17.12.14

thankful


One week today it will be Christmas Eve. And on that day it will be exactly a year since the last time I ever spoke to my Dad, the last time I saw his face on Skype; the last laughs we shared and our last goodbyes.

As the anniversary of his death gets closer, the grief and longing to see him again is palpable. I have found over the last year that it's the days before a big anniversary or special occasion that I find the hardest.

I find it harder than usual to not relive certain moments over and over again in my head. I fall asleep thinking about them and during the (albeit rare) moments of quiet during the day, my mind quickly wanders to those hardest of days. To the moment I heard what had happened, to the deep, dark silence that filled my car as my brother, sister and I travelled to Cornwall that same day to be with my Grandparents and the rest of my family; to his funeral – standing, looking at his coffin, speaking the words of my eulogy for him.

Come the day itself, I find strength I didn't think I could muster. I can smile as I think of my Dad's beautiful face and jokes he would crack. I find the dread I had about how I would feel, melt away. I've realised that the complete sadness, the heartbreak, the amount I miss my Dad, isn't greater on those 'significant' days. It's that way every day; some days are easier than others, of course, but it's there always. I replay those moments all the time. It's hard not to. I think about my Dad all day, every day. Happy thoughts, sad thoughts; smiles and tears.

In the summer, when we were driving back to Cornwall for our summer holidays, I spoke to Ben about the last time I had driven those roads. And Ben told me about how, when I told him that Dad had died, he wondered what the next year would hold; how I'd cope, whether I'd even find the energy to get out of bed and carry on. That the strength I, and my family, had shown was incredible, inspiring. That my Dad would be so proud of us all. I think of Ben's words often too, they help me hold my head high when I want to look down and cry.

I'm looking forward to the New Year like I never have before. I'm ready for 2014 to be over. To begin a new chapter. It's been the hardest year of my life. Learning to live without my Dad here beside me, seeing my best friend be heartbroken, moving away and starting a new chapter in her life, how hard things are for my brother right now and knowing of the sadness my sweet friend has to endure after loosing her precious babies; my young sister in law cope with the diagnosis of cancer and watching Ben's beloved Grandad pass away leaving his wife of 60 years. The list seems endless. But it has also been so wonderful. Coralie's arrival has bought such joy, and the happiness and laughter Josephine has bought us is something I will forever be thankful for. Planning my sister's wedding and seeing how happy she is, the birth of my Godson and watching my best friend create a beautiful home for her boys and find strength that is so inspiring, my sister in law getting the all clear and showing such bravery.

At this time of year it's important to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, and despite the heartbreak I've suffered over the last 12 months, I know I have many beautiful things to be grateful for. And I plan to focus on those. I am thankful for my girls and for Ben, who has been so strong when he too has been so sad. For my family and such good friends. For a safe home, good health and yummy food on the table. Knowing that my Dad was so happy when he left this Earth, and being free of any anger that so many have to suffer when someone they love so much dies so suddenly.

This week has bought such sadness around the world. The tragedy is Sydney, which unfolded just round the corner from where my Dad was living this time last year, and the truly horrific and soul-wrenching events in Pakistan yesterday. When the world faces such hatred and heartbreak, we must focus on what is good.

Finally, I am thankful for you. The support I have received from my little online community, via my blog and IG, has been incredible. And whilst I've had some messages questioning sharing my grief and my feelings through this medium, I remain grateful for the opportunity to do so. To have some of you reach out with your own experiences, to have you all offer such kindness and happy thoughts.

With the New Year comes new plans for this space. I've barely held on to it this year, but that's ok. It has been a year to begin healing, to be quiet and to reflect. But I feel that now is time to start writing more. To take more pictures, and I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging more regularly after Christmas.

I am, as ever, inspired by my Dad and will keep moving forward, keep seizing the day and new opportunities.

Much love to you all, and thank you xxx

5.12.14

FIRST BABY SHOES






When Karolina from Polish brand First Baby Shoes contacted me about road-testing one of their shoe-making kits, I jumped at the chance. This sweet little bundle includes all the materials (natural leather, warm lamb's wool lining, cotton laces and soft, skid-resistant soles) you need to make your baby's first pair of shoes.
 
I chose Model Rie for Coralie, as the soft lamb's wool looked perfect for keeping her toes warm in the depths of winter, and I loved the beautiful green of this leather. The kit even includes needles and special thread, as well as instructions on how to stitch the boots together. I'm a sewer, but had never used the recommended stitch before and, whilst the paper instructions were easy to follow once you knew the stitch, it was the really helpful tutorial videos on the website that got me sewing in just a few minutes. With the help of these online guides, even a non-sewer would be able to make these boots very easily.

I couldn't believe how quickly the boots came together, and it was really lovely to have a little project again - my first since I had Coralie. My First Shoes would make such a lovely and unique gift to a new Mama, and are the ideal relaxing crafty task to fill those evenings while you're waiting for baby to arrive. If you're looking for a last-minute Christmas present, these would be perfect. Plus they have free worldwide shipping until Christmas Eve!

As Karolina wrote, "First Baby Shoes believe shoe-making can be a great way to express love. We are sure first steps in our shoes will be unforgettable and each unique pair will stay with the family forever."

We will certainly cherish ours forever, and I'm pretty sure these Mama-made boots will be gracing the feet of our grandchildren too.

I was sent these boots to review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

6.11.14

MONTHLY PORTRAIT




Finally posting Coralie's five month portrait. I took these photos a couple of weeks ago, but life right now is busy and time is zipping by like I've never known.

Better late than never though, I'm determined to keep the monthly portraits coming.

At five months our sweet Coralie has changed so much. She's sitting (mostly...some days she's really good, others she's all over the place!) and says 'Da' when she sees Ben. She's started doing this tiny little wave when we say hello and bye bye; she's started eating food. Avacado on wholemeal pita breads, banana porridge and spaghetti bolognaise being her current favourites. Oh, and yoghurt. The girl loves her yoghurt. Seeing her enjoy food as much as Josephine is a real joy. At some point I promise to write a post about our second journey into Baby Led Weaning. I'm so much more confident this time round and it really is so lovely to see our girls eating together and loving every mouthful.

Coralie still adores the water, and splashes her way through every bath time. She properly dances when she's in the door bouncer and Ben puts music on. It's so cute.

Her eyes light up when she sees Ben, and even in the middle of the night she cranes her head to see him in the dark. She gives me proper, big cuddles - arms round my neck, pulling me in - especially before I put her to bed. But mostly, mostly she is infatuated with her big sister. Josephine can make her chuckle a big, hearty chuckle, and it's the best sound. Coralie's gaze rarely leaves Josephine, and that girl is such a brilliant big sister. She talks to Coralie in a special voice and calls her 'little one'. These girls, we're so lucky.

During those first days after Coralie was born, I looked at our girls and wondered if they'd be like my sister and I when we were small. Me (just like Josephine) always on the go, pushing harder, impatient and Dora happy to sit and watch (things have changed a bit since then!) But I've been proved wrong. Coralie is so like Josephine. Shrieking with impatience at not being able to do things yet, always wanting to move; it's impossible to keep her still.

Our tiny little pixie. Making us all smile, everyday.

29.10.14

INSPIRED: amy & ivor

It's hard not to be impressed with the amazing success Alice at Amy and Ivor has had. I've written about her beautiful Moccasins here, and whilst Josephine spent the summer wearing hers everywhere (getting compliments and enquiries about where they're from wherever we went) Coralie's are taking her into the winter and look gorgeous. This tiny pair of the palest grey are now a little too small, but we have a cinnamon pair just waiting to be tried out, thank goodness.

As a newly launched businesswoman (that sounds kinda funny!), I'm so taken by how Alice has taken her company to the next level. She's a really lovely person and has a wonderful product, and is inspiring me so much right now.



23.10.14

40/52


"A portrait of our daughters, once a week every week in 2014".

Josephine: Reading a Dutch magazine that incudes some of my photographs! She was rather bemused to see herself in a magazine and hasn't stopped 'reading' it.  

 
Coralie: Grabbing, reaching, eating her toes. Always.  
 
Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.
 

1.10.14

NELL MALLIA PHOTOGRAPHY

Last summer I attended Tim Coulson's workshop in London and it changed the way I thought about the pictures I was taking. A real passion for photography had grown inside me over the previous couple of years and, listening to Tim, I realised that this was something I'd love to do professionally. I decided on the way home from London that I was going to snap, snap, snap away and one day I'd launch my own business and see where it would take me.

Today is that day, and I'm so happy to be introducing Nell Mallia Photography.

Since that hot July day, my life has changed in ways I could never have anticipated. Not in a million years. The following month we found out we were pregnant again. Then my Dad died, and then Coralie arrived. It's been a year like no other I've experienced. The highest of highs and lowest of lows. But through it all I knew I wanted, at some point, to pursue this photography dream. And as the weeks after my Dad died turned to months, and the babymoon haze lifted, I started taking pictures again and made a start on my website.

Inspired, always, by my beautiful Dad. By his passion for life. And by wanting to make him proud. And by wanting to be as inspirational a parent for our girls, as he was for me.

As with any big step and new venture, it's exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I'd love to hear what you think, and would really appreciate it if you could hope over to Facebook and like my page.

Here's to seizing life, living it to the full and following your dreams.

30.9.14

39/52



"A portrait of our daughters, once a week every week in 2014".

Josephine: Sometimes an over-exposed shot is actually rather glorious. My girl in the sunshine.
 
Coralie: Already so used to having her photo taken - by me or Josephine!
 
Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.
 

23.9.14

38/52


"A portrait of our daughters, once a week every week in 2014".

Josephine: Josephine in Autumn, 2014. Josephine in Autumn, 2013 here.

Coralie: Such a frowner. Just like her Mama.
 
Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.

19.9.14

INSPIRED: robin & mould

My sweet friend Amy, half of the super cool Robin and Mould, gave the girls some of their awesome cushions when Coralie was born and they have become favourites in our household. Josephine takes her hedgehog cushion to bed every night, and Coralie's cat regularly takes part in tea parties, trips to the 'park' and boat journeys across the sea.

Just a little shout out for an awesome Mama (and Papa) doing such awesome things creatively. The beginning of a new series celebrating some of the brilliant designers, photographers and writers who are inspiring me right now.

Check out their shop here. Beautiful colours and prints and perfect presents for Christmas.  

17.9.14

GEORGE HOME: my wishlist

On the tight budget that we're on, I'm always on the lookout for pieces for our home that offer good value for money. Absolutely I'd love to shop with independent brands making handcrafted items all the time, and yes I agree with buying less rubbish and spending more on quality items; but you know what, you can find some lovely pieces in unexpected places too that, importantly, look great and won't blow the budget.

Supermarkets are one such place, where you can find a little bit of treasure amongst the milk and frozen pizza, and the new ranges at George Home are particularly nice.

As I'm sure is the case for most parents out there, when you have a spare bit of cash it tends to go on the children, and there are certainly a few lovely pieces the would be quite at home in Josephine's room (sometime soon to be 'the girl's room'!)

Firstly, in the Kid's Room section, I love this toy box. It's clean and simple style is timeless and will grow with the girls as they get older. Plus, you can never have too much storage as for as I'm concerned.

There is also a really wonderful selection of wooden toys, perfect for (dare I say it) Christmas. From farm set to pirate ships, and the sweetest shop and cafĂ© stand that may well be finding it's way to our house on Christmas morning. And all at really great prices.

Finally, if you're on the look out for a stylish and contemporary bunk beds (that's a bit further down the line for us!) you should check out this one. I love the wood, the simplicity and the desk and storage on the end. What more could you ask for?

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos taken from the George Home website.