"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Lost in the magic of meeting Father Christmas.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


HOHOHO: meeting father christmas

On Wednesday I took Josephine to see Father Christmas with my Nan, my auntie and her daughter and my cousin and her daughter. This little grotto is so sweet, with a lovely array of decorations and lights to look at before you enter, and then a winter wonderland complete with polar bears, fake snow and elves. 

While she seemed quite amazed by Father Christmas, there was no way she was getting closer than 2 feet, hence the hilarious shot of them squeezed into the edges of the frame. 

She came away with a little real Christmas tree, a badge and a toy of her choice from the Elve's workshop...a fairy Barbie to be precise. Whom she already adores. 

Tonight, Ben finishes work for nearly two weeks. Josephine and I cannot wait to have him home with us for all that time. The Christmas holidays begin today! 

Meeting Father Christmas last year...so teeny! 


HOMEMADE CHRISTMAS: one week to go

This time next week, Christmas Day will be coming to an end. We'll be sat on the sofa, looking through all our lovely presents, tummies full of the most delicious food. But with one week to go, there's still plenty of festive fun to be had. Over the last month or so, Josephine, Ben and I have been putting our hands to some Christmas crafting and I thought I'd share some of the best in case you're looking for some quick, easy and cheap ideas to do with the children. Or, just by yourself! 

What did we do before Pinterest? Both the hand print Christmas tree posters and finger print Christmas tree cards were inspired by the site and have both been greatly received; by both Josephine and our friends and family. The silver bells (cut up egg boxes, wrapped in foil and threaded with ribbon) is a must-do for all infant schoolers in the UK and I remember making them when I was small. It's wonderful to have our first Phiney-made decoration on the tree and I can't wait to see what the coming years will add to the stash. 

The Father Christmas face cards were Ben's idea, and were completed while Mama was spoiled to a lovely long lie-in recently. Ben used pieces of scrap felt and cotton wool and Phiney did all the gluing and sticking. Those Santa faces are the cutest I've seen this year.

Ben and Josephine also created the sweet little tree for her doll's house. They collected some fern from the green in front of our house and, after Ben fashioned a base from this and that, they adorned it with tiny sprigs of flowers from the garden, brightly coloured strands of wool and a little star sticker for the top. 

Finally, the best Christmas craft, and one every age can have fun with (if you don't have a nearly-two year old in the mix think rows of triangle potato stamps or polka dots in neon) is stamping your own wrapping paper. Josephine and I collected huge leaves in the park one day and, after we dried them out, we smothered them in poster paints and stamped them on lengths of craft paper I found from Ikea. Ben also cut holly leaves and star stamps from potatoes for a particularly festive design. We've wrapped up as many presents as we can using our own paper, all tied with pretty ribbons from Mama's ribbon jars, and we think they look pretty darn good. 

What have been your favourite Christmas crafts this year? 



WHAT PHINEY WORE: Coat la coqueta // Tights john lewis // Boots clarks // Hat handmade using Dover & Madden pattern

Finding the perfect winter coat for Josephine this year took me forever, but boy was it worth the hunt. I wanted something traditional, in camel, that could be passed down to all our children; with the possibility of it becoming something of a family heirloom. I know, I don't ask for much. 

Thank goodness for Instagram. I somehow found Celia's feed, which featured her beautiful children wearing the gorgeous wares of her store La Coqueta. I found the shop online and there was the perfect coat, in an array of colours, but most importantly, in camel. I bought it in age 3, to ensure it lasts this year and next at least, and while the sleeves need to be turned up a bit right now, it fits so well. Sure, it's not cheap - in fact it's the most money I've spent on one item of clothing (for me or Phiney) in about 8 years, but it is the ultimate investment piece, and is just beautiful; from the soft wool coat to the velvet covered buttons. 

Once you've found the perfect winter coat, the perfect hat is a must. And for me, the bonnet is the sweetest thing for children of all ages. I have loved Vicki's designs for years now, and when I was pregnant with Josephine, one of her little knitted hats in red was a must. Last winter, Vicki so kindly sent Josephine a few new designs to try out and the mustard Clover hat and sunshine yellow bonnet became staples in her wardrobe. When Vicki told me she was going to produce a pattern to buy for the Clover hat, I was so excited and bought it as soon as she released it. With freelancing taking all my time, I passed the pattern to my expert knitter Mum, as well as some lovely lavender wool, and she produced this gorgeous piece. I love the purple and camel together, especially with her little leather boots. The perfect winter attire :)

ps. next to awesome Mama's like Celia and their independent shops, vintage and second hand pieces are a must. One of my favourite Insta buddies, Jude, found her little noodle the best vintage coat I've ever seen. Isn't it awesome? I'd happily steal it for Phiney. And about a month ago I found a lighter camel, almost identical version of Josephine's coat at the charity shop. In age 9-12 months it'll be ideal for Baby this time next year. By a French brand I've never heard of, and for the grand sum of £2.50, it was a pretty great find. 



"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Josephine: A moment of calm in an afternoon of racing after her cousins at a birthday party yesterday. She claimed that pram as soon as she walked through the door, and barely let go of it all day. Such a dedicated little Mama. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Josephine: Forever gazing at the Christmas tree and its decorations, often blowing kisses to her favourites. 
Baby: 20 weeks and developing perfectly. After our scan on Wednesday morning, I had a bleed in the evening. It was truly terrifying. I spent Thursday morning in A&E, but everything with me and Baby is fine. Thank goodness. Don't you be scaring us like that again, little one. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



WHAT PHINEY WORE: Dress vintage // Cardigan h&m // Hair Bow happy circus // Tights john lewis // Boots clarks // Bag italian market circa early 1990s

While I was searching for a belt to fit round my ever expanding tummy the other day, Josephine found this little leather coin purse my Mum bought me back from a trip to Italy when I was less than 10. She hasn't taken it off since, and it's become as important to her when we go out as her coat and wellies. It's the sweetest thing and she's taking such good care of it. It's in good hands, for sure. 

I adore this little vintage dress too, such a lovely shape and collar and it goes so well with the pop of yellow of her cardigan. The perfect mix of vintage finds and the high street basics for which H&M is hard to beat, in my opinion.  

Running up and down the hallway of our building...it never gets old for Josephine. And I can't help but love that nonchalant model pose of hers :)


LESSONS IN MOTHERHOOD: stealing magical moments

Working full time over the last few months really made me focus on the most important aspects of motherhood to me, and truly helped me learn more about the type of Mama I strive to be for our children. With time with Josephine seemingly taken from me, I made mental notes of how we'd spend our days filled with nothing but crafting and reading and playing as soon as the work finished. 

And in many ways we have. Christmas crafts have become common place round here (i'll share some of our favourites soon) and we've made dens a-plenty, but I've come to realise that, as Mamas, time to get on and do housework, cook the dinner and sort the bills remains a constant; let alone finding those equally important moments to ourselves, when we can sit and breathe and relax for just a moment. Even without the work, spending 24/7 engaging Josephine in fun-filled, educational and self-affirming activities is just unrealistic. More importantly, I've come to realise that that's ok. That it's just as important for Josephine to play on her own, occupy herself and discover the world through her own eyes as it is for me to get her food sorted, whip the hoover round once in a while and have a glance at some of my favourite blogs. 

And yesterday, Josephine taught me the most important factor of this particular lesson. 

I'm not ashamed to admit that since mid-August, the task that rapidly fell to the bottom of my to-do list, that rarely got completed, was the housework. Sure the washing up was done and the clothes washed, but the dusting and polishing? Absolutely not. So yesterday I decided it was time to tackle the mess; to get sorted and get tidy before Christmas. While Josephine pottered about doing this and that, and watching a bit of Mr Tumble on iPlayer, I spent the day putting things away, hoovering and packing bags to take to the charity shop, before giving Josephine her dinner and heading out to meet Ben at the supermarket to do our weekly shop. 

As we wheeled the trolley up and down the aisles, Ben asked Josephine about her day:
"What have you and Mama done today, Phiney?"
"Ummmm. We did dancing!!"

As she said it, a huge smile broke out across my face and a lesson was well and truly learnt. If Ben had asked me what fun things I'd done with Josephine that day, I'd have been filled with Mama-guilt as I wouldn't have seen past the cleaning and sorting, the fact we didn't leave the house until 5.30pm and that Josephine was wearing her pajamas until 20 minutes before that. 

But Josephine? Her day had been filled with that little Christmas music dance-off she had with Mama before lunch; our trips to sit and watch the lights twinkle on the Christmas tree and see how many birds she could find nestled in its branches; winding up the musical snow globe and listening to Mama sing along while we watched the snow fall on Father Christmas. Those fleeting but magical moments had been what made her day, what she remembered; what she'd fall asleep thinking of while I lay in bed wishing I'd made more effort to do this or that with her. 

Our little ones are so often the best teachers. And we need to listen to them more, to watch how happy they are; to realise that they drift off to sleep with smiles on their faces because of the little things we did with them, and that they don't feel they've missed out because we haven't been on some amazing adventure that day. 

So now, as I fall asleep I'll be thinking of the little things too, learning from my amazing guide through this journey of Mama-hood; our tiny dancer. 

Perhaps it's time to take a step away from Pinterest and the extravagant activities it suggests, and take pleasure instead in those 5 minute strolls round the garden (like ours this morning, pictured), the kitchen discos or tickle-time on the sofa? What are the little things that fill those magical spare minutes on busy days in your home?



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Pondering her next move, in the last of the afternoon light.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.