26.1.15

MORNING SUN


Our little pixie, basking in the morning sunshine. So happy to just sit and play and watch and soak in the world. Wrapped in Nanny-made knits.


23.1.15

MORNINGS








The beginning of the week was the laziest few days we've had in a long time. And they were glorious. Making plans and seeking out adventure is a wonderful thing, but so is lazing around indoors, while it's freezing outside, and spending hours building train tracks and snuggling under blankets watching Disney movies and reading and dancing and drawing.
 
Soaking up every second of our babies. The best kind of adventure.
 
I plan on doing a lot more of nothing with these girls in the coming weeks and months. And I can't wait.

ps. their little hands in that first picture. Oh, my heart!

18.1.15

THREE


Today our girl turns three.

Time is going so fast and this birthday seems quite momentous. I know so much will change this year, as Josephine gets older, and it's only the beginning. She's just started her dance classes and after Easter she will start at nursery, three mornings a week; then next year it will be school. I dare not even think about that!

I have felt a little teary at how quickly Josephine is growing up. I want her to stay this age forever. To always want me by her side, to spend her days with me, for me to know everything about what has happened in her day. I plan to drink up every moment this year, more than ever. These little ones of ours don't stay little for long, and I don't want to miss a second.
Beautiful Josephine, you made Daddy and I so proud as you floated around in your little dancing outfit. And how you joined in with the class almost straight away. You make us proud everyday. You truly are the most wonderful, funny and brilliant child. How lucky we are to call you ours.

We hope this year holds fantastic adventures for you darling, and that you continue to grow big and strong and healthy, and lovely as ever. Although, you will always be our baby.

We love you more than words can say.
Happy Birthday tiny dancer xxx

12.1.15

MONTHLY PORTRAIT


 








 

WEARING: vintage Laura Ashley bloomers, Zara cotton top, H&M tights, Amy & Ivor Moccasins, Coco & Wolf bib.

Our sweet Coralie! Eight months old already, and we can hardly believe it. I have failed miserably at keeping a monthly record of what you're doing and how you've changed, but I promise for the rest of your first year, I will record each month here in our journal.


Firstly, you are the happiest child. Always smiling, always pleased to see people, always entertaining yourself with your toys or simply by watching the world around you if we need to get on with chores. You have a basket full of your toys boy upstairs and downstairs, and you sit for so long just rummaging through it, chewing everything you pick up. Always chewing (including your shoes!)...you'd think a tooth would appear, but still no sign of any.

It's funny - with Josephine I was always so keen to achieve the next 'thing'; her teeth starting to come through, her sitting and crawling and walking. But I'm so much more relaxed this time round. In all honesty, it doesn't matter. When you get teeth and start walking, your not my tiny baby anymore, and I'm more than happy for you to stay this little for as long as possible. Plus, it's so good to be able to put you down and know you'll be in the same spot when I turn back round. Life with take on another level of chaos when you start moving, little one.

We thought you might bypass crawling completely, but today you leant forward (reaching for a toy) and held yourself in a crawling position for at least a minute. I wondered if you'd move, but instead you face planted the floor! Smiling the whole time, of course :)

This weekend you started to say "Mama", which makes me so happy! I remember the first time Josephine said it as if it were yesterday, and I'll always remember being sat at the dining table as that little word was muttered for the first time. Josephine looked at each other with huge smiles on our faces and clapped and cheered you, much to your delight.

You mostly call "Dadadada", but you also wave and say "hello" and "bye bye". It is the cutest thing. Josephine is determined you'll say her name next! We'll see about that!

You're a passionate little thing, and give such good kisses and cuddles. You pull me in to you with my hair (ouch!) and plant the most slobbery, open-mouthed kisses round on my mouth. It's totally heart-melting. And when you cuddle, you snuggle right in. Don't ever stop giving cuddles like that.

As you grow, Josephine loves you more and more, and adores the fact that she can play with you more now. Last week, she packed you a pretend picnic and then sat offering you pretend After Eights from the empty box. You smiled the biggest smile, not really a clue what was happening.

We are all besotted with you, Coralie. I truly cannot believe you've been here for eight months already. It has gone so fast. You bring smiles and happiness my darling, and it's a joy to spend my days with you.

We love you xxxx

9.1.15

52/52

"A portrait of our daughters, once a week every week in 2014".

Josephine: Dancing in the most beautiful Christmas Eve light.

Coralie: Watching the world around her in awe, on her first Christmas Eve.  

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.

I've just caught up with The 52 Project, and have realised that I've managed every week but 4. I'm kind of kicking myself that I missed out those few portraits, but never mind - that we have 48 is miraculous! If you'd like to see the catch-up portraits, just head here.

After some thought, I've decided I won't continue this project this year. I absolutely love the idea of it, but right now, it's too much pressure. It would be just another thing to add to my to-do list, which is the last thing I need. I will cherish the portraits of the last two years though and think I will try a monthly picture of the girls together in the same spot at least, because I love to see how much they've grown right in front of our eyes...time goes so fast, it's so easy to miss.

I think I've ended this project on a high though - I love these two portraits. That one of Josephine especially has to be one of my all time favourites :)

Happy weekend everyone xxx

INSTA-DECEMBER

1. We spent the morning with best friends at such a happy place - the little airfield we visited a lot with my Dad. So many funny times - it's where i introduced Ben to my Dad all those years ago. We talked all about Dad and smiled so big. Always such a mix of emotions - such wonderful memories, but such sadness too. I miss him so much.
2. These girls will break hearts, no doubt. So sweet and so beautiful. Such a lovely pre-Christmas meet up, with two of our favourite ladies
3. Our poorly babe woke up from her nap this morning in a much happier mood...wiggled out of her sleeping bag, managed to unpop the poppers on her babygrow and get herself wedged sideways in the cot. She thought it was all very funny, and so did Josephine!
4. Her first trip to see Father Christmas
5. Today's trip was on a steam train, and Father Christmas visited us in our Hogwarts Express style compartment. I cannot tell you how much this little one adored every second of the train journey...still a bit wary of Father Christmas, but the train was a definite hit!
6. A day at the aquarium and hanging out with the man in her life. You can see how happy she is about him not being at work
7. Amazed by the fish
8. My Daddy's Christmas bouquet - a new tradition. A beautiful yellow rose for my Papa and a flower chosen by each of us. The pink rose for Josepine, the little pink roses for Coralie, the orange rose for Ben and the green for me. All together at Christmas, in flower form at least :) Such a happy bouquet
9. Christmas outfits are my favourite. Beautiful vintage and knee socks. So sweet
10. Gasp!! Trying to take a picture of these two not looking hilarious is pretty much impossible.

I've added the Insta-month features for the last 6 months too, if you'd like to see them, head here...catching up, bit by bit :)

4.1.15

CHRISTMAS EVE: new traditions








On Christmas Eve, as Ben cooked up a storm in the kitchen in preparation for the next few days, I took the girls on a very special outing to mark the year anniversary of the last time we spoke to my Dad.

On the way to the Botanical Gardens, we stopped at a little flower shop to pick up two very special bouquets. The first, a beautiful package wrapped in brown paper, was a small posey of tiny yellow daffodils. I wanted to lay some flowers at the Gardens to mark this day, and these yellow blooms were perfect. I also wanted to buy a bunch to sit on our mantelpiece over Christmas, and selected the most wonderful, happy bouquet that i'll show you more of soon.

The girls and I wandered round the gardens, soaking up the beautiful winter sun and talking about Grandpa and that last conversation; all the giggles and fun. And as we walked, Josephine laid a stem on the most beautiful spots she could find; moss-covered steps, secluded overgrown nooks and twisted tree trunks. It was lovely and sweet and a wonderful thing to do with my girls. Something we will do every Christmas Eve; a new tradition for my Papa.
 

3.1.15

A NEW CHAPTER: part two

Shoots of new life bursting through the soil at the Botanical Gardens on Christmas Eve, basking in the warm winter sun.

Happy New Year! Hello 2015, hello new-look blog and hello to a new chapter.

Back at the beginning of 2014, just weeks after my dad died, I wrote a piece about life without him being a new chapter of the same story, and as the new year begins I feel that yet another chapter has started. 2014 was a year of firsts; birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and special occasions without Dad here. Learning how to celebrate whilst living with such sadness has been so strange, but I think, and I've been told by other people who have dealt with death, that facing those occasions will be a bit easier the second time round.

2014 was also a year to begin healing, to learn how to cope, to learn what life is like without my Dad here. Throughout the year I experienced bursts of energy, times when I wanted to grab life by the horns as my Dad always did. I launched Nell Mallia Photography, which was been met with quite a few bookings and such wonderful feedback. But then winter set in and I felt the need to be still and reflect once again. With this new year and new chapter, comes a new sense of passion and ambition, and I'm really excited to build on what I've started and push it to the next level.

I'm also really excited to be back here, to add to our journal more regularly. Starting with my new header, I also plan to fill in the gaps from last year; complete the 52 Project, get up to date with Coralie's Monthly Portraits and our Insta-month round ups, finally write Coralie's birth story. But I plan to slot those in when I have the time and post them to the right months; but I'll let you know when I do and where they are, in case you'd like to check them out :)

I've never really been one for resolutions and seeing the new year as a fresh start, but I am pretty happy to see the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. Of course, 2014 bought us the most wonderful gift in Coralie, but I'm more than ready for a new chapter.

I plan to simplify, to cut down on the amount I'm on my phone, to live in the moment and, most importantly, seek new adventures with this little family of mine. To tell our family and friends how much they mean to us and to not waste any more time on the negative people who have caused so much hurt. This is a year of positivity and growth.

I hope you've got great plans for 2015, and I hope this year brings only happiness for you all xxx

22.12.14

DEAR CORALIE...


Your first Christmas! I don't think you really have a clue what's going on, but I'm pretty sure you already love it. The flashing lights on the tree have you hypnotised and you've loved Father Christmas at both our Christmas trips this week. And with Josephine jumping around, it's hard for you not to become just as hyper!

As I sit writing this letter, and thinking of you, I can't help but think of our tiny baby. A head full of black hair, so little and helpless. But you've grown so much, and it's so crazy to think you're already 7 and a half months. A light brown Mohawk has replaced that black hair, and your chubby cheeks are evidence of your love of food (yoghurt and broccoli especially). You sit so confidently, and launch yourself forward to grasp the toys just out of reach. No desire to crawl, it seems, happy to just sit at the moment. You're talking more and more in that little language of yours, but you exclaim 'hello Dada' whenever you see him, and have the sweetest wave to accompany it. I'm hoping 'Mama' will come soon...

Your arrival in May turned a truly awful time into the most beautiful. When your Grandpa died, it was knowing that you were growing in my tummy, relying on me to help you get stronger and bigger, that kept me eating and sleeping and marching on. And as Josephine helped me smile during the day, it was you moving and kicking inside me, that kept me from breaking in the night. In those dark, quiet hours, when the tears would come, I contemplated growing new life while dealing with death. You look so much like your Grandpa my darling. From the moment you were born, and wow! Sometimes it takes my breath away. It's like he's looking back at me again, when I look at you. I love that you share that connection with him. You may have never met, but that connection is so strong, and it's a beautiful thing.

You gave me so much strength Coralie, and I'm so thankful for that.

It's strange to think of a time before your arrival, you have so happily slotted into our little family. Adored by us all, our little one. You are such a good natured girl. Today you are poorly, with the snottiest nose and heavy eyes. You've been ill for a couple of days now, so we're hoping it will have passed by Christmas, but despite unsettled nights and a horrid cough, you are still so happy. Happy to sit and play, happy to watch the world go by, happy to still eat every last mouthful of every meal.

But boy, do you make yourself heard when you think you're being ignored. Your shriek could smash glass, and it certainly attracts a lot of attention when we're in the supermarket. I can't help but laugh! And you're as impatient as your sister (and your Mama and Daddy!) too. Milk can't come fast enough when I lie you down to feed.

It's been such a wonderful experience breast feeding you sweet girl. I have to thank you for giving me the opportunity to walk that journey, and find some closure on the disappointment of my milk stopping when Josephine was tiny. I will write more about our breastfeeding story, but I have loved every moment so far, and I look forward to many more months of feeding you.

Coralie, you were born into the water, and you are so happy whenever you're back there. Tears melt away when I put you in the bath. You're happy to have your face splashed and hair washed and get drenched by Josephine. A couple of water babies, you two.

Every day we go for a walk, and you crane your neck to observe this crazy world. Watching the birds and the trees, the cars drive by, smiling at all the old ladies in the village who can't help but peer into the pram and talk to you.

You pull us right in for proper cuddles and give the most delicious open-mouth kisses (often soaking us in the process with ridiculous amounts of drool!) And you do this hilarious foot clap whenever you have bare feet. It's brilliant and so entertaining. I never want to forget that excitable little foot clap!

When I write to you next Christmas, you will have grown so much. You'll be walking and talking and we'll know so much more about you, about the person you've become. It's crazy to think of the change these next 12 months will bring in you, and I plan to soak up every minute and to do a better job at recording all those special moments, those big milestones and the magic in the everyday. Naughty Mama for being a bit rubbish this year. I promise I'll do better :)

Our tiny girl, what joy and light you have bought to our lives at such a dark time. Our sweet little creature. You are so wonderful. Happy first Christmas Coralie Joe, and may 2015 be simply wonderful.

I am so proud of you; so proud to be your Mama.
I love you xx

21.12.14

DEAR JOSEPHINE...





This seems a fitting way to end the year; to write you and Coralie each a letter. I think this will be the beginning of a new tradition for me. A place to reflect on how much you've grown and on all the wonderful things you've done this year. And the end of 2014 seems to be a good time to start such a tradition, it being the biggest year of both our lives in so many ways.

The beginning of this year was so hard my darling, so so hard. When your beautiful Grandpa died on December 27, 2013, our hearts broke. You weren't even two, yet you sensed something was wrong, that something had changed forever. I'm sure in the years to come we'll talk about those first days, and this first year, after Grandpa left this world. You'd never seen me cry before and yet you weren't scared or worried, just sweet and concerned and so kind. Always so kind.

I will forever be thankful for your kindness, my darling girl. And one day, when you're older, I'll thank you properly. Because I will carry the words you asked me, and still ask me, almost everyday in my heart always. 'How you feeling, Mama?' Never prompted or forced, always genuine and quiet and soft. And always followed with the biggest cuddles, kisses and 'Love you, Mama.'

We talk about Grandpa everyday, happy memories of fun times you two shared, and stories of the fun I had with him before you were born, when I was small. I know we'll talk about him always, and it heals my heart to do so; with you especially. You two had a special bond that was only going to grow into the most wonderful friendship. I think my Daddy had found his calling being your Grandpa; it was a role he took to so easily. And, after missing out on spending so much time with him when I was small, I was so excited to be able to be part of the relationship you two would have. It is the saddest thing that you won't get to share those adventures, make stories of your own together, play and laugh like I thought you would; like you should have. I cry about that so often.

We talk right now about how Grandpa is in a very special place, a wonderful happy place, but a place where we can't go. That he will always hear us if we want to talk to him; he will always catch the kisses we blow to him, and that when we look at the stars and the moon, we should take comfort in the knowledge that he is looking down on all of us, and that he will always protect you.

And keep singing this little song, like you do right now. I will always sing it with you, whenever we see the moon. And I know you'll teach it to Coralie as she grows.

I see the moon, the moon sees me. The moon sees the somebody I long to see.
I love the moon, the moon loves me. The moon loves the somebody I long to see.”

Of course, 2014 has also bought us the most wonderful gift. Your little sister. Oh, how you love her! While my tummy got bigger and bigger, you were so excited to get ever closer to meeting your new little brother or sister; helping me sort the baby clothes was one of your favourite past times, and we must have gone through those tiny pieces nearly every day. You were sure she was a boy, and when you came in to meet her, and I told you she was a girl, for a moment I could see the disappointment in your face. Then Coralie sighed and she reached out her little hand, and I saw you fall in love. In that tiny moment, I saw the awe in your eyes. It is a moment I will remember forever.

Always wanting to hold her, cuddle her, kiss her. Your 'little one', your 'darling'. You are the best big sister Josephine, and Coralie adores you. It's clear to us all. You can make her chuckle like no-one else and her eyes light up the moment she sees you. They have from that very first meeting.

You have grown so much this year Phiney. In every way. You're so big and strong and you love doing your press ups, when Daddy does his. You can run so fast and so far, and you have energy that is boundless.

You speak beautifully. And say the most wonderful, hilarious, clever, honest things. I write them down on a piece of paper in the kitchen draw and will record them here, in our journal, one day soon. Daddy and I don't ever want to forget them.

Every night we put your bottle in your bed, with one of your 'guys' pretending to drink it, for you to find when you get out of the bath. You laugh every time.

I think, if I let you, you'd eat a whole punnit of cherry tomatoes or a whole packet of malt loaf every day.

You ask when we're going on holiday again at least five times a week. I think beside the sea, on the beach is your favourite place in the world. And I think you'd happily invite your best friend, Oliver, to live forever in your bedroom so you two can always play games. You talk about him constantly.

Our beautiful Josephine, you are the most spirited little girl. You're stubborn and strong-willed, yet kind and generous and thoughtful and so sweet. And you're completely crackers, which I adore. My little fruitcake.

Yes, this year has been such a big one for you. And you've handled it all magnificently my darling. What wonderful adventures await you next year. What lessons you have to learn, and what lessons you will teach me along the way.

Merry Christmas little one, and may the New Year bring you only the most magical and happy of times.

I am so proud of you; so proud to be your Mama.

I love you, forever and always xxxx