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.

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Do you think there will ever be a point when I don’t find myself thinking “how is it The end of October/Christmas/summer already?” Does time ever slow down again?

Because surely only a moment or two ago it was August and I was waddling around like a heffalump and wondering whether I ought to take some back up Me and Mine pictures. And now there’s a chill in the mornings and a damp earthy sort of smell in the air as leaves flutter from the trees and swirl through the rain to land in a sludgy pile in a corner of the garden. The sort of smell that should come with woodsmoke and a bowl of soup. And the ticking over of the calendar reminds me that it’s time for a family photo.

And for this, our third with Pip in the picture, I decided to be a little adventurous and deviate from what had all the hallmarks of becoming a whole series of “photos of our garden fence with people in front of it”. It’s just not that exciting a garden fence.

So we loaded up. Three children, two adults, one camera, one remote trigger, one sling, one nappy bag and all the other paraphernalia that comes with small children to make a military operation look like tiddlywinks in comparison, and headed to Charlecote Park to play their pumpkin trail in the hope that somewhere along the line we’d find a pretty spot to rest the camera. It’s a National Trust house; there’s always going to be a pretty spot.

It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. Kitty took charge of the pumpkin hunting, dashing off to find the next one, lifting the lid to find a letter and scribbling them down on her card, and we strolled along at Elma-speed behind her. We saw the deer and the sheep grazing in the park, found a pumpkin in the old laundry, watched the pigs snuffling under the trees and the girls jumped off the mounting block again and again while Pip snoozed away cuddled up in the sling.

And on the little bridge over the river we found first a nice wide bit of bridge to rest the camera on,

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then a very kind stranger who offered to take a picture for us and even managed not to be too baffled when I explained that you actually had to look through the viewfinder.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My little family – in October.

And I’m so pleased that we did go out and about for this month’s photos, even if Pip is no more than a tiny sleeping face peeking over the side of the sling, because I think they reflect where we’re getting to as parents, the point where it really isn’t a big deal to go out for the afternoon and not bother with the buggy, the point where we’re completely within our comfort zone but still doing the things that we love to do. We’re not always there yet, but we’re getting there.

Well, that and the out takes are priceless, as H decided to show Kitty how to pose for “your paparazzi mother” based I believe on his experience of appearing in a promotional picture holding a bike once when he was a teenager and, from the looks of things, too much exposure to adverts for mature cruises and/or harlequin golfing jumpers in the back of his art magazines.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


dear beautiful

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In the last few weeks since Pip arrived we’ve had a little flurry of baby related post. And at first it was addressed to Baby Butterflies*, or The Parent or Guardian of Baby Butterflies, and that was fine, it was exactly the same as the letters we’d had about the girls, usually right down to the words inside.

But then as Pip’s real name started to filter through the system they changed. And we came across another of those ‘things you never knew about until you had a boy’.

The girls’ letters were addressed to Miss Kitty Butterflies or Miss Elma Butterflies, and that always seemed to fit perfectly. If you think of a Miss it can just as easily be the tiny baby girl in your arms as the memory of your third form primary school teacher, who though probably only in her 40’s at the time seemed utterly ancient to a seven year old me.

But it appears that boys, even the tiny ones, are Mr. And even though I know it’s his name, there’s still part of me that looks at a letter addressed to Mr Pip Butterflies and has to double take. Mr Pip is a grown up, the teenager who will one day loom over me, and the man that he’s yet to become. Mr is the future, it doesn’t really feel like the present.

I mean, how can someone who looks like this:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Be a Mr?

*NB. Butterflies isn’t actually our surname – wouldn’t it be lovely if it was though, I wonder if anyone actually has it as a surname?

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Back in the day, in the days when a good night’s sleep consisted of a minimum of a solid eight hours, the days when walking barefoot across the carpet didn’t involve the complex navigation of a minefield of small sharply cornered plastic detritus, the days before the definition of a treat included going to the supermarket without any of the children, the clock changes were merely an entertaining eccentricity in the year.

In the spring loosing an hour meant that summer was on its way, and in the autumn there was the joy of an extra hour in bed, and at least a week of feeling more awake and refreshed in the morning because it felt just that little bit later than it really was.

And to be honest until this year the clock changes have treated us fairly kindly; Kitty has been able to adjust without too much of a problem and Elma’s been too little for it to really have an impact.

But this year. Well so far it’s been brutal.  On the old time everyone woke up between 6 and 7am, and I know it’s only Wednesday but I promise you I’ve seen 5am accompanied by all three very wide awake children enough times to last the rest of the year already.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then of course we seem to get caught up in a crazy sort of sleep spiral with overtired little girls crashing out mid afternoon.  It’s lovely that they’re getting the sleep they clearly need, and for Kitty it isn’t really a problem, she still goes to bed at the same time quite happily, but my poor little Elma is suffering.

Under the old time Elma napped once during the day; just before lunch if she was at home and just after lunch at nursery, with the promise that they would wake her by 1.30pm if she hadn’t woken before.  It sounds unbelievable written down but we’ve discovered by painful experience that if Elma has even a moment of sleep after 1.30 it seems to completely reset her body clock.  You can think that she’s exhausted and will fall asleep in a heartbeat but suddenly she’s scampering around like it’s morning, and no matter how much running around, fresh air and all the rest of it we factor into the end of the day she still resists sleep with every ounce of her being.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Cue one increasingly exhausted but very awake little lady.

So if you take 1.30 and make it what used to be 2.30, you can see where we’re going with this one.

Early starts. Long bedtime routines that stretch on into the evening.  Let’s just say that I think caffeine is a very wonderful thing right about now.  I’m shattered.  Possibly more so even than when Pip was a teeny tiny newborn who thought that nights were for catching up together.

And aside from making me firmly in favour of anyone who wants to just have one time and stick with it (I really don’t mind whether it’s GMT or BST, it’s basically much of a muchness), it’s also showing me oh so clearly that for me sleep deprivation isn’t entirely about the amount of actual sleep that I’ve had.

I know that if I went to bed the moment that the girls drifted off and slept all the way through the late evening and the night to whatever extent Pip deems appropriate I would definitely be getting more hours of sleep, but I just can’t do it, and I don’t think it would make me feel any less exhausted.

We get everyone settled and sleepy and then even if I’m still nursing or cuddling Pip I can curl up on the sofa next to H, to chat through our days, or watch a film together.  My evenings are the time for planning all the million and one creative projects that whizz round in my head, even if they’re never going to get further than the planning stage; the time for a little knitting, for sewing the buttons on the latest project, or deciding the next colour in a blanket, for writing, or for sorting through the day’s photos.

And it’s those moments that recharge me, that set me up to face the day that’s coming with calmness and patience.  If I skip that down time, that dare I say it, “me time”, then I’m not sure it would matter how many hours sleep I’d had, I just don’t feel quite me without it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I would love it if the girls could find their routine again, and if you’re a veteran of many clock changes please tell me that they will, but for now, if you’re up at 5am, say hi.  I’ll be the one crocheting for calm. With my eyes closed.

 

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Once upon a time, when Kitty was just a teeny tiny little baby, or not so teeny tiny as the case may be, we ventured out to the library on a chilly winter morning in search of a story or two.

It’s hard to imagine now, looking across the lounge to the play kitchen, the boxes of Duplo, the train set in its basket and the bookcase overflowing with stories of all shapes and sizes, that once upon a time we had a coffee table, and ornaments. Once upon a time that bookcase held grown up books. Well sort of, at least one of the shelves was given over to housing my hardback collection of the Swallows & Amazons series but you know what I mean.

And the change from then to know all stems from that library visit, that gateway to a world of children’s stories far beyond the things I remembered from my own childhood, and the limited appeal of the “that’s not my …” Board books, and the story of Sniff Snuff Snap.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

What better place to begin than with Lynley Dodd.

We brought it home, read it, read it again, and again and again and again. It was the first of the children’s books that I found I’d sort of accidentally memorised, the one I’ve recited a hundred times over my shoulder on long car journeys or rocking a sleepy little girl in my arms.

And it’s still awesome.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

In the heart of the African plains lives a little warthog, tail up high, guarding his waterhole from all and sundry.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

He chases them away, the weaver birds, the zebras, even the elephants, with a sniff snap snap, but to no avail;they all come back. And slowly the water goes down and down.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Poor little warthog, tired and hot, all they leave him is thick brown mud, and in the distance the looming thunderclouds and the promising first drops of rain.

Unlike many of our other Lynley Dodd favourites this isn’t all about the deliciousness of tongue twisting language, the focus is all on the repetition, the same key phrases used for each set of animals and that gives it both a familiarity and the rhythm that Kitty loved as a baby.

We bought it as soon as the original was due back at the library, along with the bookseller’s recommendation for something similar, a book by an author I’d never heard of before, but with some lovely looking illustrations, a book called Room on the Broom. And from that point there’s been no going back, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

Last wek Vickie discovered a whole heap of classics with Usborne’s Illustrated Stories for Children and Jess joined us for the first time (yay! and welcome!) with a book I must look out for for Pip, Baby’s Day.  And if you have a favourite, or just something fun your little or not so little ones have enjoyed reading lately please do join us.  There really are no rules here, it doesn’t have to be a book you own or for a particular age group.  I write about books for pre-schoolers because that’s what I have, some of them from our exploding bookcases and some from the library, but I’m always looking out for the next stage up, and anything that’s really good tends to transcend age groups anyway!

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!



“I want Elsa! And Anna! And Snow White” said Kitty waving her soup spoon wildly at the computer as the screen scrolled down.

“Mickeymouseclubmouse!!” replied Elma

“Umm” I thought.  Perhaps it wasn’t exactly the best idea to search google for pumpkin carving images.  At least, maybe not with the girls around.  I’m terribly flattered by their confidence in my abilities to wield a paring knife with skill but given that I have carved I think three pumpkins before in my entire life, two of which were the traditional spooky face, and the other of which was a cat, which is pretty much a spooky face with ears and whiskers, the entire cast of Frozen rendered in miniature orange silhouette really is beyond me.

With a bit of persuasion they refined their plans and I sketched out a few ideas; and then we made them even simpler, and smaller when I realised just how teeny tiny the pumpkins that girls had picked out actually are when you’re trying to carve a picture into them.  Note to self: buy bigger pumpkins.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Last time we tried pumpkin carving Kitty was most decidedly unimpressed about the idea of putting her hand into the pumpkin and scooping out the guts, and as Elma is now a similar age it was no real surprise that she took one look at her pumpkin and turned to me with a slightly worried expression:

“No like it. Mummy do it.”

So Mummy did Elma’s while Kitty attacked her pumpkin with gusto and an ice cream scoop.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Pumpkin seeds and orange slime went flying.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I’m beginning to think that a really clean scoop out is one of the keys to a neat and tidy looking carved pumpkin but we haven’t mastered that yet, so we went for the best we could manage before all enthusiasm for the subject went out the window.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My other top tip gleaned from the internet was to cut the bottom not the top of the pumpkin to scoop it out, then you have a nice flat bottom to balance the pumpkin on, and you can light a candle and lower the pumpkin over it rather than trying to light through your carving.

 

And so I sat looking at two small pumpkins, one paring knife, one barbeque skewer and the expectations of my daughters.  Well if we’re going to go for cliches: in for a penny, in for a pound, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and practice makes perfect.

May I present this year’s pumpkins:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Elma’s) and Slinky Malinki (Kitty’s).

They’re not technically very impressive (there’s a carousel with horses pictured on google that’s just jaw dropping if you want impressive) but sat out on the garden wall with tea lights flickering away underneath them they look rather sweet; lightening the darkness and bringing cheer to the greyest of days.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

living arrows

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

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As H gets ready to leave for work each morning a little tousled blond head appears at his side:

“Daddy! Are you staying home with us today?”
“Not today sweetheart, I have to go to work.”
“But I want you to stay because I just really love you the most Daddy!!”

Nothing like making Mummy feel really cherished first thing in the morning is there Kitty-cakes?

I know it’s just the novelty value as it were; Mummy is always here, Mummy does not appear with Milkybars in her pockets, Mummy can’t hold small daughters upside down by their ankles, Mummy just isn’t as exciting. And truth be told there are mornings where Mummy would also quite like it if Daddy was staying home!

But at the weekend or on odd days of holiday when the answer is a resounding “yes” it’s lovely to see her enormous smiles, even if H rather wishes they weren’t immediately followed by two small girls using him as a climbing frame in what seems to be a quest to be the first to sit on his head. (Seriously, Elma’s knees gave him two neat little purple bruises on his stomach the other week when she flung herself at him!)

There are days when we come up with an adventure, or we’ve got plans to meet friends, and lots of our weekends revolve around hockey matches but sometimes the very best days are the ones with no plan at all, the days when we go as the whim takes us.

We might be snuggled up at home having family film afternoon while the rain drips down the windows, or sat around the table playing all sorts of glueing painting and sticking, or in this case running around the park in a window of sunshine before the rain moved in again.

The park has a policy of tidying up fallen trees but leaving them mostly in situ so they can be clambered all over, and this little log was just irresistible to Kitty. And where Kitty goes, there follows Elma, even if she might need a little fatherly assistance to stop her splatting straight into a puddle!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So while I rocked a sleepy Pip back and forth in his pram, my intrepid trio set about exploring. They wibbled a bit, wobbled a bit, and then jumped!

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

It was a tiny moment in a very everyday sort of day, but they’re the days where we seem to really revel in being a family of five; days of utter contentment. It’s the emotional equivalent of that feeling of being slightly stuffed but very happy that you get sat in front of a roaring fire after a really great roast lunch followed by apple crumble and custard.

The days when I look around at our little family and feel how truly blessed we are. These very wonderful ordinary days.

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There’s been a definite nip in the air these past few weeks. Even when the day dawns bright and sunny, so sunny that Kitty and I have to have the oft repeated discussion about how sunshine does not equal hot, at least not when you live in Warwickshire, and no a sundress is not suitable clothing for the day unless you want to add tights and a long sleeved t-shirt to the mix, there’s been an undercurrent of crispness, a little bite in the early morning air to put roses in our cheeks as we head out to nursery.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

There’s been rain too, but not the steaming rain of the summer when you watched it drizzle down, noses pressed to the back door, longing for it to stop so you could rush outside again, but a steady drizzle punctuated with phenomenal cloud burst and stunning rainbows to follow, rain to make you reach for the soup pot, the wooly socks and the central heating switch, rain to make you hibernate.

And whether it’s the season or some overdue pregnancy hormones making a last hurrah I am nesting. Properly nesting. Well for me anyway. And no that doesn’t mean I’ve discovered a strong an unnatural urge to do. The housework, or that we’re very much, if at all, further forward on the grand studio makeover, although I did move the bookcase into its new position last week so that definitely counts, you just have to overlook the piles of boxes on the floor that still need sorting.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

No, nesting for me means yarn, and fibre, and fabric and a million and one plans of all the things I’m going to make in that time which I don’t have.

We will be warm and cozy this winter because (a) we live in England and (b) we have central heating, so why does autumn make me want to prepare as if we’re about to face a blizzard armed with nothing more than what I can make? (You don’t need to answer that one!)

So I started with the yarn stash. Once upon a time my yarn lived in a small plastic box on a shelf in my room in my house in London. That was a long time ago! Now it takes up all of a Billy bookcase with doors on and a few skeins and baskets and odd balls found lying around the house. And yet whenever I saw a project on Ravelry or on someone else’s blog that I really really wanted to make I never seemed to have the right yarn or enough yarn, just a cupboard full of odd balls and projects that I haven’t got round to yet. So I pulled it all out. Apart from the sock yarn stash which has a whole shelf of its own I filled three Ikea cubes, and I’m sure there’s still a few odd bits and bobs lying around the place.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then the sorting began, first into piles by weight and then the harder bit, the letting go bit. I think I was pretty ruthless, at least I tried to be. It’s obvious to keep the sweater’s worths, the yarn where I know what it wants to be, but there were a good few odd balls in the mix too, leftovers from a previous project or just bought to swatch and experiment with. And a whole heap of those have gone in the donate bag. To find new lives either with friends who knit for charity or in Kitty’s art room at nursery.

I’m sure I’ve kept more than I should but I’ve made a little mental note to do this again next year and there are a few things that have got a year to be knit up before they too find themselves on the art project list.

And in a fit of obsessive organisation I’ve also been putting what I kept into my Ravelry page, and rearranging my queue and tidying out my favourites. I found so much that I’d forgotten I had, probably because there can be quite a gap between the buying and the knitting nowadays, and it feels oddly comforting to be able to see it all at a glance, to know that the only thing I’m going to need to make a Christmas jumper for Pip is the pattern and a handful of buttons because the yarn is right there waiting for me.

Even though the realist in me knows that I’m not going to knit through my entire stash this winter, or probably get to even half the projects I’m planning in my head, there’s something oddly comforting about knowing that it’s there ready and waiting. And now terribly terribly organised!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

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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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