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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: September

30/09/2017

Oh this wonderful crazy family of mine.  What a wonderful crazy busy month we’ve had to match.  I thought we hadn’t done very much this month, just settled into life in the new house and the new back to school routine, but as soon as I stopped to start to think about it the more I realised just how much we’d been here there and everywhere in a near constant whirlwind.  It’s been a good sort of whirlwind though, the sort that softly breezes you along, and it’s meant that our month has been full of some of our favourite things; time spent together, and just the occasional adventure.

Some of them were near at hand, Pip’s Mummy morning on the day both his sisters were at school and Daddy was playing golf, and Kitty’s school expedition to harvest sweetcorn didn’t take us very far afield, and some were further flung (and I maintain it may actually be quicker to get to Majorca (for golf) than to Skipton (for Yarndale)).  What is certain is that they were both well worth the effort, and I suspect we both came back knowing that we’re going again next year.

 

On the house front we continue to unpack.  I fear I may be saying that for many many many more months to come; proof, not that it was ever needed, that we were right to have other people come to pack for us.  We’re trying to unpack gently; actually thinking about what we need rather than just bunging everything in a cupboard, but a random filing cabinet still stuck in the middle of my study says we’re not quite there yet.

And with September gone, we’re properly into autumn; the leaves are turning in the garden and the trains emerge from the mist each morning, audit’s hard not to start to get excited about what comes next, and what comes after that.  In the month to come we have half term; which seems crazy because we obviously only started term 30 seconds ago, and lots of plans to make, and still the occasional box to unpack.

John loves:

  • The golf trip to Majorca.
  • His brother and sister-in-law coming to visit.
  • Having built IKEA furniture for his studio, the actual building of it wasn’t so fun.
  • The start of the hockey season (and football and cricket on the telly)

Carie loves:

  • The trip to Yarndale
  • All the yarn that came home with her.
  • Seeing her first piece of published fiction appear in print
  • A long weekend pottering around with the children

Kitty loves:

  • Her birthday celebrations; many and ongoing
  • Learning to balance on her skateboard
  • the start of school.
  • rediscovering all her treasures as we put the craft cupboard to rights.

Elma loves:

  • getting to see her brother during school playtime.
  • being big enough to go hockey training.
  • magic tricks.
  • collecting huge bunches of autumn leaves.

Pip loves:

  • Mummy.
  • Climbing the Clent Hills.
  • Playing trains.
  • Waking up ridiculously early for his own private adventures while the rest of us are still asleep.

My little family, in September:

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: August

31/08/2017

In the weeks and years to come there’s no doubt that we will find a million and one beautiful places out and about in our new part of the world for our Me and Mine photos, but for this month there’s only one place that we could take them; home.

Yes, really honestly truly, we are home, in a house of our very own. Well ours and the mortgage company’s.

This month has been dominated by the big move.  We got the keys to the house at the very start of the month and then I dithered around my office finishing off everything that really had to be done, before scampering off early, keys clutched in my hand, trying very hard not to skip all the way to the train station, and that first evening we pottered around, trying to decide what we were going to try to do before the furniture arrived, and then giving up and just celebrating, popping the champagne to share with my aunt and uncle, and smiling so hard I thought my cheeks would hurt.

John spent the next 10 days filing, sanding, washing walls, undercoating, painting, stripping away lining paper, sticking bits of paper back on and generally acting like a decorating whirlwind, with help from family and friends, while I went to work from one station and came home to another.  I’ve bought precisely two houses now and both times the sale has completed while the head of my team at work is on holiday, which means that I can’t go on holiday until he’s back. I’d claim it’s a theme but it’s twice in thirteen years.

And then the furniture arrived, and we moved in for real.

 

I’ve been on holiday for the last week, and it’s mostly been spent unpacking boxes while listening to the children playing in the garden.  The bank holiday was just beautiful, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of our outdoor living, even on the days when it’s been too hot to eat anything but salad and sandwiches, and I start to glower at the Aga, and our boiler, whose dubious antiquity means that we can have hot water only if we accept that the central heating will also be on at the same time, and there’s no thermostat.

It’s been a month of upheaval and a month of settling down into some sort of a rhythm as we run up to the start of school next week, and there have been days that felt like magic and days that have been really hard work with boxes seeming never ending and the children unravelling all with uncertainty at each other, but it all evens out, and the moments that I treasure will always outweigh the ones where I just want to go and sit under my duvet and hide.

We had a wonderful day for Pip’s birthday; he was spoiled to bits by all who love him in the nicest possible way, and everyone has enjoyed playing with his new toys, particularly the little tractor, the big tractor and the farm.

In August…

John has loved

  • getting the painting finished before the furniture arrived.
  • going to the gym
  • playing golf
  • Game of Thrones (though not that we have to wait to 2019 for the next series)

Kitty has loved

  • having her bed back; even if we can’t find the bolts to make it.
  • play dates with one of her closest class friends.
  • her Mummy-Kitty date to the Festival of Quilts
  • the slide in the new garden.

Elma has loved:

  • listening to the Magical Faraway Tree on audiobook
  • still sleeping in a sleeping bag
  • going to the flower shop and choosing three enormous sunflowers for her room, even though we’ve kept them on the dinner table because we all love them so much.
  • that her class friend (little sister to Kitty’s friend) also came to play.  They’ll be the middle girls this year, no longer the littlest, and no longer with their big sisters so it will be fun to see them start to take the lead.

Pip has loved:

  • his tractor.
  • his other tractor.
  • running around the new garden at high speed.
  • being reunited with his wooden train set.

I have loved:

  • being reunited with electric light
  • having a good sort out as I unpack my craft room
  • having a craft room
  • a week and a bit’s holiday to unwind and unpack.

It’s been a memorable month, a definite milestone in the adventure of our family, and we can only watch and wait to see where the rollercoaster takes us next!

My family, in August.

 

Birthdays Family Photography

Now you are three

26/08/2017

To Pip Squeak, on your third birthday.

Yes, third.  I know you’ve decided that you’re going to be four, and occasionally six, just so that you can keep up with your big sisters, but it’s enough of a challenge for me to recognise that you’re turning three, and not still that not so tiny baby I brought home from the hospital what seems like only a couple of days ago.  Don’t go wishing your years away little boy; the first three have flown past for me and time only seems to be speeding up.

As I write this you’re asleep in the room next door, snuggled down on your pillow with your arms flopped back above your head and it’s easy to see the baby you once were, but are very definitely no longer.

This has been the year when you emerged from your babyhood and became every inch my little boy; you’ve lost that baby roundness that I could still just about see in the snippets at the start of your birthday video, and the more you run and jump and hide and play and run some more you’ve got stronger and stronger.  Part of it is being out of nappies, and part of it is that you’ve shot up several inches. Again.  You still greet people you’re particularly fond of by running into them full tilt, the only difference is now we’re bracing ourselves for the impact, and more than once I’ve felt myself stumbling backwards to catch both of us.

I don’t know exactly how tall you are right now, but I know I’m buying age 4-5 clothes and hoping they’ll have a smidgen of room to grow in them.  You’re wearing size 8 shoes, but I strongly suspect that you’ve grown out of them and we need a trip to the shoe shop before term starts.

You have always been the most outdoors of my babies, and it’s still true; your favourite activity in the old house was digging a hole underneath the play house (that we discovered when we kicked a football underneath it and it disappeared!!), you loved moving a mole hill around while we were living in the tent (to the point that the molehill had to be topped up again), and there’s a curious patch underneath the swing in our garden, right about where someone has left a tiny spade, which rather suggests that a certain someone may have been digging!  Our garden here doesn’t have access to the road unless you go through the house or the garage and I love that you can explore and re-landscape to your heart’s content (though please leave the lawn alone, it has actual grass, rather than the moss with occasional blade of green in the last house).

The biggest change in you this year has to be in your speech; you are a wonderful little chatterbox and I love that you come out with things that you’ve clearly been pondering for a while, even when they’re a complete change in conversation.  Everything has this wonderful logic about it too.  I wasn’t actually there for my favourite of the year, you were in the car with your auntie, trundling along, only to confidently announce: “Cows poo but stinging nettles don’t!”

You love tractors and engines, and living on a farm with actual tractors was your dream come true, and no excuse was too small to go for a little walk to see what the tractor was doing; I’m certain that one of your golden memories of this summer was helping your uncle to fix a puncture in the tractor tyre.

As for the engines, earlier this year I took you to the toy shop for a Mummy and Pip special treat, and you chose the Duchess of Hamilton replica wooden train; she’s been your favourite ever since, and even more so when you realised that there’s an actual real Duchess, and that YouTube has videos of her in action.  So much of the packing up of our old house happened to a soundtrack of a very plummy BBC announcer narrating some 1937 footage, and one of my golden memories from this summer was when you came face to face with the real train at the National Railway Museum at York.  Every day you ask me what colour train I took to work, and give me a long assessing look as if to check that I’m giving the right answer.

It makes you sound like every stereotype of a little boy doesn’t it, railways and tractors, getting muddy and always being on the move, but it’s only part of your personality.  At the moment your favourite colour is still pink, and your favourite rainy day activity is painting, closely followed by colouring in (preferably in one of your sisters’ colouring books if you think you can get away with it!).

As for those big sisters of yours, I think this is the year when their crowns may have slipped a bit; no longer are they adored heroes, purveyors of mischief, entertainment and purloined chocolate, but co-conspirators, up to equal amounts of mischief but with a greater potential for falling out.  It’s all part of the sibling relationship, and I can see in how you play with both girls just how much you love them.  I’m glad you have them, and they you.

You are my best beloved boy; Happy Birthday,

love Mummy

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: August

24/08/2017

I know, I’m horribly horribly late with my Siblings post this month.  Actually, I’m horribly horribly late with a gazillion posts from the middle of June onwards, and that’s a conservative estimate.  I still have the story to tell of the move from our old house, of adventures in the summer, and to tell you all about the new house, the good and the “oh that’s going to be expensive”, but tent life was conducive to spending my evenings snuggling down with some knitting and a glass of wine, chatting to John and planning for the new house, and then we moved, and then one of the children got a tummy bug, which would not have made for good photos, and then….!  But now I have internet, I have some time off work to unpack boxes and sort out so my brain isn’t fried from being at work, so for today let’s start with these three little monkeys of mine and Siblings.

When I wrote my July Siblings post they’d settled down into tent life, and we had a rhythm of a sort for our days; running up to the house in the morning to fetch the milk (playing into all of Kitty’s Swallows and Amazons make believe), sneaking big hugs with their auntie and uncle, and being willing volunteers to go and pick just about anything from the fields, especially if it involved a ride in the cart.  But towards the end of the month, as we hurtled towards completion (finally finally!), they could sense the change that was coming, and as much as we told them what was happening, I think it’s quite hard to comprehend when you’re only six and four and two.

The day we finally completed I met John and the kids at the house and for a little while Kitty didn’t even want to come in; she loved tent life and her auntie and uncle so much she wanted to stay there forever.  And then the penny dropped and all three of them started racing round like harumscarums and they’ve barely stopped since.

At the moment all three of them are sharing Pip’s bedroom as the girls’ room needs a wall fitting with plasterboard after the 100 year old plaster came tumbling down when we took off the lining paper (definitely a story for another time) and it’s so sweet to see them all curled up together.  They’ve not always been the best of friends this month; it’s a rather predictable consequence of all the upheaval that they’ve tried to grab back a bit of control wherever they can find it, but as boxes get unpacked and the familiar comes to join the new, they’re happier to have each other around.

These pictures are all taken in the garden of the new house; it’s a huge garden, so much bigger than the one at our old house, and designed in a series of garden rooms, so it’s a lot bigger than you first think. On the first evening our exploration (champagne glass in hand) took us right down to the very back of the garden and there, next to the shed with half its roof missing, was a big purple slide.  If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s a big step up from their little folding green and yellow toddler slide, which Kitty can practically leapfrog, and once we’d pulled it out of the bushes and checked that it wasn’t rotten, we set it up on the grass a little nearer to the house and every time we’re out in the garden there’s always someone rushing down.

It’s a lovely accidental treat for them (and us) but it feels oddly symbolic too.  In two days Pip will turn three, and as he is a very tall little boy, we’re long out of the adorable tiny clothes stage.  I definitely have children, not babies or toddlers now and with no more babies on the horizon (though never say never!), it feels as if we’ve taken a step away from those baby days.

Two increasingly grown up little girls, and their brother too, in August:

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.

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: July

31/07/2017

We still live in a tent.  I know that at the end of last month a combination of hope and will power had me near certain that we’d be in the house by this point, but, well, we’re not.  All things being equal we should exchange this week and then complete as soon as possible afterwards, which basically means as soon as the mortgage money can get to our solicitors.  Next month, next month I promise we will not be living in a tent, because if we’re not living in our house then something has gone horribly wrong and we’ll be looking for a long term rental while we start all over again.  Not going to happen though.

We originally thought that we’d be living in the tent for a couple of weeks, three or four at most, and sitting here at six weeks and counting I am beyond grateful to my aunt and uncle for letting us stay; aside from the sheer joy of watching Kitty, Pip and Elma come to know and love them as much as John and I do, and the fun they’ve had helping to pick strawberries and raspberries and swimming in the pool, staying here has meant that while we may not have had a house, we have always had a home, and there just aren’t ever going to be enough thank yous to cover it.

We’ve just come back from a week going “housing”, firstly to Yorkshire to stay with the family, and then John and I escaped to spend a couple of nights away in the Lake District climbing mountains.  If you follow me on Instagram please note that the holiday spam shows no sign of letting up soon, and I’m utterly unapologetic about it – the Lakes are much much prettier than the view from my desk when I head back to work today.  The children, as far as I can gather, wore their grandparents out and flew kites, and we all enjoyed such modern conveniences as walls, beds and electric lights.  With the evenings not as light as they were when we first moved in, and camping lights good enough only really to find something, not read or knit something tricky, it was a revelation to have light that we could just turn on!

The holiday was pretty well timed to avoid a very soggy week; two days before we left the tent sprung a sort of leak, when splits on two sections of the back ridge got so bad that they let the back wall of the tent start to puddle on the ground, and where there was one puddle, another soon followed, and then the day I finished work our gazebo/shelter took off in a rogue gust of wind (despite being fully pegged and guyed out), so this month I have learnt how to mend shelters with self-adhesive tent plasters, and how to replace sections of tent pole and refit the whole shebang while leaving the rest of the tent standing – top tip, don’t try to use cheap and cheerful hacksaws on fibreglass tent poles; I think I cut it mostly through strength of mind!

The tent is much the better for the tlc and despite torrential showers bucketing across the skies yesterday afternoon we’re as dry as a bone.  I did however make the mistake of promising the children a biscuit when it rained, which they interpreted as a biscuit every time it rains, which means that an entire packet of crunch creams were laid to waste in the course of one afternoon.

On the whole the kids are doing pretty well with their life in limbo.  We had a few wobbly moments that could have been as much to do with the end of term as the house moving, and Pip has taken to telling us he loves any new toy so much that he doesn’t want it to go into storage, but they’re a happy little trio (despite Kitty’s very teenage expressions in some of these shots), currently obsessed with playing Swallows and Amazons, right up to and including the rigging of a Wild Cat Island style tent courtesy of some rope (charmed out of their uncle), out badminton posts, and their aunt’s old sheet.  You’d think that they’d have had enough of camping of late, but as I should well know, there’s camping and then there’s proper Swallows and Amazons camping.  Yesterday afternoon they performed Swallowdale: the musical, with particular focus on the climbing of Kanchenjunga and the spotting of goats, which was quite a sight to see.

Despite all of our adventures, this month’s photos could only have been taken in front of our tent.  Neatly cropped to avoid showing you how much of a mess it still is post flood and holiday, but still very recognisably our very own Buckingham Palace.  We haven’t decided when or whether we might go travelling this summer, but I know that even though we’re really really looking forward to the next stage of this big move, it hasn’t dinted our love of life outdoors, and there will be plenty of opportunity in the future to take out photos on our canvas doorstep.

My little family, in July:

 

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