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

{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

{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

{Living Arrows 2015} 1/52

Or rather, 1/however many I actually manage to share.

And notice there that I said “share”. Not “take”.

Devoted readers may have noticed my tendency to start projects on this blog and not quite see them through. I started sharing a 365 project two years ago, but the photos fizzle out before the middle of the year. I joined in with the Living Arrows project last year but the posts stop less than six months in. Yet in both of these cases, I don’t consider that I really failed. The 365 project foiled me in the organisation and the sharing. In actually finding and editing the pictures and then getting them on to my bog in a relevant and timely way. Oh, and the old devil perfectionism, that haunts me. You know, feeling the photos weren’t good enough to share! But having gone back through my photos for that year since, I’ve identified just five days on which I did not take a photograph. Failure, no doubt, to some 365 purists, but given that I’d stopped motivating myself with the actual goal of completing the project, I think that was pretty impressive.

Likewise with Living Arrows, of course I have a picture of my son, or something related to him, representing his childhood, for every single one of the 52 weeks of last year.  I don’t need a challenge to ensure that happens. I can’t stop myself taking pictures of him and for him. No, I simply failed miserably at sharing them here in a timely manner.

So why am I trying again? I’m not sure, when the odds of success seem anything but in my favour. I think it’s mainly because I’d like this blog to be a bit of a one-stop archive, if only I can organise myself a bit better. I’d like to be able to look back through the edited “best bits” of our years in one place, rather than wading through digital folders stored ten deep to pick out my favourite memories.

And you’re only truly destined to fail if you never try in the first place.

The photo I’m sharing this week was taken at the cinema as we waited to see The Penguins of Madagascar. It eclipsed all others I’ve taken this week, despite the poor lighting and grainy quality of the phone snap, because it absolutely sums up Thomas’s personality. The head tilt, the cheeky wink and the accusatory finger admonishing me for taking a photo. This is absolutely Thomas, at age three and two months.

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Living Arrows

Me and Mine – December 2014

So here we are – the final day of 2014 and the final Me and Mine portrait of the year. My intention, after missing several months last year, was to ensure that I tried my best to participate every month this year. I guess I did try, but I certainly didn’t succeed! Sadly that seems to be a bit of a theme as far as participation in this kind of thing goes. My Living Arrows posts petered out after I got behind and well… excuses, excuses!

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure about contributing this month. Somehow the only pictures I can find of all three of us over this festive period are some horribly grainy selfies taken to share our family efforts at Christmas jumpers.

The thing is – I’ve said it before – the fact that these pictures are of horrible quality actually matters less than the fact that they exist at all. If I hadn’t seized that opportunity one evening to capture a quick snap, we wouldn’t have any pictures of the three of us as a family from this month.

And continuing that theme, I guess it doesn’t matter that I haven’t managed to take, or sometimes just share, a family picture every single month. At least I have some pictures, and that is always better than none. When I look back at the Me and Mine portraits I have shared this year, they fill me with warm fuzzies. I know that my family may not look exactly how I may have hoped and dreamed, but it’s my family nonetheless and I love my happy, daft, kind, generous and devoted boys more than the words can say.

So I’ll leave you with our silly selfie. Yes, my jumper is flashing. If you’re going to do a Christmas jumper, you may as well do it properly!

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dear beautiful

An Autumn Park Trip

It’s just over a year since I wrote this post about Thomas’s love for our local park. A lot has changed in a year. He’s bigger, taller, more argumentative and even more bossy and strong willed! But the commitment to the park is one thing that remains unchanged, as strong as ever. Even on chilly, grey days when the air is filled with fine drizzle that clings to you hair like mist, and the park is completely deserted as a result.

I took these photos on a recent trip in such conditions. We had the entire playground to ourselves for more than thirty minutes. Once Thomas had had his fill of swings and slides he dragged me up the hill to the castle so that he could speed down the steep, steep hill on his beloved bike – no photos of that bit, since my heart was in my mouth as I chased him to stop him crashing in to the people at the bottom or – perhaps worse – the river!

(For the observant amongst you, yes he is still wearing the same coat as he was a year ago. This is the benefit of buying big for a child who is very firmly on the small side of average. However recent growth spurts mean it looks as though I’ll be buying another before the winter is out!)

This probably counts as a bit of a gratuitous loads-of-photos-of-my-son post. I can’t apologise though, even though they may not be the best pictures in the world. Because if I can’t post hundreds of pictures of the silly expressions my boy pulls on my own blog… well, where else can I put them?!

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And of course, all good, slightly chilly autumn walks need to end with a warming drink and a great big chocolate chip cookie!

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mummy daddy me

Me and Mine – July 2014

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve managed to link up with the Me and Mine project. I’ll have to be honest and say that lack of photos of the three of us is the whole reason. Part of my motivation to consistently join in is to ensure that we capture those precious shots with all of us in the frame. I’ve clearly been failing at that!

This month, however, I captured two lovely family pictures without even thinking about it, and both were at the top of tall buildings.

The first was taken on our final morning in Berlin when we visited to glass dome that sits atop the Reichstag Building. It was taken by a passing stranger, who seeing our camera offered his services before I’d had time to consider whether I wanted to ask anyone to get a picture of the three of us together. If only that could happen more often!

 

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Despite the look on Thomas’s face, he’d actually had a blast running up, and then down, the circular walkway inside the Dome! Unfortunately I’m squinting in the ridiculous sunlight, but it was a beautiful morning for taking in the city views.

Our second image was taken back in London, at the top of the Shard during a visit as part of my grandfather’s 90th birthday celebrations a couple of weeks ago. An engineer by trade he was fascinated by the actual structure as well as the views. Almost 88 years his junior, Thomas was equally impressed with the views of the train tracks below and the space to run around… and around… and around. Those of us aged in between had a great time too. It turns out to be an attraction that most definitely can appeal to all ages.

 

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I really love this photo for the fact that, for once, Thomas is actually looking directly at the camera, even if I am not! And my brother was on hand to take the shot, so no awkward requests of strangers for this one!

My final bonus shot was taken at the Deutsches Technikmuseum, in their Spectrum Science Centre, an interactive science museum full to the brim with hands on experiments. Thomas was quite transfixed by the thermal imaging camera. I like we’re looking hot… sorry, couldn’t resist!

 

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dear beautiful