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Birthdays Family Photography

Now you are three


To Pip Squeak, on your third birthday.

Yes, third.  I know you’ve decided that you’re going to be four, and occasionally six, just so that you can keep up with your big sisters, but it’s enough of a challenge for me to recognise that you’re turning three, and not still that not so tiny baby I brought home from the hospital what seems like only a couple of days ago.  Don’t go wishing your years away little boy; the first three have flown past for me and time only seems to be speeding up.

As I write this you’re asleep in the room next door, snuggled down on your pillow with your arms flopped back above your head and it’s easy to see the baby you once were, but are very definitely no longer.

This has been the year when you emerged from your babyhood and became every inch my little boy; you’ve lost that baby roundness that I could still just about see in the snippets at the start of your birthday video, and the more you run and jump and hide and play and run some more you’ve got stronger and stronger.  Part of it is being out of nappies, and part of it is that you’ve shot up several inches. Again.  You still greet people you’re particularly fond of by running into them full tilt, the only difference is now we’re bracing ourselves for the impact, and more than once I’ve felt myself stumbling backwards to catch both of us.

I don’t know exactly how tall you are right now, but I know I’m buying age 4-5 clothes and hoping they’ll have a smidgen of room to grow in them.  You’re wearing size 8 shoes, but I strongly suspect that you’ve grown out of them and we need a trip to the shoe shop before term starts.

You have always been the most outdoors of my babies, and it’s still true; your favourite activity in the old house was digging a hole underneath the play house (that we discovered when we kicked a football underneath it and it disappeared!!), you loved moving a mole hill around while we were living in the tent (to the point that the molehill had to be topped up again), and there’s a curious patch underneath the swing in our garden, right about where someone has left a tiny spade, which rather suggests that a certain someone may have been digging!  Our garden here doesn’t have access to the road unless you go through the house or the garage and I love that you can explore and re-landscape to your heart’s content (though please leave the lawn alone, it has actual grass, rather than the moss with occasional blade of green in the last house).

The biggest change in you this year has to be in your speech; you are a wonderful little chatterbox and I love that you come out with things that you’ve clearly been pondering for a while, even when they’re a complete change in conversation.  Everything has this wonderful logic about it too.  I wasn’t actually there for my favourite of the year, you were in the car with your auntie, trundling along, only to confidently announce: “Cows poo but stinging nettles don’t!”

You love tractors and engines, and living on a farm with actual tractors was your dream come true, and no excuse was too small to go for a little walk to see what the tractor was doing; I’m certain that one of your golden memories of this summer was helping your uncle to fix a puncture in the tractor tyre.

As for the engines, earlier this year I took you to the toy shop for a Mummy and Pip special treat, and you chose the Duchess of Hamilton replica wooden train; she’s been your favourite ever since, and even more so when you realised that there’s an actual real Duchess, and that YouTube has videos of her in action.  So much of the packing up of our old house happened to a soundtrack of a very plummy BBC announcer narrating some 1937 footage, and one of my golden memories from this summer was when you came face to face with the real train at the National Railway Museum at York.  Every day you ask me what colour train I took to work, and give me a long assessing look as if to check that I’m giving the right answer.

It makes you sound like every stereotype of a little boy doesn’t it, railways and tractors, getting muddy and always being on the move, but it’s only part of your personality.  At the moment your favourite colour is still pink, and your favourite rainy day activity is painting, closely followed by colouring in (preferably in one of your sisters’ colouring books if you think you can get away with it!).

As for those big sisters of yours, I think this is the year when their crowns may have slipped a bit; no longer are they adored heroes, purveyors of mischief, entertainment and purloined chocolate, but co-conspirators, up to equal amounts of mischief but with a greater potential for falling out.  It’s all part of the sibling relationship, and I can see in how you play with both girls just how much you love them.  I’m glad you have them, and they you.

You are my best beloved boy; Happy Birthday,

love Mummy

Birthdays Family Pip Video

Pip Squeak: the year you were two


We’re back on the internet just in time.  I can be late on Siblings posts and stack up ideas until they’re ready to burst out of my head and write themselves, but I would have been really gutted if I’d missed one of the children’s birthday videos.  I love making them; looking back on the year and seeing just how much change has slipped me by, even when I was really focussed on remembering every little thing about all three of them.

Tomorrow is Pip’s third birthday, although he’s decided he’s going to be four, and gets very cross with anyone that suggests anything to the contrary, and as we move well and truly out of the baby days, it’s time to look back at the year that began with a baby and ended with a little boy:

Birthdays Elma Family Photography

And now you are four


To my littlest girl,

Well sweetie, now you are a whole four years old.  I can’t believe it’s come so quickly, and you can’t believe it’s taken so long.  Not only does everyone else in the family have their birthday before you in the year, I think you’d swear that every day of the last week has got longer and longer and every morning you’d ask me “how many more days is it now Mummy?”.  I’m writing this on your birthday eve and while I was putting your brother to bed tonight I could hear you chatting away to your sister, planning each and every moment of tomorrow morning, starting with waking up, jumping out of bed and racing down stairs.  We’ve been doing a little arranging in here, I think you’re going to like it.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

So, what do I want the future you to know about you at four? And what do I want to treasure and remember?

I think the biggest thing is that right now you are so incredibly wholehearted about just about everything.  You throw your whole self into everything, regardless of whether you know how to do it or not, and you fly more times than you have a bumpy landing.  At the moment it’s all about singing and dancing, you and your sister could spend an entire afternoon dancing around the lounge, and you happily forgive her when your planned spins don’t quite take off and go back to leaping about without a second thought, usually singing along as you do.  I sometimes wonder if we’ve accidentally stumbled upon your best learning style because you soak up songs like a sponge, from things on the radio to songs you hear us sing.  The Baa Baa Bethlehem song in your birthday video was something that your sister learnt for her school nativity last year, and there you were, rattling it off in April.  Your nursery are very big on singing and action songs and your teacher tells me that you get so caught up in the moment that every now and then you completely tumble over yourself, look very surprised, and then hop up and join in again.  It sounds exactly like my little miss wiggly feet; I think you’re dancing even in your sleep.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Speaking of nursery, you absolutely love it.  It’s only three mornings a week at the moment, but you’re already asking when you start afternoons and all the mornings which bodes very well for next September.  You had an easier start of it than your sister because you knew quite a few people from playgroup and you’re so happy to be back with them, and it’s lovely for us to see you making such good friends, especially when their big brothers and sisters are friends with yours.  I never hear very much about your days, but from what I can work out the notable moments seem to have been going into the garden in your slippers during a fire drill and other people’s school birthdays.  You get to wear a crown during little meal and it’s a matter of some relief all round that you’re in nursery on your actual birthday because I don’t think you could have waited a minute longer.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

When you’re at home I think you are the storyteller of my girls; when you’re playing lego your sister is all about the technical construction and working out how to make things stand up, but you put up a window, a door and a couple of bricks for a table and suddenly all these little Lego people are off on an adventure, quite oblivious to their surroundings.  It’s the same when you want to read a story to your brother, you’ll have a look at the pictures and then tell him whatever you think the story ought to be, or when you play trains; there’s always a tale to be told.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

You and he are best buddies, and occasionally fiercest rivals.  It probably helps that there’s little between you in height, even though you’re still well above average for a four year old, and that 20 month age gap is shrinking by the day.  When it’s just the two of you, I can see so clearly the unspoken understanding that you have, the way you settle into games together without ever really having agreed how it’s going to go.  It’s lovely to see and lovely that you’ve had that time at home together while he’s actually been big enough to play with so that you’ve built a rock solid bond that allows you to fall out and fall over each other and still be chasing each other around the house for a hug.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

As far as your sister is concerned, I think that starting nursery, and being at the same school and just across the hall from her classroom, has brought you closer too, I think she felt a little on the outside last year, being the only one at school but now you share so many stories (the fire drills!) and the daily rhythm of a school day.  When it was suggested that you might join her kindergarten for a little bit in the summer when you fall into the multi-year age bracket she just couldn’t wait to have you with her, and it made me so proud of both of you.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

You are a lovely mixture of gentle kindness and an iron will; if someone says “ouch” or sneezes, or your brother falls over, you rush to make sure they’re ok, and you give the biggest cuddles to anyone who needs cheering up, and yet at the same time I am confident that no one will ever be able to push that so far as to take advantage of you; you know your own mind and as both your parents have somewhat of a determined streak, it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that it’s very clearly present in you too; channel it in the right direction and you’ll move mountains.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

On the whole you are the happiest little girl in the world; you’ve got quite a strong sense of what you need to feel content.  And yes, sometimes being your Mama is hard work, because being a parent was never supposed to be an easy ride, but it is more than worth it.  You brighten up our lives my little ‘dorable girl and every single one of us loves you more than we could ever tell you.

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Happy 4th Birthday, and many more to come.



Space for the Butterflies - a birthday letter to Elma

Birthdays Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Kitty Kitty Sewing

Petit Susanne {handmade for Kitty}


In years to come there will be a milestone in the relationship with my two lovely girls when first Kitty and then Elma get to an age or a height where they can borrow my clothes.  I don’t own many clothes so I’m afraid I will be a severe disappointment to them on that front, but if their tastes continue to run to “some assembly required” clothes, then I think they might rather enjoy pillaging my stash.

I’m writing as if this is something that will happen in the future, but truth be told, we’ve already hit that point; only I’m the one doing the making.

Years ago I bought a lovely metre of Liberty Tana lawn in the Liberty sale with the firm intention that it would be a floaty sleeveless top for me. Well the baby sundress I made for Elma from the same haul has been long grown out of and now hangs on the bedroom wall as a piece of art, but the furthest I’d got was printing out the pattern and trying to decide how many extra inches of length I could squeeze out of what I had.  Realistically, if I hadn’t made it in all that time, it seemed unlikely to happen in the time it would take me to acquire another metre of fabric, and I’m sure in my heart of hearts I’d begun to let go of the idea – and then Kitty saw it.

It was love at first sight; a very determined love.  She wanted it for her, she wanted it for her birthday, and she wanted “a top with the sleeves”.  Very specific, but I knew what she meant.

Her Hello Kitty dress has been one of her standout favourites of the summer, especially when we went travelling and the thermometer soared.  She loves that it’s comfy and cool, and the big sleeves are pretty and fluttery when you twirl in them, and so another Susanne it was always going to be, but this time the top rather than the dress.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Well sort of the top.  I trace out the patterns onto greaseproof paper so that I can use them in different sizes for Elma and as I traced, and watched my pencil outline a nice boxy little square shape, I thought about my incredibly tall eldest daughter and kept on drawing the main section of the tunic until it wasn’t just several inches past the length for her size 8, but all the way down many many inches to the age 2 dress length.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

The gamble paid off; the finished tunic reaches just below her hips; not too long to be silly, and not too short to have a life expectancy of all of five minutes.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Kitty put it straight on as her birthday outfit, which is how I acquired so many photos of the top in action, and even wore it to school this week for picture day, a mark of approval if ever there was one.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Construction wise it is literally just a shorter version of the dress, so I didn’t change much from the previous versions I’ve made, although I did include the elastic casing on the shoulders on this one as I think it makes all the difference in helping it to hang nicely.  the yoke seam is encasing in straight binding to keep it soft against the skin, I used french seams on the side seams, and folded back and stitched down the sleeve seams.  I’m still not wholly convinced that I’ve found the perfect finish as I keep finding there’s a bit of a pull at the underarm which needs a bit of wriggling to sort out – one of these days I shall make a mock up and play with it until I get it exactly how I want it.  I suspect it will be well worth my while as the girls both love this pattern, and there are certain to be ever lengthening versions in my future.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday


Birthdays Family Kitty Milestones Photography

And now you are six


Well my darling eldest girl, here we are at six.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

A sixth birthday for you, and six years of motherhood for me, and I don’t think I’ll ever quite believe that time has past as fast as it has.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

We’re at the point now where you’ll be able to reach your memories of these days even when you’re grown up so I hope that you remember that for your sixth birthday you really really wanted Lego and a volcano cake.  The Lego is sat in a box on the dinner table, waiting for the end of the week when you’ll have time to get stuck in and do some building.  I love seeing what you make, you’re quite happy to make the build on the box first, and then play with it and incorporate it with your other bricks, so Cinderella can meet the Lego Friends girls for a cake at the cafe, after which they’ll slide down the side of Elsa’s palace and go for a ride in a yellow submarine.  I love the mash ups and I find it fascinating how for you it’s all about the build.  When you’ve made whatever it was that was in your imagination you’ll quite often happily hand it over to your sister for her to make up lengthy games about what all the different people are doing, while you set about making them a holiday house or a new garden.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

And as for the volcano cake; well we co-opted a recipe for a bonfire cake (red velvet cake, matchmakers around the outside) and on my last trip to London I came across a packet of cake fireworks and if a cake has ever appeared more likely to erupt I’d like to see it.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Your school make a big fuss of birthdays; you wore a crown and served everyone birthday cake for little meal, your friends sang the birthday songs, and your teacher told the story of your milestones so far.  You came home cherished and beaming, and very pleased to be six.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

For a six year old you are still very tall, you wear age 10 clothes, and size 1.5 shoes and we haven’t even hit the growth spurt that will arrive when you do make it to ten.  When we went to your friend’s birthday party at the weekend, a little boy whispered to his Mummy “look at that girl, I think she must be nine or ten” and even when we told him you were five I’m not convinced he believed us; you are after all, head and shoulders taller than that birthday girl, but as I suspect you won’t stop anywhere short of my 6’0″ you’d probably better get used to it.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

The biggest milestone of the year in which you were five was the falling out of your two bottom teeth.  The new adult teeth are already coming in and I suspect that the tooth fairy is going to be a big part of the year in which you are six.  Hopefully there’ll be a time when the big bottom teeth are in but the top ones haven’t gone so that you can bite an apple properly again; I know you miss scooping one up to munch – like mother, like daughter.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

You still paint and draw as much as ever, colouring in is your favourite way to switch off and chill out, and your colouring crayon collection seems to grow every time you and your Daddy visit an art shop; one of these days we will find that we do own one of every pink pencil crayon currently made.  You love stories and books, and there’s nothing better than snuggling up with you to read another chapter of your latest favourite.  It doesn’t happen too often, your little brother is only just at the stage where he’ll sit and follow the bedtime picture stories, but I cherish the time as much as you do.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

You love to sing too; this year you learnt how to hold your own part in a round, well most of the time at least, and as harmony singing is one of my favourites, it’s wonderful to see your skill and confidence improve, and we both get a lot of fun out of it.

At the moment you’re trying to teach yourself how to do the monkey bars at school; every day you tell us “well I tried…” and I know that one day, and probably not too far away in the future, you’ll come home having absolutely nailed it.  I don’t doubt that if you’ve set your mind to it, it’s going to happen.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

All our plans to take these birthday portraits a few days early were scuppered by one thing and another, so we headed out after I finished work on the day itself to see what we could do with a slightly grey and overcast evening.  Every single one of your sets of portraits have been taken in this park, and we know your favourite spots well enough by now.  The contrast to taking pictures of your brother was huge; he ran around and I followed him with a camera, but you know what I’m doing, and you enjoy the treat of going out just the two of us to take pictures, and it’s so much easier now that you know what I’m asking you to do.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

As a birthday treat the pictures themselves are a treat stored up for the future, after all, you know what you look like right now, and I think it’s the time together that I love the most, especially in a month where stupidly busy and not enough sleep doesn’t even begin to cover it.

You are just so much fun to be with; a loving big sister who will do anything for your little siblings, even if you’ll do it while also pushing every button they’ve got.  You are chatty, and sweet, and clever and funny, all wrapped around a steely core of determination.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

We love you more than you could ever possible imagine.

Mummy x