Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 30 September 2011

Here's to a second chance at summer; the weather this week has been glorious. Sunny, warm and like the much-talked-about-but-rarely-experienced 'Indian Summer' that we always get promised here in England. Having prepared for winter cool, I instead find myself digging out flipflops and linen skirts for this little spell of warm weather.

More puppy days have ensued - beach and field walks with him trotting along behind me like the new friend that he is. He is a pleasure...I recommend 'Dog Island'; it's good fun.

I am finding the days merge; punctuated by school runs and dog walks. It's an utterly suburban life and whilst I am revelling in every moment, I get pangs occasionally of wanting the high life. To be out in the city with friends. Wearing heels. I usually get this feeling at this time of year and have come to expect it; it leads to plans for nights out to satiate this need to socialise after dark! The feeling that makes you want to put on a dress and head out. Somewhere glitzy. Hmmm, will have to work on that...

via a lady's findings

via bippity boppity boo

love this...source unknown

via the Sartorialist

photograph by Mikkel Vang

photograph by Polly Wreford

photograph by Jamie Beck

Here's to a sunny weekend...Byeeee!

New groove...and wisdom...

posted on: Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tuesday heralds the settling in of my new groove. This is the dog-owning, non-working, friend-seeing Lou who seems to be quite full of patience and calmness. I am struck by how much patience I have at the moment for things like maths homework and getting elaborate before-school-hairdos right for Boo. Going back for the third goodbye hug from Boo 2 as he goes to his classroom. I am realising I have been in a rush for ten years and finally, after months of slowing, I have now slowed down. Imperceptible it was - but when I regard the contrast between then and now, I can see it clear as day.

I read back on my blog, just a few months, to see if I was imagining the difference in myself. But there it was; a completely frazzled version of myself. When I read what I wrote I feel like taking myself in hand and saying 'STOP!' in just the way that many of you did. So that brings me to blogger's wisdom. This is what I call the gems left for me in comments from an array of friends. Regular commenters who stop by to say hello and who email me for updates. People who say that I write in way they 'get' and who use lovely complimentary words about me. Friends who dispense wisdom to me that I genuinely take heed of. People like Simone and Jeanne. Sophie and Carina. Alison and Melissa. Chania and Tania. Deej and Rhiannon. Mary and Amanda...not to mention Sarah and Lori. Carrie and Charlotta. Oh and also Marsha and Natasha. I could go on and on...

Who would have thought there was such kindness and wisdom on the web? I'm bowled over, I really am. So in this moment of clarity - thank you, thank you, thank you! I am indebted. The blog world continues to enrich and make me feel good.

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 23 September 2011

This week, the company of friends. It seems that not working for a while has led to a proportionate increase in the amount of time I spend with other women. I've been doing circuit training with them, which I am loving. Today I took the pup to be introduced as he can finally go out and about more. I was feeling decidedly guilty keeping him cooped up at home waiting for his vaccinations to take effect. This weekend I will introduce him to the beach!

I had a lovely windfall which I will be off to spend's almost like it's burning a hole in my pocket. But then I figure isn't that what windfalls are all about? Unexpected spending! Or should I be squirreling it away for a rainy day?

My son, aged 6, seems to have come to the realisation that he very much loves everyone in his family. So at bedtimes there are numerous shouts of 'I love you Mummy' floating downstairs. Very sweet and poignant as what is behind this declaration of love is that he's working out nothing in life is constant. People come and go and this is his way of reconciling the fact in his mind. If he says 'I love you' it's all OK...

...from French Vogue via The Bottom of the Ironing Basket husband went to a London Fashion Week fashion show this week...he said the models were INCREDIBLE!

photograph by Stephanie Rausser

via The Sartorialist


...the annual winter boot hunt has begun...

photograph by Stephanie Rausser
wise words via crush cul de sac

Charlie who?

posted on: Monday, 19 September 2011

A good, and as it turns out, very astute friend of mine and I were idly chatting. She was describing how in her childrens' school, there was an award system. Children were awarded on effort rather than results and any child who achieved a top mark for effort in all subjects was given what's called the 'Charlie Short' prize at the end of term. This denoted the child who tried really hard at everything.

via this flickr
We later discussed how I had concluded that for years I have been trying too hard at everything; how the constant pursuit of perfection in all elements of life - home, work, children, marriage, appearance, meant I was exhausted with the effort. She asked me: was I trying to get the Charlie Short prize in life?!

This question stuck with me long after our conversation took place and I now find myself applying a mental test to any efforts I am making - Lou: is this a Charlie Short thing? I have noticed something startling; whilst not working in recent months I have had the opportunity to throw myself into the daily lives of my children. No work meetings that clash with the school run. No corporate conference calls that necessitate their silence in the car as we drive home. No ducking out of parent's evening. No guilt-ridden goodbyes. No feeling that I am missing something. I am now a mother who is at everything; every netball match, every drop-off, I am even ensconced in every bit of school playground gossip; such is my recent dedication! However the more this develops, the more I notice that the same instincts I had about my work are starting to apply to my mothering. I want to be at every coffee morning, I want to know every little detail, I want (and this is the crucial, startling point to me) to be really good at it. 

Without even knowing it, I am going for the Charlie Short prize of motherhood! So thankfully, with a drop of self-awareness, I am able to take myself in hand. There is no prize for effort. I don't need to be perfect. I feel like I can look at myself and recognise when I am trying too hard. It's time to get over it Louise! So next time I seem like I am trying too hard - two words to stop me in my tracks please: Charlie Short!

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 16 September 2011

A lovely writer I know suggested that I've arrived at Dog Island. I have indeed and it's a place I think I should have moved to a long time ago. That's not to say that this week hasn't been challenging; coinciding the first proper week back at school with getting a puppy was perhaps ill-advised. However, I have embraced my new role as puppy mother and spent my days shuttling to the vet, devouring dog advice books (I am the leader of the dog pack) and mastering simple puppy commands. It's a whole new world to me...

Seeing the reaction of the children has been fascinating. I made the decision that getting a puppy was a bit like going to Disney; you should do it when children are still young enough to 'get' the magic of the whole event. Aged 10, Boo is perfectly placed to love and have responsibility for another being and even in these early days I can see what a leveller it's going to be for her to have a pet. So for all that it makes our mornings chaotic and despite the fact that I have trailed around my garden with a 'poo bag' (whole new vocabulary) in hand, it's been a good week.

The season is subtly changing; dewy mornings with an autumn chill and sudden darkness before 8pm show how summer is ending. As ever, the prospect of winter boots and open fires is alluring but I know come January I will be longing for sun on my skin again.

by Braedon Photography
via tinywhitedaisies
photograph by Olivia Graham
...simply gorgeous...little ballet shoes.

by Natasha via Beautifully Suddenly

Oscar de la Renta via The Bottom of the Ironing Basket

Vanessa Arbuthnott from house to home

I just really like this whole look....via crush cul de sac

...Empire state...via from me to you

via 79 ideas
Have a laid back weekend...


posted on: Tuesday, 13 September 2011

School is back with a resounding bang. A noise that reminds me how when you have school-age children, your life is broken down in to the spaces of time that represent school terms. It never used to matter to me whether it was term-time, but now - term time is all.

Olivia P...
My daughter is in the last year of her present school and will, this time next year, be moving to senior school. So today she had an interview with the Headmaster of one of our chosen schools (one that is pretty much the top of the list). A poignant moment; I am noticing that from a parental perspective, increasingly there are things that I just can't do for her! She had to do this on her own and unlike all of those early years, where as a mother I was hovering in the wings, ready to prompt and soothe where needed, now I find I am literally and metaphorically in a waiting room, watching her disappear along a hallway out of sight. It's a good day...this realisation feels right.

I attended a parent's meeting last night where the teachers were outlining the importance of this academic year and how as parents we had a pivotal role to play in support. I started to get the creeping feeling that I could have done more to support; more homework help, more subtle coaching, more confidence building. Then I corrected myself (as I find I often need to) and remembered that it's not me trying out for these schools, it's her. 

She has to stand her own feet and hot-housing children to perform for interviews and exams, I have always felt, kind of defeats the object. I have completed my education; I can't do it again through her. Yet I observe so many mothers who are plugging any gaps in education and well-roundedness with extra tuition, extra activities, extra work. I figure (maybe naively) that if a child can manage entry to a school based on their normal work-rate, then all the better. If you flog a child to get in somewhere and then find when they arrive that they can't keep up, then surely that is a disaster? This feels like uncharted waters of motherhood to me; I feel like I am having to trust my instincts and cross my fingers in the hope that it will all turn out OK.

So, in short, she did great in the interview. Just when I thought I had her every nuance clocked, she pulled a confident little performance out the bag, despite the lack of preparation and hot-housing on my part. Fingers crossed...plant the flowers and hope they grow.

Life lesson of the puppy variety...

posted on: Monday, 12 September 2011

So in my wholehearted attempt to embrace change and not worry so much about possible outcomes, we have added to our little family; the puppy has arrived! Oh my goodness, what a bundle of absolute cuteness; and I didn't even think I was a doggie person. I am so smitten, Boo is overwhelmed with love for this little chap already and my son, well he is taking slightly longer to get used to loosing his 'baby of the family' mantle.

Today, I am starting to train the pup to be house-trained and the nights have been slightly traumatic for all, but I am thinking this pup is a wonderful addition...

ohhh...who could resist that face?!

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