2 years in 4 photoshoots

Being a first time mum can sometimes feel like a sick joke …
Before having Winry I had rolled my eyes with annoyance when my brother tip toed around the house and whispered as my niece was taking her nap.
I was never going to be like that – the kid would just have to get used to sleeping through noise, because really – who does that to themselves?! …

Fast forward several years … Winry had been awake for what felt like months, I had finally gotten her to sleep – my back was screaming with pain from carrying around a deadweight 5lbs baby.
So I closed her door with the utmost care, cringed at the noise the bus made driving past outside and went straight to the living room to unplug the phone …
This became common practice and we did not have an answering machine … So as a lucky coincident would have it I missed about 8 calls over the months from a Sure Start Lady trying to invite me to a baby massage class…
I finally went with Winry in April 2014 when She was already 6 months – all the other babies were much younger – including little Arthur and his lovely mummy Jessica …

We got talking and I found out that Jessica was a Photographer …
We kept in touch through Facebook and I loved the Images she posted, so we booked our first shoot with her on Winry’s first Birthday in October 2012.
It was so lovely and relaxed, the images were so natural and vibrant and really portrayed our real personalities…

Photographs are Keepsakes like no other, they capture a precious moment in time, they have attatched to them so many memories, sentiments and emotions. When you find a good Photographer you can look at an Image of yourself and cherish every Imperfection. See yourself through someone elses eyes and grasp the fragility and magic of Life, not caring about a double chin or muddy shoes.

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We had a studio shoot when Winry was two months old with a popular infant photographing chain and sometimes I look at the pictures and they don’t really look like her… The artificial light, the awkward pose… They are lovely to look at but they evoke very little emotion …

So when we wanted more pictures we went back to her of course …
We had 3 more shoots – a Bump Shoot in July 2013 when I was very pregnant with Sameth, a Newborn Shoot in September 2013 when Sameth was 3 weeks old and most recently a lovely Family Shoot in October 2014.
This will be our last shoot for the forseeable future as Jessica is taking on her own personal journey to halfway across the world…

So this is a thank you (for now) for our wonderful Images and for capturing us in this gorgeous natural way – your work is most treasured by us !!!

I dont want to write too much in this post but rather share some of my most favourite pictures. Show how our family has grown and developed through her work πŸ˜‰
I love every Image – You are one talented Lady with the most mezmerising personality πŸ™‚

Enjoy…

( all Photographs taken by Jessica from http://www.photosbyjessica.co.uk/index.html )

3 Family Portraits

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Taking steps

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Mummy and her Girl

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Mummy and her Boy

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Siblings

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Sameth 3 weeks and 13 Months

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Winry 1 year and 3 Years

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Close Knit

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How 3 Became 4

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Daddy with Winry 12 months and Sameth 13 Months

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This is us 4

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My whole World

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Until next time …

Ta da

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Baking

Playing with my children does not always come easy to me.
I enjoy building with them – with blocks or lego, I lay on the floor to draw and colour, do puzzles and games and I love reading them books…
But when it comes to anything roleplay related I start to struggle. I feel self concious and awkward. This can be games like playing house or doctors, playing shops or having tea parties…
I can’t really explain why this is – It’s just the way I feel …
Of course I play these things with them anyway – when I’m alone with them at home – It’s what they love doing and it is a really important type of play –
it builds their confidence, fuells imagination, helps them to make sense of the world around them and to find out who they are… so there I sit on the floor pretending to eat a plastic fairy cake and drinking delicious fake tea feeling rather silly …

I’m also not terribly keen on messy play – at least not in the house …
Now, I dont mind toys, books and other playthings lying about the house – thats easily tidied up at the end of the day.
And I absolutely encourage messy play outside – if they dig in the mud or mess around with chalks and water – that does not bother me at all.
But I really do struggle with all things messy inside the house …
I hate playdough and wet paints and the thought of glue and glitter sends me to a place not that far away from a panik attack … (I am exaggerating here for added effect … or am I ? πŸ˜‰ )

But there is one activity – a particularly messy one – that I love doing with my children more than any other …
And that is baking …

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Sticky fingers, flour on the floor, worktops covered in icing, clothing “decorated” with chocolate, egg shells in the batter … does not bother me in the slightest …
It’s strange really – but I really do love the mess of it all for some reason …

My mum was a cook and I practically grew up in a Restaurant. My Grandmother used to bake with me and so did my otherwise not very motherly mother …
I have also always had a terrible sweet tooth …
Theres something so homely and warm about baking – the process, the smells, and the result just scream family and comfort and love to me like almost nothing else …
I never lose my calm or get impatient when baking something with my daughter and I love letting her take the lead even if it takes over an hour to make a simple crumble – I love every minute of it …

I can not wait until Sameth is old enough to join in too … because baking is not just a girls thing …

I guess every parent has things they love doing with their children … and that can be anything really … from going out rockpooling to dressing up and doing your nails …
I love it, for example, when Craig teaches the kids anything sport related…
All sorts of things like mini golf, hockey or just throwing and kicking a ball around – his shoulders drop and relax, his voice becomes soft and his eyes light up … he’s right in his element … that’s what he’s good at and what he loves …
And something rings quite true here actually because that is the thing he particularly enjoyed doing with his father when he was young …
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So I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t think you have to enjoy playing all sorts of things with your children …
As long as you make an effort and you find something your passionate about so that you can share that love and passion with your children then that’s ok … everyone has a thing … my thing is baking …
I’d like to think they will remember this when they grow up and say “Sure I know how to make pastry – I used to bake with my mum all the time …”

Until next time …

Ta da

A very special Holiday

When I found out some years ago that I was going to have an Autumn baby I was over the moon!
Not only because it is my favourite time of the year but also because it is such a great time to celebrate a birthday.
You can have a bonfire, bbq with marshmallows, Autumn camp out, adventure treasure hunts in the woods, fancy dress or halloween parties, book night sleepovers with cozy blankets … the list goes on …

A few days ago my little baby girl turned 3

First of all – wow … I can not believe how my little miracle baby has grown and developed into such a confident, bright little lady…
But anyway – this year we decided to celebrate her birthday by taking her on holiday to Germany to bond with my side of our ever extending family…

But Autumn is also a time in Germany where all sorts of harvest festivals are being held. You probably heard of the Oktoberfest – which is the largest and most well known example of a German harvest festival.
In the Rhine valley – the prominent wine region of Germany – those harvest festivals heavily feature wine. The Oktoberfest is best known for beer …

Weimar – where I was born and raised celebrated its 361st zwiebelmarkt (onionmarket) this Autumn … where the humble onion is the star of the harvest show…
It’s a huge event in this region and it is usually held on the second weekend of Oktober …this year this happened to fall exactly on Winry’s 3rd birthday.

http://www.weimar.de/en/tourismus/culture-leisure/markets-festivals/onion-market/

https://www.facebook.com/zwiebelmarktweimar.kulturstadt
When I lived in Weimar I experienced this every year of course, but since moving to England I have only managed to come back for the market once in 2007 when my now husband proposed to me… ooooh the memories πŸ˜‰ …
We had planned to go in 2011 but instead I gave birth to my amazing little Girl …

So for many reasons this was a very special Holiday for us …
It was also the first time my eldest brother Sven got to meet Sameth in the flesh and the first time we met my other brother Steve’s little baby girl Smilla, who was only born a few months ago …

We all had a wonderful time!
Of course it was exhausting and stressfull at times with two very young children not being able to have regular naps and sensible bed times…
Wenever we visit we do struggle to manage our time in such a way as to be able to spend some quality time with everyone, and this is even more of an issue when travelling with children of course … but one week really does go by in the blink of an eye … and when you get to spend so little time with beloved family members, bedtimes and no chocolate for breakfast and all sorts of other rules can be bent or even left at home for one short week …
It certainly was not a holiday to recharge energy levels and get some rest and quiet time – In fact I am so glad that Craig has another few days holiday so we can get some down time together…

But, having said that, I truly could not be more pleased with how amazing this holiday has been … I can not explain how much it means to me to see my nieces and nephews play with their (half)british cousins, to see the sheer love in my brothers eyes when they look at my precious children…

The physical batteries might be empty but the emotional ones are full to the brim …

Saying good bye at the airport is always hard – but this time my heart really broke a little… to see how upset winry got at having to say good bye to all the new friends and family members she had bonded with .in the space of a few days …

It truly was a holiday to remember !!!

I will leave you with the “holiday snaps” now … enjoy …

Tuesday

(unpacking, walk through weimar, buying froggy shoes, catch up with anja)

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Wednesday

(Breakfast with anja, playground, afternoon at Omi’s)

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Thursday

(meet Smilla, BBQ at the Baumgartens’)

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Friday

(spot of birthday shopping, quick walk over onion market, catch up with uncle steve, Girls night out)

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Saturday

(Horseriding with cousin Carlo, Chinese food, Onion market)

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Sunday

(Breakfast with uncle Sven, Ice cream, Onion market)

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Monday

(packing & bye bye)

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Until next time …

Ta da

Make or Break

Sameth is 13 months old now – the age Winry was when he was conceived …
And let me tell you a BIG secret … I am super broody …and I have no control over it …

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But don’t get too excited – there are no current plans to expand our lovely family of 4 any further at the moment …
I even feel guilty for my broodyness sometimes – and here’s why:

We have two beautiful, clever and most importantly healthy children – we even got super lucky and won the gender lottery with having both a girl and a boy…
They each have their own bedrooms, at least one parent’s full attention at bedtime, we can get away with a standard room when planning holidays and own a standard “normal” sized car …
Nanny and Grandad are more than happy to have 2 overnight guests every now and again and frankly it’s not been all that long since we started sleeping through the night again …

More importantly – I didn’t find motherhood terribly easy 2nd time around and had the misfortune to suffer post natal depression which was a wholly unpleasant experience to say the least …
My poor husband had to pick up a huge amount of slack and while he assures me that he didn’t mind in the least – it still makes me feel a pang of guilt and anxiety when I find myself flirting with the idea of being a mum of 3 …

So why put ourselves through it all again ?! … the morning sickness and heartburn, the sore nipples and smell of milky sick, the sleepless nights, post immunisation feevers and 10 teething drool soaked bibs every single day (at least)?
Well what can I say … I always wanted a big family … and denial can be such a sweet thing πŸ˜‰
Instead of all the chaos and exhaustion I picture the extended dining table at christmas where family members have to sit on coffee tables and upside-down bins because there’s not enough chairs for everyone…
Sunday mornings with 5 people cuddled up in one bed plus books and cuddly toys…
Maybe it’s because both me and my husband come from families with 3 children …

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Maybe it’s because having two children somehow feels “square” for want of a better word … with one child per parentΒ  …
if there were 3 I guess it would be more “round” …

You probably think I am mad … I probably am to be perfectly honest – but by the time you have had your second child reason has pretty much left the building … thats what it feels like most of the time anyway …
Life with young children feels sort of like a content chaos … You try your best to keep up with all the chores, to provide your children with educational activities and to do everything you are supposed to, but you also realise that ‘something’s gotta give’…
And so my tracksuit bottoms get much more use than my jeans these days … I have taught myself to cut my own hair rather than waste 2 hours in a salon …
I watch out for dvd release dates rather than cinema release dates of interesting looking movies and get very excited about buying Winry a funky new pair of shoes instead of buying the book that’s been on my amazon wish list for months … Who has time to read anyway πŸ˜‰

There are these memes on social media sites that you may have seen and they look something like this:

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and they ring very true for me πŸ˜‰ …

Anyway … to cut a long story short – the question on whether we will stick with our two or add another to our family remains a huge question mark for now …

But If we were to have a third child I would have a pretty good idea about what I would and wouldn’t do.
I am not in any way meaning this to be advice for anyone… every baby, parent and family situation is different – so this is simply me sharing my experience.

So here it goes:

1. Birth

I always dreamt about having a Homebirth. I was never really frightened of giving birth – of course I was anxious to some degree but both my mother and grandmother used to say “i’d rather give birth than go to the dentist” and described birth as a very matter of fact/ nothing to worry about kind of thing and so I just assumed it would be alright …
That’s what my body was designed to do after all …
Now, this approach may have been courageous or it may have been very naive but it didn’t matter all that much in the end …
When I proudly declared to my midwive that I planned to give birth at home I was told in no uncertain terms that a homebirth was off the table for me – My BMI was too high, It was my first pregnancy and I lived in a 2nd floor flat…
I think my husband was hugely relieved – the idea of a homebirth quite frankly scared the life out of him … and so I had Winry in Ipswich Hospital.
The Birth was not entirely straight forward but I believe that intervention and policies for certain proceedures and timeframes were at least partly to blame for that.
In the end I had a natural vaginal birth following a perfectly normal 8 1/2 hour labour. I had “only” 2 stitches and managed my pain with gas and air and by crushing my husbands right hand …
Nothing I couldn’t have done at home…
I stayed in Hospital for 2 nights and found the experience nothing short of a nightmare – it was noisy – unbearingly hot and uncomfortably unfamiliar. Although the staff and facilities were excellent I might add!

So when I went for my booking appointment at the beginning of my second pregnancy I bravely broached the subject of homebirth again, thinking that, as I’d had a complication free first birth they would be somewhat more accomodating, but I had no such luck …
I was still too heavy and lived on the second floor … two major risk factors … apparently …
And so Sameth was also born in Ipswich Hospital following a 50 minute labour, no stitches… I was very persistent with the staff and made it very clear that I would not be staying the night…
Since Sameth and me were both well and he was a pro at latching on and feeding right from the word go, they had no objections and so I left the hospital on the same day with a 10 hour old baby…
Much better …

However – should I need to make plans for a 3rd birth following a complication free pregnancy then I will not be so easily deterred!
I am of course still overweight but we no longer live in a flat with a 10 minute drive to the hospital but in a house with a 35 minute drive to hospital – in good traffic.
And with a previous 50 minute labour – I really don’t fancy taking my chances …

2. Boobs, Bottles and Dummies

I am, as you may have gotten to know by now, from Germany. Breast or Bottlefeeding is much less of a cause for argument over there – Mothers breastfeed if they can and want to, and if you do so in public you are very unlikely to offend anyone.
People would generally not be likely to even notice and as a breastfeeding mother you would certainly not be made to cover up or feel uncomfortable … thats what their intended use is after all.
On the other hand Germans are quite the pragmatic folk and if, for whatever reason, you happen to bottlefeed your baby then that’s just the way it is, and no one would think any less of you as a mother or attempt to give you lectures on the benefits of breastmilk.
Having said that, I was absolutely determined to breasfeed when I was pregnant with Winry and once she was here I worried a great deal about everything to do with the conundrum that breastfeeding turned out to be…
It was probably the hardest thing about being a first time mother … Yet I somehow managed to feed her until she was 14 months … She never had a Soother and refused to take a bottle – even if it contained breastmilk…
It was hard work and sometimes I could have kicked myself for not having tried to introduce a bottle while she was younger and more likely to accept it …

So when Sameth came along I combination fed him right from 3 days old – I fed him as much as I could and Craig would give him a top up bottle at night to give me some relief … Sameth was also given a soother when he was a few days old …
I was by then in a no nonsense / anything that makes life easier frame of mind … It worked amazingly well for several weeks until my little monkey cottoned on to the fact that, actually, this bottle feeding business was much easier work than getting milk out of a boob … and so he started to refuse the breast more and more in favour of a quick bottle.
I managed to trick him into latching on a few times every day until he was 4 months old and that was when he decided he’d had enough boob and that marked the end of nursing for us…
And although this has afforded me a lot more sleep, it has also made me very sad on several occasions since nursing is such a lovely bond and connection – even in the worst of days …

So … My plan for a potential 3rd baby would be Breastfeeding and Soother so as to not end up as a human soother like I did with Winry so so often … It seems like the best of both worlds to me … but hey – I might change my tune if it ever actually comes to it … πŸ˜‰

3. Weaning

This is a short one – Winry had only homemade, pureed fruit, vegetables and carefully planned meals from about 4 1/2 months old and she has been a dinner time nightmare on many occasions…
Sameth has had whatever we were eating put in front of him from about 6 1/2 months and he either ate it or played with it … He now manages extremely well with all sorts of textures and flavours and, although he has a severe sweet tooth, he also eats veg, meat and fruit without any fuss.
He is really good at letting us know when he is hungry and when he is done eating and it has been altogether a much nicer, calmer weaning experience …
Baby led weaning all the way !

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4. Sleeping

This is another short one and also the last point …
Of course moses baskets and cribs and cots all have their merits and are perfectly safe, suited places to put your baby down to sleep…

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Having said that, I have grown more and more attatched to the idea of co – sleeping and think that it could have saved a huge amount of stress, and that it has so many benefits that are rarely ever mentioned because of the huge, very valid fear of SIDS. But co – sleeping can actually be very safe when done correctly …

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/sleep-safety/latest-research-co-sleeping-safety
I, myself am not too keen on having a baby in bed with me since I do worry about the obvious risks… However if a 3rd Baby should be expected then one of the things I would invest in would be a co-sleeper bedside cot …

And they look something like this (I got this picture of the internet) :

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At the end of the day – every parenting experience brings with it lessons learnt and mistakes made … things I have come to swear by and things I regret…
I know I made the best decisions at the time, based on the information that was available to me – and that’s the thing that matters … I think You could have 30 children and still think of things you could have done differently …
So that’s my bit of wisdom – to put out there for anyone who wants it …
And all those ‘revelations’ don’t make the decision about a 3rd baby any easier …
The title of this post is “make or break” – It seems a drastic title and of couse every child is a blessing – but I feel that having another baby is not a decision that should be made on a whim – because there are 4 people already here that have to be considered. 4 people who’s lives would be affected – in positive and possibly negative ways too …

So I think We will be stewing over this for some time yet …

Until next time …

Ta da