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Family Milestones Photography

These Happy Tin Years


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Once upon a time there was a girl, who fell in love with a boy, who loved her back, so they got married, and lived happily ever after.

That was ten years ago today.  Ten years that seem to have passed in the tiniest of pauses between moments, and yet at the same time it seems so long ago.  I can remember so clearly standing in the church porch, shivering because the sun hadn’t quite broken through the clouds trying to peek around the pillar to catch a glimpse of H and not be caught peeking at the same time.  And then the music started, and with a last look round at my bridesmaids, and a grin for Dad I stepped forward into my future.

There have been moments in my life when the world shrinks, and the rest falls away, and everything that matters is within a tiny sphere that could be measured in inches.  It was that way when Kitty was born and lifted up and into my arms; my concept of the entire universe only just about encompassed H, sat next to me and leaning his head over as we both gazed at our daughter; and it was that way when we said our vows.  I know there were lots of people in the church, I have the photos for one thing, and I can remember the joyful “we will’ with which our family and friends promised to support our very tiny new little family of two, but in the moment of our vows there was only him and me and promises that hold as true today as when we made them.

For all that Space for the Butterflies is my happy place, and definitely more representative of the shiny happy side of our life than the ‘yeouch I just stepped on Duplo and what on earth is that stuck to the kitchen floor’ version, it would be unjust to claim that the last ten years have been one saccharine-laden fairy tale. We have held each other up through times that I would not wish on my worst enemy, made big decisions and made hard decisions, laughed and cried, and grumped at each other about laundry crises, the washing up, and cobwebs, to name but a few.

And mixed in and overwhelming those moments are the highlights; the births of each of our little trio, the adventures, the time spent with family, and those simple everyday ordinary moments when you catch your breath and step out of time, just for a second, to hold the moment and know that this is what it’s all about, this moment right now is perfect.

Together, the good and the bad, they are the building blocks from which our family was made.   I’m not so crazy as to suggest that every bad moment was a necessary part of how my family and my marriage looks; I’d really like the “better to have loved and not lost” than any of the suggested alternatives, but I do know that it’s in the tough times that our relationship was tested and found to be on solid rock.

H knows me better than anyone else in the world, my strengths and my fears, and I him. In every single one of the last ten years I have had the security of knowing that whatever happens, he has my back, and I have his.  It’s not a big gesture, it’s not overtly romantic, it is simply the promise of constancy; and on that love built a family.

Much better than a fairytale don’t you think?

Elma Family Kitty Milestones Photography Pip Video

Chocolate eggs make great golf balls – our Easter 2016


Two pairs of tiny feet thundered down the hallway. Kitty and Elma, in pink pyjamas decorated with hens and bearing the hopeful, but ultimately flawed, slogan “eggcellent sleeper”, bounced though the bedroom door, flashed a beaming “Happy Easter” at Pip, H and I, and dashed to the window, Elma pulling herself up onto the tippiest of tippy toes to peer out.

“Has he been? Can you see anything?”
“Has the bunny been?”
“I can!! I can see something in that tree!! Look! Look!”
“I can too!”
And with that they sprinted out of the room and across the hallway to their grandparents.

Never has there been such a vivid example of the power of the mind; the most egg-like thing you will ever find in my in-laws garden at 7am is a clutch of golf balls.

We headed north again for Easter this year, it’s become a bit of a tradition, mostly because it’s so often very near my mother-in-law’s birthday, or in this case, was on the day itself. So Happy Easters were interspersed with Happy Birthdays and we got to spoil and cherish Grandma just as she always spoils and cherishes us.


It was a funny weekend in some respects, like those days at work where you know you’ve been busy all day, but you couldn’t exactly point to any one thing that took up all the time; we were never still and there was always something going on, but on paper we just spent our time at home being together as a family.

Space for the Butterflies - Easter 2016

Saturday was marked as the day of the great fish rescue. Back in a teenage summer, H had dug the pond in my in-laws’ front garden, and now that they wanted to change things up a bit he thought it only right that he be the one taking the pick axe to his creation. The water had been emptied and all the fish carefully introduced to the pond in the back garden before he began, although a most determined quartet of frogs kept making a reappearance no matter how often we escorted them out with a bucket. It was only after half the wall was gone, that he noticed a flapping and a flurrying of one last remaining tiny orange fish, and the first we knew about it was a shout through the front door;

“Dad missed one!”

Followed by the sight of H sprinting past the windows and around to the back of the house. He’d simply reached into the puddle, grabbed the unsuspecting fish and gone for it. Amazingly the fish seems entirely unaffected either by living in a muddle puddle for a couple of days, or the manner of its transportation to its new home.

We played under grey skies, invented a new hockey/tennis ball/ sandcastle space sort of a game for Pip, rode bikes and scooter, pushed prams and most importantly, chalked up as much of the driveway as we could reach, though alas it all washed away later that night as torrential rain swept through with the start of storm Katie.

The biggest event of Easter Sunday itself, at least as far as the girls were concerned, was of course the annual egg hunt around the garden, in which the Easter bunny (who has on occasion been known to resemble Grandad, their aunt and their uncle) leaves an extraordinary amount of chocolate hiding among the golf balls and other shrubbery, and the “problem” is that you have to wait until after lunch before the bunny will reveal them to you; or at the very least until your aunts and uncle have actually arrived.

Distracted by the fun of giving Grandma her birthday present and then the little Easter presents sat at their places at breakfast (a story for Pip, rainbow colouring pencils for the girls, a chocolate bunny, and a little something handmade for each of them) they just about managed to hold on to their excitement but by the time they were lined up at the kitchen door, baskets in hand, they were as if under starters orders.

Space for the Butterflies - Easter 2016

“OK” we said, and opened the door, down they climbed, oh so carefully, and then they were off, darting from one gilded nest to the next.


I love watching the children hunt eggs, it says so much about their personalities and their relationship, particularly the girls. Pip did a little bit of egg hunting but once he clocked the golf clubs and all these grown ups outside and ready to play with him he was utterly uninterested, right to the point of thinking that the best use of a chocolate bunny was as a ball. The girls were more motivated by chocolate, but they never just grab the lot; Kitty will take one egg for herself and then go and get another one for Elma, and Elma will only ever take one of anything before checking that her sister also has one and going back for whatever remains.


It was as we finished that the first drops started to fall to signal the return of the storm, and the rest of the afternoon passed in a cosy chocolate fuelled blur. I know we played sardines at one point, trying to hide all five of us behind the lounge door, and there were colourings in and cuddles and just a bit more chocolate lest anyone feel their blood sugar drop below a gazillionty (nourishing counterbalance menu began yesterday!!).


Mostly it was about all of us being there. We see H’s family fairly regularly in all its constituent parts but it’s been a while since we were all 10 of us together, and that made it a very extra special Easter birthday for my mother in law, who I suspect very much enjoys having all of her chicks (and a couple of cuckoos) back in the nest.

And so just for fun I made a little film of our Easter weekend – let the chocolate overload commence!

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 Milestones Pip Sponsored Post

Helping the incredible non sleeping baby to sleep


Last night Pip was the last of my children to join H and me in our bed.  That it was actually morning is a wonderful thing, and that it would have been even more wonderful had we not already been being prodded and poked by the big sisters is a minor fact which we shall happily gloss over.

My Pip is a baby of the non-sleeping variety.  Ever since he was born he’s the one who’s wanted to be held and cuddled and swaddled and generally tucked up with Mama, and that’s what we’ve provided, in as far as we can.  I don’t mind that he feels most cosy tucked up in my arms, or that his way of reconnecting with me at the end of a working day is to need a few overnight snuggles.  But at the same time, it is rather nice to get a little bit of evening time to myself, to have time with H or time to write or knit or read or sew or any one of the hundred other things that recharge me to do it all over again tomorrow.

The balance has been that I settle him to sleep in his cot in his room, and resettle him if he needs it during the evening (teeth being the pesky things they are, even if you wait until you’re 17 months to bring in numbers 5 and 6) and then when he wakes up during the night, or possibly even the magical ‘if’, then I tuck him into bed in the crook of my arm and we all go back to sleep until the alarm goes off.

So far, so good.  Until we hit a run of teething and colds and January and goodness knows what and that lovely wee boy of mine developed quite the spectacular startle reflex.  He could be fast asleep in my arms, as in actually properly snoring, floppy arms and all, but as soon as I lifted him up and over the side of the cot, even while clutching him firmly to me, and making sure his head was above his bum, as soon as his sleeping bag hit the mattress, two bright eyes popped open, with a most disapproving glare: ” you weren’t thinking of leaving me were you Mama?”

Course not sweetheart, the thought of the yarn and the bar of chocolate and the chance to chat to your father all waiting for me downstairs never crossed my mind!

Selfish though it sounds, I know that I need that evening time to be the sort of mother that I want to be. No down time and everything feels ten times harder.  So it was time to come up with a solution.  I could just go to bed at 7pm with the kids, and there are days when I’m sorely tempted, but it’s amazing how much space a tiny boy can take up, and we don’t have the room in our room to sidecar his cot onto our bed as a sort of toddler version of a side sleeping crib, so any time that he sleeps in his own bed gives me the chance to stretch out just that little bit more.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

But thinking about side sleeping cots, and remembering how well he slept in our battered Moses basket gave us a clue as to what to do.  And so we bit the bullet and took the side off his cot.  And at the same time we also tried to spend a bit more time in his room while he was awake and tried to make it an even snugglier place to just be.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

There are the teddys; Doudou and Teddy, and his sheepskin blankie (so wonderfully warm to grab for both of us to wrap up in on a cold night) and his fair isle blankie, and H decorated the furniture with some of the hanging toys that the girls had loved the most so that there’s something to play with.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

And whilst I hesitate to write this, so far it seems to have done the trick.  He’s happier about being in bed just generally if he knows that sometimes Mama can be there too, and with the side off, I can scoot him in horizontally, I don’t have to lift him high and then put him down, and if push comes to shove, or I’m just really tired, there’s just enough room for me to cuddle up along side him, even if getting back out again is more of a “throw myself on the floor and hope to miss the stray Duplo” manoeuvre.

For the first couple of weeks whenever he woke up he’d just sit there and wail for me to come and get him, but in the last few days he’s figured out that he can get out of bed and try to come to me – which is why there’s now a stair gate on his door to stop him making too good a bid for the top of the stairs. It’s such a change from Kitty and Elma who were both in and out and in and out on their first ‘side-free’ nights.

Space for the Butterflies - Baby Sleep

I’m trying to tell myself that it’s really early for us to have taken the side off, but I think that’s my subconscious playing tricks on me; Pip still feels in every way still such a baby compared to Elma, who at his age was not far off becoming a big sister, and yet Elma lost her sides when she moved into the girls room and I know we’d taken the sides off Kitty’s cot before Elma was born, so perhaps it isn’t so early after all.  But oh does it make him look so very teeny tiny all snuggled up in a ‘big bed’.

So keep your fingers crossed for all of us- and long may the lovely sleep evenings continue.

thank you to Online4Baby for sponsoring this post, for more information about sponsoring posts, please check out my work with me page


Family Milestones Photography Pip {the ordinary moments}

Pip goes for a walk


Maybe it happened in the first few weeks of December, when it felt like I was working crazy long hours and barely home to see my little ones during the week, or maybe it was a Christmas surprise, launched just in time for exposure to the maximum and most appreciative audience of parents, siblings, grandparents and auntie, but our little Pip Squeak has taken a leap forward with his walking.

He’d been getting better and better at pottering around the house but this was the push from walking and crawling into full on walking 90% of the time.  I noticed in the first week of the Christmas holidays how if he tripped he wouldn’t finish the journey off on his knees but stopped, raised his little bottom into the air and ever so slowly pushed up off his hands until he was upright, and then set off again in pursuit of the open stair gate, his sister’s artwork, my phone, or whatever other contraband had sparked his fancy.

He’s still got that proper toddler walk, legs out for balance and then picked up at the knees; John Wayne meets Thunderbirds, and it’s so much fun to see him potter down the hall, or wander over to graps me around the legs and shout “cuddles” at my kneecaps.


My mother always used to say that I was late walking (about 18 months apparently) but once I was up I was off, and while I don’t think that Pip has started walking late (he’s about the same as the girls, give or take a week), I do get that same sense of “up and off” from him, because apparently just wandering around the house doesn’t cut it.

We went out on a couple of expeditions while my Dad was staying with us, first to the park and then the next day for a circuit of the gardens at Upton House, to take the girls to ride their scooters and then just for some fresh air.  We’d barely got through the gate of the park before Pip, usually so happy in his vantage point tucked up in the sling, started squeaking to get down in no uncertain terms.  And so I got him out.


And as the girls raced on to play in the sensory garden, he held onto my hand and onto Grandpa’s hand, and we walked very gently after them.



It was picture perfect sweet; the little toddling boy, holding on as he went for his first little walk in the park, but Pip had other and bigger and better ideas.  He wanted to chase after Kitty and Elma, and try to run off with Elma’s scooter, pushing it backwards like a pram; he wanted to feed the ducks, even if all we could find were some rather reluctant geese who didn’t seem that interested in catching the crumbs from a little boy’s slightly wayward throw, and most of all, he most absolutely definitely did not want to hold hands unless he wanted to.



It was the same at Upton; as Dad and I gently walked him down the grassy slope; first he’d let go of my hand and shake it off and then he’s use that hand to firmly and most insistently peel away each one of Grandpa’s fingers from his, and then he was off.20151229-DSC_006520151229-DSC_0068

Waddling as fast as two little snowsuited legs could carry him across the lawns at Upton to reach Grandpa’s open arms, or pottering along the forest path, quite certain that he could distract us by smiling up at us beautifically so that we wouldn’t notice him making a beeline for the edge of the path to pick up a handful of gravel.

We paused to read a sign at the bottom of the path and before we knew it he was off and climbing up a little flight of steps by the side of us, only to insist on being brought back down to do it all over again because it was so much fun.20151229-DSC_007320151229-DSC_007620151229-DSC_007720151229-DSC_0078

It seems that my little indoor walking boy is also very much an outdoor walking boy.  I remember the moment with Kitty particularly when we first went out without sling or buggy. Mainly because we’d forgotten either and couldn’t be bothered to go back for them so we thought we’d see how we went and she walked all the way around town without complaint, and it is a watershed moment.  I’m not saying we’ll abandon either or all for some time to come, there’s definitely a coralling of small children benefit when you’re outnumbered, but the days of two walking and one snuggling down in the sling when we go for a walk, at best are numbered.

And it feels as though it’s happening sooner with Pip than with the girls, though I can’t honestly remember well enough to be certain.  Perhaps it’s simply that as my third child he still seems so much more a baby to me than either Kitty or Elma did at a similar age, despite being much bigger!

But one thing is certain, whether he be my baby or my little boy, it’s the start of a year ready to be filled with adventures.

joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments