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Posts tagged ‘photos’

Aug 6 / Caro

Seven Days: Musing on Starting School

Thomas and I have seven more days before he starts school.

Well, obviously there are more days than that – four and a half weeks to be more exact. But for most of those Thomas will be at the “Holiday Club” at the school, and I’ll be working. There are weekends, of course, but those are “Family Days” for all of us to share. As are the days we’ll spend in Copenhagen at the end of the month.

What is left is seven days of uninterrupted “Mummy and Thomas Time”. (Yes, we really do call it this!)

Ever since I went back to work after maternity leave, and Thomas started nursery, we’ve had several days each week apart. And I’m firmly of the opinion that it made the solid days we had together even more special. I had the time and energy (and money!) to do all kinds of things, from exciting days out and theatre trips, to the more mundane park visits and days at home snuggled up with a book or playing endless train games. I planned and looked forward to that time.

And now, those days will be drastically cut down.

But…

Starting school is a massive milestone, right? It is its own thing to anticipate – for the good and the bad – right? Isn’t there is too much new in the adventure to think about to worry about the old and what might be missed?

Starting school is the moment when children start to take really independent strides away from their parents. It’s when they start to form friendships with children you’ve never met yourself. Start to spend days doing things they only share the merest glimpse of with you. And they seem to age immediately as they dress up in smart school uniform for the very first time. For parents it is a whole new routine. There is the anxiety of learning how the school works and meeting new parents, many of whom seem to know each other already.

How about if none of this is really true?

Thomas is staying at the same independent school where he has attended preschool for the last year. He is simply moving across the playground to the little reception block, complete with its outdoor learning area. A place where he has been visiting and “practising” for the last term.

He’s moving across with all of his well established friends. In his class there are just two girls who didn’t attend the preschool (both also have older siblings in the school already). His friends are children I already know well, and like. I also know many of the parents well, from the endless rounds of preschool birthday parties and events like the school nativity and the preschool “Moving Up” day. I know (as much as any parent ever does) how the school works and who most of the staff are. Thomas knows so many of the older children by name (and they him). He already plays in the playground with the older children, lines up with them in the mornings and eats lunch in the dining hall, sitting at a table that he sometimes help to lay correctly with cutlery. He wears a uniform too – that I’ve grown used to laundering constantly – and has been looking so almost like a school boy for the last year.

Even his routine will remain the same. With just one major exception, of course.

He’ll be going five days a week.

That, is the only difference.

We’ll be losing much of our treasured “Mummy and Thomas Time”. And I suppose that is the only thing that is really affecting me.

“Starting School” per se does not feel like a major change. It’s like we conquered that last year, with some tears and protests and initial reluctance. Now Thomas is so happy and settled he asked me a few months ago, with genuine worry, whether he would ever have to change school again.

Not having him all to myself for the two days that I don’t work is the only thing I’m struggling to wrap my head around. It’s true that in some ways I’m looking forward to some “me-time”. Some opportunities to do long neglected household tasks (clearing out my wardrobe, for starters!). An opportunity to get my hair cut without juggling childcare. To drink a cup of tea and read a book without interruption or guilt. Going for a swim or a run during the day, rather than in the dark evenings throughout the winter. Even scheduling medical appointments without having to take Thomas with me. I’ve not had such free time since… well ever before really. Having worked full time, like so many women, before having a child this will all be a new experience.

But at the same time, I’m really going to miss Thomas’s company. I’m going to miss his singing from the back seat of the car and his vociferous opinions on which songs he does and doesn’t like. His running commentary around the shops about what I mustn’t forget to buy. I’ll miss his music group and the genuine friends I’ve made there. I’ll miss our shared lunches and little coffee shop dates. I’ll miss park trips where there is no competition with much older children to use the best equipment. I’ll miss the freedom to take him to museums and child friendly events during the week and outside the school holidays where we don’t have to battle crowds of other children. I’ll even miss his trains constantly strewn across the house, packed up instead until he arrives home.

School uniform notwithstanding, he still looks so little. And whilst he is keen and excited about finally being in Reception (he’s been asking how many sleeps since before Christmas) and more than ready to satisfy his innate curiosity for learning in ways that I alone can’t, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to accept it. I know that I need to focus on it as the adventure it is and the new it will bring. You can’t freeze time, nor continually look backward for that would be to miss so much more.

I doesn’t make it simple though.

Just over four weeks to go. Seven single days of one-on-one with my best boy.

I’m so glad I don’t have all the other changes to contend with too, and this one seems big enough on its own.

At least I have the holidays to look forward to.

So, how many sleeps until half term?

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Mar 23 / Caro

A Walk in Knole Park

I’ve written before about how much I love our National Trust membership, but now that I’m able to drive again, I’m loving it even more. With driving comes the freedom to nip to any one of the glorious spaces close to our home here in Kent. I no longer have to wait for the weekend, or someone else to give me lift to some of the more inaccessible sites. If the mood takes us, we can simply hop in the car and go.

So last week, we did just that. I needed to be in Sevenoaks in the afternoon anyway and it was a beautifully bright, if cold, day. So we decided to pop in Knole park for run around in the mud and a chance to spot some deer. (And, if I’m honest, to get Thomas to burn off some energy after some nightmare behaviour the previous day from too much pent up steam!) Thomas has been to Knole countless times since he was born, just as I went countless times as a child before him. It’s an amazing open space and something about the air and the light means I never fail to catch at least one photo that I love.

Thomas had a fantastic couple of hours racing up hills and through puddles, peering through cracks in the wall and the keyhole in a gate he spied. Armed with paper and crayon, I attempted to teach the idea of bark and leaf rubbing, with some fun results. We ate our lunch outdoors (as the tearoom and restaurant here is currently undergoing drastic rebuilding and refurbishment). Thomas climbed inside an old tree stump, and balanced his way along logs, tightrope style. When it was time to leave he begged to stay “just a bit longer” racing away from amongst the trees and inviting me to chase him. We took away a considerable amount of mud, both on our boots and on our car but Thomas was suitably worn out and promptly fell asleep during my afternoon errands!

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Running at Knole Running at Knole2

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Mar 22 / Caro

Me and Mine – February 2015

Yes, we’re so far in to March that it’s almost April. And so no, I couldn’t be much later with this post if I tried. But here it is anyway, in the interests of being better late than never, and because I don’t want to be the blogger -never mind the person – that can never commit to anything, or see anything through.

It’s true that I’m far closer to being that kind of person right now than anything else. I want to be… so many things: more productive, more organised, more efficient, more creative. But more than anything I want to be more motivated to be these things. I want to recapture the enthusiasm and zest that I once had. I don’t want to be floundering in the sea of “can’t be arsed” that threatens to overwhelm me at any minute. It may seem that the reasons for my apathy don’t require genius to deduce, but like so much of life, it isn’t all as straightforward as it appears.

But this. This is definitely the thing that keeps me going: My family.

Small. Different to how I once imagined. But mine. Ours. Us.

We’re good. Even if one of us is bored by the fifth or sixth take it took to get this! Even if my hair is a disaster and my trousers are wrinkled. We fit together.

And I’d be lost without them.

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dear beautiful
Feb 1 / Caro

{Living Arrows} 4/52

I love these particular photographs. Not just in a simple aesthetic way, but because they will remind me in the future that Thomas did sometimes fall asleep, and that he looked incredibly cute and gorgeous when he did so.

These photos came about last weekend when Thomas threw himself in to an epic tantrum of the kind that only a small child can properly pull off. After more than twenty minutes I think we’d all forgotten just what he started screaming for, and with a look of utter desolation and loss on his face, he quietly asked me for a cuddle as he climbed in to my lap. And within three minutes, he was fast asleep, like a storm that has burned itself out.

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It was a moment of complete bliss for me. The calm after the storm, and a moment of stolen, peaceful cuddles from my favourite small boy. I could hear nothing but his deep breaths, feel nothing but the warmth and comforting weight of my son in my arms and fitting perfectly against the shape of my own body. His eyelashes stood out, still defined by wet tears.

I’d happily have stayed that way for hours, but unfortunately this was only a little over an hour before bedtime. Allowing him to sleep would have been ultimately more destructive that rousing him again. We’ve had enough experiences of that to not be forgotten in a hurry.

So I allowed Ian to take him from me in attempt to gently bring him round. His eyelids fluttered and he drew in a deep, shaky breath, before nuzzling himself in to daddy’s neck and drifting back in to slumber as Ian carried him around the kitchen in a move reminiscent of so many sleepless evenings in the newborn era.

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There is so much innocence in these pictures, I cannot help but treasure them.

(And for the record, we did manage to gently wake him shortly after, and were rewarded with an easy bedtime – for once!)

Living Arrows
Jan 31 / Caro

Me and Mine – January 2015

2015 is the year that I’m determined will see me collect a complete set of twelve photographs of the three of us together as a family. In an ideal world there will be some nicely composed, properly exposed shots taken during days out or memorable occasions, and preferably taken using a camera rather than my phone. These are all things that I’ve generally failed at in the last two years of the Me and Mine project.

On the one hand, we’re off to a good start – I have a photograph to share. On the other hand… Well at least it wasn’t taken on my phone!

January is always a strange month. And this year, between less than great weather, illness, work and other commitments, it’s not been the most exciting or productive month. So I suppose this photograph, taken at home, does reflect our January quite well. I staged it in the one area of our house that tends to get reasonable light in the winter: the stairs up to our top floor which are flooded with the light from a rooftop skylight. There are a lot of problems with this setting, however. Not least juggling a camera, tripod and a very energetic three year old on stairs could easily be a recipe for disaster. With that in mind, this was a bit of a one shot deal. One chance to position us correctly, get us all looking at the camera and expose it correctly. As it turned out my test shots of an empty staircase didn’t allow me to get the settings quite right and as a consequence I’ve over-blown the top of the shot – exactly where all that lovely natural light is!

But I like it anyway.

And at least no one fell down the stairs!

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dear beautiful
Jan 25 / Caro

{Living Arrows 2015} 3/52

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“Cheeeeeeeeeeeese”

Look at that face! Just look!

This is the face that Thomas will pull if you are foolish enough, as I was, to ask him to smile for the camera.

I don’t delete these images. Nor the ones that are out of focus. Or where, despite the fastest shutter speed possible in the given light, Thomas is little more than a blur of colourful clothes. I don’t delete them because one day, I’ll look back at those pictures and remember just how difficult it was to photograph my son as a toddler and pre-schooler. All of these less than perfect shots capture exactly who he is right now, at this point in his life. The never-sitting-still, ants-in-his-pants bundle of completely over-enthusiastic energy. That’s him. And the only possible way to truly capture his essence is in poorly timed, poorly focused images.

I also don’t delete then because when he’s a sullen teenager who won’t let me get near him with the camera at all, I’m sure I’ll laugh about how much disliked this stage in photographic terms!

And quality aside, this is the face that wakes me up each morning. That greets me after a long day at work. That tells me a hundred things with hundred different expressions. It’s the face I’ll never get tired of seeing.

My boy.

Living Arrows
Jan 12 / Caro

{Living Arrows 2015} 2/52

Thomas is a really fussy eater.

You might not believe that, based on the number of pictures I seem to have shared of him stuffing his face, but the range of foods he will eat has shrunk steadily over the last couple of years. If I let it get to me, mealtimes could easily be an immense battleground with tears and tantrums on all sides. And believe me, sometimes I’m very close to that. But instead I save my frustration for the people that spout the nonsense about how “feeding your baby a wide range of foods will ensure they grow up eating a wide range of foods” and “babyled eaning creates much less fussy eaters”. I know that this stuff is utter claptrap because Thomas could not have been fed, nor more happy to eat, a wider variety of food from weaning until things went downhill between the ages of one and two. He was fed many of these foods in ways that babyled weaning purists would be impressed by (although our approach was truly more Thomas-led and involved cutlery as well as finger food, spoon feeding as well as self-feeding – it’s probably a tale best left for another time).

However, Thomas also really loves food.

Well, as long, that is, that it’s one of the foods that he likes. Thomas is very much all or nothing!

This week’s picture was taken about thirty seconds after Thomas was served a bowl of pasta bolognese in Pizza Express this weekend. This is very definitely a food that Thomas really loves – even more than he loves my own version, much to my chagrin.

But then, you can probably tell that just by looking at the picture!

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(By way of comparison, this post includes pictures of Thomas devouring the same meal almost a year ago)

Living Arrows
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