Monthly Archives

November 2014

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Milestones Photography Pip

Me and Mine – a family portrait for November


I feel I must start by managing your expectations a little.  I know I said in last month’s Me and Mine post that we were feeling adventurous and we’d actually gone out and about to take a photo of the five of us that didn’t feature our garden fence because I didn’t want my entire series of photos to turn into Me, Mine and the Fence….

Well, this month we’re back with the garden fence.  And a very nice garden fence it is too.

This month I left taking the photos almost to the last minute.  I’d plan for each weekend and the days would dawn grey, cloudy and damp and only degenerate further as the all pervading damp turned into fat round raindrops that trickled tauntingly down the garden doors and plopped into the puddle that was once our patio, or the grey cloud would simply build, enveloping the sun in a thick blanket of darkness that my camera can’t even try to compete with.

And then one day I started to see blue sky peeking through; and the blue grew and grew until there was something vaguely approximating actual natural daylight outside.  Lunch was paused, children rounded up, the camera set up on the tripod and H extracted from the studio that was doing double duty as a home office.

So if in all of these pictures it looks like my family are desperately straining towards something just a little off camera; well that would be the garlic bread sitting on the dinner table.  I promise they weren’t too deprived and it was all still lovely and warm by the time we got back in.

And perhaps it’s appropriate that this month’s photo is at home. It’s always seemed to me to be a season of consolidation; a little gap between the flurries of autumn and then first the lights and sparkle and twinkle of December and all its celebrations, and then the bleak midwinter proper when January and February roll in and we start to long for Spring.

It’s a chance to just be, to be at home in the familiar rhythms of everyday life, to be so very uneventful and blissfully ordinary.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

This month we’ve loved: our trips to the park; watching Kitty in her final ballet class of the term; running up and down the side of the hockey pitch on bright sunny days and cowering under the corrugated plastic roof of the shelter when the rain comes battering down; kitchen dance parties while supper cooks; building Duplo and block castles; watching the girls laugh together without having any clue what they’re laughing about; and the simple little spur of the moment things, the time Kitty asked what colour you would get mixing pink and green and H took her off to the studio to mix them up and find out (a sort of steely grey if you’re curious) or the impromptu decision to have a fish and chip supper just because.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year; Kitty for one is incredibly excited.  If last Christmas was the first year that she got the concept of the celebration, this is the year that she’s mastering anticipation.  She tells me all sorts of things about Father Christmas including all the important points about how he’s going to get into our house given that we don’t have a chimney (he’s going to use the door), and what we need to leave out for him (she’s very particular about porridge for the reindeer), and at the same time is fascinated by the stories of the first Christmas, especially Mary and the angel.  And her excitement is becoming catching; the Christmas music is loaded on iTunes, we’ve been making gingerbread spice tree biscuits using my very best copper cookie cutters and I’ve even broken out the Christmas pinny.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I know this next month is going to be brilliant but at the same time it’s been nice to look back at November a little and to reflect on a month that was special in its own right, and not just a filler until Christmas.  I know I always say how thankful I am to have these pictures, and how pleased I am that I started but every month I seem to find another reason why they are special.

Special photos of my very special people.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My little family in November:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And as for the outtakes – well I think H is still waiting for his call back as a Burton Menswear model!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


dear beautiful

Elma Family Kitty Motherhood Pip {the ordinary moments}



Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Silence is golden so the saying goes but I’m becoming convinced that that’s not actually true. Or at least not true for me.  I know I love, ok crave, moments of peace and quiet in our daily life, but I’m not sure I want absolute silence, more just the gentle hum of a contented family.

In the last week our whole family has had a stinking coldy virus.  Elma copped the worst of it on top of her ear infections and tonsilitis (from which she is now thankfully completely recovered) but we’ve all gone down with lesser versions and for all of the last week I’ve had a really nasty tickly cough.  The sort where any sort of speaking brings on a ten minute coughing fit.

It’s unpleasant and rather annoying but nothing more than that and we’ll be over it before we know it but for a whole week I could barely talk.  All instructions were given in an urgent whispered monotone which I think made me sound perpetually grumpy and that was as good as we got.  There was no singing, no telling of “from my head’ stories, no snuggling down in the twilight to read book after book while we wait for H to come home.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It’s very corny to say you don’t miss it til it’s gone but it’s so true.  I just hadn’t realised how much of a cornerstone to our days the singing and storytelling had become.

We sing The Grand Old Duke of York to climb the hill up to the playpark, and on the really windy days we shout half remembered verses of Sea Fever into the gusts as they swirl through.

There’s the singing to start the day, watching Kitty try to teach us the latest song she’s been learning at nursery or trying to pass down to both girls the songs I loved in my childhood, the action songs to get rid of excess wriggles in two little girls sometimes prone to cabin fever on long drizzly winter days, the stories you read where one or two scamper off on their own ideas half way through and you set the book aside for another time, and the stories that we read before bedtime, one head already drifting off to sleep on a pink spotty pillow which the other cuddles in under my arm, curled into my side with her ever faithful blankie tightly clasped in her other hand.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It sounds really silly to say that I think singing might be part of my parenting technique but it turns out it’s true; when I can feel that I’m getting wound up by making the same request time and again with absolutely no impact I sing it to a silly tune and somehow it both lets out the annoyance and nine times out of ten it catches the girls’ attention and the books finally get put back on the bookcase or everyone at last locates their shoes and we can get ready to go out.

And I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve all been tired and feeling grotty or whether having a cold and a sore throat and a hacking cough just made me perpetually slightly irritated but everything just felt like such hard work.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Even when I could look back on a day and know that we went to the park and we played with the glitter glue and we danced around the kitchen to Christmas music and got the cutters out and made biscuits and everyone napped and went to bed as and when they should and that on paper it was a great day it felt like the effort required to keep my temper, to keep everyone happy and ticking along had made it a bit of a failure.  It’s that feeling that everything you have achieved has been done unwillingly and as a result of gargantuan effort on your part that rather sucks the joy out of it.

In my heart of hearts I know it wasn’t, just as I also know that it’s just a tad unrealistic to expect every day to be ushered in by sunshine and unicorns, and there’s every possibility that it was just one of those days regardless of whether I could speak or not, but I also know that the first day that I could get through the whole of the bedtime story without having to go and get a drink and take a break while I coughed up my toes just felt wonderful.  It was so perfectly normal and routine, and I think we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So despite all my threats to have the bathroom soundproofed it seems that silence is not good for Mummies and as if it’s coming from the children it usually means they’re up to something that requires immediate investigation, I think I’ll choose noise every time.

PS I know the pictures are a bit of a tangent but have you ever tried to photograph singing. While doing it? So instead I bring you cookies, which it seems are almost as good for restoring family equilibrium, but not quite!

Crochet Handmade Work in Progress

A ripple update




At Kitty’s first Christmas I seem to remember that not only did we take her with us when we went Christmas shopping for her present, and showed it to her to gauge her reaction, but I wrapped up each and every little trinket, teether and soft toy while she lay on the floor beside me kicking her legs and giggling at the Christmas tree – and then I suspect unwrapped it myself a few days later.  Oh how the times have changed.

Now all parcels have to be brought into the house under the false pretences of just being from H’s work, or just laundry liquid or something really boring.  The bits and bobs that have arrived so far have all been stored up in our tiny little office/garret/general dumping ground/spare room (all of which descriptions give it more credit than it deserves), awaiting the onslaught of wrapping paper and wash tape.

And it’s requiring a new degree of subterfuge on the festive knitting.  I can’t make their presents entirely during the brief periods of time in which they’re all asleep but I am trying to be a little bit subtle; I embroidered the blocks for Elma’s quilt while the girls built Duplo castles but when it came to turning them into something actually resembling a quilt that became an evenings only job, and it’s been the same with their hats; until they actually looked like hats I’d knit in front of them – although Kitty is far too clever by half and has definitely sussed out that they might be hats; hopefully she’ll not think about it too much until the day itself – I’ve finished both and added giant pompoms but as they really need models to look good you’ll have to wait until after Christmas for a big reveal.

And so in the gaps, in the brief moments of quiet when Pip is contentedly sitting in my lap and the girls are climbing on H, or when they’ve all got deeply into whatever craft project we’re planning, I’ve pulled out my ripple blanket/cushion/whatever it turns out to be big enough to be/just keep crocheting until you run out of yarn.

Last time this rather ill-defined magnum opus made an appearance here I think I was on the third row, and I’m happy to report that it’s been growing gently one ripple at a time.  I know I’ll probably be excommunicated from the knitting community for saying so but I do love the way that crochet looks in ripples; it’s got such a tactile appeal.  I find I can’t really pass it buy without wanting to lay it out and run my fingers over it, and usually add a couple of stitches along the way.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Up to now I’ve simply been pulling another colour out of my little bag of Baby Cashmerino leftovers and going with it, or even better, asking the girls to choose one for me; which might just  account for the number of times pink has cropped up, but looking at the content of the bag and the various amounts of yarn I’ve got in each colour I think I need to do a little planning ahead.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The big decision has been that I’m not going to use any of the white/off white/cream.  I gave it a little audition row but it just looked all wrong, there was too much contrast in both colour and tone to the rest of the ripply colours.  I know I’ve got some colours in here that are stronger than others but I’m finding that I’ve either got a strong colour that’s balanced by a lighter version of the same colour, or if the colour itself is quite a jump, it’s actually tonally very similar.

And once I’d ruled out the white (and friends) I started playing with everything that was left, testing out the colour combinations and trying to line up at least the next six or so ripples.

Lucy at Attic24 (whose pattern this is) has a great technique of wrapping project yarn around clothes pegs and writing the name on the peg and then using the pegs to set out her next few colours which (a) looks gorgeous in photos (b) would mean that you don’t have to remember what colour you’d decided to do next and (c) most importantly, rather reduces the chances of becoming utterly entangled in the loose ends of a gazillion and one squishy half balls of yarn which, despite being neatly wound and packed away tidily the last time they came out to play have by some sort of impish magic all escaped and wrapped around each other in a way that defies unravelling.

I’m not sure I’ve got enough yarn to justify it, and for some reason in this family clothes pegs are constantly in short supply (maybe there’s a connection to the yarn tangling? – wool gnomes that like clothes pegs??) so I’m still lining things up and then taking pictures to help me remember.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

This is, in some sort of order, definitely intended to be the next seven rows.  I think I can still remember in which order.  Maybe.

But it doesn’t really matter.  This project has always been intended to have a fluidity about it, I didn’t want it to look overly planned out, largely because there’s going to come a point at which I have to change colour half way through a ripple, or when one colour makes an early appearance and then is never seen again (that would be the dark pink, now completely used up by one bobble hat plus giant pompom).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Right now I still have no idea just how big this is going to turn out to be.  Despite all this rippling, despite taking the white out of the equation and despite new bobble hats for both girls it still feels like my little stash bag is pretty full.  I doubt I’ll get a full sized baby blanket out of what’s left, but I’ll be really pleased if I can get it to a square-ish sort of shape and turn it into a snuggly giant cushion for the girls when we put their rooms together.

And it’ll be even better if the last few ripples aren’t all mid green.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But there is one thing that I’m suddenly becoming aware of.  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeVery aware of.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The ends are nye!

Baby Family Milestones Motherhood Pip Pregnancy

On the end of the fourth trimester


This week my little boy turned 13 weeks old and with that miniature milestone we reached the end of our ‘fourth trimester’, the point at which the crazy insanely fast growing, changing adapting that Pip has been rattling through in the last few weeks is supposed to calm down to merely super-speedy.

And I think that’s largely true; he’s not growing out of babygros on an hourly basis anymore and week on week the changes become more subtle.

I had all of these plans of sorts before Pip arrived; I was going to really wallow in the first three months, drinking in every moment of my tiny baby, and just focussing on settling into family life and I think that’s what we’ve done, give or take.  The spiders building a multiplex along the hall ceiling would certainly agree that my focus hasn’t been predominantly housework anyway.

I’m incredibly lucky that with the girls still spending a couple of days a week in nursery I’ve had that one on one time with Pip and we’ve loved our days together even if they do mostly involve sitting on the sofa nursing, and then lots of singing silly songs and cuddling, and then a little of Mummy taking photos of Pip.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when we’re all together we are starting to find a rhythm to our days and weeks, there are nursery days, baking day, go to the butchers day, ballet class day, church day and playing at home days.  Days when we go to the park in gorgeous sunshine, and a lot of days when we go to the park in full waterproofs under a cloud of driving rain.

There are days when it feels easy and effortless; when I get to be fun Mummy, playing and singing; Pip and Elma nap at appropriate moments; I get to spend some one on one time with each of them; and I know that there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be.

And there are days where I feel like I must be the worst mother on the planet; where everyone’s tired and grouchy and there’s too much shouting all around and nothing useful’s been done and all the lovely activities I planned have had to be shelved, culminating in an epic meltdown by one of my children because their new toothbrush is their favourite colours of pink and purple and the very strong sense that if I don’t just get five minutes without anyone touching me so that I can go to the bathroom in peace I might actually scream. But there’s still nowhere in the world I would rather be.

That’s not specific to becoming a family of five though; that’s just life with pre-schoolers!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And in this way thirteen weeks has passed incredibly quickly. I remember saying that I wasn’t even going to think about ‘real clothes’ until the Little Bump was at least three months old. At the time it seemed like a great age, now that we’re here Pip’s just so tall and tiny he doesn’t seem ready for real clothes; I think we might just keep rocking the babygro look a little longer.  After all, you can’t baby a baby can you?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

In fact, just as my pregnancies have never lasted a mere 40 weeks I think I should get to apply the same sort of counting here and extend my fourth trimester to well, however long I want it to be. Babygros are awesome, especially the sort with polar bears on; leggings and nursing tops will cover a multitude of sins; the children are all happy and cuddled; we have food; we have clean laundry even if occasionally you have to go and hunt for it; and one of these days I’m going to miss that little chorus of “what doing Mummy?”.

For now let the fourth trimester continue. Or as we call it; real life – the good, the bad, the always wonderful.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life