Monthly Archives

August 2013

Baby Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine – a family portrait for August


Pinterest may yet be my downfall.  Given my propensity to aim high in a “go big or go home” kind of a way, and a few spare night time hours spent clicking pretty family pictures when reading required more consciousness than I had to spare, the itch to try something beyond simply plonking the children on our laps and clicking the shutter was irresistible.

The overall plan was simple.  Upton House is our favourite local National Trust property.  It has stunningly beautiful gardens that fall away from an expanse of flat lawn into the valley below, a great collection of Canalettos for H, a gorgeous 1920’s kitchen complete with double Aga for me to covet, and a lake full of fish for Kitty.  Elma is mostly happy just being where we are so she likes it too.  We come here fairly often, usually on days when we need a run around and I just can’t face entering the scrummage of the local play parks, but we’ve visited for Civil War re-enactments, as well as Jazz, Pimms and some unofficial dancing by Kitty on the terrace.  It’s the kind of place where you know you’ll find a lovely backdrop around every corner, and there’s every chance it’ll crop up in some Me and Mine photos in future months.

Well that was the big plan.  The detail included remembering to bring the actual tripod, putting together a picnic with a higher than usual biscuit and white chocolate quotient, encouraging Kitty to run around for a bit before even thinking about taking any photos, and then setting up for one of those oh so charming, seemingly spontaneous, natural family moments (preferably rendered in sepia) so beloved of the repinners.

It turns out that to run at the camera, while trying to fire the remote trigger, avoid tripping over your own rather bumbly feet, get everyone in focus, hold in your Mummy tummy, and check for random strangers in the background is a bit more multi-tasking than I can manage.

me and mine, upton house, national trust me and mine, upton house, national trust

But I love the results.  They aren’t perfect images by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve got a gazillion outtakes all in varying degrees of poor focus, extraordinary poses, or both.  They do however capture a moment, a silly afternoon of giggles and experimenting, and for me, it’s infectious; I can’t look at them and not smile.

But if I learned one thing for next time, it is perhaps that sometimes you really do need an actual real life photographer.  Well that and that I bite off more than I can chew and H doesn’t believe in being subtle with the remote – but I think we both knew that anyway.

me and mine, upton house, national trust

And so that we could properly see the changes in our little family from month to month, I plonked the family down on the steps at the top of a steep turf path heading straight down the hill to the lake, where Oxfordshire brick, Cotswold stone and dazzling geraniums competed for attention, for a little more of a traditional pose (and as insurance against having to deny all knowledge of ever trying to achieve anything more interesting!).

As you can see, they were thrilled:


So we mixed it up by swapping the children over.

me and mine, upton house, national trust

Kitty, blonde strands long ago escaped from the pretty hairdo she left the house with, wonders when on earth Mummy is going to stop taking photographs and from where on earth this promised ice-cream is going to materialise.  Don’t these people know that the shop’s in the opposite direction?

Elma, so much bigger than last month, and with so much more hair, tries to make sense of Mummy’s black box with the very chewable strap having become for once separated from Mummy, and ponders whether she could get to that rather exciting clicky thing without anyone noticing her eating it.

me and mine, upton house, national trust

My little family, in August.

And finally, I have living, walking, breathing, stopping-to-admire-the-shrubbery proof that no matter how conspicuous you think you’re making yourself running around with a camera, a tripod, a remote shutter and various members of your family pulling funny faces, you really really aren’t!


(it took two more photos – and my shutter isn’t especially quiet – before they finally noticed!)


dear beautiful
Family Kitty {this moment}

{this moment}


{this moment}

Daddy! You’re my Prince. You have to put your hand on my back – like this – and dance with me”

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary  moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out  the comments to Soulemama

Family Kitty Photography Uncategorized



A very lazy sort of Sunday had given way to a late Sunday lunch and therefore a late Sunday tea, so we were still out in the garden as the sun started to drift down.  Elma and I were lying in a big nest of quilts, surrounded by stuffies and her stacking cups, while H and Kitty performed the disappearing handkerchief trick, the latter’s version of which is to hurriedly stuff the hankie up her t-shirt and shout “It’s gone!” with a mixture of awe and steely determination.  If she could make it vanish by willpower alone it wouldn’t be seen this side of Christmas.

H went in to put the oven on for supper and reset a few tricks and Kitty, who’d been pottering around in her princess froofy twirly party skirt and Hello Kitty wellies for most of the day, thanks to a little over indulgence in the matter of the telly and Sofia the First, hopped up onto her trampoline.

And I grabbed the camera, rolled over, and pressed the shutter.






Kitty and the trampoline

If there’s one perk about the nights starting to draw in, and the annual farewell to long late summer’s evenings, it’s that the gorgeous light that comes just before dusk, also now comes just before small girl bedtime.  It makes it very easy to take photos that don’t need anything more than a little cropping, and that’s all these have.

I freely admit that I use Lightroom to tweak most of my photos.  They aren’t massive adjustments; I’m not adding things that aren’t there, and while I’ve been known to turn random strangers in the background into trees, I’m not into giving myself a face lift.  It’s mostly a question of fine tuning the exposure or the colour, or a little bit of sharpening, to bring the image on the screen as close as possible to the memory in my head.

But when every once in a while a picture pops up in the import box that I know I don’t need to touch, it feels so great to be as clever as my camera – for once.  Although I suspect it’s more a matter of luck.  Luck that the settings I’d left it on were suited to the evening sunlight, luck that the trampoline was positioned just to one side of the light so that she has a lovely halo around her without loosing her smiles into shadows, and more than anything, luck that she stayed bouncing long enough for me to take a photo.

She is so utterly absorbed in her bouncing, and so happy with it, I think they may be some of my favourite Kitty pictures of late, and they’re definitely going in the “print me” folder.




Baby Elma Family Milestones

Elma in Retrospect: December


I didn’t start doing my monthly picture reviews of Elma until she was five months, so as I’d really love to have a full set for her baby book I need to do a little photographic post dating whenever I get a minute. Starting of course, at the very beginning!



Books Family Kitty what we're reading

The Day the Crayons Quit {what we’re reading}


Before I had children I used to acquire books at a rate of knots that might to the casual observer suggest that I feared that the printed word was in imminent danger of extinction.  I’ve slowed down a little since the girls arrived, mostly because I’m not reading grown up books quite as fast any more, and if the pile beside my bedside table gets any higher there’s every chance that when it topples over at 1am I’ll become submerged in an ocean of paperbacks.  The fiction would be OK, but I’ve still got the Lightroom FAQs up there and no one wants that landing on their head in the middle of the night.

But there’s just something about new books that’s completely irresistible.  I don’t know whether it’s the feel or just the excitement of a new story, or whether I should be on Hoarders after all, but it is perhaps possible that I’ve simply transferred my habit to children’s books.  Well, it is me that’s reading them after all.


Today’s tale, The Day the Crayons Quit, is one of those books that really pushes at the boundary of bought-for-the-girls versus bought-for-me.  And by ‘pushes’ I of course mean ‘hurdles it effortlessly and runs a victory lap around the metaphorical field’.

I bought it for H.

I’d picked it up on a little detour into the bookshop in search of something new and lovely for Elma, and knew that H would love it, and love reading it to his mini artists in training.

It’s a simple enough concept; Duncan goes to get out his crayons and instead finds a little pile of envelopes, a letter from each colour in the box.

Purple is getting stressed about being used outside the lines, Red is feeling the strain of covering every major holiday, Pink protests gender stereotyping, and Peach, Peach would just like a label so that it can come out of the crayon box without blushing.


It’s Drew Daywalt’s first book, and I very much hope not his last, especially when you combine the humour of the letters with Oliver Jeffers’ trademark naïve illustrations.

Initially I thought it would be a little advanced for Kitty and it is clearly aimed at school age children, but she loved it, hugged it, carried it around the house, and requested it for bedtime story with a sleepy “crayons please!” for at least a week; always a sign of a success.


She likes to turn the pages, call out the colours, and has started to parrot a little of each story while we read, although she hasn’t quite decided whether pink or purple is her favourite page – it largely depends on what she’s wearing that day.


And by the looks of the little fingers sneaking into my photos…

Oliver Jeffers, Drew Daywalt, Toddler Book, Children's Books, Kid's Books, the Day the Crayons Quit

I think someone else is a fan too!



Maggie Stone
So what have you been reading this week? We’ve all been a bit busy with the Bank Holiday so there’s no linky today, but if you have been reading something lovely, please let me know in the comments, there’s still some space on our bookcases!