Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well here we are. 40 weeks.  With two previous pregnancies hitting 42+1 and 41+4 respectively I knew in my heart of hearts that I would be here, writing this update in the confident expectation that I’ve got near to a couple of weeks to go, but however much I told myself that there was always a smidgen of hope.

Hope that this time my body would get the message a little sooner, that the baby would arrive naturally and easily in perfect timing without getting me into this final two week wait.

And I know as I’m writing that there are people who would move heaven and earth to be in this position; whose longing for a baby is such that they’d take 42 weeks, an induction, a c-section or any of the rest of the labour horror stories in a heartbeat, and I’m determined not to take any of it for granted.  But I think that you can acknowledge that the last two weeks are hard, without diminishing the joy and anticipation I feel about this Little Bump, in a way that perhaps is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there.

For me, the last two weeks are when the worries come sliding back in; is the baby still head down? will he or she be born safely? am I going to need to be induced again? just how big is this baby going to be? is the baby moving enough? is the baby moving too much? what if it gets tangled in its cord? It’s everything you ever wish you hadn’t read on google and everything your subconscious can drag up in the quietness of an empty house all rolled into one.

And you’re big and you’re tired and you don’t sleep very comfortably any more and you can’t pick things up off the floor.  It’s pretty much the perfect storm once you add hormones into the mix, no wonder I spent one afternoon hiding under the duvet sulking when I was expecting Kitty.

From a rational point of view I have absolutely nothing to be worrying about; when we saw the midwife last week the baby was doing exactly what it should be doing, with the small exception of lying back to back which whilst unhelpful is not a fundamental problem.

I think the baby tracks my movements; when I wake up in the morning I can feel feet up on my right hand side suggesting that we have a nice head down baby, spine on the left, perfect for early labour, and then as soon as I start getting up and on with the day I think that spine starts to slide around to the back.  I’m spending as much time standing or on all fours as I can at the moment but I do have to drive my car, nurse Elma, cuddle Kitty and occasionally it’s even nice to sit down for a while.  I’m hoping this will be this baby’s ‘thing’; with Elma she just didn’t engage at all until I was actually in labour but her positioning was pretty good; perhaps the Little Bump has nailed engagement but decided to skip out on the positioning lesson?

I’m still getting plenty of Braxton Hicks contractions, and occasionally a little run of them that makes me think something might be about to happen, but to no avail, and there’s been nothing else to suggest that this Little Bump wants to put in an appearance any time soon.  Even two sessions of acupuncture (lovely though they were) and a sweep from the midwife (not even slightly lovely) don’t seem to have done much to get us further forward.

With Elma I gave birth 24 hours after my second acupuncture session and I’ll admit my inner science geek was kind of expecting to repeat the experiment and get the same results, I just have to keep reminding myself that when I was this pregnant with Elma I hadn’t even had one acupuncture session or a sweep or anything, and while I am overdue, I’m not that overdue.

Yet.

The truth is that I’m ready. I’m ready to take on labour, not exactly to embrace the pain because I’m not quite that crazy, but with each of the stronger Braxton Hicks I remember that I know how to do this, that I can trust myself to do this, and that I want to do this.  I’m definitely ready to be done with feeling cumbersome, and fielding ‘helpful’ comments in the supermarket/playground/anywhere outside my house about how I must be really ready to give birth now (yes, yes I really am).

And more than that I’m ready to meet this tiny new person and learn all about them, to welcome them into our family and watch them take the place in our hearts that was always theirs since the stars began.

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

If you’ve ever seen some of my outtakes from my Me and Mine shoots over on Instagram you’ll know that my biggest challenge in recent months has not so much been getting everyone to either smile at the same time or even just look at the camera (from the results you’ll know that I’ve clearly given up on both of those lofty aims), as keeping the girls the right side of the camera.

It seems there’s every danger that left to our own devices it wouldn’t just be Mummy that disappears behind the lens more often than not, but the ladies too.  I’d say it would leave just H in the shot but as his comfort zone for appearing in photos generally includes holding one of his children we might just be about to move into landscapes and still life because these daughters of mine are getting more and more into their photos.

They both know how to press the shutter on the big camera; Kitty wields the remote trigger with a confident concentration, and we’re starting to have to have more than one conversation about why it is really really important that we do not touch, lift, move or otherwise attempt to abscond with Mummy’s big camera.

But my phone is relatively robust and so every now and then, and usually when we’re on grass, I’ll hand it over to see what the world looks like through Kitty’s eyes.

Her earliest pictures were all fuzzy and sideways, usually taken while she was moving, and usually including a pink smudge from at least one finger, but she’s definitely getting there; she’s remembering to hold the phone at both ends, the fingers are if not disappearing, at least being relegated to the edges, and if she does still tend to take 30 photos of the same thing before moving on; well that might be a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’; I’ll plead the privilege against self incrimination on that one.

So for today, for a change, and as a nice distraction from the fact that I don’t have any pictures of a cute new baby to show you; may I present our afternoon walk to the windmill according to Kitty, or at least the part of it where she got to play with my phone while Elma and I had a little cuddle and a little top of Mama milk to soothe some incoming teeth:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And while I’ve edited in terms of numbers (heavily – she really loved taking pictures of that wall!), they’re otherwise all straight out of my phone.  I’m seriously tempted to have them printed for her; I think she’d get rather a kick out of being able to say “I took that photo”, I know I would have when I was little.  But the one that I want to print for me as much as for her is the companion to the only photo in this post that I took, and should probably be titled:

“My mother, multitasking”

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well what else is a giant baby bump for if not to rest your nursing toddler’s feet on while you take a picture!

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Way back at the beginning of the year we took part in the Green Parent Magazine’s parents lounge; it was great fun, after all what’s not to like about being sent three sorts of chocolate and asked for your considered opinion, following which you have to, yes have to, have a long and luxurious bath in which to fully test out a box of the most deliciously gorgeous bubbles and scrubs and creams that ever did land on a doorstep on a chilly wet winter’s day.

And with all that decadence came a couple of books for us to review, including this treasure.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

I think I managed to say something a little more eloquent in my reader feedback than, “we love it, it’s awesome” but that does sum up pretty much how Kitty and I felt about One World Together, and even after it’s been sat on our bookcase for several months it’s still one she’ll pull out often as part of a stack of favourites perfect for curling up with in the big armchair on an August afternoon that feels like it might have been borrowed from October.

For a couple of months Kitty had a French nursery teacher who taught all the children French nursery rhymes and a few basic phrases and their numbers, and then when she left, one of their other teachers taught them their numbers in Spanish.  I’m sure part of it was the novelty value but Kit really loved it; she’d stand at the top of the slide and belt out French nursery rhymes, and there’s nothing quite so surreal as knowing that what you’re hearing from the back of the car is definitely supposed to be French, but not being able to quite distinguish enough words beyond peche pomme poir abricot to know the rest of the song.  We can’t have been the only parents asking what they were singing because a couple of weeks later a song sheet came home. With translation.

And it was on the back of all that linguistic curiosity that we first started to read One World Together.  At its heart it’s a gentle jaunt around the world; meeting children from countries near and far, and always starting with saying hello in their native language.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

There’s Paulo from Brazil (very appropriate this summer), Lukas from Kenya, Lilly from Sweden and Vani from India, among others.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

And each of them tells you a little bit not just about what makes their part of the world different, but also the things that they all have in common, the things that my little English girl can recognise and relate to.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

Kitty love the page with Li because it has a picture of a “Chinese New Year Dragon!”, she likes the animals near Lukas’ house, although her favourite are probably Lilly, because she’s playing the recorder and has a baby sister, and Galina who’s from Russia and wakes up early and makes lots of noise.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What We're Reading - One World Together

The illustrations are incredibly engaging and if that weren’t enough, the last page is a giant fold out picture of the world, with all your new friends surrounding it.  It isn’t perhaps the best at being a map, and we’ve reverted to the internet a few times to talk about exactly where the countries might be, but it’s none the worse for it, and it’s lovely to see Kitty’s awareness of the wider world grow naturally and through her own curiosity.

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

Last week Vickie at  A Pocketful of Dandelions and came to join in What We’re Reading with the wonderful looking Hens Don’t Crow which I shall be stalking at the library in the near future! And if you have a favourite, or just something fun your little ones have enjoyed reading lately please do join us. The linky is always open for the whole week so there’s plenty of time. And so, without further ado, it’s over to you to tell me what we should be reading!


H and I both love to be outdoors and to walk and hike.  Our very first proper holiday together we went to Rome for a week and he’ll always swear I made him walk up and down every one of the seven hills (he’s exaggerating, it was only six of the seven) and in our pre-little people days we spent happy holidays exploring the bits of Scotland near to the family, showing him all of my favourite bits of the South West Coast Path, and earning our blisters in various forays to the Lake District.

I know it’s a few years off yet, but I am looking forward to the day when we can take the girls and the Little Bump up to the Lakes and they’ll actually be big enough to climb a few peaks with us. I remember going with my family when I can’t have been much more than ten and there are pictures of us climbing the Old Man of Coniston, and swimming in just about every river or pool we came across – it was Swallows and Amazons heaven.

And it seems like the love of outdoors has passed through to the girls; they would be outside most of the day in all weathers if they could be, and even better if we can take Daddy exploring too.  We wandered along little shady paths, blackberried along by the river and the meadow, and in about an hour travelled in a nice neat little circle that was never more than a few hundred yards from the car park; it’s the impressive thing about the speed of toddlers; you can think that you’re going for a really long walk, and I suppose when you’re one it is a really long walk.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We turned the last corner and there before us was our mountain.

“‘Jaro” said Elma pointing.

“Do you want to climb up?” asked H;

“Yiss” she replied, and with a short pause,

“Daddy up!”

Well they may not have climbed every step of every mountain, but we all got to the top again.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And they might think they’re climbing Kilimanjaro, but really they’re training for Kanchenjunga. Just give me a few years for me to get fit again!

living arrows

 

My everyday ordinary is life with two gorgeous, noisy, loving, squabbling, contented, messy, cheerful and usually brightly coloured little girls.  Elma may only be 20 months old but I find it hard to remember or imagine what life was like without her; back in those halcyon days of just parenting one child at a time.

I still get a little Kitty one on one time most days though while Elma naps and I try to make sure that those hours include lots of cuddles and chats with my biggest girl, the kind of craft activities that don’t really work out so well with a one year old baby sister in tow, and not too much of a whirlwind of chores (though you’d be amazed at how much fun cleaning the bathroom shower screen with a baby wipe is when you’re only 3).

But time alone with Elma is a very rare thing indeed, and usually the preserve of the days when she’s been too poorly to go to nursery, which isn’t exactly my definition of quality time with Mummy.

I’m sure it’s something H and I should make more of an effort with, but truth be told when we’re finally all together the weekend seems far to short a time to want to divide up; we’ve missed each other and the girls have missed their Daddy and all we all want to do is be together; the chances of either of us escaping out of the house with just one daughter without loud wails of protestation from the other (daughter that is, although possibly from the spouse too) is pretty much nil.

But every now and then a little moment of time lands in my lap.  Not organised, not planned, just a stolen hour on a showery afternoon when Kitty decided to have a nap and Elma didn’t.  Well “decided” is probably overdoing it; I was shattered, the girls seemed tired and we’d all curled up on the sofa after lunch with the sort of books I can read with my eyes shut and the next thing I knew was that I was opening my eyes without being quite sure how long they were closed for, Elma, curled into the crook of my left arm was contentedly sucking her thumb and poking the pages, and Kit was crashed out asleep on my right shoulder.

I thought she’d wake up as Elma and I extracated ourselves but she stayed there quite happily oblivious to her sister’s bumbling and chatter, one foot always sliding off the side of the sofa no matter how many times I tried to tuck her up.

I’d love to be able to say that we did something amazing and age appropriately life enriching in that hour; and that Elma is clearly a child prodigy (but of course she is and you knew that anyway) but I’m afraid it was really rather ordinary; we mixed up the dough for pitta bread to go with kebabs for supper and Elma sat on the kitchen footstool and ate breadsticks while I kneaded it; we played tea party for a bit; we sang Twinkle Twinkle and several rounds of Row Row Row the Boat with actions (that tiny girl rows with some serious gusto – I hope they pair her up with someone sturdy at nursery!); and we just chilled out, sat on the floor near the patio doors, watching as the rain clouds came and went, Elma lying on her back with her feet up on the door, tapping out a little jig and playing peekaboo from behind her beloved blankie.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

From the outside I know it seems like nothing special, the epitome of a mundane afternoon for a Staying at Home at the Moment Mama and her little girl, and I can only hope that in some way I can convey why I want to treasure it.

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Kitty has a new pair of wellies.  With the weather we’ve had for the past couple of weeks sandals have just stopped cutting it any more, and you know you really need to do something about it when you find yourself packing slippers for her to change into at church on Sunday on the basis that her feet are going to get soaked on the short walk through the village.

Happily for all of us, when presented with a pair of blue flowery wellies that fit, and have big pink bows on the side (the bows are very very important) she was more than happy to stop trying to cram her feet into her two sizes too small but much loved Hello Kitty boots.

And even though they might not be the most practical footwear for running around in August, there’s a part of me that loves that she was so keen to wear them she put them on in the car on the way home, had to have them neatly lined up next to her bed that night, and then wore them to nursery.

And then when Elma started to waddle around in Kitty’s old boots (just the five sizes too small) and with a good two sizes to grow before Kit’s first boots would be in with a shout of fitting there was nothing to do but go shopping and then go in search of mud.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

I’d love to think it would be difficult to find a good proper puddle in August, but it seems cooler now, almost a touch autumnal, and the breeze that curls around our house is sending grey clouds scudding in, not those soft fluffy slow movers of a couple of weeks ago.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I’m hoping we haven’t waved bye bye to the summer; it’s been glorious this year, even in the days of the highest humidity, and even as there is so much to love about autumn I’m not quite ready to move on.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Perhaps there is a reminder in the summer rain, a gentle nudge to us all to stop us becoming complacent, to show that lovely as all this sunshine is, we can never truly rely on it, not if you want to keep living in England you can’t.  It’s the prompt we need to make the most of it, a reminder of those cool damp autumn days to come, and then the winter, when twinkle lights and the excitement of Christmas can only do so much to shine into the darkness; that it won’t be so easy to just pack up and head out when out means waterproofs and wellies and warm socks and hats, not a smear of suncream.

The days are coming when outside means pink cheeks and short bursts of fresh air and never forgetting the waterproof trousers, and I know I’ll love it in it’s own crisp and beautiful way; but it also means dreary days, days of these four walls and the challenge to make it work.

And so for now I think I’m grateful to the summer rain to counterpoint the sunshine, to bring the temperature down (and yes, I am grateful for that – sorry everyone else), and to remind me that as soon as it stops raining and drys up we’re going to be straight outdoors again to make the most of it while we can!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And I think that means Mummy’s going to need some wellies to match.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

 

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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life Good news – it turns out I had a cold!  And that ought to go down in the list of phrases I never thought I’d write, but when the sneezing and snuffles and itchy eyes turned into a cough and achy legs at the end of last week and I took a very tired version of me off to bed as soon as the girls were asleep on Friday night I knew (a) it wasn’t just a pregnancy thing and (b) that meant that by Sunday, or a conservative estimate, Monday I’d be feeling better.

And so it proved.  I’m not completely over it but I’m feeling so much better than I was and while I’m not bursting at the seams with extra energy, the things that really felt like a struggle last week, like going to the supermarket and the butchers on the same day, are manageable this week.  The only residual feeling is auntie-guilt; the small nephew has started sneezing and feeling sorry for himself – sorry lovely, Auntie Carie promises to give you a big non-contagious hug the next time she sees you.

So aside from infecting beloved one year olds, how are we?

The Little Bump and I went to see the midwife last week, we’re on weekly visits now until I’m holding him or her in my arms.  According to the tape measure of great accuracy and the growth chart of destiny the baby right now is bigger than either of my elder two were at birth, at which point I decided not to convert that weight into anything that I can actually comprehend and my lovely midwife (obviously spotting the slightly worried expression) reassured me that she’s measuring the whole kit and caboodle; baby, water and all, and while I’ve not exactly set up an Olympic sized swimming pool in there, the Little Bump still has plenty of space to play with.

Which is good because he or she has some rotating to do; Little Bump was sat nicely back to back to me all through the appointment, presenting a rapid fire of feet and elbows to the doppler.

This week I don’t feel like I’ve got too much bigger, and the pictures seem to back that up, although today’s is a morning shot whereas last week’s is from the evening, and I always seem to be a bit bigger at the end of the day.  I don’t think the bump’s got any lower anyway, which is probably a good thing, Little Bump was quite nicely engaged last week so there really isn’t very much lower to get and not be born yet.

But apparently that time is not yet nye.  I’ve tried scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees, and pin basting Kitty’s birthday quilt in a similar position and while both were very satisfying activities in themselves (right up until the point that the mop bucket broke), I don’t feel like I’m any nearer actually having a baby.

I’m still having Braxton Hicks, some of which I notice and some of which I can only tell by prodding my bump and finding it solid, but nothing that suggests I’m going into labour any time soon.  Right now I’ll confidently expect to see 40 weeks, and very probably 41 too.  I categorically refuse to write a 42 week update that doesn’t include a baby in the picture though!

Although having said that, when I added a few nutritious and healthy snacks to the hospital bag this week (Oreos, Chocolate Hobnobs and Eccles Cakes) I did check all of the best before dates to be the far side of 1 September.  We can but hope and book acupuncture that I get to eat them before then!

 

 

I couldn’t say for certain whether it’s the effect of finishing Little Bump’s blanket or more an end of pregnancy urge to make all of the things all of the right now, but there has been one definite consequence of completing the latest wooly magnum opus; I’m craving a palette cleanser.

Or two (*cough* three) ((OK, four)).

It started with the partial packing of the hospital bag (you see where attempts at organisation will lead you) and the realisation that although the Little Bump has a cardigan to wear in the balmy confines of an August maternity ward, he or she was lacking a hat.  Half a day’s careful thought and a big of rummaging in one of the boxes in the disarray of the studio unearthed the rest of the You are My Sunshine yarn, and with the girls happily engaged in actually playing with Moon Dough (for some reason it’s just not as tasty as Playdoh, even if it is a bazillion times messier and thereby relegated to outdoors only) I cast on, and knit, and purled and knit and purled and knit some more.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And it turned into a hat before my very eyes.  I didn’t even have to do the thinking or the maths, I just followed this very sweet and simple pattern from If Nona Knits.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Unless you’ve worked monogamously on a really big project for weeks and months on end it’s hard to explain just how satisfying it is to turn out a little project really quickly. But I can show you:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I made another hat. Because maybe that first hat won’t be the right size for the baby’s head, or maybe it will be too hot or too cold, or maybe that the baby just needs more hats (that could totally be what it’s waiting for couldn’t it?).

This one is from Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK leftover from a Baby Surprise Jacket that I made for a colleague that I unearthed in the studio rearranging and thought would be perfect as a little soft stripy hat.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And so it is (the pattern is Grow With Me Baby from Hither and Yarn, 66sts on 3.75mm needles).

So perfect that I think it might need a little jacket to match.  That would be project 3 then, which is in no way shape or form responsible for a trip up to Solihull yesterday to claim the last two balls of Snowdrop that appear to exist at all anywhere.

You may place your bets now as to whether the baby will beat the knitting.  Personally, my money’s on the yarn, even with distraction from housecleaning number 4, which I think should properly be titled “The Giving into Temptation Ripple”.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

You see I found this bag, stuffed full of almost full balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino or similar, and mostly leftover from when I turned myself into a human sweatshop churning out tiny hand knitted elephants for Kitty’s NCT baby friends’ first birthdays.  There isn’t really enough of any one colour to make something for either of the girls, and any attempt at fairisle could go drastically wrong if I ran out of a colour.  And yet I didn’t want to hand it over to the girls for craft projects, it’s too nice a yarn for that.

But what I have wanted to make for ages and ages is an Attic 24 Ripple Crochet Blanket, and while there isn’t enough yarn to make a blanket, there might be enough for a little something, a cushion cover perhaps for when we merge the girls’ rooms and give them a little makeover in the months to come.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well that was all it took.  The swatch looked rather pretty, and the girls love the colours (particularly if I get them to pick the next one out of the bag), and there’s something a little Cath Kidston in the combination, and before I knew where I was I’d cast on, or crocheted on or whatever the right verb is in crochet.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And now I know three things.

1. This is a great pattern.  Lucy’s instructions are really clear, I’d got the pattern memorised after I finished the swatch, and it’s easy enough to read what you’ve done before to see if you’ve got lost or not.

2. It’s not possible to crochet and look away in the same way that I can knit without seeing what I’m doing (yes, I can and do knit while reading books and knit in the dark/low light) but now that I know what I’m doing with this pattern there’s that lovely familiar repetitive rhythm, the one that I find in knitting that soothes my soul and is at least part of the reason why this house is full of yarn.

3. One is never going to be enough.  I’m going to have to make a full size blanket. One day.