Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2016: June

30/06/2016

Oh June you have been extraordinary. Impossibly wet, to the point that I took a week’s holiday and never managed an afternoon sat in the garden in the sunshine, crazy busy, though when does that ever change, and in the last week the wider world feels like it’s fallen down the rabbit hole and we’re all dazedly roaming around Wonderland trying to work out what happens next. And yet it’s been lovely.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: June

This month I took my first decent stretch of holiday since Christmas, which was long overdue, H went to Majorca with his friends and came back with the world’s ugliest golf trophy (again), and I spent a couple of days drinking in inspiration at Blogtacular.

We’ve celebrated the Queen’s birthday, H and my birthday, our brother-in-law’s birthday and our sister-in-law’s birthday with a surfeit of cake and Kitty bounced her way through half term and on to the final stretch of her Reception year.

Little Miss Elma took the second of her preschool gym badges; I have no idea what she actually has to do to get it, and she mostly demonstrates by doing a downward dog, so I’m none the wiser, but she’s very proud of the badge, and we’re very proud of her.

And as you can see from the photos, our little tiny Pip Squeak becomes ever the more determinedly attached to any golf club/hockey stick/cricket bat/stick he can lay his hands on.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: June

A lovely dear friend came to supper on Monday night (well supper and picture taking, but he’s known me a very long time so it can’t have been too much of a surprise), and when I arrived home from work they were all out in the garden playing hockey, with Pip getting stuck in at the centre of things.  Even when we went to sit at our patio table for supper he wriggled down and headed off, favouring practice over pudding.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: June

There has been so much in the wider world this last week that is not good: a country revealed to be deeply polarised in its opinions; hurt and confusion reigning supreme on both sides of the ballot box; racism brought to the fore under the sham of legitimate political opinion.  It’s been a week which will set us off on the next part of our history, a “choose your own adventure” moment, turn to page 212 for Brexit.  I’m not ashamed to say that I wanted us to stay part of the EU, and I’m proud that the little part of the world where I live and the little part of the world where I’m from both voted Remain; small bastions in a sea of rural Leave votes.

The EU is far from perfect but I think that the solution would have been to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in to making it better, rather than thinking of it as the slightly camp, made to be laughed at, bureaucratic version of the Eurovision Song Contest; the sort of place where we send Farage and his ilk to keep them out of the way.  I spent Friday in a little cloud of shock and gut wrenching dismay; in my little bubble of friends and family almost everyone I spoke to was firmly in the remain camp, and I wasn’t expecting the result we got. Actually Kitty did vote “out” in her primary school mock election because as she later told us, she really liked Europe when we went last summer, she wants to go again, and you can only go to Europe if you go out of the classroom. Perfect logic, but a little something was lost in explanation!

I worry about our future, about the legacy we will be leaving to these three little ones and their generation, and about the people who voted Leave truly believing that nothing could be worse than their current set up, who I’m afraid will find that not necessarily true as straw promises come tumbling down around them.

Somehow taking our family photos was a marker of normality in a week where I’ve listened to more Radio 4 than ever before in my life. A constant in an increasingly crazy world. They are my world and my confidence that when the dust settles and the negotiations are over, and we’ve looked around this new world and made it our home,  I know we’ll still be taking family pictures, even the ones where Elma pulls a funny face, and Pip’s eating a ball and H and I look like we need to sleep for a week and Kitty is more fidgety than an imp.

My family, in June:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2016: June

The Me and Mine Project

Blogging Inspiration Review

Adding to my notebook addiction

28/06/2016

Hello, my name’s Carie, and I have a notebook addiction.

I also rather like pens but pens come and go and run out and get lost in the bottom of my work bag and get stolen by the children. Notebooks, they’re treasured.

Right now I have, let me see, one, two, three, four in use; my Blogtacular planner, my Blogtacular notebook from last year which I’ve nearly finished, a spiral bound one from BritMums many moons ago with a picture of the sea on the front of it, my beautiful Essie one, oh and this year’s Blogtacular notebook which makes five.

And if I count the sample planner that’s very nearly full up, and the journal planner that I dip in and out of, that makes seven. Ah. That may explain a lot.

Space for the Butterflies - Bookblock Original personalised notebook

Even with seven notebooks on the go I’ve still got a little stash, just in case of notebook emergency; the teeny tiny one I made at the Berylune craft party, a little pile of spotty ones, two gorgeous exercise books that are the perfect handbag size, and my birthday present from the girls, a little black book with rainbow pages.

So when the lovely people at Bookblock got in contact and asked whether I’d like to try one of their Bookblock Originals the answer was an easy “Oh very much yes”.

A little scoot through some of my recent pictures, I emailed off a favourite and waited for the letterbox to thump the joyful sound of exciting post.

And exciting post it was.

Space for the Butterflies - Bookblock Original personalised notebook

The only possible reaction was “Wow!”

My picture of my little trio, wrapped all the way around the cover, so that Kitty and Pip are on the front, and a giggly Elma on the back. It’s a soft matt cover, and incredibly tactile, and the colours are beautiful and vibrant.

Space for the Butterflies - Bookblock Original personalised notebook

Inside the pages are blank, which suits me perfectly, with a book mark to hold my place, and an elastic band to hold it all together when I inevitably stuff little extra bits and bobs in between the pages.

Space for the Butterflies - Bookblock Original personalised notebook

I love it. In fact the only problem is knowing that nothing I ever write in a notebook could possibly be good enough for it. In her Blogtacular talk, Kirsty of Eeh Bah Mum suggested that the best thing to do with a brand new blank notebook is to give it to your children to scribble on to get you past the hump of that perfect first page feeling but I’m not sure I can do it, not with this one.

Space for the Butterflies - Bookblock Original personalised notebook

Although, it did cross my mind that if I got a notebook with the children on every year that might encourage me to use it while they’re still roughly that age!

So while I work out how to convince H that this is a need not merely a want, let me know I’m not alone – how many notebooks do you have on the go at once, and have you ever had one too pretty to use?

Blogging

Blogtacular 2016: Be inspired, be very inspired

27/06/2016

The first year I went to Blogtacular in faith, trusting in Kat and Kat’s vision, and delighted to see it come to life. Last year I went to be filled up with inspiration and to see friends. And this year I wondered how on earth we could top it.  Oh me of little faith. Blogtacular this year was the best yet, and I don’t say that lightly.

Blogtacular 2016

If there was a theme to my Blogtacular this year it was “quality not quantity”, a lesson that felt wonderfully at odds with a lot of mainstream chatter about posting on every social media ever in quadruplicate before you’ve even finished breakfast.

Sara Tasker’s brilliant session on iPhone photography was never about how many times a day you should post to Instagram, but about finding your photography ‘dream style’. For the first time I got what ‘curating your feed’ should really look like. It’s not about always posting the same perfectly staged photos, but discovering what appeals to you in your own style, and then making sure that the photos that you share are the very best examples about what you love, and as instantly recognisable as your written voice.

We talked about capturing moments rather than simply taking photos of things, of styling, and about getting yourself into the frame, and after all of that we still had time to play with some props (including a tea towel from West Elm that I may now have to buy because blue and orange ducks are too awesome to pass up on).

image

If you don’t already follow Sara as @me_and_orla you really should; her main feed is truly beautiful – and then there is the joy that is @meandlukeskywalker which made my husband giggle until he wept – in a good way.

Blogtacular 2016

Kirsty Smith of the brilliantly named Eeh Bah Mum  ran a session on turning your ideas into content that was never about SEO, or writing the sort of posts that get you the most hits/shares/likes/whatever else there is, but about stretching your mind. It was about coming up with all the crazy and utterly useless ideas you like, because in the rough are the diamonds, and then making your mind work on them (note the “making”), so that the good ideas have time to justify themselves and expand to their full potential, and the not yet ideas and the really rubbish ideas can wait.  It’s one of those things that I can see with hindsight; some of my favourite posts have been the ones I’ve thought about for weeks and finally written down when the words just wouldn’t stay inside my head any more.

Blogtacular 2016

Enid Hwang as the closing keynote put to bed once and for all the concept of overnight success.  When most of what we see on blogs and social media is the edited highlights, it’s easy to forget that you’re not seeing the whole story, and unless it’s your family or your best friend, you’re unlikely to be seeing the true beginning.  But I found there was a flip side too; in reminding us that Pinterest once came from a team of six (of which she was the sixth), working in a tiny two bedroom apartment and struggling to get software engineers to understand what it is that they were doing,she also told the story of grit, hard work and staying true to your values eventually turning into that not-very-overnight but wholly deserved success.

Blogtacular 2016

A whole hour and a half writing workshop with Laura Jane Williams of Superlatively Rude was something that would be pure indulgence in my daily life.  It wasn’t always easy, but it taught me volumes about how I edit (or don’t!), and the power in editing.  And because it was Blogtacular I wasn’t scared to swap pages with my neighbour (the lovely Sally Strawberry) and I wish I could do it more often. Being forced to go beyond the very polite English response and say why I liked her writing forced us both to analyse what it was that made things resonate and the whole thing was a huge and wonderfully stretchy learning curve.

Admittedly it was a learning curve that set me for a little spin in the world of “nothing-I-have-ever-written-is-good-enough-wow-everyone-in-that-room-could-write-beautifully-oh-my-goodness-that-post-I-wrote-in-a-hurry-what-was-I-thinking” once I got home again, but actually I’m glad of that too.  It’s been a good solid nudge to remind me that if want to write more, I need to edit more.  It’s not that I don’t like what I’ve written, it’s just that I want to keep getting better, and that means putting the hours in, and putting the thinking in.  And if two speakers in one day have told me to do the thinking, that’s probably a hint I ought to take.

Blogtacular 2016

I had no idea this photo was being taken and I love it for the laughter!

But the talk that I really needed to hear, the one that completely blew me away both in what was said, and what was not said, was Lisa Congden’s opening keynote.  As someone who came to a new career in her 30’s, and almost by chance, you’d be forgiven for thinking she would speak about believing in yourself, having courage and patience and being prepared to go the distance. But she didn’t.

Blogtacular 2016

She spoke about what truly matters, what a good life boils down to, and asked why what is actually essential (love and connection) gets trampled beneath what we are conditioned to aspire to (money and power), and the reality it leaves us in (feeling that we are never enough).  I’m a wife, a mother of three, I work full-time, I love to make things, to write, and to take photographs and I want to do it all, and do it well, and get better at it. Accepting that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything and be everything is my biggest challenge.  To have that conundrum so sharply brought into focus was oddly freeing. If it’s universal then it’s not just me.  And so I can tell myself that in everything I do today and in everything I do tomorrow, I am enough.

It doesn’t mean I’m not striving for the stars; I will always want to be the very best me I can be, but it is shouting to my subconscious that the very best me isn’t out of reach, it’s right here, right now.

Blogtacular 2016

And that’s the thing about Blogtacular.  It’s not, and it’s never been a conference about telling you how to blog.  It’s a conference about creativity, to inspire you to do you, in whatever shape or form that might take, to the very best of your ability.

Now how many days is it until next year?

Photos not of tea towels thanks to the very lovely team at Mollie Makes who sponsored them again – you’re stars!

Elma Family Kitty {the ordinary moments}

The Sisterhood

26/06/2016

Elma was singing, twirling around a lamppost in the way that only partially abstracted three year olds can get away with. And then the singing stopped, and the wails started.  She’d been skipping through a tiny narrow gap between two posts that was definitely not designed to fit humans, misjudged it slightly, and bounced into the very solid reality of one of the posts.

It wasn’t too bad a bump, not even hard enough to bruise, but the shock and dismay were enough to provoke her very loudest announcement of the occurrence.  And I couldn’t go to her.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sisterhood

The reality of life with three children is that you will never ever have enough hands, you just have to make do with the ones available. Most of the time I’m just fine with left and right, I’ve got my strategies for holding hands to cross the road (I hold Elma and Pip and Kitty holds Elma’s free hand) and serving out supper (anyone who asks to be first will be going last, even if I have to dig to the bottom of the pile for H’s plate to get started) and making sure that the girls feel that life is as fair as I can make it (fighting a loosing battle on that one I know), but going from one to two teaches you rapidly that you cannot meet every need immediately, and two to three only solidifies that. You simply cannot parent two or three in the same way that you parent one. When Kitty was little every squeak was answered immediately, and occasionally by both parents, because there was not a single other call on our attention that was more important than our tiny daughter.

With three you just know that there are times when you’re going to have to chose, to pick one child’s needs over the other and hope that the one you didn’t choose can at least try to understand both the delay and your decision.

And with Pip half in half out of the sling, and both of us standing out in the middle of the road to get him into his car seat, it was a horribly hard easy choice;  I needed to finish putting Pip in the car and then go and sort out Elma. And even though that probably only took seconds, in my head the subconscious mummy guilt stretched seconds into forever.

But as I came around the corner of the car to scoop up my darling girl, I saw someone had got there first; Elma had run straight to Kitty, and Kit had opened up her arms for her sister.  They were stood on the pavement, Elma with her arms wrapped tightly around her sister’s waist, head pressed up against her tummy, tears soaking into the gingham of her school dress, as the sobs continued to roll through her, and Kitty, hugging her back for all her might, rubbing her back and dropping kisses onto the top of her sister’s head.

These two little girls of mine, turn and turn about thick as thieves and fierce rivals as sisters will be.  I mostly see them at home, within our family unit, and it’s then that they can relax and most press each other’s buttons and so while I know that they love each other, and can see how much they enjoy playing together, I get very little evidence of the pair of them against the world.

Until of course circumstances spell it out in glorious technicolour.

Space for the Butterflies - the Sisterhood

That’s the gift of sisterhood, the one that means that I really ought to give the mummy guilt the heave ho, the one that means that I don’t need to worry that I can’t buckle wriggly babies into car seats while also giving cuddles and soothing bumped heads; these two will have each others’ back no matter what.

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments

 

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

26/52 {the 2016 portraits}

25/06/2016

Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait of my children each week for 2016

Kitty: Taking photos of your Daddy and me for our birthday.  I love how confident you’re getting with my camera – it’s a far cry from the days when you couldn’t work out that you had to look through the viewfinder and you thought I took pictures more by luck than design.

(Daddy’s iPhone!)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait of my children each week for 2016

Elma: I thought I’d asked for a smile?! Who says three year olds aren’t scary!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/100, f/3.5, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project, a portrait of my children each week for 2016

Pip: I think that face says it all – you know you’re not meant to be trying to ride your sister’s bike, but anything she can do … (and that goes for either of them)! Never has there been such a little boy for running and jumping and climbing and never ever stopping.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/120, f/5, ISO 100)