Posts in Category: Moments To Remember

How To Hold A Blessingway

As much as I loved the baby showers I had with both of my daughters, and appreciated the effort that went in to them, I have since been introduced to a different way of celebrating the pending arrival, which has touched me and moved me so much, I secretly wish I’d had a blessingway too.

flower crownA blessingway is an old Navajo ceremony, which celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood, or motherhood again. While a babyshower focuses largely on the new baby, a blessingway is all about the mother to be, as evidenced in a number of ceremonial activities that take place.

I’ve attended blessingways in England, and in Australia, and have seen and heard them done in the United States, and there are many variations, but the basics of it remain the same – women come together to celebrate birth.

While at a traditional babyshower everyone brings a gift for the baby, at a blessingway, (while you can still bring a gift for the baby) the ‘gifts’ you bring can include a bead, a poem,a flower, a candle, and red string.

Blessingway Belly ArtDuring the party, the host – normally a best friend or family member – will give the mother to be a strong piece of string, tied at one end. Then each guest will give her a bead, with a reason as to why they’ve chosen that specific bead for her. She will then string it into a necklace which she can wear, look at, or hold during labour, as she chooses.

Everyone can also bring a flower from their garden, or from somewhere special to them, which is threaded into a crown for the expectant mother to wear during the day, and to save as a memory of the day, should she wish.

Blessingway beadsPeople can take it in turns reading their poems and birth wishes – affirmations – or they can be put together somewhere for the mum to read leading up to and during her labour. My Australian friend had flags to put up in the room during her c-section. My British friends had them stuck on the wall by their birthpools during their home births.

The candle is lit during the ceremony, to guide the baby, and welcome him or her earthside, before being blown out again. If the mother is going to let people know when she’s in labour, they can take them home with them and light a candle for her when labour starts, or if she is unlikely to announce it, she can keep it at home and light the candles herself, as a reminder of the women standing with her in thought.

Blessingway Belly ArtFinally, the culminating element of the ceremony, is when the host ties a red string around her wrist or ankle, and the mother then walks around the room, wrapping the string twice around each guest’s arm and leg, creating a tie between them all. The mother then walks around cutting the string, and everyone ties it off. There are two traditions here: some people leave it on until it falls off on it’s own – I had one stay on for almost six months! – or they can break it off once the baby is born. Often times, people will send them back to the mother, so that she can thread them into a pillow or similar for the little person.

And once the ceremony is completed, there’s cake!

A blessingway is a great alternative for anyone not overly fond of party games or being the center of attention for too long, and provides a more meaningful, and still fun afternoon with friends, celebrating the new life to come, but also celebrating mum!

 

Originally written for Zulily.co.uk

On Your Last Day Of Preschool – Letter To A Four Year Old

Your First Day of 'Big Class'

Your First Day of ‘Big Class’ – You didn’t want to pose for a picture as you didn’t want to be late.

My most beloved big little girl

It’s the day before your last day at preschool and the world is changing again for you and for me. I watch you sometimes and the mannerisms, words and thoughts that come from you are no longer those of an infant or a toddler. I’m scared to say it as you are still only four but they are often barely those of a child and at times, when you speak, I feel like I’m faced with an adult – a short little grown up.

It’s strange for me, you know. I know this is your whole world and right now you are standing at the furthest reaches, the outposts of the world you know, standing on tip toes and stretching your hands out. Like a counter from which you can smell, but not yet see the chocolates. You think you see the whole world. All of life. And you feel so big, so ready for it.

I can’t imagine how I will feel when you reach the end of school, university, singledom, child-free, or when your little girl heads off to her last day of preschool. But I do know that on that day you will look at me and there’ll be a little understanding, a little sympathy for what my heart feels right now, when I look at you and see the smaller version of the future you.

You were born, and imprinted on my soul forever

You were born, and imprinted on my soul forever

You may have forgotten, but I rember the moment our eyes met. Hollywood makes movies from moments like that. That moment, that first feel of your skin, the meeting of our souls, it is imprinted on me forever. As I write this I’m sitting on a train and my eyes well up with tears as I remember the moment that cataclysmically ended life as I had known it, bringing in a new dawn, one where I became a mother. At the moment while you are so excited about all the new things that the new school year will bring you I can only see you through that filter, that small baby.

Oh, if I could stop time to do again these last four years with you unaware of the world out there, with me as your world once more, oh my darling, I would, I would.

I remember the first time I got on a bus with you. I paid my fare and asked the driver how much I had to pay for you. He said “children under 5 are free!” I laughed. I felt I had won the lottery! FIVE years!! That was, I thought, practically a lifetime of free travel!

In just a couple of months, you’ll have to get your own ticket and the thought of it startles me. Where did five years go? Sometimes I still feel like that young mama, baby strapped to me, boarding a bus.

Go my girl. Go into this big wide little world in front of you. Explore beyond the bug box, beyond the sensory rice, beyond the mock snow, dig deeper than the sand pit, deeper than the treasures I’ve hidden for you.

Your first school play at Preschool

Your first school play at Preschool

Make friends with people I haven’t introduced you to. Learn about things that I haven’t taught you. Go where your imagination takes you but always know where your home is, and where my heart is beating anxiously to hear about your day, your adventures, your experiences.

Yes, you are only nearly five, not eigteen, but if I don’t say it today, the next 12 years may soar by and I’ll be saying it again but with less time to hold on to you.

The world is out there my beautiful, strong-willed, golden-locked girl. The chocolate is yours for the taking. But be kind to your mama whose arms still carry the imprint of the first time they held you. Once in a while, nuzzle into my chest so I can still breathe you, once in a while look back and know that you are still in the centre of my world.

 

Mamatography Week 13: Flowers And Firemen

There’s definitely a hint of spring in the air, with lots of flowers everywhere.

82: Bring On Spring
Inspired by our trip to the Moonpig Mother’s Day event a few days earlier, we made a lollipop flower garden so we could give a few special people some flowers.

84: Gift Basket
Friends of ours came back from a holiday in Australia, so we dropped a care package on their doorstep so they wouldn’t have to rush out for breakfast, or worse, milk for coffee first thing off a 19-hour flight. I know what it’s like coming ‘home’ from a trip ‘home’ and never really belonging in either place. It’s hard.

85: Breakfast
We receive the Disney Cakes And Sweets Magazine every month, and this month, the freebie with it was a pan for making these fab Mickey Mouse pancakes. So yum using our regular recipe, and the girls just loved it.

Mamatography Week 13

86: Sugarcraft

Although it’s two weeks after the fact, we’re having Aviya’s birthday party tomorrow, so I’ve been making flowers for the cake. Unfortunately I didn’t think to actually flour the shot glasses, so most of them broke taking them off. Lesson learned. I was quite happy with them to that point though!

87: Messy Play Party
At some point I’ll get round to blogging Aviya’s messy play party. Suffice to say it was super fun though.

88: Firestation!
Another thing I have to get round to blogging, is our trip to the Farnham Firestation as part of our Emergency Services PlayLearning week. Doesn’t she look pleased with herself though?

Link Up Your Mamatography Posts:
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 This post is part of the Mamatography 2014 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

 



Mamatography 2014 – Week 3:A Funeral, A View

The dreaded week has come and gone. These are truly sad and sore times.

9. To See You Again. We went to the undertakers to view my moms body. My dad wanted to be sure it was her in the coffin. I wanted to have a chance to cry without a room full of people. We opted against embalming and two weeks had already passed, so we weren’t sure what to expect. She looked so thin, but healthy. Her hair was soft and brushed. She looked lovely. In life she often abstained and followed certain habits because she wanted to be a beautiful corpse. She sure got her wish.
10. Funeral day. Informal, no priest or stranger leading the ceremony, just me. Leading the family in words, in song, in placing lilies on the coffin. A lot of tears. And after, lunch with every person she knew in the country there.
11. Driving day, all the way to Wales at the foothills of Snowdonia. And a big thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last few weeks.
12. Bittersweet. Knowing she was meant to be on this holiday with us, was bittersweet. Knowing how much she would have loved the mountains, equally so.
13. Bed Hogs. A king size bed, and there’s still no room for me. Sigh.
14. Garden Decor. Some weird garden decor in the town of Machynlleth. Certainly a talking point!
15. Mountains, Gandalf! Mountains! I could take a picture of this mountain every single morning and it would never look the same two days in a row. If I lived there, I’d totally do that. With a timer to go off every day at the same time. It was an exquisite view.

photo 2Mamatography Week 3

mtbadge2
 This post is part of the Mamatography 2014 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)

Letter To A Four Year Old ~ All The Things I Didn't Know

Right now, four years ago, I was in the throes of labour. I had been since 4am the day before, but had managed a little sleep, and was ready to do this. I thought at the time, that I was having a baby, and then life would go back to normal. I was so happy, but I really didn’t know what it meant.

The moment our eyes locked, I fell in love with you. I changed forever. That may sound clichéd, but it’s true. Not much about my life, those two seconds apart, has ever really been the same since.

I knew the practicalities: babies grow into toddlers, who grow into children, but I had no real idea of how mothers grew from mothers of babies, to mothers of toddler to mothers of children. I didn’t see that coming.

I didn’t know that those first weeks and months would be all consuming. I didn’t know that I would learn a mountain of new skills, and master them too. I didn’t have the faintest inkling that I would become passionate about birth, or breastfeeding, or baby wearing, or any of the things you led me to, by refusing a pushchair, and flaring up when we used normal baby bath products, or having a bad reaction to Calpol.

I had seen babies smile before, but what I had not seen was how their mothers melted on the inside. I had not known how the curling of lips could wipe away days and nights of tiredness, and the complete upside down-ness of those early months. If someone had told me, I would not have believed it, and if I had believed it, I would not have grasped it. How could I conceive of something I’d never even imagined?

Under the Sea Birthday Party (3)

You were always in a hurry. Always trying to get to the next thing. At four months, you were crawling around with the seven and eight month olds in our baby group. At 8 months you were running rings around them. You were always in a hurry. You were speaking in full sentences by 20 months. Always on the go, always chattering, always showing me the world through eyes I never anticipated would captivate me. I see the same world you see, but you show me colours, and stories, and imaginations I would never have seen.

You have taught me the limits of my patience. You have shown me how I can go on, even when I thought I had nothing left in me. You’ve shown me that I do know how to play, that I can actually draw, and that anything can be fixed with a kiss and a cuddle.

You’ve taken me to the limits of the worst of me, then stretched out your arms to bring me back to a place of love. Our place, as mother and daughter. You’ve shown me the best of me. The things I now treasure most about me.

If four years ago you’d told me that all of these things were going to happen, that I was going to change fundamentally and wholly, and that my life was going to become wrapped up in you, I would not have believed it. I would have denied it. Oh, how I laugh at my own foolishness now.

I thought I knew what it was going to be. I had drawn the boundaries, made the plans, laid down the laws.

Then you came.

And you changed everything.

And I will never be able to thank you enough.

I love you baby girl, to the end of all things.

For all time.

Happy fourth birthday.

Mama.

 

Celebrating Sisters

The theme for this month’s Carnival of Natural  Parenting was Sibling Revelry, as opposed to sibling rivalry. It’s a subject I’ve thought about since before deciding to add to our family after Ameli, and in the hope to avoid or lessen rivalry, I chose to continue nursing through pregnancy, and tandem breastfeed.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my submission for the carnival in on time, but I wanted to share the beautiful sister moments between my daughters anyway. Kind of a celebration of the moments that make it all worth it.

Before you were born

I waited for you

Mine. My Sister, always true

Making plans… 

Holding hands

Carried away in make-believe

Come with me, I’ll lead you through

And guide you in all we do.

My darling daughters,
My prayer for you is that more than sisters,
you’ll always be friends,
born of one body
welded in love
a sister, a blessing
sent from above.
Mama.

Late Sleeper

Dear Aviya,

I am so grateful to have you as my second child. If you had been my first, Ameli would have been a huge shock to my system.

In contrast you don’t wake up every hour and your day doesn’t start between 4 and 7. You happily sleep till 8 every morning.

I may never have lain watching you in the moonlight, but I make up for it in the morning, you wonderous, marvelous, smiling beauty.

I am so in love with you,

Mama

Under The Sea Birthday Party

Aviya’s 1st birthday is just over a week away, and while knee-deep in preparations for it, I realised that with the mayhem and madness of visas and flying to Australia in October, I never posted the photos from Ameli’s 3rd birthday party. For her party we had an Under The Sea party at a Puck’s Oak Barn in Compton. It’s an absolutely stunning venue and it happened to be one of the rare beautiful days of last year, weather wise. It didn’t rain, and in fact the sun came out and cast that golden hue around the orchard. It was simply breathtaking, even though it was still a little cold.

We didn’t have entertainment, because we were in an orchard, and while it took everyone a little while to ‘warm up’ to the venue, once they did I think everyone enjoyed just being outdoors. The kids made up a treasure hunt with pretend maps and it was – to me, at least, – an idyllic afternoon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (10)[pinit] The barn is attached to an orchid with a great play area, wild forest bit and a stream. It’s the most perfect place for outdoor play.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (9)

As guests arrived they walked through the door with hanging fish garlands* (US Link) meant to represent the ocean, like they were ‘swimming’ through a school of fish. I had some of these same fish on the floor inside the hall.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (1)

There were also “bubbles” – aka clear balloons (US Link)– strewn across the floor. This provided great entertainment for the little ones. Here’s Aviya crawling after a balloon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (2)We had a great big blue sandpit shell that we borrowed from a friend. I set up balloons around it – they’re missing in this picture – and put a white blanket inside and set up a camera on a tripod so people could take photos of themselves in the shell, like perfect little pearls.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (6)

I spent a lot of the days leading up to the party planning and preparing food for it. There were octopus red peppers on the home made hummus, and a platter of vegetables to choose from. I had a treasure chest – far right- with Starfish Haribo (US Link) pouring from it like treasure, and kiwifruit lollipops covered in dairy free chocolate with edible fishy printed ricepaper. Under the Sea Birthday Party (4)These icecream cones are an unhealthy favourite in our house, originated from the icecream week we did for Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home. Not quite under the sea, but close enough to the sea to be welcome.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (7) These ice cream cones were gluten free, with cheese and chicken or ham, pressed out of bread with cookie cutters (US Link).
Under the Sea Birthday Party (8)
And there were white and brown bread fishy sandwiches (US Link) with Tuna and sweet corn and home made mayonnaise .
Under the Sea Birthday Party (3)

A lot of effort, but worth every second for this, my beautiful princess, my three year old.

I hope, my gorgeous child, that every year affords me the ability to make your birthday as special as your life has made mine.

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*If you purchase through any of these links, you will not be charged any extra, but Amazon will pay me around 5% of the purchase price. If buy without an affiliate link, Amazon just keeps the whole amount!

** You can find many more ideas on my Under The Sea Pinterest Board

Letter To An 8 Month Old – Dear Aviya

My dearest Squidgeling,

You are eight months old and a continued source of awesomeness and joy.

When your sister was a baby I used to think she filled my quota of awe, amazement and wonderment. I worried that when you came along, it would all be old news. It turns out, however, that you are so different, and have such different personalities, even now, that you show me entirely new sides that I’ve never seen before. You remind me of some previous amazements that I’d forgotten, and you take me to new places of thrill and excitement every day. 

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