Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Seasonal Changes: Autumn to Winter

This is my favourite time of year.

It always has been, and I think it will be as long as I live in Europe. And not just because it's my birthday soon. 

I love Autumn. I love the colours. I love wearing boots. I love tea in the mornings and hot chocolate in the evenings. I love the vegetables. I love the fashion. I love adding another layer each week. 

I love watching Autumn turn in to Winter. I love seeing red-nosed busy-bodies clutching Starbuck's cups and stamping their feet to keep warm. I love seeing Christmas decor appear in every store. I love to see the increase of people around town. I love seeing sprouts in my local grocer - that's when I know Christmas is really coming!

I really love how you can see the season change; when you think of one and the other, Autumn and Winter seem so different. Cool days, light jackets, bright colours, warm fruit pie, leaves on trees - it feels like more than any other time of year. To no leaves on any tree, cold winds, lots of layers, dull grays and quick hot snacks bought in cold haste.

But I love to see that transition happen; I love seeing leisurely, bright, daytime strolls turn in to quick and cold, wind-whipping walks when everyone tries to wrap their coat a little tighter to shield from imminent frost of the season. I love to see the leaves fall from the trees and disappear under tramplers' feet, to become a part of the safe ground beneath us, feeding nature back to itself.

It's a marvelous time of year, and it's not much different here in Munich than it is back home.

But there are things I will miss back home. Such as Mr Kipling's mince pies, boxes and tins of Roses piling up in the pantry, far more frequent family gatherings, Christmas shopping in Bristol, fireworks on every street up and down the country on November 5th, and going to Sand Bay. I'm going to miss Greg's seasonal pies and pastries, walks along the seafront, wondering whether the snow will come, and getting ridiculously excited if it does.

And there are things here that I didn't have back home; new things to experience, traditions to make. The famous German Christmas Markets, heisse Maroni, warm sweet nuts off the side of the street, new places to walk, see and do things as a family. Some of the things I have already quickly learned to love have been the vast variety of pumpkins to learn to cook with throughout Autumn, Oktoberfest to mark the start of my favourite season, museums and galleries, and so much more.

I can't wait to experience more of Munich this Season, and I'm so excited to share it here on the blog!

Hopefully I'll be frequenting the blog a little more this season, as my little family adventures out to find and make new traditions!

I wish the best of season's to everyone!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Lou's Super-Subbed Double Chocolate Brownies

I have a little bit of an obsession with baking substitutes. I love to bake, but over the passed year or so have become increasingly conscious about the amount of calories that goes in to every single loaf, pastry and cupcake. So I started doing a little research into how to "health-itise" my baking, and I discovered a whole new world...

It started with greek yoghurt for eggs, and then for butter... But then I wanted to try and sub the eggs and butter, and discovered the wonders of banana subbing for sweet bakes. I used to hate banana; I still find it difficult to eat a banana on its own, but when used in baking I could eat about ten!

I also started to discover the harms of "white products", as I call them; white bread, white pasta, white flour, white sugar - and researched about the goodness and nutrition I was missing out of by buying the concentrated "white" stuff. I started filling my cupboards with brown and soon discovered how much more not only my taste buds love it, but my body too! I found I could indulge in a treat without the after-guilt and bloat!

Throughout this passed week I was trying to think up some other substitutes for butter or fat in baking; the only things I'd ever used a lot before was yoghurt, which was really just subbing one fat for a slightly healthier one, or pumpkin, which is very season-biased. As much as I loved them, I wanted more. I came across a recipe for "Green Brownies" which uses courgette and white beans as the main substance of the recipe, but still quite a hefty amount of butter, so I continued my pondering. And then, on Saturday evening, whilst pondering what to make for Sunday lunch with the odd array of fruit and veg I had slowly deteriorating in my fridge drawer, it came to me.

The healthy fat. I'd used it before, but only in savoury recipes; alfredo, green enchiladas, dipping sauce... The list of it's uses was endless, as now so is my love for the wondrous, multi-talented and multi-purpose super veg. The AVACADO!!!

I must admit, I was a little hesitant. But what genius never tried and failed? And If I failed, who had to know?! My hands were shaking pretty badly as I took the fork to the mash, but I sucked it up and went for it...

... And the result couldn't have been better.

Lou's Super-Subbed Double Chocolate Brownies

  • 1 whole avacado, pitted and mashed
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of raw brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of milk (I used homemade almond milk)
  • 100g melted dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coco powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of wholemeal flour
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 50g milk chocolate chips
  1. Mash the avacado and banana until smooth (you can do this in a food processor if you have one... I don't...)
  2. Add the honey and brown sugar and mix
  3. And the milk and stir until combined - the mixture should be very runny at this point. If for some reason it isn't, add a little more milk.
  4. Melt your first 100g of dark chocolate, and add to your runny mixture. (As it's all raw, unprocessed ingredients, there's no need to worry about curdling - yay, a baker's dream!)
  5. Mix together your coco powder, baking powder and wholemeal flour in a separate bowl. 
  6. Add your chocolate chips to your dry ingredients and chuck it around a bit in the bowl - this is a fancy trick I learned - if you coat your choc chips in your flour, it helps to prevent them from sinking to the bottom during the bake!
  7. Add your dry to your wet, and mix until just incorporated. 
  8. Pour into a lined baking tin, and bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes. (I think the only way to have brownies is super-fudgy and under-done, so I baked mine for about 20. You can go for longer, even longer, or even shorter - it's up to you and your brownie-loving t-buds!)
Another great thing about an egg-less recipe is that it's totally fine for anyone to lick the bowl, spoon, and any other utensils you dathered with during the prep, as there's no risk or worry about consuming un-cooked eggs! Yay! 

I hope you loved my Super-Subbed Double Chocolate Brownies as much as I did, and that you too start to discover the wonderful joys of sub-baking!! It's the best!

I was totally naughty and served mine with some delicious and dairy-packed bourbon vanilla ice cream - but at least the brownies were doing me good!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Legacy, Memory, Ritual | Capture Your Grief

Day 4 - Legacy

I was troubled over this one for a whole day, which let me fall a day behind with capturing my grief. But I realised it was simple.

Seth left his legacy in my heart. 

His legacy is that he's waiting for us. He has gone before. He was too precious for this earth. He was too special. His legacy is his example to us; he is often the thing that keeps me trying.

Day 5 - Memory

On December 15th 2011, I saw my own little baby for the very first time. We saw baby do a kung-fu kick and jump, and saw the tiny little miracle that we had created, and was now growing inside of me.

The next day, we started travelling, and after a total of 26 hours arrived in Manila, Philippines on December 17th.

We spent just over two weeks in this stunning part of the world, meeting with relatives, exploring beauty, and eating new foods.

I was horrifically sick almost every single day, but it was still one of the best times I have ever had - and my baby was with me.

We were so happy, so excited. One of my all-time favourite memories, was right here.

Day 6 - Ritual 

It's only when I came to think of something for day 6, that I realised I really do have a ritual.

Every single day I pray for my Seth. In almost every prayer, I ask Heavenly Father to please let him know how much I love him. I pray that he is happy. I pray he is not alone. And for many other things that I've decided are too personal to share. It's my ritual. Praying for him, mentioning his name, talking to him, singing for him too when I'm singing for Lily - it keeps me at peace with my loss.

We have also decided that every year we will release a Chinese Lantern for Seth. It will be his little birthday ritual. We did it for the first time this year on his first Birthday, and it was beautiful. It was overwhelming, and emotional, yet comforting and assuring. Letting go of that lantern in some strange way felt like letting o of him all over again. But in other ways was like letting go of the stress of a whole year of grief. It was wonderful.

Are you watching General Conference this weekend? No? Well you should!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Myths | Capture Your Grief, Day Three

"It will take time, but you'll get over it."

You never get over it.

You just get used to it.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Identity | Capture Your Grief, Day Two

Seth Peter Magpantay

Until just a couple of weeks before Seth came and went, he had a different name. We would try out the name every now and again, but it just didn't feel right, and both Peter and I knew it.

Then one day, the name just came to us. We said it a few times over. We rolled it around our mouths and through our heads - it felt right; we knew it was the name.

"Seth was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto is father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age." D&C 107:43

We also knew that we would give him his second name after his Dad; Peter, meaning the rock.

I once heard a quote that went something like this: "Don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son just like him."

The name seemed to fit perfectly from every angle.

Although we decided we wouldn't officially name him until he was born, just in case.

His head fitted perfectly right in the nook of my arm, and he barely reached my wrist. His skin was fragile and thin, and dark. Being so little, his eyes were still closed; peacefully sleeping. He had the smallest nose I have ever seen. When we held him he wasn't as skinny or as red as I'd expected he looked like a perfect miniature baby.

He wore a blue and white striped hat that the nurses had given him - it fitted his little head so well, it was like someone had made it especially for him. I'd never seen a woolly hat so small. He was wrapped in hand-knitted white blankets. I held my boy close and cried. But my favourite part was when his Dad held him. There was so much love in that scene, and I could feel it both ways.

Seth is a precious son. He is also a big brother to Lily. He's the oldest child in our family. He's a grandson, and a nephew. Also a great-grandson, and a great-nephew. He's a cousin to four and three on the way. I'm sure he would have also been a friend.

When I put it like this, I realise how many more people than just me, lost Seth.

When I think of the things that I believe create my identity - wife, mother, writer, pianist, singer, at-home-chef -  I think of the earthly things that might have made up Seth's. Footballer? Basketball-player? Singer? Guitarist? Baker? Analyst? Entrepreneur? I think there are a few things I might have hoped for there. The truth is nobody knows what his identity would have been on earth. All I do know, is his spiritual identity.

Rather than a baby, I often view my son as a missionary; a young man, gone far away to serve our Father in Heaven, immersed in the Gospel of Christ, standing upright, walking with God.

My boy's mission is just a little longer than most.

When trying to think of what picture I could take or use for this post, only one came to mind.

[Photo taken by the wonderful Emily Beale]
Seth's hospital identity bracelet. Boy of Lucy Magpantay. It was on the smallest loop and still slipped off of his tiny wrist.

Want to join in Capture Your Grief? Check out CarlyMarie over at Project Heal.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Capture Your Grief - Sunrise

A lovely friend of mine posted a link to this page on Facebook last week, and I decided that the opportunity to take part could not be passed up.

I feel as though since Lily was born I've not been able to have such frequent grieving moments, which might be a good thing. But I feel as though I need to focus on Seth a little more right now. I miss him.

Sadly, I wasn't able to capture my own sunrise this time, and even if I was, it wouldn't be quite the sunrise I'd want; a Munich sunrise, I am sure is beautiful, but it's not Seth's.

I felt as though I should begin where it all started, in Windermere. So I have cheekily borrowed this picture from the internet (source here). I thought it was especially fitting as it was taken in the month of March, which is when Seth's birthday is.

I hope that where my precious boy is, he's able to experience the earth's beauty, and even more than that.


Arise from your hidden place, 
Give light
To all you touch. 
Start the day with warm embrace
From night's
Cold, dark clutch. 

Bounce the colours back
And forth
For all you see, 
Rescue from the black
Of ev'ning's 
Nothingness plea.

Frosty taste of dawn's dew
Hits tongue
And mouth and cheek, 
Warming sun in lieu
Of night
Turns words from harsh to meek.

Blind the lookers on who
Seek you
In the morning bright,
Waiting and desperate just to
See one
Morning change from night.

There is no sound like morning,
Humble, noiseless tone
That gives no apparent warning
To when
Its glory to you will show.

How do you describe that feeling
Of peace
That the sunrise brings?
The thrill, excitement, heeding
Of one of God’s great things.

It is like coming through the hurt
Of loss;
A darkness seemed like the end.
But hope beams bright through murk;
In the sunrise, of life again.

Want to join in Capture Your Grief? Check out CarlyMarie over at Project Heal.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Who You Are | One for the Weekend

So many friends of mine have been sharing this video on Facebook recently.
 It's come up in my feed about seven times today alone.

I would always just skim right on by. Despite the "Ladies please watch this", and "if you do anything today - watch this!" comments.

From the frozen shot of the video cover, I thought I could tell that this video wouldn't make a difference; it wouldn't change how I was feeling about me.

But today, as I led next to my beautiful baby, admiring the seamless rise and fall of her back as she sleeps soundly on her chest, I felt I should; if not for me, but for her.

I'd already made some kind of decision that no matter what was said in the three minute video, it wouldn't make a difference.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Simply because, what this young man states is true.

My worth, my power, my divinity, and strength.

Sometimes it's hard to remember to "love me", and it's even harder to do. But watch this. This powerful, emotional and sincere message will soon remind you of all the ways in which you matter; are important; can make a difference. Even if it all just happens in your own little world and bubble and life.

Seriously now, if you do nothing else today, watch this.

You're awesome. And so am I.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Can't kick the cravings.

When I was pregnant I was very sick. I threw up at least once (sometimes six times) every single day for 24 weeks, and then every other day for a few weeks. The sickness started to slowly fizzle away and would just pop up every now and again for breakfast (or un-breakfast...). I weighed considerably less two week's post-partum than I did when I fell pregnant.

I've recently read of pregnant friends and family members experiencing cravings of all kinds and wonders - this was one of the pregnancy I never got to experience. I never craved a thing. To be honest, I hated the thought, idea, even the taste and especially the smell of most foods.

I ate a very small breakfast, have digestive biscuits as a snack, maybe try a salad for lunch. I'd pick my way through the day until dinner, when I would barely eat half of the small portion that was on my plate.

The nausea and distaste for food continued for a few weeks after having Lily. I was exhausted, and eating felt and still smelled like something I didn't have the time or energy for.

Until we moved to Munich.

I exclusively breastfed Lily. Some days it felt like she was permanently attached. And I started to feel something I hadn't felt in quite a long time; hunger.

I'd wake up in the morning absolutely starving, and as soon as I'd finish my breakfast I'd be thinking about Lunch and what I could possibly have in between. I would drink like a fish and feed my baby, and eat, and change her, and eat, and play with her whilst eating and then eat some more. I greeted someone I'd known before called Appetite, and invited him to stay.

Strangely, I found myself craving things. The more I ate, the more I wanted. For the first time in a very long time, I would walk passed shop and bakery and restaurant windows and find myself wanting whatever was on display. And Munich is the worst place to be when you have such a habit - there are aesthetically and smell-ally pleasing such shops everywhere, and my stomach seems to seize control of my mind and reason-ability and walks my growing (outward) legs into such places and buys things for me!

I had forgotten what it was like to enjoy food, to put it in my mouth for nothing but pleasure; to crave something sweet, salty, sandwiched, sauteed, sauced or succulent. I would eat all three square meals a day with plenty of snacks in between, finish my plate and go for more. And even when I was full I'd want to clean out the serving dish with my fork, and maybe add some bread for good measure.

I was sure I had a problem. And then I googled it. And I found the answer; breast-feeding. It makes you eat like a pig in a vegetable patch when the farmer is taking a nap. And that is most definitely how I felt and still feel now.

But now, I'm starting to try Lily on different solids - a little avocado, some banana, baby porridge and apple sauce. She is loving it. But now even though she is taking to food so well, and I'm feeding her a little less myself, I'm still eating like that pig we talked about, and wanting more food than ever. Chocolate, pastries, sandwiches; snacks of every sort and variety. I just cannot kick these cravings.

I've been wanting to try out a three-day detox for a while now to try and re-boot my system, but I can't get passed 9 o'clock without grabbing a little nibble, that turns into a bite, then a munch, evolving from an early lunch to a full-blown feast. I feel like my energy levels won't allow me to go more than thirty minutes without solid food.

So here's my plea; help!

Did you find the same problem when nursing your baby? How did you get through the day without eating yourself out of house and home? Any tips for curbing the hunger? I can't kick these cravings!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Just love life.

We'e done it! We're in. We're here!

...And have been for like... three weeks. Whoops!

But we have internet now! And a landline! But no phone...

But it's okay! We have our own home again! And we couldn't be happier.

It took quite a long time, and a small war between us and a certain internet provider here in Germany, but we have internet now, we are able to communicate again!

We also surrendered in the war between us and a certain UK mobile phone network provider and just bought little phones here in Munich that we could actually use. Our beloved smart phones now sit on a shelf under the coffee table gathering dust and hay... But at least we can call each other now.

Lily and I have been busy, busy, busy setting up home and making it a beautiful place for our little family to live in.

Pete was an absolute star building all of the furniture (but I will take sole credit for the dining room table and the pantry shelves!). Who doesn't love Ikea? Flat-pack furniture is the way to go!

I am desperate to take pictures of our new home and share them here on the blog, but there's still something left to do in every room right now, so I think we'll have to wait a while for those.

But I just wanted to post. I've missed the blog. I've missed writing.

A lot has happened these passed couple of weeks and I feel that in some ways I have grown so much, and I have a lot to share, so stay tuned for SO many updates here on the Magpantay's!

So happy to be here. Loving Munich. Love our home. In love with my family. Loved hosting for good friends last night. Just love life right now. Just love life.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Just too much.

Today I am remembering this post extremely well indeed.

Tomorrow, Peter and I officially move in to our New Home. I cannot wait. But at the same time I am strangely nervous!

We arrived in Munich with two suitcases, and a cardboard box.

I am trying to pack our little lives back in to those said suitcases and box, but it seems to be extremely difficult.

It is incredible how much "stuff" three people can accumulate in two months...

Yesterday, I thought I had finished packing all of our clothes into our two suitcases. I was so chuffed that I'd managed to fit it all in, apart from a few items left for the following two days.

I then turned around and saw I hadn't even started on the hanging rail: definition of fail.

Moving is so stressful.

Even when you have only a couple of cases, boxes and bags to shift it consumes your whole mind for about three weeks prior to the move. I can't imagine trying to pack up 20 years worth of stuff to shift from one home to the next.

So Pete and I have decided to live minimally.

Anything we no longer need or us, we'll get rid of. That way, we'll always just have the essentials right there, and packing will be a breeze because we will be aware of every item we own.

HA. Good luck, 'ey?

That'll never happen.

We just won't move. Ever. Again.

As it's Pete's Birthday tomorrow, but tomorrow is a National Holiday here in Germany, Pete asked me if I would make a cake for him to take to work today. It's pretty much a custom here in Germany apparently. It's your Birthday; bring cake.

With there being so much stuffed in to my little head right now, this managed to slip my mind. Pete came home from work at about 18:55 yesterday evening, and after all the greetings and niceity's said innocently "Have you made the cake yet?" Forgetting what he meant exactly, I said "Oh, I was going to do that on Thursday, you know... On your Birthday."

He then reminded me of my promise, and my heart fell in to my belly. By this time it was about 19:25. Shops shut here in Germany at 20:00 precisely.

I grabbed my purse and ran. I charged through Lidl, grabbing everything I needed for the Oreo fridge cake I'd been thinking about making all week.

Schlag-sahne (Whipping Cream),
Neos (Oreos)
Frischkaese (Philedelphia),
Puderzucker (Confectioner's Sugar)
& Schoko-pudding (Chocolate Pudding)

Most things were pretty much recognisable. I grabbed almost everything and was down to the last ingredient at 19:40; Schoko-pudding. I pushed my trolley to the baking isle and scanned for the packet mixes: located. Pudding? Found. Schoko: done. Grab. Go.

Found myself at the checkout with just one person in front of me (a rarity here), and stated piling my things onto the conveyer belt. No shopping bag - doh! (You always have to bring your own here, they cost 40cents at least a time). I snatched the cheapest one up and continued to load my shopping on to the belt. I picked up my two packets of Frischkaese; one regular and one - WHAT? Feta-ghurkin? That's not going to taste good with Oreos...

My stomach flipped a little as I stole a look to the person behind me and said (in a horrible example of the German Language) "Entschuldigung bitte. Du kannst ersten?" whilst wildly gesturing to the small space in front of me on the belt.

She got it. Thank goodness. But my heart raced as I sprinted to the back of the store and swapped the Ghurkin-kaese for the regular.

I hurdled back, dodging some dope's trolley they left right by the Kasse as I went, getting back just in time for the Cashier to start bleeping through my shopping. She looked at me and said something that I was far to exhausted to comprehend. "Entschuldigung?" She pointed. The dope's trolley. Dang it! It was mine. How embarrassing.

She scanned, it beeped. "Mit Karte bitte?" I packed, paid and left. Ran home with my shopping and ate dinner with Pete's family and the missionaries. Phew. That was close.

The evening was great. Food? Good. Company? Good. Message? Wonderful. One of my favourites; couldn't help but well-up and feel so proud of Pete.

They all left and we did the dishes - now to start the fridge cake. Glanced over my Pinterest recipe and made a start.

I emptied all the Neo's into a bowl, hesitated around and started bashing away to make a crumb base. Then my Mother-in-Law came and saved me with her incredible kitchen-aid type mixer which did what I couldn't in less that three seconds. Relief.

The cream cheese layer was fairly simple, just a bit of whipping and in to the fridge. Two layers down, two to go.

I grabbed my pudding mix, trying to decipher the instructions through my tired and English eyes. I quickly gave up and asked Pete who was already tucked up in bed ready to sleep. I followed the instructions what I thought was exactly. But the stupid pudding had to rest for four hours! I couldn't believe it. So everything went in the fridge, ready for me to continue in the morning.

Four o'clock came and Lily was up for a feed and all I could think about was the fridge-cake.

She finished and easily fell back to sleep in her crib, and I hastily pulled some clothes on and went to check on the pudding. Still like liquid.

Back in the fridge it went, and back I went to bed.

Seven o'clock came, Lily finished feeding once more, and I again got dressed and went to find the pudding. Still like liquid. Disaster.

My mother-in-law came in and saw the distress I was in - once again saving the day, she started on the last packed of pudding. Hers was liquid too, but had a much better chance of firming up in time for Pete to go to work than mine ever would.

Pete came in the kitchen. I apologised profusely, and, looking at what I'd created so far said he'd take a cake on Monday instead.

I let him down. I felt like the worst wife ever. Then he kissed me goodbye, and told me he loved me.

Now I'm sat here writing this post, realising something important.

A disastrous cake is not the end; I cannot do it all. Even with getting up in the middle of the night, willing to carry on whipping to create something, anything, for him to take in to work, I can't.

Some women can. But they are crazy super-women with incredible out-of-this-world kind of powers.

Some days I feel like that kind of woman. But today, I'm really not.

I can't do it all, and you know what? I don't have to. And that's totally okay.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

No Yelling.

Today I created this. It will take one of the prime spots in our living room when we move in to our new apartment this week. 
It's something Peter and I have decided we would like to live by. 
It's hard; really hard. But we will work hard to overcome it.
Because there should be no yelling, unless there is a fire. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

A Very Special Post

I just read this post, over on Ashley Sullenger's Blog.

My heart melted. My eyes cried. My arms ached.

I've been thinking about Seth a lot recently. Being so far away from where he was born and buried breaks my heart a little more every day at the moment. But I know with time it will start to get easier to be so far.

I am so grateful for the Nurses, Midwives and Doctors who looked after me before, during, and after Seth's birth. I will never forget them and the loving care and compassion that each and every one of them showed not just me, but my husband, parents and other family members.

I am especially grateful to the Midwives who delivered Seth, ensuring a sweet and calm atmosphere in the delivery suite while he was being born and afterwards. I am also so grateful to them for creating the memories and items that our family now cherish, and will do forever.

I am also so grateful to the Doctor who researched his death. She was so caring, and as she explained her theories as to what might have happened (although we will never know for sure) she wept with us, and held our hands, and talked about Seth the way that we do - as our firstborn child, and forever a member of our family.

I am especially grateful to the Midwife who first saw us when we came to hospital with worries about Seth; who hugged us when we found out the life-altering, awful news; who visited with us the following day after his birth to let us know she loved and cared for us; and who arranged her shifts especially for us, so that she could be there at our follow-up appointment and review with the doctor. She will always hold an extra special place in my heart.

Some of you may know Emily Beale, over at Emily Beale Photography, you can visit her blog here. She is one of the sweetest and most talented people I know.

I have mentioned her a few times before, and have linked up with her here a couple of times.

Emily is a fantastic photographer. She braved a very chilly March morning to take our Engagement Photos and battled hailing rain for our Wedding! And we still came out with the most beautiful photos.
I remember seeing her when I was about 22 weeks pregnant with Seth; I'd seen her newborn work and was so excited for her to take his photos! Sadly, this never happened.
A couple of months before Lily was born, I asked if she would be able to photograph Lily when she came.
I must admit, this niggled at me for a while. I knew we would have an opportunity at the shoot to have a little family photograph, but something didn't feel right.
As we prepared for Lily to arrive alongside our move to Munich, I knew what I needed to ask Emily to do.
The perfect opportunity came to ask while she was taking a quick cupcake-break from being Photographer at Abi's Wedding, (visit Abi's blog here!). I was nervous to ask, but Emily put me right at ease. And she obliged to my request with us both in sweet tears. My heart flew.
Lily was born two days later, and two weeks after that we took her to Emily's studio to be photographed, along with a very special box.
Emily photographed the content of the box first, and this was the result.

{This last one is Lily wrapped in one of Seth's blankets - it might be the closest thing I will ever have to a picture of both of my children. I love this picture so much}

These are almost of the earthly things I have left to remind of Seth (I have more, but some are just too precious to share).

I will always be grateful that Emily was able to take these precious, precious pictures for me. And I will always be grateful to the Nurses and Midwives who not only took care of me, Pete and our precious boy, but created some of these little memories for us.

I will cherish them all until the day I am reunited with my perfect boy, Seth Peter.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

He Graduated!

Our little family had the wonderful opportunity to visit England this last week.

I was nervous to fly with Lily again - I didn't think my luck of her sleeping through the whole flight would strike again, so I was anticipating making a lot of apologies on the plane.

{Waiting in Departures eating Pastrami Sandwiches}
But you know what? She was good as gold, again.

We saw the most incredible storm flying over Brussels. I wish I got a picture of it, but Lily was so sound asleep I didn't want to disturb her by reaching for the camera.

This was our view as we approached London.
The most incredible skyline! The picture doesn't do it any justice. It was just magnificent.

{Taking pictures from a plane is difficult, any tips?}
We stayed with friends in Swindon, that night (or should I say early morning!? Sorry Laura!)

And while we were there, of course, we stopped by to visit our precious little boy, Seth.

{Possibly my favourite photo of the trip, taken by Pete's Mum as we walk back from Seth's grave.}

{Lily enjoying  Mummy-cuddles!}
And of course, what we were all there for...!

{Daddy and his girl}

{With some of his lecturers; the people who got him there!}

{Lily wanted to graduate too!}

{Two of my favourite people ever}

{Official reception of Degree: Graduating with First Class Honours in Accounting & Finance} 

{Receiving special award and prize for all his hard work! At this point I cried..}

{With friends & Lily}

{She had so much fun}

{With the Vice Chancellor}

{Love him so much}

{Our little family}
After all the official wonderful stuff, we celebrated Pete's achievements by doing what we love to do most; eating out! 

{My incredible parents}

{Pete's lovely mum & sister!}

{Sleeping Beauty at the restaurant!}

Lily, Lou, Pete, Mum, Dad, Jen, Nanay, Ida & Chris!
Great food, great company, great time!
We spent the following day with my immediate family (but missed you Tim, Kate & Maysie!), and had a great time just relaxing with them, and being happy. Lily got to meet my Grandma for the first time - wish I got a picture of that!!

Saturday was typically British - we visited Cheddar, it poured with rain, we bought cheese, and ate fish & chips. I felt so at home.
 That evening we drove back to Swindon, and spent good time with wonderful friends, sharing recent experiences and good conversation, laughter and as always; feeling the spirit.

We left at 3am Sunday Morning, and somebody was definitely ready to get back to routine.
{Finding comfort in Mr Giraffe}
Pete, Lily & Nanay fell asleep before take-off, and me just after. We all agreed that it felt like a five minute flight, and were glad for that very small blessing! Lily, again, was great the whole way, and didn't even need to nurse!

{But the train ride back in to Munich wasn't so great!}
She was so happy to be back in Germany, relaxing, and back into the routine!

{What a star!} 
 All in all, it was such a great trip - I wish it could have lasted just that little bit longer, so we could have seen all of our friends and family, but I am grateful for the time we were able to spend with those we did see. We are so blessed.

One thing I did notice whilst at Pete's graduation, was that he was one of the only graduates who had a wife and children. During the ceremony, I started to think of all my husband has done for me and my babies. The passed two years have not been easy on any of us, but the passed four years have been especially difficult for him.

He lived in a country that's not home with next to no family around him, worked his own way through University with only tuition fee loans and no other financial support, got married, took an internship year, lost a child and buried him in the ground, moved in with in-laws, had another baby, secured a graduate job, figured out moving countries, and battled through the flu twice in his last three weeks of exams. And still, he managed to come out, not only on top of it all, but with a First Class degree, and as one of four students to receive a special recognition prize.

I am just so proud. 

He is incredible.

I am so lucky.