Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Remember how I thought I was doing OK with the heat. It turned out it was a big fib.

I’m not going to go all ranty and complaining on you don’t worry (I don’t want to write wingeing and I can’t imagine who on earth would want to read it) but in the spirit of reality I can say with some degree of certainty that last Saturday broke me.  It was the kind of hot humid day where you just want to take your skin off and sit in your bones.  With wall to wall thick cloud of that palest grey that looks and feels like you’re being smothered in a blanket of stuffed toy filling, even sitting still was just too hot.  My fingers and toes and ankles all started to impersonate hot air balloons and a happier girl you never did find on Sunday morning when we woke up to the familiar rustle of the wind rippling through the trees behind the house.

Even the baby seemed to feel it; for those few trying days the over-excited hops and kicks turned into more languid rolls and prods, although I’m sure at least some of that must be due to the Little Bump starting to run out of space.

Please let him or her be starting to run out of space; I really thought I couldn’t have got much bigger in one week and yet the camera doesn’t lie (well not unless I tell it to) and I think that bump might just have got bigger again.  I’ve not seen the midwife this week so I don’t have an updated estimate weight, and to be honest I think I might have to start ignoring estimated weights in the interest of maintaining a little calm aura of optimism about the birth.  What I do know is that even H thinks it’s (a) bigger and (b) lower than last week.  The pictures suggest he’s right about (a), as does the appearance of a whole new set of bright red stretch marks across the top of the bump, and (b) is rather verified by my inability to sit in a ladylike manner!

This week’s big event (at least in baby planning terms) was our visit from the Health Visitor.  It’s something our Health Visiting team starting doing when I was expecting Elma, they come out for a visit a few weeks before your due date for a half hour chat; usually about what the Health Visitors do, when they’ll take over from the midwives, when clinic is and things like that.  The idea behind it is really excellent; you get to meet your Health Visitor so they’re a familiar face when they turn up at your door in the middle of the sleep deprived baby haze, and they get to see you when you’re not sleep deprived and baby hazy which I suspect gives them quite a nice benchmark for your particular version of normal to help them assess you for any non-verbal signs of post natal depression etc.

If the effect was somewhat spoiled by our visitor being a temporary summer cover; well at least we all tried; she was lovely and we had a nice chat.

I have also pulled out from the drawer my hospital bag and put it on the bench in our bedroom.  It’s funny, it’s a bag I was given as a birthday present the year we had Kitty (it’s a squish it and fold away Cath Kidston holdall) and I’ve used it as my hospital bag for all the children; I just always seem to forget about its existence when I’m packing to go anywhere else.  Right now it contains the Little Bump’s mama-made cardigan, a packet of newborn nappies and a packet of Water Wipes so I’m not sure I could claim that I’m completely packed, but I have at least started to acknowledge that I may need some of these bits and bobs at some time in the next three to five weeks.

And speaking of the next three to five weeks – any signs of labour? No.  The baby may be lower and I’m getting a few runs of Braxton-Hicks with a fairly strong correlation to Elma nursing but they aren’t painful, just noticeable so I think we’ve still got some way to go!

Mummy that little girl said I was a little girl but I’m not a little girl, I’m a little lady!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Mummy, where was I when you and Daddy had your marrying day?

Well you hadn’t been born yet sweetie?
But where was I?
I don’t know love, you weren’t there and you weren’t even in my tummy yet.
It’s all right Mummy, I think I was with gran and grandad.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

On shoe laces:
Mummy can you help do my tyres up?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

On supervising her father’s tv watching:
Daddy, is that ‘propriate for you?
(he was watching the Tour de France!)

Mummy, are you writing down what I’m saying?

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Mummy: who’s in Mummy’s tummy?
Elma: Bay-bee!
Mummy: And what shall we call the baby if it’s a baby sister?
Elma: Minnie-Mou!
Mummy: And how about if it’s a boy?
Kitty: Mickey Mouse!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Some days I go to school, but some days I don’t go to school!
(I think we mean nursery – at least unless there’s something I really don’t know about!)

On dictating her cousin’s graduation card:
Dear love [cousin]. Dear love on your grandution. Love [Kitty]

 

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Once upon a time, in a galaxy exactly like this one, well it was this one, I followed a link to a video of Chris Hadfield and his brother singing about Canada (it’s here and definitely worth watching by the way).  And as we watched I tried to explain to Kitty that one of the guys singing has been to space; when it finished she turned to be with a slightly baffled expression:

“But where was the spaceman Mummy?”

One click later and we fell head shoulders knees and toes down the rabbit hole of Canadian Space Agency videos.  Forget CBeebies, move over Disney princesses, what Kitty would really really really like to watch is “a space video”.

Her absolute favourite is Tears in Space (Don’t Fall), which in our house is called “the crying one”, but she’s also fascinated by anything involving space food.  I’d put Wringing out Water on the ISS at the top of my personal playlist but if we’re being honest I’ve found them all really interesting.

I know far more about micro-gravity and the working of the ISS now than I did a few weeks ago and Kitty’s soaking it up like the proverbial sponge.  If we’ve watched a couple of videos after lunch she always wants to tell H about them as soon as he gets home, and then we usually have to play it again for him to make sense of some of the comments.

“Daddy! If you put water in your eye it just stays there!” just doesn’t make much sense if the chatter at that point was about going to the butcher and having pasta shapes for lunch.

It’s also cued a few discussions about when and where it is OK to squirt water into your eye (answer: only in space) which have turned into a vast array of conversations that start “when I’m in space…”

But this is supposed to be about reading not obsessively watching You Tube videos, fun though the latter may be (and the wringing out water one is just cool!).  So on our last trip to the library I pulled out all of the books about space and stars that I thought even vaguely appealing or appropriate, stacked them on the children’s table and asked Kitty to pick one.

And this is what she choose:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

The Universe Rocks: Stars and the Dust that Made Us! And it’s perfect.  Perfect for an inquisitive three year old and perfect to dip back into when she’s a bit bigger.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

For starters it’s got a lot of very gorgeous pictures of stars; and no great big huge pages of text.  Detail has its place without a doubt but right now we’re just scratching the surface, and in the same way that a two or three minute video will hold Kitty’s attention for long enough that she will stay focussed and actually absorb what she’s seeing; so will a little paragraph about white dwarf stars, or blue and red stars.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

It’s not a book I think I’ve ever sat and read cover to cover with the girls, it doesn’t have that kind of story telling flow, instead we flip to whatever page takes their fancy and read a few bits and bobs from there.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

My knowledge of astronomy is gleaned from Winter Holiday and a few teenage physics lessons; I can pick out Orion’s Belt and the Pole Star but that’s about it, so there’s so much of this that is new to me too; did you know that some stars shoot out jets of hot water – it was news to me!

And if all that weren’t enough – there are experiments! (Let it be known that my inner science geek is jumping up and down and waving flags at the prospect).  And more to the point they are easy experiments for a three year old to actually take part in.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life - What we're reading - Stars and the Dust that Made Us

So far we’ve tried finding out why stars appear to twinkle (lots of fun cutting out tin foil stars; we decided we need a better torch and a darker room to make them truly sparkle), I’m on a promise to acquire a ping pong ball for the Supernova Blast Wave, and I’m saving counting the stars and making our own constellations for darker and rainier autumn days, but they’re all things I can do with Kitty without needing anything I don’t already have in the house.

What more could you want!

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

 

If you’re in the mood for something a little more down to earth; Rachel linked up last week with the most gorgeous Around the World book with the cutest illustrations that’s understandably her son’s new favourite bedtime story!

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!



 

It is extraordinarily humid and hot.  And yet somehow, by some miracle of childhood there are two little girls in my family who just want to run and play, who seem at least on the face of it to be oblivious to the sauna like conditions; or perhaps we just got the dosage of ice lollies right.  For the record, I on the other hand am sat writing this at 9 o’clock at night while also cuddling two freezer blocks, and my primary source of nutrition for the day has come in the form of ice lollies and salad.

I think the cricket team might also have been wilting in the heat this weekend; H was home earlier than he has been for many a week (which means they lost easily) and I think we spent longer eating tea with them than watching them play (well almost).

But all is not lost, we have a plan.  It might take just a few years to come to fruition, but I’ve got a couple of ringers that are really rather keen on joining in.  And so while our team manfully tried to put up some sort of bowling attack, the ladies decided it was time to start work on their own bowling.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Followed by a little fielding practice:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Given that Kitty’s really quite tall for her age, and the fact that some of the team, well, aren’t, I think we could pass her off as an almost grown cricketer in a couple of years! And as you see Elma is never one to want to be left behind – all we need now is a ladies side.

For all that it was crazy hot running around in the sunshine (and these pictures were taken at about 5pm – we’re not even talking full noon), I’m glad that they want to run around, and I can only hope that if we keep exposing them to all sorts of sport and fresh air and exercise it will seem second nature to them.  And if they will just have the good luck to inherit their father’s aptitude for sport (never met one he didn’t like or couldn’t easily master) rather than mine (school gym reports generously praised my enthusiasm and willingness to have a go rather than highlighting the complete absence of talent or spacial awareness – and we’re all still astonished that I ever catch anything) I think they’ll be set; or at the very least able to pull off a good spin bowling impersonation!

living arrows

 

 

 

 

It all started when a lion walked past our window.  A lion with balloons no less.

The whole family had decamped to Pizza Express on Sunday lunchtime to refuel our three intrepid and rather pink cheeked veterans of the Leeds 10k and as we finished demolishing pasta and pizza all around, Elma and her Grandad went outside for a breath of fresh air and a bit of lion spotting.

Happily the lion turned out to be very friendly, as balloon carrying lions promoting home stores rather tend to be, and Miss E was soon the happy if slightly bemused owner of a bright blue balloon.  By the time Kitty had finished a ginormous ice cream sundae our friendly lion had given away all of his balloons so she and Elma shared, if by shared we mean that Elma handed it over to Kitty and Kitty immediately claimed full time custody.

She loved it. It was blue, it had writing on it, and it floated.  Well at least until Mummy and Daddy had a little chat about why we do not let balloons wander around the car while Daddy is driving, and then it sat very nicely with her all the way to her aunt and uncle’s house.  In fact, she loved it so much that it had to come out of the car to play with her while Daddy had a quick post-race shower.

And there the story of our blue balloon ends; because the blue balloon just wanted to be free, and through some extraordinary balloon wriggling it escaped the confines of its ribbon and floated off into the ether above West Yorkshire.

Cue one very sad little girl, and a promise.  A promise that by the time she got home from nursery the next day there would be a blue balloon on her bedroom door.

“And a pink one for [Elma]?” asked my opportunist daughter.

“And a pink one for [Elma]” we promised.

It’s sometimes a hard balance to strike isn’t it; between preserving the magic of childhood and letting our children know about the realities of the world around them in all its kaleidoscope of good and bad.  I want them to know enough to be able to be safe; little things at this age like why we don’t wander off, and why Mummy gets cross if you wriggle out of your car seat straps while we’re still driving; but I also want to protect their imagination and dreams, to have them still consider a little bit of magic as a distinct possibility for as long as they want.

And I love a little innocent conjuring to fulfil a promise.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So I could tell you that after H and I had our oh so romantic date to IKEA for more bookcases on Monday we made a detour to Hobbycraft and that we’re now the proud owners of a small canister of helium and stary balloons in all the colours of the rainbow (and pink), but that’s just too fantastical, far too far fetched to be in any way believable.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So I’ll tell you the truth.  The truth that when the girls got home from nursery and Kitty went upstairs you could hear the squeal of delight from all over the house (and possibly all over the village), and that she played with her balloon from that moment until supper, tied it to H’s flip-flops as a balloon weight to stop it disappearing, wanted it sat right next to the head of her bed before she’d cuddle down and go to sleep, and told me in great confidence that after her first balloon went to ‘Spaceman Chris’ (she’s really very keen on Chris Hadfield’s videos from the ISS), the balloon fairy brought her a new one with stars on it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Now that’s how the world should work.

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I think the de-working is working.  I’ve stopped checking my blackberry, and I think it may have run out of juice; the house looks much as it always does (occasionally tidy and mostly marauded by toddlers); I’ve not yet got to the obsessive cleaning out of my car, or felt a pressing need to pre-cook lots of meals for the freezer (which would be a largely futile exercise at the moment seeing as it’s full to the brim with ice lollies), and my hospital bag remains precisely that; a bag.

But all this isn’t to say that I haven’t been preparing for the arrival of tiny sir or madam, at least in my own way.  I’ve had two blissful days this week where I spent the afternoon sat in my nice comfy armchair, with my feet up on a footstool, iced freezer blocks balanced on the very top of the bump and between my knees for optimum cooling while I knit away and watched a whole heap of sessions from the Blogtacular Virtual Conference on the iPad (all wonderful) and The Great Gatsby (fabulous sets and costumes but somehow slightly lacking the punch of the book).  And the result, aside from more than once questioning just why I think an August baby is going to need a nice warm Shetland blanket, was that I finished the centre panel.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And that means it’s time to steek.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Readers of a nervous disposition, who fear the interaction of scissors and knitting, or perhaps had a similar childhood experience to my grandmother, who once carefully pinned and cut out the pattern pieces for the latest couture garment for her dolly, only discovering that she’s cut them out of both the chosen fabric and her best Sunday dress after the deed was done, should scroll hurriedly through averting their gaze.

Because the traditional way, and the easiest way, to make a fairisle blanket is to knit the whole thing as a giant tube.  It means you knit every stitch which for most people is faster than purling (has anyone ever come across anyone who can purl faster than they knit?), and I find that working with one colour in each hand I’m if not quite as fast as knitting with just one ball of wool at a time, certainly not that much slower, and much much faster than if I were trying to purl with different colours, not tangle myself up, and keep an accurate track of the pattern.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

When you reach the end of the row you work a little band of alternating stitches (that would be the steek) until you’ve reached the top of the blanket, and then it’s time for those scissors.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Straight up the middle of the steek, and what was once a long tall tube of knitting, suddenly becomes a blanket, albeit one with fluffy edges.

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 with that there’s no undoing, no going back.  If there are any mistakes in the pattern they’re going to stay mistakes now.  It’s time to move on to the border; just 900 or so stitches in a round, and then if there’s any yarn left I’ll work little facings to tidy up and tuck in the cut edges so we’ve still got some way to go before it’s finished.  But if memory and the internet serves me right I didn’t finish Elma’s blanket until the day before her due date so I’m still ahead (I’m not counting the fact that Kitty’s was finished at least two months before she arrived – I’m clocking that one up to new parent excitement and a lot more knitting time!).

For some reason that I can’t quite fathom it has really mattered to me that the blankets are finished before the babies.  I find I want that far more right now than I crave a perfectly organised nursery, or precision folded muslins and nappies.  And if there’s one thing I know about having children it’s that you never argue with the inner rationale of a heavily pregnant girl who can only tell that her toes have turned into tiny sausages by how they feel, not because she can actually see them; and so I’m going to go and sit in my comfy chair, pack myself around with ice blocks again, and knit.  And occasionally purl.

 

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

I’ve been looking back at the photos I took at 34 weeks and trying to convince myself that the baby hasn’t really got that much bigger since the last picture but who am I kidding; random strangers in supermarkets have started coming up to me telling me I look uncomfortable and asking how I’m coping with ‘The Heat’ so I think it’s officially official: the Little Bump and I have made it to huge!

Welcome to the first bump update from maternity leave!  Well technically I’m on holiday for another few weeks and then I kick into maternity leave either as soon as the baby is born, or a couple of days before my due date but it feels like maternity leave, at least between 9 and 5 three days a week when the girls are in nursery.  The rest of the time it’s life as normal.  And having achieved this feat by taking only three days annual leave since Christmas I can tell you I’m craving a little rest.

Technically I was off part of last week as well but as that involved rushing around for family graduations, catching up with old friends, and cheering for H, his brother and sister in law as they ran the Leeds 10k, I’m not sure it counts as relaxing!

So how are we?

Well the Little Bump went to have a kicking and thumping conversation with the midwife this week.  He or she is not only still head down but at the time was starting to engage.  Given that Kitty didn’t engage until pretty late on, and Elma I think only when I was in labour, this is an encouraging sign, although it’s more than likely that he or she will pop in and out a few times over the next few weeks.

My midwife likes to have a bit of a guess at what variety of baby is on its way; she was also my midwife with Elma and she was wrong that time, but only time will tell whether this apparently choo choo train sounding baby is going to even up the stats.  H has a theory that she just guesses boy every time on the basis of being right about half the time but we may never know!  For the record, Kitty, Elma and H all still think girl, and I have absolutely no idea; and don’t mind either way!

By the tape measure of wonder this baby is an estimated 7lb right now (please picture me doing a double take when I waddled into the kitchen just now to consult my kitchen scales and turn the chart weight back into English), which might explain why the supermarket strangers think I’m going to give birth any second, and predicts me a 9lb or more baby at 40 weeks.  I’m thinking fondly of the adorable newborn size baby outfit that I have tucked away in my top drawer waiting to go in the hospital bag, and wondering whether it might just be sensible to add another outfit in the next size up as well.  Alternatively I shall just keep telling myself that tape measuring is an inexact science and can definitely be influenced by how many ice lollies I’ve eaten as well as the baby’s size!

And as for me, well I rather like this bit of pregnancy.  Now that I’ve finished work I can just really focus on the baby, and starting to get things finished off and organised, and of course having my all important afternoon nap.  Each time I’ve gone on maternity leave my blood pressure has dropped by about 10 points at the next midwife appointment (this time it went from 130/60 to 120/60), proof if ever there was that a stressful job has an impact on your physical wellbeing!

It is hot true, but I own a freezer and a stack of ice lollies that used to be almost as big as Elma, I can’t always exactly walk at the end of the day, but that’s what looking pleadingly at your husband is all about, and if sleeping comfortably involves wedging a pillow under the bump, it’s hardly a major problem.

And best of all, H took an extra day off work, ostensibly to help with some sorting out while the girls were in nursery.  When we were expecting Elma we did something similar and went to see Skyfall at the cinema, this time we went to Ikea and bought a new bookcase.  What can I say, we must be getting old!

 

 

 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that one of the sessions that I truly madly deeply adored at Blogtacular was Xanthe’s photo walk.  I take a gazillion pictures of my children and I love doing it; capturing their funny expressions, their joy at being in the moment, or those sometimes rather fleeting moments of sweetness between the two of them.  But I think in focussing on the children I sometimes forget to look up at the rest of the world with camera in hand.

I love the pictures that I took of people on our photo walk but I had just as much fun finding unusual angles on sculptures; looking up and out from behind the camera to look for the sights that you don’t let in when you’re plodding along in the every day, and it made me want to stretch myself a little, to find a way to make those photos more a part of my everyday.

I also realised how much more comfortable I am with my big camera than with my iPhone.  Practice and familiarity and a lot more practice means that I can pretty much set it up to take the shot I want, and if I don’t get it quite right I know how to tweak it in Lightroom, or I’m getting the confidence to let it go as a shot that just didn’t work out.  But phone photos I’m less confident about.  I see some of the stunning shots that people put up on Twitter and Instagram and wonder whether there’s some secret that I’m missing out on, or whether the camera on the newer phones is really so much better (I know, a bad workman blames her phone), but although I’m sure the iPhone 5 camera is truly a thing of wonder, I don’t think it’s the difference between mediocre pictures and those ones that take your breath away.

That, as with all these things, is a matter of practice.  And probably a little bit of genius, but we’ll go for practice as being the key before we all end up feeling terribly inadequate.

And so I set myself a little challenge.  Almost every day that I work, I drop the girls at their nursery, park the car on the road next door (hurrah for all day free parking) and walk down the hill to the station, catch the train to Birmingham and walk across town to my office.  And so I decided to take at least one picture for every walk to work.

They were all going to be iPhone photos, all of things that I see almost everyday, but seen with fresh eyes, not the jaded and slightly tired perspective of someone who would really rather be heading home for a nap.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And the more I looked, the more I saw; the scraggy purple aubretia spilling out of a flower-pot and down a flight of steps; a number 20 hung all crooked that always made me smile; the black and white checkerboard steps and mint green door of the house on the corner; the enticing river walk under enormous shady trees; and the pure perfect green of the bowling club’s lawns.

When I first started I wondered whether I’d find enough of a subject matter, but it soon became habit, and then a welcome dash of creativity in the day.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And I think my photography improved with it.  For all the pictures that made it onto Instagram there are many many more that didn’t; either because I never got time on the train or during the day to do the cropping and uploading, or because the photo just didn’t work out how I wanted it to (although if you’re interested in a fair few pictures of where a squirrel used to be, I’m more than happy to oblige!).

And then into my world walked not one but two Instagram colour challenges; #colourcolourlovers and #capturingcolour.  There are some amazingly stunning pictures in the streams for both hashtags, and it’s been so much fun forcing myself to think in terms of a particular colour as well as just spotting the beauty in the ordinary and everyday.  They’re both still running over the summer, and I’m not stepping back by any stretch of the imagination, but as I’ve done my last walk to work for a little while now, I wanted to have a little look back at the results of trying to stretch outside of my comfort zone.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

This was always a personal sort of a challenge; I started not knowing quite what I’d get out of it, whether I could keep it going, or what the results would be, and found it to be everything I wanted and more.

If you’re at all tempted to try something similar, firstly, you should definitely go for it, and secondly, I have a few top tips.

1. Clean the lens. It makes a difference.  The lens on the back of my camera is quite well protected by the case so it isn’t too bad but the one on the front is inexplicably covered in tiny toddler fingerprints and a few Mummy sized ones as well.  One baby wipe and a little polish with a stray muslin made a noticeable difference.

2. Lighting is everything.  I’m so used to being able to adjust the ISO on my big camera to get crisp shots in low light, or ameliorate overly bright sunshine, but you can’t do that with a phone.  Well not my phone anyway.  If you’re taking a picture in bright sunlight you need to have everything that you want in the light or you will get harsh shadows.  Better still, shoot in the shade, or in softer morning or evening light, or the shot your eye saw as utterly gorgeous turns out to be mostly black shade!

3.  The more you wander down the road with your iPhone in your hand taking random photos the less self-conscious you get about it.  It took me a couple of weeks to be brave enough to start taking pictures that included people’s window boxes or front doors, but after a while I realised no one cared what I was doing, or even really noticed.

4. Of all of my apps for processing, my favourite turned out to be PicTapGo.  I love that it saves your previous filter combinations so that you can easily repeat the same processing on a similar photo and that you can upload rectangular photos to the very square Instagram.

5. If a picture doesn’t work, don’t worry, just learn from it and move on, this is supposed to be fun.  I need to read this one myself I suspect; I never did get the picture of the thistle that I wanted and it took me at least a week to realise that it was because the light at 8am just wasn’t coming from the right angle to give me the kind of backlit halo I wanted, and I wasn’t prepared to be up at 6am just for a photo of a thistle.

5A. Don’t miss your train.  For starters, the next train doesn’t have free WIFI. For the record, I never did, or at least never just because I’d been taking photos, but there were a few scrambles along the platform!

And if you do decide to try something similar, let me know; I’d love to follow along.

 

I adored the library when I was a child; I have so many memories of borrowing huge piles from the school library for the summer, and then still going to Dartmouth or Kingsbridge Library every time Mum went to do some shopping to top up our book supply; and usually finishing at least one before we got home again, and I can only hope that my girls have half the affection for it that I did.

Every time we head to the Library Kitty, Elma and I have a little routine.  Kitty gets to press the buttons to return our books, then I get a quick squint at the cookbooks to scoop up anything new or exciting and then we all head down to the children’s library, Kitty racing ahead and Elma toddling as fast as she can in her wake.  The children’s library is blessed with a couple of wonderful big comfy sofas so I plonk myself down there with the cookbooks, Elma tries to decide whether she wants to sit on the froggy chair or the blue mouse, and then unpacks an enormous pile of baby books from the box onto the table and sits there flipping through them, while Kitty runs up and down pulling out anything that she thinks looks exciting and bringing it over for me to read.  And once I’ve decided whether I fancy borrowing any of the cookbooks there’s a little shelf next to the sofa that gets my attention.

New books.  Added to the library within the last month, usually published within the last six or so months and still with that gorgeous new book smell and new book feel before hundreds of tiny readers make them well loved and a  little worn.  There are plenty of books that I pass over, but if I spot something I think the girls would like it gets added to the pile, along with whatever board book Miss Elma seems keenest on, and a few of Kitty’s seemingly random, but utterly beloved choices.

And with our trip to London, and the girls’ trip to London Zoo with H, still very fresh in all of our minds and in Kitty’s daily storytelling, it seemed like The Queen’s Hat was just waiting for us.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It’s one of many books published in the last year with a bit of a royal baby theme, but this one’s subtle about it, and so wonderfully whimsical and beautifully illustrated that we couldn’t but enjoy it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The Queen is on her way to visit someone very special, when her very favourite hat suddenly takes off,

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

and as that will never do, she sets off in quick pursuit, accompanied by increasing numbers of  the Foot Guards as they chase the hat all over London,

 

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

including through the Zoo!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It’s the sheer numbers of soldiers that keep turning up that make me giggle; there are just more and more and more of them, until at last the hat touches down, and the Queen makes it to Kensington Palace to take her someone very special for a nice calm walk!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

 

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!