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Me and Mine 2017: March

31/03/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

I know I’m writing this with one more day of the month to go, but I’m going to jump out on a limb and say that March has been a lamb. We’ve had some utterly gorgeous days, that actually happened at the weekend when I was home to wriggle my toes in the grass and open all the doors and windows to let the sunshine in.  It reminds me how much I love the changing of the seasons; if our weather was constant it wouldn’t be half as much fun to hang the first laundry out on the line, or enjoy throwing the kids out in the garden to get properly muddy.

The biggest news this month is that we think we’ve maybe just possibly found a house to move to.  It’s still not quite tied down so we’re trying not to get over-excited or plan too far ahead, but if it all comes off as we intend it will be a beautiful house (eventually, it needs some work) and a home in pretty much exactly the spot we want.  Keep all your fingers crossed for me.

But house excitement aside, I think this month has been one of family.  I’ve been making an effort to reclaim my evenings from work, and to spend the weekends wallowing in family life and while there’s still a little part of me that can’t quite get over the “I should be working” feeling, the truth is that at long last we’re merely busy at work not firefighting and it’s been good to be at least trying to find a better balance.

This month my family grew, somewhat earlier than expected, with the arrival of my very teeny tiny nephew, and we also got to head north for a well planned day trip to surprise John’s mum on her birthday.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

It was the most beautiful day; wall to wall sunshine, and far too hot for the clothes we’d left home in and the kids seem to be leaving a crumb trail of socks and jumpers all through the house.  They ran around the front garden and the back garden, played on bikes and with prams, and had a valiant effort at badminton.  John and I, reliving the summer holidays of our student days played for what felt like hours, required the borrowing of shorts and t-shirt, and left me with seriously achy arms the next day.  It was fun, and I must find a social badminton club somewhere to play with, as my school PE reports used to say, “enthusiasm but very little talent”.

These pictures are from that afternoon, and with the camera set up on a garden stool they tell all the story behind the finished photo.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

I’ve no idea why Elma looks quite so umimpressed – that’s more headstand than I’ve ever managed.  Kitty at this point had gone wandering off, but came back with what she saw as an essential counterpoint to Elma’s badminton racquet and Pip’s mini rugby ball;

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

A mandolin – but of course.

And then Elma came back, and Kitty was persuaded that mandolins are happier in houses, and the kids all piled on.

The final photo captures everything about the afternoon, and about us as our little five; silly and fun and full of love.

My little family, in March:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: February

28/02/2017

This February’s Me and Mine pictures are brought to you by the tale end of Storm Doris.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I actually managed to miss the entire thing; I left on the 5.47 train on Thursday morning headed north, arrived before the speed restrictions were in place on the trains, and then was in court from 9.30 to 5.30.  The court didn’t have any windows, and by the time we got out there was a little damp on the pavements and a light breeze rustling the trees.  Meanwhile back down south emails circulated my office to the effect that all trains had been cancelled going in and out of Birmingham, the Premier Inn next to our office was fully booked from early afternoon and several of my team had some adventurous journeys to get home.  Sat in my nice comfy hotel room I started to think it had been a rather well timed two day hearing.

At home it wasn’t too bad; the barn behind our house has lost a row of tiles, and a tarp blew down the hill and plastered itself to a few cars before making a bid for freedom, but most of the trees around us are still standing.

Friday was a lull but on Saturday and Sunday the wind and rain returned.  We caught a glimpse of a sunbeam and headed up to the windmill to capture a very windswept portrait of our family for February.  I know I’ve taken goodness knows how many shots of us all up at the windmill, and it will always be a favourite spot for photos, but it’s also quite hard to get a sense of the scale, and how proudly it stands on the peak of the hill so for this month all our photos are from lower down the slopes.  It also reduced our chances of getting blown away which was definitely a good thing.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

Life this month has been busy as always; when February disappeared in no more than a moment I’m beginning to expect that this is just how life is at the moment.  I’ve been travelling a lot for work, and that’s going to keep going for this week at the very least, but we loved loved loved having half term together; time for the slow mornings and the big adventures both.  It felt very strange to go back to work and be without them, especially for Pip who was definitely discombobulated by the Mummy at home then Mummy goes to work and doesn’t even come home combination.  He was my little limpet at the weekend and I loved it, even if my biceps do feel like they had a serious workout.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I’m not going to tell them to say sausages next time – these are all expressions of great delight I promise!!

They got a week and a day thanks to a teacher training day so the first day back for Kitty is today and Elma tomorrow.  They’re both really excited to see their friends; Kitty has finally lost the tooth that was wobbly for ever so she has a whole new look to show off, and she spent Friday afternoon making a get well soon card for her friend who was too poorly for a playdate that I hope we will find in time to take in.

We’ve also got Kitty’s parent teacher meeting this afternoon, which I’m equal parts curious and nervous about.  To us it seems as if she’s settled in really well and is loving school, so I’ve got all my fingers crossed that the school thinks she has too.

So before we move into March, in February we have loved:

  • Half term! No school run (John), two days off (me) and their half term treat (the kids)
  • Our trip to the Chatsworth Farmyard;
  • Watching the carpet fitters lay our new lounge and stair carpets – if you’re two it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in weeks, only closely ousting pavement chalk from top spot;
  • Adventures fuelled by white chocolate buttons;
  • Being woken up by a small boy two inches from your nose saying “Wake up! It morning Mummy!” and discovering that it is in fact half past seven.
  • Carpet picnics (on the old carpet!) and lazy pyjama Saturdays.

March looks likely to be similarly busy, especially this week when I’m in London two days out of five, so perhaps these are very apt photos as we continue to be blown through the year!

For now though it’s my little family, in a very blustery February:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I’ve also just realised I was wearing the same outfit in January’s photo, I genuinely do own more clothes, I promise!!
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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: January

31/01/2017

In centuries past February was considered an unlucky month (we’re talking Roman history here). It’s why the month is so short, you wouldn’t want any more unlucky days than you really had to put up with, and why leap days (also unlucky) got added into the mix too, but I am really looking forward to it being February tomorrow.  January has been a whirlwind; hurtling past us while we clutched for our balance.

It’s been a month of colds and bugs, work and school and hockey matches and birthday parties, and constantly tidying the house for viewers who complain about things they could have known from the photos, and I could swear it was only Christmas a week or so ago, especially as I only just unearthed my Christmas fruit cake (made in November, tidied away in December before a viewing).

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

The kids are doing their best; it must be very strange and puzzling to be constantly being asked to help tidy up, especially when all they want to do is play trains and spread their crayons all over the dinner table, but they’re trying hard to help, even when their efforts go wildly in the wrong direction.  Even if we don’t find a buyer right this moment, at least in February the near constant flow of viewings should slow down enough to give us all a break.

The girls have loved being back at school and nursery; they celebrated Kings Feast last Friday (a delayed Epiphany celebration) with beautiful crowns, a parade through the three kindergartens and nursery, and a feast of raspberries, blueberries and grapes.  Pip is the one under the weather at the moment; our poor wee boy has been happy only when curled up in someone’s arms since mid morning on Monday and hopefully he’ll shake off whatever’s getting him down. Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

I think when months are crazy busy it’s hard to look back and pull the highlights out of the endless flurry, but this month I’ve loved the brief quiet times we’ve had at home; making lemon cake the way my Grannie taught me, sitting on the floor playing trains with Pip while the girls fill up their colouring books, and no one to phone me, no need to record what I’m doing in 6 minute units, and no pressure to be pushing myself just that little bit harder and faster even when I know I’m already maxed out.

Last weekend John had a double header of hockey matches so on Sunday I took the children up to Birmingham for the Chinese New Year celebrations and even in the pouring rain it was brilliant. I shan’t give away too many spoilers because with a bit of luck and a following wind I’ll post about it later in the week, but dragons, lions, and balloon arches were never going to go down badly.

My pictures for this month came from Warwick; we love going to the park there and we love watching the ducks on the river, and the kids adore the playpark.  I don’t have that many photos this month; my camera battery died pretty early on (fail to prepare; prepare to fail and all!) and the light was fading, but I love the few that I did get, for all that at least one child is making a funny face in the pictures.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

We had no idea Pip was blowing raspberries until I got home and saw it close up!

My intention for Me and Mine for this year is the same as my intention for Siblings; I want to take pictures that I’m really proud of, and I want to be organised enough to have the time and the light in which to do it.  We’ll gloss over the fact that my camera battery died fairly early on in proceedings this time round (fail to prepare; prepare to fail) but I’m happy that even the few I took have all five of us in focus and even vaguely looking at the camera.  It’s a good start to what I am determined will be a wonderful year of family portraits.

My little family, in January:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

 

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Me and Mine 2016: December

31/12/2016

It’s the last day of 2016.  Time to finish the year, and finish another year with December’s Me and Mine.  These photos mark our fourth December post, and our third complete year and even when we’ve been taking pictures in dusk on the last but one day of the month, to take a family portrait has become ingrained in our lives in the loveliest way.  They say it takes ten repeats to form a habit, well we’re well past that now, and I think the addiction had taken root after the shutter clicked on that first portrait.  It would take a lot to stop us from taking a photo now.  Right up to and including dodgy light.

In the last couple of years it’s become a bit of a tradition to take our Me and Mine photos on Christmas day itself, and while Christmas morning was bright and light and lovely, by the time we’d finished chatting after church, opened a present or two before the girls exploded from excitement, and did assorted things around the kitchen, we’d been tucked up in a celestial blanket and the light dimmed to a cosy glow, perfectly Christmassy but requiring the best endeavours of my camera in the matter of ISO.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

They are more than a bit on the grainy side but they’re my windows into the memory of a near perfect Christmas.  All three children were the most excited they have ever been and their awe in the magic and joy in the celebration was everything I could have wanted it to be.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

And so another year draws to the close, and we complete another year of family photos.

I have loved having time at home with the family this month.  There’s been time to knit and sew and make Hama beads with the girls, and to just simply relax and switch off.  For John I think he’s rather liked having me at home too, and not just because he’s managed to fit two rounds of golf in around all the festivities.

We’re both glad to have some viewings for our house and have all fingers and toes crossed that we get a good offer, not least because at least half of the things that usually live on our kitchen counter tops are now living in the boot of the car under a quilt.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

For the girls the first half of the month was all about Elma’s birthday.  She had a wonderful day and especially loved her ‘school birthday’ at nursery where she got to wear a cape and a crown and hand out slices of her birthday cake, and even now I can’t quite believe my little girl is four.  She’s taken to starting with “when I was three…” as if it was a lifetime ago which is incredibly cute.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

And then all Christmas let loose, and they both started their wind up to the big day itself.  Kitty loved being old enough to come to the carol service with me, and catching up with some of her friends, and Elma’s highlight (and one of mine) was her star turn as littlest angel at the Christmas Eve Nativity Service.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

As for Pip Squeak, he loves having his Mama home, and has spent much of the month holding on to me to make sure I don’t vanish again, but was more than adequately distracted by his Christmas present, a bright red fire engine balance bike which he adores, and rides very very slowly.

Which that brings us to the end of another year.  And as most of my December photos are taken from roughly the same place I thought it might be fun to look back over the last four years of festive Me and Mine:

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December 2013: Kitty is a little younger than Pip is now, I’m newly pregnant with Pip and even though it’s logical, I still look at the photo and see someone missing.

December 2014: and now there are five, though the fifth member of the family seems more than a bit confused.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine

December 2015: a break from our traditional tree shots with our giant turkey and the Duplo nativity scene.

And finally, my little family, in December 2016:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project

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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2016: November

30/11/2016

Sunset at the playpark is beautiful in the winter.  It’s on the top of the hill so the light lingers, sinking down into the trees as its final glimmers brush over the birds who swoop and swirl over the houses as they get ready to head south.  We don’t get up there very often anymore, it was always a detour on the way back from school last year but now the school run has changed and it takes a bit of effort to get us all up there.

And on our last trip we had it all to ourselves, despite the sunshine of a beautiful afternoon.

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Pip has got so big and so confident since the last time that I watched him play; he jogs solidly around between all the play equipment, sort of following his sisters, but then getting distracted by climbing up to the slide or trying to persuade me to join him on the see-saw.  Kitty went to join him in the end but even she is just that tiny bit heavier than the smallest member of her family.  Had it been Elma though, I’m not so sure!

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If you’ve been reading my blog of late, or rather not reading it because there hasn’t been anything new here to read, you’ll  not be surprised that November has been a month that has been all about snatching time as a family with both hands and holding tightly on to it. Life’s been busy, mostly in stress-inducing sorts of ways.

Which is why these are all iPhone pictures, and not even good iPhone pictures from the camera on the back, but selfies, shot with me holding the phone at the end of my arm.

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Or at least, I tried to take them holding the phone at the end of my arm, but it turns out that a certain someone rather liked the idea of holding the phone himself, and possibly running off and taking pictures himself.

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Cheeky monkey.

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And as when you are two, having the phone taken off you is a cause for much wailing and gnashing of tiny teeth, that is precisely why Pip looks more than unimpressed in these pictures.

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Happily, such squalls are easily remedied, and a picture or two later, our smiley wee boy was returned to us.

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It would be easy to remember this month as the month of estate agents and viewings and big decisions, and ridiculously large amounts of work, and stress and headaches and clinging on to the thought of Christmas and some time off work, but that’s not what I choose to treasure, or I want to focus on.

So, this month:

  • the girls had their first advent spiral at school (utterly magical and they loved every minute);
  • Kitty got to light the first advent candle on our ring in church on Sunday, which she is more than excited about;
  • I spent a happy afternoon decorating the school with vast numbers of greenery swags adorned with red ribbon curls as part of the preparations for the advent fair;
  • John, Elma and Pip went on several playdates with friends from school, a lovely sign that we’re settling into our new school community;
  • I went to a conference in my particular professional field that is thought-provoking and interesting and in the Caledonian Club in London, a gorgeous venue for a day out of the office if ever there was one;
  • Elma is getting more and more excited about her birthday, the first year that she’s really shown any anticipation this far in advance;
  • I’ve finished her birthday jumper apart from washing and blocking it;
  • Pip’s constant companion is a little Thomas the Tank Engine that speaks, so he’s going around the house at the moment saying “I’m Thomas! I’m a really useful engine!” which is so cute that it’s still funny; and finally;
  • I’ve brought a strawberry tart home from London for John!

Now that’s a month to cherish.