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July 2015

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2015: July

31/07/2015

After my last couple of Me and Mine pictures turned out to be pictures that I liked rather than truly truly loved and wanted to put on the wall, I’ve been reading around and around and around trying to pick up tips and tricks to improve my photography, and the big thing that kept coming through was that for a family of five, I need to plan.  The vast majority of my pictures are candid, or sort of semi-candid, we rarely go out on a specific photo shoot, I just take the camera with me almost every time I leave the house, the remote trigger lives in my handbag and the buggy makes a great impromptu tripod.  If we see somewhere pretty we can stop and take a picture and the most planned we get is the increase in the number of trips to pretty places towards the end of the month.

But for this month I decided that we were going to have an actual proper photo shoot.  We were going to go up to the windmill in the late afternoon sunshine and it was going to be glowing and lovely and everyone would be smiley and happy because it’s such a happy place to be.

Well this is England, and July, and when I finally glimpsed a teeny tiny gap in the cloud and the merest hint of blue sky, it was all systems go; children into car, camera and tripod and iPhone and finally H who I’m almost certain would rather have stayed at home to watch The Ashes, and off we went.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

I’m claiming that that little bit of slightly brighter sky that you can see just behind us is the sunshine that I promised them.  They don’t look entirely convinced do they.

But the advantage of the windmill on an ‘it’s almost about to rain’ afternoon is that everyone else has far more sense and it’s deserted.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

The one man and his dog who were there had headed home but the time we made it up the hill so I thought we’d try a few long range shots to get the windmill in too, and while you may not be able to see it, these are the photos in which everyone has the biggest smiles.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

Because my remote trigger doesn’t cover the 20 something metres between the wall and the camera, so the only way to do it was to press the timer, and run.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

For the record, H, Kitty and I all managed the sprint by ourselves, but carrying a baby Pip and trying to run without jiggling him is …. more of an effort!

By this point the clouds were darkening and I was steadfastly ignoring anything that might have been a spit of rain, and after a ration of mini oreo cookies to all but the smallest member of the family, I tried for the illusive, all five looking at the camera shot.

But my sweet little Pip had other ideas.  Poor boy, he’d been carried up the hill in the sling, sprinted across the grass and passed from pillar to post while we ran back and forth to the camera and he wanted out and down and time and space to wriggle and show off his latest trick

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

 

He’s so determined to keep up with everyone else, and if that means hanging onto the wall so he can stand up, then the wall it is.  And while I know you can’t see his smile, I promise it’s there and broader than ever.

And then, as the first drops seriously started to fall, and mere moments before we all hightailed it into the bottom of the windmill to wait for the squall to pass.  Kitty’s telling me that it’s awfully windy, Elma is waving and Pip’s expression is utter confusion, but we’re all looking at the camera – it’s a wonder the heavens didn’t open and a heavenly chorus appear (or maybe they did and angels travel by raindrops).

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

So here we are, my little family, in July.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

Next month’s challenge; encouraging small people to smile at a black box on a stick.

And now of course for the best part: the outtakes.

I’ve only got one, taken just after the last family shot.  The girls are sprinting for cover, H has walked forward to pick the camera up and Pip and I are following and it’s all very much as your would expect, except for Pip’s expression.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

 

He does not look impressed with the camera; that’s a pure “you are not allowed to steal my Mama” look, usually reserved for sisters!

dear beautiful

Elma Family Kitty Pip Sponsored Post

First Aid for Little Ones from the British Red Cross

31/07/2015

If we had a family yearbook in the style of all cheesy American High School films, the award for “Most Likely to be in A&E with Mama” would have to go to this little lady.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

It’s true, Kitty may have had a few visits to the out of hours doctor when what was a small sniffle at the beginning of the day ramped up to a full blown chest infection over the course of a day at nursery, but it’s Elma who specialises in the bumps and bruises.  She’s remarkably good at climbing anything and everything, but give her a nice flat surface to run over and somehow she’ll go tumbling.  She is also absolutely adamant that there is nothing Kitty can do that she can’t do and nowhere Kitty can go that she can’t follow.

Kit’s four and the size of an eight year old. Elma … isn’t.

She’s my complete lack of spatial awareness combined with H’s no fear attitude.

And sometimes she’s just unlucky, like the time she slipped climbing out of Kitty’s bed and somehow managed to cut a chunk out of her lip on the corner of a toy box.  Cue lots of blood, and a trip to A&E with a screaming baby in the back of the car and several hours sat on the floor while she dozed in my lap

Which has made it pretty handy that H has, over the years, built up a considerable body of experience of minor injuries and how best to treat them.  He’s great with an ice pack for bumped knees, cleaning the gravel out of grazes, and making sure that when a certain young lady (a one year old Kitty) suddenly decided to lean forward and head butt the table in the Leicester Square Bella Pasta it didn’t turn into a big egg on her forehead by application of the appropriate pressure and the ice out of my glass of water.

I’m not sure that he’s ever studied for a first aid certificate, he’s just spent a lot of time on the hockey pitch, and the cricket pitch, and the five aside football pitch, and, well we’ve yet to find a sport he doesn’t like.

My first aid certificate expired a while ago and I know I’d like to update it again some day soon.  I can remember being in the third trimester of my pregnancy with Kitty and starting to feel a little in awe of the responsibility of looking after whoever this little baby was going to be, but it turns out that if Elma’s anything to go by, the baby stage is the easy bit when it comes to needing to know first aid.

The British Red Cross runs some great first aid courses, and to fill in any gaps in my knowledge until I get on one, I’ve been playing with their free app with a little help from some friends.

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This is a new app specifically focussing on babies and children, and it’s a great resource for when you want to consult Dr Google, but know that you really really shouldn’t because nothing good ever comes of it.

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The Prepare section is full of common sense advice for going out and about, with some great suggestions for impromptu first aid and a checklist for your first aid box and the Learn section has let me brush up on some of the bits that I’m a bit rusty on, and then for a bit of fun there’s a little quiz at the end.

And if one of your little ones is on medication there’s even a section for keeping track of what they’re taking, when and how.

There’s also an Emergency button in the middle – which I haven’t dared press yet.  Long many there continue to be a complete absence of emergencies around here.

First aid isn’t rocket science, but I think it is something that I want to be second nature to me.  I want the mental muscle memory to be there so that if something does happen to one of the children, I don’t worry about what to do, I just do it.

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So if you too are feeling a little rusty and want to brush up your first aid, you could take a course with the BRC, and in the meantime, click here to get your free baby and child first aid app.

Post sponsored by the British Red Cross. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page

 

Family Garden Photography

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden: 30 July 2015

30/07/2015

Oh me of little faith.

One week after its long soak in the recycling bucket, careful planting and treading in, and leap of faith pruning, this is my blackcurrant bush.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Do you see? Look carefully and there are little green shoots poking out from the stems.  It’s still alive! I haven’t killed it! The relief is palpable.

I’m going to attribute it to dedicated care and attention but the truth is that it’s thrived in a complete absence of any attention other than an occasional hard stare.  And the reason? Well let’s just say I haven’t watered it, or any other part of the garden this week, because I haven’t had to.  It has been raining like a child left alone with a hose.  All week, and it seems that the blackcurrant loves it.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Unfortunately my strawberries seem to be suffering from a lack of sunshine; they’re getting bit but they’re not turning red, they just look pale pink and slightly bedraggled.  It’s a very sorry state of affairs for what looks to be a great crop so I’ve got all my fingers crossed for some sunbeams next week.

On the other hand, the tomatoes in the back garden are growing nicely, as are the beans (we have two flowers now) and miracle of miracles, the courgette has another flower.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Well it might be the same courgette or it might be the other one.  If it falls off I’m definitely claiming that it’s the other one, and my garden fairy (my aunt) tells me that they do have male and female flowers so all may yet be well.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And in the other bed, well nothing much is happening.  I have a packet of Pak Choi seeds on my desk to go in the spot where we had garlic, but I’m afraid I’m turning out to be a fair-weather farmer this week and I haven’t gone out to plant them.  I don’t mind the wet and rain and cold when it’s autumn or winter, and I can even cope with it in the Spring, but I am absolutely certain that July does not call for wind, driving rain and the need for full waterproofs, a scarf, and a hat.  The garden can just wait until I can get back to it without multiple layers of clothing.

Now then, back to considering whether it would look too silly if I put an umbrella over the strawberries to give them a bit of a break!

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden so far:

23 July 2015

16 July 2015

9 July 2015

3 July 2015

25 June 2015

18 June 2015

11 June 2015

4 June 2015

28 May 2015

21 May 2015

14 May 2015

Elma Exploring Family Handmade Kitty Pip Quilting Reading Sewing

Five things for a Tuesday:

28/07/2015

1. This morning I woke up and went to find a jumper.  Pip was snuggled up in his winter Gro-bag and H appeared to be wearing wooly socks.  Despite the fact that it is not actually raining right this second, where oh where is the summer of sunshine we dreamed of.  Somehow whenever I imagined our summer as a five, it had long hot days spent under the trees at the park and in the splash pool, not curled up at home because it’s too wet even for us fresh air fiends to get out and about.

Space for the Butterflies

We’ve been contemplating a trip to Europe this summer for a while, but last week’s weather sealed our fate and we came home from the Library with a massive bag of travel books.  So far our plans are, tent plus camping gear plus family in the car, drive to Portsmouth/Poole, ferry to Cherbourg to avoid the chaos at Calais, and then….  Well then we’ve thought of Paris, Normandie, Brittany, Spain and there’s an outside bid from Switzerland.  Personally I’m championing anywhere that speaks French because that’s the only European language I can manage more than “I’m English, do you speak English, where is the …?” and if we could make it that far south I would love to take a selfie outside the swimming pool in La Rochelle (which will only make sense if you too learned your French from Tricolour 4).

So as I know there are lots of wonderfully well travelled people who read, where would you go on holiday in Europe for a little summer sun?

2. I’ve just finished my free trial of Mummy Workouts.  As a Mama to three little ones, two of whom are breastfed, and one of whom wakes up again during the evening and scream at anyone else, I don’t really get to do much exercise.  I also don’t have a huge amount of motivation to do any exercise, I like cake and blogging and knitting and sewing so much more.  Actually leaving the house doesn’t work for me because I can’t guarantee that I can get out with any regularity, and while I’ve tried exercise DVDs I just found I got cross at them, firstly because they got boring, and secondly because I am spectacularly inflexible, and rather lanky so I can’t touch my toes, or anywhere near.  Anything that says “just put your hands on the floor and….” has a tendency to be growled at.

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(picture clearly not me! I could show you me but I just look hot and sweaty and I think you can imagine it)

Mummy Workouts is different; it’s actually a live class.  It means that the instructor can see me and hear me if she wants and so when my downward dog in the yoga class was nowhere near downward or dog like, Tina could give me some tips about what sort of shape to make and how to get the right sort of movement, working with what I’ve got.  I’m far from perfect but I’m a lot nearer than I was and that makes it all the more fun.

The classes also change.  Even if the routine you’re doing is exactly the same, the talk through is always going to be slightly different and that makes a huge difference to my motivation/boredom levels.

It’s Body Workout and Yoga tonight and I’m signing up again, and hopefully my dog will be ever more downward!

3. As well as raiding the library for travel books I’ve also had a little influx of new cookbooks (thank you birthday bunnies), including this one, The CSA Cookbook.  I found out about it while hunting for advice on when to harvest garlic, and came across the wonderful Garden Betty blog (which does include advice on garlic!).  The cookbook is about making use of veggies that you find at the farmer’s market, grow yourself, or get in your veg box, especially the ones you might not recognise or be quite sure what to do with, and it takes a ‘nose to tail’ approach to veggies (borrowing from the idea that if you’re going to eat meat you should have a use for every part of the animal and not waste it).  Did you know that you can slice up the pale green section of a watermelon rind and put it in stir-fry for example? It’s been eye-opening, and yummy, and there’s a very pretty trailer here:

4.  Did you know Oliver + S is having a pattern sale?  This only makes sense if you like making clothes for small people but if you do – run there now.  They have a number of paper patterns at 60% off which makes them spectacularly good value and a small (see H, small) number may be winging their way to me just as soon as I can decide which ones! It finishes on July 31st, hence the running!

5. Kitty and I have a new project.  We discovered The Bramble Patch on the way home from an adventure this week and as well as adding to my stash of books, fabric and tiny rulers, she is now the proud owner of five fat quarters of batiks with a plan to turn them into a quilt.  Space for the Butterflies

I’m thinking of doing a sort of subway tile pattern.  Initially we thought squares but I’d like her to have a go at sewing on the machine (with me in control of the foot and going very slowly) and as I find it hard enough to match points as an adult, I think it could be frustrating to do it as a four year old, hence the change to something with a step out so we’re not trying to match things up.

Space for the Butterflies

But am I missing something obvious here, is there an ideal pattern than only takes five fat quarters and is perfect for small sewers? I’m not averse to adding a contrast neutral but while I have more batik in the stash that I’d happily contribute, I’d actually like it to be all Kitty’s fabric because they were her choices.

And they’re rather gorgeous choices too; just look at that lovely orange!

Elma Family Kitty Living Arrows Photography Pip

Living Arrows 2015: 30/52

27/07/2015

Living Arrows: a little moment of the week to pause, savour and treasure

My default setting when we’re having a tough day is to get out of the house.  Get outside, find the sun on your skin, dance in the raindrops, sprint down winding paths under a canopy of seemingly endless pine trees, in short, do whatever you need to do to give everyone that space to breathe, to find their balance and to come back together as a whole five, hopefully minus whatever was making us tetchy in the first place.  It’s a gift of space, a chance to sigh and let it all out, and generally it works, even if there are some days when it takes a little while.

On Saturday afternoon, as soon as Pip started stirring at the end of his nap I was calling to the girls to find their shoes and go to the bathroom because we were all going OUT.

“Where Mama?” they asked

“Just OUT!”

OUT in this case was the little woodland nearest to our village.  It’s a couple of minutes drive and if they’d build a friendlier footpath it would almost be walking distance from home.  And once you’re in, the trees quickly shield you from the lane that runs around it, and if you can imagine the motorway hum to be the sea crashing against a shingle beach, far away in the distance, you could be anywhere in the world.  It smells of the fresh green of bracken unfurling, and the warmth of pine needles underfoot.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

And so we walked, well four of us walked and Pip snuggled up in the sling.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

We jumped off tree stumps, squelched around muddy puddles, went to explore a lovely pine tree that turned out to be a prickly dead end, and when even that didn’t seem to be working and a sad and sulky little face declared that she never wanted to come here ever ever again, we ran.  Races from tree to tree, and then just full pelt as fast as a little girl and a Mama with a hulking great big eleven month old in a sling can manage.  And finally, a smile.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

A smile that broadened as we rounded the corner and came upon a field of gold, glimmering in the late afternoon sunshine.  We stopped, just drinking in that view, and then as the others caught up, sat on the edge of the field to talk about combine harvesters, straw bales, and the few heads of wheat that had escaped the combine.

Space for the Butterflies - Living Arrows

As we made our way back to the car H and I knew that we were late for supper, and that we’d stayed out at least an hour longer than we intended, but it didn’t matter, OUT was where we had all needed to be.