Making memories

One of my greatest pleasures in life is spending time with my husband and children, outside in the fresh air. Not really doing anything, just being together and walking, letting the children explore. Its not something we get to do often. Weekends are mainly taken up by my husband working Saturdays, and my son playing football and us visiting family on Sundays. So when we found ourselves with a free Sunday, we decided to spend it exploring a new and undiscovered place (to us anyway!).

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By the time we were all up, bathed and organised it was past lunchtime, and the weather was cool and overcast. Perfect for a walk!

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With lots of trees to climb and mud and leaves to squish about in the children were in their element! Lots of imaginative play opportunities, and plenty of space to run around and explore. And of course, me with my camera 🙂 The perfect Sunday afternoon!

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The only disappointment was that my son arranged to go to his friend’s house instead of coming with us. He would have loved it! But it gives us good reason to visit again 🙂

To my middle child

To my beautiful, crazy middle child,

People talk about “middle child syndrome”. They say the youngest and the oldest get all the attention, and the middle just plods along. At best, just quietly going about their business. At worst, ignored and not thought about.

You, my darling middle child, are no different. I’m not proud of it. I try my best to make it not so. But you are quiet, polite, hard working and eager to please. Your elder sister and brother, and your younger sister and brother, are hard work. They command attention, for various reasons. They are beautiful too, inside and out. But because of being a teenager/toddler, or because of having their own (suspected but undiagnosed) issues, they take more effort. You are none of those things. You’re just you.

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You were never supposed to be the middle child. You were meant to be the youngest. We were stopping at three. But you made your presence well and truly felt, before you were even born.

27 weeks – kidney stones. I thought I was in early labour. Then the real pain hit, and I thought I was dying. Even morphine didn’t touch it. I’ve never known pain like it. Even giving birth didn’t come close. The relief when I passed those two little bits of gravel was immense. But I was left with a dilated kidney, and was on strong painkillers for the rest of my pregnancy.

33 weeks – Severe vomiting, resulting in dehydration and hospital admission. They sorted me out, were ready to let me go. But then they noticed my eyes were jaundiced.

34 weeks – My fears were confirmed, Obstetric cholestasis. My wonderful planned homebirth, gone. Induction and resulting c-section at 37 weeks.

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Then at 6 weeks we could have lost you. Bronchilitis meant you spent 4 days, the scariest 4 days of my life, in high dependency.

Your pregnancy and birth haunted me. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. My last experience of pregnancy couldn’t be my body failing me, failing you. I couldn’t get over it. So we decided to have your sister. Then your brother surprised us all, almost 5 years later. So here you are, the middle child.

But I want to reassure you my darling, you are not forgotten. You are not any less loved, or any less appreciated. We adore your quirky ways, the way your eyes twinkle when you laugh. Your odd sense of humour and those expressions you pull when you’re telling a story or having a rant.

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We see you. You are part of us, our family. And we wouldn’t change you for anything.

All my love,

Mummy.x

 

Wildlife and walking

Some of you may have seen my very first “live” video on my Facebook page this morning. I’ll be honest with you, its something I had dreaded doing. For some reason I had a real fear of putting myself out there, on video, telling the world “This is where I am right now, this is my life”. But I wanted to share something with you all, my past clients, my potential clients, my friends and family, and those that just like my photography. I wanted you to see me, as a real person. Not just someone on the end of an email or message.

So for this first glimpse into my world, I decided to share something that I love. Just me, my camera, the fresh air and the wildlife. One of my favourite places in the world. I don’t get to walk there as much as I once did, life has got a whole lot busier these past few years. But that just makes me appreciate it all the more.

Today was a good day. The sun was shining, although it was still cold. In some places the frost still settled on the long grass and the fallen leaves.

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But the wildlife was out in force.

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Sometimes I can walk this route, hear the birds singing in the trees but not see anything at all. But not today 🙂 Today it was as if the birds knew I hadn’t walked there for a while, so they came out to greet me. At the start of my walk I could see the rooks in their trees, all squabbling and flapping around. As I walked further I could hear a Great spotted woodpecker drumming on the trees. I didn’t glimpse one today, they are quite elusive. But I know they are around.

Green woodpeckers were abundant. Herons were flying around between the trees where they nest and the canal. Lots of small birds were flying from tree to tree, or pecking around the ground.

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A little owl was roosting in a tree. I have seen them many times now, but I always get that little thrill of excitement when I spot their little forms huddled on a fence post or in a hollow tree. Such tiny little birds, so well camouflaged and not at all easy to spot!

But my real treat came when I reached the dam. Its my favourite place to be. To just sit on the bench and watch the water, or stand by the fence and hope to catch a glimpse of a weasel or stoat (both of which I have seen there previously), a fox, or the terrapin that lives in the canal there. Or, if I’m really lucky, my favourite of all the creatures I encounter there. The kingfisher. There is a nesting pair that live and fish on this stretch of canal. They are very active, and often you will just hear a tell-tale piercing whistle and then see a flash of blue as one darts by. But sometimes they will sit for a while and fish.

Today when I arrived there was no sign. I settled down to wait, and a Little egret came down to join me, so I contented myself with photographing it.

As I turned to leave I caught that unmistakable blue and orange plumage out of the corner of my eye. There sat the kingfisher. Closer than I have seen him for a good while. He sat just the other side of the fence, and seemed unconcerned as I stood and watched him. The light was against me, he couldn’t have chosen a worse spot from that point of view! But I did my best to capture him. Then I just stood and watched as he dived into the water and caught a fish. Then all of a sudden he let out that whistle, and off he flew. Leaving me feeling happy and content, that he had allowed me such a good view of him and had seemed so comfortable with my presence.

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Milk baths – picturing innocence

Bathing in milk is nothing new, Cleopatra is said to have taken daily baths in donkey milk, and the Romans were known to have done the same. But there is a rising trend amongst photographers for photographing women and children in luxurious baths of milk. When I mentioned this to my daughters, it being the Eater holidays and us being at alone end and all, they decided they were up for the challenge.
So off I went and dutifully purchased some dried milk powder, and a bunch of pretty pink roses. I ran the bath about 4 inches deep, and then mixed up some of the milk powder in a jug. After about 3 jugs full I had achieved the look I was after, a translucent, milky white bath. I then added the flowers. It looked very pretty. So then I was ready for child number one. She got in the tub happily enough, but then we had a issue with the depth of the bath. She didn’t like the water covering her ears! So we had to let out a little water. I then climbed above the tub and braced my feet on either side (not the easiest of tasks, we have a corner bath and it’s really quite wide!). 

  

She was a little squinty and stiff when we started, but I made her laugh by pretending to almost fall in the bath and she soon relaxed.

  
  

Next it was the turn of my youngest daughter. She was a little more challenging. Having a few sensory issues, she was a touch reluctant as soon as she saw the bath. She had a mini meltdown and I had to talk her around and negotiate. In the end it came down to adding more warm water to encourage her into the tub. Then we had another ear meltdown. So it took a little while to persuade her to lie down. Once she was in though she found the whole thing quite amusing. She loved playing with the flowers and swishing her hair.

  
I may be biased but I think the photos haves turned out beautiful, showing their innocence and beauty stripped back and natural.

   
 
The added bonus is that their hair has been left so soft and shiny! Milk is definitely good for a conditioning rinse.

So will I be offering these shoots as a regular thing? I don’t think so. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon with my girls, but I’m not sure I could achieve the same results with children who don’t know me. I’m glad we did it though, I now have more beautiful photos for my gallery wall 🙂

My very first newborn shoot!

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My first Great nephew was born in August (i’m not that old, i just have a much older sister and a 20 year old niece 😉 lol). I was so excited to meet him! He was tiny, only 4lb 12oz at birth, and so gorgeous.

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It took a little while for my niece and I to sync our schedules in order to fit in little Ashten’s shoot, but when we did it was fantastic! It was definitely a learning curve, alot of waiting around whilst he filled himself up with milk and settled, but when he did he was so easy to photograph. Babies are just inherently cute aren’t they?

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I’ve included some of my favourites from the shoot.

Hopefully i will have more in the same vein to post next year, i am expecting my very own new baby boy in April 🙂