Monthly Archives

July 2014

Baby Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine – a family portrait for July


This month’s Me and Mine is extra special.  Or at least I really really hope it is.  With a bit of luck and a following wind (and probably some acupuncture and encouraging thoughts towards the Little Bump) this should be our last Me and Mine as a family of four.  And I can’t believe I just wrote that.  Apart from the whole fact that this means this baby’s arrival really is happening quite soon, I’ve almost certainly just consigned myself to going all the way to my induction date and an early September arrival!

Of more certainty is that this is the last Me and Mine in which we don’t own garden furniture that did not come from a hockey tour.  It’s probably a sign of advancing middle age but I’m claiming pregnancy and the fact that it feels like it takes ten minutes to get up off the ground at the moment as the impetus that took us to Homebase on a Sunday afternoon to order a nice comfy garden chair – and a table and the rest of the chairs that go with it.  It arrives this week and I can’t wait; I’m having lovely visions of sitting outside with our tiny new baby while the girls run up and down the garden for the rest of the summer, even if the reality is that we sit and watch the rain plopping down onto the table half the time! (That would be this weekend’s forecast then).

Because it is that last Me and Mine, I really wanted to do something special, to think of somewhere stunning for a backdrop, magically coax all of the family into the most perfect of picture-taking moods, and somehow become a completely genius photographer overnight, not to mention be able to split myself in two so that I can both take the photos and be in them.  And my mind went blank; well about the achievable bits anyway, it just got realistic about the rest.

But at the end of the day what really matters is not so much how the photo looks, but that I took it, and preferably without everyone’s memories of the occasion being something along the lines of “oh yes, that was the day Mummy made us go out and have our picture taken and it was really annoying because we just wanted to turn the house upside down and sit on Daddy’s head instead”.  So we went back to basics.

At the end of the day I think that most of us that join in with the Me and Mine project do so not because we never ever ever took pictures of our family as a whole, but because we realised that we’d got the high days and holidays covered but not the in between.  The missing links of those months between Christmas and Easter, or Easter and birthdays.  And so what I’m trying to capture isn’t, and shouldn’t really be some highly polished scrubbed cheek version of us, but the everyday reality of what our life is like.  Or perhaps a version that’s had a quick once over with a baby wipe; no one really wants to look back on the diary of their early childhood to discover just how many times in one day the phrase “stop right there – we use gentle hands in this family!” could be heard.

So for our probably hopefully last Me and Mine as a quartet, it’s just us, in the back garden, on a gorgeously sunny evening, eating BBQ supper (thank you lovely husband).  All the detritus is there, the drinks, the ketchup, the smears of sauce across tiny cheeks and everyone’s fingers, and we’re all still camped out on the picnic blankets (which is more comfortable for some of us than others!)

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


I remember the little things; the certainty that in just about every photo at least one of us would have a mouthful of food

.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The squeals of delight that we got from Elma when we told her to say “Daddy” rather than ‘cheese”

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The bliss that comes in feeling that the day is finally starting to cool down; not too much but just enough to make sitting still bearable, combined with a supper that did not involve adding any additional source of heat to our kitchen.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And above all, the happiness in simply being in that moment together, at the end of a day that had held more than its fair share of exhausted parents and fractiously hyperactive children.  And being able to step back to the knowledge that a day is made up of many many moments; some will be good, some will be not so great, and some will just be; and that’s OK; and that this was a good one.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My little family; in July.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

dear beautiful


Baby Family Milestones Pregnancy

37 Weeks of a Little Bump and Me


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Remember how I thought I was doing OK with the heat. It turned out it was a big fib.

I’m not going to go all ranty and complaining on you don’t worry (I don’t want to write wingeing and I can’t imagine who on earth would want to read it) but in the spirit of reality I can say with some degree of certainty that last Saturday broke me.  It was the kind of hot humid day where you just want to take your skin off and sit in your bones.  With wall to wall thick cloud of that palest grey that looks and feels like you’re being smothered in a blanket of stuffed toy filling, even sitting still was just too hot.  My fingers and toes and ankles all started to impersonate hot air balloons and a happier girl you never did find on Sunday morning when we woke up to the familiar rustle of the wind rippling through the trees behind the house.

Even the baby seemed to feel it; for those few trying days the over-excited hops and kicks turned into more languid rolls and prods, although I’m sure at least some of that must be due to the Little Bump starting to run out of space.

Please let him or her be starting to run out of space; I really thought I couldn’t have got much bigger in one week and yet the camera doesn’t lie (well not unless I tell it to) and I think that bump might just have got bigger again.  I’ve not seen the midwife this week so I don’t have an updated estimate weight, and to be honest I think I might have to start ignoring estimated weights in the interest of maintaining a little calm aura of optimism about the birth.  What I do know is that even H thinks it’s (a) bigger and (b) lower than last week.  The pictures suggest he’s right about (a), as does the appearance of a whole new set of bright red stretch marks across the top of the bump, and (b) is rather verified by my inability to sit in a ladylike manner!

This week’s big event (at least in baby planning terms) was our visit from the Health Visitor.  It’s something our Health Visiting team starting doing when I was expecting Elma, they come out for a visit a few weeks before your due date for a half hour chat; usually about what the Health Visitors do, when they’ll take over from the midwives, when clinic is and things like that.  The idea behind it is really excellent; you get to meet your Health Visitor so they’re a familiar face when they turn up at your door in the middle of the sleep deprived baby haze, and they get to see you when you’re not sleep deprived and baby hazy which I suspect gives them quite a nice benchmark for your particular version of normal to help them assess you for any non-verbal signs of post natal depression etc.

If the effect was somewhat spoiled by our visitor being a temporary summer cover; well at least we all tried; she was lovely and we had a nice chat.

I have also pulled out from the drawer my hospital bag and put it on the bench in our bedroom.  It’s funny, it’s a bag I was given as a birthday present the year we had Kitty (it’s a squish it and fold away Cath Kidston holdall) and I’ve used it as my hospital bag for all the children; I just always seem to forget about its existence when I’m packing to go anywhere else.  Right now it contains the Little Bump’s mama-made cardigan, a packet of newborn nappies and a packet of Water Wipes so I’m not sure I could claim that I’m completely packed, but I have at least started to acknowledge that I may need some of these bits and bobs at some time in the next three to five weeks.

And speaking of the next three to five weeks – any signs of labour? No.  The baby may be lower and I’m getting a few runs of Braxton-Hicks with a fairly strong correlation to Elma nursing but they aren’t painful, just noticeable so I think we’ve still got some way to go!

Family Kitty

Kittyisms – July 2014


Mummy that little girl said I was a little girl but I’m not a little girl, I’m a little lady!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Mummy, where was I when you and Daddy had your marrying day?

Well you hadn’t been born yet sweetie?
But where was I?
I don’t know love, you weren’t there and you weren’t even in my tummy yet.
It’s all right Mummy, I think I was with gran and grandad.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

On shoe laces:
Mummy can you help do my tyres up?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

On supervising her father’s tv watching:
Daddy, is that ‘propriate for you?
(he was watching the Tour de France!)

Mummy, are you writing down what I’m saying?


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Mummy: who’s in Mummy’s tummy?
Elma: Bay-bee!
Mummy: And what shall we call the baby if it’s a baby sister?
Elma: Minnie-Mou!
Mummy: And how about if it’s a boy?
Kitty: Mickey Mouse!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Some days I go to school, but some days I don’t go to school!
(I think we mean nursery – at least unless there’s something I really don’t know about!)

On dictating her cousin’s graduation card:
Dear love [cousin]. Dear love on your grandution. Love [Kitty]


Books Family Kitty Reading what we're reading

Stars and the Dust that Made Us {what we’re reading}


Once upon a time, in a galaxy exactly like this one, well it was this one, I followed a link to a video of Chris Hadfield and his brother singing about Canada (it’s here and definitely worth watching by the way).  And as we watched I tried to explain to Kitty that one of the guys singing has been to space; when it finished she turned to be with a slightly baffled expression:

“But where was the spaceman Mummy?”

One click later and we fell head shoulders knees and toes down the rabbit hole of Canadian Space Agency videos.  Forget CBeebies, move over Disney princesses, what Kitty would really really really like to watch is “a space video”.

Her absolute favourite is Tears in Space (Don’t Fall), which in our house is called “the crying one”, but she’s also fascinated by anything involving space food.  I’d put Wringing out Water on the ISS at the top of my personal playlist but if we’re being honest I’ve found them all really interesting.

I know far more about micro-gravity and the working of the ISS now than I did a few weeks ago and Kitty’s soaking it up like the proverbial sponge.  If we’ve watched a couple of videos after lunch she always wants to tell H about them as soon as he gets home, and then we usually have to play it again for him to make sense of some of the comments.

“Daddy! If you put water in your eye it just stays there!” just doesn’t make much sense if the chatter at that point was about going to the butcher and having pasta shapes for lunch.

It’s also cued a few discussions about when and where it is OK to squirt water into your eye (answer: only in space) which have turned into a vast array of conversations that start “when I’m in space…”

But this is supposed to be about reading not obsessively watching You Tube videos, fun though the latter may be (and the wringing out water one is just cool!).  So on our last trip to the library I pulled out all of the books about space and stars that I thought even vaguely appealing or appropriate, stacked them on the children’s table and asked Kitty to pick one.

And this is what she choose:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

The Universe Rocks: Stars and the Dust that Made Us! And it’s perfect.  Perfect for an inquisitive three year old and perfect to dip back into when she’s a bit bigger.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

For starters it’s got a lot of very gorgeous pictures of stars; and no great big huge pages of text.  Detail has its place without a doubt but right now we’re just scratching the surface, and in the same way that a two or three minute video will hold Kitty’s attention for long enough that she will stay focussed and actually absorb what she’s seeing; so will a little paragraph about white dwarf stars, or blue and red stars.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

It’s not a book I think I’ve ever sat and read cover to cover with the girls, it doesn’t have that kind of story telling flow, instead we flip to whatever page takes their fancy and read a few bits and bobs from there.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

My knowledge of astronomy is gleaned from Winter Holiday and a few teenage physics lessons; I can pick out Orion’s Belt and the Pole Star but that’s about it, so there’s so much of this that is new to me too; did you know that some stars shoot out jets of hot water – it was news to me!

And if all that weren’t enough – there are experiments! (Let it be known that my inner science geek is jumping up and down and waving flags at the prospect).  And more to the point they are easy experiments for a three year old to actually take part in.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

So far we’ve tried finding out why stars appear to twinkle (lots of fun cutting out tin foil stars; we decided we need a better torch and a darker room to make them truly sparkle), I’m on a promise to acquire a ping pong ball for the Supernova Blast Wave, and I’m saving counting the stars and making our own constellations for darker and rainier autumn days, but they’re all things I can do with Kitty without needing anything I don’t already have in the house.

What more could you want!

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading


If you’re in the mood for something a little more down to earth; Rachel linked up last week with the most gorgeous Around the World book with the cutest illustrations that’s understandably her son’s new favourite bedtime story!

And if you have a favourite, or just something fun your little ones have enjoyed reading lately please do join us. The linky is always open for the whole week so there’s plenty of time. And so, without further ado, it’s over to you to tell me what we should be reading!


Elma Family Kitty Living Arrows Photography

Living Arrows 30/52


It is extraordinarily humid and hot.  And yet somehow, by some miracle of childhood there are two little girls in my family who just want to run and play, who seem at least on the face of it to be oblivious to the sauna like conditions; or perhaps we just got the dosage of ice lollies right.  For the record, I on the other hand am sat writing this at 9 o’clock at night while also cuddling two freezer blocks, and my primary source of nutrition for the day has come in the form of ice lollies and salad.

I think the cricket team might also have been wilting in the heat this weekend; H was home earlier than he has been for many a week (which means they lost easily) and I think we spent longer eating tea with them than watching them play (well almost).

But all is not lost, we have a plan.  It might take just a few years to come to fruition, but I’ve got a couple of ringers that are really rather keen on joining in.  And so while our team manfully tried to put up some sort of bowling attack, the ladies decided it was time to start work on their own bowling.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Followed by a little fielding practice:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Given that Kitty’s really quite tall for her age, and the fact that some of the team, well, aren’t, I think we could pass her off as an almost grown cricketer in a couple of years! And as you see Elma is never one to want to be left behind – all we need now is a ladies side.

For all that it was crazy hot running around in the sunshine (and these pictures were taken at about 5pm – we’re not even talking full noon), I’m glad that they want to run around, and I can only hope that if we keep exposing them to all sorts of sport and fresh air and exercise it will seem second nature to them.  And if they will just have the good luck to inherit their father’s aptitude for sport (never met one he didn’t like or couldn’t easily master) rather than mine (school gym reports generously praised my enthusiasm and willingness to have a go rather than highlighting the complete absence of talent or spacial awareness – and we’re all still astonished that I ever catch anything) I think they’ll be set; or at the very least able to pull off a good spin bowling impersonation!

living arrows