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December 2017

Family Me and Mine

Me and Mine 2017: December


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.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

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.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a monthly family portrait

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!


Family Siblings

Siblings 2017: December


When I was little I longed for winters that was sharply cold, where every cloud meant snow and the greens faded under a blanket of soft white that lasted for weeks.  I lived in Devon, on the coast, it was a tad unrealistic, though it did hail a lot one Easter that we could almost have counted it as snow.  When I moved about as far away from the sea as you can get I thought we’d get more snow and in truth we’ve had a few good dustings over the years, but nothing, nothing in my whole life has been as snowy as the last weekend.

On Friday morning when I got up the world was the dark black of winter sky and cold wet ground.  I peered out of the windows hoping to convince myself that the stripes in the variegated ivy at the bottom of the path were really tiny clusters of snowflakes but even my snow optimism can only go so far, and I tucked myself up in the studio to get on with the day’s work.  When we opened the curtains an hour and a bit later the world was white.  The cars were frosted with a thick coating, the grass had vanished, the bones of the trees had started to be revealed with sharp white highlights and the traffic on our road had all but stopped moving.

The last time my three saw proper snow they were on top of a Swiss mountain, and it was August.  They just couldn’t get into their coats and hats and wellies fast enough and I’m not ashamed to say that breakfast that day was a picnic in the garden.  No one wanted to come inside, not when it was snowing harder every moment.  All through that day it snowed and we smiled, noses pressed to the windows, then the sun would come out and I’d worry and will the snow to stay, desperately hoping that it would still be around to play with in the afternoon and when the three of them got back from school I’m not sure they spent a moment inside.

The body of the snowman was made before breakfast, and after lunch they rolled and rolled him around the front garden to pick up all of the morning’s snowfall until we could see the grass again, then made his head and raided the veggie box and the barbeque for eyes and a nose.


He was their pride and joy, and Elma was gutted yesterday when she realised that he’d melted.

Is it a mark of being British, of having no confidence that the snow that was there then would still be here later that we’d saved the back garden snow for the afternoon, and so when they’d used up all of the front garden snow on Mr Snowman, they went to explore the rest.

Our garden is basically flat but there’s one little slope where the garden has been landscaped up and away from the level, where in the summer a gentle grassy path will take you up to an arbor underneath the apple trees.  In greener days Pip uses it as a bike run, pushing off at the top and freewheeling all the way to the bottom lawn and now it proved the perfect spot for some very gentle tobogganing.  It’s a short run, but it gave all three of them the chance to feel what real sledging might be like.

By the time I finished work it was dark, but Pip and Elma were still game to be out and about in the garden; the snow was all but gone underfoot, scooped up into sculptures and snow runs and bundled aboard sledges to be dragged around the garden – as well as one tell tale snowy smudge mere inches away from the kitchen window.  It was perfect and as we tucked ourselves into the house on Friday night I thought how lucky we’d been to have a proper snow day.


That’s the second mark of being British – even then we didn’t really believe the forecast for Sunday.

But Sunday was when the magic happened.  This time the world was muffled in white; the snow had covered the road and the cars and the snowman and everything under a thick blanket.  Our sledges, left in the middle of the lawn the night before, were barely visible lumps and the snow just kept on falling.

A friendly tractor ploughed a single pathway down the middle of our road but the tarmac was barely visible before the white whirl started to fill it in again.  We postponed Elma’s birthday party and made plans to spend the day in our own snowy bubble.  It was perfect.

Eight inches of snow fell that Sunday, even if they’ve all melted away now, and in the afternoon we went sledging down the road just outside our house, all five of us flying down the hill and then climbing back up to do it all over again.  Just for a moment, it was the winter of my dreams, and Kitty’s and Pip’s and especially Elma’s.  Elma’s one true birthday wish was for there to be snow and she just couldn’t believe that it had come true.  Early on Sunday morning John found her standing behind her curtains, staring out into the garden, willing the snow to fall, and it clearly heard her call.


Kitty wasn’t far behind her, and it was wonderful to see how confident she has become in these last few months; jumping on board her sledge and pushing off downhill; her only complaint was that she struggled to steer, a far cry from the little girl who would have been nervous about getting on in the first place.

And as for my Pip Squeak, where there was snow he wanted to roll in it and jump in it and generally just be outside in it until his gloves were sodden and the snow trickled down into his boots, and even then he’d take some persuading to come back inside and warm up.  Pip played in the snow right to the very end, when wind and warmth turned it all back into rain, and for a first real experience of a proper snow day, I think it’s going to take some topping!

Two little girls, and their brother too, in the snow in December

(because what else do you do with snow but taste it!)

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 Meet the Wildes, and Katie at Mummy Daddy Me. 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!