28 May 2014


A portrait of my son | once a week |every week | in 2014

Your beloved blanket is well and truly on its way out. I've tried to find resources to fix it but so far I've failed. I'm told it can't be done so I guess the only option is to make you a new one. I'd like to try and make it myself, even though I can't [yet] crochet, so that if [when] you reject it can, at least, remain as a handmade token of love. Even if you don't [won't?] love it. I'll understand if you can't love you new 'Bee'. Afterall, you've lived with and loved this blanket of yours from the day you were born. You love it so much you have embraced the giant hole in the centre and have incorporated it into your relationship with the soft [and smelly] blanket. You wear it as a poncho and run around chasing the cats. You are accepting of the changes this blanket is presenting to you.

Perhaps watching your blanket disappear before your eyes will be a good lesson in loss for you but until then I'll do my best to find something to help keep your relationship with your best friend going strong.

And despite appearances here, you were having fun when I took this photo.

Linking up with Jodi and Living Arrows

20 May 2014


A portrait of my son | once a week | every week | in 2014

Here you are - showing the world - your true and natural glow. You are not a serious boy, despite how many of these photographs are depicting you. Here you are in your element. Joy is never far from your face. You are a light, my child. You are a light.

Linking up with Jodi and Living Arrows.

Melting pot

Pale bluey-grey eyes, like mine, only brighter, shinier - younger.

Hair that grows like grass, like mine, only lighter, smoother and softer, like silk. But it still gets knotty as heck, like Mama's.

A chin that has yet to define itself as Mama's or Pappa's, but we're all praying for Daddy's chin.

Impressive hands, feet and height which has to be a Barker trait. I'm sure you'll grow up to be a bear one of these days.

Loud, crazy, energetic, wacky and loopy. And funny! You may very well grow up to be "weird and annoying", but in the most endearing of ways.

Impatient and grumpy in relation to lack of food and sleep. Sorry Floppit*, that's my bad.

Compassion and tenderness and free-love - all yours kiddo, all yours.

Truly giving and naturally friendly and so so trusting.

Stay you little man, stay you.

*My latest term of endearment for the little man. A natural combination of Flower and Poppet and I can't stop myself from saying it, no matter how daft it sounds.

12 May 2014

Ten on ten - May

A feverent toddler greeted me this morning at an eye-wateringly early 4.20am. I don't know what has happened to his sleeping pattern but the last few weeks have been fraught with sleepless nights and early mornings. I'm guessing there must be some kind of goings-on, developmentally, for the little fella. That or it's his teeth but I'm not so convinced it's the latter. All I do know is that a slew of early mornings and disturbed nights makes for long, grumpy days. For everybody concerned. I'm hoping that Chuck manages to grasp whatever new skills are forming in his brain soon so we can all start to wind down and begin to enjoy the long, bright days - instead of dreading them. 4.20am really has no business being so blummin' bright.

Despite the early start to today I was determined not to let last week's momentum slip away from me, so here I am with May's ten on ten. I confess, I'm both a little proud and surprised that I managed to pull this out the bag so quickly...

I'm really beginning to see the benefits of a challenge like this. Not only is it useful for progressing one's skills but it's also helpful in highlighting to me my weaknesses - both photographically and personally.

This month's 10th was unique. I had a day off and, while the boys travelled an hour up the M1 to see Grandma, I got to enjoy getting dressed at leisure, meet a friend for coffee/beer, talk [uninterrupted and using adult words] and discover that I have gone a few steps backwards in terms of personal development recently. I think there's probably a longer post brewing here about how becoming a stay-at-home mama has huge implications on a woman's life - and not necessarily the usual changes you'd expect to hear about. I'll have to have a deep ponder on that one and see if I can pull enough words out of my cotton-wool head to articulate myself properly. Why do you think I use images so much? I've lost a heck of a lot of words over the last two years.

Anyhoo - I hope you are enjoying these projects. Join in, the benefits are completely surprising.


11 May 2014

All caught up

It's a miracle. Not only have I gotten myself caught up on the 52 Project and Living Arrows but I have published 3 posts to my blog - in ONE week - and with the imminent arrival of this month's ten on ten project I'm set to have 5 blog posts in a week. Phew. That's me done for the year.

No. I'm not going down like that. I'm sticking with this momentum and I'm at the very least vowing to stay on top of the projects that i've tasked myself with this year. I can't wait to see how it all pans out come the end of the year. I'm planning on making photo books for each project as keepsakes as also as a tangible visual reference to my [hopeful] progression in photography. I'm really quite excited.

16 - Sitting still, if only for a moment.
17 - Exploring nature during a weekend away. You remind us so much of Ryan Adams in this little denim jacket.
18 - Concentrating on playing cars in the garden and wearing my favourite tee-shirt of the moment.
19 - Taking a moment to yourself, engrossed in a spot of television.

8 May 2014

The 52 Project

So timekeeping is not my thing. I'm learning this about myself, it's not that hard to figure out I suppose but at least I am slowly learning important things about myself. I'm in the process of trying to make some internal changes, I'm trying to live life happier, more simply [thanks Jodi for the inspiration], with more gratitude and I'm bearing in mind how many improvements I could make to my housekeeping and timekeeping skills. It's a slow process as I don't want to beat myself up or convince myself that what I do now is not enough - I do enough of that already!

As for the 52 Project, well, I may not have been posting but I have at least been taking photos. My trouble comes when it's editing time. I don't yet know enough to always know what I want to do with an image or how. I'm figuring stuff out bit by bit so a lot of these images will almost be like guinea pigs and I imagine my editing style will hop about a bit until I find my niche. But that's no bad thing. It's a personal education, afterall.

So without further ado, here are portraits 10 through 15. Almost up-to-date! I will do this. I WILL.







10. Probably the last time you needed to wear your hat and coat combo this year. Always looking into the distance, rarely looking into the camera - not that I mind - so long as I get to see those steely-blue eyes.

11. You in a sea of children at one of your first ever birthday parties. This was the only shot I got of you interacting with the other children, you much preferred to play solo that day, it was only the lure of a marshmallow on a string that pulled you out of your own little party.

12. Starey sleepy eyes. A spot of babywearing with Daddy in the Lake District. We had a lovely, but exhausting, little break with your Aunt Amanda, Uncle Any [the 'man'] and your favourite cousin, Katherine.

13. Naked tunnel building. You're really beginning to enjoy exploring your own body and you revel in the feel of new textures and temperatures against your soft, peachy skin.

14. Such a sweet moment of deep thought. It's really difficult to catch you like this. You're almost always moving/doing. And crumbs. Oh the crumbs.

15. You were still my one-year-old at this point. You love your milk, now more than ever and that blanket. God forbid anything ever happen to that blanket. It's your crutch.

Linking up with Jodi for the 52 project and the ladies over at iheartsnapping

7 May 2014

Traumas of a parent - one from the vault

Here I am again, trying to catch up and clear out the my draft folder, or the vault as I like to call it. The post remains untouched from when I last edited it, over a month ago. Just because it's taken me 6 weeks to edit 6 photos doesn't mean the thoughts should have to be updated too. It's my bad for being so slack. You'll see below that, for at least a time, I had good reason to take my time.


I'm behind again. 17 days ago I had grand plans for joining in on the ten on ten* photo project by Rebekah over at A Bit of Sunshine to keep the ball rolling with advances in my photography 'skills'. I'd discovered this project thanks to Jodi during my contributions to the 52 project and thought it would be a really interesting experiment. I love the idea of finding new ways of looking at my everyday. Things that, on first impression, may appear dull and monotonous - at least to me.

Still. On this particular day it wasn't to be. Instead all I could see what the ugly truth of parenting. The hard, heartbreaking fact that parenting and loving a child can be painful and scary and traumatic.

So instead of my first ten on ten below you will find a mish-mash of thoughts and images collected since the moment our lives felt like it was turned upside down. A collection of real-time and post-event thoughts and ramblings of a terrified parent.

*I finally did it, see my first ten on ten here.


Expressing my thoughts using words is a skill I have come to struggle with more and more as I progress through the journey of motherhood. Words fail me constantly and I usually find it easier to express myself through other peoples' words or through images but sometimes, like today, I have neither. Just a burning desire to share, to express and make sense of the last 24 hours.

Parenthood is never static. As though influenced by lunar activity, families move through cycle after cycle, they evolve and grow and become acclimatised to change. No one day is the same when you have a child, even if many of them feel that way. So you would be forgiven for thinking that this would make you well prepared for sudden changes, like how quickly a child can fall sick.

One moment you are living life in real-time, not having any perception for what may come and the next you are faced with sudden trauma.

The last 24 hours have shook our world. The juxtaposition between yesterday afternoon and the last 15 or so hours that have passed since is unfathomable. One minute life is right here, right now. It is safe and secure and comfortable and the next you are faced with your biggest fears, fears so big you have never ever, for a moment, considered how you would react if ever faced with them. And then they come and you react badly. You panic, you scream. Your heart races.


At around 5.30pm last night, we faced our biggest challenge to date as parents as our son fell into a spontaneous seizure that saw him fighting to breath, go blue in the lips and foaming at the mouth. And at that moment we crumbled. We completely failed our son by way of severe lack of preparation for such an event. And while I'm left with a definite need to improve my first aid skills, it is the emotional impact on witnessing such an event that's left us feeling different. Traumatised.

How is a parent supposed to react when their child stops breathing? When you can see the oxygen leaving his body and turning his lips blue? When he is choking on his own saliva? F*ck me. I'll tell you what we did, we panicked and screamed and shouted. Thank heavens for strangers, kind and helpful strangers who obviously have some knowledge or experience of the ordeal laying itself out before us.

You know you've lost it as a parent when a stranger has to remove your child from your arms to help them because you are doing nothing but screaming and shouting. Thank you lady. Thank you.

So what happened? Good question. We don't exactly know. But a trip to A&E in the back of an ambulance and a night, not sleeping, in hospital tells us that Chuck had an epileptic seizure. Or an afebrile convulsion; that is a seizure not caused by a high temperature, which is a fairly common - but still disturbing - occurrence in infants. My sister used to suffer from febrile convulsions when she was a toddler so when the paramedic told us his temperature was normal I knew instantly what it meant. And the doctors confirmed at least half my fears, that this could happen again, with no warning [unlike a febrile convulsion which can at least be part managed by monitoring your child's temperature]. This could be epilepsy, that was my first and lasting thought. I was immediately thinking about how my son would manage living with a condition such as epilepsy, what effect it would have on his life and education. Could we have more children if we need to care for a child with this condition? All these questions were running through my mind as I sat in a hospital ward with my exhausted son, trying so hard to sleep, in my lap.

It could be epilepsy but the good news is that the doctors don't think our son shows any of the risks associated with epilepsy. That is; a family history, brain damage caused by problems during pregnancy or childbirth and meningitis. So the doctors were happy to send us home the next morning with only information on what to do if he has another seizure. A truly terrifying prospect but he has not had any further seizures, so far. And, yup, we're praying to someone that it doesn't happen again. That is not a moment we ever want to revisit.

I can tell you now that I have an idea what it might be like to experience trauma. I now understand how someone can be affected by an event after it has happened, how that trauma leaves its mark. Every pause, every linger, every time he holds his arm or hand in a strange position, every time he lays down suddenly our hearts stop and our breath is taken away. Just for a second.

We are moving forward now and the effects of the trauma are slowly fading and retreating to the back of our minds while our little boy carries on regardless, unharmed and unscathed by the event. Bigger and brighter than ever. His strength and resilience is something I really admire in him. The places that the strength he has inside of him can take him to...His possibilities are endless, even if he does develop epilepsy. I have come to realise this and I know it would not define him and this, I have come to accept.


I won't go into the sickness bug that followed this event. All I need to say is that bringing a sickness bug home from hospital after an event like that was not what we needed. Any of us. We are well again but we are still reeling from the exhaustion caused by those 7 days and this is why I had disappeared into the background and had failed to continue my contributions to the project I have vowed to be a continual part of. The thought of cameras, computers and finding words to express the last few weeks was too much to bear in my fragile and tired state. Finding the words and energy for this post were not easy but as I promised to portray an honest account of parenting, here it is. Warts and all. So please, forgive my absence and I'll see you next week and on the 10th April - the month my son turns TWO! Woohaa.

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