Monthly Archives

March 2016

Pause for Thought Photography Writing

On writing: Does how matter as much as what?


Space for the Butterflies - Does how you write matter as much as what you say?

I have a weakness for Persephone books. It’s not that unusual to find a publisher whose style of stories you adore, I grant you, but in this case it’s not just that they publish forgotten gems (which they do, and it’s awesome), it’s the books themselves that I love, the soft grey covers, the beautifully patterned endpapers and matching bookmark, and lovely crisp smooth pages that are such a pleasure to hold and read. They are a tactile pleasure, as well as being great books.

The tactile pleasure of a good book or a beautiful magazine are to the content what our sense of smell is to taste; you can taste most things with a bunged up nose, but it’s never the same as when the aroma has built up all your expectations for the first bite.

It works both ways of course; how often have you rejected a pretty piece of paper for scrawling a random shopping list and gone for the back of the envelope instead? We choose the materials that we associate with the task.

I came across this very powerful case in point recently in an article from a Jewish parenting website; the story of a little girl coming home from school and asking what a swastika looks like. To me, and to the little girl perhaps, it’s a symbol of a very dark time in human history, but I don’t have any emotional connection to it, merely academic. To the mother though, daughter of two holocaust survivors it means so much more, and so she searches through the pencil box for the very nastiest pencil, digs in the bin for her daughter’s thrown away lunch bag, roughly sketches it out, and throws pencil and bag back into the bin. In answering her daughter’s question in that way she told so much more of the story of that symbol.

So what about when we write? I love beautiful stationery; lovely notebooks and colourful pens and I do make myself use the notebooks and not just save them.

Space for the Butterflies - Does how you write matter as much as what

(this one (from Esmie) is one of my favourite and prettiest that H bought for me on the way home from a business trip because he thought I’d like it better and it would last longer than flowers – he knows me well)
My pretty notebooks hold plans and ideas and random thoughts and sometimes even shopping lists and having a pretty planner definitely makes the world a happier place.

But for writing blog posts and anything else of a serious length, I’m bound to technology. I write on my iPad, in a cheery red case, balanced on my knee as the train whistles through the countryside on my way to work, tap tap tapping on a screen whose slight stickiness rather suggests that at some point in the last 24 hours, one of my children has tried to carry it off as treasure. It’s not exactly the romantic view of writing is it, all candlelight and flowing ink?


This blog is my children’s baby book, and it’s a truer statement than you might think. I own physical baby books for each of my three children but I have been astonishingly bad at filling them in. I think Kitty’s might still be waiting for her birth story, and Elma’s peters out after the first five weeks, although I did do those very diligently. The truth is that my stories of being their mother are here. All those little milestones from first smiles, first steps, first words, right up to first day of school are in this little corner of the internet. It has allowed me to pepper my words with more pictures and snippets of video than I could ever print, and to share them, and in sharing, make connections and find friends.

One day I will print out the blog for the children, and when I do, it will be with pretty paper and a lovely binding but, in the meantime, have I just stumbled upon the perfect justification for ever more beautiful Apple products?

What impact does how I write and how you read them have on what I’m actually saying? And is it less somehow because they’re just on a computer screen?

My answer is that I hope not. When it comes to what I’m writing I’ve written rough drafts of blog posts everywhere from pretty notebooks to the side of an envelope and an increasingly solid stack of post it notes, without it changing the nature of the content, or at least I don’t think so.  Perhaps because I know the words will always end up here.

The actual tactile pleasure of reading may depend on how you’re reading, but as bloggers we get to choose the font and the colour and the size and the banner, and do everything we can think of to make is pretty and readable. And if the real answer is that yes, of course it changes everything, perhaps being able to share in a way that just wouldn’t be possible if I was trying to post you all letters is compensation enough – what do you think?

This is the second of my posts sparked from a Writing Map that I picked up last summer – this week it asked about the tools of my trade and last week we were talking about when writing is easy and when the words dry up; that post, and the fascinating comments that followed it, is here.

Blogging Family

The MADs, the BiBs and I’d really like your vote


Space for the Butterflies - on the original of the mummy stereotype

The time of year has come again when it falls upon me to cast off every inch of my national stereotype, usually so warmly embraced, and ask for your help. Yes my friends, in my little circle of blogging, it’s awards season, and I would really like your nomination.

Last year I was absolutely blown away to be a MADS finalist, it was far beyond my wildest expectations even to make it to the finals, and it didn’t matter that I was never going to win.  Seeing “Space for the Butterflies” up on the big screen along with some incredible co-finalists was a very special moment and not one that I will ever forget.

Which in part makes me perhaps a little bit more embarrassed to be asking for your votes again because I’ve had that chance.  But I loved every minute of the MADs; I loved being in a room full of people who also pour their heart and soul into their blogs, some of whom I consider dear friends, and I loved celebrating not just the people who won their categories, but the concept of blogging as a whole.  I spent a whole night talking about every blogging topic under the sun and it was awesome.

And I really want to go again.

I think we all look around at the vast number of amazing parenting blogs being written by clever, funny, talented Mums and a few Dads and have one of those moments where we can’t imagine ever getting any votes because the competition is just so awesome (if you don’t I admire your self confidence!) and I truly wish there was a way for everyone to win an award, but for the moment I’m giving myself an inner pep talk and saying please vote for me.

So why would you want to? Perhaps because I pour my heart and soul into this blog, perhaps because you enjoy reading the little stories of our family life and my story of motherhood, because you like the pictures, or the things I make with the children and for the children, because I think blogging is like knitting a jumper, or because you are either related to me, or work with me (in which case it’s not optional!).

Which brings us to the nitty gritty of voting.  You don’t have to be a blogger to vote, you don’t have to be in the UK to vote, you just need an email address (that won’t get sent any spam, it’s just to prevent people spamming the voting), and to give me a couple of minutes of your time.

First up we have the MADs (Mum and Dad Blogging Awards). The nomination form is here:

Tots 100 Awards

And I would love your nomination for Best School Days, Best Craft and Best Blog Writer

And then we have the BiBs (Brilliance in Blogging Awards). The nomination form is here:

BiB2016ARTCRAFTDESIGN-150x150 BiB2016FAMILY-150x150 BiB2016WRITER-150x150

And I would love your nomination for Writer, Family and Art, Craft and Design. The BiBs forms ask for my twitter ID  (@CariemayMakes) and also for your favourite blog post.  I can’t predict which posts are going to turn out to be favourites, but I can tell you which ones were some of my favourites in the past year.

In Writing:

In Family:

In Art, Craft and Design:

Please vote, even if you don’t want to vote for me; I can promise you that it means so much to everyone who is nominated; a minute or so of your time and you might just make someone’s year!

Elma Family Kitty Milestones Motherhood Pip

One night away


I have been away from Kitty overnight exactly three times in her life.  Once was to stay in London for the first Blogtacular, and the other two were when I was in hospital giving birth to her siblings.  For Elma it’s one Blogtacular and one sibling, and where Pip is concerned I have never left him.

I’ve had lots of days out, for fun as well as for work, and even the occasional evening out that hasn’t involved working too, but when the crunch comes, in the wee small hours I have been there. Which has generally been a pretty good thing because while Pip has just about got to the stage of waving me off in the morning with a happy smile and a “bu-bye”, when it’s dark and night and he’s sleepy there’s only one person that will do.

Space for the Butterflies - one night away

Which brings us to now.  In a month or so it will be H and my 10th wedding anniversary and H has suggested a lovely plan, and got his parents on board, with the idea that we go to the north for the weekend in question, leave the children with my in laws and go away for a night, just the two of us.

Part of me absolutely loves the idea.  The chance to spend time just with H, to have an uninterrupted conversation at a time of day when we’re not teetering on the brink of half asleep, to have a meal when I don’t have to cut up anyone else’s supper, or keep passing things, or saying “sit down please”, sounds incredibly appealing.  As does the prospect of an uninterrupted night’s sleep, something that hasn’t happened since before Pip was born, and the concept of a lie in that doesn’t mean 6.30 rather than 6 just blows my mind.

But then I worry about leaving them.  The girls I’m sure will be fine; they adore their grandparents and while the times when I’ve been away they’ve always been with H, I’m pretty sure that in the excitement and distractions of Grandma and Grandad’s house, and seeing their auntie who lives nearby they’ll barely notice we’ve gone.

But Pip? He’ll be fine during he day, he’s used to me not being around while I’m at work and he’s happily toddled off on expeditions to the supermarket without us on previous trips, I’m just not sure about bedtime, or if he does crash asleep in Grandma’s cuddles, what happens when he wakes up at midnight with a plaintive cry of “Mummeeee” and I’m not there.

Space for the Butterflies - one night away

It’s been such a hard one to call; on the one hand I would love to go away overnight, but if I think he’s going to think I’ve abandoned him and left him forever, would it be worth it? Would I really enjoy it? And should we just go out for lunch instead?

Except what’s really truly the worst that could happen? Pip struggles to go to sleep and one of my lovely in laws spends much of the evening, and possibly a few early hours either driving him around the scenic route that is “Yorkshire in the dark”, or pottering around the house with him in the sling until he nods off.  They’re not going to let him cry, there are ways and means of settling him without me, we’ve just never had to try them in the middle of the night before.

And so we’re going for it. With copious pre-prepared apologies for the inlaws and assuming that H can decide on somewhere to go and get around to booking it before we get to April of course.

Just tell me that you’ve left your little ones and it was all fine and wonderful OK?!


Elma Family Kitty Photography {the ordinary moments}

The wisdom of youth


One of the very best things about three year olds is listening to their logic.  They’re finally big enough to string their thoughts together and put them into some sort of coherent sentence, and you get a chance to have a peek into their world.  It’s usually beautifully logical, and beautifully wrong.

Kitty used to come up with some incredible suggestions when she was three, that all made perfect sense in her mind, and she still has her moments; the other day she said she wished Mama and Daddy both got to stay home all day and so we told her that much as we’d like that, one of us really did have to go to work so that we could go on nice adventures, and gently tried to connect the concept of my working with earning money so we could do the shopping;

“but we could use the Nectar card!”

came the response.

Now I know loyalty points are a wonderful thing, and it’s always exciting to feel like you’re getting your shopping for free, but I’ve yet to find a mortgage company that accepts than (alas!).

Space for the Butterflies - Advice from a three year old

And now Elma’s that little bit older and full to the brim with ideas about how the world works she’s started to come out with her own little phrases. Except that where Kitty’s were all questions about the world around her, Elma is a three year old fount of wisdom.  She has some very important advice for anyone seeking to wend their way through the world and a fabulous habit of delivering it at the most seemingly random times, usually to H and usually as he’s driving.

It was while driving up to playgroup that I’m told a little voice cheeped up in the back of the car:

“Daddy. You shouldn’t get in the bath with your clothes on.”

Well that makes perfect sense, if a little bit of a jump from what are we going to have for supper.

The next piece of advice, some days latter did relate to the bathroom, so perhaps there’s a theme there:

“Daddy. You shouldn’t keep your glasses in the toilet.”

And the most recent, which she told us while we were sat at supper;

“Daddy. You shouldn’t put your phone in the middle of the road.”

The casual observer would wonder what on earth we get up to that these, so very correct conclusions, are pieces of advice she thinks her father needs.



But but my very very favourite moment was when a team mate of H’s, sin-binned to the side of the hockey pitch, let forth a stream of language most unbecoming of a gentleman and rather unfit for tiny ears.  Elma turned and stared up at him, a diminutive bundle of flower patterned coat topped with a pompom.  She gave him a long solemn look and, thankfully ignoring some of the more choice language, declared:

“you shouldn’t say ‘Oh My God’; it’s naughty!”


He has yet to live down being told off by a three year old!

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

12/52 {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

Kitty: you were absolutely bouncing off the walls that afternoon, I think because you’d been told that your Reception class was going to be looking after some tadpoles, and as you wanted to come and play photography, you also couldn’t keep still for a minute! So this is you; scruffy hair and enormous beaming smile, striking a pose up against the garden wall.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/60, f/3.2, ISO 200)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Elma: I think this may be one of my favourite of your portraits little miss, you seem both so little and so very much on the brink of growing up. And I think you know it too; sometimes you tell me how you’re a big girl “just like you Mama” and sometimes if I ask you to do something or tell you that that’s what big girls do you tell me “but I’m still a little girl Mama! Just a little girl!”

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/320, f/4, ISO 125)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Pip: so often you look the very spit of your biggest sister at a similar age; people often remark on how alike all three of you are, but Elma slightly less so than you and Kitty.  And then I look at this photo, and the one of your sister immediately above, and there is such a strong similarity, I can see her in you straight away.  This week you happily indulged everyone by dressing up as Olaf and you did look so sweet bumbling round the garden as a snowman.  It didn’t hold back either, you love being outdoors and if you can’t find where we’ve hidden the hockey sticks (because even your Daddy doesn’t want to play hockey all day long) you’ll be quite happy going up and down the slide and exploring. Anything, just as long as you’re outside!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/200, f/4.5, ISO 125)