Monthly Archives

August 2014

Baby Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Milestones Photography

Me and Mine – a family portrait for August


And then there were five.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I first joined in with the Me and Mine project because I wanted to record our life together in gradual milestones, not just the high days and holidays; I wanted to be able to look back and see those gradual changes; the evolution of babies to toddlers and toddler to remarkably tall little girl.  And then we found out that our family was going to be growing again and our monthly photos seemed to take on a whole new significance, all counting down to this moment.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

They aren’t the best of photos; but then this wee boy didn’t exactly give us a lot of time to start planning for beautiful photos, and then even the best of the weather this week has been cold and grey with a brisk breeze that makes me struggle to think of it as August, so no one really wanted to spend too much time running around outside, and even the judicious application of dolly mixture apparently couldn’t lift Kitty’s mood far from ‘over exhausted woe’, but they are and will always be incredibly special and treasured to me.

They are the very first photos of us all as a family of five.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And they are also the reason why taking our monthly photos matters, because without Me and Mine I’m sure I would have put off taking them, waiting on a perfect day or nicely matching clothes, or some other sort of excuse and suddenly it would have been Christmas and I’d have a computer full of photos of our girls; our beautiful son, perhaps even the occasional one with H in, but not the pictures that show our boy at four days old, completely and utterly adored, and completely and utterly oblivious to what’s going on around him as long as there are Mummy cuddles.

They are the epitome of treasured everyday ordinary; in as much as anything this week can be considered ordinary of course. And besides, with a bit of luck and a smidgen of sunshine I can continue my quest for the perfect family portrait next month.

But for now, this is my slightly bigger little family, in August.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


dear beautiful

Baby Elma Family Kitty Milestones Motherhood Pregnancy

41 Weeks and a Day of a Little Bump and Me


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well I did say I was quite determined not to be writing a 41 week update that didn’t include a baby didn’t I.

And perhaps that determination paid off.  Or, well, there are a few other candidates for successful methods of natural induction, but let’s begin at the beginning and Monday afternoon.  It was raining.  Pouring down in fact without the slightest hint of a break in the cloud.  We were tired after a busy weekend and the girls were at that point where you just have to leave the house.  So we bundled them into waterproofs and I took them down to Upton House with my Dad (who was staying with us on his way back south from a 50th birthday party of a family friend) while H stayed at home to enjoy a couple of hours in which he wasn’t being used as a climbing frame or having his head sat on.

The gardens at Upton were beautiful as always, spectacularly soggy, and the emptiest I’ve ever seen them, but once you’re wet you’re wet and we had a lovely time wandering round at Elma and Kitty pace, looking for fish in the mirror pool and trying to decide whether the beanstalks were tall enough for Jack to climb if they were taller than both Mummy and Grandpa, culminating in a trip to the tea shop for a well earned cream tea and an ice cream for Kitty.

And tea is perhaps where it all began, if you discount going for a nice long walk as a way to get things going which I shall do, if only on the basis that it’s mentioned in all of the pregnancy books and therefore must by very definition be a complete old wives’ tale. But tea, tea could be an option; the day before I went into labour with Elma I’d taken Kitty out for a very special last Mummy and Kitty tea and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if my children are extremely responsive to the lure of cake.

Meanwhile back at home, H appears to have been nesting. He’d washed up lunch and then decided that he might as well assemble the baby’s new Tripp Trapp, even if it wasn’t going to be needed for a little while.  Well the last time he built a Tripp Trapp from scratch I was already in early labour, the penny just hadn’t quite dropped yet.

It was all brewing into a perfect storm. And as the storm outside was getting ever wetter and my raincoat gave up doing up over the bump several months ago the explorers at Upton happily accepted an offer of a golf buggy ride back up the drive to the car park. Shades of a tractor ride, I thought with a wry smile and clung tightly to Elma as we bumped along on the very back of the buggy.

But I think the real tipping point was Kitty.  I’ve been asking her each morning whether she thought ‘Baby Pinky’ was coming today, and she’s always said no, so while she was curled up in my lap for a cuddle I asked her to tell Pinky it was time to be born.

“Okay; where’s her mouth?” she asked, and when I pointed to somewhere vaguely on the south side of the bump she lent in and said most determinedly,

“Come On Baby Pinky!”

And amidst everyone’s giggles and smiles I asked again;

“So is Baby Pinky going to be born today?”


No more than five minutes later, I felt an oddly familiar scrunching sort of pop feeling, and my waters went.

I’ve never started labour like that before.

One quick call to the hospital later and we were popping out the door “just for an hour or so” just to check that it was my waters and with a naive certainty that we’d be back. We didn’t even take the hospital bag.

Note to all pregnant girls: Always take the hospital bag.

Warwick Hospital isn’t very far away and it was no time before we were installed in the same bay of the assessment ward as we’d been for Kitty and Elma, and popped on a monitor to see what was going on.  The good news was that it was definitely my waters, the not so good news was that there was a trace of meconium in them; rather than going home to wait for things to get started I wasn’t going anywhere, and rather than 24 hours to get going I had an hour.

Well I tried. I bounced on a birth ball while I was on the monitors, did as much positive visualisation as I could manage, and waddled up and down the corridors whenever I could while H went home to retrieve the all important bag, feed the family and settle the girls for the night.

He bet me a dolly mixture (just the one) that it would all have done something but another examination put him in my debt to the tune of one small pink sweet and as Monday crossed into Tuesday we moved to plan B; a syntocin drip to induce labour, and a side order of exceptional grumpiness from someone who had really rather planned on spending as much of her labour at home as possible.

But life is what it is and I understood the reasons why I needed to stay, even if I didn’t particularly like them.  It also helped that we had a truly fabulous midwife. Zoe was very clear that while  I may well be on a drip and may well need to be monitored constantly that did not mean under any circumstances that we were going to tie me down to the bed (her words, give or take).  I’d already had my early monitoring bouncing on a gym ball and for the whole rest of my labour I could move to whatever position seemed most helpful, I got to come off the monitors if I needed to pop to the bathroom and if the biggest downside was having to pre-announce a plan to move, well that’s not exactly the biggest hardship.

And then this is the part where it gets a bit fuzzy.  I know I started with just the drip and H squeezing my hand during each contraction (which oddly helped me to relax into them far more than my squeezing his hand), and then after a little while they got a bit more intense and I put the TENS machine on.  I remember saying that I thought I might be ready for the gas and air and asking H and Zoe whether they thought it was time; H said “yes, four contractions ago at least” and Zoe had already got it out of the wall and set it up ready in the previous contraction.

I remember Zoe’s continued confidence that I would deliver on her shift and desperately hoping she was right (she was, and we even gave her an hour to write up her notes!).  I remember being examined after about four hours on the drip, steeling myself to being told I’d only made it to 3 or 4 cm and being hugely relieved to hear 7. And less than half an hour later 7 must have become 10 because the pushing started whether I wanted it to or not.  I may not have bitten the bed this time but I did clamp down on the mouthpiece for the gas and air hard enough to give myself an achy jaw the next day.

And then he was here; and we were holding our beautiful son.

And that’s the start of a whole new story.  The story of our beautiful boy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As for his name, he has one, and has since he was a few moments old.  I never know how clear it is that Kitty and Elma are not our daughters’ real names.  We decided when Kitty was born to take a leaf out of Daphne du Maurier’s book and say simply that she (and later her sister) have beautiful and unusual names, and while our boy’s names may be a little more commonly occurring, their meanings are special and they suit him down to the ground.  We’re still working on a blog pseudonym though, given that “Pinky” just doesn’t seem to quite work for a baby boy, so if you have any great suggestions, let me know!

And I can’t go without saying a massive thank you all for all your comments and messages for our family and our lovely boy, we treasure each and every one of them, and it means the world to me that he’s being welcomed with such joy!

Baby Family Pregnancy

Dear Love Everybody


Kitty and Elma would like you all to know that they are proud big sisters to a baby brother who arrived safe and sound yesterday morning weighing in at an impressive 9lb 9oz, all long legs and utterly gorgeous.

I’ll be back to tell a little bit more of the story of our Little Bump but for now here is a little peek at the most beautiful baby boy that ever there was.



Elma Family Kitty Living Arrows Photography

Living Arrows 34/52


I know you’ve seen Kitty’s pictures of our trip up to the windmill last week but it’s far to lovely a place for my camera not to have been pressed into action too.

It’s the first time I’d taken the girls up there on my own and I’d imagined that they’d both walk up what is a very gentle and not very long slope from where we park the car without any problems at all.  But that’s what happens when you plan for toddlers; Elma decided that she wanted to be carried and Kit started out being entirely unconvinced about the merits of windmills rather than play parks.

But when we got there and found that we had it entirely to ourselves, and the sunshine started to work its magic and the breeze took away the cobwebs and the cumulative effects of a morning spent running errands and going to the supermarket.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The windmill is basically in the middle of a farmer’s field, with an official track up to it that opens up to an apron of turf with the windmill at the back and a poster board about Roman settlements at the other that’s just perfect for being a windmill yourself if; or perhaps it was a helicopter!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Both girls have a complete fixation with this wall; it’s nice to perch on, but what they really really want to do is toddle along the top until we get to the point where I can’t reach over the nettles to hold their hands anymore, then turn around and toddle back.  Kitty doesn’t really need to hold my hand anymore but I think she likes it as part of a wall walking ritual, and anything that even vaguely encourages Elma to keep half a grip on something or someone a bit more stable is always a a good thing.

And that’s before we got to the windmill itself; every time we go there we talk about how it used to work; how the sails used to spin around, and even (thanks to a mostly hulled and discarded ear of corn found on the path) try to re-enact it – although I think there was quite a lot more milling of flour and a good deal less running

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

even if you are pretending to be milling while whizzing around in the sort of way that makes me certain that we’re not all going to get out of it staying on our feet at all times.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


But of all my photos of that visit, I think this might just be my favourite;

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My lovely eldest girl, perched in the sunshine.  She’s been going through a phase of pulling funny faces whenever she sees the camera, and if she doesn’t want to pose for a photo that’s completely OK by me; I love the candid shots that I get when she’s focussing on something or someone else; but every now and then I get a smile and I treasure it.

living arrows