Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project October

I love the countdown to the end of October, the flashes of sunshine fooling you that you can still wear flip flops one minute and winter boots the next, and the 1st of November is always a happy day - it's my sister's birthday!

I feel like we've squeezed more into this past month than ever before. Every second of October has been jam packed with trips with friends, catch ups, walks on the beach, play dates at the park, school performances, parent's teas, house updates, decorators, plumbers, plasterers, more train bookings than I've made in my life up to the big smoke, new babies and a visit from a small pink one.

We've all tried our best, put 100% into moving at 100 miles an hour and half term came just at the right time, before we all collapsed in a heap! The boys have been desperate for a break from the school run. We leave the house at (or we aim to leave the house) at 7.50am and once the dreaded clocks went back, it now feels like we are heading off before the sun rises. All they really wanted this half term was to play. Play with grandparents, play with their cousin and root around in the playroom rediscovering toys that have been overlooked in amongst the homework, the after school club routine and busy weekends away.

We've all been on a hamster wheel, the boys have embraced everything the new school has thrown at them, violin lessons, tennis, swimming and Ollie has suddenly blossomed into this beautiful wide-eyed sponge, soaking up every new experience, reading books with words in "Mama - look it has lots of words!" and walking past road signs, stopping to spell out the letters "Rrr-oooo-aaa-dd cc-lll-ooo-ss-ee-d, road closed Mama." We are just watching in complete awe. He is suddenly writing with confidence, and told me off the other day for my 'h' which was lacking the cursive flick at the end. He's growing more like his confident, show man older brother and these two floppy haired boys are testing our patience less and delighting us more.

That must sound strange to say, but over the summer we really struggled with temper tantrums, answering back and attitude that gave a worrying flash of what their teenage years might be like! But over the past month, with a definite influence from school and new friends, they have both calmed down, they are speaking more eloquently and are generally showing us how wonderful life is when everyone is contented. No arguing, no stamping feet. More of that please!

October has been about focus, we've juggled an extraordinary amount of work commitments, had more than a few 1.30am finishes and we both have made conscious choices about where we want our businesses to head. Rich is doing remarkable things with the tea business and I've had a bit of a soul searching month. I've realised where my strengths lie and where they certainly don't. I've been firmer with myself, saying no more often than ever, and made a big step towards my big dream for this blog. I met with a very talented man Reuben who understood me in 5 minutes and is going to help me make some big changes to the look and feel of this blog and finally get my product photography business online!

I blasted him my wish list, my ambitions, talked about people I admire in the blogging arena and my constant struggle to concentrate on one thing. And luckily he doesn't think I need to either! It's ok to wear many hats if they all point you in the same direction. I want to be able to write about the house, the boys, places we have travelled to and this month I am going to try and get more comfortable in front of the camera. I loved sharing a podcast last year but for some silly reason I let it drift. But maybe there's a way of being a little less camera shy (That sounds stupid but check out my daily feed - you have to scroll for weeks before you see me) - I'm plotting.

Over the next few days I am combining work and pleasure. That's the funny thing about blogging, there's no real break. You could be online every minute of the day, and share every intimate moment, every holiday, there's no real downtime. I look at bloggers with babies and there's no maternity leave as a blogger. The blog must go on! In a way it's become normal now, sharing a photo to Instagram first thing in the morning, making sure I photograph the rooms we are decorating for a before and after post and borrow my family as models for product photography! This weekend it's Granny and Grandad Bo's turn to be my props. I am photographing new images for the Wallace and Gromit The Grand Appeal charity "Big Bake" campaign which happens in December. We have chefs hats, flour and cupcakes to make!

Life and work have intertwined. 

But I don't see it as a bad thing, I have felt luckier than ever this month with the opportunities we have as a family, we took the boys to the regional shopping centre at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol and I felt proud as punch to see all my photos around The Grand Appeal store. This weekend I am rather worryingly modelling some gorgeous clothing for Joules for something exciting which I will share next week and all week we have been planning a surprise trip away with a company I love in 8 weeks that the boys are going to go nuts about. Blogging has led to some amazing collaborations, creative campaigns and long lasting relationships with brands I have loved for years. I've found a new confidence to approach companies I respect and would love to introduce my audience to and have had the pleasure to share my blogging story and hopefully help others with some hints and tips at a couple of events with Tots100. I have my final part of my growing and developing your Instagram style and following series on Monday and will be sharing my session from the food photography workshop with River Cottage towards the end of the week. 

I was completely spoilt this month with a night away with the team from Graham and Brown, swapping a drafty room with no carpet for 5* luxury at the Northcote Hotel and a fantastic behind the scenes tour of their factory, a wonderful afternoon with Etsy learning the art of brush lettering with a firm blogging friend I have made over the last few months Teri, and chatted all things home and interiors over afternoon tea with Farrow and Ball with some wildly talented writers and bloggers. Spoilt rotten. 

I have so many photos to share with you - this blog is going to be full of colour and inspiration in November!

On Monday I'm meeting with a London PR agency and one of the biggest international beauty clients imaginable to discuss a very exciting event. I'll share more when I can but fear not I shan't be in front of the camera! Trips to London have become a weekly occurrence and it suddenly doesn't feel like such a momentous journey zipping on the train from Gillingham and home again. 

I'm still just about managing to juggle my consultancy role in the development industry - flicking a switch some days and heading to meetings with house builders in traditional workwear, all suited and booted. It's like I am in a different world but I like it.

We had my little niece Yasmin to stay for 3 nights last week and I couldn't have adored my time with her more. We slipped into life as a 5 and I can't thank my sister and brother in law enough for trusting us with their most precious person. My sister was on bed rest with SPD that she has developed through her second pregnancy and we got to cement our tight bond all over again. She was so happy, so grateful to join me on the school run, she was an absolute joy. Her infectious enthusiasm for the world touches everyone she meets. Strangers stopped me in the street to tell me how beautiful she was, how polite and I honestly feel I have the best of every world being able to borrow her.

Our little spare room has firmly become "Yazzy's room" and I am planning a sweet makeover before Christmas - a total excuse to decorate with pink and pretty bunting even though we have 2 boys! I love being a mother of sons and having Yasmin to stay gave me a chance to totally indulge both our girly sides. She loves all things sparkly, frilly dresses, playing traditional games like tea parties and we spent hours at Auntie's dolls house that the boys enjoyed when they were younger. I dress my boys in pink, they've had dollies in the past, Sammy adored a pushchair we found in a charity shop when he was a toddler and I've never pushed them towards stereotypical 'boys toys', but naturally both the Heath brothers and Yasmin are drawn to different things. And that's fine by me. 

I did nothing but spoil her with attention for almost 4 days and it was the break from work I needed. It was full on, but the most fun full on I could think of. Neither of us wanted her to leave when they came to collect her! She even said over and over "No I don't want to go home, stay at Auntie's!" I love her like she's my own and when she left I felt quite empty, the house seemed so quiet without a bustling toddler haring around.

We sat down and just watched our pair of brothers for a few moments, happily colouring at the table, chatting to each other, playing together, encouraging each other, complimenting each other on a particularly well drawn monster, and we said wow - they are just so easy now. Of course it's not like that all the time but suddenly we've moved into a new phase. Almost overnight they have the independence they crave, instead of pushing boundaries, they stay up a little later at the weekend and we can enjoy a meal at a more grown up meal time, and talk all through dinner, with these mini people we have made.

We've had tradesmen in the house all week like Piccadilly Circus at the front door and each one has seen how they respect the house. All the little touches, the vases of flowers that live on the coffee table, the white walls, the nice accessories and cushions we work hard to afford. And although Yasmin is just the same, growing up being taught to respect the homes we live in, at 4 and 6 our boys are showing a real appreciation for how tough it is to work so hard. The value of things and pride in what Rich and I do.

And we are so proud of these two.

We left for a Halloween weekend away in the South East late last night and I suddenly realised that of all the hundreds of photos on the camera roll and laptop, there wasn't one of us four. A Me and Mine fail! So just before the car was packed to the brim with party bits and birthday presents for my sister, we dived into the hallway and snapped our reflection in the little hanging mirror.

And that will have to do this month and actually I feel it's quite fitting. It's been a whirlwind month, we've had time as a family and just enjoyed it without photos. I have to force myself to leave the camera at home or in my pocket but I am learning that not everything needs a photo, it's ok to be in the moment. So our family portrait this month is just one piece of a busy jigsaw of lovely friends, simple days out, celebrations and everything that life can throw at us.

Tonight we are having a Halloween party with Yasmin - just fun nothing scary. The boys love any excuse to dress up, play games and eat treats! We are going to snuggle under a duvet watch a film and then start it all again the next day for a 32nd family party complete with pass the parcel and party bags! I will never believe you are too old for party bags ;)

This week we were sent some treats from Slumberdown and the most divine silky new duvet which I can't wait to get home to on Monday night. It has the most luxurious striped finish - you almost don't want to hide it with a quilt cover. The boys road tested it and it passes their cosy test! We have always struggled in the past that their duvets seem to fall off them in the night and they've woken feeling cold and unsettled, but this duvet has been developed with a hollow fibre filling that wraps around your body so the whole thing moves with you in the night. I predict they are going to want to sleep with us every night! And after our mini Halloween play shoot the dogs didn't want to jump off either - naughty pups. We've spent the last 2 weeks redecorating the guest room and as it's so lovely we are going to take our new duvet and move in there! 

So wherever you are tonight, whether you celebrate Halloween or not, happy end of October. We have planned our calendar out right up until to new year now, it's just as busy as the last few weeks and we are going to embrace every second of it. The boys are already practising for the big school nativity show, we have long overdue catch ups with best pals away planned and I am working on lots of festive content for lovely clients.

How lucky am I?! Pop over and see my latest family craft ideas for Center Parcs if you are looking for a last minute idea today, my favourite has to be the Woodland Pumpkins... 

Join us and share your month and family photo, I can't wait to see them all. Then head over to Let's Talk Mommy and Jenny's award winning blog! I wish I lived closer to Jenny, she's one of the people I've been lucky to meet through blogging who I could talk for hours with, without stopping for breath!