Alice is now approaching 17 months old and for most of her life so far (bar those sleepy newborn days) she’s been quite hard to keep entertained. Though nursery tell me she plays well on her own, at home she gets frustrated and wants constant stimulation. I mentioned this to a mum friend a few months ago and she told me she’d bought a second hand Fun Pod for her toddler and it had revolutionized their lives. Fun Pods also known as Learning Towers are elevated enclosed plastforms that toddlers can stand in to see what is happening at kitchen counter height. They are about £100 to buy new, but occasionally they pop up on eBay. I actually found a second hand one being sold, but chickened out of bidding at the last moment, because I worried it was going to be just another unnecessary “toy” to clutter up the house.

Of course I instantly regretted not trying to buy it, but then I discovered an Ikea hack which is arguably better than the Fun Pod, customisable and cheaper, so we decide to try making it.

This hack is based on the Ikea Bekvam step stool which costs £13 and there are loads of tutorials online which show different approaches to customising it, but we based our hack on this DIY at Happy Grey Lucky and made a few modifications.

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I’ll be honest with you, photo projects can be a pain. The weeks roll by and suddenly the deadline is looming again for another contribution and you briefly find yourself thinking that life would be a lot easier if you didn’t have to shoot pictures by specific dates, but you get the camera out anyway and then magically you capture something which you otherwise would not have photographed… and then you remember that that is exactly why you do these things to start with.

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been using most of my spare time to give our kitchen a makeover. Although we’ve owned our house for 9 years we’ve never actually seen this room with fresh paint, the last time it was decorated was shortly before we rented the house out for four years. Then when we moved in, the building work started and once it was finished there never seemed to be the time (and perhaps the energy) to tackle it.

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At lunchtime yesterday I paused my photo taking to look back on the pictures from the Home Life Project a year ago and I was reminded that it was muddy, the weather was miserable and everyone was itching for spring to start. Does that sound at all familiar? There was one picture in particular where Alice’s buggy was parked in a sea of mud and I remember when I took it thinking, I just can’t deal with this any more. By April though we were barefoot in the garden and hunting Easter eggs at a family lunch. These next few weeks of early spring will make a lot of difference.

So if finding inspiration this weekend was a struggle, you are not alone. I took my photos yesterday and the weather was beastly. We delayed our morning dog walk by an hour hoping for a forecast break in the weather, but got caught in a downpour anyway! Alice faired better than most of us, as after several dog walks where she has returned caked in mud, we ordered her a splashsuit and it’s brilliant. The water and mud just falls off it and despite these photos she was dry underneath it all when we got back to the car.

When Theo and Jim disappeared to the driving range in the afternoon I got the tripod out to get some photos and Alice made her first photographic contribution to this project, can you spot the picture where she fired the remote?!

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This month’s creative challenge is all about capturing the real in your family life and in this case it’s the real emotions. I’m sure most of us have lots of albums of our children (and maybe the grown ups too) looking presentable and smiling for the camera, but fewer of them caught in the moment, experiencing the highs and lows of childhood. Tears and laughter are a very big part of parenthood, but we often don’t capture them on film.

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Not everybody will feel comfortable getting the camera out if their child is crying. Most of the images I have like this are taken after my son has been comforted and just before that last tear is wiped away. You can see in the photo above, he’s not actually upset, he just has that last tear below his eye which tells the story. My sister-in-law had done an excellent job of making him feel better and I was free to take a quick discreet photo.

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Hello. I'm Clare.
I'm a mum of two. I live in the Sussex countryside by the sea and this blog focuses on creative family living through photography, design, crafts and interiors. Read more

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