Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Ordinary Moments // Hot Chocolate at the Beach

It is hard to find things to look forward to when we just can't plan ahead but I have found with the introduction of isolation schooling, I look forward to the weekends like never before.  Two whole days without battles around expanded noun phrases and subordinate clauses are treasured.  We don't get out much during the week with everything else that needs to be done, but every weekend involves a good walk down to the seafront, a run around on the sand, a game of balance on the wall and a hot chocolate to warm up chilly hands.

We bought the giant insulated bottle with some Christmas money and when I remember I bring a can of squirty cream and marshmallows as well, recreating the sweet treat we would usually grab in a cafe on a winter day out.  It is the kind of walk that wouldn't be so special if it weren't for a global pandemic turning it into the only thing we can do, and this ordinary moment becomes one of the things that gets me through the hard days.  This time together with no pressure, no time restraints, nothing else we should be doing is one of the only good things to come out of lockdown.  

I love the idea of sharing an 'ordinary moment' each week, but it seems to be something I flit in and out of, probably writing these posts when I need to see the positivity and the beauty in the every day the most.

ordinary moments, hot chocolate at the beach

ordinary moments, hot chocolate at the beach

ordinary moments, hot chocolate at the beach

ordinary moments, hot chocolate at the beach

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Saturday, 23 January 2021

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Child's Birthday Extra Special

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This year has been hard on everyone in different ways. Maybe you’ve had to directly deal with the effects of COVID-19. Maybe you’ve experienced a change in your career. Or, maybe you’ve had to adjust to having your kids home and not in school. 


Whatever the case, we could all use a bit more comfort and excitement, all at once. 


Even if you’re still staying home in light of the pandemic, one of the best things you can do to bring a bit more joy to your family’s life is to make birthdays extra special this year, something I am having to think about now with Archie and Finn both celebrating next month.


On average, parents spend anywhere from £50-£100 on their children for their birthdays, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to do a few little extras. 


Thinking outside the box and coming up with ways to make your child’s big day more memorable could spark lasting traditions. So, how can you make your little one’s birthday better than ever this year? 




1. Eat With a Birthday Plate


Everything about the day should be individualized for your child. Give them a special birthday plate to eat their meals from. You can even decorate a chair at the dining room table for them to eat at for the day, almost like a “throne”, so they can be a prince or princess on their big day. 


2. Surprise Them With Flowers


Adults aren’t the only ones who like to receive flowers. Whether your child is at home or in school, surprise them at some point during the day with happy birthday flowers. Choose arrangements filled with different colors and varieties to really get your child excited. It’s a small gesture, but it can make a big impact on their day. 


3. Fill Their Room With Balloons


The birthday fun doesn’t have to stop when your child gets home from school, or even before they go to bed at night. Take the time to fill their room with balloons and other decorations as a mini-surprise. While they might not get to have a full party this year with friends and family, you can turn their favorite space in the house into party central!


4. Draw a Birthday Bath


Getting your child ready for bed? The birthday fun doesn’t have to stop yet. Let them have a “birthday bath” with lots of bubbles and toys. You could even put in safe colour-changing tablets to turn the water their favourite colour, or use tile-safe crayons to let them draw their favourite pictures on the shower wall. 



5. One Last Gift


As you’re getting your birthday boy or girl ready to go to sleep, surprise them with one last, small gift - a new book! You can choose a book that specifically talks about birthdays, or just one you think they will enjoy. Let them open it, and then curl up with them to read it before they go to bed. It’s a fantastic way to add one final touch to a birthday they’ll never forget. 


As you can see, none of these ideas are expensive or extravagant. But, in their simplicity, your child will feel extremely special, and love every second of their big day.


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Sunday, 17 January 2021

Staying Home

I love going into London, I tried to go once a month when I could, sometimes for work and meetings, sometimes for visits and sometimes just because I love being in the big city, wandering the streets and people watching.  I love travelling to different countries, travel has always been a priority to us as a family and we spend so much time planning where to visit and what we want to see and do.  I love where I live, but I love getting away too.

I spend far too much time looking at holidays we will be unlikely to take, planning days out that may not be what we want to do once we are actually able to do it.  Trying to change the attitude of feeling trapped at home is hard work but it is the challenge I am facing.  We are limited to exploring only places within walking distance of our house and with some members of the family having littler legs than others, that doesn't take us far.  We need to get out though, we need to walk and breath the outside air and feel a part of something bigger than our household so we are getting out, mostly to the same place but it is out and it is beautiful.

staying home, thanet, Ramsgate beach

This is where I live, a tiny corner of the UK surrounded by coastline.  Sandy beaches, colourful beach huts, chalk cliffs, little harbours, dramatic skies.  We can walk to several different beaches from our house, we all have our favourites and they aren't all the same. Whichever one we end up at though, I feel better for seeing the sea.  The children love climbing on the sand that is piled up to protect the buildings, they love throwing stones in the sea, they love planning which boat they would choose in the harbour if they had enough money to buy one.  They love having a hot chocolate in their tin mugs and stopping for a cone of chips to accompany us on the way home.  The beach provides their imaginations with a holiday, with a day out, with a different backdrop to normal and different possibilities.

  I love the smell of the sea, the feel of the sand under my feet, the sound of the waves, the warmth of a hot drink in my hands on a cold day, the sight of the sun setting behind the boats as we walk up the hill back home.  I love staring into the sea on a good day, thinking I could be almost anywhere looking out at the same view, I love shouting into it on a bad day, wondering where my words will end up.

This post is a way for me to try and write down a little bit of how I feel and share the beauty of where I live, because all in all, staying home is a good place to be. 



staying home, thanet, Ramsgate harbour

staying home, thanetBroadstairs beach, viking bay

staying home, thanetBroadstairs beach, viking bay

staying home, thanetBroadstairs beach, viking bay

staying home, thanetBroadstairs beach, viking bay

staying home, thanetBroadstairs beach, viking bay

staying home, thanet, Ramsgate beach

staying home, thanet, Ramsgate beach

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Friday, 8 January 2021

Lockdown 3.0

This lockdown was hardly unexpected, in fact I asked for new pyjamas and loungewear for Christmas in anticipation of a long winter spent mostly at home.  Expected doesn't mean easy though and I think the government's insistence that schools are safe even on the first day of term gave me a false sense of hope that schools would remain open.  I struggled heavily with the news that home learning is resuming and the first day was incredibly challenging balancing the needs of four children, three whom can't complete school work independently and the eldest who still needed lots of clarification.  It all felt too much and I hastily sent emails to teachers asking them to lower their expectations of us. 

The second day involved less tears from all of us, a little compromise and intelligent use of the tin of Christmas chocolates I hadn't brought out yet, and over the week we are slowly slotting into a routine where most of the set work is completed, and there is less guilt for the pieces that are not.  I imagine much like the first lockdown which I documented weekly, this is an attitude that will change daily for the entire course of home schooling but I am hopeful that we can find a balance that helps us get through this long winter.

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

We are lucky to live near the seaside so we always have somewhere beautiful to walk for our allowed exercise, although the children have been complaining that they would rather find a forest or something different once in a while.  I have invested some Christmas money in a giant insulated bottle so we never again have to leave the house without hot chocolate and I am trying to get outdoors every day as I know my sanity needs it!  This lockdown is going to be harder, we are missing the sun and we have some idea how long this is going to last rather than taking it week by week.  I know there will be days I am overwhelmed by it all and that is just something we will have to deal with.  I hope the start of Lockdown 3 hasn't been too tough on you.

We finished all our work before lunch today, a combination of starting earlier and less being set on Friday, and they are all relieved that the first week is over and they can relax.  I am trying to catch up on all the things I have missed this week; emails, writing and perspective.  I know in some ways I have it easier, we are lucky to have enough devices for the children to work on, a warm house and plenty of food and my job is very flexible.  In other ways they have it hard, getting only 1/5th of my attention.  I believe it is ok to feel it hard even if your circumstances are ideal.  I am thinking of all those that have it hard, and those that are struggling in any way.

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

The children were sent these Serkku coats as part of an ongoing collaboration with Reima, our favourite outdoor brand and I love how easy they are to spot on a dark winter day and how cheerful they look.  They are all wearing Reima trainers or boots here which keep their feet roast warm. 



Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

Lockdown 3, Lockdown home school, Reima coats

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Saturday, 2 January 2021

Christmas 2020

I decided against a round up post for last year, I feel like there isn't much to say.  We mostly stayed home, our adventures were smaller, our stories fewer, our anxiety higher.  I placed too much importance on Christmas day, thinking that a day of normality would somehow make up for nine months of not being able to hug our family or meet in the same house.  I took the children out of school a week early to minimise the risk of having to miss out on the family Christmas we had planned, persuading them that missing the Christmas lunch, play and parties would be worth it for this one day together.  It didn't happen though, a last minute decision by the government to plunge all of Kent into tier 4 just days before Christmas meant a last minute dash to the supermarket (along with everyone else who hadn't planned to cook that day) and the opportunity to plan our first Christmas at home.

Christmas is always magical with young children and all four are still fierce believers.  Father Christmas was going to bring them presents much longed for, that they had given up hope of receiving and I managed to pick up all the important parts of a great Christmas meal.  It was wonderful, calmer, quieter and more relaxed in some ways, but more stressful in others (I have never hosted or cooked Christmas dinner before).  We were all glad to be safe at home, to have time and space to play with new gifts without time constraints and enjoy our comforts, but we all felt like something big was missing - the family we weren't able to spend time with.

I wanted to take some candid shots of what this day looked like for us, hopefully the first and last Christmas we spend like this.  The house which had been tidied in preparation for the big day soon took on the appearance of a bomb site, children decided wrapping in blankets was better than wearing actual clothes and there was way more screen time than I would have liked.  We were so lucky to be safe at home, surrounded by comfort and love. Being woken up to the sound of siblings waking each other with calls of 'Santa's been' will always be a favourite memory and it will certainly be a Christmas we remember.  

I tried to take photographs honestly, not erasing the carnage but embracing it.  I want to look back at this year not with rose tinted glasses, or thoughts of sadness at what was missed, but with the knowledge that we made amazing memories, that we grew so much together, that we laughed but that we felt sadness and loss as well.  It wasn't all doom and gloom, it wasn't all looking for the bright side, it was a complex mix of everything.

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas 2020



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Thursday, 3 December 2020

All in Onesies - Giveaway

My children shed their clothes like a snake shedding its skin as they walk in the front door from school.  Comfort is key and they don't want to wear their uniform any longer than they have to.  We were recently offered the opportunity to let them design their own onesies with The All-in-One Company and they couldn't have been more excited to create their dream loungewear.  

All in one company, custom made onesies

Onesies get used a lot in our house, as well as lazy days at home when nobody wants a waistband, we take them along to swimming lessons (let's be honest, nobody wants to wrestle a child back into leggings in a small changing room) and they are camping essentials, popped over pjs for early mornings and evenings.  The process of designing them on The All-in-One Company website is easy to understand and very visual for the children.  As they are choosing a fabric for a panel they can click and see how things look together, changing their minds as often as they like.  We were originally going to go for towelling material but my children are all very focused on sensory and wanted to go for the super soft fleece and it is the softest, snuggliest fabric.

All in one company, custom made onesies

There is a handy size guide on the website and all four were coming to the top end of one size range so we sized up to get extra wear.  They all love them slightly oversized and I know they will fit for ages! They were most excited when it came to designing the hoods as there was an option for rainbow fur and they all picked fur hoods.  Finn has fluffy lion ears and Cora went for pug ears on hers.  Three of them went for side zipped pockets and ribbed cuffs but one chose front pockets and thumb hole fabric cuffs.  

I love the way their individuality comes through, but without even realising, they had all picked the same colour for the front right panel so they look like a little tribe.  They had so much fun designing these and have looked so snuggly in them, that Ed and I decided to order our own as Christmas gifts to each other this year and got the kids to help design them! I cannot wait to see our creations in real life!

All in one company, custom made onesies


The All-in-One Company are offering a £100 voucher to giveaway so you can design your own onesie and I can't wait to see what the winner chooses! Enter via the methods below. 


All in one company, custom made onesies

All in one company, custom made onesies

All in one company, custom made onesies

All in one company, custom made onesies

The sizing chart on the website is a great tool, but for reference, Cora is 4 years old, 99cm and wearing 5-6, Finn is 118cm, 5 years old and wearing 7-8, Archie is 132cm, 7 years old and wearing 9-10 and Dylan is 9 years old, 148cm tall and wearing age 13-14.  All of them have plenty of growing space as I expected but they work ok with the ribbed cuffs on the legs and arms.
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Thursday, 26 November 2020

Lockdown 2.0

We knew this lockdown was coming, it was inevitable and in all honesty I am not convinced it will be the last one.  It feels so different to the first though, probably because the schools have remained open throughout which gives us all a sense of normality, a structure to our day and week and some time apart - all things I struggled with a lot over the first lockdown.  Today it was announced that next week it will end as planned, but my county will be going into tier 3, the highest restrictions. I expected it, I have seen the local case numbers rising and it makes sense, but I know the older children who have been counting down to the end of lockdown because they want to see their friends, are going to be disappointed. 

Our life isn't going to change so much for the next month, our weekends will still be spent outdoors in our own family group, the children will (fingers crossed) stay in school and Ed and I work from home anyway.  Hopefully if we are careful in the lead up to Christmas, we can keep some normality there for the children as they are so excited to be able to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house again! I am considering the idea of pulling them from school a few days early so we can self isolate in the lead up .

The situation hasn't been all negative for us and one thing I will take from it all is how enjoyable it can be to slow down the pace a bit.  After school lazy afternoons with no clubs to run around to and weekends with zero plans where we walk and play it by ear have been enjoyable.  We don't need to be busy all the time to feel content, we can do less and still be happy.  Our weekends are for walks in the woods or hours spent playing in the sand at the local beach, warm baths and onesies, family games and movie nights in Mummy and Daddy's bed.  Sometimes they play on their consoles whilst I can sit and read, not feeling the pressure to be anywhere.  There is definitely something to be said for appreciating what is all around us and what we have.  We are privileged to be able to retreat to our little bubble and feel safe. I know our situation isn't everyone's and we are the lucky ones, I feel that every day.

This is more a rambling brain spill than a blog post, but this is my story to look back on when these days seem so far behind us, and so I am writing it down. 






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