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Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Delightfully messy

19/03/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

We sold our house.  It is frankly a phenomenal relief, just as long as we gloss over the fact that we’re due to exchange in May and we don’t have anywhere to move to yet.  We’re working on it, we’ve got back up plans (the tent!), and May is many many weeks away yet.

But the feeling of having sold is wonderful.  I don’t think you can possibly know what it’s like to keep your house to viewing levels of clean and tidy with three small children underfoot until that first week when you realise that you’ve a viewing every day except Tuesday.  We had 33 different people view the house between Christmas and selling, with a fair few second viewings thrown in there for good measure and that’s a lot of tidying up.  We are, to be honest, not people of the tidy variety.  I will always neglect putting away the toys in favour of a good book, or a new quilt, or just one more row, and to quote the photographer who took pictures of our very messy studio, our house is a “creative space”.  But in the interests of house selling we upped our game.  In the run up to a viewing we’d near enough empty the kitchen, moving the bin into the garage and the radio into a drawer and draping a spare tablecloth attractively over the bits that really couldn’t be moved.  In the lounge we’d put things away, and then have a mad run around and put the things that usually live out in sight into yet another long life carrier bag, many of which have yet to return from garage purgatory.

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

I doubt it’s easy when your household does not include a Kitty, and Elma and a Pip, but it was so hard to explain to them why we had to tidy up and tidy up now, and no that really amazing railway layout can’t stay down but we can take a picture and I’ll build it again with you later. Balancing that with trying to keep the kids enthusiastic about the move, especially when our multiple attempts at house buying have come to nothing, has been really really tough.

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

The day the sale was agreed I don’t think we let ourselves believe it, but slowly it’s sunk in, and we’ve celebrated with the little things; leaving the train track across the lounge all night, washing the laundry rather than hiding it in the boot of my car, and yesterday, doing the messiest thing we could think of: gloop.

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

Gloop is always an outside activity, but even then it’s usually pretty messy and needs a good heavy rain shower to wash away the resulting detritus, something that isn’t always guaranteed, even in England (I know!).  It’s the classic non-Newtonian liquid experiment, made with cornflower and water and then a blob or two of food colouring for good measure.  I make it the same way as in the instructions I wrote last year only this time we used green gel colour, blue liquid and a pink liquid that I found in the back of the cupboard and I’m pretty sure had seen better days.

The green was by far the dominant colour and as the kids mixed and swirled and dug their fingers in it all turned a pretty spring green, very appropriate if unintended.

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

All three of them enjoyed mixing it up and pushing it around, and picking it up to let it ooze through their fingers.

It’s such a weird but wonderful sensation, even if it does always end up on their feet, and the perfect excuse for making monster faces.

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

Space for the Butterflies - Making a mess

But most of all, it was a chance to reclaim our house from property selling perfectionism, and let it just be our home, for a little while longer.

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

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: March

15/03/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

Each month I sit down to write about my little trio and my first reaction is usually along the lines of “well nothing much has changed”.  And in the grand scheme of things perhaps it hasn’t, but I love that in writing these posts, and in coming back month on month to record them just as they are right now, I’m mindful of the minutiae.  And sometimes the change is simply the evolution of something started months before, but to me that’s still worth recording and remembering.

This month it’s been in the relationship between Elma and Pip.  Ever since Kitty went off to school they’ve been each other’s near constant companions, and it was only when Elma started nursery in September that Pip spent any time without her.  They’ve loved each other and laughed and giggled and been entertained by the same things, and wound up by the same things, and had screaming abdabs over the same toy, but Pip was barely one when Kitty started school, and when you’re two and a half, a one year old is next to useless in the fun stakes.

Over the years I’ve watched Elma work out how to be a sister to Kitty, and been present for all of the wonderful award-yourself-a-gold-star moments when they’ve played lets pretend in gentle co-operation; and all the ones when they haven’t.  In that sisterly relationship both my girls work out how to create their own little worlds and bring their sister into it, and while they happily include Pip in their play, it hasn’t really mattered whether or not he got it.  Each of the girls got the recognition and co-operation that they needed from each other, and if Pip wondered off half way through being the baby they’d learned to cope.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

But watching them this weekend from the sanctuary of the sofa, where Kitty, John and I all fought off the same tummy bug I could see that Elma and Pip have found their own world of make believe too.  I’m not entirely sure what the game was, which is always the most fun sort to watch and try to figure out, but it involved them having to go to each other’s houses (armchairs) on Pip’s balance bike with Elma sitting on the front and Pip riding pillion and clinging on around her waist, and then they all got off and got on a boat.  All very adventurous and Pip was completely into the game with her; he could understand the story she was weaving, and was getting stuck in.

He’ll go on some amazing adventures with her too, because while Kitty will tell you about her day through her stories, and her favourite games involve mimicking the things she sees around her, playing schools, or mummies and babies, Elma is my storyteller.  If you listen to her playing with the dolls house, or making things up for her Lego people they’re all crazy and brilliant and completely outside the sphere of her experience.  I love listening to both of them, and I find it fascinating how differently they reinterpret the world around them.

These pictures come from a hill that once stood in for Kilimanjaro, on a day when it was decidedly calmer, sunnier, and less likely to pour with rain at any moment.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

The girls rushed up and down the slopes, and poor Pip felt his shorter legs for once, finding it hard climbing until Kitty came to give him a hand.  She is so incredibly sweet with him, a lovely big sister who dotes on him and cossets him and he thinks that she’s the best thing since sliced bread, if sliced bread had also run off with his most important lilac wooden block – or was that just yesterday?

He was starting to go down with a horrid cold that would see him spend the rest of the weekend, curled up in my arms, snoozing and nursing and generally reminding us all that I’m his indentured servant first and foremost, and then everyone else’s.  He was happy enough to sprint up the hill, but wore himself out before we got down to the bottom.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

I can’t work out whether in this picture whether he’s trying to tell me what a pitiable state it is to be outside when he’d rather be inside and located suitably close to my stash of chocolate buttons, or imitating Kitty, who would very much like you to know that she has lost not just that other big front tooth (which held on by a corner for eons) but another bottom one to boot.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

He’s definitely dreaming of something in this one, but I wanted to include it anyway because it shows so clearly their height differences.  So often when I take pictures of the three of them they’re sitting down or Kitty’s bending down and I forget just how tall she is, and all three of them are.  For point of reference, in this picture Kitty is 6 (and that’s an age 10 cardie from Frugi who’s sizes are usually pretty generous), Elma is 4 (and wearing age 5) and Pip is 2 (and wearing 3-4).  One of these days Elma’s going to stop growing at 5’10” and find her brother and sister call her shortie.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

All three have shot up over the winter again and it means that all long last, two more pairs of boots can reach the footrests on the “spinny spinny round” and all three can plan world domination as they twirl.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

Two little sisters, and their brother too, pulling funny faces, in March:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

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 Goblin Child, 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!
The Me and Mine Project

 



 

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!!
The Me and Mine Project

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017 {February}

15/02/2017

In my quest to take good pictures of my little trio I am definitely ready for some sunny weather.  In January it was foggy, and in February the clouds gathered low and grey, teasing the promise of snow but never quite living up to it.  It’s been a chilly damp sort of start to the month and I have all my fingers crossed that when we get to our half term next week there will be sunshine and warm winds and all the promise of Spring (please pretty please).

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

I think it is fair to say that my little trio are more than ready for the half term break.  Pip seems to have bounced back from his trip to A&E, but the girls are tired, and tired means ratty and ratty means more of the fiercest enemies version of sisterhood than their usual beloved friend and companion.

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

It’s a phase and only a phase, and even in it there have still been plenty of days when they’ve come up with an idea together and spent the whole day playing whatever unfathomable world they’ve conjured up, but I would be misrepresenting life with three little ones if I told you it was always sunshine and roses and peaceful harmony.  I have every hope however that the break will restore our usually even keel.

I took them down to the park because fresh air is my default parenting setting and I think it did us all some good, even in the biting cold.  And watching them run off I could see the “it’s mine” and “Mummy she’s following me” rolling off them, as they went back into being a trio again.

I love watching how they interact and how they each take charge, because it’s definitely not Kitty being the boss all the time.  She might decide to run off to the “singing house” (a folly with great acoustics) but it’s Elma who led a few rousing renditions of Christmas carols.

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

And when they headed down to the water to disappoint the ducks with our lack of any bread, they arrived in height order, but it was Pip who started the running around trying to catch a pigeon.

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

This month’s theme, in so far as there is ever a theme, is photos of them from a little distance, helped by the cold keeping everyone out of the park, and being able to trust them to be out of my grab range now that they’re that little bit bigger.  It might be unintentional, I would always choose to have some close up photos in a set, but when they’re not in the mood to pose, I’m not going to force them, and it set me a knew challenge; how could I capture the essence of the three of them as they are now from the back and with a bit of distance.

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

As it turns out, I love the shots of them running off into the distance because for me they’ve got some serious novelty value.  If I’ve ever had photos like these before where the children are clearly a little way away it’s usually because someone else has been just out of shot, but these are as they seem, my little trio heading off to explore the world, and the pictures can tell the whole story.

I did manage to persuade them into one group shot, all sat together riding the back of an elephant, and yet every time I pressed down on the trigger my little monkey boy’s beaming smile turned into the biggest bottom lip you’ve ever seen.  So here they are, on their own terms, two little sisters and their brother too, in February:

Space for the Butterflies - Sibling Photography Project: February

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 Goblin Child, 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!
The Me and Mine Project



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

 

The Me and Mine Project