I sit and hold Alice on my chest like I do every other day as she nestles down to go off to sleep. I love these quiet moments in the evening when all is still and I have time to just reflect. The world and its problems have been weighing heavily upon me for a few weeks now and I wonder if there is something I can do to help when so many are suffering. I am very much aware of how scary a thought it is to be raising children in a world with so many problems, but as I look down on her, my precious 2 month baby, my thoughts race away to the future anyway like they do with each of my children periodically; who will they be, what will they do and become in life? Nothing is guaranteed and if they are anything like me they will change their minds a hundred times and then never do any of the things they imagined. But one things for certain which I always feel overwhelmed by and that is how blessed we are to live in a place where they can pretty much be who they want to. A land and part of the world where we enjoy free education and numerous pathways to achieve what we want in life. I haven’t felt that immense gratitude much in my life until becoming a school mum and then that appreciation for what my kids can have has increased, and more so over the last 2 weeks it really has hit home and I feel different, I feel so grateful and I also feel like I want to do more…

It began 2 weeks ago when as a family we were so incredibly uplifted and touched by a performance from “The Singing Children Of Africa”. What started off as a family night out for a cultural experience, turned into a moment that touched my heart, made me very much aware of lives comparisons for them and my own children and a moment that made me want to do more. Their presence and singing was so touching to us that we have seen them twice again since and loved every second, with Megan dancing in the aisles and singing along and me moving at the back whilst trying to calm Alice. Their music is so feel good and their love for life is infectious. And then you hear their stories and are blown away by their determination and courage. I guess most would look upon them and say, but what have they to be happy about when they come from such poverty?! Why sing and dance and smile even when life has dealt you what it has?

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But whilst these kids come from a small village in Kenya, with no material means, living in conditions we only see on TV, they have been taken by the good people at Educate the kids and given an opportunity for Education and a meal each day…some for a home and security via their orphanage and others a career through their teacher training programme. They have been given a future, hope and dreams. Each one has their own story from loosing parents to being too poor for state education. Parents abandoning them and loosing siblings too. Others walk 3 or 4 miles a day to school each morning and some are raised by people too sick to do anything. But one thing they all have in common is this love for life, a smile on their face and desire to learn. The things we moan about and take for granted without even realising it are the things that bring them the greatest joy.

My love for these kids and this charity began with that simple first concert; a feel good evening of African music performed by some incredibly talented children, on tour to raise awareness and money…and on the surface it is just that. But when we opened our hearts and ears and listened and saw beyond the handmade beautiful traditional costumes and the fun they bring, when we looked beyond the drums and dancing we saw the people, the individual, the child. Children just like ours but born into different circumstances and human beings destined for a life that would kill us if it was the future of our children. Stories of girls having babies in early teens and dying from the conditions they are to labour in. Boys caught up in crime and all sorts or responsible for the financial care of a whole family, yet all of them saved by an education.  Something we are given freely, something we have at times begrudgingly done. So whilst I adore the music these kids have given (to the point of buying their CD and seeing them 3 times!) and loved the time as a family we have spent in these moments smiling, singing along, moving and dancing. I cannot hear their story and not be moved to help even just one, and so in memory of Poppy this year we have chosen to be sponsors and as a family to save another child from such an unknown future. For £11 a month we can give them a uniform, books, education and food. But more importantly we can help them to have a better future…we can give them dreams and hope. I cannot change the worlds problems but I can change the world for the one.

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 I truly love these moments in life when you find things that not only lift your soul, but truly inspire you too. Moments where you come away feeling great and yet determined to change and do more and be better. Feel good moments but thought provoking too… They are rather infrequent in life I guess, not the most ordinary thing, but woven into it to help us be better and do more; such a mix of emotions going on yet there is one thing for certain…you are never the same again. Iv’e had these moments when each of my children were born, at the odd film or theatre production or talk at church, they touch you deep into your heart and call for action and I thank the beautiful spirits of the Singing Children of Africa for giving these moments to our whole family over the last couple of weeks!

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This video does not do them justice, but to me its so poignant..enjoy! As always linking up with Katie @mummydaddyme for #ordinarymoments!

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Alice has been rather snuffly these past couple of weeks and on some days just whimpering whenever I put her down, this potentially could be such hard work but naturally and without thought on such days I have reached for my new Kangawrap and have been wearing her so as to keep her close and snuggly. This has not only helped her settle and relax and get some much needed rest, but it has also meant that I could still get on with things and not disturb her too much.

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Baby wearing is quite a new concept in our house hold – my sisters and sister in law have done it and love it, I used a baby carrier briefly with Ethan, but other than that it isn’t something I have done. However since being asked to try out the Kangawrap I can hand on heart say that I love it. I opt for it most days over the pram and find it so convenient and just a lovely thing to have my baby close and safe. It makes life with a baby easy and has become my go to when heading out.

On the school run I love it.

On days out I love it.

When Shopping I love it.

Walking in woods, the city and beach I love it.

On public transport I especially love it.

I love it because she sleeps well and is calm, I have both hands free to make sure Ethan and Megs are safe or if I need to carry things, and because its easy to manoeuvre places quickly. It has been great for weight loss as I can walk faster than when with the pram with of course the added lbs from baby and I tend to walk further too. It is just so convenient and easy to use and both Nathan and I thoroughly enjoy having little Alice snuggled close, occasionally popping her head out to grin and watch the world go by.

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The Kangawrap is so easy to use once you know how – initially I used a mirror but now I can now put it on whilst wandering around the house “encouraging” Ethan and Megs to get ready for school, and then quickly pop her in and off we go.

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It is made from organic cotton and is lightweight and soft. It provides ample support to baby’s head, hips and back and the way you wear them means  their weight is evenly distributed across you, and so we are both extremely comfy and therefore it is the perfect thing for our fast pace and busy lifestyle. But the thing that really appealed to me about Kangawrap is their Ethical values… The idea was manufactured in developing countries which does not only provide work for those who need it but also allows them to support their children. The wraps are then sold in the UK and the profits are sent back to maternity healthcare projects in developing countries. They work closely with Christian Aid and Asha India as they support countries which they have seen first hand such as Delhi and Kenya (You can find out more about their charity projects here).

Kangaroo care has a tremendous impact on babies in the early stages, and over the last few weeks I have grown to love it, as a novice it is unbelievably easy to do, but you would think by the reactions of some people that they had never seen someone carrying a baby in this way! Several older people have found it so funny, but to other mothers that haven’t tried it either, they can see how great it would be, especially on the school run where I use it most often. It has basically become a baby essential of mine, and whilst still a novelty I couldn’t live without my Kangawrap!

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NB: Kangawrap sent us a free wrap in return for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own.

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On our recent spontaneous trip to stay at Grandma’s, and after a busy morning spent helping in her garden followed by a little water fun and lunch, we hopped in her mini bus and she took us to see her friends farm “The Ginger Cow” which is situated just outside of York, in Evringham in East Yorkshire. It is a cute little family run cafe and farm where a lovely couple are living their dream and sharing the fun with visitors. They describe it as “Idyllic” and I couldn’t agree more. As we sat with the sun beaming down and enjoying delicious cordials and ice creams in the garden whilst the kids played dress up and games in the tepee, rode tractors and pushed the vintage prams (and I couldn’t make my mind up over all of the tasty cakes and foods on offer), it all felt so beautiful and was so picturesque and relaxing. It was busy but not overcrowded and the views were splendid. Its hard to believe it when you hear that they have only been there a couple of years and built this place from scratch with no farming experience!

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After some chats and bevvys, we took a little guided tour around the animals (all pram friendly) where we heard the names and personal tales of each animal and how they came to be there. We saw some of them perform their little tricks and laughed together at this and the little stories we heard about them all. The farmer gave several opportunities to the kids to feed them and the whole thing took about an hour. I loved that the the kids were captivated throughout and just loved it. I have been to so many farms in the last 5 years as a parent and of course here we saw the usual sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, cheeky hens and then The Ginger Cow(s). But this farm is beyond your average visit because Shaun the farmer gives of his time to show you around and to tell you all about its evolvement and his animals, in the process sharing many an intereting fact on the breeds of animals and their individual backgrounds. He encourages the kids to get up close to the animals and not be afraid, personalising it all by calling them each by name.

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This farm is special because it is the fulfillment of a couples dream and a working progress together. Once there you can truley feel the love and passion they have for it and see for yourself how he, his wife and their kids have built an amazing life and clean and child friendly place to be shared and enjoyed by all. I came away feeling like I wanted this dream for myself, which Mr Smith was rather apprehensive of and laughed off, but truley it is such a lovely unique place, with a personal touch and where I hope to visit again – most deffinitely a great afternoon where hearing and seeing of their families story and what they have built together was not only interesting and fun but very inspiring too.

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This is not a collaborative post just appreciation of a lovely afternoon. 

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots

 

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This week has been a difficult one in our family and by Saturday the last place I wanted to be was half way down the country away from my husband, but he encouraged me to go and have a day out doing something he knows I love and take interest in. I had a ticket to the Body shop at Home spring conference and he was adamant I used it.
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As I mentioned last year I decided to take work life easy and found that being a consultant for the Body shop at Home enabled me to build my confidence after Poppy, be at home with my kiddies full time and be involved in things I love (sales, beauty, womanhood) and it certainly has ticked all of those boxes for me over this last year. It has become my little ordinary of parties, facebook sales, extra cash and training and through all of that my confidence and interactions with others have soared, I find joy in being in the spotlight again and enhancing women. I love the banter, the brand and the flow of life. I love the extra cash, freebies and knowledge I have gained and I look forward to the year ahead to grow and develop some more. I like that when life isn’t going well my work load can be reduced and when life is plodding along nicely I can go for it, and it is this flexibility that has helped me grow at a nice steady pace.

I have never been to a conference before and whilst I was exhausted, run down and finding things hard, it was hard to stay in that frame of mind being surrounded by 1,000 women and men so pumped and ready for a new year, new opportunities and products. The whole thing made me feel invigorated and excited. I had a lovely time with my team and manager and listening to some very inspirational people.
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One thing I realised, and which stands out to me the most when I look back was how much passion and excitement I felt for the brand, for their focus, ingredients and charity work to protect and make life better for children in Soweto. I was engrossed for several hours and it felt good to feel passion in life again, to feel something ignited within me for an interest I never before had thought much of, something far bigger than me and my life, I had ideas flowing and goals that needed to be set, something so ordinary as “Passion” has been missing in my life and my ordinary little business had delivered it to me. I may not always do this as a job, but I will always remember what it gave me at a time when I needed it and I will always have a love for the brand and their goals!

I know that loss, especially that of your own child causes you to become very internal and selfish, very focused on “me” and “my emotions”, and whilst naturally I do think of others and try to help them, loosing Poppy has caused a lot of that within me over the past year or so, and so on Saturday it was different and it was exciting that my flare came back…I was tired, I was thinking of what was going on back home, but I also suddenly felt on fire to want to be a part of something bigger, I wanted to help more of those who struggle and have little and I wanted to make a difference in the world. I felt driven with personal goals for now with this path I am on and felt excited for the next few months.
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The Body shop at Home has become more to me over the last year than a little bit of extra cash in my pocket and a way to be a stay at home mum, it has empowered me and excited me for the future. I am grateful for a husband that pushed me and encouraged me, that knows me and helps me push past fears and worries. Year one helped me grow, helped me regain interest in life again after loosing Poppy and helped me shine again…year 2 is going to be even better, because their Conference has given me passion and passion is like oxygen to ones soul, I suddenly want reach bigger in life and make more of a difference, and I will always thank the body shop for giving that back to me. I not only smell nice and feel good using their products, but I feel excited for life with motivation to do more with what I have been given.
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