Inkifi

I place a tremendous value on photographs. Whilst I don’t want to sound too twee and sentimental about it, they’re treasures to me. But in a digital age instead of enjoying them often, I tend to stash them away. I take care to store them safely under a virtual lock and key, backed up in an external hard drive, cloud storage wilderness. Our cherished moments, milestones and memories.

A little while ago I spotted my friend Claire (Ned In The Clouds) using some Inkifi prints for her sons’ scrapbook. I loved the style and after finding out a little bit more about the company and their ethos I instantly liked them.

Inkifi was set up by friends Jim and Paul who met back in the 90s, in a little surf town in North Wales. After returning from their travels together, they wanted to print their images but couldn’t find anyone that provided great quality as well as being environmentally friendly at a reasonable price and so, Inkifi was born.

‘Printing that leaves an imprint on your soul, not the planet.’

One of the things I really love is that respect for nature is at the heart of Inkifi’s business ethos. They take pride in creating stylish products which are also kind to nature, by sourcing 100% sustainable materials.

My Inkifi Order

I started with some classic square prints as well as some of the mini squares. I intend on framing some of the square prints and now I’ve seen the mini squares I’m planning on getting some more printed and making little gifts tags with them for Christmas.

Photo: Inkifi Mini Squares 6cm x 6cm

In the past I’ve used too many print services that have left me disappointed. They can differ widely in terms of the colour quality and holding your prints can leave you feeling they’re a little rushed in terms of the quality control. When my Inkifi prints arrived I was impressed with the quality of the card stock they’re printed on, with a smooth matte finish which is understated but beautiful. They’d clearly taken care when producing and packing them too. Nothing fancy, just cleverly packaged to prevent any damage and all done with sustainable materials.

Photo: Inkifi Photostrips 20cm x 5cm

Playing around with the prints, I’ve found that the matte finish works really well with the journaling I do.

Photo: Letters To Loved

I’ve used several companies for photobooks before, sometimes as gifts and also for us to have as coffee table books at home. Whilst previous ones have passed as acceptable, the quality has never quite lived up to what’s promised. There’s something about the ‘shininess’ and the paper quality that doesn’t quite do it for me and like with prints, they can be a little hit-and-miss with the colour trueness. I can honestly say*, that this is by far the best quality photobook I’ve ever had printed and will definitely being getting more. I went for the Square Hard Cover Book with a full size slip cover printed print front and back with my photos, which also has a really premium, smooth finish to it. Inside, the hardcover itself is covered with Chobi Colorado cloth and the paper is carbon neutral Mowhawk paper, created using 100% virgin fibre from FSC managed sources.

Photo: Inkifi Square Hard Cover Photobook

Photo: Inkifi Square Hard Cover Photobook

Photo: Inkifi Square Hard Cover Photobook

I purchased my order through the Inkifi website but they also have a really handy app available for both both iOS and Android devices, making printing directly from your phone and Instagram easy peasy.

This isn’t a sponsored post nor have I received any free goods in return for a review. But I want to share because I genuinely love mine and I would recommend them to anyone who wants beautiful printing that is also environmentally responsible.

Inkifi have kindly offered Letters To Loved readers 20% off with the code LETTERSTOLOVED20 which will be valid until January 1st 2018.

 

*Whilst Inkifi have kindly offered 20% discount for Letters To Loved readers, this post was NOT sponsored in any way, all products were paid for in full.

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I wanted to try and put into words a mother’s love

Photo: @frankie_leigh

The following letter was written by Frankie Leigh for her little girl Luna. You can follow them both on Instagram.

To my baby girl,
I wanted to try and put into words a mother’s love. When I look at you, some days I feel so overwhelmed by how much I love you. It scares me how protective I feel of you. A mother’s love makes me want to pull you close and keep you wrapped up forever, while also being so excited to see you grow, become your own person and go off on incredible adventures. Even if it takes you across the world, I’ll be there being your biggest cheerleader with a tear in my eye. It is the kind of love that makes the days you countdown to bedtime, end up with me watching you sleep because I feel bad wishing the last few hours away and I miss you. It drags you out of bed, even when you are so tired you can barely open your eyes, because you have had a nightmare or don’t feel well. And you enjoy the fact that despite it being 2am, that you are the person to sooth the worries and make you feel better. It is a love that is all consuming. When we are apart, I think of you all the time; if you are ok and having fun, what next adventure we can go on. It’s the kind of love that keeps you awake at night worrying about all manner of things. It causes you to feel so much pride you want to tell strangers the new thing you have learnt. It is loving someone so much that they are your highest priority.
Some days I’m sure we will fight and you won’t agree with my decisions. But please know my baby girl, it really is all for you, even if you can’t always see it. It’s to keep you safe and to help you make the right decisions long term. A mother’s love is the best feeling in the world and I am so lucky you are mind.
Remember this always and forever (especially when you are 16!)
Mama xxx
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You have taught me more than I could ever hope to teach you.

Photo: @thismindfulmama

 

This beautiful letter was written by Beth for her son Marty and you can follow them and their family on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

To my darling boy,

You were my long awaited first baby and after a turbulent pregnancy and birth you were placed gently in my arms, together at last, we have been inseparable ever since. You are 8 now but if I close my eyes I can still remember the feeling of your tiny frame against my chest and your wise old eyes staring straight through to my soul.

You were around 6 months old when I noticed things were different. You couldn’t cope with loud cafes or busy shops, you shunned away from bright lights and you were repetitive in your movements. You seemed uncomfortable in your skin, never quite content, but they say a mothers love is blind and I buried those feelings of difference, because to me you were perfect just as you were and I didn’t want anyone to tell me otherwise.

Toddlerhood was filled with laughter and meltdowns both epic in proportion, you started lining up toys and watching the same movie on repeat. You regressed in speech barely putting two words together yet could recite word for word your favourite story book, which I later learned was echolalia, autism speak for repeating words and phrases previously heard.

The weekly trips that I put us through trying to fit into toddler groups, which would inetivably end in both of our tears seem so fruitless now but looking back I so desperately wanted to fit in. If only I’d realised that you were born to stand out it would have saved us both a lot of heartache.

I’d heard of Autism before of course, it was just a word that had no meaning but by the time you were 4 it was my most googled phrase.

I didn’t want to label you or admit to anyone that my baby boy didn’t fit society’s version of normal, whatever that is and so I kept it to myself, not really telling anyone my worries although over time I found out our nearest and

dearest were googling too.

I think the thing that upset me most when I devoured the words on the screen were that your quirks were bullet pointed as traits, as things that were Autism instead of things that were you. I wasn’t okay with that and couldn’t get my head around the fact that you could be both, that you may have Autism but that you are not Autism.

We carried on regardless through pre-school which caused us both much anxiety. You spent your days there rewriting out the alphabet again and again as a coping mechanism, I was told it was good for you, that it may make you interested in others, but you didn’t play or join in and for nearly two years there were endless tummy aches, shutdowns and tears.

I thought I was doing the right thing or possibly the only thing, preparing you for the big wide world but I was wrong and it’s my biggest regret. In those two years I lost you, you withdrew into yourself, a big ball of pressure and worry. Luckily by chance I stumbled across home education and realised that by trying to fit you into this world I was denying you the chance to be yourself and so I set us both free, to be together, to go at your own pace, to just be. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. You now have friends and the freedom just to be you, we live our lives on our own terms and we’ve been learning and adventuring ever since.

You are gentle and you are kind, ferocious and wild, you say my name a thousand times a day and repeat question after question that you know the answer to just because you like the way it sounds. You have specialist interests that consume your every waking day, you are obsessive in your thinking and you could talk for hours about the merits of Amazon verses eBay, FYI it’s Amazon every time.

You have to work harder than the average child just by doing life, clothes are scratchy, food is smelly, people are noisy, they speak a language you can’t keep up with and yet you try every single day, one foot in front of the other, fall, get up, repeat, through tears and shaky hands, both yours and my own.

Thankfully there’s a language that doesn’t use words, or idioms, you don’t need to read between the lines to understand it, that’s the language of love and we’ve got that in spades.

You were 7 when you were diagnosed as autistic but you are so much more than that one word, I could use a thousand words and it still wouldn’t come close to describe everything that you are. You are just you, Marty, a boy who loves sonic the hedgehog and climbing trees, midnight feasts and bare bottoms.

They say that parents are meant to teach their children the ways of the world, but you have taught me more about courage, determination and life than I could ever hope to teach you.

Continue being you, beautiful, glorious you and I will always give you the freedom to soar, together we can fly.

Love you to infinity,

Mama

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Letters For Esme

Image: @dear_orla

Image: @Dear_Orla

The following letters were written by Clinical Psychologist and Blogger Michelle. Michelle started writing letters to her daughter Orla, who heartbreakingly was born still at 37 weeks in May 2016. She wrote as a way of navigating through the grief and as a way of making sense of the thoughts and feelings that come with such a devastating loss. Some of the letters are available to read on her blog Dear Orla.

The following series of letters are written for her second daughter Esme who was born in April 2017.

 

 

What I wish for you

Dear Esme,

What I wish for you, is for you to be you.  And that you can be whatever and whoever you want you to be.

Daddy and I have wondered so much about who you will be like: will you be an adventurous traveler?  Will you be creative?  Will you be bold and confident?  Or reserved and thoughtful?  We have fantasised about cherry picking what we perceive to be our best characteristics and personality traits and hoping that we have passed them on to you.  But what about what you want?  What about who you already are?

I hope that we can remain neutral and nurture whatever we see growing within you.  Never to push or persuade, but to offer suggestions and opportunity.  I hope that we can gently guide, to bolster your desires and confidence and to support the direction you take.  Undoubtedly we will have and give advice, yet I hope that we can do this tentatively, and to tolerate it if you decide not to follow this.  To be proud of your own intuition and opinions and to be there beside you if things aren’t as you hoped.

We wish for you to be you.  And whoever you are, we will love and be proud of immeasurably.

Forever, Mummy xxx

Image: @Dear_Orla

Don’t be afraid to feel

Dear Esme,

It is a mother’s job to soothe your worries, you fear and pain.  To try to take away the hurt that these feelings create.  Yet I hope that I can show you with grace that it is okay to feel these things and not to run away from them.  I want to show you how vulnerability can actually mean strength and growth.  And that being vulnerable really means that you are allowing yourself the opportunity to feel joy and love.

Facing vulnerability will give you opportunities to travel, to meet new people, to create, to follow your hopes and dreams.  And I too will need to face my vulnerability in letting you go ahead and do these things too.  To allow you the chance to make mistakes and to feel the pain of disappointment when things don’t go as planned.  I will model what it is to face fear and sadness, but carry on with hope and optimism.  After all, this is what it took for you to exist: a leap into the dark hole of fear because you were so wanted and so loved.

But no matter what, I will always be there to walk beside you at times of pain.  Not to take it away, but to help you to make sense of it.  To learn and grow from it so that you will never feel afraid to feel.  Because if we stop ourselves feeling fear and sadness, we will also block out joy.  And I wish for you all the joy in the world.

Forever, Mummy xxx

Image: @Dear_Orla

 

Innocence

Dear Esme,

Even before we knew of your existence, I was so worried about stealing your innocence.  I wished for you to be born into a world where you knew nothing but joy; where Santa and the Tooth Fairy were real and your shoulders were free of the burden of fear, sadness and pain.  Where ‘bad people’ were fictional characters in books and where death only occurred at the end of a long, happy and fulfilling life.  But sadly we know all too well that this is not true.  And that you would need to know this too.

Right now, I’m not sure how we will explain the complex matter of life and death with you.  How we will find the right words.  I am fearful of using terms that will confuse and upset you further.  I never want you to associate the joy of ‘sleep’ with the fear of death; the fear that any one of us may go to sleep and not wake up.  Without religion, and its ability to give those who have gone a place to exist, how do we give comfort about what happens once we are gone?  We have our own thoughts and explanations, but are these right for you?

I worry about you going to school and what your friends will say; how your understanding of life and loss will correspond with their own.  How they will respond when you talk of your sister who you were never able to meet.  Your sister who is so very loved and so very missed.

And so it is, that in introducing you to death, we are further introducing you to love.  A love that cannot be tainted by arguments and bickering.  A love that is not conditional.  A love that will not fade.  And maybe that is gift rather than the stealing of innocence.  Maybe knowing about how precious life is, in the knowledge of death, will help you to love more fiercely; to take more opportunities and to feel less fear.  And it is my role  to model this to you.

Forever, Mummy xxx

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Charlotte’s Journal

Thursday 7th September

And just like that …

Summer was over, the kid turned four, started school and now I’m sat back at my desk.

Bam.

How do you like them apples?

It’s very quiet all of a sudden and I’m evaluating how to use my time now there’s a bit more if it.

I’ve had a few daydreams about sitting down with bowls of sugar filled contraband and watching back-to-back Game of Thrones. Or maybe now might be the time to take some of those ‘nap while they nap’ naps I never took?

As I begin to crank myself back up to full speed (that is when I finally stop looking at her baby pictures and asking ‘why we can’t be more like Sweden and let them start school aged 7?’) I’ll soon be throwing my time into Letters To Loved and see what the future might hold.

Whilst I haven’t been totally AWOL over the summer period I have been a lot less involved than I thought I was going to be. I think I had some cockamamy idea that I would be able to keep everything going, entertain a small child every day and get some down time for myself.

Fool.

But I have learnt a valuable lesson taking my foot off the gas.

Nobody really gives a shit.

It doesn’t matter. You don’t blog, you don’t post on Instagram and everything is still fine. It made me realise this self imposed regime of posting regularly and then the need to tell people when you need to take a break from life online or apologising for your absence is actually a bit bloody strange and unnecessary. Whilst I’m aware the moment anybody gives their opinion on sharing stuff on Instagram you run the risk of polar opposites feeling the need to defend why they do what they do, I think whatever your choice it’s simply worth checking that what you say about why you do what you do online, is actually reflective of what your heart and soul feels. And most importantly what that commitment to sharing means to your wellbeing.

A Summer to get stuff done

So whilst the summer holiday wasn’t a particularly productive time online for me or Letters To Loved, it was however, a summer full of getting stuff done. First on our list was to landscape the garden and reclaim our territory back from a family of aggressive ASBO squirrels we seem to be in a turf war with. We’d left the work for summer but inevitably the Great British weather stuck a spanner in the works and after being pummelled with rain for a good couple of weeks we were left living in the centre of a quagmire. The neighbours thought we were digging a moat. But through determination and some really hard graft on the gardeners part, it was finally finished and all the effort, mud and dust was absolutely worth it. This summer we finished the final piece of the puzzle that has been a complete renovation of our family home. It’s taken us 5 years (and like The Forth Bridge the first bits already need re-painting) but for now we’re calling it DONE.

*There were no squirrels harmed in the making of our garden.

A Summer of adventures

Now when I say ‘adventure’ … I may be using the term loosely. What I mean is that in the absence of an actual holiday, we hyped up all our days out to the cinema/museum/park/summer market/country fair by taking pictures, creating maps and taking ‘treasures’ we’d found home with us. We then reclassified these into ‘adventures’ worthy of her then spending at least and hour cutting and sticking her memories and photos in her scrapbook. The great thing is when we actually take her somewhere good now it’s going to blow her mind.

In the beginning I felt a bit guilty that we weren’t doing something more exciting. But I realised that the most important thing was that I was fully present when spending time with her. I stopped and did one thing at a time. If I was with my daughter I was with my daughter. Not one hand on my laptop or an eye on my iPhone. It may have only been the hyped up days out, but we had fun together and I know that she felt the difference.

My Summer experiment

I started journaling over the summer which I’ve written a more in-depth post on here. Not to wax lyrical about it again but it has been such an eye-opening exercise and something I will absolutely be keeping up.

Summer snaps

We ended our rainy summer holiday on another rainy day with Leeds based photographer Tim Dunk. I’d bid for a session with him in Ned In The Cloud’s AUT:CTION earlier in the year in aid of The National Autistic Society. I’ve loved seeing Tim’s photos of other families and as someone who is always taking the pictures rather than being in them, I was really looking forward to having some pictures of me with my little gang.

Photography: Tim Dunk

 

So it wasn’t really the summer I’d imagined. It was actually much better. I guess come rain or shine your summer holiday is always going to be what you make it?

What’s next for Letters To Loved

Up to now Letters To Loved has been a part time, small income earning, passion for me and something I work on around being a mum. Now my daughter is at school things will change and I’m looking forward to seeing how the shift affects the site. I’ve got lots of letters that people have shared over the summer as well as a few interesting collaborations and projects planned. What I know for sure is that I will always keep everything as close to my original reason for starting the site and hope that it will continue to be a place for parents to share words of love and wisdom to their children in the hope that it will inspire and help others parents to do the same.

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