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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 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 Photography Siblings

Siblings 2016: December

15/12/2016

My post for this months Siblings took a bit of a detour; I felt very conflicted about writing about happy things, when the news from Aleppo was so desperate, and so this is really the second part of a blog that I posted earlier today.  It seemed to be pasting over the cracks to simply post a chatty sort of Siblings post when the “probably genocide” going on in Syria is in equal parts upsetting and frustrating.  But writing it out, and reminding myself of the reasons why three United Nations member states entirely taking leave of their humanity doesn’t make recording my story of motherhood stupid or trivial, I found that I can want to write about both Aleppo and about these three little monkeys on their playhouse.

Space for the Butterflies; Siblings 2016 December

And monkeys is the right word for these three little cherubs.

“Just lean on the fence and smile at Mummy”

I suspect that if you’re going to make a habit out of taking pictures of your children, it’s unreasonable to suppose that they will never be in a mischief mood and this was my photoshoot of mischief.  They were happy to have their pictures taken, I’ll always stop if they don’t want to be photographed, but were also in a very giggly mood.

And so they’re not perfectly posed, or even with a perfect backdrop – our playhouse is gorgeous, and well loved, but it is also in the corner of the garden next to the fence where the children make their mud pies with a view of our neighbours’ roof – but they are very real.

This is life for my three little ones; a little bit muddy, a little bit silly, a little bit squashed by your big sisters.

And yet for every time they all decide to fall out, or touch each other’s Lego, or some other heinous crime, there’s the moments when the girls meet up again at the end of the school day and they’re just so pleased to see each other, or when Pip ran after Elma into her classroom the other day because she hadn’t given him a hug yet.

These three know each others weaknesses, but have each others backs, especially when they think they might be winding up Mummy (even if Mummy is secretly loving it).

Two little sisters and their brother, in December:

So do go and say hi and Happy Christmas to my lovely cohosts; Lucy at Dear Beautiful, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me, Amber at Goblin Child,  and Keri-Anne at Gingerlilly Tea; and to show us your sibling photos just link up below or come and play on Instagram under the #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_

 

The Me and Mine Project



Motherhood Pause for Thought Siblings

Aleppo, and the story of an extra Christmas present

15/12/2016

I came here this evening with every intention of just writing a happy chatty sort of Siblings post, full of our stories from the last month, but I find I can’t.

I looked at my pictures of my gorgeous, happy, safe, thriving children, who are all tucked up snug in their own beds in their own homes, and the contrast between them and the stories of the horrific scenes unfolding in Aleppo broke my heart.

Innocent civilians, and far too many of them children, caught up in a war they didn’t want, in a home neighbourhood which they can’t get out of when evacuation attempts keep being blocked by one militia or the other, fearing for their safety at the hands of both sides and no-one in the rest of the world seeming to care enough to do anything about it.

It makes me so frustrated to see actions being described as “probably genocide” but no government doing anything to actually stop it while it’s happening.  It’s no good sending in drones and spy planes to record evidence of war crimes and telling them all off in the future, it’s as much use to the people on the ground as someone videoing a burglary but not actually telling the police that it’s happening until afterwards.

It’s made writing about the little moments of daily life as a family of five seem rather trivial.  I know that they’re not; not really.  When Val McDermid spoke at Blogfest last year she said that the arts is a peaceful way in which we fight back against those who would have our lives ruled by fear, and she’s absolutely right; creativity allows a freedom that cannot comfortably coexist with terror and it has been a weapon against oppression since time immemorial.  Recognising that gives us the freedom to keep on blogging about parenting and knitting, and to do the parenting and knitting itself without being overwhelmed by some of the truly horrible things going on in the world today.

And yet what I’d really like to do right now is get leaders from both sides in a room and shout “have you lost your mind?!”.  Or, even better I’d send Samantha Power whose eloquent speech to the United Nations brought tears to my eyes.

My experience with tantruming toddlers suggests it probably wouldn’t make much difference anyway.  So we’ve done the only practical thing we can do; support the people who are trying to help.  For us it’s in the form of donations to the British Red Cross and Medicin Sans Frontieres, and fervent prayer that the latest attempts at an evacuation succeed.  The donations are roughly what we would spend on a Christmas present if we suddenly acquired an extra family member, and if I’m going to have a Christmas wish this year, wouldn’t it be wonderful if so many people gave an extra present’s worth of donation that the charities trying to pick up the pieces of countries torn apart by greed, jealousy and intolerance, had enough funding do give physical practical help where we can’t.

And I’m sorry if this post feels gloomy when December should be pictures of the children in Christmas jumpers and stories of their nativity plays and all the rest.  That will come (my Christmas holidays start next Wednesday and I can’t wait to be at home with the family) we’re all happy and healthy and starting to get into the flurry of Christmas preparations but to write that post without also writing this felt too much as if it was pasting a glossy front over how I truly feel at the moment: thankful that I can keep my little trio safe, incredibly grateful for what we have, and frustrated to the point of angry that I cannot say the same for the families in Aleppo.

Space for the Butterflies; Siblings 2016 December

Family Photography Siblings

A belated November Siblings

28/11/2016

I’m going to cling to the spirit of better late than never on this one.  These pictures were taken on the 18th and now finally I’ve managed to get around to posting them.  I really wanted to be only a teeny bit late, or preferably not late at all but it is what it is and here we are. What’s ten days between friends.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

My crazy, noisy, wonderful little trio, running around in the garden in ten minutes between going to look around a house and heading off to watch John play hockey.

Writing this on Sunday evening, on a day where the three of them seem to have been the most picklish children that ever made a pixie look like an angel, while, and quite probably because, we’re batting around trying to prink a few bits of the house in the hope that someone wants to come to see it soon, it’s soothing to look at these pictures and remember that actually for the most part they’re pretty awesome.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

My girls are so sweet with each other, especially when no-one’s looking.  On Sunday afternoon they had their school advent spiral, a first for both of them, and while I saw Kitty walk the spiral, Pip’s ability to sit still and watch had been tested to its limited by an hour of sitting and watching and so we had to scoot out before it was the turn of the Nursery class and so I didn’t see Elma’s.  Kitty’s teacher came up to me afterwards to say how well Elma had done, and how Kitty had been rooting for her, and that’s their relationship to a tee.  They can press each other’s buttons like no-one else in the best sisterly style, but they look out for each other as easily as breathing, and I think they’re really enjoying the shared connection of being at the same school, just across the hall from each other. Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

When you add Pip to the mix, oh that boy! The girls have realised that in his sweet and innocent two year old self they have the most persuadable accomplice.  So often I find him innocently engaged in mischief, proud to own up to it because he thinks we’ll love highlighter pen all over the walls of a house we’re trying to sell, and when we ask where he got the idea; “Litty told me do it!”.  I’m sure she did, and I’m equally certain that he’s got a better sense of what is mischief than he’s letting on, but as the baby of the family he’s cute enough to get away with almost anything.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

The three of them together can be incredibly sweet; on Saturday morning, John had a very early start to hockey so we were still pottering around in pyjamas when he left, and I climbed back upstairs to find Kitty sitting in the rocking chair in Pip’s room, telling her sister a story loosely based on Pip’s Wimmelbuch.  Pip scrambled up onto his bed to listen, and as I sat in the corner and tried to make a start on Elma’s Christmas cardigan they went around in a circle, each reading or telling a story (even Pip with an unparalleled version of That’s Not My Teddy).  It was calm and lovely and wonderful and all the things that life with three children dreams to be.  I’d be misrepresenting the situation if I claimed that they were angels; they’re very human little people, who are using us and each other to practice for the real world, which hard though it is at the time, is a good thing in the long run.  But for every squabble there are moments like this, of pure unbridled joy.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in November:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016

and of course – the outtake!

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in November 2016