I’m most determinedly not making New Year’s Resolutions this year, but if I were, one of them would be to take more effort to get really beautiful pictures of the children. I take as many snaps as I can and it’s not that I don’t love pictures of them being little monkeys at the park, or making an enormous mess in the kitchen, but I want both my Siblings and Me and Mine photos this year to be a little bit above the ordinary. If last year was about getting used to working full time once the impact of my full case load really landed, this year is about working out how to run that case load and be with my family blog and write and make things and everything else that makes me me. I want to be organised, to take my pictures even just a smidgen before dusk on the 14th of each month, and to show my Kitty, Elma and Pip that even if I cannot be with them for every moment of every day, when I am with them I can at least put the very best of me into saving our family memories.
And so when my diary told me it was the weekend for Siblings photos, photos we were taking. When we left home there was a glimmer of sunshine above us, and just a drop of blue in the sky, but the woods are slightly lower to the ground than our village, and we drove through knee high mist to find the trees still wrapped in a blanket of fog.
There’s always a through the wardrobe sort of feeling to these woods anyway; they’re really quite near two main roads and yet as soon as you slip between the trees you could be anywhere. With swirls of cloud clutching at the branches it seemed as though the full car park had lied, and we were the only people ever to have discovered it. There’s almost an accepted route through the wood, a clockwise circumnavigation, but my favourite walk is the other way, along a broad sweep through the trees, where brambles and wildernes has been tamed enough to allow a path through. The pines on either side reach up until you can no longer be sure that they’re not touching the edges of stars; a cathedral of branches with the changeable sky more perfect than any painted ceiling.
It’s one of those places that reminds me of my little corner of Devon; where there’s space to reach our with your fingertips until you can stretch no more, but still be a long way from running out of space.
We walked along the bridleway and made an almost new path through the brambles to get to where we wanted to be, Kitty tried to perch on a tree stump but found that her feet kept on sliding out from beneath her until she very firmly sat down, and the littlest two ran around dancing with the wood nymphs. After spending a lot of time in recent days helping us tidy the house, and having to sit still and keep neat, we all needed to let them run loose.
My little trio, and it’s on adventures like these, even the little domestic ones, that I can see how solidly they are a trio. At home it’s easy for it to be Kitty and Elma colouring, with Pip playing trains, or Pip and Elma cooking up a storm while Kitty writes little notes to her friends, and while they’re all perfectly happy with those arrangements, and no-one feels left out, it makes the moments when all three play together contentedly something to be treasured.
But when we’re out and about the three of them are one little unit, following Kitty’s lead to start hurdling branches, or Elma when she decides to run down the avenue at her very fastest speed, even if only to stop and hurry back because she’d encountered the littlest puppy I’ve ever seen outdoors being taken for a bounce.
The thing I noticed in taking their pictures this month is that I no longer have to be quite so close; they’ve grown up enough that I can trust them to do roughly as they’ve been told. Before Kitty arrived I had two camera lenses, the kit lens it came with and my gorgeous 60mm macro lens, but I rapidly realised that if I wanted to take a photo of more than just her cheek and still be near enough to grab her for any sudden lurches, the 60mm wasn’t going to work. The lens for most of the last couple of years was a 35mm; dearly loved and incredibly useful but just perhaps not quite as gorgeous as its predecessor. All of these photos were taken with the 60mm, even with the 35mm in my pocket.
Kitty stood on the ground and Elma in front of her clutched Pip around his tummy. and I stepped back. It turns out that now they are 6, 4 and 2, I can ask them to stand on a tree stump and still nip back far enough for the photo I want. It all sounds very technical I know, but it’s a milestone in its own way; the first time that I could allow myself that much distance.
They love each other, utterly and completely and no matter who has done what to each other’s lego, silly faces and all.
Pip and Elma were stood on a tree stump with Kitty on the ground behind them, Kitty most determined that her newly missing tooth should feature, when Pip turned back in Elma’s arms to snuggle into her and tell her “luf you [Elma]”.
Oh the sweetness! It was chilly in the woods, and someone had clearly been chopping onions because there was not other explanation.
The sun had been making valiant efforts to break through the cloud as we walked, but as we turned for home, the reinforcements arrived and cast a gentle grey darkness in the depths of the trees as we chased our little trio back to the car; three tiny people who flood my world with colour scampering along.
Two little sisters and their brother, in January:
And now, because it’s a wonderful new year and a brand new start to our fourth year of Siblings pictures, we have two new co-hosts, who I’m sure you’ll already know well, Donna at What the Redhead Said and Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life, as well as 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. So do go and say hi to all of them, 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!