I know that I am no longer a mother to babies, or even toddlers, because on Christmas morning, it wasn’t until 7.30 that the first of my fully fledged children woke up and came tottering into our bedroom, sleepily rubbing at his eyes. As he climbed onto my back and snuggled down again between my shoulder blades I murmured a “Merry Christmas” in his general direction and, after a small but audible yawn, a voice replied:
“Merry Christmas to you too Mummy!”
As I said, not even my baby boy is even the slightest bit baby anymore.
And while I might have the occasional minor lament about the fact that not one of them fits into even the biggest of the baby clothes departments any more (why oh why did John Lewis stop the adorable yellow puffin jumpers at age 3?) it feels fitting that this year has been such a universal step forward into the next part of our family adventure.
This year we sold our house, we asked my aunt and uncle if we could move into a tent at their farm for ‘a couple of weeks’, we moved into our tent at their farm for eight weeks, and then we moved into something that is pretty near enough close to our dream house that we are never ever ever moving again. Ever.
The house is a bit of a fixer upper – and I promise that there’ll be a blog post about the before and tiny bits of after that we’ve put in sometime in the new year – but it’s a fixer upper that has a good 10 year plan attached to it, if not more, so there will be plenty of stories to tell along the way.
And for my little trio this September marked Kitty’s step up into Lower School (with an assembly that I could easily have sobbed my way through – but just about managed to hold it together), and with Elma in Kindergarten and Pip starting and eventually coming to love his Nursery mornings we’ve had that first sense of the children all being off on their own adventures together that will be the hallmark of many years to come.
Even though we moved into the house in August it still feels as if we’ve only just got started, and I have so many plans for what we’re going to achieve in 2018 I’m really excited for the months ahead. After a fair amount of upheaval this year it will be nice to be doing things at our own pace and on our own timescale – we hope.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because it isn’t 2018 yet, it’s still 2017 for a few more hours and that means that it’s time to complete the set and add December’s pictures to my collection of Me and Mine in 2017. Which of course means Christmas.
Unusually for me I didn’t take many photos at Christmas this year; by the time that we’d come back from church and I’d got the Christmas dinner under control I didn’t have the heart to ask the children to sit for more than a couple of shots before we could get on with the all important task of opening the pile of presents you can’t see behind us.
This year, more than ever, it felt so important to me to be living Christmas not just documenting it; for all that I love having a record of our family life, and I love taking photos, I didn’t want to be fussing over ISO or focus, I just wanted to be sat on the floor underneath that gorgeous 8 foot high tree watching the children open up the little bits and bobs we’d bought for them.
Magical is a horribly overused cliche for this time of year, but it’s how Christmas felt to me this year; a break, finally, from a long autumn and early winter when my workload just kept building and we all suffered for it, a chance to draw breath and to just be, here in our dream house, with these three incredible little people who are hilarious and grown up and challenging and sweet and everything in between, and who are the heart and soul of our home.
We’ve spent our days eating leftover turkey, doing colouring and stickers and all sorts of craft projects both new and unearthed from the cupboard, playing make believe with the every growing collection of Sylvanians, and heading out for an afternoon walk in the sunshine. We drove up into the hills and found ankle deep wonderful snow, and met up with friends to explore the footpaths out of our village. I’ve read new books, squished new yarn and John and I became so addicted to our jigsaw map of Oxford (a Christmas present from my Dad) that we could both see map imprinted on our retinas whenever we closed our eyes. It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and we finished it in 24 hours; it was awesome.
Looking back across the whole year of pictures I can see the changes in the kids (and in us!), and while I know that I don’t (yet?) have the skills or, on occasion, the camera to take the kind of stunning portraits that would make every one a calendar shot, I love that I’ve pushed myself even in the months when we were hot or tired or stressed to get everyone rounded up to take pictures and process them and post them here; our 2017 in all its crazy blurry wonderfulness.
So from my little family to yours we wish you a very Happy New Year as 2018 rolls in; crazy faces and all!