In August we were lucky to be able to make it on holiday and we went on a cruise. It was aboard the MSC Virtuosa and we cruised around the UK on the following schedule:

Day 1 – Southampton (boarding)

Day 2 – Isle of Portland Day 3 – Day at Sea

Day 4 – Liverpool

Day 5 – Greenock (Scotland)

Day 6 – Belfast (N.Ireland)

Day 7 – Day at Sea Day 8 – Southampton (Disembark)

I’ve loved reading everyone else’s 2020 summaries and couldn’t miss doing one myself to look back on years to come and remember how far we’ve come. Soon this will all be history!

2020 has been a challenge to put it mildly for everyone. The saying goes that we’re all going through the same storm in very different boats. We have laughed and cried, hugged, fallen out and made up again. There has been cheerful voices and shouty times too. We’ve had some highs and some very sad lows. Most of all we have so much to be thankful for still. We are lucky to have a nice home to lockdown in, where we’ve got a garden to play in and food on the table. Warmth when we need it and space to chill out.

Thankful for jobs that meant we were still getting paid every month but so hard to be good employees while juggling home school and a 2 year old. Grateful that a lot of my job could be adapted to work at home but glad I was able to be in when needed. Sometimes I’d feel jealous of those on furlough and time to help their children but am thankful we survived.

Proud of all my NHS colleagues who stepped up and went above and beyond without a second thought for themselves. Proud to work for the NHS. Thankful for all key workers and anyone who kept the country going through the dark times.

Missed seeing my family so much, but know we need to keep them safe. Missed meeting up with friends but learnt to adapt to Zoom get togethers. Thankful for friends and neighbours being there to help when we needed it.

Most of all ,for me thanks to my 2020 teammate Neil who I’ve tag teamed with all year, those early morning work logons, the late nights and the weekend check ins were worth it to juggle the homeschooling. Some days the boys did nothing but run feral but we got there in the end. They made it through unscathed!

I managed to keep running (to keep me sane and have some me time) and have clocked up 468miles (next years target is 874 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats).

I’ve drank way to much red wine and gin but if we look on the bright side I’ve expanded my wine and gin tasting palate!I taught myself woodwork and built the covered pergola and outdoor kitchen. Gaining tools and skills along the way, next years plan is new bathrooms and many more DIY jobs. My first tattoo was cancelled during lockdown 2.0 (much to my mums delight) but I will get it done eventually! (Sorry mum!)

2021 will be better, it has to be, we have no choice, we have to keep moving forward. For all my friends and family who’ve lost someone this year, my heart is with you and I hope you find comfort in those still here with us. 2021 lets have you, adventure is out there!

So we made it to Friday of week 1 in lockdown. Somehow we did it. The first week of the school being closed. It has helped massively that the weather has been sunny, so I could throw open the doors and let the boys play outside. Meaning I could get on with work.

I read something this week that made me really think. This isn’t home schooling, this is crisis schooling. Home schooling is something very different. Home schooling is actively choosing to deregister your child and dedicate your time to teaching them. Thats not what we are doing. We are trying to keep the children safe whilst working full-time jobs. Of course I want them to continue their learning but it’s not easy. Its even harder whilst trying to stop Roo from being a menace and demanding attention.

He’s got up to all sorts this week including eating the bread I put out for the birds to have (which did make me laugh…things aren’t that bad we still have food!).

A little boy is eating torn up pieces of bread directly from a bird table

This week I’ve tried to take it in turns with them to sit down with them and get through the work that school is sending everyday whilst still getting on with my work. On some days I’ve not been able to put the time into getting my job done so I’ve worked in the evening as well to make up the hours. I don’t want to let anyone down at work. Working for the NHS we are all in this together, I need to be part of the team and make sure I’m doing everything I can to help where I can.

I’ve probably not done enough with them but I can try harder next week. In my head I’ll be happy if they get through a piece of writing, a maths exercise and some creativity everyday. I’m very grateful that school are sending work each day, it helps me focus with the boys. Even if we don’t get through it.

The climbing frame arrived so thats something to put together at the weekend. I do hope we get some more sunny days over the next few weeks!

But I’ve done it, I got through week 1. With fingers tightly crossed I hope we only have to go through another 11 weeks of this but I know that we may be facing more. If schools don’t go back until September then we have a very long road ahead but we can do it. We don’t have any choice. We CAN do this!

Week one over and out!

J

I know every man and his dog is talking about Covid-19 right now but nobody else can tell our story. I debated for a while if I would write about it but we’re living through history right now. If only for the childrens memory in future years to come I’ve decided to try and write a diary. I have started a vlog too but I won’t be uploading that until this strange time is over. I find vlogs way easier to do as I’m just talking but I wanted to write some words too.

Today is Tuesday 24th March, lots and lots have already happened. Yesterday Boris Johnson (the current Prime Minister) addressed the nation and effectively put the whole country on lockdown. Mainly because of all the idiots who are not listening to advice about staying indoors. We had a lovely sunny weekend last weekend and so many people were just out and about mingling together despite being told to social distance. Social distancing is staying at least 2m away from anyone who is not a member of your household.

Schools are closed to all those who are not key workers. Even though I work for the NHS we are lucky that Neil is home (working form home) so we are able to care for the children at home and keep them as safe as we can. I hope that all the teachers, assistants and nursery nurses are able to stay safe during this time.

All non essential shops have been ordered to close. Therefore now only food shops, pharmacies etc are allowed to be open.

My main worries (apart form the virus) is how we carry on teaching the children, whilst taking care of Roo and working. I’m stressed out daily by the sheer amount we have to get done. I’m trying to just think of one day at a time. So far we’ve got through two days of school and work and survived. We have been super lucky with the weather though as it’s been sunny. I do hope we have lots more sunny days as we can expand into the garden on those days and not feel so cooped up in the house.

I’ve set up a classroom in the playroom so they have space to work. I didn’t want to do it at the kitchen table as I’d be constantly cleaning it away and not able to set aside an area just for them to work.

We set up a spare laptop so they can do any online work set by school too, rather than using our laptops. My much loved MacBook is already on the edge of being ok, I’m dreading the day it finally gives up!

The boys school have been amazing so far at sending work daily over the class dojo app. It’s given me some direction in their learning and what they should be doing. Thomas is much harder work in getting him to sit down and do learning as he just doesn’t want to. But I’m trying very hard to not lose my patience with him and encourage him to do his work. I really don’t want him to suffer because of this.

I have ordered some swings and a climbing frame for them and last week I got a new trampoline. My hope is that it keeps them occupied and loving the outside. Hopefully they will come this week so we can build them at the weekend.

Countdown

I’ve made a countdown chart with 14 weeks on it. I know nobody can say when this will end but I’m hopeful! So each weekday I can colour off a square and see how far we’ve come. I have to break it down as 14 weeks sounds like an awfully long time. Theres no way I can think of it as a whole like that or I’ll cry.

The biggest cause of my sadness is not being able to see my mum and dad. I’ve never spent so much time apart from my mum. I am massively grateful for technology and FaceTime her most days. We may only be 45 minutes apart in the car but we feel like a world away right now. I can’t wait to see my mum and dad again when this is over.

I’ve always been a positive person so I am looking for hope in this situation. I know in my head this will come to an end and life will return to normal again. I hope this makes people come together. My hope is that it helps people to realise that everyday normal is ok and that theres so much to be grateful for in life.

Over and out for now x

Some days boys I do wonder if I am ever enough for you?

I want to be the best mum I can be for you, I want you to know how much I love you. I want you to remember how hard I try everyday to be there for you.

I want to be able to spend time with each of you. Helping with homework, listening to you read. Helping with phonics and counting. Taking you swimming or teaching you to ride your bike. I want to always say ‘yes’ to your requests but often I can’t and I’m sorry boys.

But life’s so busy, work takes a lot of the week for me and your dad. Then time at home is taken up with house work. But I try, I try very hard to make it fun. I can’t ignore the housework or we’d live in a mess. If I didn’t sort the uniforms and your bags and things you wouldn’t have what you need for the week.

The there’s the flip side of being an employee. Am I doing enough at work. Is my mind distracted by thoughts of the boys and what’s the next thing I have to rush home to get them to on time. Do I give enough of myself to my job? Often I don’t feel like I am doing. Maybe I should do more but I don’t know how. I want to be the best I can be but it never feels like I am doing.

Am I doing enough for my friends. I’m certainly not keeping in touch enough. I’ve missed birthdays and anniversaries and that’s not what a friend should do.

I have so much I want to do, so much creativity. Theres so many vlogs I want to edit and publish to get your memories out there for you to keep forever but I just can’t find the time.

How do I make myself more productive, where can I find the extra time from? Should I start staying up later to cram more in?

So I’m sorry boys, I’m sorry for when I have to say no. I’m sorry for all the times I have to say ‘not now’, or ‘I’m too busy’. Please just know that I want to say yes but I just can’t let things slide and end up dropping a ball on my constant juggle to get everything right for you.

So when I started my blog back in 2014, I feel like I read other peoples blogs much more.

These days I barely open my laptop. The way I see the world outside my own family and home is on my phone. My favourite thing to do in an evening is watch some youtube vlogs or have a look through a few of my favourite peoples instagram stories.

I will read a blog post if its something I’ve searched for, I find some of the instructional ones really fab. I will search for reviews of things I have thought about buying too, those posts are often really useful too. But I don’t tend to follow a blog adn check back for new posts to read. Maybe its just the way everyone is now, dipping in and out when they come across posts that they want to read or have searched for.

One of my most popular posts is about my last breastfeeding with my middle baby, if you want to read it, its this one.

I love the visualness of a vlog or instagram story or even a just a picture. While we are talking about them I’ll link mine here too incase you fancy a follow.

Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/c/LyricGrace

Instagram –http://instagram.com/alittlelyrical

But I don’t want to lose my blog, its too old now and has too much of my boys growing up on it, so I will continue writing little and often. More than likely my posts will about our adventures and letters to the boys as they grow. Time passes so quickly.

Today and everyday I will slow down, soak in the moment and enjoy the minutes I have with the boys. I’m a very lucky mummy.

I’ve seen so many little posts recently about the turn of the decade and summaries and I really wanted to just sit down and think about the last decade for me. I wasn’t sure where to share this as I love to write but I’m not sure that the people of facebook want to read it so I chose here instead.

This is my space on the internet so why not use it for my summary. Theres probably only a handful of people who want to read it anyway and three of those people (the boys) won’t want to read it until many years to come I imagine.

When 2009 turned to 2010 I don’t remember people mentioning that it was the end of the decade as much as people seem to be at the moment. It’s really made me think about the last 10 years.

This decade was when all my children came into the world. My little niece too was born. They were all born within the same 10 year group. They have all only ever known one decade. They are now all entering their second decade on earth in terms of the calendar. Thats something pretty special.

2010 – The start of the decade. This was the year I found out I was pregnant with our oldest. It was December and it was a wonderful end of year surprise for us. 2011 looked like it was going to be amazing. By the next Christmas I’d be off on maternity leave as a new mum. It was also the last time we’d go to Walt Disney World without our own children.

2011 – This was the year that made me a mummy. Not just someones mummy but a mummy to Thomas. I was his mum and he needed me. born in August he was my sole focus for so long. It wasn’t easier. I thought it would be easier than it was but I got through it. As 2011 turned to 2012 we were in bed trying to get a precious little snatched sleep, he didn’t sleep though the night then so it was hard still and I hadn’t learnt to co-sleep safely so I didn’t know anything different than the constant tiredness.

2012 – Things picked up, I learnt things about Thomas and he taught me lots. I went back to work. I learnt to juggle being a mum and working. He left me for nursery, he started growing up. It was also the year Thomas first went to Walt Disney World, he loved it, we loved it. Memories were made.

2013 – In the summer of this year we decided that another baby is something we’d love to have and were blessed very quickly with another little person for me to cook. A person who would join us the year after. We went to Walt Disney again with Thomas and he was ever more grown up this time having turned 2. More memories were made.

2014 – When one became two and Felix was born at home in our first house together. Right there in the living room one magical morning he joined us, and one child became two. We were a family of four. Second time round I found it easier, I loved being off with Felix (and Thomas).

2015 – I went back to work again. early this time because we needed the money and I was eager to get back. Back to being someone other than Mum. I loved being mum but needed to be known as Jane again and use my brain more. I missed my job and the people I worked with. So with two in nursery we somehow made it work. I have no idea how. the other big surprise of the year was a house move. We’d both realised we’d outgrown our first house. It was never in the plan to be a family of 4 in that house. We both wrote a wish list and worked hard to manifest what we wanted. It all worked out amazingly. If I wrote the story you wouldn’t believe it but we are grateful everyday for the way it worked out. We got our dream house and after months of delays we moved in during November. The final last big even of 2015 was Thomas starting school. I was worried about him, he’d only just turned 4 and was off on his own. Who would hug him if he felt lonely. Who would help him at lunchtime? He did it though, he went off on his own and did it. I was so proud of the little dude.

2016 – Then came his school move, having moved house we also moved his school. Sad in some ways because he had settled really well and loved his teacher but the journey each day would have put stress on us and with a good school just 30 seconds walk away it seemed like a no brainer for him to change. In a way only Thomas can he settled really well in his new school. This year also held a shadow as Neil was out of work for 6 months, a worrying and stressful time that got him down. But we got through it and became strong for it. We survived and he was appointed to a new role. Back in work by the end of 2016. This was also a year with a high point which was Felix’s first trip to Walt Disney World. We made memories there knowing that life was on the back up for us.

2017 – I’d been aching for a third baby and this was the year it happened. We were lucky again to be able to grow another little person. This time he was born in November at home into my arms. He completed us, he was our little Roo. His first Christmas happened when he was a little over 3 weeks old. It was a chaotic time but we made it through.

2018 – Big year for big changes. With three smalls to care for and me on maternity a wonderful job opportunity came up and I went for it. I was so lucky to get the job and just as happy to cut short my maternity leave to start the role in September 2018. I love the job and still do. I am lucky to work with a bunch of lovely people who’ve welcomed me into the NHS trust and I’ve settled so well. Also we were lucky to get another trip to Walt Disney World in. This was by far one of the best we’ve had and memories were once again made as a family fo 5.

2019 – Now I’m a super positive person and I’ve had so so so many things to be grateful for this year which I have said thanks for. On the other side though it has been tough. But we did it as a team we made it through. I’ve had to stay in hospital with various children on three different occasions for a few nights at a time. It’s was really hard when Roo was so poorly on a couple of occasions earlier this year. I always feel so so bad when I can’t get into work because the children are ill. I spent mothers day in hospital but was grateful for a visit from the other two during the day. We did it though. We made it and for that I am so grateful.

So theres my whistle stop tour of the last 10 years.

I couldn’t have done it without my rock of a husband walking beside me in everything we do. I am so grateful we walk this path together.

Which brings me to the next 10, our hopes, dreams, wishes. So many things I’d like to do, accomplish and explore.

By the end of the next decade my children will be 18, 15 and 12……wait what!?

Thats beyond my comprehension! They will all be in secondary school (well Thomas will have left and be on to his next chapter in life.

Also apparently the millennium was 20 years ago….whaaaaaaa!!!

To my beautiful children, I love you to the moon and back and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years of adventures brings us as a family!

x

Soooooooooo if you’re not the sort of person who likes to hear about Christmas look away now.

If you’re still here then we must have something in common! Christmas is coming and I can’t wait!

The first signs of Christmas are starting now. One of the first things I love doing is visiting Bents Garden and Home Centre Christmas displays.

I’ve written about Bents since my blog began. One of my first posts back in 2014 was about Bents at Christmas. I love the place. Its amazing! All year round there’s something for everyone, young and old.

2017 saw the opening year for their Winter Food Market and each year so far its returned.

This year I was so excited that the team at Bents invited me to a sneaky preview of their Christmas displays, which officially opened yesterday (16th October). Each year the room displays are just amazing, this year it seems to have expanded once again and now all the Bents colleagues are getting involved in decorating the store. I think one of my personal favourite parts of 2019 shopping area is the lit up archways, its magical!

The table displays are inspiring! And the cafe display this year is just stunning. I can’t pick a favourite display, they are all awesome and very Christmassy.

I’ve made a little vlog about Christmas at Bents this year because pictures don’t do it justice.

Of course the best way to see it is to visit Bents which is easy to find and has loads of free parking onsite.

If you haven’t been to Bents before make sure you leave yourself enough time to see everything. Theres so much to see, including the food hall, plants, home, gifts, clothing and of course Christmas. Theres a huge choice of places to eat, you’ll defiantly find something to suit everyone.

In better weather theres even mini golf to play.

Thanks so much to Bents for inviting me for a sneak peak of Christmas. I can’t wait to take the boys next week!

A few months ago we were asked if we’d like to be part of the blogger board game club. Being part of the board game club meant we were gifted a game to play and asked to write about it. I was not paid to do this and under no obligation to write favourably. So as always this is our honest thoughts about Cobra Paw. So far we’ve also reviewed Harry Potter Dobble and Science Museum Timeline.

Cobra Paw, manufactured by Bananagrams Inc. and imported by Asmodee

When I had free choice of games to pick for playing this was the final pick of three. I’d not heard of it before. Where as the other two I had heard of before. I picked this as it’s aimed at age 6 and above. Although I’d say you would be able to play from around age 4. Having three boys, two of which are 8 and 5 I thought it would be perfect.

The game contents include 21 tiles (a bit like dominoes) and two dice all with symbols on. As well as a set of instructions. The tiles are really well made and feel nice to handle.

To play the game you place all 21 tiles face up on the table. Roll both dice and the first person to pick up the tile with the matching symbols wins that tile. The aim of the game is simple, first to win 6 tiles wins the game.

It doesn’t take much time to finish a round of the game which is good for little people with shorter attention spans.

In the instructions there’s also three other variations of the game that you can play which keep play interesting.

Review Round Up

What we loved about the game:

  • It’s very easy to play
  • As long as you have a table you can play
  • Easy for anyone to understand
  • Game can be over quickly but can be repeated lots of times and still won’t be the same
  • The tiles and dice are really well made, like a lovely set of heavy dominoes – feel like soap stone
Cobra paw the game with tiles in front of the box

What we thought could have been improved:

Not a whole lot really as it’s great, the only thing we thought might be better is if it came with a drawstring bag to keep everything in. The box is lovely and well designed, with great graphics but takes up much more space than keeping the times in a little bag would. Even though the box is quite small it could be stored somewhere else in a little bag.

Overall it’s a fab quick game to fill some time that’s suitable for both adults and children. Warning though file your nails before you start or you may get snatched in grabbing the tile at the same time as someone else….or is that just me bing highly competitive?!

You can buy Cobra Paw at Amazon and other retailers. Thanks to Asmodee for sending us Cobra Paw to try out.

Rain rain go away, come again when schools are back!

Whats with this weather? Why has it not stopped rain gin for a week or so. Summer holidays are supposed to be about picnics and late nights in the garden. Not couped up indoors for days on end.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel for us last weekend when M&S offered us a picnic.

You may have seen that recently M&S launched their ‘Little Shop’ range. I was not involved with launching the campaign. I found out about it through my friend Sim who writes at Sim’s Life Blog. If you haven’t checked her out she’s an awesome lady! Anyway after I found out about the Little shop range the boys and I went into the store to buy some for ourselves. I’ve had a life long love of miniature things which started with dolls houses as a child, so these are perfect.

Little shop are miniature versions of M&S favourite products. You get one free with every £20 you spend in their food shop. You can then buy extras such as the trolley and display case.

After I spoke about them on instagram M&S contact us to see if we’d like to celebrate the limited edition Percy Pig golden money box with a picnic. I wan’t going to turn down some yummy food! So I picked up our gifted package of food all set for a fantastic weekend. I was not paid to write this post, I was not even asked to write about the food. I just chose to because it’s another family memory to keep for us.

Given the weather forecast a carpet picnic and film day it was for us. M&S gifted us the ingredients for their new Chris Baker Steak sandwich with chimichurri recipe. Cooking is right up Neils street so he was very chuffed to be able to get stuck in. I have to say the chimichurri was amazing and tasted so fresh.

The thing that surprised me the most was something I probably wouldn’t have chosen but my goodness they are good. I’m so glad we got to try them, we will definitely be buying more! And that was the Plant Kitchen Cauliflower Popcorn. They cone with a spicy buffalo dip and are vegan too.

This was also Roo’s favourite thing of the day, he ate an awful lot of them!

So thanks to M&S for brightening up what was otherwise a dreary day, we ate amazing yummy food, watched films and stayed dry. Now if the sun would just come out that would end the week nicely!