Living Arrows – Train Reading

This weeks picture captures a whole bunch of things about Thomas within it’s confined frame. We were on the train – his favourite place to be -and he’s reading, something that he’s both good at and finally increasingly coming to actually love. More than that, though, he is reading a Thomas the Tank Engine book. Despite the array of books that he owns and is able to read himself, he still loves going back to these well worn stories, and to watch him become absorbed in them all by himself tugs at my mummy strings!

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(The final thing this picture captures is his hand inside his waistband. This is on the list of “Things people should tell you when you have a baby boy”!)

I wanted to be able to share something new for Living Arrows, but I also can’t help myself but include these two pictures from our trip to a local sunflower trail last week too, because I really love them.

For me pictures of our sunflower adventure, read the full post here

Linking up with Donna at What the Redhead Said

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Living Arrows – Freedom to Run

It’s been 11 months since I last posted a blog post, but I couldn’t think of any better way to return than this: a picture of my boy, now aged five and three quarters (the three quarters matter when you are five) doing one of the things he most loves to do.

A vast open space, and the freedom to run.

His childhood sometimes feels like it is flying by and like, I guess, a lot of parents, I sometimes want to set the world to slow motion to give me the time to really savour these moments. A moment captured in a photograph is frozen in time for ever, and so often it’s the best I can do.

I used to blog under the title of Sweetener and Spice and took a break when infertility, illness and life all got a bit too much. I’ve chosen a new blog title to reflect our small numbers, but our size makes us no less of a family. I’m possibly the world’s most inconsistent blogger – having been at it on and off since 2005 – but I do love all the little insights and memories that previous blog posts give me, which is why I’ve decided to start again.

Linking up with Living Arrows at What the Redhead Said

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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!)

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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.

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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)

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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} 13/52 – Freewheeling

It’s imperative that you don’t look at me in this photograph. I say that not because I don’t like pictures of myself. Not because the wind, and running to keep up have whipped my hair across my face. I say it because you need to see the joy in Thomas’s face.

At last, after weeks of pestering, and a week at Center Parcs spent continually explaining to Thomas why he couldn’t take other children’s bikes, we gave in and took Thomas to buy his very first bike. Once we had explained that he couldn’t have a Hello Kitty bike (because they only came in sizes much too large for our tiny man, and nothing to do with the fact that it was bright pink) he picked out a white, blue and green balance bike. He jumped on in the shop and scooted away like a natural.

Of course, riding it outdoors was a bit more scary.

“I don’t like my bike, Mummy” he said, with an edge of trepidation as we set it on the pavement.

Yet a few minutes, only a tiny bit of persuasion and some help with balancing at speed later, this was the end result:

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And, of course, when I let go he looked back and promptly fell over.

But surely that’s a rite of passage when you’re learning to ride a bike!

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