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Siblings 2017: June

15/06/2017

For the last set of Siblings photos from this house, from this county actually, there was only one place we could go.

I’ve been holding off on the windmill each month, knowing that only such an incredibly special spot would do to mark the end of an era in style.  Today is moving day 2, which means that when you read this we will have spent our last night in this house, had our last morning walk here, and probably be melting into a puddle while trying to work out what to throw into what box and what needs to go on the lorry and what’s coming with us.

It’s a funny feeling, sitting in a half empty house, and as the month has gone on and we’ve got nearer and nearer to moving date, I can see that it’s had an impact on my little trio.  They’ve all been pushing boundaries just that little bit further, trying to make sense of that very unsettled feeling and quite often tripping over each other’s feelings in the process.  On the face of it they’re all very excited about the move, and the tent phase of the whole palaver.  They’re looking forward to being nearer to school and their friends and seeing Bob the cat and camping and my aunt and uncles’ swimming pool, but at the same time I’ve been able to see the moment for each of them when it all became very real.

Kitty started to feel a little worried about the whole thing a couple of weeks ago, but for Pip and Elma it’s only really been this week, and for Pip, possibly only when he saw his Duplo being loaded onto the removal lorry.  We have kept some toys out for them, but obviously we can’t fit that many in a tent so some of them have had to go into storage, which seems very exciting at the time because the removal men let you walk up the loading ramp to see the box going in, but less exciting when you get to bedtime and realise that it’s gone.  I see tent Duplo in our future!

As we were packing up I asked them all what they loved about the house, and both girls mentioned their brother and sister; this is the house where their sibling relationship was forged, and it’s one of many memories that makes it hard to accept that we really are leaving.

But among the boundary testing and the worrying there have been moments of incredible sweetness and when we’ve quite literally had our hands full I’ve loved watching them band together to help each other out.  Kitty is a great big sister to both, but where her relationship with Elma is one of near equals, especially now they’re in the same class at school, with Pip it’s more a case of brotherly adoration.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

He will follow where she leads without question, which isn’t always a brilliant idea, but I’ll take that for every time she runs to scoop him up if he topples over, or finds a way for him to join in their game of Swallows and Amazons or what Elma calls “Mums and Dads and Sisters” in which she gets to be Kitty, Kitty gets to be me and Pip gets to be a younger version of himself, and somehow they all love it.

As we walked up to the windmill under a still scorching sky they were hatching another game that seemed to involve saying “I’m going to work now” and then diving into the long grass so that they could only just be spotted – what do they think I do as a job?!

Ever since we first realised that there was a path up to the top, the windmill has been our happy place.  I’ve taken one and two and then all three along for impromptu picnics on so many sunny evenings, and I’m glad that for once the weather played along and chased the afternoon’s muggy grey clouds back for a perfect last visit.  We could have stayed there for hours, drinking in the sunshine and memorising every inch of the horizon, but real life means bedtimes and school runs and bringing the laundry in before the dew falls, and so with one last lingering look back, we headed home to tuck three tired little heads into bed and to let them dream of tomorrow and the next big adventure.

Two little sisters, and their brother, in June:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

Do go and say hi to my co-hosts: Donna at What the Redhead Said Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life,  Keri-Anne at GingerLily Tea, Amber at Meet the Wildes, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then link up your Siblings posts below, and if you’re joining in on Instagram if you use the hashtag #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_ we’ll be able to see them too!

 



 

 

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: May

31/05/2017

There were supposed to be penguins in the back of my Me and Mine photos this month.  Technically, if you look really closely in the middle far left of this one, you can see a bit of a penguin underwater so that will have to do.

It was just after feeding time, they’d all been waddling around in an adorable little line following the keeper with the fish bucket and the diving and splashing each other and being generally cute as penguins are, but clearly, when the camera came out they all scarpered!  What was it about never working with children or animals?

Well, as you can see, this month’s Me and Mine photos don’t come from home, or even from one of our favourite haunts (I’m saving all of the lump in the throat moments for next month’s set!), but there does seem to be a theme.  Last May’s photos were taken when we went on an adventure to meet up with some of our dearest friends, and this year we went to meet the same friends, just somewhere a little bit different.

I’ll admit when I heard we were going to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, I was thinking ducks and geese and the occasional swan but the ducklings we saw were just a smidgen more exotic, there was a train that had Pip mesmerised all afternoon, and I got to see a giraffe up close for the first time in years as well as the penguins that hid.  More on all of which another day when I’ve had a moment to process the photos.

So what have we been up to this month? Well a highlight was definitely meeting up with our friends, and not just because they know how to work my camera and don’t mind taking the occasional snap, it’s just lovely and relaxing to see them and catch up on all of their news and fill them in on a bit of ours.

Other than that …. we sold our house, sort of. We’ve exchanged and we’re due to complete in a few weeks, so by the time we get to the end of June we will have moved, though possibly not into our new house.  Remind me never ever to move house again.  It’s definitely stressful, and definitely dominates everything your do for a little while so much as we’ll miss this house, I think we’ll be glad have done the big move.

For now you’ll have to excuse me as I disappear off into a flurry of packing the things that aren’t going into storage and trying to divine just what the weather’s going to be like for the next few weeks, all while trying not to perform ancient English rain dances by accident.

So here we are, my little family, in May:

Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

On Kinver Edge

21/05/2017

With the girls in school only until lunchtime on Friday it scarcely seems worth it to drive there and back only to turn round and drive there and back again, so for several weeks John and Pip have spent Fridays exploring this new part of the world that is going to be our home before we know it.  I get photos of them wandering through bluebells, taking a detailed survey of the new village playpark and having a coffee and cake, all in the name of research or so I’m told.  It sets a nice unhurried feel to their Friday morning and I suspect makes it a favourite part of their week.

I took Friday off work so that John could have an early weekend, heading off with friends on Friday to play a couple of rounds of golf on Friday and Saturday as a warm up for the worlds ugliest golf trophy competition, but Pip and I saw no reason to change the normal Friday morning routine.  As soon as we’d dropped the girls off at school we hopped back in to the car and headed to Kinver.

Where I come from in Devon, Kinver would be a decent size town. According to John, who grew up in Yorkshire next to the largest village in Europe, it’s practically a hamlet.  However you designate it, it is lovely, and at one stage we seriously thought about trying to move there.  The town centre itself has lots of proper shops, unlike say Stourbridge, which alternates charity shops with coffee, including a great bakery, perfect for midmorning cake.  But first we had to earn the cake.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Kinver Edge is a sandstone ridge sitting high up above the western edge of Kinver, and it’s one of those places where you can feel that you’ve climbed to the top of the world, even if you only have little legs.  Pip and I headed up the eastern end, first wandering along the path and then my tiny boy determinedly climbing step after solid step, throwing his legs up as if he were hurdling them.  When we finally reached the viewpoint, he was more than ready to perch up on the map and trace out rivers and hills only vaguely visible under grey skies.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Even with the map to help, I’m not sure I could have particularly recognised Droitwich over Bromsgrove, and while I know Pip’s eye sight is better than mine, his instant “I see it!” response to my pointing out the direction for New York, rather suggests that he was just enjoying the view wherever it may be; that or he thinks it’s a sort of sheep.  (Forgive me American readers, but I suspect that we do talk about sheep more than we talk about cities in the USA).

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Along the top of the heathland we found a herd of longhorn cattle, with some impressively long longhorns.  So far as we could work out it seemed entirely a quirk of nature whether the horns went up, down or out, I wonder if it’s the cow equivalent of whether your resting face looks cheerful or on the edge of being irritated? Imagine being the most upbeat cow that ever moo-ed only to have droopy horns.  Pip was more interested in their breakfasts; he was utterly convinced that cows eat cowpats and nothing I said could convince him that the cowpats come afterwards – these are the joys of two year old boys.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Past the cows we found the puddles, and Pip set to, splashing through even the tiniest drop of water before declaring himself all tired out and ready to be hoisted up onto my back.  He’s a tall and sturdy boy, and neither John nor I can carry him for long in our arms, and he makes an awkward weight on your shoulders, that and he tends to hang on around your throat, so we both wear the Ergo if there’s even a chance of him needing a lift.  Once onboard he’s quite happy, and at just the right height to either snuggle in for a little rest, or lean forward to chat into my ear, and I definitely had the chatterbox version with me for the day.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

As we headed back down into the trees we heard a cuckoo; I’m not very good at bird noises but that’s one I can recognise, and further on we found a pair of chaffinches hopping up and down the path looking for breakfast.  You’ll have to take my word for it because toddlers are not the best accompaniment to stealth photography!

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

And then we came to Nannys Rock.   There are rock houses excavated out of the sandstone up on Kinver Edge, and on the north easterly end they’re preserved and renovated by the National Trust.  Pip and I were there two hours too early to actually go inside, so we peered through the gate and they’re high up on my list of places to visit once we’ve got settled, but Nannys Rock, down at the other end, was left just as it was; a series of three caves carved out of the rock and open to the elements and to casual explorers.  They are eerily beautiful, and the sandstone is so soft that they’re completely covered with carved graffiti, but it only adds context.  One day, even the names dated this century will have softened and faded away into the sand on the floor.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

For Pip and me the photos were enough, and soon we were back on the trail home with Pip walking the last little bit, singing the final round of the Grand Old Duke of York to bring tired little legs back to the car.  He always sings “neither down nor up” at the end, however many times we sing it the right way round, and it’s endearing in its wrongness, his voicing singing out with full heart and hot little hand clasped in mine.

Space for the Butterflies - Kinver Edge

We did make it to the bakery before it was time to pick up the girls, and we did have a gentle domestic sort of an afternoon with them, but while I treasure that time, because frankly there is no job in the world that would let me spend as much time with them as I’d want, there was something so very special about our morning’s adventures; time with Pip that felt as if we had all the time in the world to stand and stare, and give full reign to toddler flights of fancy.  I can see why it’s become a Friday favourite.

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and Donna at What the Redhead Said for The Ordinary Moments

 

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: May

15/05/2017

I wonder whether projects like this, and Me and Mine, the ones that force you to be very clear and very real as to how far through the year you are, somehow contribute to the feeling that it’s speeding up?  I couldn’t stop either now if I tried but I definitely had to do a double take when I came to write in the month. May, how is it May?

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

But May it is, in all it’s glory of sunny days and long evenings.  Without wishing to jinx us all to a June filled with wall to wall thunderclouds, it has been rather lovely so far this month hasn’t it.  And my little trio have been making the most of it.  They all three love being out in the garden, and it’s so nice to have got to the time of year when we can just let them outside and they’re not going to get so cold, or muddy, or covered in sticky seed pods.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Well, actually muddy might be a bit too much of a stretch.  Pip’s lifetime project appears to be digging a hole in the ground under the playhouse.  He’s always love doing a bit of digging and we’ve given him free reign on most of the flowerbeds, but it was only when John was playing football with him the other day and the football rolled under the playhouse and disappeared that we realised exactly what he’d been up to.  The excavated soil gets put in a plant pot at which point Kitty and Elma start to take an interest in his schemes; one or other of them, usually Kitty, will try to sneak oh so subtly around the corner of the house to the garden tap, fill up a bucket and smuggle it back to him for the making of mud pies and to the general detriment to all of their clothes.  If I had to choose one reason to look forward to the summer right now it’s entirely possible I’d go with “because they can wear swimsuits and then we can hose them down”.  We’ve got a baby wetsuit somewhere from when Elma was little and I’m half tempted to shoehorn Pip into it.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Laundry aside, if they’re happy then the garden can take it, and I love watching them plot together.  They have to come around the studio to get to the tap, and even though they can clearly see that it’s glass on all three sides, somehow they forget to look to see if John or I are in there. So there’s all this creeping, and careful glances back to the patio doors to check we’ve not spotted them, and yet we can both be sat there watching them and they’ll never notice until we call out to turn the tap off properly.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

They’re a mischievous little team if ever there was one.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

The big change for the girls this month has been Elma’s move up to join Kitty in Kindergarten.  At the girls’ school Kindergarten stretches from usually the term after you turn 4 to the summer term that you’re six. Elma would have moved up last term but as she started nursery two terms late because there wasn’t space for her before she had an extra term to get her really settled in.  I think it probably helped Kitty to settle as well to have those two terms by herself before Elma joined her.  Elma herself is little Miss Independent; she ran into nursery last September without a backwards glance and the same was true of her first Kindergarten morning.  I think she’d have been fine without her sister, but it was very sweet to see Kitty show her where her peg was and where her slippers should live.  As one of the oldest it’s Kitty’s job to help her new class friends to settle in, and from what they tell me of their days Kitty took extra special care with her little sister, made sure that all her friends came to say hello and got to know her Elma.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

It’s become a bit of a May tradition around here to take my Siblings photos among the bluebells (last year’s here, and if you want a real blast from the past – 2014’s pictures with a just walking Elma!) and who am I to mess with tradition, so we headed out on a sunny evening to see what the golden hour was doing to the bluebells.  On an aside, tell me I’m not the only one who loves the summer as much for the ability to head out on a little adventure after work as much as for just the general loveliness of it!

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

As a largely evergreen wood, the bluebell season sees it in full showing off mode, with the wood anemones as a warm up act in the weeks before.  There are bluebells everywhere, and when the sun sparkles through the trees and it all lights up in a blue, green and golden haze it’s the sort of magic trick that makes a fairy enchantment seem slightly less far fetched.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Most of the big patches of bluebells are buried deep in the trees, but just by one of the little stick shelters the ground is thickly carpeted, and the kids loved running down the little paths between them.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Every month I try to get a photo where all three of them are looking at the camera, and only occasionally do I get one – possibly because this is what happens when you ask a 6 year old, a four year old and a two year old to look up at the camera!

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Little monkeys all three!

Two little sisters, and their brother, in May:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Do go and say hi to my co-hosts: Donna at What the Redhead Said Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life,  Keri-Anne at GingerLily Tea, Amber at Meet the Wildes, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then link up your Siblings posts below, and if you’re joining in on Instagram if you use the hashtag #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_ we’ll be able to see them too!

 



 

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: April

30/04/2017

Only this afternoon did I realise that only in my head does a day called the 30/1 of Apray actually exist.  Really truly, despite 30 something years on this earth, I thought tomorrow was the last day of April, and at the same time know that it’s the May bank holiday and I don’t have to go to work.  It wouldn’t have made much difference anyway; despite having had a week’s holiday in the middle of the month and all the lovely sunny evenings, I took our pictures this morning under the cherry tree.

It’s a beautiful tree and it’s been a marker of the change of our season here in this house when every year bare branches unfurl first tiny leaves and then let free with a cascade of pink snow that not only covers our garden but reaches out to embrace the neighbours too.  All being well, and I say that with all fingers and toes double and triple crossed, this is our last spring with this cherry tree, and while the garden of the new house (touch wood) has at least one apple tree, I don’t know whether we’ll need to add a cherry for the same effect.  The reality is starting to hit that we really will be moving house, and in among organising for a friend to come around to quote for the removals, and dealing with surveyors and agents and all the rest, I’m determined to make time to cherish and preserve our most favourite parts of this very first home of ours.

And so here we are, in all our Sunday morning barely awakeness, watching the petals come swirling down in the breeze, and trying to take a photo in which Elma is not entirely obscured by her hair.

This month John has loved the Easter holidays; me being home all day and the return of several sorely needed weeks of lazy mornings and no long school run.  It’s a marker of these holidays how little we’ve driven, and I think he’s enjoyed the rest.  April has also brought the start of the cricket season, and if I’d written this post last night instead of this I could have told you how he’d got 7 runs and the final wicket (off 3 balls) in the first match of the season.  Today he didn’t need to bat as we romped to victory and gave away only 11 runs for his 4 overs bowling, all of which I’m told is a good thing.  We, as always, enjoy the tea and the sunshine, and if you were anywhere today that was on the grey and windy spectrum, know that I have cricket spectating down to a fine art, because we came with not only quilts to sit on, but two of the sleeping bags to huddle under. It was great.

I’ve loved the Easter holidays too; I really needed the break and the pottering around days were just perfect, as is going back to work for a week and then having a long weekend (yay for May!). The time off gave me time to finish the cosy cottage ripple blanket I started at Christmas 2014, and for Elma to steal it for her bed, and for Kitty to submit a wish list of the one she wants me to make next, and to do my homework for Sara Tasker’s Instagram course.  It was completely and utterly awesome and I can see the changes in my pictures (come and see my feed here), as much as I can also see how much more I want to keep working on!

As for the littlest three, well Kitty has discovered Swallows and Amazons, because I discovered that they’ve re-recorded them on Audible (the previous reader was just atrocious) and she is now completely immersed in their world, which has led to lots of games of ‘camping’.  John told me that he walked into the lounge to find all three in sleeping bags sat around an upturned scooter helmet, and when Pip reached out for it the girls both said “no don’t touch the fire, it’s hot!”

Elma, as well as purloining my recently finished blanket, had her first day of Kindergarten  She would ordinarily have moved up just after her fourth birthday, but as she joined nursery late because we had to wait until there was space for her, she had an extra term and moved up to join Kitty this week.  I have never seen anyone as excited as she was on her first morning; we all went on the school run and she was literally quivering for more of the journey.  I wasn’t there to pick her up but at little lunch she’d sat between Kitty and one of Kitty’s dearest class friends and to all accounts she’d had a wonderful time and hadn’t been hugged by too many of Kit’s friends to make her not want to go back the next week.  She still only does three mornings each week, but this is where she’ll be in September.

And as for my Pip Squeak, he’s still Mama’s Best Pip, the cuddliest chaos that a Mama ever did see.  He loves that sunshine means outside, and outside means hockey and football and golf and cricket and digging in the mud, and even when it rains, that means puddles.

It’s been a good month, with the prospect of all sorts of excitement in the next few months, roll on May (and another of those bank holidays!).

My little family, in April:

The Me and Mine Project