14/52

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#1 OK so you might not have been the easiest of mini-models but you still did some awesome posing for me and my iPhone when no one else was looking. I found it interesting (and yes, ever so slightly frustrating) that you were happy to be photographed individually but not as part of the group. As always, you knew your own mind.

#2 Boy have you and I had an up-and-a-downer this past week. I’m having to remind myself that those who appear least deserving of love are often the most in need of it. Our heart-to-heart to reassure that you are treasured in equal measure to your brother seems to have helped. If only I could buy in some extra patience.

I’m hoping you have more time than I do to check out the other folks joining in with the 52 Project over at Practising Simplicity, and Living Arrows on I Heart Snapping. Go. Go now!

13/52

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#1 I fell in love with those eyes long before you were even a consideration.
#2 How is it that you’re mine, and yet I’ll never know or understand all of your thoughts?

This week I’ve felt battle weary. Exhausted, actually. But there are always reasons to smile. Here are mine:

*I won a place on Xanthe Berkeley’s Creating Tangible Time Capsules eCourse. So looking forward to getting stuck in;
*Boy2 is being photographed by Michelle Marshall this weekend which is making me do imaginary somersaults of excitement;
*Nanny and Grandad G are back from America after 5 long weeks away; and
*It’s April therefore it’s Spring, not winter, which can only ever be a good thing in my book.

Joining in (late) with other snap-happy mamas over at Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows.

12/52

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#1 Putting on some crazy show with a length of chain. I have no idea what it was all about but you had your brother in stitches!

#2 Sitting in Daddy’s garage watching your brother being crazy. This rather solemn shot doesn’t accurately tell the tale at all since you were finding his antics very amusing. But it was my favourite of you from the few I took this week.*

I’ve been really rather slack at taking photos for the second week in a row…and then panic when I don’t have many to choose from. That said, these are a pretty good representation of our days. If we’re not out at one homeschool activity or another, we hang out at home, making sure we spend some time outside every day. Since Boy2 learnt to ride his bike this means spending even more time in the yard we share with our neighbours by the garages. It’s handy for scooting and biking, though ever so slightly frustrating that I have to be out there too, since it’s beyond our garden and open to the street. Boy2 is still just that little bit too young to be left out there to his own devices. We long for more outside space where our two very physical boys can really spread out and play unwatched. I firmly believe that children need some privacy from their adults, to test their limits, manage their own risks, and sort out some of their own feuds unhindered. With their time being micro managed in a way that ours never was, I wonder whether they’ll ever develop those independent skills that come from simply hanging out with friends doing nothing, street raking, and pushing their boundaries?
*your latest injury from a tree falling incident; proof that I am trying my best to give you boys a long rein!

Joining in the 52 Projects with Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows.

Beautiful Young Soles

No, it’s not a typo. It’s a fabulous new British brand of footwear for children. And they are delicious.

I stumbled across Young Soles purely by accident. I love the work of photographer Flannery O’Kafka who was commissioned by Young Soles to bring to life their very first collection (A/W 2014). Whilst I’m currently itching to buy the boys their Saltwater sandals for summer, come the Autumn I’ll be after some of these absolute beauties. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for well made, traditional footwear. If they’re also unisex even better. Whilst Young Soles do have separate boys and girls collections, I think there’s scope to play around here as there’s not a hint of garish pink in sight. Boy2 wore classic T-bars last spring and summer and I’d have no hesitation in doing the same again.

Feast your eyes upon these…

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In their own words…

Blending retro-cool with classic British heritage styles, our shoes are designed in East London and made in Europe using the highest quality materials.

Acknowledging trends and giving them our own twist, we always ensure we stay true to our brand, whether its borrowing from childhood memories, music, or a style movement, there is always inspiration to be found.

Built to last with all the features parents should expect from a child’s shoe, our lasts follow the shape of the foot with a wide toe and narrow heel.

We love the smell of natural materials, we use soft and supple leather to make our uppers and linings, allowing the upper to mould to the contours of the foot. Our lightweight and flexible outsole mixes traditional detailing with contemporary materials, chosen for growing feet and first steps.

I, for one, cannot wait!

All images courtesy of Young Soles and Flannery O’Kafka, shot on location at Benjamin Barker’s Barber Shop in Dundee.

11/52

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You fell in love with this police helmet at a friend’s house and hung on to it for the entire time we were there (and yes, we managed to find one on eBay, such was your obsession!).

A couple of days later you asked Daddy if it was time to put the pedals onto your running bike. Five minutes later you’d mastered it. That’s just how you roll, kiddo.

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We went back to the secret woods for our homeschool meet up for the first time in several weeks. You love it there. It’s as though all the things that are bothering you, or aggravate you, or set you off don’t exist for a few hours.

One of the best bits, for all of you, is when it’s time to start gathering to go home. You poke about with the burning embers, making ‘flame sticks’, before the fire is quenched with water from the stream.

See the other 52 Project contributors over at Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows

This week was a bit tricky. Nothing major or particularly out of the ordinary. It happens from time to time that Boy1 and I get into a bad cycle of bickering, falling out, taking things to the extreme. He feels persecuted, and blames me for siding with his little brother on every occasion. Although this isn’t the case, it must appear that way at times. They are like chalk and cheese in pretty much every respect and although they actually play brilliantly together for the vast majority of the time, they do fight. This usually involves a crazy amount of screeching, screaming and shouting by the bigger one. We are all lucky that he is not physically aggressive. Boy2 is a bit more ‘hands on’ but he is very often provoked and, at the end of the day, he is only 3.

I try to ignore the smaller incidents and let them attempt to work it out for themselves but it’s been all too explosive recently to simply stand by. Striking a balance between effective discipline and being mindful of Boy1′s incredibly sensitive nature is not easy. In the last week I have most definitely failed. He needs to have so much pointed out to him, how his behaviour makes other people feel, how he can be self-centred, and yet even with the kindest of explanations he feels victimised and wounded. He is so, so lovely, and yet so damned frustating as well.

And here’s the double whammy (and possibly one of the biggest reasons Boy1 feels victimised). Though it’s unfair to compare, Boy2 seems to roll with the punches, moves on quickly from upset, listens and actually understands the effect his words and actions have on others. At the tender age of 3 he is often found to be the peacemaker or the voice of reason. On the surface you might have him cast as the trouble-maker; he’s loud, stands his ground, knows what he wants. But for all of that he seems to get what’s going on. I think both my boys are exceptional, but in very different ways. What one has as a strength, the other has a weakness.

In an attempt to model the type of behaviour I want to see in my kids, I am having to work really hard, and eat more chocolate than is probably healthy. This parenting lark is pretty tough.

10/52

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#1 You’ve all of a sudden started to strike a pose as soon as the camera comes out. Not the kind of photos I like to take, personally, so I’m having to catch my moment. On this occasion you were too caught up admiring your reflection in a polished floor to be loving the camera instead!

#2 You immersed yourself fully in an art workshop we attended at the Turner Contemporary. The canvas was a collaborative effort between a group of home educated children. So when you decided to write your name across it in huge capital letters, I gently persuaded you that it might not be the done thing – but not before you’d managed to paint the ‘A’. I guess we all want to leave our mark, one way or another!

I much prefer picking photos that kind of work well together, even if they’re not captures from the same day or place. This week I failed monumentally on that front but hey oh, when you’re this late submitting for a project it pays not to be too fussy! We’ve had major internet disruption this week. As much as it’s lovely to live a less distracted life, it’s also a major pain in the bum. Anyway, for the moment we’re online so I’m grabbing this opportunity before week 10/52 becomes 11/52.

As always, joining in with lots of other snap-happy mamas (and papas?) over at Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows.

9/52

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#1 You love to be down by the beach huts. You spend your time hanging out on the steps, the decks, climbing balustrades, and tinkering with the various locks and door handles. Come the summer, when the beach hut owners will be back enjoying their little bit of seaside loveliness, I predict you’ll be most put out.

#2 Practising your new found skill of whistling. I’m wondering whether missing teeth are the key ingredient to your mastery. I guess we’ll find out soon because they are growing back incredibly quickly (and not entirely straight; you’re so desperate for braces that you’re willing them to be wonky!)

In the last week or two I’ve been inspired (and fallen in love with) the photography and family film making of Xanthe Berkeley. My photo of Boy2 against the blue beach hut was not originally intended for the 52 Project. Instead, I was trying out a few ideas based on Xanthe’s Color//Colour project; a collaboration with Portland based photographer Andrea. Their project is just coming to a close and the results are simply stunning. I kind of fancied doing something similar myself, just for me. But anyway, I liked my blue beach hut unportrait so I’ve used it here for week 9/52.

Joining in with all manner of loveliness over at Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows (where I first discovered Xanthe. Isn’t the internet a wonderful place).

8/52

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#1 & #2 Climbing, always climbing. For once you were scaling something intended for the purpose. A really kid-friendly way of reaching an underwater viewing pod at the Aquarium. This was definitely your favourite bit; we had trouble moving on.

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#3 Up close and personal with your new favourite creature, the Zebra Shark. It seemed to develop a similar curiosity with you in return. And I agree with you totally; it’s spotty, not striped.
#4 Hanging out in a mini viewing pod. You were still and mesmerised rather than highly energetic like your brother.

The Nausicaa Aquarium in Boulogne is really worth a visit. For us, living so close to the Eurotunnel crossing means a trip here is actually cheaper and probably easier than visiting a sealife centre at home. A £20 return crossing, half price entry and a tasty french meal before heading home at bed time ticked all the right boxes. A wonderful learning opportunity and a pretty mesmerising sensory experience all round.

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Linking up and joining in with Practising Simplicity & the Living Arrows project.

7/52

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#1 You just will not keep your feet on the floor! Here you are in your favourite place at the moment; riding the banister that leads from the front door down into the kitchen.
#2 I’ve explained countless times how, if you fall, you’ll hit your head on the slate floor. Your answer? A crash helmet (and sunglasses, obviously).

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#3 Your Dad wasn’t so keen on this picture but I love it. He wasn’t sure it really looked like you. I know what he means but you’re changing before my eyes at the moment.
#4 The most obvious difference is that big ole gap in your teeth! You wear it with complete 7yr old pride but as parents we’re having to get used to the new you.

Joining in at Practising Simplicity & Living Arrows.

6/52

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#1 Gazing at the ponies in the field opposite our house, willing them to come over. You secretly like to pretend that they belong to us. I would have done just the same when I was seven, too. (I never, ever tire of staring at your eyelashes).
#2 Concentrating on something you had in your hands though I don’t remember what exactly. There were so many interesting things for you to investigate at this new friend’s house.
#3 Different day, different place, same expression as the last. (I adore your pouty lips).

I love joyful pictures of our boys, like last week’s for example. But I’m also a sucker for the slightly sombre, serious shots too, especially profile shots. I think perhaps because they represent little moments of stillness and calm, of thoughtfulness or brooding, amongst the craziness which seems to dominate our days.

You’ll forgive me (yet again) for not making the time to list some favourites of mine from the 52 & Living Arrows Projects. I’m struggling a little right now to take a full and deep breath, I’m that shattered. But the roots of our collective future are growing. Great things, I hope, are in store. And if that sounds profound, well, I guess that’s because it is.