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February 2016

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2016: February

29/02/2016

I really shouldn’t be sat here thinking “how is it that a whole month has gone since I was last writing a Me and Mine post” because (a) I’m 35 years old and I really should have figured it out by now and (b) there’s even an extra day to February to help me out.  As an aside, is it just me that loves the whole concept of 29 February.  A day that only comes around once every four years just has a kind of magic about it and I’m hoping that today proves terribly efficient or exciting or something to make it extra special – or if all else fails I’ll go out at lunchtime to get cake for the team!

Anyway, I digress.  February may have passed quickly but thankfully not manically.  By the time I wrote my January post things were showing signs of slowing down a little bit at work and that prediction proved accurate; this month has been so much calmer; I’ve been able to choose what I do each day at work based on what I want to do and not what needs to be done before it implodes and it’s given me the time to do ambition and long term strategy sorts of things too, which are always the first to go by the board when life gets busy.  And of course it means that I’ve been home earlier and home without my laptop and oh  that is a level of bliss quite unimaginable to the January me.  We also realised, mostly this weekend when H had a home game, just how many away games he’s been playing since the start of this year; clue – it was all of them.

And so if January was busy and pressure and holding ourselves together under stress, February has been unwinding and relaxing and relishing being together.  We had an overnight away with my in-laws that was a lot of fun despite just about every plan we made for the whole weekend coming unstuck, and we’ve had lazy days at home.  And it means we’ve had the mental space to start making progress on a few of our plans for this year.  We’re trying out a few different ways of arranging our lounge, and as of yesterday afternoon we’ve even decided on a colour to repaint it, which it badly needs, I don’t think we’ve painted since we moved in. 10 years ago.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

And amazingly, and possibly the loveliest thing about this month; the sun came out.  Oh how we have missed it. And so all of our pictures this month were taken, not in a crazy mad rush on a Saturday morning between ballet class and hockey matches with grey skies glowering in the background, but on a Wednesday (a work at home day) after school and work.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

That the children are all eating their snack is what happens when you try to take pictures of a family of five and the smallest members of the family confuse “we’ll take pictures and then have a snack” with “we’ll take one picture and then if you want one in focus and with us appearing in it in any state other than howling misery you will provide the snack then and there” so please forgive the noshing.  Where photography is concerned I am apparently putty in their hands, and I suspect they’re beginning to realise it. Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

And given our February it seems only fitting that these are pictures from home, and from our garden in particular; we’ve spent so much more time out there this month, playing hockey, pottering around the garden, making plans for this year’s veggie growing, and even hitting my favourite spring milestone of the first load of line-dried laundry.

In short, it’s been a good month.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

My family, in February:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

And because I can’t resist a good outtake – one of my favourite poses for our family pictures is to have everyone kiss whoever is in the middle; it usually makes everyone giggle so I either get a good photo then, or a good photo in the laughter afterwards.  I say usually ….

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

…apparently Kitty just wasn’t that keen on all the affection!

The Me and Mine Project

Family Photography Pip {the ordinary moments}

Like Father Like Son

28/02/2016

While I am the epitome of “bags of enthusiasm, very little talent” when it comes to all things sporty, H has never met a sport he didn’t like.  As a child and in his teens he played hockey, football, ice hockey, rugby, learnt figure skating and competed for North of England schools in cross country and athletics. At university he played in Cuppers (inter-college competiton) for everything his college entered, including lacrosse, which he’d never played before, and ballroom dancing (ditto).  Even when we were first married and had jobs and other things to occupy our time he was playing hockey, five a side football, had taken up taekwondo, oh and we were training for a marathon, and if I say that now he only plays hockey in the winter and cricket in the summer, and trains with friends all year around, oh and plays a bit of golf when he gets the chance, you can see why I truly do mean “only”.  In short, he loves sport, and he’s one of those people that’s annoyingly good at anything he tries.

And I think Pip might just be the spit of his Daddy when it comes to sport.  He’s loved rolling a ball across the floor and chasing after it since he was crawling, only nowadays it’s less of a gentle roll and more of a full on overarm lob.  He likes throwing things, frequently small wooden blocks, not at someone, just watching them bounce down the length of the lounge and I have a funny feeling that our “no throwing indoors until you can pass your indoor throwing certificate” that has worked so well for the girls won’t cut the mustard with Pip because he probably could get the beanbags in the laundry basket.

When Elma petitioned H for a mini table top table tennis set when they were shopping the other week it was Pip who made off with the paddle and ball; hitting the latter down the hallway and toddling after it, and it’s Pip who can most often be found trying to make off with H’s hockey sticks.

So imagine his delight to be at Grandma and Grandad’s last weekend; the home of all of H’s sporting beginnings and a lot of sporting equipment.

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

There are always a couple of golf clubs propped up against the wall in the garden for (gentle) practice shots and every time we went out into the garden he made a beeline for them, and the golf balls hiding in the flower beds like a sport-based Easter egg hunt. That the golf clubs were nearly as big as him was apparently not a problem, he could see what Daddy was doing (and to a lesser extent Mummy – I do one good shot in about every five!) and where we go, there Pip follows, watching us all very intently and then desperately trying to copy.  I’m actually quite impressed that he can even made the end of a golf club connect with the ball at all – it took me ages to be able to hit the ball off the tee more times than I missed and I was in my twenties when I tried to learn.

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

But if he thinks golf is fun, hockey looks set to be as much of a passion for him as it is for H.  Pip is properly obsessed with playing hockey; he will bring you a hockey stick until you stop whatever you’re doing and play.  He will happily play with one of the many many full size sticks that rattle around our house, though he prefers Kitty’s junior stick, so when his grandparents found his auntie’s mini stick it was as if all his Christmases had come at once.  Finally, a Pip-sized hockey stick!

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

He spent the entire weekend trailing it after him, and accidentally clonking people around the ankles, and getting his ball stuck in corners, and just occasionally making contact with the ball and sending it spinning across the room. Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

When H and I first moved into our own house I remember his parents commenting that after years of having him playing hockey up down and around their house it was nice to see that he did exactly the same in his own house. I think he must have given them heart failure on a regular basis given teenage boys think that practicing reverse stick aerials from half way down the stairs is a perfectly sensible thing (though fairness requires me to mention that he never actually broken his parents’ house playing hockey – the radiator was a dart and the dining room window was an ice hockey puck – H says the irony is that as he’s very good at hockey he’s only broken himself playing).

Space for the Butterflies - Like Father Like Son

And so I look at my husband, who still plays hockey inside, though more gently now we have lots of little people with squishable fingers running around, and then I look at his son, and I can so clearly see our future: really really good home insurance!

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

9/52 {the 2016 Portraits}

27/02/2016

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

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Kitty: The second youngest of your Daddy’s first cousins is about 20 months older than you but in bare feet there’e not a hair’s difference in height between you, which means that when he came to play at Grandma and Grandad’s last week the pair of you hit it off within minutes.  I’m not sure how often D plays Mummies and Daddies but you both got completely wrapped up in looking after your ‘baby’, right to the point that you were still giving care instructions about feeding and naps out of the car window as we pulled away.  And when it was his turn to pull out the toys you loved having a very gentle drive up and down on his quad bike.  Proof if ever it were needed that toys really are just toys.

And as for that gorgeous smile of yours – well this is what you were looking at:

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

It’s a good job Grandma has a flat roof so Daddy can rescue his drone isn’t it!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/100, f/4, ISO 320)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Elma: You were too little to be playing on quad bikes, and you didn’t want your scooter out so I was a little curious as to why you were so insistent on wearing your helmet to push your dolly’s pram.  The answer – if Daddy’s going to be flying his drone then you wanted to be wearing a helmet.  That may actually have been a pretty smart move.  See previous picture!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/100, f/4, ISO 320)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Pip: Armed (and that really is the right word) with your auntie’s old miniature stick, I have so many pictures of you playing hockey this week, but this is my favourite, and mostly because I look at that picture and I can see your Daddy even more clearly than normal, and you’re the spit of him at 18 months anyway.  This is a pose that I’ve seen a hundred times up and down hockey pitches on cold and windy Saturday afternoons and I suspect it won’t be too long before you’re joining in.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/80, f/4, ISO 400)

Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Kitty Knitting Photography Sewing

My Knitting Bag {handmade for Elma}

26/02/2016

I did say there might be a slight sense of deja vu to anything I made this week, and that’s probably because at the time of writing my post about Kitty’s project bag I was already being petitioned by a three year old for something similar – and when I was cutting out the butterflies for Kitty I’d realised that I had just enough fabric to make another butterfly bag, and cut out two extra panels.

And as sewing things up the second time is so much quicker than the first because you don’t have to keep referring back to the instructions, and in this case the instructions are so very nice and simple that I pretty much had them memorised, one evening of cutting out the other pieces and a murmured, “I’ll just go and start the first couple of seams”, turned into a finished project bag sat on Elma’s dining room chair the next morning.

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

The accent fabric you might recognise, it’s the very last little bit of one of my Laura Ashley fat quarters from Elma’s twirly skirt. I didn’t have quite enough to cut it all out of one section so it’s pieced, but I figured that for the accent, which will usually be all scrunched up when the bag’s closed, that would be barely noticeable, and in all of my pictures you can only see it when the bag is stretched out open and empty.

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

The lining is a batik print fat quarter that I found in the stash, in all of Elma’s favourite pinks and purples. I used it for the lining and then pieced together three 2 inch widths to make the ties. They are a little bit shorter than the pattern calls for, but they’re just long enough that the bag can be opened up completely and laid flat, and as Elma is only three I think it works in her favour too when she uses the ties to wear it as a backpack (which happens a lot); the bag sits nicely at her lower back, not dangling around her knees. Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

When I made Kitty’s the motivation was to give her somewhere lovely to keep her finger knitting (and apparently now her camera – all the important things together!), and with Elma it was to make sure that she didn’t feel left out.  Elma has watched us try finger knitting, and even played around with looping big chunky wool over her still tiny fingers but she doesn’t have any knitting of her own to speak of.  Instead her bag has played home to Orlan and Rain-or-Shine (her little dolls), a toy car, and a small plastic pony, which all sounds very sensible to me.

But what really makes me smile, is that when she refers to it, it’s always “my knitting bag”: she may be too little to do more than play but she knows that when the time comes she’s all set up to go!

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

And because it was a week of finishing, or more acurately, because we drove two hours up to my in-laws in Yorkshire on Saturday, and by “we” I mean H, I had lots of lovely knitting time in which to finish not only Kitty’s latest cardigan (more on which another time because it’s still blocking) but also make some serious progress on H’s February Christmas socks.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

These ones are just my standard recipe for socks for H; 72 sts on 2.5mm needles with a heel flap heel (I love the way the slipped stitches mix up the colours on the heel). It’s nice easy, knit without thinking knitting, and it lets all the beautiful colours in the yarn shine front and centre.  This is Wollmeise Twin in Pfauenauge which apparently means peacock, which makes perfect sense when you look at the colours.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

And so on Sunday morning, while he went for a run, and Pip delighted and exhausted his grandparents in equal measure, I spent a very decadent hour curled up in bed with the girls tucked up next to me and knit and knit and knit until they were done. Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

H arrived home before I’d quite finished but they were done before he finished his shower so I’m claiming that as a draw.  And with that, I’m half way through his Christmas present knitting. Two pairs down, two to go, and then I can start on the Birthday knitting – maybe I need a new knitting bag for me?

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

 

 

 

Blogging Photography

On planning, or not

24/02/2016

Space for the Butterflies - On Planning

Last year, back in the day when I had plenty of time to think, and not enough time to write, I really got into the habit of planning out my blog posts for the month.  I had my monthly planner and I could sit down and fill in the gaps at the start of each month, adding in things that are fixed dates, like Siblings and Me and Mine, and then the 52 Project on a Saturday and anything else that I was joining in with on a weekly basis and then suddenly it would all start to look fairly full and so I’d add in any collaborative posts, any ideas that were throwing themselves at the sides of my brain, longing to be heard, and before I knew it I’d have an entire month mapped out in front of me; all I had to do was write it down.

Well I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit since then.  I still know in the back of my mind that certain things will fall on certain days each month, but I’ve not got it all spelt out for me in cheerful multicolour.

I love how wonderfully flexible blogging can be as a medium, how it can really shape itself not only to us as individuals, but as to individuals at a particular time and place.  When I first started blogging I’d think about whether I wanted to write a blog post, then I’d go and find the camera, find my project, stick it on the floor somewhere (usually without moving the clutter out of the way) or if it was still daytime, into the nearest shrubbery, take the picture, upload it to the computer (slowly) and Blogger (even more slowly) and then write whatever it was that came to mind, publish, and be done.  It was very much a journal brought to life by the Internet.  And at the other end of the scale I’ve spoken to people at conferences who plan their blogs out for months going on a full year in advance.  To be sure they usually aren’t parent bloggers which I suspect helps in the pre-planning, you’re not so tied to the here and now by your very obviously growing children, and I don’t think I could ever plan more than one month, or at a squeeze two in advance.

After a few months of blogging whatever really came to mind when I had time to sit down and write, I’ve started to let a little organisation creep back in at the edges; writing myself a little list at the beginning of each week with whatever I’m thinking about and I’m curious to see what impact that has, not on the writing itself, which I think is fairly consistently me, but certainly the process.

I know that sometimes the germ of an idea needs to rattle around my head for a bit before it all comes together and planning things out gets my subconscious working on the topic. And while I’ve got my own views on what constitutes blogging success, I have to acknowledge that when every book or article I’ve read about blogging says that planning is the key to a “successful” blog; regularly and predictably delivering really good content will make your readers happy and you an overnight superstar with a tidy house and the figure of a model (well maybe not quite all of that), they may have a point.

Even though I’ve been back at work nearly six months now (and wow has that gone fast), I think I’m still trying to find my perfect combination of planning and not planning; the moment at which I can wake up, get on a train, open up a draft post and write whatever comes into my head, or get up, get on a train and start writing straight away because I’m not having to think about what my topic will be.

I don’t think there is or ever will be a one size fits all “how to blog” model, and thank goodness for that, but while I’m trying to figure my ideas out, I’m really curious to hear what everyone else does.  So over to you – do you plan out your posts, by the week, or the month, or the year (I’d love to know what it looks like to have planned your posts by the year), or is it just completely spontaneous?