Right now I feel that time is all consuming. The time we have left has a family of three, the time spent eagerly awaiting our new addition. The question of how much time birthing this little one will take, and how easily time will pass with two children. Savouring the time with Josephine and willing time to go faster so we get to meet Baby. Not knowing what time will bring. A boy? A girl? An easier breastfeeding journey? A reluctant sleeper like Josephine? Over the last four months time has moved in the strangest of ways. Feeling both simultaneously fast and slow. This pregnancy has zipped by quicker than I ever imagined it would, and it's so strange and surreal that we're already at our due date. And all the time, the days and months that we've been without my Dad have stacked up. I've been told that time is a healer, but I feel there is so long to go until that is true. I miss him more every day and, right now, I'm finding it all so hard to be without him. Perhaps it's the impending arrival of a grandchild he'll never meet - the knowing that I won't be able to introduce this little one to their amazing Grandpa; that i'll never have a picture of them together. It's the strangest mix of emotions. The pure joy and excitement at the prospect of having another baby, of bringing something so amazing into the world, paired with the devastation of knowing the same world is without someone who bought so much love and laughter. Tonight, this weekend, I know I need to let the idea of time go; to give into the notion of 'what will be will be' and to just surrender. This baby, as with all babies, will come when it's ready; who knows what time will bring. Last weekend we went to my Dad and his girlfriend, Dee's, house, where me, my brother and sister looked through more of my Dad's treasures. Dee had found his collection of vintage watches and we each chose one to keep and wear. There is something so comforting in wearing the watch he wore; of looking at it so many times a day and remembering him whenever I do. And, as time ticks on, I'm reminded of the beautiful times and adventures we spent together as well as the time we have been without him and the time yet to come where he will not be here with us in person but, always and forever, with us in spirit.
This week I have been asked to take part in On the Beach's 'Totally Beachin' Beaches' photography competition, where I have to select my favourite ever beach shot... I took this photograph last August in St Ives, Cornwall and for me, it encapsulates everything about the beauty of the English seaside in the summertime. The bright blue sky with the ominous clouds on the horizon, the ram-shackled fishing boats lined up along on the Harbour Beach; the swarming seagulls in the sky and the tourists swarming along the front. When I look at this picture I can hear those gulls and the waves crashing behind me, feel the warm breeze on my face, and I can taste the salty air and fish and chips. This picture makes me long to be back this summer and makes me remember all my childhood holidays running between the boats on what seemed like an endless trek to the sea when the tide was out. It may not be an idyllic desert island photograph, with crystal seas and cloudless skies, but it's most definitely my all time favourite beach shot.
A couple more pictures from the weekend. Some times this girl of ours is off in her own world; figuring things out at her own pace, examining the smallest details so carefully. Always so happy to be walking and exploring and discovering. And her hair! Nothing sweeter than the bounce of those curls as she strides along :)
Just popping in to wish you all a very happy Easter. While we're not religious, there's something I really love about this holiday; the promise of spring, the idea of new life, the long weekend and, of course, the chocolate. I always associate Easter with my Dad too, which this year makes it both harder and more special at the same time. We always used to see my Dad in the Easter holidays and he always bought us the craziest eggs (normally because he was so unorganised and was therefore always left with only the fancy ones to choose from!) plus one year he created the best ever Easter egg hunt. With a different hunt for all three of us, and cryptic rhyming clues leading you from one egg to the last, we each ended up with about 10 Easter eggs and enough Cadbury Creme Eggs to last us a year. It was so awesome, and I can't wait to try and replicate the brilliant job my Dad did when Josephine is older. We've seen nearly the whole family this week too, which is always manic but lovely, and yesterday spent the afternoon at my Dad's house with his girlfriend and my auntie. It makes me so sad to stand in the places I last saw my Dad, last cuddled him and last joked with him; but at the same time it is such a comfort to be surrounded by his things. To sit in his study and twang the strings on his guitars. I miss and love him so much. Today we spent the day at my Grandparent's house, where handmade treats were dished out, an Easter egg hunt ensured squeals of delight from all the children (despite the torrential rain moving it inside) and the most amazing Easter bonnets were worn, thanks to my Mum. Tomorrow's portrait of Josephine will show hers off in all it's glory. It's nothing less than spectacular. Up there is the little ceramic chicken my Grandma filled with chocolate eggs and gave us for Easter on Monday. For as long as I can remember my Grandma has had a (much larger) chicken called Henrietta on her dresser in the kitchen, that would treat us with yummy sweets and chocolates, and now we have our own little one too. She's sure to be busy over the coming weeks - dishing out all the lovely things Josephine received today...because if she ate it all in one go, I don't think she'd sleep for a week! I hope you've all had a lovely weekend, no matter what you've done. Here's to another bank holiday tomorrow and one more day with our favourite boy at home. Today marks just one week until our due date, so who knows what the next few days will bring...
Bloomers are most definitely up there as being one of my most favourite pieces of baby and children's clothing. They are unisex, traditional and vintage-style, are comfortable and can be played in, crawled in and run in with no problems at all. Plus they're trans-seasonal; so sweet with tights and knits in winter and cool with t-shirts and sandals in the summer. Perfect, right? These amazing Liberty print bloomers will be worn non-stop, I guarantee. The muted tones in the design are just the earthy shades I'm drawn to right now and the busy pattern ensures any spillages or muddy fingerprints go unnoticed (a must with such a fearless little tom-boy as Josephine!) And don't they match her beautiful moccasins so well? These little shoes are only getting better and better; the leather is more deliciously creased and soft after every wear. And Josephine loves her "slippers" so much. I've spoken often about how much I love to support small businesses and relish in good vintage and second-hand finds when it comes to dressing Josephine, and to be honest there are only two highstreet stores that you'll regularly see me in; H&M and Zara. As far as I'm concerned Zara Mini is the best place to shop for babies and kids on the high street right now (that is, a mainstream and international brand). The pieces are so French in style, come in lovely colours and with sweet details. I may have had a little Baby/Josephine shopping spree there a month or so ago - their website is dangerous! Finally, the perfect piece for this spring-like weather is a nanny-made knitted waistcoat. That little extra cover-up if the sun goes in and the temperature plummets again.
1. 38 weeks, and so big! 2. Washed and folded nappies, for a tiny bottom. 3. Beautiful Nanny-made knits for Baby in the most delicious blue. My Mum's going to start making those booties for the shop soon - they're amazing! 4. Getting into sewing again, and loving it; here, some boomers for Josephine in the best vintage fabric I've found for a long time.
Two weeks ago I had three nights of the worst sleep I've had in more than 18 months - since Josephine was maybe 6 months old. I was waking at around 2.30am and not falling back to sleep until 6am-ish, if at all. There is so much zipping round my head right now and lying in the dark, I was just unable to turn it all off. It was all deafening me in the silence of the night. From how life would change with two little ones to the birth itself; how Josephine would cope, how we would cope, to money and the future and, of course, the continuing struggle of life without my wonderful Dad. After the third night, it occurred to me that I had to do something in the day to stop this onslaught of thinking in the middle of the night. So I wrote the Mother of all to-do lists and starting, slowly, making my way through it. I realised that so much of what was keeping me awake was the prospect of having so much to do before the baby arrives, so to aliviate the insomnia, I needed to eliviate the reason. Over the last couple of weeks I have done so much. Slowly and steadily it's all being crossed off the list. From tidying (and I mean, serious spring cleaning - sorting, throwing away and the deepest clean) to washing the baby's things and getting those general bits and bobs done around the house that I've been meaning to do for months. And now, here we are - 38 weeks. Thankfully, the day I wrote my list I started to sleep better, and it's stayed that way. I'm still tired - still feeling the way I forgot you do in these last weeks; lacking much energy, feeling so heavy and struggling with achy hips - but Baby is doing well, and that's all that matters. I just hope it decides to come sooner rather than later. Then again, we all know how these little ones have plans of their own when it comes to making their way into world. In the meantime, enjoying these last slow days as a little family of three, before we become four.
When we made Josephine's first birthday present, both Ben and I were pretty sure it was a tradition we wanted to continue for as long as possible. After Phiney's little best bud got a toy kitchen in the autumn, and seeing how much Josephine adored it, we knew that would be the ideal present - and one, according to Pinterest, that would be possible to make ourselves. We stocked up on random materials over the months leading up to Christmas and were over the moon when we stumbled upon the (pretty horrendous) 1970s bedside table that would turn out to be the ideal toy kitchen, in a charity shop. Ben always planned to get it painted over his Christmas holidays from work, but then everything happened with my Dad. Josephine, of course, didn't notice that her only birthday present from us was her lion necklace, and that her main present sat in the corner, untouched, for three months. But we really wanted to get it all sorted before Baby's arrival so a couple of weeks ago we got stuck in and had so much fun designing it together. The hardware store in the local market in town was brilliant for the bits and pieces, including the gingham vinyl worktop, the enamel washing-up bowl, the hooks and the curtain rail, while the haberdashery supplied the quintessential 1950s-style fabric for the curtains. For the rest - well, you can't beat Ikea. The cooker knobs, fruit and veg baskets, saucepans, crockery (Josephine's birthday present from my best friend) and all the storage pots were courtesy of the kitchen department. Finally, you can always count on my Grandparents to have something like an old tap buried in the shed, and having something authentic like that really makes the kitchen, I think. As for the fruit, veg, cakes and toaster etc - I was lucky enough to pop into our local charity shop and find a massive storage box packed with toy kitchen pieces for just £4 a few months back. Perfect! When we presented Josephine with her kitchen last weekend, her face was a picture. It was utter disbelief, wonder and excitement all rolled into one, and she hasn't stopped playing with it for a second. We love that she adores something we made her, so so much. And the little phrases she comes up with while she's 'cooking' are the best. She is a carbon copy of Ben in the kitchen and it makes us both smile so big to see her playing with it so happily. Here's to many more Mama and Daddy-made birthday presents :)
I am a sucker for Liberty prints. Always have been. So you can imagine my joy when I was pointed in the direction of Coco and Wolf, a British brand making the sweetest pieces for little ones using only the most beautiful prints from Liberty of London.
Creative Mama, Amy, launched the store after she began making her daughter traditional and vintage-style pieces that she couldn't find anywhere else, and it has grown to include bloomers, rompers, jumpsuits and shorts as well as hair bows, bibs and vests. For Baby I chose somelovely shorts, in a really unisex pattern suitable for a boy or girl, and a sweet, springy bib; while for Josephine the Poppy and Daisy shorts have to be my favourite print (and will appear in a What Phiney Wore post very soon after their first outing today) while the big bow hairband will be ideal for the summer. But there was so much more I could choose, including the new Button Back Blouse and the Curve Hem Top. Too much goodness! Personally, I don't think there can ever be enough Liberty print in a little one's wardrobe...
"Me take a smile, Mama?" This girl has had a camera on her everyday for the best part of a year since the photography bug really hit me, so it's not surprising that give her a tripod or my iPhone and the first thing she does is start to take pictures; or a 'smile' in her words :)
1. Bare legs and the most delicious moccasins c/o Amy & Ivor. In love with all things grey right now.
2. With my favourite girl in the Botanical Gardens, our special place to talk about my Dad. And the best place in the world to see inquisitive squirrels and birds.
3. Flashes of spring and warm, coat-free weather.
4. With her boys on the slide in the meadow. Always fun to be had with these guys.
5. Bike riding with Daddy after work, outside our house. The lighter evenings are so lovely.
6. Exploring in her new yellow wellie boots. Raincoat c/o Joules.
7. This month marked three months since we lost our beautiful Papa. He is in my thoughts always, and I miss him desperately. Here we are with him c.1993 on the set of Return of the Native. His awesome job meant awesome ways of spending Saturdays as extras :) This photo was taken more than 20 years ago. He never aged a day, I swear.
8. It has become a little tradition, that I plan to continue forever, to buy the brightest yellow blooms on a Friday, to mark another week since we lost my Dad. Tulips have become my favourites.
9. It was Mother's Day this past weekend. I am so lucky and proud to call myself Josephine's Mama. She is the sweetest creature in the world.
10. Me and my Mama c. 1984. Happy Mother's Day Mum, we all love you so much and appreciate every little thing you do for us xxx
I love Instagram. Kind of obsessed, actually. It's so quick and with a good camera app and VSCO filters some of my favourite photos are thanks to Instagram. And with life so busy, it's so easy. Sometimes I forget, or just can't be bothered,to take my DSLR with me. And so I'm going to start a monthly round-up of my best ten Instragram pictures at the beginning of each month. With life about to get a whole lot more busy (Baby is due THIS MONTH!!) these are set to become some of my favourite blog posts.
"A portrait of my children, once a week every week in 2014".
Two going on fifteen. We've been given a glimpse into our future life with a teenage girl in the house over the last week or so. This girl is stubborn, oh! So stubborn. I don't know where she gets it from....!! And just so you can see what I mean, the photo that immediately followed the one above was this one...
HELLO, I'm Nell and this is my journal. Documenting magical days with my husband Ben and our daughters, Josephine and Coralie; recording the adventures we have together. Life is always beautiful with these three.