I’m terribly afraid that I’m going to be utterly unable to do justice to this week’s book.  It was reviewed in the last Green Parent magazine and I knew we had to have it almost as soon as I saw the title.  It’s a book I could just visualise their Grandad reading aloud, sat with a tiny granddaughter in each arm.
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
When I first met H and his family I found myself suddenly immersed in an array of family idiom which all seemed to stem from the family’s not-quite-but-near-to-Glaswegian origins; a good heap of Scottish dialect, only slightly adjusted for family use.  To a girl from Devon it was utterly bemusing.  I had no idea whether half the slang was complimentary or not or what on earth it could mean that it was ‘dreek’ (NB I worked that one out as soon as I opened the curtains).  And over the years I’ve assimilated a little bit of it, mostly the overuse of ‘wee’ as an adjective, and started to understand a little bit more, but there’s still every possibility of my being sat there thinking “whaaat?!”
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Thistle Sands tells the story of a very popular trip to the beach, attended by just about every stereotypically named Scottish person from Caitlin to Gregor and back again, and in among all of their adventures, and beautifully rhymed to boot, are little snippets of Scottish slang.  It’s brilliant.
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
And thankfully for those of us that are a bit lacking in linguistic skills, there’s a glossary in the back, because as you see, this kind of learning requires some serious concentration!
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - Thistle Sands
Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

Last week was obviously a week for the eye candy in children’s books; Anne-Marie shared the brilliantly named Splat the Cat, which has the most gorgeous illustrations; and Claire scored a fabulous 20p charity shop bargain in the sweet and beautiful Moon Rabbit.

So if you have a favourite, please do share it with us; each linky stays open for a week so there’s plenty of time to join in.  And so, without further ado, it’s over to you!



 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a second child will taste certain tastes at a younger age than their bigger sibling. Because if it isn’t the big sister sharing her bounty (of both the treasure and the chocolate bar variety) that introduces a little something sweet, it will certainly be the result of the indignant wails of the aforementioned tiny one when she notices that another member of the family is eating something that she doesn’t have.

Double the wails if the someone is Kitty.

And so it was with ice-cream. Elma noticed, demanded her share, poked a little finger into my portion, tasted, and decided that this was a food she should be eating (as to be fair has just about everything else she’s ever tried).

And so when Sunday lunch is finished off with Sunday ice cream cone, Miss Elma gets her fair share, a cone and a little mini scoop of vanilla.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

She’s got to the point where I think she recognises the sound of the freezer door opening; she certainly recognises the tub appearing on the table and when we hand over a cone she looks ready to burst with happiness.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

She sits up in her chair, carefully eating around the top edge, then turns it upside down and bites off the bottom, before turning it back the right way (usually just before the whole thing plops into her lap) and slowly demolishing the remainder as stray drips work their way down the inside and drizzle out onto her fingers leaving her delightedly sticky.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

Now that’s the way to enjoy your food.

living arrows

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

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Today is a very unordinary day.  Easter Sunday: a day of rejoicing, of gladness, of celebration and thankfulness.

For me, to write about Easter as an everyday ordinary would be like trying to make Christmas out to be just a really great Sunday lunch; it’s not going to happen.  Today is special, and so it should be.

And so for today, I am simply thankful.

Thankful for salvation, for everything that Easter Sunday represents now and always.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Thankful for my family, both the immediate one of H, Kitty, Elma and Little Bump, and the wider aray of grandparents, great-grandma, uncles, aunts and cousins that surround us.

For baby snuggles with the newest member of that family.

For sunshiney bright days as the end draws near to what has seemed to be a very long, wet, dreary winter and the prospect of many days spent mostly outside.

For new life; the joy of watching the lambs bounce across the fields from the train on the way to work, and taking the girls to count the fluffy brown and gold ducklings on the lake in the park.

And for smiles, always for smiles, and for hide peepo from a little girl whose personality grows day by day.

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

 

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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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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Yippee! We are officially over half way to meeting this new little person. I’m really looking forward to that day, but not in a counting down the days and minutes sort of a way, just that I’m curious to find out who he or she will turn out to be; whether they’ll look like the big sisters, whether they’ll have H’s blue eyes, or that same baby giggle as Elma.

For the most part I love being pregnant, especially at this stage when I don’t quite need a crane to get me upright so I can still get things done, but the bump is obvious enough to get me a seat on the train, and the little one kicking away is a reassurance that all is well.

Right now I’m happy to wait my eighteen weeks (NB. baby if you’re listening, not too much more after that please) and treasure and enjoy this time, though if we get a really crazy hot summer I fully reserve the right to change my mind come July or August and demand that the baby comes now. Little Bump will doubtless ignore all such maternal pleading and arrive in his or her own time, much like a certain someone’s big sisters.

So how are we?

Well much as before, only bigger. We’ve not see the midwife or the consultant since just before my 20 week scan and won’t for another few weeks (when I have two appointments on following days!).

Little Bump should be measuring just shy of a 30cm ruler from top to toe. The only vegetable comparison I could find suggested a Spaghetti Squash as the appropriate size, but (a) I’ve never seen one in real life, and (b) my experience of the squashes that I have seen suggest that their length, and general size, is very much determined by the length of time that they are left growing before they’re picked and weather and soil conditions during the growing season, all of which makes it an impossible to visualise, but probably very apt size guide!

He or she is however kicking up a storm, and I love it. Most of the kicks seem to be straight down, or into my innards, all thumpy and strong and now doubt about what they are now. H has yet to successfully stalk Little Bump to feel a kick, though that could just as easily be due to the two little girls that clamber into his lap at every available opportunity, there’s not much space left for the bump! There have been a few kicks that I’ve been able to feel from the outside, and one that made my tummy visibly jump, but they’re few and far between – for now.

And as for me, I’ve still got that smidgen more energy, and I’m finding life is hurtling along at its usual pace while the bump grows merrily bigger and bigger. I know it seems strange, particularly when you see the size of me, but it’s rather easy to forget that I’m pregnant most of the time, or at least if not exactly forget, to find that our days are filled with life as it is now that I don’t have time to be so wholly focused on the Little Bump and all things pregnancy as I was when I was expecting Kitty. Perhaps there’s more than a grain of truth in the adage that says that the first baby comes home on a velvet cushion, and the third comes home with the shopping! I’m not bothered by it either, I know that as we get nearer and nearer to 40 weeks my focus will start to change and Little Bump will become foremost in my mind.

I have however managed to start a little baby knitting of my own this week too, and a large parcel arrived from a place quite north of here with a gorgeous selection of baby blanket yarn, so don’t worry Little Bump, you’re not being entirely neglected.

Having had two children myself, and with one more on the way, and having knitted for umpteen precious arrivals of friends and family you’d think I’d have at least half a clue by now as to how long it takes to have a baby.

And I do, in the technical sense, just apparently not when it comes to knitting. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that while I know how long it takes to have a baby, I no longer have any realistic expectations of how long it takes me to knit something for them.

And so it was that when one of my colleagues and friends started to blossom and bloom and count down the days, hours and minutes until her maternity leave started, I smiled, tried not to tell her too much about labour and birth other than that it’s all worth it (on the basis that innocence is bliss and it was far too late for her to back out now), and merrily made arrangements for the handing over of her files and for people to cover her caseload while she’s away.

Only on the Thursday before her final week did I realise that in all of this planning I hadn’t even thought about the knitting, let alone started it. Oops.

Well there’s never very much thinking about baby knitting for a first baby, my go-to knit is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, and with good reason; it’s easy to knit, delightfully unisex unless you want it to be otherwise, and most importantly, it’s really easy to dress a tiny floppy little newborn in; no funny poppers or arms thinner than your fingers, just a nice squishy garter stitch jacket that lies open when you plonk it on the changing mat and buttons up the front without any bumpy seams for the baby to lie on and prove their royal connections, Princess and the Pea style.

Somehow in what can only have been a lunch-induced coma in which all logic flew out the window I found myself nipping out to buy a few balls of something warm and squishy in the confident expectation that I’d be able to whip it up over the weekend and have it washed and be-buttoned before the expectant Mama’s final day. You may now all laugh. A lot. I don’t mind, it seems pretty funny to me too in hindsight.

I mean way back in the day, before I had any children, with a bit of neglect of the household chores and the ordering of pizza for supper on at least one day, yes I could have churned out a baby jumper in a weekend. But now?

I know.

But the wonderful thing about knitting is that if you just keep doing the odd stitch here and there it does all add up, and little by little the rows added up until at last there was a little finished jacket and a whole heap of ends.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Kitty helped me to choose a set of buttons from my button stash and we washed it and blocked it, wrapped it up and sent it on its way. It arrived on Monday morning, at which point the future wearer was still firmly en-bump and answering to Bean. Phew.

The Mama-to-be not being a knitter herself I’m pretty sure she won’t have heard of the old wives tale that says that babies won’t come until the knitting is finished, which is rather a good thing (for me) as she was convinced the baby would be early, and I’m pretty sure she’s just sailed through her due date. Fingers crossed for her sake that the power of the knitting now prods this baby into making an appearance.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And for those that are interested in such things, I knit it pretty much to the pattern, alternating between the two colours of Rowan’s Baby Merino Silk DK (in Snowdrop and Dawn I think) to make the stripes pretty much on whim. The one change I did make was at the end of the lower back section where you knit back and forth on the centre stitches for a little while before picking up down the sides and carrying on to the ends; rather than pick up each side on subsequent rows I broke the yarn, started a new row at the very far end and picked up stitches for both sides on the same right side row. It keeps all the pick up bumps on the same sides so that the fronts match which is really obvious in stripes (not so much in one colour or self striping where I’ve never really bothered).

It’s the first time I’ve knit with Baby Merino Silk and I think it’s a relatively new addition to Rowan’s flock. It’s designed to be a baby yarn and certainly ticks the boxes for me; soft, machine washable and natural fibres – my inner fibre snob rejoices. It had a bit of a crunch to it while I knit it up, and it didn’t feel quite as soft as my other go-to, Baby Cashmerino, but after a little soak and a gentle blocking it bloomed beautifully and all that was left was silky soft garter stitch ripples, just perfect for snuggling up around a teeny tiny newborn.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Now all we need is the baby.

It seems like the last few weeks have been all about Kitty’s books so I thought we’d take a little trip into Elma’s bookcase with one of her current favourites.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - This Little Monster

This Little Monster was a book Kitty originally picked out, long before Elma made an arrival on the scene, but as time has passed it seems to have migrated to the shelf below thanks to a little skilful reorganising by Miss Elma.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - This Little Monster

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - This Little Monster

It’s one a in a number of our collection of touchy feely baby books, but it has virtues that set it above the rest. I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of the ubiquitous “That’s Not My ….” series; they’re all right for what they are, and they’re fun to have around for little fingers to turn the pages and chew the corners, stroke the fluffy bits and prod the squishy bits, but literature they are not.

Because there’s no rhyme or patter in the words I find them harder going when you want something to read to little ones who aren’t really interacting yet. At Elma’s age and younger it’s as much about the rhythm of what you’re reading as the words themselves that have that magical effect on little ones as they unwind themselves and cuddle in for a story.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - This Little Monster

This Little Monster has patter and rhyme. Not a lot, it’s only a short little book after all, but enough to make it fun to read, with some nice words to wrap your tongue around and lovely invitations in the text to touch and feel.

And the touchy feely bits are fun too; a whole range of different textures, including some cut out holes on the front cover that are just the perfect size for poking with little fingers.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're Reading - This Little Monster

Cute little monsters for my little monsters – what’s not to like!

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

Last week Anne-Marie’s family were reading the book I think we’re all starting to need now it’s getting lighter in the evenings, I don’t want to go to bed (I’m certain it can’t just be our daughters); Claire found another gorgeous Usbourne interactive book full of lift the flaps and noises and beeps in the form of baby’s first BIG playbook; and Vickie had me giggling from the get go with the wonderfully named Don’t put your pants on your head Fred!

So if you have a favourite, please do share it with us; each linky stays open for a week so there’s plenty of time to join in.  And so, without further ado, it’s over to you!



Most of our childhood memories are unique to us, even siblings will see the same experience differently, or remember different things for different reasons.  But in among all of that I think there are some childhood experiences and memories that are a sort of universal constant.  The precise details may differ, the location, who you were with, whether it was raining, or what happened next.  But I’d hazard a guess that every one of us can remember swinging, or running til you thought you’d burst, or, just for example, rolling down a hill.

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

The smell of the grass crushed under your elbows, the moment when you figured out how to tuck yourself together tightly so that you rolled down rather than round and round in circles, that funny sort of flying feeling when the momentum starts to build and you turn faster and faster and faster, and the comfort of finally coming to a stop and gazing up at the sky while the world whirls around you; waiting for your sense of direction and a little bit of balance to come back together so that you can climb straight up to the top and do it all over again.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Kitty hasn’t exactly mastered rolling just yet, I don’t think she’s realised that she has to lie down and she spends a bit too much time sat up to get that proper dizzying spin going.  But there’s no hurry, she’ll figure it out in her own time, and if childhood is for nothing else, it is for finding your way to things by a good deal of grass-stained trial and error!

living arrows

We’ve been utterly spoiled this week.  Not one, not two, but all three grandparents have been to visit the girls.  It’s been wonderful.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

First Grandma and Grandad arrived on Tuesday lunchtime to spend the afternoon with us, hiding from a rather biting wind pottering around the garden centre as Elma downed an extraordinary amount of tomato pasta and turned top to toe orange in the process (for their own protection no cameras were allowed into the fall out zone but you can imagine the number of baby wipes required to return the young lady in question to peachy pink), and then we all piled home for Chinese, story time, and all the cuddles two tinies could wish for.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, Grandpa arrived on Thursday night to spend a couple of days.  

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

(photo by Kitty!)

It’s fair to say that my daughters have left him smiling but exhausted.  He took the girls to the play park while I hopped on a conference call for work, and then after lunch we went out again, down to Upton to bask in the gorgeous sunshine as Kitty did roly poly down the slope and Elma tried to decide whether she liked grass underfoot.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I’m going to hazard a guess that holding Elma’s fingers while she toddled along, or running after a Kitty calling “chase me Grandpa, chase me!” is a bit of a change to the norm.  And definitely noisier!

It’s been wonderful to have extra adults around; I mean H and I even managed a quick ‘date night’ to the supermarket while the little ones slept one night, and a spare pair of hands is a real treat when you’re used to managing without, but even more than I’ve enjoyed spending time with my families, I’ve loved watching the girls with their grandparents.

There is general adoration in both directions; especially for the grandpapas.  Elma trails them reaching up for a hug, and Kitty took one look at Grandpa on Thursday night and launched herself straight into his arms.

When I told her on Saturday morning that I didn’t think we should let Grandpa go home, and perhaps we should kidnap him and keep him, she decided that this was absolutely what we should do and told him so with utter seriousness.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when Grandma and Grandad weren’t at our house on Wednesday night (I’m not quite sure where she thought we’d put them overnight) she got all upset and when we phoned Yorkshire to cheer her up she lay on her swing seat sobbing “Grandad! I just really need you”.

I’m so thankful that despite the crazy distances between us all the girls have such a close relationship with their extended family, their happiness in being together is just so lovely to watch and we’re all looking forward to the few visits we’ve got planned in the coming months.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 
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