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Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Sunny Nights

08/04/2017

While I love many things about winter, by the time Spring comes around I am more than ready to have my daylight back.  When you get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, see the daylight only as the square of the window. and then come home in the dark, by the end of March all aspersions towards Hygge or the latest pseudo-nordic counter to the winter blues have long since faded and I’m ready to great the sunlight.

It should be obvious, but it does make getting up in the morning just that little bit less of a struggle; somehow it just feels right, and it’s nice not to have to scrape ice off the car.

My first day of Spring isn’t necessarily 21st March, though it’s pretty close. It’s the first day that it’s still light enough to take photos after I get home from work.  Even though I haven’t yet rushed home from work and dashed to the camera, just to know that I can, that the part of me that itches to take photos isn’t confined to weekends and Wednesdays, feels like the pressure to get it right first time has eased up a little.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

The girls broke up from kindergarten and nursery on Wednesday and to celebrate, as the clock hit 5pm I abandoned the laptop for a couple of hours in favour of taking them out from under their Daddy’s feet (because de-mob happy and cooking do not mix) and the four of us headed down to the woods for a little wander.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

It was the most beautiful evening, soft and warm and the woods seemed all but deserted.  The path leads through trees that in a few weeks will be surrounded by bluebells but now have a carpet of lilac white wood anenomes.  They’re incredible pretty with just a whisper of magic about them, even as the girls ran through them in search of puddles.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

It’s been pretty dry here for a couple of weeks at least, but our woods are to puddles and squishy mud what alpine mountaintops are to snow, and for every nice dry detour around the edge, the centre remains satisfyingly damp and squidgy.  It was only a matter of time before one of them fell over, and Pip took the honours, entirely unfazed and only pausing for a moment before heading off to find the next.  We only had half an hour or so before it was time to head home for supper (and back to the laptop for me), but we puddle jumped, found tiny baby bird feathers by the side of the field, and added a couple of sticks to our favourite den.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

As the time for us to make our move comes nearer, with or without a house to move into, it brings into sharp focus, just how many memories have been made in the places we all but take for granted.  There have been so many photos taken in the wood, or up at the windmill, or even just at the gardens in town, and I know that we will find the places near our new home that mean as much as those that have seen so much of the story of our family.  But just as I know that, I know that I will treasure the chance to make just one more memory. It’s an extra reason to welcome the return of the sun, a reason to gather up the welly boots and push back supper for just a few minutes, and let the magic in with the light.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

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

Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Hello tiniest nephew

02/04/2017

As the train rattled me home on a Friday evening, the news came by text:

“You’d better get knitting!!!”

Now we’d known for a couple of weeks that England’s future spin bowler had been giving his mother more than his fair share of chaos and havoc during her pregnancy, to the point that he’d already been pulled up the batting order from being a May baby to an end of April baby, but this was still March. A good 5 weeks before even the earliest that we were anticipating him; I phoned my sister immediately:

“I haven’t even chosen the colours yet!”

She’d just popped into the hospital for a growth scan at lunchtime, with the famous last words “I’ll be about 20 minutes”. To my Dad, who has developed an impressive ability to be in the right place at the right time to babysit his existing grandchildren while their siblings arrive, this must have sounded all too familiar; when Pip was born I was certain I was nipping into hospital to have it confirmed that my waters had broken and then I’d be home again for the labouring bit, we didn’t even take the hospital bag.

And so after a long, and probably rather hungry wait, my newest and littlest nephew arrived in the world at 34 weeks at 27 minutes past midnight last Saturday morning , 3lb 11oz and utterly cute with it.  He is absolutely perfect, just really tiny, and so after a quick cuddle he headed off for neonatal while the proud parents tried to remember what sleep looked like.

Peregrine Love Train (bump names attributed by my Dad, Elma (whose other suggestion was “Friendship”) and Pip) has I believe set out on a course of showing off to the nurses as much as humanely possible.  He was always going to have to stay in neonatal for three weeks or so but he’s a week old as I write and he’s already dispensed with all but a foot monitor and his NG tube, never needed any help in breathing (yay the steroids from a couple of weeks before), and has graduated from his incubator to clothes and a nice cosy fishbowl cot.

I’d always assumed that we wouldn’t get to see him until he was home and quite a good bit bigger.  It’s not that the kids couldn’t be suitable gentle but they’re little germ factories at the best of times and no one wants that with a premie baby in the house.  But then we were talking, and I remembered that I had a meeting in our London office on Tuesday, and we hatched a plan.

Work finished, I took a tiny detour in the direction of Konditor & Cook for the most amazing box of mini cakes, and caught the tube heading south.  And in about the time it would take me to get most of the way to Warwickshire on the overground train, I made it to the hospital, made it through the hospital (a serious feat in itself) and found my sister, and then together we went to see her baby.

Even when you know that he’s going to be small for a newborn and even smaller compared to my babies, who all saw 41 weeks in utero with the corresponding weight gain, the only reaction I think anyone has had to meeting Peregrine is, “Oh! He’s so small!”

He is the dinkiest little boy and was clearly more than happy to be cuddled up on his mama and snooze for an hour of so while we chatted.  And while Rosie could see the top of his head, I was getting all the expressions, from blissfully fast asleep to the occasional accidental sort of smiles.  I have a couple of really beautiful photos that I took while we were there; Peregrine cuddles up and Rosie looking down at him, but anyone who’s ever done kangaroo care will probably be able to hazard a guess as to why I’m not sharing them on the internet.  The pictures above are from the day I visited, and those below are more recent and it’s amazing how much he’s changed even in a few days.

With the wee boy tucked back up into his incubator, and in a vest for the very first time, we sat on her bed in the postnatal ward and ate all the cake, and laughed until she told me off for making her tummy hurt, and then laughed a little bit more.  I tied her hair up in bunches with the cake ribbons and threatened to leave them in until the next doctor’s round, read magazines and talked about all the ordinary things of a sister chat that usually takes place though a computer screen.  I don’t think we’ve been together in person without our children since before we had children, and I’m going to hope that the reason they moved her to a private room after I left was because she’d been in for a while, and not just because we talked the hind leg off a donkey and they wanted to give the rest of her ward a break.

Rosie teases me that my meeting was the reason why her baby had to come so early; just so I could meet him at a few days old, and whilst I suspect it was just a teeny tiny bit more medical than that, I’m so happy that the timing worked perfectly. By the time I got back across London and on the train and in the car and through the front door I just about managed to say hi to John before falling fast asleep on the sofa but it was a wonderful completely out of the ordinary treasured moment to spend that time with her, to be guilt-free company to while away the boredom of the postnatal ward knowing that the world’s best eldest nephew was having a treat with Daddy and Grandma; a little bit of silly sisterhood after some intense few days.

 

 

Family Me and Mine Photography

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

The Me and Mine Project

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