Monday, 17 March 2014

Around here lately

It's been a while since I took a little time to talk about what my boys are into and up to. One of my reasons for showing up here is to document their lives and their happenings in some small way as a place for them to visit in years to come. I am therefore well overdue a catch up! I haven't really been taking many photos of them recently, I've been trying to be a little more in the moment. My littlest one had started to get a little irritated with me sticking my phone in his face to capture moments and so that would account for it too. Whilst I'm sure it's just a phase, it's not a bad thing for me to stop obsessing with my phone. 

The black and white shots above will easily demonstrate that my littlest is NOT camera shy, he likes to pose when he's in the mood to do so but he likes things on his terms! At the moment I am allowed to sing freely, but up until a few weeks ago he would grimace if I began singing anywhere near him. He even came into the bathroom where I was taking a shower (generally the only place I sing) to tell me not to, whereby I heard my sensitive eldest boy telling little bro to stop being so mean. It's funny because when that littlest of mine is gasping for breath in the middle of the night with wheezes that don't want to go away, he asks me to sing to him. He still asks me for sentimental journey and guilty and will you still love me tomorrow, songs that I first began singing to him when he was peanut sized in my belly, the same ones that still make an appearance today. 

A few weeks back he was off school. He watched old Tom & Jerry videos, demanded food every hour, selected The Naturetrail Omnibus book off the shelf and looked through it and found a dipper to draw. My heart melted. I love this photograph of him in action, for starters it is not often that this boy is still and so I love that it captures him during a quiet, considered time and I also love his slightly grubby finger nails(bitten of course, like mother like son!) and the light bouncing off his golden tips of hair.

Despite having two parents that are fine artists, neither of the boys have particularly shown an interest in drawing. My mum tells me that I didn't show any interest till much later in life, most things of this nature don't bother me but I must admit, I'd like to see them drawing more. In the last few weeks the littlest one has been showing more interest and drawing independently. It's a big deal when he draws because he's not that prolific. He drew the picture above for Miss. Pike, 'a very kind helping teacher' (his words). Miss Pike stuck it up on her wall apparently and he was most pleased! Miss. Pike will always have a special place in my heart because she was the first aider on hand years back when I picked the eldest up from nursery and noticed loads of blood under hundreds of curls. He was three at the time and it had gone unnoticed (too much hair!) that the bump on his head had actually resulted in a gash. Miss Pike was the first aider on hand and she stayed after school hours to clean the wound. That was the day that I ended up waiting for a cab outside school, in the fog, with a newborn wrapped around my body in a sling and a three year old with a deep gash in his head, but that's another story!

A couple of weeks ago hubby found this boy some glasses from our local pound shop, pushed out the lenses and voila he created the perfect role playing tool for our little actor. For days and days he would not take them off even taking them into school at one point 'to help with his learning'. In this shot, this little heart of mine sat down to have his hair combed after having it washed. But first he had to put Human Planet on to watch 'the monkeys in the city' and he had to put his 'glasses' on because it was all 'blurry'. He doesn't need prescription glasses, he's just a method actor. He would say things like 'wait a minute, I can't see a thing!' and reach for his glasses! This rings of my mother, his grandmother, words so familiar that I was sure he had appropriated her words. I asked her and she he told me that when they go for sleepovers at her house that those are her words when the boys pile into her bed early in the morning and this little one is normally first in. 

A few week-ends ago hubby made the whole family accompany him on a clothes shopping trip. He hadn't been clothes shopping for quite some time and as it's his fortieth birthday in just a few months he decided he wanted to smarten up a little and in his words 'stop looking like a student'. So we patiently waited whilst he tried stuff on, I grumbled because I hate shopping! Anyway, whilst the boys were waiting I took this shot of them and they were totally unaware that they looked like an ad themselves, I love this shot. It's so representative of their characters too, the eldest all brooding and conservative and the other one all flighty and unconventional!

There has been much laughter and fun shared with their 'Where's Wally' books of late. They have been a favourite of the eldests for a long time and now he's roped his little brother in and it's a wonderful thing to watch unnoticed through the crack in the door! Also seen in this picture are the knee patches I've been making for these boys. Yes, I've been making do and mending many, many worn out knees of jeans with various knee patches. Gotta love Pinterest for simple effective ideas like these, plus I loved getting my needle and thread out again.  

Their relationship changes all of the time and despite the bickering and the occasional body tackle or injury sustained from battles with swords made from the tin foil tubes (Ouch! They're really hard!) these guys get along pretty well. In fact when times are a little testy and I step in and take a hard line with one of them, the other quickly comes to their brothers defence and fiercely argues their corner leaving me feeling like the enemy. Just yesterday on a trip to the doctors, when it was just me and the littlest we got talking about different types of houses and as we walked past some flats, he turned to me and this is what he said:

Elliott: I'm going to live in a flat when I'm older.
Me: Are you going to live alone or with someone?
Elliott: I'm gonna live with Zach and we're going to do the cooking together.
Me: What will you cook?
Elliott: CHICKEN!!!
Me: Who is going to clean the flat?
Elliott: Both of us and Zach will do the ironing.
Me: What jobs will you do?
Elliott: Uh, I don't know … maybe a Scientist. 
Me: You could be a scientist or a doctor or maybe a chef like in Ratatouille?
Elliott: I fink scientist, both of us. 

I loved getting this little window into his world and to hear of his plans for the future that up until now haven't really surfaced. I guess we've been talking to them a lot recently about the importance of respecting one another and growing up together having a good relationship with one another, one that will endure all of the complexities of family relationships. I speak to them about how I long for a relationship with my own brother and how I miss the closeness that I had with my siblings and how 'closeness' is forever changing and means something different for each stage that you are going through. 

These pictures of the boys cuddling aren't that up to date, I think they're from around christmas time but I wanted to include them because they capture something of their changing relationship. They capture Zach taking pride in his big brother role, showing him enjoying taking the role on and they capture Elliott allowing his brother to take that lead, they show Elliott being respectful and trusting of that position. I love the idea that one day they'll sit down and read my thoughts on their developing relationship, maybe sat in their flat eating a roast chicken and looking through their mother's old blog. Maybe. 
I was quite amused that Elliott mentioned ironing since I don't really iron. However, since hubby's recent makeover he has been ironing shirts and so that must be the only explanation for ironing being mentioned, I'm a shake and straighten kind of laundry girl. Also, with hindsight I wish I'd said something more indicative of Elliott's interests when we were talking about jobs but it was a spontaneous conversation and I was conscious of not recommending Fine Art as a career choice (only joking … kinda!) and I love Ratatouille and any opportunity to get that film into a conversation and I'm there! 

There's something delicious about when the boys are off sick from school. It's one of the privileges of being a stay at home mum that I really enjoy because I can drop everything to be there. I say this because I am aware that I will often rush in with all the negatives of my current role but not mention the best bits with the same gusto, the bits that I take for granted. This picture was taken back in January I think and this was day two of him being at home with a crazy bad cough. His super cool 'film club' teacher asked him to write a review for the film they had watched that week. This is him deep in concentration. He was off for four days in total I think and that boy talked my ears off! He does that at the moment - a lot! He reminds me so much of me and of course sometimes that proves quite tricky. 

My hubby sometimes watches us during an altercation and stands back aghast and amused, we are two peas in a pod apparently. This boy is a gift to me, so bright and contemplative, sensitive and fiery. My own grandma used to call me 'Fiery Kate', it used to drive me mad when she did so but she had a point. I think I got it from her and I've passed that through my veins right along to this boy of mine. Poor thing, he got a double dose because his father is hardly placid! Anyway, we spent our days watching The Hobbit(and as per his request I actually sat down and watched it from beginning to end without stopping to fold the washing or check food in the oven or anything! Check Me!) The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and when our eyes hurt from seeing too much (I'm stealing Pooh's words here) we read some classic A.A.Milne in the form of Winnie the Pooh. 

We recently borrowed 'Return to the Hundred Acre Wood' which we loved and I loved every bit more because I got to read it with my boy. It made me cry as it always does and reminded me of the days before he owned dvds and all he had was one video that he watched over and over and over again - Winnie the Pooh. It even had worn sections where we had rewound and played his favourite songs over and again. I can still picture him, aged two, sat on the settee with just a nappy on, covered from head to toe with chicken pox, head leaning to one side and feeling very sorry for himself indeed and asking to watch 'Pooh' over and over. He does so much independent reading now that I've been missing reading with him so we've set our sights on Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, two of his dads favourites from childhood that he purchased for his boy. Hubby and the boy actually started reading Tom Sawyer a year, actually probably two years ago when the language proved a little difficult for him to really enjoy the narrative, so I'm excited to sink our teeth into the stories this time round. This boy of mine has a wonderful sense of humour and I think he is going to be full of deep belly laughs at Tom Sawyers shenanigans.

Just when I think this boy is so grown up, he reminds me that actually he is still little, still my little boy. Just before breaking up for christmas he was pooped and ready for the holidays and just like his daddy, he knows when the body needs rest and he collapses into it. This picture may actually have been taken in January, the first week back at school, I'm not sure but suffice to say that this little rocket does sometimes run out of fuel! At the beginning and end of term is when I am reminded that this end of July birthday boy is still in need of refuelling which is obviously what one of his kind teachers thought recently when she asked him if he wanted to have a little sleep. He proudly told me that he was really tired and then he went and lay down in a corner of his classroom and had 'a fantastic nap for 45 minutes'. I love that none of the staff even mentioned it to me!

He tells me that he loves her so. He says that he likes how soft she feels, so 'nice and soft'. Nice and soft were two of his favourite words for a long time, all of his favourite things were nice and soft. Rabbit and Elephant, two of his favourite bedtime friends, grandma, mummy and marshmallows, dads beard and Zach's hair, his duvet at bedtime. Every night when he climbs into bed he sighs a big sigh, snuggles himself into his duvet and exclaims 'Aaahhh' and in minutes. Depending on whether it is hubby or I putting him to bed, when the other one of us sneaks in for one more last kiss, often he is already out for the count and we settle for planting a kiss on the sleeping boy instead of feeling his arms enthusiastically wrapping themselves around our necks followed by squeezing and the planting of moist cold lips on our faces. Those kisses! 

Like I said, he's an actor! 

Practicing balancing stuff on their heads like true Africans!

This face. This is the face he pulls when he is being outrageously cheeky and rude. The words that normally precede this face are words like 'fart' 'big bottom' 'and then he died' or 'he was squished'! 

As soon as the sun makes an appearance they cannot wait to strip down and hang out in their pants and I love it! More and more these days Zach wants to find a quiet corner and read a book and when this happens Elliott will entertain himself and find something to do all by himself. After Zach has had enough of reading he will suggest that Elliott plays with him, Elliott will mostly reply with an enthusiastic 'Yes'! But sometimes, he says 'Nah'. In these moments Zach can be heard saying things like 'how can you be so unkind to me?' and 'I'm your brother, that's not what you do to your brother!' Elliott fully understands his power, luckily, for now he doesn't use it for bad!

This surely is a classic! I think it will be one that I will show their friends in years to come whilst laughing over and over. I did ask Zach's permission before featuring it here because I sense in just a few years to come he may just say 'but why on the blog?'. I love that they are completely unselfconcious here, just filled with the joys of spring, literally. This one was taken just before they got into the bath together. Whilst I put their washing away I listened to a soundtrack of giggles and farts coming from the bathroom as they played together. Bliss.

Sunshine and sticks and running in the woods. Shouting and roaring and open space. Breathing. Skin exposed. A feeling of freedom and of the heaviness of winter lifting. No coats, no layers. Water and splashing and boots and squelchy mud and running with sticks. Picking up sticks. Fighting with sticks. Throwing of sticks. Making up stories whilst thrashing stuff with your sticks as you go by. Going on adventures way beyond the woods, adventures in your minds. Roleplaying as you delve deeper into green spaces. This is what you both love. This right here. Every little detail of it. 

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