Who doesn't love a birth story! This is ours, the arrival of our daughter Auden Wren on the 15th of July, captured beautifully by our birth photographer. I have chosen to share all the images as I believe birth is beautiful, enjoy.
In the last seven days two wonderful things have happened to the Little Green Lives family. Our life changing week started on Saturday the 15th of July in the Midwifery birthing centre, birthing our beautiful baby daughter Wren. We feel incredibly blessed to be a family of six, with two sons and two daughters. Just a week later our dream of becoming home owners finally came true, we collected the keys and walked through the front door together, the start of a new rural lifestyle and finally a place to put down roots.
Fulfilling our dreams often doesn't come easy, (this has certainly been the case for us) but sometimes the harder you have to work to achieve a goal the more satisfying it is once accomplished. I believe it's healthy to have dreams, they keep us motivated, help us to overcome challenges in pursuit of them, help us to focus our energies and, honestly, when did a little day dreaming ever hurt anyone?
I love this quote
For me i've had the same dream for our little family for a long time. If I enjoy a quiet moment and close my eyes I can be right there in amongst it, I can visualise the scene, feel the emotion it creates inside me.
Let me take you there.
My dream for our little family
The windows are wide open, a cool morning breeze entering the house.
Old magnificent trees, flower beds full of colour and texture, fields of wildflowers, daises and fox gloves visible from every window. The rooms are drenched in sunshine. The kitchen is infused with the smell of freshly baked bread and warm banana muffins.
Open wooden kitchen shelves are home to my thrifted and vintage treasures. Lines of mason jars, full of bulk ingredients, seeds and grains, lentils and beans, occupy the counter-tops. My wicker basket sits on the old kitchen table, full of the mornings freshly picked harvest from the vegetable garden, juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mint for a morning brew of tea.
No noise but children's laughter and the compelling tones of a chorus of morning bird song.
The walls are white, rooms inhabited by wooden vintage furniture, neutral and earthy tones, a home alive with houseplants and succulents. Our hand collected treasures from our travels around the world decorate the walls, memories a plenty hanging from tiny hooks.
The kids are playing outside, barefoot in the dirt, under a canopy of trees. There are chickens to feed, vegetables and herbs to water, a day of mothering, gardening and baking lies ahead.
My sweet new baby drunk on breast milk sleeps peacefully in my sling, a soft cheek resting on my chest. My love sipping his first coffee of the day , observing this peaceful scene from a comfortable chair, with a gaze of pure love and happiness.
This scene is perfection for me.
On Saturday we received the keys to our very first home and spent most of the day enjoying it, watering our new garden, watching bunnies run through the trees, and sitting on the back porch being mesmerized by our new view. We still cant quite believe its actually ours.
Its going to be a project (huge amounts of hard work, vision and patience are required) to create our cozy nest, put down roots, make memories and explore every inch of our new 10 acre back garden.
So looking forward to showing you our new home and sharing with you our journey over the next year. The furnishing of the different rooms, sharing pictures of the works in progress, creating a vegetable and herb garden, making paths through an unexplored six acre forest, making our new house our home and journeying towards being sustainable.
Its time to take this Mummy out of the city and begin a simple rural life, surrounded by nature, living close to the land, soaking up happiness with our little brood under the sun, with dirt under our finger nails, beside the campsfire under a star filled sky. Wish us luck.
I would Love to hear about your dreams, please feel free to share them. Sharing dreams can often feel like you are taking one step closer to achieving them.
Please follow along with our journey on Instagram
Thanks for popping in.
Introducing Auden Wren Jennings our beautiful daughter. Here's a short post about her arrival and a sneaky peek at a couple of pictures taken by our incredible birth photographer.
Some pregnant women love their new looks, their growing bumps, fuller breasts, a new glowing complexion, glossy hair. They feel sexy, attractive, bursting with self confidence. Others however can feel overwhelmed about how their bodies are changing and expanding all completely beyond their control.
Yes the picture is correct, we are expecting Baby number 4 in July!!!! Even just saying those words now makes me want to do a little happy dance around the kitchen.
I have been so excited to share this post and these pictures with you for weeks. Me and my good friend Stephanie from Magnolia Coasts Photography actually set up this pic back in January, in freezing cold Toronto, if you're thinking the kiddies do look a bit chilly.
Ever wanted something so desperately, believed in it so passionately, but making it happen, taking that gigantic leap, completely terrified you? You’ve worked so hard, you know it’s within reach, the finish line’s just right there but you’re paralyzed with fear down the home stretch. Maybe it’s a new project or business venture, perhaps a diet or a lifestyle change?
I’ve been there. That was me during the 12 months prior to launching ‘Little Green Lives’.
Pushing the ‘Publish’ button one month ago after months of self-doubt was a huge personal accomplishment. I came close to giving up so many times. Ifs, ands and buts consumed me. I was overwhelmed by frustration and a lack of productivity due to major sleep deprivation. I desperately wanted to be a good mum and good blogger, it just didn’t seem possible to do both.
My head spun with ideas and possibilities but as a busy mum, progress was grindingly slow.
Daily I questioned myself about the value of my content. My passion for our family to live and enjoy a simpler, greener life propelled me. But could I write and photograph well enough for others to feel that passion?
Did I have value to contribute to people’s lives? Why would anyone be interested in anything I have to say?
Somehow the past five years of being a stay at home mummy eroded my self-confidence. In my little world I cook, clean, play, grow vegetables and nurture my little people. I feel happy, secure and successful…but communicating my ideas, sharing them with the adult-world made me feel vulnerable.
In the face of failure, on the brink of giving up, the words “you got this mama” spoken from someone outside my inner circle pushed me to do some much-needed self-analysis.
My qualifications to blog are limited. My niche is our simple daily lives, my life as a wife and mummy, and my previous adventures as a single woman travelling the world. I set out to write about subjects I’m passionate about, our ordinary moments and that's the secret. This is EVERYTHING. It’s what makes me and the blog unique. My voice, my take on the world.
All I needed to do was suppress fear and sharpen that voice.
4 Strategies to overcome self-doubt
Here’s what I did (...and still do):
1) Re-define how to measure success.
To avoid failure I re-define success. Does it bring me joy? Have I inspired even one person to try something new and evoke a positive change in lifestyle? Have I learned new skills, met new people? If yes, I’ve been successful. And one month into the blog it’s been an incredible ride.
2) Risk failure to risk success.
Forget about what everyone else might think of you. Be true to yourself (your blog, your business). Don’t worry how you will be perceived, that holds you back.
3) Just leap, and correct my path on the fly.
Perfection can be the enemy of the good. To begin learning and growing on your journey to success you need to put it out there – whatever it is.
4) Identify and nurture my biggest fans.
In a social media business obsessed with quantifiable results it can be easy to lose your positivity and energy. But these are relationships - close friends, family, new connections to kindred spirits - so the key is quality rather than quantity in terms of interactions to keep you feeling encouraged and confident.
One month on, how’s it going?
When people ask, my reply is ‘I’m just kinda finding my feet, but I love it’. I no longer feel compelled to validate it with numbers. I’m enjoying it, people are responding positively, therefore to me the blog is successful.
It’s been a steep and exhausting learning curve. Trying hard to find a rhythm to make it sustainable, ensuring it enhances our lives rather than stresses us out. I set myself limits in terms of social media time so I can stay fully present in our lives. I'm learning to prioritize, adjust my expectations and maximize my limited time and energy.
So, what’s your dream? You gonna take the leap? If it fills you with motivation, if it consumes you, you should. It’s definitely worth fighting for.
You got this mama.
Love to hear about your dreams/projects, what you’re scared of? What’s holding you back from fulfilling your dreams? I’d love to read your stories/comments below.
Why not follow along on Instagram to hear about our daily adventures.
Thanks for popping in
Thanks to my good friend Katia Taylor Photography for these pictures.
‘A strong marriage requires two people who choose to love each other even on those days when they struggle to like each other’ by Dave Willis
I texted Jonathan this quote one morning last week after a particularly gruelling night.
Maybe the scene sounds familiar:
You're woken up every 1-2 hours by your youngest child. Your bed has become a revolving door of little bodies, an onslaught of bony elbows and knees all night long. Drunk on sleeplessness, you intermittently argue with your husband about your children’s ‘inability’ to sleep, and fiercely compete for who is the most exhausted.
Our nights have been so bad at times we decided to strike a deal - let's not discuss by day what was said to each other by night.
Being parents to young children is all consuming and life changing. Often no aspect of the life you once had is recognizable. After meeting all the needs of our children it’s easy to have nothing left in the tank to fulfill the emotional and physical needs of our partners, or indeed ourselves.
There is little space for spontaneity. Date nights have to be planned weeks in advance. Sex is a matter of endurance (because you’re so bloody exhausted all the time), requiring careful logistical consideration as there are often multiple children wandering the halls.
Communication - prior to children - resembled active listening. But now that’s dissolved into three-word conversations because you’re constantly interrupted. After 9pm you can barely string a sentence together due to complete exhaustion, let alone stimulate each other with something intelligent to say.
Gone are the days of eager anticipation to see each other of an evening. The moment J walks in the door now he’s met head-on with the expectations: what do I need him to do to help me with the kids
I love this picture of J and I in the Congo, working on a Fistula Surgery Campaign (before kids). A young dynamic couple in love, passionate about their work and wanting to change the world.
Four years of marriage later, Jonathan and I have added three children to our family and moved homes and continents multiple times. From the sweltering heat of city life in Delhi, India, to the polar ice vortex of a Canadian Winter. And in doing so, we left we our support structures behind.
It has been exceptionally challenging. When this beautiful picture was taken just before our 3rd baby was born, instead of it being a time of excitement and anticipation our relationship was actually close to breaking point. The busy demands of a young family, Jonathan’s stressful work schedule and no doubt my raging pregnancy hormones had taken their toll
It took all the strength and commitment we had (plus a little marriage counselling) to get us back on track. But we made it. Now 18 months on, and on the brink of another big transition/adventure, we are actually stronger than ever.
I was inspired to write this post to share our experiences and the strategies we now use to help nurture our relationship. And also because - if you’re struggling at the moment - it does help to know you’re not alone.
7 ways to help you to survive the early parenting years with your sanity and your marriage intact (when sleep, sex and quality time together can be distant memories.
We all need time and space to re-energise so we can function as people and be good parents and partners. Treat each other to a lie-in when possible (you know how amazing it feels when it's your turn) or better still, a few hours off.
To be a good lover we need to feel good about ourselves. Motivating and encouraging each other to eat better and exercise more. Feeling good from the inside out for ourselves and each other.
2.Keep things simple
Work on making your lives simpler. Less stress benefits everyone. Use the weekends to rest and regroup rather than overdoing it socialising
Choose a moment during each day when you reconnect, sit down, and enjoy an uninterrupted conversation, a glass of wine, a time to touch base.
- Appreciating each other more
Being more appreciative and thankful. You both work hard, be it in the home or office. Recognise each other’s efforts. Find small ways to be appreciative.
- Spending quality time together
Set aside one night a week as date night. Banish all the electronic devices and do something you both love. For us it's cooking. Pick a new recipe plus a good bottle of wine, cook up a storm, date night perfection and no baby sitter required.
- Work as a team
Parenting requires teamwork. Laugh in the face of it TOGETHER. Have each other’s backs. Consistency is the key. Continue to communicate, rather than retreat.
- Get a babysitter
Enjoy a date outside the home. It feels so good to head out for an evening or on a sunny weekend afternoon. We splurge, it’s a survival tactic. For three hours every Sunday afternoon.
The key to surviving the early parenting years is to nurture (and invest in) a strong, happy, healthy relationship. (because being together forever is everything).
Love to hear your thoughts about the early parenting years - what tips can you share for keeping things on track?
Thanks for popping in
Hi there! Welcome to Little Green Lives.
My name is Sam and I’m the author of this site. I’m a passionate Mum, Midwife and green-living enthusiast. I created Little Green Lives to help busy mums live simpler, healthier and greener lives.
Living a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming. Little Green Lives is a place where you can come for tips, ideas and inspiration. I want to help you to make informed choices and choose what works best for your family without judgement! We’re all just busy mom’s trying to do our best.
Let's get to know each other.
Before we start this journey together I want to share something with you:
Our little love story
Have you ever experienced the feeling you should be doing something else? Even though it seemed impossible and the sacrifice would be immense? That was me. I even left paradise to do it.
Seven years ago I left a beautiful sun-drenched tropical island and the love of my life (or so I thought). I was heartbroken.
You know that chest-crushing feeling like you can’t breathe? That was me. It was a long flight from Honolulu for the poor guy who sat next to me as I cried almost endlessly all the way back to my home in London, England.
I made the unimaginable decision to leave the life of other people’s dreams: a life of relaxation and self-indulgence among nature’s most beautiful elements. I lived where tropical rainforests met turquoise waters alive with neon fish and green sea turtles.
Don’t get me wrong…I appreciated the beauty and the magical feeling of being in love. But as I sat on the white powdery beaches, I couldn’t help but find myself distracted by a desire to fulfil a lifelong dream.
Just days later I was back in London, my heart still raw, but my sadness tempered by excitement. I boarded another plane with only a backpack of possessions - Uganda bound.
After seven hours aboard another Boeing 747 (Heathrow to Kampala) followed by a long drive north to Gulu, my dream of working as a midwife with Doctors Without Borders / Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) was becoming reality.
I looked out the dusty windows in the back of a white Land Cruiser. My stomach churned. There were women carrying babies on their backs, bundles of firewood on their heads and worldly possessions in cloth bags. Naked children ran beside our car. Donkeys, goats and feral dogs wandered in desperate search of a meal.
I was en-route to a large camp for internally displaced people near Gulu, to a hospital awaiting my skills and fellow team members awaiting my company.
“Welcome to Lalogi camp,” said a tanned, ruggedly handsome guy with an American accent. He offered me a hand as I climbed down from the truck. He wore a dirty, white MSF tee-shirt and a killer smile.
Excited, terrified and still heartbroken I gave that guy my hand and climbed down into a blur of 24-hour shifts in a hot, overcrowded maternity ward. I experienced the highs of saving lives, the lows and devastation of losing some. Every day I learned so much about life and humanity.
With fellow Ugandan midwives as my mentors and students we provided pre-natal care to thousands of women and delivered hundreds of beautiful babies. Side by side with my team we worked through the night by torchlight, because every woman’s experience and life was important.
So what about the “love of my life” ?
In the early weeks I was awaiting a call or email saying "come back to me, I made a mistake letting you leave, I love you." My heart ached for it.
It never came. Life went on.
It became easier. My heart filled with the most incredible joy and satisfaction I’d ever felt. It healed and I grew stronger than ever. I gave myself to my new life.
And this new life had other plans for me: that long haired guy who opened the back of the MSF Land Cruiser and offered me his hand as I stepped down, and held a torch for me while I saved lives in the middle of the night, is now the TRUE love of my life.
That guy is the man I eat my oatmeal with every morning now, Daddy to my three beautiful children.
We have travelled and worked together in other Doctors Without Borders projects. We've lived and worked in Congolese conflict zones and Nairobi slums, and in incredible India. We raced across Delhi chaos in a cab when I was in labour with our daughter. Together we've navigated parenthood these last four years.
You’d think a seven-year-journey, fulfilling a dream, experiencing birth with incredible women across the world would be some of the most challenging and exhilarating moments of my life…
But it’s becoming a mother that has been the hardest—yet most blissful—emotional roller coaster I’ve experienced.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
My experiences working with MSF just reconfirmed to me how precious life is. How fortunate we are to have clean water, a bed to sleep in and a safe home in which to raise our family. I feel a big responsibility to this beautiful world and want to do all that I can to protect it so that our children can enjoy its beauties during their lifetime. That’s why every day I strive to live a waste-less life, and do whatever I can to care for the environment—and teach my children to do the same.
The start of a new journey
So that’s why I’ve embarked on this new adventure: ‘Little Green Lives’ - a lifestyle blog with a hint of green.
Little Green Lives is the journey of our little family of five: committed to a greener lifestyle, a more minimalist existence, finding Quality in our day-to-day, and embracing our natural world with bare feet and dirty hands.
Here you’ll find inspiration and ideas that are achievable – for even the busiest mums who, like me, are determined to make informed lifestyle choices and aren’t afraid of a little adventure.
So excited that you're here.
Thanks for popping in