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May 2016

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2016: May


Every month when I start writing these updates I have to pull myself back from saying how fast the last month seems to have gone, but this time I really can’t: seriously, just what happened to May? I could have sworn it was only minutes ago that we were taking last minute photos in the bluebell woods, I had to check that I needed family photos this weekend not just sibling ones, and yet here we are, another month into the year.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: May - a family portrait series

So what of high speed May? Well it’s no surprise that it’s been a busy month.  The children have mostly been pottering along as usual although Kitty’s been busy at school with a food festival and all the excitement of the last week building up to half term which left her absolutely shattered and more ready for the break than I’ve seen her yet.

I’ve had the Berylune craft party, Birmingham Blog Camp, and I hosted a lunchtime seminar at work, the latter of which took up more time than you could ever imagine and means that I now know far more than I will ever be called on to recollect about King Canute and administrative subdivisions from the Doomsday Book.

For H, May was the month in which he very nearly caught my time at the Leeds half marathon in tremendous heat and (as predicted in the video), after a few more beers, entered the Birmingham half in the autumn. It was a Steve Redgrave moment that surprised only him, the rest of us know that while he can still run he won’t stop until the family PB is his. Or at least, no longer mine; if he passes the racing bug on to the children I think our lanky little ones could prove a serious challenge.

But before all the long running kicks in again, he’s been playing golf in all available moments in anticipation of a long weekend away with the lads in a couple of weeks.  Three of them went last year and he won their tournament easily; this year there are four and the win isn’t so much a foregone conclusion; hence lots of practicing.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: May - a family portrait series

And then there’s just the reality of life with three little ones.  We have a sign in our hall that says “tired parents and happy kids live here”, and it’s never seemed truer: May has gone past in a flash because our lives are full, but for the most part full of the things that make us happy and content.  Life is noisy and busy and despite all my Marie Kondo efforts, I’m still harbouring doubts that our house will ever look neat and tidy for more than 30 seconds.

This month I was a little more organised than usual, if be organised we mean that we took the photos on Saturday rather than yesterday.  They’re from our day exploring All Things Wild which had the multiple advantages of having pretty spots for photos and a friend who takes lovely photos (including our wedding photos) who could be persuaded to wield the camera.

We’re all perched up on a giant log by the side of the play area, having peeled Elma away from playing tug of war against herself and retrieved Pip from the football pitch, albeit with the footballs.  We tried taking pictures without the football butMaster Pip Squeak was full of woe without it, so back it came!

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: May - a family portrait series

It turns out that my children are just as happy to ignore their very dear friend wielding a camera as they are the camera on its own with only the remote trigger to line us all up, but with the able assistance of his lovely L waving at them in the background, we do have a photo of all of us looking at the camera – even if Pip looks deeply suspicious of anyone trying to distract his attention from defending his football against all comers and all sisters;

my family, in May:


And although it’s not a picture of all five of us, I couldn’t resist saving this picture as a sort of out-take;

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016:May - a family portrait series

they do make the cutest little family of meerkats!

The Me and Mine Project

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip

My little adventurer


Pip is an explorer. I know this because when I got home from work on Friday, as I came back out of the kitchen from having stuck my head in to say hi to H while her was cooking, the front door (which I had definitely shut behind me) was most mysteriously open.  Kitty and Elma were noisily evident, playing some hysterically funny game which involved them rolling across the lounge floor and cackling but Pip? Young Master Pip Squeak was swiftly discovered to be trotting down the drive clad only in his nappy and a liberal application of purple felt tip pen.

So you what do you do with an explorer but take him somewhere where he can roam to his heart’s content.  And so yesterday we loaded up the car with all five of us, a bag full of picnic bits and bobs and set off to All Things Wild to meet up with a couple of our very closest friends to enjoy the rarity of sunshine on a bank holiday.

Pip loved it.  We all loved it; it was fun to be with friends and to enjoy being outdoors, and I enjoyed seeing the animals, but it was in watching Pip that the park really started to come alive.  He sat on the bench next to me for lunch, dunking carrots into a cup of lemonade and entirely ignoring any other more traditional picnic food, and all the time he was looking around in every direction, just trying to take it all in, and probably wondering just how much longer he had to sit still before breaking free and making for the play area, and I think he might have been perfectly happy there all day, but we scooped him up under one arm and set off to explore; jog-walking down the path until he’d see something of interest and stop, suddenly froze while he took it all in, and the beetle in question leisurely wandered out of the way.Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

The tractor was love at first sight. He threw himself at it and when the girls ran over to join him and tried to do a little steering for themselves they were met with the fiercest objections and howls of disapproval until they bounced off in search of the lemurs returning it to his sole control.Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

I’m not entirely sure he worked out what we were looking at in some of the enclosures, a fair few of the animals were very sensibly hiding themselves from the hot sunshine and so it wasn’t until we met up with a rhea named Samuel that I think he realised that there were animals about.  Samuel trotted around the edge of his paddock keeping pace with us as we walked and he and Pip seemed rather to be eyeing each other up. First one would walk along, and then the other, and then Pip would dip back to us and so would Samuel, and so they danced right up until we went around a corner and found a dark chocolate shetland pony, keeping very still in the shade of the nearest tree.  Samuel was passed over in a moment while Pip eyed up the “horsie” that seemed to be so exactly his size.

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

He stood and watched, and tried to make sense of what he was seeing,

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

and then ducked down to peer under the gate to see if that made it any more logical before finally deciding that he liked it. Whatever it was.

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

But from then on, every fence, every wire mesh, might just be the gateway to something interesting, and his interest in exploring the bins in their little wooden huts (already well developed over lunch) kicked up another notch.

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

There were monkeys and meercats and it was all almost exciting enough to entirely divert him from the favourite pastime of gathering large handfuls of gravel or bark chippings.

The land train though was clearly on another level to gravel.  With a “look! Mama! Car!!!” he settled in to enjoy himself, firmly pinned down by both parents while Kitty and Elma pointed out all the model dinosaurs that he was missing in solely focussing on the Land Rover at the front of our gentle procession.

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

And as the day came towards its end we moved from wild animals to simply running wild; all three children got heavily stuck in to the sand pits, and pretending to be Palaeontologists (complete with crashed helicopter and jeep),

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

and then we found the play areas with a tug of war set up, football, a basketball hoop and of course, the go-carts.

Space for the Butterflies - my little explorer - Pip and all the family at All Things Wild

With Elma roping into do a bit of the leg work, and H pedalling gently for both himself and for Pip, my little family gently circled the track; a far cry from the scene a few minutes earlier when H and Kitty went tearing around in clouds of dust and handbrake turns.

Pip and I finished the day as we started, as he made repeated attempts to sprint straight out of the door of the soft play and back into the playground but I’m pretty sure that the last couple of attempts were just to test that I’d still follow.

It was hard to mind. Coated in ice cream, dust and a good bucketful of sand, and at that point where tiredness just starts to become overwhelming, he looked like the epitome of the best sort of day out – and so it had been.

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments


Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

22/52 {the 2016 portraits}


Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Kitty: Looking both so very grown up and so little all at the same time. It’s been a hot day today so I’m not surprise you were tired; with all the telltale signs of sucking your thumb and curling your hair.  One day you’ll have grown out of it, and it just won’t be quite the same.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/125, f/5, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Elma: Ever so excited to go on the road train – but just not too sure about the reality – especially when we started driving past all the life size dinosaur models!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/250, f/5, ISO 500)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait every week

Pip: Oh my little boy! Today on our travels we found a sandpit and that was it, you were off in your own little world, pottering around, stirring and shovelling and trying to make sandcastles; so very happy and so very deep in thought.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/320, f/5, ISO 100)

Finished Handmade Quilting

Morning Star


Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

Of all of the blocks that I’ve made so far for the SugarBlock Club, this one has been the biggest challenge. And I say one with a reason because so far this month I’ve only managed to make just the one, to bring the block collection to nine.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

I have every intention of making another one, and I had every intention of making two as usual when I printed out the paper templates last week but then I sat down to start making the blocks and realised just how much I rely on chain piecing and making two blocks at the same time to speed up my piecing.

With paper piecing it’s one block at a time and one seam at a time. Or in my case, one seam at least four times. I’ve done a little foundation piecing before but it took me a while to get my head back around it again (possibly a reason not to start sewing at 10pm when you’re already tired) and there was one seam that I sewed and ripped out and sewed and ripped out until there was barely any paper holding together and I was certain that it was never ever going to work.

But we got there in the end, and slowly bit by bit the block started to come together.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

I do love the result. It’s a beautiful star and worthy of the name. Morning Star is the name of a boat I used to sail on when I was a teenager and it brings back many happy memories. It looks like a morning star too doesn’t it; light and bright with all the white space, the ghost of a star against the dawn.

For this block I used up the very last of my bee fabric and the very last of those green flowers. I was trying to fussy cut to get a bee in each point but there wasn’t quite enough, so we have six bees and two spots where the bee got impatient and zoomed off to somewhere else in the quilt.

And so now there are nine blocks.

Space for the Butterflies - May in the Sugarblock Club - Morning Star

Laid out together they aren’t quite a cohesive whole yet, and I can easily spot a couple of blocks that I’d pull and replace if I wanted to turn this into a nine patch but we’re not even half way through the year yet and I think I’m going to have to wait and see until the end to decide whether I’ve got one giant 24 patch quilt or two 12 patch plus additions on my hands.

I haven’t chosen the fabric for the companion one just yet but I’m thinking yellow and something, probably yellow and one of the greens to add a little balance to the quilt. What would you choose?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 And at last the day has come – today is the last day of voting in the MADs – I’m a MADs Finalist inthe Best Craft Blog category this year and I would love your vote, all the details are here or click on the banner below and I promise I won’t ask again now until next year’s nominations!  Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has voted, it means the world to me.


Family Garden

In the growing garden


The spinach has grown! Frankly it’s a minor miracle and I’ve spent most of the week convinced that I’d lost another bed full of seeds to the local cats but it seems that this is the year that the spinach is fighting back, and it’s lovely to see that little haze of green at the end of the garden.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

And in return for their tenacity I’ve upped my game in the cat prevention stakes too. We went outside on Sunday for me to weed and thin the parsnips and the kids to dig in the patch of mud that is now very firmly their own but I couldn’t let them play, and frankly I didn’t want to myself as it was abundantly clear that whichever cat it is had decided to co-opt three of the four veg beds as their own. When so many people who have cats train them to use their litter trays or keep them as indoor pets it baffles me that it’s socially acceptable to allow a cat to soil my garden when it really isn’t for a dog or any other pet. And as even the netting wasn’t working as a deterrent any more I may have had one of those grown up tantrums where you stomp around muttering under your breath about how completely ridiculous it is while also getting three children dressed in something that they can go to the shops in, bundling them into the car and heading out in search of something to make it stop.

From the size of the cat deterrent section in the pest control aisle I’m in good company. I don’t want to put anything down that the children could touch, or that would be a bad idea for the veggies so our latest addition to the garden is a little black sensor that surveys my growing garden from the back corner. If it spots anyone or anything in the veg garden it clicks (which I can hear) and apparently also lets off a high pitched squeal which is both audible and off putting to cats. And so far , as far as I can tell, it’s working.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

Which is definitely a relief because I think the sugar snap peas are about to sprout and I’d be really gutted to loose those.

The parsnips have started to sprout little feathery tops, and still desperately need thinning, and the purple beans that survived are looking good, though I don’t think I’m going to need to do any thinning there.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

The onions and garlic are growing strongly but so too are the weeds and I’m itching to get out there and start getting it all tidied up.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

And last but by no means least, the fruit garden is in bloom (ably tended by my chief assistant). The blackcurrant bush is pottering along; I’m not actually sure what blackcurrant blooms look like or when I should expect them, I just remember that the fruit should be there in August so that will be a nice surprise whenever it next does something, and all the strawberries are in full bloom which makes me think I’m going to need to rebuild the netting, at least over that end, but this time to keep out the birds.

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

It’s a time of anticipation; we’re not eating anything from the garden just yet, but I know that it’s only going to be a few weeks until we can pick the spinach and strawberries and the beans and peas won’t be too far behind. And then there’s the longer promise, there are teeny tiny little seedlings in the ground right now that will be our Christmas parsnips- always assuming we don’t snaffle them up first!

Space for the Butterflies - the Growing Garden

 I’m certain you’ve all voted by now but just in case you’ve been under a rock – or actually weeding your garden – I’m a MADs Finalist inthe Best Craft Blog category this year and I would love your vote, all the details are here or click on the banner below