Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Little Loves March

March is coming to an end so I thought I would share some of the little things I have enjoyed this month.  It has been an exhausting month, I think after so long of structuring our days as we choose, getting back into the school routine has been hard and with one day of term still to go, the children haven't got used to getting up early again.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new month and at 1.30pm, the beginning of the Easter holidays and with the new rules allowing us to meet one other family, we are excited to get out. Here are my March little Loves

Read- The Midnight Library

I had only heard good things about The Midnight library and it didn't disappoint.  Imagine if you could go back in time and change things and see how your life panned out?  It follows Nora who gets the opportunity to do just that after making the decision to end her own life.  I think we have all wondered 'what if', if we had made different decisions in the past, but sometimes taking a step back makes us realise all the promise our current lives have.  It is definitely worth a read.

Watch- Moxie

I saw the trailers for this and it looked like a brilliant easy watch.  If Cora was a few years older, I would watch it with her too.  The messages are about feminism, supporting women and calling out sexism - all things I am passionate about anyway.  It is available to watch on Netflix

Listen- I don't wanna wait 

I have finally finished watching Dawson's Creek on Netflix and it wasn't until a conversation with a friend that I realised they had used a different theme tune than the original.  I really loved the song they had been using, but for the last two episodes, they had the original 'I don't wanna wait' and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I first heard it!

Wear- L'abu skincare

I was sent some skincare by L'abu and it is definitely helping me get back into a better skincare routine.  The oat milk cleanser is easy to use in the shower and the intense face serum feels beautiful on my skin.

Eat- cheesy wraps

Many, many years ago, I worked in Pizza Hut and for a brief period, they made cheesy wraps, just salsa and grated cheese wrapped in a tortilla and baked.  I couldn't get enough of them, but they didn't stay on the menu long so I have had to recreate them at home.  They have been my lunch of choice over March though, and probably April too.

I would love to know what has made you smile this month.
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Monday, 22 March 2021

Our Favourite Books for 8 and 9 Year Olds

I am really enjoying reading to slightly older children now, being able to pick books with more of a storyline and I am finding that I often enjoy them too. I thought I would share some of the books the bigger boys and I have really enjoyed recently and I would love to hear any recommendations.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

The Christmasaurus - Both boys voted this as the best book I have read to them.  Written by Tom Fletcher it is a wonderful book full of humour and excitement and we enjoyed The Christmasaurus and The Winter Witch just as much.  I know it isn't the perfect time for reading a Christmas book but Archie has been asking if we can re-read it already so I couldn't resist adding this magical story.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant - Nizrana Farook, the author visited Dylan's school pre-covid, but it took us another year before we got round to reading the book.  This is a tale of adventure set in Sri Lanka and opened up a lot of questions about different cultures and ways of living.  This book is aimed more at 9-12 year olds and I think for independent reading Archie especially would struggle, but he enjoyed having it read to him.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

The Storey Treehouse Collection - I haven't tried reading these books to the children, but this is Dylan's favourite series for independent reading and books he happily got stuck into, even as a reluctant reader. He got the newest one for Christmas but there is a whole series and I think they are great for 6-10 year olds depending on their ability.  They are full of fun illustrations which make them less intimidating for younger readers.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

The Danger Gang - This is another Tom Fletcher book but I couldn't not include it as we have just finished it and both children loved it.  This book is written as a series of letters, one for each month about the freaky goings on in a town called Freaky and we love how each of the Tom Fletcher books references the others in little ways. (We have read the Creakers too).  We all can't wait to see what he writes next.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

The Secret Seven - This Enid Blyton collection is dated and I have to explain words and ideas to the children sometimes (and look them up myself too), but the themes of friendship and adventure seem to resonate with the children as they ask for the books and enjoy the stories.  I bought the collection on a special offer and we are working through it slowly, reading the books in between others (we are currently on book 5). I like the way that the books my mum read as a child and that I read as a child can still spark their imagination now, over 70 years since they were written.

books for 8 and 9 year olds

I would love to know what books your children of this age like reading independently or like having read to them.
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Thursday, 18 March 2021

Keeping up the Saving Post-Covid


If you’ve been fortunate to cut back on your spending during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re probably enjoying the extra savings you’ve been able to build up. But what happens when the world opens up a bit more and those daily expenses start creeping up again? 

Well, the good news is, with some adjustments, you can keep saving and make it a permanent habit. Take a look at some of the following ideas to keep up the savings post-COVID. 

Keep your food shop down

Your weekly food shop is one of your biggest expenses. Has it increased or decreased in lockdown? Having all the children at home made mine sky rocket! Not only did we spend more, but we treated ourselves to take-aways more often too over the lockdowns. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can cut your food shop. Eating healthier, planned meals will make it much easier to prevent food waste and make sure you only buy what you need. 

Many people have switched to shopping online during the pandemic, which can be a great way to save money by sticking to a budget.

Cut down on your expenses

Are there things you could cut back on each month? While your gym membership might be on pause for now, could it be something you go without permanently? Home workouts are very effective, and a great way to save some money as is outdoor running and wild swimming, both of which have seen many new converts over the past months.

You can also look through all of your existing bills to see if you can make some savings. Could you cut your TV or broadband bill? What about your mobile phone? SIM only deals are cheaper and offer plenty of data, helping you save a lot of money each month. Over the course of a year, you could find yourself with some significant savings as a result of your cuts. 

Soak up the outdoors

Lockdowns have brought some big changes to how we spend time together. Nights in have had to get more creative, while days out have been a lot more focused on being active outdoors instead of going places. Knowing what you know now, would you keep up these types of activities in the future? Being able to soak up the outdoors, go for bike rides and walks and make more of your local area can help you keep costs down while keeping your family active too!

Reduce your energy costs

Reducing your energy costs is another way to keep up your savings. While you might not be at home as much, saving on heating and other costs, you can still make some savings while you are at home. Unplugging devices, turning the heating down a few degrees and using smart lighting are all great ways to keep your costs down. Looking after the environment as a family can be rewarding and educational for you all, helping you save the planet as well as save some money.

While there is sure to be some initial excitement once the shops reopen and going out for meals becomes normal again, there are still things you can do to control your spending and grow your savings. Track your progress over the coming year - you could be surprised at how much you save!

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Monday, 8 March 2021

The Ordinary Moments // The End of Home Learning

For nearly three months, the children have all been home full time and today schools reopened for all pupils marking the end of this period of home learning.  It has been challenging in every sense, it has been full of battles and tears and I am desperately hoping we never have to go through that again.  I think I have focused so much on our failures though, that I neglected to see how well we have done.

During a time when just staying sane seemed an accomplishment, we got on with it.  We logged in every day, the big two worked semi-independently at times and it took Dylan getting a headteachers award on the last day of term for 'unwavering effort over lockdown' to realise that we didn't fail at all.  He may have lacked enthusiasm which I can't blame him for, online learning is not the best for anyone, but he got up each day and did it.  I got up each day and encouraged and motivated them (bribed at times, yes).  We have come out the other side of this strange period and I have confidence that the resilience that helped us all through the past three months will help us as we readjust back to school routines.

I wanted to mark the last day before school with a treat so we went for ice cream and to the park (our options for a special day are still very limited).  I wanted to let the children know that whilst I may not have been the most patient teacher, I am immensely proud of them all.  I am so thankful that I get to just be their Mummy again now and I am looking forward to picking them up from school and asking about their day, because for the first time in a long while, I won't know every aspect of it already!

These photos are from our last day before school, before I laid out their school uniform, dug out the water bottles and set the alarm for a time earlier than I have been awake in months.  I write this in a house quieter than it has been all year surrounded by the mess that seems a natural part of having them all home for three months.  It is going to be strange!

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Monday, 1 March 2021

Little Loves February

I meant to write this at the end of February but it always catches me out with only 28 days so here I am on March 1st, looking back at the little things that made me happy last month. February saw us have snow which was amazing as we rarely get it down on our little corner of the country, yet by the end of the month the sun was shining brightly and Spring was in the air.  February had two birthdays, Archie turned 8 and a week later Finn turned 6 and we made it through another month of home learning.  March holds the promise of Spring, school and a little bit more normality after an anything but normal start to the year.

Read - The Nightingale

I read more than ever in February, there were books I just couldn't put down and I found myself making more time for reading and watching less in the evenings.  My favourite book of the month was without a doubt The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  I had been recommended this several times and I ended up buying it without even looking what it was about.  It made me feel every emotion going and left me sobbing and wanting to buy it for everyone I know.  I have recently finished another book by the same author which was also amazing.  If you haven't read it yet, add it to your list! 

Listen to - Hamilton Soundtrack

Every since Hamilton the Musical hit Disney Plus back in lockdown 1, I have been obsessed.  I loved everything about it and Lin Manuel Miranda is officially on my fantasy dinner party guest list.  The music is powerful, sing along and I listen to it on repeat.  I keep waiting to get bored of it but it hasn't happened yet.  Seeing the musical live is high on my to do list once theatres can reopen!

Watch - Dawson's Creek

I didnt watch Dawson's Creek when it first came out in the 90s so when I saw it on Netflix I thought I would give it a go.  I enjoy it but I am not loving it as much as some of the other shows from that time so it is taking me a long time to get through.

Wear - Dungarees

Dungarees have been my outfit of choice for much of the month. They are easy, comfy and perfect for wearing around the house.  My favourite pairs are from Lucy & Yak and Run & Fly.  On the coldest February days I wore them with leggings and chunky knits underneath, on the warmer ones with just a long sleeved t-shirt.

Dreaming of - Holidays in the sun

The summer is still looking uncertain to me, despite the aim of June 21st for the lifting of restrictions.  I haven't risked booking anything yet but I am dreaming of summers spent away from home, even if that means camping 30 minutes from our front door.  I want to start saving now so that if things are still looking positive in a few months time then we can book something last minute.

Eat - Hello Fresh

We were in such a rut with cooking and I think the monotony of lockdown has only emphasised the fact that we cook a limited number of meals on repeat.  We have used Hello Fresh on and off over the past few years when things get like this and it always gives us new meals, more enthusiasm for cooking and usually healthier meals than what we cook on our own! We are on week 3 now and I am looking forward to this weeks dinners! The children aren't as keen so we go for a 3 meal box and they eat separately on those 3 days.

I would love to know what has made you smile in February either as a comment below or over on social media.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Tomorrow You Are Six

The countdown began the day I told you that you were officially five and a half and you can't wait to be six.  You have had a huge growth spurt this year and I often forget that you aren't already.  For a boy who was diagnosed with failure to thrive, who didn't outgrow his newborn clothes for months and who was such a little baby, you are turning into a tall boy (122cm last time I measured you) and I think you are going to be more like your biggest brother with this.

Your year of being five has been characterised heavily by a global pandemic which has forced you to spend a lot more time in the house than is natural for you.  Mostly, you have taken it in your stride but I have seen recently just how fed up of it all you are, and I can't wait to send you back to school so you can have the social interaction you so desperately need. This year I have had so much bonus time with you and whilst you can be incredibly hard work to parent, you are also so full of love and affection, you make me laugh every day and I am so thankful that I get to be your Mummy.

Five was the year you really learned to read and every time we share a book I see how fast this skill is coming on.  Whilst you are reluctant to engage in the home learning that your school provides, I know how capable you are and I have no doubt that you are learning all the time and your love of learning will continue with the right environment.  

You know what you want and you won't accept anything else, you are head strong, stubborn, determined and focused.  You are going to go far . . . if you want to.  You eat only the foods you want and there is no persuading you otherwise, you learn only when you want to and you understand the power of an impromptu nap to get you out of things.  You love to dance and your moves involve every part of your body.  You love listening to music and I see how you feel it all.  You would spend all day either gaming or watching other people gaming on youtube and you struggled to think of what you wanted for your birthday other than 'two cakes'. With it still being lockdown, I am much more willing to go along with this.

You are so excited to have your birthday, even though it will be nothing like what we are used to.  I want it to be special for you, I want you to smile and laugh and feel birthday joy all day and my dream is that when you (finally) fall asleep tomorrow night, probably snuggled up in my arms, that you go to sleep content and happy.

Finn, you are a force of nature.  You are vibrant, confident, overflowing with personality and the world needs to be ready for you.  You frustrate me regularly but you make me proud just as often.  I hope you never stop being so unreservedly yourself.  You have come so far, you have proved everyone wrong and I will take a moment tomorrow to really remember what an amazing little person you are.

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be

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Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Looking to Travel Long term.


We love the idea of travelling long term as a family and if money were no object I would want nothing more than to take a year out and travel the world. At the moment we are limited to school holidays but we are still thinking about any longer options that may give us.

There are few better things than being able to travel with your family. After all, getting away from the stresses of everyday life is something that’s only made better than being able to do it with the people you care about the most. One of the most common feelings that a lot of people have when they come home after traveling is that they wish their trip could have lasted longer. Well, why shouldn’t it? A lot of people find that taking months or more to travel is one of the most enriching experiences in the world and something that they treasure for their entire lives. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when thinking of going traveling long-term.

What to do with your home?

The most obvious question is when a lot of people think about traveling for a long time is what they will do with their home. If you’re looking to travel indefinitely then you might find that selling your home is an option but that’s probably not the case for most people. If that’s the case then why not think about renting out your home. That way you don’t have to worry about making mortgage payments as well as paying for the cost of your travels. You should also think about storage solutions for keeping all of the stuff that you’re not going to be able to take with you.

How can people reach you?

One of the hardest things about travelling is that it can make you somewhat difficult to reach. Obviously with the rise of the internet and smartphones this has become a whole lot easier but you still need to think about ways that people will be able to reach you by post as well. One of the best options is to use a site like to set up a virtual mailbox. That way you have somewhere that your mail can be sent no matter where you are and you can access it whenever you are able to.

Are you all happy?

Long-term travel is no small feat and it’s something that you have to be sure that everyone is in agreement with. Your entire family needs to be absolutely sure that it’s something that they’re ready to do. Otherwise, you could end up in a position where some of you are having an amazing time and some of you want to come home as soon as possible. This is the kind of decision that takes time and a lot of discussion between you and your family before committing to anything. Rushing into things can often just cause problems.

Of course, one thing that you have to keep in mind when it comes to travelling long term is that this isn’t the sort of thing that you can play by ear. If you’re planning on travelling for long periods of time, likely over some pretty long distances, then you need to be sure that you’re planning it all incredibly carefully. 

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