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

Tagged with:
 

This week my little boy turned 13 weeks old and with that miniature milestone we reached the end of our ‘fourth trimester’, the point at which the crazy insanely fast growing, changing adapting that Pip has been rattling through in the last few weeks is supposed to calm down to merely super-speedy.

And I think that’s largely true; he’s not growing out of babygros on an hourly basis anymore and week on week the changes become more subtle.

I had all of these plans of sorts before Pip arrived; I was going to really wallow in the first three months, drinking in every moment of my tiny baby, and just focussing on settling into family life and I think that’s what we’ve done, give or take.  The spiders building a multiplex along the hall ceiling would certainly agree that my focus hasn’t been predominantly housework anyway.

I’m incredibly lucky that with the girls still spending a couple of days a week in nursery I’ve had that one on one time with Pip and we’ve loved our days together even if they do mostly involve sitting on the sofa nursing, and then lots of singing silly songs and cuddling, and then a little of Mummy taking photos of Pip. Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when we’re all together we are starting to find a rhythm to our days and weeks, there are nursery days, baking day, go to the butchers day, ballet class day, church day and playing at home days.  Days when we go to the park in gorgeous sunshine, and a lot of days when we go to the park in full waterproofs under a cloud of driving rain.

There are days when it feels easy and effortless; when I get to be fun Mummy, playing and singing; Pip and Elma nap at appropriate moments; I get to spend some one on one time with each of them; and I know that there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be.

And there are days where I feel like I must be the worst mother on the planet; where everyone’s tired and grouchy and there’s too much shouting all around and nothing useful’s been done and all the lovely activities I planned have had to be shelved, culminating in an epic meltdown by one of my children because their new toothbrush is their favourite colours of pink and purple and the very strong sense that if I don’t just get five minutes without anyone touching me so that I can go to the bathroom in peace I might actually scream. But there’s still nowhere in the world I would rather be.

That’s not specific to becoming a family of five though; that’s just life with pre-schoolers!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And in this way thirteen weeks has passed incredibly quickly. I remember saying that I wasn’t even going to think about ‘real clothes’ until the Little Bump was at least three months old. At the time it seemed like a great age, now that we’re here Pip’s just so tall and tiny he doesn’t seem ready for real clothes; I think we might just keep rocking the babygro look a little longer.  After all, you can’t baby a baby can you?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

In fact, just as my pregnancies have never lasted a mere 40 weeks I think I should get to apply the same sort of counting here and extend my fourth trimester to well, however long I want it to be. Babygros are awesome, especially the sort with polar bears on; leggings and nursing tops will cover a multitude of sins; the children are all happy and cuddled; we have food; we have clean laundry even if occasionally you have to go and hunt for it; and one of these days I’m going to miss that little chorus of “what doing Mummy?”.

For now let the fourth trimester continue. Or as we call it; real life – the good, the bad, the always wonderful.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

(This is a review post: all thoughts on the stereotyping of babies based on their bib colour and the complete awesomeness of Funky Giraffe bibs are my own.  Thoughts on which bib was best are brought to you with the delighted cooperation of Kitty and Elma)

All three of my babies have been fond of returning at least part of their milk to sender (or unwary bystander). Kitty was more spitty than Elma and Pip falls somewhere in the middle.

It’s not something that causes them any distress or has any impact on their growth or development and as the girls grew up and started solid food they grew out of it and I’m very much expecting Pip to do the same.

But for now we’re back in the world of keeping a muslin within reach of every possible seating position in the lounge and accepting that even with frequent washing he and I will occasionally smell a bit like cheese.

And as, however lightening your reflexes, spitty babies do tend to drool a little milk whenever you least expect it (usually just as you put a clean vest on) it also means that bibs are a key accessory to most outfits so that you don’t find yourself changing your baby son for the umpteenth time that day because he’s just sloshed all down another new outfit.

But there are a couple of hitches with bibs around here.  The first is the practical one, namely that as most bibs are one size they don’t fit snuggly around a little baby neck and all to often you find that if a certain young gentleman has not projectile posetted right into the centre of the bib but has instead allowed milk to gently escape down his chubby cheeks and under his chin then the bib stays nice and dry and you suddenly discover that he’s soggy to his armpits underneath.

And the second.  Well Pip has two big sisters. So our bibs are pink.  I know it shouldn’t matter, I know there’s no good reason why a baby boy shouldn’t wear a pink bib, though I did draw the line at the one that said “Daddy’s little princess” or something similar. Actually I think I drew the line at that one for Kitty and Elma too but that’s another story.  The fact remains that random strangers do end up giving him funny looks in the supermarket queue as they try to work out a polite way to ask whether I know what variety of baby I have or whether I’m simply colour blind, and it would save time on the weekly shop if I didn’t have to cover that one off every time.

Enter into my world Funky Giraffe bibs.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I know when you’re sent a product to review, especially one that you chose, you are pre-disposed to like it.  I’ve yet to meet anyone that says yes to something they know they’re going to hate.  And most of the time your instincts are pretty good, and you can write openly and honestly about something that you genuinely enjoy.

And then there’s a moment when you open a small neatly wrapped parcel and know that this isn’t a mere ‘oh how lovely’, this is a ‘where have you been all my life’.

And so it was with Funky Giraffe bibs.  I really truly wish I had known about these when Kitty and Elma were smaller because I think they’re simply smashing.  It’s the first time I’ve encountered a bib that’s shaped to be slightly three dimensional so that it naturally curls around Pip rather than trying to flap off into the middle distance.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The majority of the bib is soft cotton jersey backed with a nice thick layer of fleece (the sort they make jackets out of rather than the straight off a sheep variety); the cotton jersey absorbs the milk and the fleece provides a nice sturdy barrier layer to prevent it soaking through to Pip’s clothes.  And all of that is attached to a neckband made solely from the cotton jersey that’s shaped to tuck gently under a baby’s chin and provide a snug fit, but with plenty of wiggle room.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Pip is dry cosy and happy in them and the girls alternate between running off and trying them on themselves (and the two popper size system means even Kitty can get one on quite comfortably) or vying with each other to choose the next bib in line for a dousing.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Our young man has been sporting the Bouncing Boys set, chosen from a whole host of enticing options after much consultation with the girls.  I think my favourite is still the red pirate bib though Kitty has a weakness for the digger and the monsters and Elma likes the bright orange one.  At least I think she does; that’s the one she runs off with most often anyway!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Pip has worn all of them at least once, and given every single one a thorough testing; they washed up beautifully though and dried in an afternoon hung over our lounge radiator.

The set of 10 costs £20.  I’ve never actually bought any baby bibs, they’ve always been presents (which is why we have bibs that say “Daddy’s little princess”) so I couldn’t say that they’re cheaper or more expensive than the other ones we own.  What I can say is that they are better.  Much better.  And if I’d known about them when Kitty was small I would have bought them in a heartbeat.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And if you’re at all tempted, the lovely Jenny at Let’s Talk Mummy is running a giveaway for a Funky Giraffe voucher here – it ends this coming Friday though so you’ll have to be quick as well as lucky!

Tagged with:
 

I’m not. I’m not going to do it. Not until next week when it’s actually December am I going to even start to consider the very great joys of books with snow trickling down the pages, books full of lights shining out into the darkness, books full of joy, merriment, colour, sparkle and possibly even penguins, book with the word Christmas in the title!

I’d claim higher motives of wanting to save Christmas until it’s really Christmassy or some feeling that it should be a December only sort of affair but then I’d be lying. No my reason for holding back on the Christmas books is because I have something possibly even better to share, and it’s something you need to know about this week, because by next week it’ll be a bit late. By next week we will have started our Adventivity

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Over the course of my thirty-four Christmases I’ve had a whole variety of advent calendars from count down candles and ones containing snippets of bible stories to those ones filled with oddly disappointing chocolate that we always bought at university and then promptly lost half the chocolates falling through the already opened windows while packing up to head home at the end of term.

But this I think might be my favourite yet.

The front cover is a traditional advent calendar with 24 little doors to open (and no, I don’t know what the pictures are, we haven’t peeked!), but then inside the book sets out 24 different crafty activities to do all the way through December.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Some of them are more complicated than others, and there will be some that are mostly a Kitty project, and some that are mostly a Mummy or Daddy project but the majority will be things we can do as a family from pop up cards to stained glass windows, Santa sacks made out of old pillowcases and of course, penguins.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And best of all wherever possible the bits and bobs that you need for each craft are already in the book, beautifully illustrated card pop outs so that our projects will actually look like the ones in the book.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

There are some extra bits and bobs that you need but rather brilliantly the final page of the instructions section lists everything that you need for every project so that if you do need to pick up a few things you can see all of your shopping list at once.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And even though ostensibly we bought it for the children I’m starting to get rather excited about it myself. After all, it does tick almost all of my boxes for advent calendars, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it has doors to open and most of all it doesn’t have any chocolate in it so there’s no chance of squabbling over who gets to eat the chocolate – always a good thing for preserving marital harmony, and somehow I just have this funny feeling that we’re not going to be wanting for chocolate through December!

 

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

Last week was a week for rediscovering the characters from all our childhood classics it seems; Jess has found a wonderful Peter Rabbit story for littler ears than Beatrix Potter’s originals, and Vickie reminded me of the pure gorgeousness that is Brambly Hedge, which was apparently dreamt up on the tube – clearly I frittered away all the time I ever spent on the tube!

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.  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!



A casual observer visiting this little corner of the Internet for the first time might conceivably be forgiven for thinking that I have recently refined my photography and now only take pictures of my children on the swings.

It’s not intentional I promise, just a happy side effect of a lot of afternoons spent at the park recently. I’ve made it a bit of a mission to try to get outside for a good part of every day this winter and we’ve been doing pretty well so far, save for a couple of days this week where the rain swept in just after lunch and even I’m not that committed to fresh air to want to go out into a torrential downpour – we went to the library instead on one day and I took my sanity into my own hands and braved soft play on the other (braving soft play, even the mini soft play, on a wet November morning with all three children by myself I’m certain should earn me some sort of medal – or perhaps just a survivors t-shirt).

But apart from the days on which only a full on dry-suit could be deemed appropriate clothing it’s been great, and it’s even more fun when H can come too – mostly I suspect because he can push the girls a lot higher and faster in the swings than I can ever manage.

He is their first choice by a country mile.  Well, who are we kidding, if he’s there, he’s their only choice.  And because they are one and four and therefore required by some unspoken law of childhood to choose the two swings furthest apart from one another, that generally means that they have to take it in turns to be pushed.

As Elma sailed back and forth and H turned to go down the line to Kitty I stepped into the gap and prepared to do my best, but:

“No Mummeee! No! Not Mummee! Juss Daddeee!”

Every ounce of her almost two year old self was determined that Mummy would not do and Mummy was not going to push her on the swing.  It was Daddy or nothing.

And Kitty was the same; she’d rather wait for Daddy than suffer the indignity of being pushed at anything less than mach 2.

I don’t think it’s anything personal, at least I hope not, and I suspect they’ve both clever enough to have worked out that whoever accepts Mummy as a pusher isn’t going to get Daddy back!

And I’m not complaining anyway, it gives me ample opportunity to perch up on a picnic bench and have a chat to Pip curled up in the sling and take a whole series of photos that I think should probably be titled “Kitty waiting; occasionally patiently”:

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

Little imp! Fortunately the wind remained in its usual direction and she seemed to be having rather a lot of mischievous fun pulling as many extraordinary faces as she could manage while still holding on to her swing.

We stayed and played until it was all but dark, swinging and running and having scooter/bike races and enjoying having the park almost entirely to ourselves.  It’s definitely more effort to get us all out of doors at this time of year but for all the cold fingers and masses of buttons, I think it might just be worth it.  Whether I’m still saying that come February is another matter of course!

living arrows

 

6am on a Sunday morning, with the gap in the curtain showing only the slightest glimmerings of the dawn is not a time i would usually willingly embrace.  I don’t think it’s a time that anyone willingly embraces to be honest, its more the time when you hear one of the children wake up and from the depths of a cosy deep sleep think “really? are you sure you don’t just want to give me another half hour?” (for the record the answer is always no).

But last week we got up at six, we woke the children, fed them, cleaned them, dressed them, popped them in the car and set off for the north on a day trip to Yorkshire to introduce Pip to as much of his extended family as hadn’t met him yet.

His Aunts and Uncle were home for the occasion too and it was great to catch up and watch the girls very evident pleasure at being reunited with some more of their favourite people and even better, the very special toys that live at Grandma and Grandad’s house; the contents of my parents in law’s garage having been pretty much the little ones’ sole topic of conversation all the way up the M1.

We chatted with H’s aunts and uncles who came around for tea, caught up on the family news, and one of his cousins played the guitar and sang and it all started to feel, dare I say it, rather Christmassy; especially when the cream cakes came out for tea.

But the highlight, and perhaps the chief reason for our trip was for Pip to meet his Great-Gran.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The oldest and the youngest – and one from the middle just for good measure!

I love that our girls and now Pip have had the chance to get to know their Great-Gran and Pip was certainly very happy to have lots of cuddles and lullabies, snuggling in to the same tunes sung to his Daddy thirty-something years before him.

My family has always been more spaced out, and there was never even a hint of a chance of my meeting any of my great grandparents, or for my children to meet theirs which I think makes that relationship all the more special to see.  And Great-Gran is very special in her own right.  She’s a proper old school Scottish Granny, she sings lullabies I don’t know the words to while wrapping up the babies in tartan shawls, she has the recipe for the most amazing Millionaire’s Shortbread you’ve ever tasted (and back in the day she used to send him off to university with a big tin of it) and it is utterly impossible to visit her at home without being offered (and by offered we generally mean ‘be forcibly presented with’ a cup of tea and a biscuit or a slice of cake regardless of time of day, vicinity of latest meal or in my case that fact that for the last 16 years my boyfriend then fiance now husband has drunk every single cup!

I’d had plans of taking some family photos while we were up north but the weather was wetter than wet and we never quite managed to have all of our more immediate family in the same room at the same time for long enough to take a photo, but even with the light dwindling away to nothing and the girls running around in their vests while they and their aunt explored the painting possibilities of her make up bag I knew I wanted to capture at least two generations together.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So yes, they aren’t the best photos I’ve ever taken; the light was lousy, my ISO was ramped up ridiculously hight to compensate, Pip was winding up for a squeak for milk, and in half of the ones I took at least one person is looking at someone down the other end of the room and possibly having a chat with them too.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But it doesn’t matter. It would be nice to be able to tweak don’t get me wrong, but as always I’d rather have these photos than none at all.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And so I find that when I look at the pictures I stop seeing the faults, I just see the happy smiles, the comfortable companionship and the joy that we all share in being together. It’s a little record of Great-Gran with all of her Great-Grandchildren around her and it’s perfect.

theordinarymomentsbadge

Once upon a time two little monkeys spotted an open door.  A door that is usually kept closed.  A door that if it doesn’t have an actual “Mummy and Daddy only” sign on it, lacks one only because the other occupants of the household can’t read yet.  It is the door to the studio and it’s long been a household rule that you only go into the studio under supervision.  It has big things in it and heavy things and sharp things and pointy things and messy things and right now it also has partially constructed Christmas presents in it.

But one day the door was open. The monkeys had been inside earlier that day to do a little painting and so they knew what treasures might await.  They knew that if they just tiptoed over the threshold they would be within touching distance of ‘the white box’, a veritable Pandora’s box of excitement.  For while the monkeys have constant and unrestricted access to paper and crayons and pencils and stamps and ink pads and all sorts of moderately messy things in the boxes in the bottom of the cupboard in the lounge, they remembered the glimpses they had caught of treasures beyond imagination whenever the big craft box was brought out for a particular project.  There were paper plates, and gold sticky stars, lots of glue sticks, scissors, a whole tub of jingle bells and beads and pipe cleaners and what seemed to the monkeys to be mound upon mound of endless glimmering glories.

The monkeys stepped through the door, and all was quiet.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It was the quiet that gave them away.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Quiet is always a dangerous sign that should not be ignored.  And so Mummy and Daddy came to investigate and found the monkeys peacefully occupied in creating pompom masterpieces on paper plates with lashings of gold paint and a couple of loo roll inners for good measure.  The content of the craft box was strewn about, tissue paper clouds gathered around paper stars in a very retro 50’s sort of celestial backdrop and a series of small gold fingerprints along the edge of the kitchen worktop evidenced that at least one small person had come in search of their drink, and it probably wasn’t Pip.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

H and I paused on the threshold.  On the one hand, there are very excellent reasons why the girls are not allowed in the studio by themselves (scissors, needles, sewing machine, iron, full size floor easel and the small matter or a number of paints and pigments that come with warning labels to name but a few) but something just held us back for that moment.  After all they were already going to get the ‘why going in the studio without us is not OK’ talk and the ‘now help me clear up this mess’ talk, so why not let them finish their projects first.  I’d like to claim it was all part of some deep rooted soulful logic, a respect for their artistic process and recognition of the value of their work or something along those lines (if perhaps a little less hippy-crunchy earth mother in the expression) but no, I’m afraid it was much simpler than that.

It was the quiet.  Peaceful, beautiful, restful quiet, in which to do the washing up and have an actual conversation with my husband, to play peepo with Pip and watch for his smiles, or possibly even just to sit down with a sigh.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And so we stepped back into the kitchen.

Kitty finished a veritable masterpiece of tissue paper, fluffy pompoms, glitter and goodness knows what else she found rifling through the box, though it is sadly now a lost work of art thanks to some enthusiastic hugging of said masterpiece and her need to cart it around the house shedding twinkles in her wake.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And Elma? Well Elma’s creation was a little less intricate due both to her more limited motor skills and the sudden end of her artistic endeavours when she found herself being whisked away for a mid afternoon bath and intensive hair wash after inadvertently wandering underneath a stream of PVA glue that her sister was drizzling from great height down onto a piece of card in what I must presume was some sort of an attempt to play at being Jackson Pollock.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Now that’s what I call suffering for your art.

Tagged with:
 

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

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Tagged with: