The day that changed everything. The day I found out I’m going to be a mom.

15 April 2014

Ten on ten - April

A few months back I vowed to take part in Rebekah Gough's Ten on Ten project but the last month's 'tenth' was spent in a hospital ward and I had neither the time, nor inclination, to photograph the event - more on that to follow - but this month I was armed and primed to take part. Only, when it came to it, I found the task extremely stressful. It could have been partly down to the hormonal ebb and flow rising through my body on that particular day, or it could have been partly because I am so uninspired by my physical surroundings. I found it really difficult to find the beauty in my space and it highlighted to me how terribly boring these four walls are. There's certainly a few lessons to be learned by joining in on this project; that is my mindset could probably do with some attention, as could finding more ways to get out and explore more.

I tried very hard not to make this ten portraits of my son. So here goes...

1. First thing in the morning, every morning, he wakes, calls for "Mimi," "milk," and "Bybad," - aka iPad. He's totally convinced it belongs to him.
2. Waiting to see if my poppet was going to take a well needed nap. He didn't.
3. Partially eaten rice cakes and white bread. He's like Hansel and Gretel, he always leaves a trail behind so I can always find him.
4. A spot of colouring in the afternoon.
5. And the colouring moves to the garden.
6. A ginger face popping among the green of spring.
7. Peepo. Chuck looking very serious and quite certain that he is going to shut me out of the house.
8. A bit of orange to brighten up my world and the most productive plant I've ever owned, giving out five new flower heads in one week.
9. Circus tent fun before bedtime.
10. I've never drunk a beer so fast. It was a long day.

2 March 2014

A picture of perfect health

Today I am playing catch up. 

Sickness lingered in the air around our home for days before it struck. First Chuck, then me. Then, a week later, Papa-bear was knocked off his feet as well. 

We all suffered from some sort of flu. Chuck bounced back fairly quickly but for the 24 hours that he was suffering most, he was quite inconsolable. Only a mammoth 3-hour nap at 10am [going for a nap that early is severely abnormal in this household] seemed to give him enough strength to be able to see the day through to the end. Thankfully, after that he seemed much brighter but he still took a few days to recuperate and I fell ill shortly afterwards so caring for my ill child whilst being sick myself was very draining. Thank goodness my husband was home from work and was able to look after me.

Then, nearly a week later, daddy came down with the bug too and so I had to put my nursing hat back on so that I could return the favour he'd graced me with earlier in the week. I'd barely got back on my feet and it took every-last ounce of energy in me to be able to do it.

We're all well again now. Hurrah. But it left me somewhat adrift and out of time with my The 52 Project and my Living Arrows contributions. Somehow, I am 4 weeks out of whack. What the? 

That's not to say I haven't been taking the photos, just that I haven't had the energy to do anything with them. I'm not going to beat myself up about this though; especially not after making Sunday dinner today which included 3-hour slow cooked belly pork - I think this wee mama-accolade more than makes up for my blog-tardiness. I hope.

So here it is, week 6-9...enjoy [I did :)]..

Week 6 - A trip to Sheffield's Millenium Galleries, before sickness struck. You were fascinated by the buttons on the 4-headed-spoon-robot. My love, you adore a good button. The light was so striking in there and you looked so peaceful even though you were massively overtired from an illness that was preparing to strike.

Week 7 - You are a joyful thing. You bounce about the living room and a smile is never far from your face. You're so funny. You really make me laugh, your sense of humour is breeding from within you and you make me laugh every day. You're witty and spontaneous and creative and so blimmin cute.

Week 8 - Your new favourite toy. You insisted on getting the ball pool balls out of their bag every morning and refused to let me put them away; even when you weren't playing with them. Then, in a flash of motherhood-genius, I decided to put them inside your crawl-through tent so that they wouldn't run amok with the living room and you've spent most of your days in there ever since. And I only have to chase after 10-15 balls a day, instead of 100. A wonderful meeting of minds and a fabulous compromise. Thank you for being so on-board with this idea.

Week 9 - Two of your most favourite things, on this planet. Your milk and your blanket. I don't know what you would do without these things. They keep your grounded and peaceful; they are truly your tonic.

8 February 2014

The boy with the cow lick - The 52 Project 5/52

"A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2014" - The 52 Project - 5/52

He was always destined to have interesting hair. Big hair, definitely. Dark brown hair, most probably, but he actually surprised me there. My little man turned out to be a blondie, and while I didn't notice when he lost all of his newborn hair, I did notice when it grew back blonde and with the cutest kiss-curl you ever did see.

The kiss-curl eventually grew out and in its wake was left the most humongous cow lick you ever did see. This one I did not see coming. He didn't get it from his father or myself. It lies somewhere else within our DNA. Buried and just waiting to pounce on some unexpecting offspring.

And my boy is the one who got it, but I know he'll rock-it. He's already working that powerful mop to the max. Even if it does get him confused with a girl on a regular basis. I'm putting that down to those pretty-ass eyes rather than the gorgeous flowing locks; which thankfully he doesn't get from me. Yet.

Living Arrows 5/52 - Exploring new spaces

Chuck enjoying the generous floor space in our new lounge

We recently moved into a much bigger house so that we could continue to grow as a family and find a home for our rapidly expanding possessions, as well as somewhere for Chuck to stretch his long-ass legs.

The size of the house fits the bill but it needs quite a bit of cosmetic work to make the space work for us*. I'm finding it pretty overwhelming and I just can't seem to find the right place to start. Everywhere I turn one task leads to another and although I'm aware I need to just start with its legs, all I see is the whole elephant. I'm finding it daunting and a little overwhelming but I'm hopeful that the inevitable turn of the seasons will help shift this feeling. Soon.

There is, however, one room in the house where the light is rejuvenating and that is in the living room. Everywhere else feels a little dingy to me, which is bad for my soul not to mention my seriously-lacking-in-skills photography. I'm a natural-light photographer, I don't know how to deal with a dark room with a camera.

So far the move hasn't turned out to be as exciting as I thought it would be and I'm put off by the long list of things to do, especially as we have no money to do it. But at least I can say that for Chuck the move has been successful. He settled in straight away and the space sure suits him. He seems drunk with space most days and really this is the only thing that matters. He has space to grow and throw himself around which he didn't have before. He doesn't care that the manky carpet is laden with hairs and dust and grime from other people. He couldn't give two hoots about the seriously creaky floorboards or the poorly fitted architraves. He is just being. He's exploring and growing and learning, rapidly, each day. Thank God I have this boy to ground me from time to time.

He really does teach me a thing or two.

This post was part of the Living Arrows project via the I Heart Snapping collective.

* Me, just me.. Always just me with the issues ;)

30 January 2014

Realising your potential - The 52 Project 4/52

Chuck - 29.01.14 - 21 months old

Three things happened recently to give me a much needed power-up confidence boost. A very cool, young graphic designer bought my house and loved it as it was. No redecoration, just as is*. It meant that someone liked my style and ideas, it also meant that someone else fell in love with the house I've made my home for the last 6 years. This was a huge compliment to me. Then two extremely talented and sweet creative friends of mine made public proclamations of appreciation for some of my photography [the photograph you see above], of my little boy. And at the same time my husband sent me a text message to say I should become a portrait photographer. Bless.

It's a silly, perhaps childish moment for me, but it made me feel good. It made me feel as though I could actually do something well, aside from making pretty awesome babies**. And I'm not saying I'm going to become a photographer, or that I'm anywhere near good enough to become one but it did make me realise something fairly profound...

Sometimes, I feel inexplicably unhappy. Today made me realise that I am living my life below my limitations. I've done this all my life. Presumably because it's safe back there where you're not pushing yourself out into the world, ready for criticism and failure.

I suppose the biggest realisation was that this makes me feel inadequate and, therefore, unhappy. So I decided that I need to work on my happiness so that I can begin to realise my own potential. As such I've started to try and work on making some basic, but fundamental, changes by embarking on a few personal projects in the hope that I can make myself feel happier; become more productive; feel as fulfilled as I should feel and generally be a bit nicer.

Then stumbled upon, as is quite often the case in blog-world, the Practising Simplicity website where I found Jodi's The 52 Project. One portrait a week for a year of each of your children.

I can get on-board with this; Chuck makes me happy, looking at photos of him makes me happy and taking photographs also makes me happy - as does furthering my skills. So I've decided to join in 4 weeks late. It's really a way of forcing me to get my butt into gear, to take photos, to document his life and blog. Actually blog. Like I promised so many times that I would. As well as my own personal development. Win, win.

So here it is, my first - and pray it be not the last - contribution to The 52 Project.

* for now.. 
** ok, I've only made one so far but I'm sure the next will be just as cool as Chuck. It's genetic. Right?

27 January 2014

A chilly winter's walk and Living Arrows 4/52 - a combined post

Last week I realised I need to stop being such a pansy-ass-mother and start taking my son out more. I spend so long agonising over silly questions like; "Where should we go", and "How long will it take?", and "Will we be back in time for Chuck's nap?", and "Will he fall asleep in the car?' that by the time I've made a decision, it's usually too late to go any where. Which inevitably means we end up stuck in the house.

So I decided, with no forward planning, to take my little boy out for a very chilly morning walk around our local, and historical, garden centre. We walked, talked and checked out some animals. The rabbit was quite fascinating to Chuck but the fish paled into insignificance compared to the cupboards on display.

We shared a lovely cooked breakfast and walked and walked [and got stuck] in the maze until Chuck couldn't walk any further. I thoroughly enjoyed our morning. That morning was a bit of a revelation to me, I realised how simple and uncomplicated our time together can be, that I don't need to force or plan activities to do together. We can just be. Watching him roam around freely and giving him the time and space to explore and investigate the world at his own pace was so valuable and refreshing to me.

I've long considered home educating Chuck but have found it terribly difficult to come to a conclusion for fear of; not being good enough, not having enough time to myself and not enjoying it. But this morning out taught me that home education doesn't have to be daunting, I don't have to mourn the time I'll loose for myself because of all the other grandiose things Chuck and I will have gained. I realised how easy and organic home education could be and that I don't have to pile all the pressure in the world onto my shoulders to be an awesome teacher because, actually, that wouldn't be my role. I wouldn't be his teacher, I'd be his guide and companion. And that thought makes my heart flutter about inside. It feels right. Right now, it feels right. That's not a decision - just an observation - but if I can continue to see the world through his eyes it might just make making that decision* just a little bit easier.


I'm always a little late to the game. You'll have discovered this by looking at when I last posted [how long ago?] but I've [finally] decided to join in on the Living Arrows project currently being run by I Heart Snapping; a collective of snap-happy-mamas [and papas I'm quite sure]. I'm only 4 weeks late to the game, in true Stephanie-style.

The aim is to capture and share the beauty of childhood through our eyes* and I think this post certainly captures the beauty of Chuck's childhood, if only because of the potentially life-changing revelation I had about his future education. This really could be a huge turning point in our lives and so I felt it was worth documenting.

The reason I combined these posts is because I wanted to join in the Living Arrows project but I also had an important moment to document. I think, although I'm told there are no rules, that you're supposed to pick one image so if you insist on holding the meat cleaver to my head, then I'd choose the picture where you can see the back of Chuck's head as he's looking down the paths. Y'know to symbolise this ere crossroad, and that.

* if there's anyone else out there who struggled with this decision and who has any pearls of wisdom to share on the matter, please do tell..I'd love to hear.
**or camera, ahem.

8 August 2013

Waving bye bye to my baby and saying hello to a little boy [one from the vault]

Toddler hood springs itself upon you like Christmas. You spend all year waiting for it and then suddenly, bam, it's been and gone.

It's with a sense of melancholic sadness that I find myself waving goodbye to my baby (who I'm sure I just gave birth to.. Right?) and saying hello to a toddler. Children are time thieves at the best of times but I'm sure when my son was 364 days old he was still firmly a baby. 24 hours later and someone seemingly turned on a switch inside of him. Suddenly, and a little too speedily for my liking, he was awoken. And a little boy was born. Out from this gorgeous baby sprung an adventurous, loving, bright and outdoorsy kinda kid. He's boisterous, strong but affectionate and so so so kissable.

I'm so amazed and proud at the beautiful developments in my son that I've hardly had time to dwell on being sad about him growing up. He's just utterly devine, even if he has decided that kicking me (with his exceedingly strong legs) while having his butt changed, is his new favourite past time.. A problem that appears to be resolved with my rendition of 'the wheels on the bus'.. He's so easily disarmed.

The day that changed everything. The day I found out I'm going to be a mom.

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South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Hello poppet.

I'm Stephy-Lou, a new-mom tackling parenting one day at a time.

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