This was our first year in our current house, we bought it summer 2013 when I was pregnant with Rayne and it was the year I decided I needed a bigger tree. The tree Mum gave us was a 6ft tree, but the last half a foot was one long skinny branch I had to fold down 3 times to get the star to stay on lol




Christmas Tree 2014
This was the first year with our new tree.
My DREAM Tree. Tall, fat and full! It is 7ft tall, 4.5ft wide, and I had nowhere near enough lights - or decorations! 
I ended up gifting quite a few of my original decorations to my brother and sister-in-law, including the tinsel, so they moved onto their THIRD home, and I needed new decorations!
I also decided this year I needed new lights...which led to this...

Christmas Tree 2015
 Far too many lights. However, they're all low energy LEDs! So I didn't do too badly. There are a few new decorations here too, I think about 6, handmade and bought for me as gifts. 
My two exhausted little helpers. I was so proud of Rayne and Harli. All the family and friend presents were left under the tree wrapped for weeks, and not a single one of them was touched - except for during the wrapping when Harli chewed a few of the boxes lol.
I practice gentle parenting, so I was seriously impressed with how well both girls understood, considering their ages!
And finally...

Christmas Tree 2016
I love it.
I hadn't planned to purchase new lights, but I was gifted them and once again they're low energy LEDs. They're only on here to take the photo, otherwise they're only on in the evenings. I was also gifted new decorations this year for our wedding - which we plan to keep and pass on, so they most definitely will be re-used.

 I'd love to get a tree skirt, but I'd need a large skirt for the tree and at the moment, funds just won't allow it! However, I'm somewhat glad I haven't already purchased one, as when I do, I can purchase one to match our new decor, AND purchase one which has been made sustainably.

Which leads me to my next point.
 I use fake trees, however I plan to use my current tree for the next 7 years - at LEAST. If not longer. This is it's 3rd Christmas, and so far it's showing absolutely no wear and tear -despite having rather delicate hinged branches.
In the long run, real trees are probably the more greener option, so I don't think I'll be purchasing another fake one.
In the future, me and Barry hope to move again to a house with a bit more land, and if that's the case, I'm hoping to purchase a potted Christmas tree that we can replant each year. If that isn't a realistic option, our old tree will be used for compost and/or firewood, and I hope to grow many of them ourselves.

As for the decorations, any future decorations I purchase for our tree will be fairtrade/recycled. I've seen some absolutely beautiful ones here that I've fallen in love with, so will most likely gift myself them after Christmas for Christmas 2017.


How gorgeous are they? Their ties are made from recycled sari, and the baubles themselves are made from 100% recycled glass.
I've always been fascinated with history, and I find the fact that they've been repurposed amazing. Especially the sari ties. They really are perfect.

I find it insane that some people buy an entirely new set of decorations each year to change color schemes. To me, the fascination with my tree is that the majority of my decorations tell a story. They're personal to me.
 Even the older plastic baubles that Mum gave me. I remember seeing them on her tree when I lived at home and that is very comforting to me, to see them in my home now. Their manufacturing might not have been very green, but they've done fantastic to have lasted as long as they have.
 I reckon some of them are easily nearly 8 or 9 years old, and I know for a fact some of them are much, much older. I have a few small material and wire angels on my tree that Mum bought when I was about 12 or 13, and I'm 26 now!
 I plan to pass them onto my girls for their first house, and hopefully they'll one day get the chance to do the same.

Does your family have any special decorations? Do you change your decorations each year or are you like me, in with the old, the old and the older!





Christmas Ethics...Something to Think About


Christmas is such a busy, often expensive time. 
Usually at this time of year, I'd be out rushing about buying present upon present, and trying to make up for a disastrous Christmas a few years ago that was not only devastating but extremely stressful.

I could barely afford food, let alone presents for everyone, and I was filled with an awful sense of guilt - and shame.
I'm filled with a rather different sense of shame now.

In the last few years I have been much more secure - both financially and emotionally, but this is the first Christmas I have actually considered everything properly before I've bought it. Where it came from, who made it, is it sustainable? 
Is it really worth it?

What kind of impact will it have afterwards? 

At Christmas we become so wrapped up in gift giving and buying that we sometimes forget - everything has an impact. 
Positive or negative, everything we buy affects someone else.
 I have been shocked and horrified to find that some of my favourite shops lack some serious morals when it comes to manufacturing.

This year I'm making a conscious effort to buy sustainable items from companies that give a fair wage to those who make them, and that have a positive effect on the lives of other people. 
This year, even if we all do this for just ONE gift, think of the massive difference we would make.

It's such an easy change but it has made a massive difference in how I look at everything before I purchase it.

For a start, what I have purchased so far, I've found to be of much better quality. Not only are most of the items handmade by individuals, so each item is properly focused on by the creator, but I've found that less really isn't less.
Less to unwrap this Christmas will NOT be a bad thing. 

Over the next few weeks, I plan to upload a few posts with a few ideas on ethical gift giving! If there's anything you could add, feel free to leave a comment :)
As always, thanks for reading! 


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mr and Mrs Lundy!

So, we did it! We got married!!

Look at us! The day was fantastic, and considering it was November in Northern Ireland, it was a miracle it didn't rain!
This post doesn't really have much to say, I don't have many photos yet but I will provide a link to our amazing photographer, Luke! You can find his facebook here.
Of all the things I'd chosen for the wedding day, choosing Luke to take our photos was probably the only decision I made 100% and didn't change my mind once. 
I absolutely adore photography, and if I didn't have two kids and four dogs I might have followed it somewhere further than my A-levels. As things ended up, I never did, so I just dabble, but I've never forgotten what it feels like to see a photo and think "That literally couldn't be a better shot."
Luke's photos make me think that. He was the photographer at my brother's wedding, and I fell in love with how natural the photos he captured were. No awkward standing poses, no lulls in atmosphere. Every photo was a perfect snapshot into how the day and night felt, and that made it for me.
Not only that, but he is a genuinely awesome guy - who gets on with kids. A miracle worker, when he managed to tame Rayne on the beach when she was having a moment to compose herself lol.
Somebody who can manage to do that and gather everyone together is a genius. SO! If you're looking some wedding photography (or any photography) I highly recommend Luke.

And no, for those of you wondering, this is not an advert and I am not getting paid to write it lol

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Hello October...a few days late!




It's already October, and I genuinely can't believe it! So much has happened in the last year, it really seems to have flown in.

I have always loved October. In fact, the autumn and winter months are my favorite.
I especially love autumn walks. We often take the girls and the dogs to Hillsborough Lake, and although it's lovely in the summer, it's a different place when the leaves begin to fall. It's magical.

These photos were from March of this year, and even then you can see how beautiful the place is.
Rayne loves Hillsborough - especially the leaf piles!
Her and Doggy enjoy conquering the different hills, and she hasn't failed to reach the top of one yet!




Now that it's October, it means we are getting married NEXT MONTH. 
That is so scary and awesome all at the same time, but I am excited!
Planning a wedding really wasn't like what I imagined, but I have learnt so much about myself during this experience.

It turns out that I can actually be organised! Okay, I'll probably never have perfect organisational skills, but I am getting better! I'm actually more on track with the wedding than I expected it to be! 
Which is a big relief if I'm honest!

I thought I'd just hit down a wee list of a few things I want to achieve this month, wedding-related and not wedding-related! It can't hurt, right?

1. Finish the wedding snowflakes!
I have about 20 more to go, which doesn't sound like that much, but it actually is when each one takes so long! But I'll get there :)

2. Source favours for the men! 
I recently realised that for couples coming to the wedding, the men probably wouldn't appreciate a Christmas decoration to hang on their tree- especially if their significant other already had the exact same one! So I'm brainstorming - if anyone has any ideas let me know!

3. Organise more family time!
 More Autumn walks, more snuggles, more play! Family time is so important, and with Barry working so much it can sometimes be hard to get all four of us together! Eight, if we're including the dogs, which, let's face it, I totally am! 

4. Start my Pilates again!
Now that I don't have what may as well have been barbed wire in my chest, I can move, and my love of exercise has come back!! I really enjoy Pilates so hopefully I can find the time to get some done before November!

5. Make my brooch bouquet - and blog about it!
I promise I will do this... Eventually!

6. Learn to love myself again.
Recently I've been going through an identity crisis. I have just felt so detached from myself, which is probably surprising as I'm always advocating for self-love!! Self-love is honestly so important, so this month I'll be focusing on my positives! I think with everything I'm maybe just feeling burnt out, so hopefully this month I'll be able to relax a bit more!

A short list, but big enough!
Wish me luck!! 
Sarah X 


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Heart Blog, Sternal Wires, and a Practically Impossible Situation! Text Heavy - ladies and gents, you have been warned!

Okay, so I've mulled blogging over this topic several times, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever blog about it.
But, in light of recent events, I've decided to go ahead and write about it, in the hope that it will one day help somebody else in a similar situation.

I was born with Tetralogy of Fallots (ToF) and an absent pulmonary valve. I'm not going to get into detail about it, but basically what it means is that my heart didn't form properly.
I've since had surgery to correct it, and as far as most of my life goes, it's not a big deal.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be as healthy as I am, because I know of several instances where people have been born with similar issues and were sadly not as lucky.

Relatively speaking, it doesn't affect me too much. I get regular palpitations ( which are horrific), and I'm tired more than my friends.
However, I've 2 kids and 4 dogs, so, you know. I'm going to be tired, no matter what.

Recently however, or actually, NOT recently, as the case may be, I've been having, difficulties.

During my last open heart surgery, way, WAY back in 2009, I had a pulmonary valve transplanted into my heart. I've come across this surgery several times online described as a pulmonary valve replacement, but technically I never had one to begin with, so I didn't actually have it replaced.
Anyway, getting off track.
Basically, despite a few small issues, I left the hospital to recover at home.

I did not follow my surgeon's instructions, because I was an 18 year old idiot who was desperate to live a life that had up until that point been impossible, so I pretty much instantly threw myself into everything I hadn't been able to do before.
Clubbing, drinking, dancing, exercise. I found after the initial recovery period my exercise tolerance had massively increased, which of course meant I attempted everything.
I'm sure there are some people reading this completely flabbergasted that exercise would inspire so much excitement, but honestly, I was so happy.
Which led to me being silly, and trying to do too much. A few weeks after my surgery (I think it was 2 weeks) I decided I'd move the furniture around in my bedroom. I have no idea why. I seriously look back and genuinely wonder what I was thinking, but there you go.

Obviously, moving large, heavy oak furniture two weeks after open heart surgery isn't recommended, and I 'popped' my sternum. I literally felt it pop, and yes, it hurt.
A lot.

At my 6 week review I asked what would happen if my sternum began to move and I was promptly informed that I would have to have surgery to reset it>
 So I just as promptly shut up.
And things were fine. For a while.

I very quickly learnt what physical exertion my sternum could withstand without causing me pain, and I was determined not to have more surgery.
Looking back that was stupid, but I knew better.
To be fair, I managed extremely well, until 2012,when after working for a few years as a care assistant, I noticed my sternum shifting a lot more frequently.
 During one shift, I was maneuvering the hoist with a patient in it, and as I pulled the hoist towards me, I felt immediate pain in my chest. Within minutes my chest was swollen, so after my shift I went to A and E as I knew something wasn't right.
There I had an X-Ray and was then very bluntly informed by possibly the rudest man I've ever had the misfortune to come across, that I couldn't possibly have broken my wires. 
That is what I had assumed had happened. My chest now had a sizable lump directly over where one of the wires was located - not to mention the bruise that had blossomed across my sternum.
In fact, he was so convinced that all I had was 'localised soft tissue swelling'  - apparently for no reason - that he very confidently informed me (in a very patronizing tone, I hasten to add)  that it "would be practically impossible for you to break one".
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a direct quote.
A DIRECT QUOTE.

He sent me home embarrassed and in pain, and I swore I'd never go back.
For the next few years I was very careful of everything physical that I did. I took note of anything that put pressure on the painful area (certain underwired bras, lifting things a certain way etc) and did my best to avoid them.
Which admittedly worked out fine, until a few weeks ago. I lifted my two year old up to put her into her car seat, and what I can only describe as an explosion of agony went off in my chest. The pain - and bruising was so severe that for all my swearing off doctors in A and E, I eventually rang out of hours. I went down to be seen and the doctor there told me it looked like if been punched in the chest. 
Her horrified reaction gave me enough confidence to realize that something really had gone wrong. I was referred then to my wonderful surgeon, who coincidentally had been at my last open heart surgery. I had an X-Ray, which showed up nothing abnormal, but despite this, he LISTENED TO ME. He listened to what I had to say, answered any questions I had, examined my chest, and the now permanent swelling, and decided that we'd go ahead and remove it.
For about eight weeks, while I was waiting on the surgery, I couldn't wear any bras that put pressure on the swelling (So that was pretty much all my bras), I couldn't lift my kids without pain and I was constantly hunched forward to protect my chest. Anything touching it resulted in serious pain, it got so bad I could only get up out of bed a certain way or roll over into a few positions. I was also still feeding Harli myself - so ladies, you can imagine the pain.

A few weeks ago, my wonderful, lovely, genius surgeon called me in for my surgery. And low and behold, when they opened me up, what did they find?
A broken wire.
A broken wire which had been REPEATEDLY STABBING ME since 2012.

FOUR YEARS.
It was surrounded by a fair amount of scar tissue, which they did their best to remove, along with the closest two wires to the one causing me pain,
I insisted on a local anesthetic, instead of a general - which meant I didn't have to have another breathing tube, I didn't have to suffer ICU again, and I was home THE SAME DAY that I had my surgery. I was home and tucked up in bed within a few hours, with three gross little souvenirs,

Below are photos I had kept as a record to show the surgeon, but after a while I began to keep them for myself, and I am so glad I did as the difference in the photos is amazing.
Frankly, I don't give a toss about the scar, I'm just happy I'm no longer in pain!
However, for those of you offended by 'nudity' or anything slightly graphic, this is your warning not to look any further.



The top three photos showed the progression of the swelling from the day I lifted Rayne until a few days later. That swelling eventually subsided slightly, however I was left with a significant lump. The middle photo on the bottom row shows where the wires that were removed were located.
 The centre wire you can see quite clearly. The left photo on the bottom row was the day after the surgery, and the photo to the far right was a few days later.
I never thought I'd say this, but I was absolutely ecstatic to have a flat chest again, ahaha!

Okay, yeah my humor is weird.
Moving swiftly on.
These were the three culprits. Yes that is scar tissue on that wire. Funny story, I uploaded this photo onto instagram, and someone thought I'd uploaded a photo of my coil...
No. No thankyou.




Last photo of this evening, and this is what it looks like now,  three weeks and two days after my surgery. There is a small amount of scar tissue still under the skin, however it is extremely minimal, and it causes me absolutely no issues. Having the wires removed is possibly one of the best things I have ever done. I can even wear bras again, which is something I never thought I'd be excited about, but there you go...


The point of this post is this. I searched high and low for information regarding getting my wires removed. The A and E doctor I saw was so dismissive that I lost confidence in voicing how I felt about them. And when I did search for information, I came up with pretty much nothing.
So my hope is that this blog post might one day help someone who might be in the same situation that I was in.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, PURSUE IT. As my surgeon said, I knew something wasn't right. I knew my own body, and had I pushed for a second opinion in 2012, maybe I could have escaped weeks of agony!
Know Better, Do Better, right?

So that's that dealt with.
Thanks for reading!
Sarah 
x

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Crafty Cam-B

Just a heads up this will be a picture-heavy post!
So, this summer, we finally bought a caravan.

I found her on Gumtree, and instantly fell in love.
She's a 1978 Topaz Eccles S 4 berth, which makes her nearly 39 years old!
She was in relatively okay nick when we got her home but there was still a lot of work to do.
I had planned to completely restore her, however a good bit of her original wood work had already been painted, and she no longer had the original 1978 seat cushions, so I ended up scrapping that idea and went with what came to me. The previous owner had also put in new curtains that were a sea-green shade, and as we were planning to use her mainly to visit the coast, blue and pale colours became my main inspiration. She's still not finished yet but she's come a long, long way.

This was when we first brought her home, with Harli checking her out. I was so glad she fitted in her driveway, however I'm not even going to try and explain the nerves I felt while she was being reversed into it! Our street is quite a tight street at the best of times and our driveway has a weird slope to it, so it was difficult!


This was during painting. We were idiots and didn't masking tape the window seal. I don't know why.
The original lights in both corners don't work, however, I found an alternative light source. The push lights from Ikea that stick up are fantastic, and I put them all along the bottom of the shelf!



This is looking towards the 'toilet' which is a room with a sink and a window that never closes, and nothing else! In 1978 caravans didn't have fitted toilets, and although our caravan did come with a portable, we got rid of it. More on why later.



Finally looking a bit better! I cannot sew very well at all, so we bought a few throws from Ikea to cover the seat cushions! I do plan on eventually sewing proper covers, but that will have to wait until after the wedding.

My favourite feature of the caravan right now, has to be the table.
I cleaned it, Barry fixed it after I broke it (oops!), and I recovered it using the same sticky back vinyl that I'd used on the nursery bookcase (blogpost discussing the vinyl and where to buy it here).
I cannot put into words how much I love this table.
Honestly, it really does make the caravan.
While the Cam-B is stationary on the driveway, I use her as a craft room to make my snowflakes, so she regularly features on my instagram. Below are a small collection of the brooches I have for my brooch bouquet, and another of me making one of the wedding snowflakes (I posted about them here).
As you can see, the table covering looks amazing.


I know, I know, I'm biased. But it really does.

She really isn't finished yet, but we did manage to get away in hee this year (upcoming blog post about that) which is amazing consider how unorganised we usually are.
I think after this year however, except for short local trips, we're planning to retire her to a garden room, as she does need a lot more work. Her a-frame could do with being spruced up a bit, and she has all her original windows - which unfortunately all need replaced. She could also do with new flooring and a patch or two of damp being sorted. None of them are huge issues, but replacing the windows would cost more than she cost to buy, not to mention the rest of the stuff, so it'll be a while before we get around to it.
And because she has so much history, I want to take decent care of her. The person we bought her off told us the owner's before them had owned her since new, and had taken her all around France with their children in the 80s.
I haven't even been to France and my caravan has! I just think its amazing that considering the age of her and how far she's been, shes still in relatively one piece!
She really has inspired a love of old caravans in me, so much so that I joined The Retro Caravan Club (their website is here). It's a fab wee club and a great source of information with regards to retro vans, they helped me accurately date her and are an extremely friendly bunch!

As for her name, Rayne couldn't pronounce Caravan, or Camping, so the Caravan became The Cam-B.
We did briefly consider naming her Shelby, but I'm still on the fence about whether the name fits.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment them!

I plan to post an update with more photos, however knowing me it could be a while!
It should be sometime in the near future though.
Thanks for reading,
Sarah x




Monday, 3 October 2016

Birthday WishList 2016


Another year nearly gone! Hopefully some of the lessons this year have stuck with me!

While I was in the blogging mood I thought I'd get a quick birthday wishlist out! I always mean to do one every year as people say I'm hard to buy for. To be fair, I found it quite difficult to put this list together, but I think that's a good thing, if anything! It means I'm blessed :)  


Birthday WishList 2016



1. Lush Cosmic Gift Set
I absolutely love Lush, and I love space. We're finally getting a new bathroom in, so this would be perfect to use with it! Now all I need is an hour to myself to relax in the bath- I can dream...

2. Anchor Roo Abrook Vintage Print on Upcycled Paper
This is honestly so beautiful. I love old books, I love old paper, and I love nautical art. I could see this on the wall of my caravan <3
Which reminds me, I really do have to do a blog post about her...

3.Blue Ship Roo Abrook Vintage Print on Upcycled Paper
OH MY. <3 I love this. Ships are always something I've been fascinated by, and this artwork is just stunning. Not to mention the paper used is from between the 1850s to 1950!
Another one for me to admire on the caravan walls :)

4. Trigger Torch
This torch is charged by squeezing a pop-out trigger, so eco-friendly and perfect for me as it doesn't need batteries! The one thing we could have done with more of while camping, was light - so this really is perfect! And cute!

5. Cork Purse
I haven't used a purse in nearly six months now, and keep losing my cards, so not only would this be handy but I imagine it would be quite resilient as well! I quite like how simple it looks.

6. Unicef Vitamin Sprinkles For Two Toddlers For A Whole Year
Of all the things on my list, this really is number one in my head, and I'll most likely end up buying it myself.
I am constantly reminded of how lucky myself and my family are in life. My daughters want for nothing, while there are children still in the world without basic food or healthcare. That breaks my heart.
For Mother's Day last year Barry bought me a gift with Unicef, to help towards the children of Syria, and I sponsor Unicef monthly from Rayne and Harli. They really are a fantastic charity that do an amazing amount of work, so a birthday gift to them would be amazing.

7. Ceramic House Tealight Holder
I am loving Hobbycraft recently, and as soon as I saw this I fell in love! I now have a mantle piece, and two of these would be so cute at either end of it! Little amuses the simple, I know, but seriously. They are beautiful!

If anyone has any ideas of anything they think I'd like, feel free to comment! I could always do with some new ideas, and you know how much I love making lists...
That's all for now,
Ciao x

We're On Facebook!



Just a quick post to say I finally set up a facebook page for my blog. 
I would LOVE to interact more with my readers, so thought this would be an easier way!


You can find my facebook page here :)
Feel free to leave a comment and say hi!!



Spearfishing. In Northern Ireland?! Say what?

While I'm in blogging mode, I thought I'd post a wee update.
Just a brief one, because, let's face it, I'm lazy!

Earlier this year, Barry and I had been discussing our future and where we wanted the girls to grow up.
I spent a lot of my early childhood living beside the sea, and the idea of the girls growing up beside it really appealed to us.
As a family, we regularly visit the coast, and really do cherish our time there.
We also discussed how we wanted to spend more of our time, as a family and as a couple. The last three years have been extremely hectic (a house move, two kids 15 months apart and 4 dogs to juggle gets busy!) and neither of us had really gotten time to focus on each other, as a couple and as individuals. So we made a promise to invest in each other this year, and pursue different hobbies and experiences.
For Barry, that meant spearfishing.
You know. As in fishing, only with a spear.
Fine if we lived somewhere nice and warm.  Like Hawaii.
But we don't.
We live in Northern Ireland. And the Irish Sea doesn't always look inviting. You know, ever.
Nice for a brisk walk along the beach, bundled up in about four jackets. Not exactly the sort of sea you'd want to jump into.

When he first told me about it, I thought it was just a phase. I was convinced that such a dangerous (or so I thought) sport surely wouldn't catch his attention for long.
But the more that we BOTH learnt about it, the more interested we became, and it has become a fully established hobby.
Don't get me wrong, I don't shoot fish.
However, I do snorkel.
As it turns out, the Irish Coast is not only extremely inviting (on a good day, anyway) but is also absolutely beautiful. I have swam alongside SCHOOLS of fish, explored what felt like fields of kelp, and sang Under The Sea, while underwater. I literally felt like Ariel. If Ariel had blue hair, legs, swam with a 7mm wetsuit on and two pairs of wetsuit socks (which still don't stop my feet getting cold!).
But you know. Other than all of that, we're pretty much the same. Ahem.
See? Practically Ariel's twin. 

As for Barry, he took to spearfishing like he takes to everything else. With a determination I have only ever seen in him - and our daughters.

He's been at it now for a few months, and as you can see, he's pretty damn successful at it.






Another person who has taken to the water with the same determination and excitement as her old man, is Rayne.
Rayne was so determined to follow Barry into the water (no matter how cold it was) on our many trips to the coast, that we decided to treat her to her very own wetsuit.
She LOVED it.
Now let me reiterate how damn cold the waters over here are.
Even wearing a 7mm suit, I am FREEZING when I get out. So for a two year old to have the determination to get as far out as possible in just a bathing suit astounded me, because that water is not pleasant on your bare skin.
We plan to get her a snorkel next!








And Harli? She's much more content collecting driftwood and seaglass on the shore with her Mama.
And running about the beach in a dressing gown because her coat got splashed and the only other thing I had in the car was a dressing gown from her Grammy lol.
I really do suck at this parenting thing, don't I?
One day I'll be organised! One day!
Spot Barry and Rayne in the water to the left of Harli's head!

If you're interested in seeing some videos of Barry and his spearfishing (or Barry in his wetsuit, haha), he has a Youtube account here.
And if anyone can recommend a decent action camera for better quality vids of us in the water, feel free to leave a comment!

Thanks again for reading :)