Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Snapshot Norway // A Photo Diary Week 4

It's been almost a week now, since we returned from Norway, and it is amazing how quickly you adapt back to British life... our last few days in Norway were magnificent. The sunshine finally appeared for the last three days, and though it was late coming, it made us all the more thankful for it. We spent our final weekend with some of Dave's cousins and their families and it was so lovely to watch the kids have a blast together... I'm always so thankful we went down this multilingual route when I see the children playing carefree with their Norwegian cousins without any language barriers or confusion. It is such a gift.

We are home now with so many memories. Beautiful, invigorating, inspiring... I am so thankful to God for the gift of going back there every summer, and for the amazing wild and free childhood we are able to offer our children while we are there. It is idyllic... and I do realise how blessed we are to have family out there. We miss it already.

So here are few photos from our final week (and watch for the change in the weather as the photos go on...!)




And this... watching my boy, sitting in a tiny tide pool, covered in water and mud and having the time of his life...

This is what summers are for...

Monday, 22 August 2016

Dear Ava... You're Five! // Letters to my Littles

Oh my girl!

How are you five?!

Five years ago, tonight, you entered the world and changed our world forever. You made us parents; you are the means by which God is teaching us what it means to be a Mama and a Papa... you are our first run, our testing of the waters... and you are so patient with us! I know we will make mistakes, I know we already do, but honestly, you challenge me every day with your gentleness and kindness and vibrancy. You love life... you love exploring, creating, adventuring. I love all of that about you. So much. 

I write this on the eve of your fifth birthday and can't quite believe we are here. Five. It seems so grown up... we are now officially waving goodbye to those early years, and entering childhood with you in all its innocent, rollercoaster glory. Entering this new phase scares me somewhat. The little years are challenging, but they are where I feel safe and in control (to some degree)... childhood feels like every year is a further step towards independence, and I'm just not quite sure I'm ready for that yet... and yet I'm excited. Because with each passing year, I see more of who you are, and I feel more and more that we can talk, and share and laugh together, and I'm so excited to see how our relationship might grow and change as you develop your own thoughts, opinions and ideas about life.

I've been thinking a lot about your childhood recently... about the childhood I want for the three of you... Papa and I have been talking too. What matters? What is important? What kind of values do we want to instill in you? What kind of memories do we want you to have when you are older and look back? The world says so many things matter - the kind of clothes you wear... the kind of extra-curricular clubs you go to... your academic success... the kind of opportunities you have and the kind of things you are in to... and its so easy to get pulled along with the flow... to feel guilty that you aren't doing all the things your friends are, to feel pressured to push you in certain directions, to question yourself as a mother the whole time... 

But you, Ava, you are a free spirit... a creative little soul who is always thinks outside the box. You are a problem solver and an optimist and I hope, so much, you always stay that way. You are happy to accept that you can be different without feeling the need to conform, and you have a quiet confidence that enables you to enter a room of complete strangers and make yourself at home. 

And then you are a perfectionist too... you want things to be just right. Most of all, you want to do the right thing... you hate the thought that you are in the wrong, and you're learning, over time, how to cope with feeling that sense of failure or guilt. Slowly but surely, you are starting on the journey of understanding the beauty of grace... that you will make mistakes, that you will fail, that you will feel guilty at times (and that is a good thing!)... and yet that there is forgiveness and grace where repentance is born.

I love watching you with little children. You're like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn after church sometimes, with all the smaller children following you round that huge hall! You care for them with kindness and generous joy and they love you - not least your own little brother and sister.

Ava, we love you so much... we love the character God has gifted you with, and we love that you are eager, in these early years, to learn more about what it means to follow him. I'm so excited to see your character grow and flourish over the years, and to see time and maturity, joys and trials whittle that character into the young woman God designed you to be.

We pray every day that you will have a wonderful childhood - wild and free and innocent. That you will grow and explore with abandon the gifts that God has given you; that your character will grow in godliness, loving him and serving others with compassion and grace.

But most of all, we pray that you will know all your faults, failings and struggles are covered by the precious blood of the Saviour who gave his life, all those years ago, for someone even as little as you.

We love you darling girl.

Happy birthday.

Mama und Papa. xx

Friday, 19 August 2016

Sharing Summer Memories // Postcards from Norway

And just like that, we're home. No more stepping out the door to a breathtaking view of mountains and fjords, no more sunsets at 11pm, no more fresh baked bread rolls from my mother-in-law. But one thing we have got is a pocket full of memories, slight sun tans (very slight) and a heap of postcards displayed around my parents' kitchen!

This year, we had the wonderful opportunity to work with Touchnote, a company that specialises in personalised, printed postcards, which were landing on my parents doorstep here in the UK within 48 hours of us sending them from Norway. For the children, it was so exciting to be able to share their own memories, and they enjoyed dictating their personal messages for Nanny and Grandpa, and Dave and I had a good giggle over some of their offerings...

Personal favourite was definitely from Ava...

"I'm going to write a really long sentence to you so please do despair!"

The children loved creating their own postcards on the easy-to-use app... picking out their favourite photographs, choosing their personalised stamp, dictating their own memories and perspectives on our trips out and adventures, and all at the click of a couple of buttons on my iPad or phone.

My parents, of course, loved the weekly touch-ins too... they enjoyed seeing all we were up to and had a little laugh at the girls funny turns of phrase as well!

There is just something particularly special about snail mail... and this app brings the ease of modern technology, and the joy of the personal touch together in such a fun and special way. I started working with Touchnote thinking I liked the sound of the idea, we have since absolutely been won over by the ethos, idea and efficiency of these classy little postcards...

The postcards are so diverse... we have loved sharing our holiday memories with Touchnote, but I'm now excited to send personal "Happy Birthday" postcards, "Well Dones" and "Congratulations", all at the press of a little button, and bring a little bit of sunshine to somebody's day!

So if you haven't popped over and checked out the free app yet... go and have a look! Postcards cost as little as £1.99, which when you think of the cost of a generic postcard and a stamp abroad these days, is pretty competitive... plus you get the added bonus of the personal touch!

We are raving about them, I know... but the whole "postcard" experience has really enrichened our summer memories this year... and when we arrived home, what did we find on the doorstep?

A Touchnote postcard waiting to welcome us from Bestemor... all the way back in Norway!

Click HERE to download the free app and join the postcard fun!

And if you have used them already, please leave a comment below! I'd love to hear how you're all using the app in sharing your own memories this summer!

This post was written in collaboration with Touchnote and contains affiliate links.
All thoughts and opinions are our own, and are our honest perspective on the product.