Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree


We promised ourselves that this year we’d be less busy.  Standing at the end of the summer term we were all exhausted in that way when you can’t remember the last time you just had a quiet morning to potter around at home. Which is probably because we couldn’t.  With school five days a week and church on Sunday that only left Saturday and the girls had back to back ballet classes starting at 9am.  It was yet another day when we had to get up and out of the door and it made it feel like so much more effort than it had in the preschool era.  By the end of the term Kitty was needing serious persuasion to actually go, though she enjoyed it when she got there.  We looked for other classes within the ballet school trying to find an after school for Kitty and an after nursery school for Elma but there was nothing that would work with our timings.  And it made it a horribly hard decision; do we take the girls out of ballet basically just because we’re tired?

It sounds really selfish when you write it out on paper like that doesn’t it. If it’s something that they take pleasure from, surely we should be encouraging that interest? And how hard could it be to get two children a couple of miles down the road for 9 when you usually leave the house before 8?

When you’re shattered from working a fairly intense job, in what at times feels like every waking moment during the week, and faced with prospect of moving to two classes now separated by half an hour, but still starting at 9 as Kitty moved up and Elma stayed put, the answer was “too hard”, and we withdrew them from their classes.

Darling daughters if you read this in years to come and you secretly harboured ambitions of becoming ballerinas then I’m very sorry. Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

The summer holidays are unbound by time constraints by their very definition but as the calendar flipped over into October and term got underway I know we made the right decision.  The girls dance around the house just as before and if they miss their ballet class, it’s not showing.  We all have that one precious morning where John or I can sleep in; where we can take our time getting up, and we can decide to do whatever we want, and however slowly we want.  Of course being us, we never do take things slowly and September has been full of visits with friends and family, birthday parties and my wonderful trip to the MADs, but it’s felt good nonetheless.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

Now we’ve made it to October and we’re starting to settle into our routine for the hockey half of the year.  If John has a home match in the afternoon we all go to watch unless it’s absolutely bucketing it down with rain, and sometimes even then, and then we all go back to the club afterwards to catch up with friends and watch our children run around with everyone else’s children. It’s usually noisy and fun, and it’s been the autumn/winter half of my year ever since John and I met.

The away matches we rarely bother with.  Those days are my days.  Days to have my three little ones together, just like the days when I was at home with them all the time.  We’ve not spent so much time apart since that we don’t just fall back into the old routines, just with ever larger children.  And so last week, after we’d waved John off we already knew what our plan would be.  A beautiful sunny day in the autumn always means the park, and preferably the park with the conkers.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

While the conker trees at the hockey pitches are still in full fruit, the ones at the park seem to be a little further on in the cycle and to start with I thought we might struggle to find any; it all seemed to be a sea of empty brown shells. But then something caught Kitty’s eye nestled in the grass and then another and another and we realised that while the biggest conkers may have gone, all the little ones were hiding in the long grass.  And with that they were off.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

I’m not sure Pip exactly realised what were supposed to be looking for, but Kitty and Elma kept him well supplied, and as long as he had one in each hand he was happy, while they scampered about filling their pockets to overflowing.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

And when there was no more room in any pocket, we set off for the playpark, scattering a shower of conkers every time they flew around the roundabout.  It was lovely to see Kitty’s increased confidence and having seen her swinging off all sorts of things I can completely believe that she can do the monkey bars at school. Pip and Elma ran around together, a fair match for each other now, such is the change from last year’s barely toddling baby.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

It was just what we needed after some busy weekends, and just exactly what our ordinary Saturdays should look like; simple perhaps, but pretty perfect too.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

(no I’ve no idea why she’s making that face either!)

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments




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  • Nicole Davies - 09/10/2016 at 10:09 am

    I am loving your autumnal photos! I really need to find conkers to keep my spiders away! haha.

    • Carie 09/10/2016 at 9:08 pm

      I’ve heard that works and as we are usually plagued by spiders I’m hoping that will be a nice side effect of the bunting!

  • Sherry 09/10/2016 at 11:10 am

    These are gorgeous autumn photos, in Hampshire it seems all of the trees have shed theirs and turned brown, or they have been ravaged by children looking for conkers, and we missed out this year, but hopefully next year. Your photos are so crisp and beautiful, and it really does sound like you made the right decision #TheOrdinaryMoments

    • Carie 09/10/2016 at 9:07 pm

      I think ours were definitely the seconds from the trees in the park, but we made up for it by a trip to the trees next to the hockey pitches which have carpets of enormous conkers surrounding them!

  • Beth @ Twinderelmo 09/10/2016 at 3:32 pm

    Sometimes you have to make touch decisions for the best and being tired has such a knock on effect for all; one that you don’t realise how detrimental it can be. Seems as though you are having such a lovely time and love those shiny conkers!

    • Carie 09/10/2016 at 9:06 pm

      I think that’s very true – it’s only when you’re out the other side you think “wow, we were doing that!” – I’m not claiming not to be tired, but I’ve loved having a lazy weekend

  • Laura - dear bear and beany 09/10/2016 at 4:28 pm

    Thats a great face at the end! Its never easy making these decisions. Alice did ballet classes on a Tuesday and with her starting school I had to decide if we would move them to Saturday or stop. We decided to stop, it felt like a natural end and I just knew she would be tired from starting school. If she decides when she is older she wants to dance, then we can look at it then. For now I think the best place for them is with us, enjoying these careful days while they are young. x

    • Carie 09/10/2016 at 8:52 pm

      I’m so glad it’s not just us! Yay for it working out for all of us!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 09/10/2016 at 8:22 pm

    Funnily enough we recently stopped ballet for this very reason too, ours was LL’s midweek and we just needed a day in the week to relax and not have to rush about. I don’t think my girls were natural ballerinas anyway. And I love the way you described it, simple but pretty perfect. Those are the best kind of weekends. x

    • Carie 09/10/2016 at 8:51 pm

      Mine were always going to be too tall to be ballerinas, that’s my fall back excuse! There’s so much rushing in daily life, the slow and steady becomes priceless 🙂

  • Jess @ Picnics in the Rain 09/10/2016 at 9:23 pm

    Sounds like you made a good decision Carie, it’s good to have time where you aren’t rushing and keeping to a schedule, and your conker collecting looks wonderful – simple but perfect!

  • Laura @ Little Ladies Big World 09/10/2016 at 9:40 pm

    This post is so close to my heart. I have felt so guilty at times not to have wanted to ‘give up’ our freedom or quiet days of the weekend since school to swim lessons or such forth and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I am sure these quiet days are going to be the ones our children remember too. And as usual these photos are just gorgeous X

  • Notmyyearoff 10/10/2016 at 7:37 pm

    Ahhh love that last photo. We haven’t found any at all yet. I think I need to explore a bit more for conker trees. I think sometimes the best thing you can ever do is cut back on activities as it helps everyone enjoy everything a bit more and just take stock. It looks like conker collecting was the perfect chill out 🙂

  • Emma Plus Three 11/10/2016 at 2:27 pm

    Lovely photos, I bet they had a great time. You’re right it is nice to have some simple weekends enjoying the little things isn’t it? x

  • Tracy 11/10/2016 at 10:17 pm

    simple is best, I think 🙂