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Me and Mine: February 2018

28/02/2018

Hello? It’s been a little while hasn’t it.  It’s nice to be back.  Even if it does feel a little bit strange.  So then, let’s cover off the elephant in the corner before we get started.  I’d love to come up with some fantastical story for my internet disappearance; I was the Pyongchang mascot? the real life job sent me to somewhere deeply exotic but with no internet connection? we had so much snow I made myself an igloo and moved in?  Nope, I’m not sick, not pregnant, not sworn off technology and gone to live off grid, or been abducted by aliens.   The truth is that in the middle of January my real life job got insanely crazy busy again, weeks went by when I couldn’t remember not working, I bust my wrist and elbow with a combination of over-laptop and over-crochet (an injury from the car accident we had the summer before last that’s now horribly easy to aggravate) and something had to give.

What went was my blog and my social media and a lot of things I really truly love.  When we got to the end of January and I started to think about rounding the family up for a Me and Mine shoot and it just felt like too much pressure and too much hard work and the antithesis of everything that it ought to be, I simply stopped, and found that once I had stopped it was horribly hard to find the motivation to push myself to get going again.

I love my blog, I love taking pictures and telling stories, but they are not the heart of my family, only a distillation of a tiny moment or two; savoured, treasured, but ultimately never a replacement for the real thing, and so it was time to step away, if even for a little bit.

Truth be told, I sometimes feel a little lost in this great big world of blogging; I’ve always flitted between niches, not quite fish nor fowl nor good red herring, and there have been times of very obvious change as real life moves into another season, and the blog has an uncomfortable wriggle or two before I can quite catch up with where I want to be and I’m definitely in a wrigglish frame of mind at the moment.

I do know that I don’t want to entirely abandon the habit of keeping this space as my online version of a baby book for the whole family, but not to the point that it becomes a source of stress; back to the good old days of blogging where stats was simply a module from my maths A-level.  For this year’s Me and Mine, if I have a picture then I have a post, but if I don’t have a picture then we’ll just wait for another month, and for someone who is usually very motivated even by voluntary rules, I’ve surprised myself by how relaxed that decision made me feel.

Anyway; this month, I have a picture.  Well I have several, and they’re all just as wonderfully silly as each other.

Over half term the mother of one of the girls’ school friends ran a pop-up yoga class, and as I’ve taken a yoga class with her before and loved it, it sounded like the perfect way to get everyone out of the house and off for a little exercise and stretching, and with John’s lovely cousin come to visit we had enough adults to make it achievable.

Pip was, quite frankly, rather baffled by yoga.  He’d never seen it or done it before, but he definitely liked the bits where Mama laid down so that he could climb up on me and have another cuddle.

We worked through a few basic positions, many of which I still can’t do, but he and the girls came alive when we started to try paired up yoga poses – more excuses to climb on Mama and Daddy.

The final challenge was to find a way to Yoga pose the entire family group, with, varied degrees of success. None of us is a natural yogi, except possibly the incredibly bendy Elma, but for me it was one of the highlights of half term; all of us together, filling the sunshine with laughter.

Me and Mine, in February:

 

 

 

Photography Siblings

Siblings 2018: January

15/01/2018

Fortified by sausage sandwiches, three intrepid explorers, bobble-hat and welly booted, set forth up the hill.  We’d been dropped off abandoned into the wilderness by John on his way to hockey, with a plan to fuel up and head out on a long walk.  Hill walking has always been one of my great loves, and I know that if I’m ever going to be able to take the children to do some serious exploring of all of my favourite bits of the UK, we need to build up the mileage gently.  We planned a walk that I’ve been wanting to try since we first moved here, we promised them sandwiches and “em-rats” (chocolate buttons doled out two at a time at key points or when morale seems low), that it was downhill all the way (nearly true), and that it would be good practice for climbing Kanchenjunga (the one that looks remarkably like the Old Man of Coniston – Arthur Ransome fans will know why) and off we set.

That the three miles took just shy of two hours is no surprise, particularly given the need to hoick Pip out of the squelchiest of squashy mud at regular intervals, but what was lovely to see was how much they supported each other and looked out for each other all along the path.  With the Christmas hibernation and just daily life in the winter, it’s all so easy to find that we’ve spent too much time indoors and they’ve spent more time in close quarters than is really a good idea for any of them, and I’ll admit that when there are weeks where they’re really pushing each other’s buttons, it’s just so lovely to be reminded that it isn’t really them; it’s more of a situational overlay, and nothing that big skies, pink cheeks and a handful of chocolate buttons can’t blow away.

With the end of the school holidays, and the start of a bit of time and space for all three of them, they’ve started playing together more and more when they are home.  The current game seems to involve Pip being a puppy – admittedly an upgrade for the girls on their previous version, a remote control car of John’s, although the remote control car never woke me up in the morning by licking my cheek so I’m in two minds as to whether all this make believe is entirely a good thing; maybe if he’d just stop licking me!!

Up at the top of the hill all of our views had disappeared behind low grey cloud that sucked the light out of the end of the afternoon, and when we headed down into the trees and lost sight of any other people it felt as if we were truly out in the wilderness and when we made it back into the land of traffic and street lights, our backpacks and muddier then muddy boots felt very oddly out of place.

 

At last four tired pairs of feet finally made it back home, abandoning great clods of the hills all the way down the hall, and we tucked around the table for hot squash and biscuits; three little rosy tired faces curling up around their mugs, and I thought back to last January and how our afternoon would have felt so out of reach as to be laughable and yet here we are; two little sisters and their brother too, in January.

There’s been a little bit of a switch up to Siblings this year and now the linky is just going to be over with Lucy at Dear Beautiful, so do go and see what her little three have been up to and link up and I’ll see you there!

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: September

30/09/2017

Oh this wonderful crazy family of mine.  What a wonderful crazy busy month we’ve had to match.  I thought we hadn’t done very much this month, just settled into life in the new house and the new back to school routine, but as soon as I stopped to start to think about it the more I realised just how much we’d been here there and everywhere in a near constant whirlwind.  It’s been a good sort of whirlwind though, the sort that softly breezes you along, and it’s meant that our month has been full of some of our favourite things; time spent together, and just the occasional adventure.

Some of them were near at hand, Pip’s Mummy morning on the day both his sisters were at school and Daddy was playing golf, and Kitty’s school expedition to harvest sweetcorn didn’t take us very far afield, and some were further flung (and I maintain it may actually be quicker to get to Majorca (for golf) than to Skipton (for Yarndale)).  What is certain is that they were both well worth the effort, and I suspect we both came back knowing that we’re going again next year.

 

On the house front we continue to unpack.  I fear I may be saying that for many many many more months to come; proof, not that it was ever needed, that we were right to have other people come to pack for us.  We’re trying to unpack gently; actually thinking about what we need rather than just bunging everything in a cupboard, but a random filing cabinet still stuck in the middle of my study says we’re not quite there yet.

And with September gone, we’re properly into autumn; the leaves are turning in the garden and the trains emerge from the mist each morning, audit’s hard not to start to get excited about what comes next, and what comes after that.  In the month to come we have half term; which seems crazy because we obviously only started term 30 seconds ago, and lots of plans to make, and still the occasional box to unpack.

John loves:

  • The golf trip to Majorca.
  • His brother and sister-in-law coming to visit.
  • Having built IKEA furniture for his studio, the actual building of it wasn’t so fun.
  • The start of the hockey season (and football and cricket on the telly)

Carie loves:

  • The trip to Yarndale
  • All the yarn that came home with her.
  • Seeing her first piece of published fiction appear in print
  • A long weekend pottering around with the children

Kitty loves:

  • Her birthday celebrations; many and ongoing
  • Learning to balance on her skateboard
  • the start of school.
  • rediscovering all her treasures as we put the craft cupboard to rights.

Elma loves:

  • getting to see her brother during school playtime.
  • being big enough to go hockey training.
  • magic tricks.
  • collecting huge bunches of autumn leaves.

Pip loves:

  • Mummy.
  • Climbing the Clent Hills.
  • Playing trains.
  • Waking up ridiculously early for his own private adventures while the rest of us are still asleep.

My little family, in September:

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: August

31/08/2017

In the weeks and years to come there’s no doubt that we will find a million and one beautiful places out and about in our new part of the world for our Me and Mine photos, but for this month there’s only one place that we could take them; home.

Yes, really honestly truly, we are home, in a house of our very own. Well ours and the mortgage company’s.

This month has been dominated by the big move.  We got the keys to the house at the very start of the month and then I dithered around my office finishing off everything that really had to be done, before scampering off early, keys clutched in my hand, trying very hard not to skip all the way to the train station, and that first evening we pottered around, trying to decide what we were going to try to do before the furniture arrived, and then giving up and just celebrating, popping the champagne to share with my aunt and uncle, and smiling so hard I thought my cheeks would hurt.

John spent the next 10 days filing, sanding, washing walls, undercoating, painting, stripping away lining paper, sticking bits of paper back on and generally acting like a decorating whirlwind, with help from family and friends, while I went to work from one station and came home to another.  I’ve bought precisely two houses now and both times the sale has completed while the head of my team at work is on holiday, which means that I can’t go on holiday until he’s back. I’d claim it’s a theme but it’s twice in thirteen years.

And then the furniture arrived, and we moved in for real.

 

I’ve been on holiday for the last week, and it’s mostly been spent unpacking boxes while listening to the children playing in the garden.  The bank holiday was just beautiful, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of our outdoor living, even on the days when it’s been too hot to eat anything but salad and sandwiches, and I start to glower at the Aga, and our boiler, whose dubious antiquity means that we can have hot water only if we accept that the central heating will also be on at the same time, and there’s no thermostat.

It’s been a month of upheaval and a month of settling down into some sort of a rhythm as we run up to the start of school next week, and there have been days that felt like magic and days that have been really hard work with boxes seeming never ending and the children unravelling all with uncertainty at each other, but it all evens out, and the moments that I treasure will always outweigh the ones where I just want to go and sit under my duvet and hide.

We had a wonderful day for Pip’s birthday; he was spoiled to bits by all who love him in the nicest possible way, and everyone has enjoyed playing with his new toys, particularly the little tractor, the big tractor and the farm.

In August…

John has loved

  • getting the painting finished before the furniture arrived.
  • going to the gym
  • playing golf
  • Game of Thrones (though not that we have to wait to 2019 for the next series)

Kitty has loved

  • having her bed back; even if we can’t find the bolts to make it.
  • play dates with one of her closest class friends.
  • her Mummy-Kitty date to the Festival of Quilts
  • the slide in the new garden.

Elma has loved:

  • listening to the Magical Faraway Tree on audiobook
  • still sleeping in a sleeping bag
  • going to the flower shop and choosing three enormous sunflowers for her room, even though we’ve kept them on the dinner table because we all love them so much.
  • that her class friend (little sister to Kitty’s friend) also came to play.  They’ll be the middle girls this year, no longer the littlest, and no longer with their big sisters so it will be fun to see them start to take the lead.

Pip has loved:

  • his tractor.
  • his other tractor.
  • running around the new garden at high speed.
  • being reunited with his wooden train set.

I have loved:

  • being reunited with electric light
  • having a good sort out as I unpack my craft room
  • having a craft room
  • a week and a bit’s holiday to unwind and unpack.

It’s been a memorable month, a definite milestone in the adventure of our family, and we can only watch and wait to see where the rollercoaster takes us next!

My family, in August.

 

Birthdays Family Photography

Now you are three

26/08/2017

To Pip Squeak, on your third birthday.

Yes, third.  I know you’ve decided that you’re going to be four, and occasionally six, just so that you can keep up with your big sisters, but it’s enough of a challenge for me to recognise that you’re turning three, and not still that not so tiny baby I brought home from the hospital what seems like only a couple of days ago.  Don’t go wishing your years away little boy; the first three have flown past for me and time only seems to be speeding up.

As I write this you’re asleep in the room next door, snuggled down on your pillow with your arms flopped back above your head and it’s easy to see the baby you once were, but are very definitely no longer.

This has been the year when you emerged from your babyhood and became every inch my little boy; you’ve lost that baby roundness that I could still just about see in the snippets at the start of your birthday video, and the more you run and jump and hide and play and run some more you’ve got stronger and stronger.  Part of it is being out of nappies, and part of it is that you’ve shot up several inches. Again.  You still greet people you’re particularly fond of by running into them full tilt, the only difference is now we’re bracing ourselves for the impact, and more than once I’ve felt myself stumbling backwards to catch both of us.

I don’t know exactly how tall you are right now, but I know I’m buying age 4-5 clothes and hoping they’ll have a smidgen of room to grow in them.  You’re wearing size 8 shoes, but I strongly suspect that you’ve grown out of them and we need a trip to the shoe shop before term starts.

You have always been the most outdoors of my babies, and it’s still true; your favourite activity in the old house was digging a hole underneath the play house (that we discovered when we kicked a football underneath it and it disappeared!!), you loved moving a mole hill around while we were living in the tent (to the point that the molehill had to be topped up again), and there’s a curious patch underneath the swing in our garden, right about where someone has left a tiny spade, which rather suggests that a certain someone may have been digging!  Our garden here doesn’t have access to the road unless you go through the house or the garage and I love that you can explore and re-landscape to your heart’s content (though please leave the lawn alone, it has actual grass, rather than the moss with occasional blade of green in the last house).

The biggest change in you this year has to be in your speech; you are a wonderful little chatterbox and I love that you come out with things that you’ve clearly been pondering for a while, even when they’re a complete change in conversation.  Everything has this wonderful logic about it too.  I wasn’t actually there for my favourite of the year, you were in the car with your auntie, trundling along, only to confidently announce: “Cows poo but stinging nettles don’t!”

You love tractors and engines, and living on a farm with actual tractors was your dream come true, and no excuse was too small to go for a little walk to see what the tractor was doing; I’m certain that one of your golden memories of this summer was helping your uncle to fix a puncture in the tractor tyre.

As for the engines, earlier this year I took you to the toy shop for a Mummy and Pip special treat, and you chose the Duchess of Hamilton replica wooden train; she’s been your favourite ever since, and even more so when you realised that there’s an actual real Duchess, and that YouTube has videos of her in action.  So much of the packing up of our old house happened to a soundtrack of a very plummy BBC announcer narrating some 1937 footage, and one of my golden memories from this summer was when you came face to face with the real train at the National Railway Museum at York.  Every day you ask me what colour train I took to work, and give me a long assessing look as if to check that I’m giving the right answer.

It makes you sound like every stereotype of a little boy doesn’t it, railways and tractors, getting muddy and always being on the move, but it’s only part of your personality.  At the moment your favourite colour is still pink, and your favourite rainy day activity is painting, closely followed by colouring in (preferably in one of your sisters’ colouring books if you think you can get away with it!).

As for those big sisters of yours, I think this is the year when their crowns may have slipped a bit; no longer are they adored heroes, purveyors of mischief, entertainment and purloined chocolate, but co-conspirators, up to equal amounts of mischief but with a greater potential for falling out.  It’s all part of the sibling relationship, and I can see in how you play with both girls just how much you love them.  I’m glad you have them, and they you.

You are my best beloved boy; Happy Birthday,

love Mummy