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Siblings 2017: August

24/08/2017

I know, I’m horribly horribly late with my Siblings post this month.  Actually, I’m horribly horribly late with a gazillion posts from the middle of June onwards, and that’s a conservative estimate.  I still have the story to tell of the move from our old house, of adventures in the summer, and to tell you all about the new house, the good and the “oh that’s going to be expensive”, but tent life was conducive to spending my evenings snuggling down with some knitting and a glass of wine, chatting to John and planning for the new house, and then we moved, and then one of the children got a tummy bug, which would not have made for good photos, and then….!  But now I have internet, I have some time off work to unpack boxes and sort out so my brain isn’t fried from being at work, so for today let’s start with these three little monkeys of mine and Siblings.

When I wrote my July Siblings post they’d settled down into tent life, and we had a rhythm of a sort for our days; running up to the house in the morning to fetch the milk (playing into all of Kitty’s Swallows and Amazons make believe), sneaking big hugs with their auntie and uncle, and being willing volunteers to go and pick just about anything from the fields, especially if it involved a ride in the cart.  But towards the end of the month, as we hurtled towards completion (finally finally!), they could sense the change that was coming, and as much as we told them what was happening, I think it’s quite hard to comprehend when you’re only six and four and two.

The day we finally completed I met John and the kids at the house and for a little while Kitty didn’t even want to come in; she loved tent life and her auntie and uncle so much she wanted to stay there forever.  And then the penny dropped and all three of them started racing round like harumscarums and they’ve barely stopped since.

At the moment all three of them are sharing Pip’s bedroom as the girls’ room needs a wall fitting with plasterboard after the 100 year old plaster came tumbling down when we took off the lining paper (definitely a story for another time) and it’s so sweet to see them all curled up together.  They’ve not always been the best of friends this month; it’s a rather predictable consequence of all the upheaval that they’ve tried to grab back a bit of control wherever they can find it, but as boxes get unpacked and the familiar comes to join the new, they’re happier to have each other around.

These pictures are all taken in the garden of the new house; it’s a huge garden, so much bigger than the one at our old house, and designed in a series of garden rooms, so it’s a lot bigger than you first think. On the first evening our exploration (champagne glass in hand) took us right down to the very back of the garden and there, next to the shed with half its roof missing, was a big purple slide.  If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s a big step up from their little folding green and yellow toddler slide, which Kitty can practically leapfrog, and once we’d pulled it out of the bushes and checked that it wasn’t rotten, we set it up on the grass a little nearer to the house and every time we’re out in the garden there’s always someone rushing down.

It’s a lovely accidental treat for them (and us) but it feels oddly symbolic too.  In two days Pip will turn three, and as he is a very tall little boy, we’re long out of the adorable tiny clothes stage.  I definitely have children, not babies or toddlers now and with no more babies on the horizon (though never say never!), it feels as if we’ve taken a step away from those baby days.

Two increasingly grown up little girls, and their brother too, in August:

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, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: July

15/07/2017

We’ve uprooted ourselves, put just about everything we own into two storage containers, and moved ourselves and our tent half way across the country and yet this month, my siblings pictures come from Warwick cricket pitch, just like at least one set of summer portraits from every year of my Siblings project.

But for all the pictures that I could share of my little trio this month, these were the ones that I wanted to share.  Whilst he’ll keep commuting back and forth for hockey, cricket is John’s social sport and I suspect that when this season comes to a close, he’ll be looking for a team closer to home for next year, and we’ll be looking for a new outfield to run around.  These pictures sum up not just the children and their ever changing relationship, but the essence of our cricket days out, and it would be remiss of me to move on without recording it.

It had started as the kind of scorching English summer’s day when the humidity thickens the air to the point that you could eat it with a spoon, and we’d all taken refuge from the sunshine in the clubhouse, but as is so often the way, as the sun began to drop and the breeze picked up it became a truly lovely afternoon.  Pip played football with our team, and our spectators, and even some of the opposition after tea, and the girls sat and read stories or ran around to play tractors before all three of them took on the challenge of making themselves as messy as possibly with choc ices at cricket tea.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

The picture says it all. Elma, with chocolate smears down her dress and mucky feet from running around barefoot, Kitty with her hair all hot and straggly, and Pip Squeak whose apparent cleanliness belies a distinct stickiness about his person, and the three of them closer than ever.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

Even in the sticky heat it we were all so very content to be there, watching John play and just being together.

It might be living in even closer proximity than normal, it might be that most of their toys are in storage, but I suspect that a good deal of their relationship now is just a product of their ages; the older they get, the closer together they seem, especially Pip and Elma, whose can happily wear each other’s clothes, just about borrow each other’s wellies, and are always swapping sunhats.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

Elma is still very much the taller, even if she may well be lighter, and while for the most part she and Pip can do pretty much everything together, just occasionally there’s a moment where she can put that extra 20 months to good use.  The nearest playpark to us at present has a wonderful rocket ship slide, but to get to it you have to be able to climb up the ladder.  Kitty has no trouble at all, Elma has finagled a way to make it work, just, but Pip, for all his trying, and frustrated grumping, was most decidedly left behind.  We have a playground rule that if you can do it, you can do it, so Pip had to stay down on the ground until he found another slide more suited to his stature.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

This month Elma and Kitty finished their first and last ever term together in the same kindergarten.  They’ve both had a wonderful term and a wonderful year and one of the (many many) things we love about their school was that they got this extra time together.

I never took it for granted, and never take it for granted, that these three little individual people will get on; that shared genetics would take them past the hard wiring of love into friendship, but for all their squabbles, they are true friends.  Just before we left the old house, I asked each of them what they liked most about the house, and Kitty’s immediate answer was “my brother and sister”.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

To watch them play swingball, with a hockey stick for a third bat, or those moments where Kitty and Elma crowd round Pip to make sure he’s OK, and call him “my baby bunting”, or pretend he’s their baby so they can put him to bed in a sleeping bag precariously positioned on the upturned slide, is to watch my hopes and dreams for the three of them surpass themselves and I can only hope that it contines for many years to come.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in July:

 

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

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, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then 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!

 


Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: May

15/05/2017

I wonder whether projects like this, and Me and Mine, the ones that force you to be very clear and very real as to how far through the year you are, somehow contribute to the feeling that it’s speeding up?  I couldn’t stop either now if I tried but I definitely had to do a double take when I came to write in the month. May, how is it May?

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

But May it is, in all it’s glory of sunny days and long evenings.  Without wishing to jinx us all to a June filled with wall to wall thunderclouds, it has been rather lovely so far this month hasn’t it.  And my little trio have been making the most of it.  They all three love being out in the garden, and it’s so nice to have got to the time of year when we can just let them outside and they’re not going to get so cold, or muddy, or covered in sticky seed pods.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Well, actually muddy might be a bit too much of a stretch.  Pip’s lifetime project appears to be digging a hole in the ground under the playhouse.  He’s always love doing a bit of digging and we’ve given him free reign on most of the flowerbeds, but it was only when John was playing football with him the other day and the football rolled under the playhouse and disappeared that we realised exactly what he’d been up to.  The excavated soil gets put in a plant pot at which point Kitty and Elma start to take an interest in his schemes; one or other of them, usually Kitty, will try to sneak oh so subtly around the corner of the house to the garden tap, fill up a bucket and smuggle it back to him for the making of mud pies and to the general detriment to all of their clothes.  If I had to choose one reason to look forward to the summer right now it’s entirely possible I’d go with “because they can wear swimsuits and then we can hose them down”.  We’ve got a baby wetsuit somewhere from when Elma was little and I’m half tempted to shoehorn Pip into it.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Laundry aside, if they’re happy then the garden can take it, and I love watching them plot together.  They have to come around the studio to get to the tap, and even though they can clearly see that it’s glass on all three sides, somehow they forget to look to see if John or I are in there. So there’s all this creeping, and careful glances back to the patio doors to check we’ve not spotted them, and yet we can both be sat there watching them and they’ll never notice until we call out to turn the tap off properly.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

They’re a mischievous little team if ever there was one.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

The big change for the girls this month has been Elma’s move up to join Kitty in Kindergarten.  At the girls’ school Kindergarten stretches from usually the term after you turn 4 to the summer term that you’re six. Elma would have moved up last term but as she started nursery two terms late because there wasn’t space for her before she had an extra term to get her really settled in.  I think it probably helped Kitty to settle as well to have those two terms by herself before Elma joined her.  Elma herself is little Miss Independent; she ran into nursery last September without a backwards glance and the same was true of her first Kindergarten morning.  I think she’d have been fine without her sister, but it was very sweet to see Kitty show her where her peg was and where her slippers should live.  As one of the oldest it’s Kitty’s job to help her new class friends to settle in, and from what they tell me of their days Kitty took extra special care with her little sister, made sure that all her friends came to say hello and got to know her Elma.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

It’s become a bit of a May tradition around here to take my Siblings photos among the bluebells (last year’s here, and if you want a real blast from the past – 2014’s pictures with a just walking Elma!) and who am I to mess with tradition, so we headed out on a sunny evening to see what the golden hour was doing to the bluebells.  On an aside, tell me I’m not the only one who loves the summer as much for the ability to head out on a little adventure after work as much as for just the general loveliness of it!

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

As a largely evergreen wood, the bluebell season sees it in full showing off mode, with the wood anemones as a warm up act in the weeks before.  There are bluebells everywhere, and when the sun sparkles through the trees and it all lights up in a blue, green and golden haze it’s the sort of magic trick that makes a fairy enchantment seem slightly less far fetched.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Most of the big patches of bluebells are buried deep in the trees, but just by one of the little stick shelters the ground is thickly carpeted, and the kids loved running down the little paths between them.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Every month I try to get a photo where all three of them are looking at the camera, and only occasionally do I get one – possibly because this is what happens when you ask a 6 year old, a four year old and a two year old to look up at the camera!

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

Little monkeys all three!

Two little sisters, and their brother, in May:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a monthly portrait project

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, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then 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!

 



 

Family Siblings

Siblings 2017: April

15/04/2017

When I first thought about being a mother, and having a child, my imagination conjured up tiny babies in impossibly cute outfits, who would snooze in the shade of a cherry blossom tree and giggle as they mushed yoghurt into their hair.  Some of that came to pass (though not so much the snoozing), but those were the baby days, and as motherhood for me always started with a baby, my imagination wasn’t too far off the mark.

But when I thought about having multiple children, what it would be like for those imaginary babies to have imaginary siblings, I skipped ahead past the big sibling doting on the new baby stage, past the new sibiling wondering when the baby will start to be any fun, and past the new sibling trying to feed the baby yoghurt while your back is turned, to pretty much where we are now.

I could and can see my little ones sprinting around the place, causing chaos and destruction and utter joy in equal measure.  They are my little band of three, they each have their own slightly different relationship with the other two, but together they have a collective will that gets only stronger with every month and was no more apparent than when we headed out on then adventure when these photos were taken.

Even after living here for twelve years there are still placed I haven’t explored and roads we’ve just never been down, but our hunt for a yellow field took me down a dead end that I’d assumed only went as far as the farm.  In fact it kept going and going and that glimpse of yellow that we’d spotted in the distance turned out to be a gorgeous field in full bloom right next to Chesterton church with a bridleway running straight through it.

And so we went exploring.

We may have taken a few wrong turns on the bridleway down the wide tractor lines than carved patterns through the field, but for the littlest two, who couldn’t see over the top, running down the paths and hiding away so they couldn’t see me was the height of excitement.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

The field is big enough that we never got to the other side, and I’m definitely saving that up for another day when they’re all feeling a bit picklish and we need to get out of the house.

I love this picture of Kitty – both feet off the ground and flying.

It was a beautiful sunny evening; all the golden light that I’ve missed through the winter and a warm wind to set the rapeseed dancing.  It smelt like sunshine and sneezes and the melding of spring into summer.

Trying to get all three to pose for a photo was near impossible – the girls would stand still but then Pip dash away chuckling to himself and by the time I’d get them all in the same place at the same time they were laughing fit to burst.  The girls both help in keeping hold of their brother, and I started chuckling when I saw this one pop up in my pictures:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

That is ‘big sister’ for “you will stand here until Mama takes this photo and don’t even think of running away”!  I’d say poor Pip but he adores Kitty, largely I suspect because she can enact all of his thoughts of mischief and mayhem that require a slightly longer reach.

And so my little trio grow another month older, another month nearer to our next big house move adventure, and ever more tightly knit together.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in April

 

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

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, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then 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!



The Me and Mine Project

 

Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: March

15/03/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

Each month I sit down to write about my little trio and my first reaction is usually along the lines of “well nothing much has changed”.  And in the grand scheme of things perhaps it hasn’t, but I love that in writing these posts, and in coming back month on month to record them just as they are right now, I’m mindful of the minutiae.  And sometimes the change is simply the evolution of something started months before, but to me that’s still worth recording and remembering.

This month it’s been in the relationship between Elma and Pip.  Ever since Kitty went off to school they’ve been each other’s near constant companions, and it was only when Elma started nursery in September that Pip spent any time without her.  They’ve loved each other and laughed and giggled and been entertained by the same things, and wound up by the same things, and had screaming abdabs over the same toy, but Pip was barely one when Kitty started school, and when you’re two and a half, a one year old is next to useless in the fun stakes.

Over the years I’ve watched Elma work out how to be a sister to Kitty, and been present for all of the wonderful award-yourself-a-gold-star moments when they’ve played lets pretend in gentle co-operation; and all the ones when they haven’t.  In that sisterly relationship both my girls work out how to create their own little worlds and bring their sister into it, and while they happily include Pip in their play, it hasn’t really mattered whether or not he got it.  Each of the girls got the recognition and co-operation that they needed from each other, and if Pip wondered off half way through being the baby they’d learned to cope.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

But watching them this weekend from the sanctuary of the sofa, where Kitty, John and I all fought off the same tummy bug I could see that Elma and Pip have found their own world of make believe too.  I’m not entirely sure what the game was, which is always the most fun sort to watch and try to figure out, but it involved them having to go to each other’s houses (armchairs) on Pip’s balance bike with Elma sitting on the front and Pip riding pillion and clinging on around her waist, and then they all got off and got on a boat.  All very adventurous and Pip was completely into the game with her; he could understand the story she was weaving, and was getting stuck in.

He’ll go on some amazing adventures with her too, because while Kitty will tell you about her day through her stories, and her favourite games involve mimicking the things she sees around her, playing schools, or mummies and babies, Elma is my storyteller.  If you listen to her playing with the dolls house, or making things up for her Lego people they’re all crazy and brilliant and completely outside the sphere of her experience.  I love listening to both of them, and I find it fascinating how differently they reinterpret the world around them.

These pictures come from a hill that once stood in for Kilimanjaro, on a day when it was decidedly calmer, sunnier, and less likely to pour with rain at any moment.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

The girls rushed up and down the slopes, and poor Pip felt his shorter legs for once, finding it hard climbing until Kitty came to give him a hand.  She is so incredibly sweet with him, a lovely big sister who dotes on him and cossets him and he thinks that she’s the best thing since sliced bread, if sliced bread had also run off with his most important lilac wooden block – or was that just yesterday?

He was starting to go down with a horrid cold that would see him spend the rest of the weekend, curled up in my arms, snoozing and nursing and generally reminding us all that I’m his indentured servant first and foremost, and then everyone else’s.  He was happy enough to sprint up the hill, but wore himself out before we got down to the bottom.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

I can’t work out whether in this picture whether he’s trying to tell me what a pitiable state it is to be outside when he’d rather be inside and located suitably close to my stash of chocolate buttons, or imitating Kitty, who would very much like you to know that she has lost not just that other big front tooth (which held on by a corner for eons) but another bottom one to boot.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

He’s definitely dreaming of something in this one, but I wanted to include it anyway because it shows so clearly their height differences.  So often when I take pictures of the three of them they’re sitting down or Kitty’s bending down and I forget just how tall she is, and all three of them are.  For point of reference, in this picture Kitty is 6 (and that’s an age 10 cardie from Frugi who’s sizes are usually pretty generous), Elma is 4 (and wearing age 5) and Pip is 2 (and wearing 3-4).  One of these days Elma’s going to stop growing at 5’10” and find her brother and sister call her shortie.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

All three have shot up over the winter again and it means that all long last, two more pairs of boots can reach the footrests on the “spinny spinny round” and all three can plan world domination as they twirl.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

Two little sisters, and their brother too, pulling funny faces, in March:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings in March

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 Goblin Child, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then 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!
The Me and Mine Project