cadmore lodge • promotional styled photoshoot

cadmore lodge • promotional styled photoshoot

I had done a photoshoot for Cadmore Lodge, a wedding venue in Worcestershire, England. There are so many beautiful aspects of this wedding venue, whether its the location, the farm land, the lakeside, or the watermill.

love, forgiveness, patience and gratitude - the lessons i've learned as a mother through the hard days

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Prior to having children, at no point did I think about how I was going to handle certain difficulties when they would arise. Hell, even when my eldest son was in his first year I couldn't ever imagine what it was going to be like having to deal with the new stages that they would go through. The tantrums, the correcting in behaviour, discipline and finding the balance to handle it all with a steady calm mindset. I remember when Leoh (my now five year old son), had began acting out in different ways, I struggled understanding how to effectively discipline him in a way that didn't just "get the point across", but impacted him in order to change that behaviour. Now, don't get me wrong, I do NOT have it all figured out. There is no manual on every kid, and no matter what, you're going to have to try out different things (in what your comfortable with), to see what works efficiently. 

When you look at someones social media, you see all the good days. "You don't ever see the bad days in photographs. But you see the good days that get you through them", and often times if you live your life looking at other individuals lives are so "perfect", you become harder on yourself to be perfect. You put the pressure on your kids to be perfect. And reality is, no one is. Everyone is going to have rough days, we all do no matter what age, and the best way to always handle those situations is to treat your children the way you would want someone to help you get through challenges. You model the behaviour you want your children to carry, and you want them to be understanding, patient and kind.

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I say this, and I will give myself the credit of saying I do my best to carry this attitude most days. But, like everyone else, I'm not perfect. Some days, I struggle. Some days both the boys are arguing, and I feel like no communication is working. They aren't listening, and I get to my wits end. And if you are going through one of these days, know that you are doing an amazing job. Today may be hard, but take a moment for yourself. Listen to music that brings you back to peace, make a playlist that makes you feel happy. Play it loud, sing to it, dance. Find the peace within yourself, then prepare yourself to handle your children in a way that can be effective. Some times we feel as if in heated moments, we need to jump in and conclude the problem then and there, however sometimes the best thing to do is separate yourself, find grounding and handle it under a stronger mindset. Always think of what you are saying to your children, and withhold from saying things that could potentially project them carrying on a negative mindset the rest of the day (such as "you're acting bad today"), but after you've dealt with a heated moment, say something along the lines of "I know you're struggling right now, but what can we do that will make today a better day?", children are learning how to handle their emotions and it's very difficult for them to understand how to change their mindset to positive and constructively, unless you guide them. It's hard, and requires a lot of patience, but you can do it. And it's never too late to start using this with your children, because no matter what, we're all learning how to do this and we're doing the best we can. 

The point of this blog post, I felt was to express to you all the way that I've learned and am still learning how to handle these situations as a single mother of two boys. Two energetic opinionated strong willed boys. Because I know how hard days can get as a parent, and how as mothers (and fathers) we beat ourselves up to be the perfect parent. And the most perfect parent you can be, is allowing yourself to be imperfect, and always available to try different ways to change. The second half of it is, give yourself a break. Take time for yourself, take care of yourself. Have a night for yourself, even if you're a single parent. Find time! Do things that you love, whether it's listening to music with your headphones on and candle light. To just having a glass of wine (or a beer), and watching your favourite film. Love yourself, because you will teach your children to love themselves. Forgive yourself, because you will teach your children forgiveness. Be patient with yourself, because you will teach your children to be patient. Treat and view yourself the way you want your children to, and treat others the way you want them to model as well. 

Teach your children gratitude, is so important. By teaching gratitude, you’re teaching your children to be happy and have a positive outlook. To be grateful for the little things every day, is very important. Whether it’s the “sun is out” or they got to play with a puppy at the park. Teaching them that money doesn’t buy happiness, and living in today reminds them of what life is all about. I learned this because as a child, my mother realised this when I was about 10 years old and my brother was 12 years old. She got us notebooks, and once a week, we would sit down as a family and talk about what we were grateful for that week. Then what we were grateful in our childhood. Which in affect, created a positive outlook on every day to seek the good things. I do similarly with my children, but because their so young, I verbally speak to them regarding this. I often hear my son say, “Today is a great day isn’t it”, just because the sun is it and the sky is blue. Be grateful, teach your children gratitude, and you’ll slowly see that days will become brighter. But remember, now every day isn't going to be perfect, and that’s ok! That’s also the beautiful part about life. Some days need to be harder, in order for you to appreciate the rest!

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And to my last lesson I’ve learned as a parent (so far), yelling doesn’t work. Getting loud doesn’t solve your problems, it’s not going to solve theirs and it’s not going to teach them communication. Trust me, I’ve done it. I’ve lost my cool, and I had moments of a classic parenting meltdown because the hard day, got harder. But, I’ve been teaching myself, by watching how my children react to it. They don’t listen and actually will act worse once a voice is raised. Now, “yelling” and getting your “mommy/daddy voice” on is two completely different things. When I need to be stern, my voice becomes sharp and clear. To get their attention or stop their action, and then it’s getting down on their level, making them look you in the eyes, keep eye contact and communicate. Talk to them, correct them and find a resolution or discipline that’s going to correct the behaviour in an affective way that they can understand. Always discipline in a way that you can stick with (such as, if you’re going to take a toy away. Take it away, and mean what you say. If you want them to stick with what you’re telling them, stick with what you’ve said as a consequence). 

I say all this, not because I judge other parents. I don’t agree with judging anyone, I think everyone has their own way of handling their life and children, and that’s great. But I have learned this by failing at moments myself, and I needed to hear what someone went through or their advise, to pick and choose what I wanted to take from it and make changes in my life and my parenting. I can honestly say, at this point I’m at peace with the way I parent my children. Some days are still struggle and I’m always learning, especially as their always evolving and new characteristics come out but as long as I’m being grateful, I’m teaching them to be, I’m taking time for myself to keep myself at peace to deal with it and I’m being patient as well as understanding, I know that we are going to get through anything. 

So today’s reminder for you, you’ve got this!

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i scream, you scream, we all scream halloween!

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It's our favourite time of year! We have been playing the Halloween movies, we have got the decorations up, we have the costumes ready. We had planned everything, but it was time to do the best part, pumpkin picking! 

Now, this is was super important to me this year. As you may know, my life has been filled with a lot of ups and downs the last year and half. Life has been a complete adjustment (to say the least), but I was determined to make sure that this year was special. Every occasion, had something special about it to make sure that we felt as home as possible. I've been pushing myself to find more about who I am, and what I want out of life. One of the biggest things, was recreating parts of my childhood that meant the most to me. For this season, it was pumpkin picking. Since I was pregnant with Leoh, I always imagined what it would be like to go to a park, and see him run around the pumpkins. To pick one, and carve whatever character meant the most to us that year. Since having him, I haven't done it. I picked up pumpkins from the shop, last minute normally. But, not experienced what I envisioned so heavily. 

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Now, to back track a bit here. The occasions this year, have so far gone to plan. Which is actually amazing, despite all the circumstances. This all came down to one thing, and that was my friends. Hands down, my friends and loved ones made every single part possible. Whether it was Easter, and the kids got to have a full Easter egg hunt, and Easter Sunday dinner. Playing in the football (soccer) in the garden, and eat away at the chocolate eggs. To my birthday, I only wanted to just spend it with my friends, and they threw a little birthday party. Where we all danced, goofed around and just had fun. Hudson's birthday, which the kids got to explore the zoo and we had a meal with our friends, seeing him dance to Ice Ice Baby with chocolate cake around his face was one to remember. Now, it was Halloween. This is my ultimate favourite season, and how could we make sure it's perfect. 

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We have been making a good amount of friends the last 6 months, to a point where now I can say we have one heck of a social life. Constantly seeing friends, going on adventures and spending time with some great people. So many great moms, so many great little ones that the kids have befriended. To see my boys, so content. It means everything to me. Their happiness is what keeps me going. It's the fuel for me, that keeps me alive and driven to make sure I don't ever stop driving us into the life we need. I miss home, I miss my family, I miss my loved ones. But being able to fill in the deep hole in my heart right now, is keeping their childhood remarkable. 

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So I had been searching for a while to find any sort of pumpkin fields, and friend of mine asked us to go with her and her son, Hudson (yes, we both have little ones named Hudson). So, we went along. It wasn't exactly what we imagined, but it wasn't about how I envisioned it. It was about the experience, and finally doing what I wanted to do for years. What I always wanted to do with them, and finally felt like I was strong enough to do so. I say this, because maybe someone reading this can understand. But, when you are made to feel so small that your opinion means nothing, you lose yourself entirely. Your hopes, your dreams, your life, it disappears before your eyes. And you never think you will ever get that back, that you will never live those dreams again, and you just give up. This past year, I haven't given up for a single second. I've only gotten stronger, and I've made sure every single goal is met. But that, is all for a different blog post that will be entirely dedicated on my journey of finding, me. 

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The boys got to run, and play. They ran through the fields, crawling underneath the strawberry vines and jumped down the brick steps. They chased another, and shared their lunches. They climbed over the pumpkins, and tried their hardest to pick them up. Hudson (my Hudson) kept thinking he could throw them like bowling balls (that was fun). They just got to be, kids. 

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To rewind even further, four and half years ago I moved to this country. I didn't know really anyone, and I didn't realise how hard it was going to be making friends. Maybe it was the situation, maybe I wasn't strong enough or confident enough to approach people the way I do now. I had lost myself, and I found it difficult trying to speak to others while questioning if everything I said was okay, or if I was just making a fool of myself. The friends and loved ones had encouraged me to love myself, and that especially helped built my confidence. From the person I was, to where I am now is entirely different. To who I was surrounded by, and to whom surrounds me now. They say, you are who you surround yourself with. And it's true, you have to surround yourself with people who inspire you, who encourage you and who push you. People who support you, and love you. Individuals you strength your positivity, and hold you when negativity overwhelms. Tough love is bullshit, that's not a love worth fighting for. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking. This is what my friends, and my loved ones have taught me. This is what this autumn has brought to my attention, to bring to yours. 

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To all my friends and loved ones, thank you. Thank you for everything you do for me, every encouragement, every hug, every meaningful conversation. I'm so thankful for you all, and I'm so thankful I've met you all in all the different circumstances. 

Lastly, to anyone reading this, challenge yourself. Push yourself further, think of your goals and your dreams, write them down, and make them happen. Even if you take one step, you are one step closer. Surround yourself with people who make those dreams closer to reality.

And most important, learn to love you. 

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Sincerely, 

Shannah Lauren

attachment parenting • round 2!

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Hi, hello, hola, bonjour! I am getting back into this blogging business, so bare with me if my writing is a little rusty. I was going through my old blogs, and came across my original attachment parenting blog. I left it on the note that I was pregnant, and all the changes I was going to make with my second baby (Hudson) - and HA! Joke was on me, again. Man, they don't prepare you for kids do they? They don't come with a manual that tells you what each and every child is going to be like. You merely think, the decisions you make evolve the child. Little do they tell you, the child has an entirely personality of their own. 

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Hudson was a completely different baby than Leoh, and it all started with the pregnancy. I was sick the entire pregnancy, I was either throwing up, or too easily receptive to viruses and illnesses going around. I had a chest infection for about six months of my pregnancy, and Hudson was taking up every part of my body. At one point, he fractured a rib of mine and I was having heart palpitations left right and center. I begged the doctors to get him out, but they weren't having it, and neither was Huds. He waited in there, two weeks over due, till I started my labour our by hemorrhaging. I can promise you, that was as bad as it sounds. He was born 9 lbs and 14 ounces, again, that was as bad as it sounds. He had an infection when he was born and 75% of his body was filled with it, he was put on antibiotics and I was also in recovery for a week to pull around after losing 2.5 litres of blood. Again, not fun. Emotionally, I was on one hell of a roller coaster. Near life-death circumstance, brand new baby, sick baby, the smell of a brand new baby, wanting to cuddle him non-stop, him having to get a spinal tap done. On top of this, he was born with tongue tie. Out all things! This little man could not catch a break. He had a hard enough time latching when I was trying to breastfeed him, that when I tried my best to give him a dummy (pacifier) he couldn't keep ahold of it cause his tongue would get sore. In the end, he couldn't do it. He couldn't take a bottle. However, he was able to latch enough to breastfeeding that he was gaining weight appropriately. Not a single bottle worked, so I wasn't able to take any breaks. 

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Hudson then, on top of it all, had the worst colic. My mom said this was because I did this to her too, but I imagined it was because of his tongue tie he took in too much air. When he suckled, he would very loudly because how much airflow he was actually taking in. This made sleeping, impossible. He woke up all the time, he needed comfort all the time from trapped wind issues. He would never let me take him off of me, and because of his traumatic birth, he had severe separation anxiety. I didn't push him in this, I cuddled him harder, I breastfeed him as much as he needed, and I encouraged him the best way possible. Now, all of these stages lasted A LOT longer than they did with Leoh. And no matter how much I told myself I was going to do things differently, I couldn't because Hudson was entirely different than Leoh. He NEEDED my attachment more than Leoh even probably did, so I did just as much as he needed me. I showed him that everything will always be OK, and I'm going to make sure we do all of this life crap out smoothly.  

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Now, fast forward 2 years, have we progressed any further in the breastfeeding? Any further in the sleeping? No, we haven't. We're still working on it. He turned 2 years old on October 12th, and he is still breastfed and he still co-sleeps with me. He wakes up often, and he wants me to cuddle him back to sleep. Occasionally, I get bursts of frustration because I just get so exhausted, but then I see how far he actually has come. This is a child who couldn't look at someone else in the eyes, and now he's a little confident social butterfly. He loves his mommy, but he knows that it's OK to roam and explore. All the fears I saw him have, the insecurities he did have, are gone. And now, he's just this free spirited little adventurer. He rarely clings to me like he used to, he enjoys his independence. He's a happy care-free kinda kid, and I love that about him. He's very calm, and collected (most of the time). And yes, he has his moments when he needs me, so I'm not exactly pushing him away about that. He has changed and grown a lot from where he was, and I see him gradually doing everything more independently on his own. I believe that with the right patience and love, he will be able to continue this journey of independence. I will always encourage him to be fearless, and ready to take on the world. However long it takes, mommy is here. 

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I wanted to write this blog to make it aware, you do what suits YOU and YOUR child. There is no rule book, and don't always listen to your friends. Follow your motherly instincts, and see what feels right to you. I don't exactly know when I will wean Hudson, or when I will start pushing him to sleep without me, but I do know that I trust my instincts on when it's going to be right. I can truthfully say it's helped him in this adjustment period we have been in the last year. Has it been easy? Heck no, but I know that neither of us are ready to let it go yet either. No matter how draining it is. Could I have done anything differently? I could have, but it didn't feel right, so I wouldn't change a thing. You do you, no matter what people will judge you. Just know that what you are doing is what feels right, and you won't regret it. 

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I trust that Leoh did things on his own time, with encouragement but he did. Hudson will do the same, just with a little more encouragement. Do my kids "walk all over me"? Heck no. They don't. They know what mommy says, goes. And some things I'm very harsh on them about, such as manners and being polite to others. They understand boundaries, and they know what I am okay with and what I'm not. But, our number one rule is treating people with kindness. I can truthfully say, that has worked immensely with Leoh. He's so kind, and so sweet. He's always caring, and always complimenting others. So I know I did something right with my first, I just have to make sure I stick to that with Huds. 

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Did I baby wear Hudson? I did! For absolutely ages, and sometimes still do depending on the circumstance. Mostly, he walks around on his own with his adorable Gruffalo backpack on.  Let's just say, I did long enough that my back was giving out on me. Then, he saw a pram (stroller) and was hooked. He wanted to ride it like it was a carousel. So, I picked up one of our old ones, and there we went. The new stage of independence. No more piggy back rides from mom, now he looked like the cool guy in the pram (stroller). Now anytime we go out, he points at it asking for me to bring it with us. Whatever Huds, you do you. 

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If you have any questions about attachment parenting, please feel free to ask me. I knew nothing about it until I looked into it, and also realised, you can find a balance in it that suits you best. This is all about following your motherly (or fatherly) instincts, and however that is, I support you. I'm no parenting expert, but I do feel pride in knowing that I'm a good mother (or at least aim to be). 

Sincerely, 

Shannah