Black and White Photography Project: Camera Grab!

JJ camera grab

Mucking around in the car today I took a few shots of the boys through the backs of the drivers and passenger seats and they thought it would be funny to try and grab at the camera. I like the way their little faces come into sharp focus in the background and they work well in black and white!

EJ camera grab

Joining in with Charly’s Black and White Photography Project over at Podcast.

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L is for…Lunch #alphabetphoto

L is for...Lunch

I love the way they are so coordinated in this shot! Eating one of their favourite lunches – cheesy pasta with tuna and sweetcorn. They’ve been playing in the garden hence EJ’s bib & nappy combo!

Linking up to the Alphabet Photography Project over at Podcast Dove.

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Creativity in the garden

Lion ball toss

This week I wanted to design and craft a game for EJ’s upcoming circus-themed birthday party. As I’ve mentioned before I had already ruled out pass the parcel as an option – a lot of faff for about 15 minutes of paper shredding as far as I can see! I looked around for some other options to keep the kids busy and I wondered about some sort of ‘beanbag toss’ game. I noted that we had an old discarded cardboard box just about the right size and quickly decided that an open-mouthed lion would be perfect.

Unfortunately I ran out of time on my day off and was unable to get started on this whilst the children were both out, but I hate to leave anything undone on my to do list so I thought I’d just throw caution to the wind and crack on with it in their presence.

At first they weren’t really bothered (when I was cutting out paper and gluing it to the box and then pencilling in the design) but as soon as I got out the paints and brushes JJ was there, wanting to get involved.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that he wanted to help, but there was no way I was going to let him mess up my hard work (this kind of thing is retailing for about £18 on eBay – albeit it more professional looking and made of wood!). So I did the next best thing and squeezed out four different coloured paints, some paper, and took them all outside into the garden (thank goodness for summer!).

Of course EJ then immediately wanted to join in and, as he was already stripped down to just his disposable nappy, how could I refuse?

What happened next is probably just about standard for a four year old and one year old. They created masterpieces! And then they created havock by painting themselves from head to foot, painting the garden table and having to be grappled into the bath.

JJ masterpiece

EJ masterpiece

EJ painted

Later on, once all that remained was a slightly jaundiced pair of munchkins and EJ was tucked up in bed, JJ came down for his milk and snack and I called him back out into the garden to try out the newly completed game. I quickly realised that beanbags would not be required as the old ball pit balls we had in the shed make acceptable missiles! To be honest I wasn’t expecting the game to be massively enthralling, but how wrong was I?! JJ absolutely loved it and spent about an hour just practicing his shot! (I think he is secretly gearing up for an ‘unexpected’ win at the party!).

JJ ball toss 2

This little bit of creativity, both for them and for me, has been a long time coming but I’m so glad that I finally made the effort. Hopefully we will be able to do a bit more of this messy stuff before the summer is out!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Motherhood: recognising subtle changes

When you have 2 children – and I can only speak from my experience of a three year age gap – the more subtle developmental leaps of your eldest sometimes go unnoticed amongst the chaos a toddler creates on a daily basis.

Last weekend I finally got a chance to have a bit of a mummy-son bonding experience with my four year old.

Joe and Me July 2014

We were on one of our routine weekend stays with my parents. In the past, when the youngest has had his nap I have taken the opportunity of a quick jaunt into Kingston, which is just a short walk across the Thames, making the prospect of a Saturday shop too tempting to ignore!

I absolutely love a bit of (non-food) shopping but it became almost impossible when I had JJ. Even as a baby he seemed ridiculously unhappy the second I wheeled his pram into the clothing aisle of any kind of boutique, so I pretty much gave up this little pleasure. Recently, however, he has actually expressed an interest in accompanying me into this mecca of consumerism – he does, after all, have a small wish-list of his own and likes the idea of spending a little pocket money on a new car, train or bus for his ever-growing collection.

On Saturday, after a pretty dry, sunny week, the heavens opened on our drive over to my parents at which point I realised that I’d forgotten to pack not only the boys raincoats but also any kind of jumper or cardy for JJ (who tends to feel the cold even on warm days if there’s even the hint of a breeze). The uneasiness I felt in this knowledge gave me reason enough to suggest that he accompany me on a little spree, and, with the promise of some money to buy himself a ‘racing car’, we were off – umbrellas at the ready!

To cut a long story short we ended up with a hoody for him plus a t-shirt each for the boys from Primarni (bargain £8 the lot!), a hoody for EJ and shorts for JJ from H&M and then a Routemaster bus for JJ and an open-top sightseeing bus for EJ (hand picked for his brother – I told you he liked buses!).

As a treat (and because I am a member of the John Lewis marketing campaign, meaning I get a free coffee and cake each month!) I took JJ to the John Lewis cafe where we pigged out on fresh cream Victoria sponge and a chocolate muffin (off pops another button!). On the way out I spotted a really cute little asymmetrical striped tunic top on sale from Phase Eight and JJ happily accompanied me to the fitting room so I could try it on, offering his opinion and generally being really sweet.

I have to say he was really good company, really well behaved, held my hand, chatted, never once expressed boredom or made any unreasonable demands, and this made me realise how far we’ve come on this developmental journey. I realise this is a bit different to saying “I’m so proud of my child for writing a sentence or counting up to 100, or mastering a musical intrument” but what this says to me is that my little boy is excelling at sociability (which has also been highlighted to me by his preschool), and that is, in my book, a pretty key life skill. So whilst this all sounds pretty mundane and ordinary, it makes me feel proud of him.

Taught skills – the three Rs – he’ll master them in his own time and with people far more gifted at education than me – but learning how to be good company, away from the softplay and out in the wider world – that takes a bit of maturity, and I do believe I captured a glimpse of that last weekend and these ordinary moments have marked a subtle change in my big boy.

Secrets of the  Sandpit