I am always in a very reflective mood at this time of year and I love nothing more at the end of December than looking back at the year that’s passed to re-live the ups and downs and see how far we’ve come since January. This year feels like a special year, our first full year as a family of five, in our new house, with me at home full time. I almost didn’t write this post because even though if there’s one thing I love more than reflecting it’s writing about my reflections… I had no idea how I could begin to sum up this year in one blog post that was in any way somewhat readable. Until I had the idea of looking back on our year through the photographs I took. 2016 was the year, thanks to this blog, that I discovered a love of photography that I never knew I had. Well, actually I feel a bit ridiculous calling it photography, it’s more like just taking a few photos of my kids and then cropping out Carl’s arm or whatever body part he’s managed to get into the frame (he’s always in the way of my perfect shot). But whatever you call it, this year I have turned into a proper camera geek. Who would have guessed this time last year that the thing I now want most in the world is a 50mm lens? It’s extremely nerdy.
So I am looking back at 2016 by choosing my favourite photo from each month. I didn’t actually pick up my DSLR until February and then used it in auto for quite a while before switching to manual… hopefully you will be able to see a bit of an improvement in the pictures.
This is just a blurry phone pic, but it makes me smile. This is how we started the year. Still a bit shell shocked from adding another little baby to our brood, but determined not to let having a newborn (as well as a 2 year old and a 3 year old) stop us from getting out and having fun and adventures. 2015 had felt like a bit of a limbo year, a year of waiting. Waiting for our house sale/purchase to complete, waiting for our baby boy to arrive… 2016 was here and I was fed up of waiting around doing nothing. Adventure is out there!
The month I started this blog, and this photo is a perfect example of one I would never have if I had never taken up blogging. Carl actually took this photo (not bad for him ;-)) and it’s of me doing some baby yoga with 2 and a half month old baby Ernie. I loved doing this with him, to make sure he still got some of my attention even though he was a poor neglected third baby. I was slightly paranoid that I wasn’t giving him as much attention as the girls had got as babies, you know apart from all that time I spent feeding him, changing him, rocking him to sleep… so basically all of my time.
This is just a rubbish picture that I took with the self timer mode on my camera and to most people it probably looks like a crap photo of a family stuffing their faces with popcorn and a baby who looks mildly terrified about the whole situation. That is basically what it is to be fair, but to me I will treasure this photo forever because it is all five of us, just doing what we do on lazy Saturday afternoons when Mummy has a cold and Daddy has hardly slept and the idea of dressing three small children to go out is just too much to even contemplate. We still do pretty much the same thing now, except the scared looking baby now joins in the popcorn cramming in between jumping off the sofa to have a little dance whenever some music comes on. I took this photo for an ‘Ordinary Moments’ post which is a linky that Katie from Mummy Daddy Me runs. I tailed off with joining in with it in the second half of the year and I really wish I hadn’t. Next year I want to capture more of our ordinary moments like this, because they are so nice to have and look back on. It is also one of the only few photos I have of us as a five from this year. I’ll try and work on that too.
The month of Easter and Mabel’s 4th birthday. I loved the photos I took on Easter Monday when we went egg rolling on Butser Hill. The girls loved it, and a really simple activity turned into a perfect day. I think these photos were the first time that I really started to enjoy taking photos and not hating what came out of the camera either. You can really see the girls relationship starting to develop here. Greta was about 2 years 3 months old and they could finally play together on more of the same level. These days, sometimes you can’t even tell which is the eldest sister, but it wasn’t always like that of course and the gap has seemed to close steadily as they’ve got older.
May was just a gorgeous month and the weather really brightened up which made it all the more an inviting idea to get outside and explore. Even if, like on this trip to the rapeseed field, our adventure was mainly so that I could snap some photos. Somehow, through what I’m pretty much sure was pure luck, I managed to get some lovely shots and I’m quite proud of them. This one of Greta made me catch my breath when I saw it again just now. I think I had forgotten about it, but it’s definitely one for the wall don’t you think?
Ernie turned six months, and what a gorgeous little chubster he was! This was actually quite a tough part of our year. Mabel had come out of Preschool in April after refusing to go anymore and I was feeling a lot of anxiety about the pressure to decide what she would be doing in September when she was due to start school. All of the blogging I had been doing had started to catch up with me and I was getting stressed with trying to keep up with my own posting schedule and falling out of love with the whole thing. Mabel had started to act up a lot, probably as a reaction to my mood, which was causing a lot of tension between all of us and everything came to a head where I felt like we couldn’t go on as we were any longer so I made myself take a break from the blog and just focus on getting back to basics with family life. It sounds silly now, because I’ve got to a point where I just blog as and when I can and it’s no big deal, but at the time it had kind of grown into this monster of a thing that I felt a bit of a slave to… I don’t know, maybe in June I went crazy…
Although it may look picture perfect, this trip to the lavender field was actually pretty miserable. We were too hot, it was too busy, everyone was hungry, there was too much traffic. I think we just about managed to hold onto our sense of humour, but this was a day when things really didn’t go our way. I think it’s important to remember the downs as well as the ups though don’t you? Authenticity. Anyway, without the bad times, the good times wouldn’t feel so good.
This is where choosing a favourite photo gets a lot more difficult because I definitely started taking a lot more photos from September onwards and I love so many of them. I had to choose a photo of Mabel for September though because this was the month that she didn’t start school. Our decision to home educate Mabel was a big theme throughout the whole of the year for us, and like most big decisions it was a much scarier thing until we actually started doing it. We are just learning through life, picking up bits of knowledge as we go through like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Sometimes I want to try and force it, my need to try and control it takes over and I plan lots of themed activities… which are ok, and we enjoy doing them to a degree, but I’m also mindful that she is still so young and the most important thing is that we nurture her little developing character and we foster a love of learning, creativity, kindness and a zest for life. With those four things I know she can’t go far wrong.
It was all about the Pumpkins in October, I couldn’t choose any other photo. Everything about October I loved… the gorgeous sunny but not hot weather, the changing colours on the trees, our two visits to the pumpkin patch, our Halloween trip to Exbury Gardens, watching the girls loving the trick or treating… and I just felt calm and content in this month. Life was good.
November pretty much carried on in the same vain, with more National Trust adventures like this one to Hatchlands park. Ernie had started to toddle about and life seemed to be getting a lot easier. We even managed to paint the kitchen one weekend with all the kids at home with us. Again I took a lot of photos that I’m quite proud of, I didn’t realise how gorgeous the light is in Autumn until I started taking photos.
Again, I can’t really choose a favourite photo (this idea was easier in my head), but this one from Mottisfont is at least in the top 10… Decmember started off all blissful and festive and I attacked the Christmas and double birthday planning with gusto. But soon illness hit and we all had a really bad cold for over a week. We managed to complete vlogmas up to day 21 and I’m really proud that we managed to capture so many special memories on video like Ernie’s first birthday and Greta’s third, their joint birthday party, baking gingerbread with Auntie Rachael (her massive bump) and cousin Tommy, choosing our tree and putting it up, a trip on the Santa Express train… Towards the end of December it all got a little bit too much so I took myself offline for a little while. I’m so glad I did because we had a lovely family Christmas together and now I’m back and feeling refreshed, ready for an awesome 2017!
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