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My February 2021 Favourites 

My February 2021 Favourites 

It feels like there is a tiny gleam of light at the end of a very long tunnel. The last few days of February we’ve been treated to some days of blue skies and sunlight. Here are some of My February 2021 Favourites. 

I’m not getting too excited about the dates of the lockdown ease and then lift. I’ll wait to see what happens when the kids go back to school and we reach a steady pace before I start looking further forward than each day.

Orphan black clones characters
Image – Wikipedia

TV/Films

We’ve been watched Orphan Black on Netflix which is really good. We’re on series three now, and it’s reached a definite peak of us not knowing what’s going to happen next or how it’s going to end. Would definitely recommend it though.

The kids have watched the Jurassic World animated series which I really enjoyed as well so definitely worth a watch.

Not strictly TV but As we’re on a huge money-saving/making journey, I’ve been binge-watching Lara Joanna Jarvis’ YouTube channel and have already made some changes so that we can save more money.

Books

I like to read every night before I go to sleep even if I’m really knackered. It’s just part of my routine.

I’ve just finished reading The Day My Husband Left – it was an okay read about a woman whose husband dies unexpectedly but who left clues that unlock a family secret that changes life for all of them.

 

I’m also still reading Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas which is for the business side of my brain. I love how she’s simplified her life to make everything work for her and her family whilst removing negativity.

Music

I love a good kitchen disco whilst I’m making dinner and tidying up. I’ve been listening to a lot of 90’s music recently which the kids seem to like as well. Some of it’s a bit cringeworthy though!

Beauty

Thanks to my Birchbox Advent Calendar I have a lot of new products to choose from at the moment. I’ve tried a couple of new lipsticks, but none of them have come up to the Estée Lauder standards.

Food

I’m guessing, like everyone that you’re sick of cooking each and every meal at the moment. I can wait to sit in a cafe or restaurant and someone bring food to me. We have had more takeaways recently but as it’s one of the only ways we can treat ourselves at the moment I feel it’s completely justified.

Our fave food at the moment is a picky plate lunch. We have a selection of meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruits and we can help ourselves. This works so much better for Freddie as he’s a bit of a funny eater. He’s not a fussy eater, it’s more a case of him being in the mood to eat or not. So a picky plate gives him the option to have a little bit of something of his choice and makes things slightly less stressful.

We’re going to jump aboard the Hello Fresh bandwagon next month for a bit of a shakeup and to try some new recipes.

Clothes

I’m not a huge shopper but even I’m fed up with wearing the same day in day out. So I bought a few new bits for myself in Sainsbury’s the other day with my favourite being a black tiger t-shirt.

I wear a lot of blacks and try and add a bit of colour but ultimately it’s my safety net.

Our Family Life 2021 (8/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (8/52)

Monday – Oh how lovely is it that it’s a Monday and we don’t have to bribe and encourage (I definitely mean shout) our kids through the schoolwork.

We’ve played games, made dens and just messed about really. I even gave Freddie an unplanned haircut. It was his first ever haircut and I did it!

There he was happily playing in the bath and when I washed his hair it fell down between his shoulder blades, so I gave it a snip. I’m sure that if he had straight hair it would look awful, but as he has a curly mop I think it looks pretty good.

Tuesday was Pancake Day but also a work day for me so we had them for dinner. I love a pancake with just sugar and lemon on, but of course my kids like ALL the toppings. So we had a choice of:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Banana
  • Nutella
  • Sugar
  • Lemon
  • Maple syrup
  • Whipped cream

Wednesday and it’s raining still. The weather is really setting the mood at the moment. It’s utter crap!

Thursday I was back in the office. I love working from home but it’s also nice to be in a different environment, especially at the moment. I was sat in an office with people I don’t know and it was interesting being the outsider listening to the goings on. The topics of conversation ranged from being fed up of lockdown to funerals and what they were all having for dinner.

Friday was just the usual homeschool battle.

Saturday Belle just wanted to chill in her room doing crafts and watching YouTube. Freddie and I started the planning for making my Nephews 21st birthday cake. He’s having a big fat chocolate cake so that will be fun to make.

Sunday it was my birthday – My 40th Birthday. I missed out on a lockdown birthday last year but here we are. We were supposed to go away somewhere with a hot tub with a load of cheese and wine, and just have a chilled time. Instead we took ourselves off to the beach for a walk with the dog topped off with ice cream and hot donuts.

Our kids are never too cold to go in the water. Freddie didn’t want to come out of the water. Thank god we got him a puddle suit which saved him from a total soaking. Charlie (our dog) was very protective of Freddie and kept crying when the waves came in. It’s nice to know that the fur boy is looking out for his little human brother.

Ryan thought he was hilarious turning up with a wheely Zimmer frame. Freddie quite liked pushing it and sitting in the basket and being wheeled around. Hopefully I won’t be needing it for quite some time yet!

Our Family Life 2021 (7/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (7/52)

Monday was homeschooling and the day was going well until I decided to pull out a unit to clean behind and found mould half way up the wall. Not just a little bit but black and fuzzy. I cleaned it off but it’s killed the wallpaper. We’ve obviously had the heating on a lot lately but it was only about six weeks ago that I pulled all the units out so that’s grown really quickly. Will have to keep an eye on that as well as opening some windows.

Tuesday was a work day – happily skipped up the stairs to leave Chris to look after the kids.

Wednesday was a sad day. My step-dad has cancer which was diagnosed when I was pregnant with Freddie. It was past the point of operation from the beginning and has progressed to his lymph nodes, bones and now his liver. He’s been declining slowly since then with each appointment, scan or test showing something more. With his illness his memory has declined also, and more recently he’s struggled to hold a conversation and is very confused. He’s now been put on an ‘End of Life’ Pathway. We did go for a visit today after asking the advice from the Hospice Care Nurse. He’s still at home with my mum at the moment, and it was lovely to see him. He even managed a bit of his witty banter which was nice. The whole coronavirus means that we haven’t seen him much over the last year apart from the occasional wave from their balcony. It makes me so so angry!

Thursday I was back working in the hospital where I’ll be working in a different department for the time being. It was weird being back in the office as I’ve been working from home since before Christmas, but it was also nice to be around people that are taller than 5ft and can talk about things other than Spongebob, Paw Patrol and what snacks they want next.

Friday morning I scrolled through Facebook and a memory popped up if Belle when she was the same age as Freddie is now. They look so similar it’s unreal. Belle absolutely hates it but I love it. Freddie thought the picture was of him. What do you think?

Saturday night Chris decided to make us some nice cocktails using a set of mixers that he’d bought. They were very nice right up until I was very very sick. I don’t know if it was because they were really potent (they were) or I just can’t handle my drink. Enough said on that!?

Valentines Day -Do you do much to celebrate? We don’t usually go out. The set menu Valentine’s dinners seem a bit forced, so we usually have something nice to drink and a takeaway. We gave the kids some sweeties and chocolates, and Chris got Isabelle a rose as he’s been doing for the last few years. Needless to say that I didn’t fancy a drink with my food!

Bring on half term!!

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Our Money Saving Journey to Buying our First House

Our Money Saving Journey to Buying our First House

Buying our first house has been on our radar for quite a while, but circumstances have meant that this hasn’t been something we’ve been able to do so far, but now it feels like we need to knuckle down and get this milestone ticked off our life To-Do List.

Currently we’re in a three bedroom house and we desperately need four bedrooms so that each of our children can have a room of their own. With big age gaps, it isn’t possible for any of them to share, and so Freddie is currently still in our bedroom. As you can imagine, we’re bursting at the seams and it feels like we shuffle a lot of stuff around just so that everything has a place of it’s own.

Help to Buy Scheme

In the beginning of last year we looked at the Help to Buy scheme and got very excited about a new build that was fairly local to where we are currently. The houses were to be built ready for moving in around June 2020 which seemed absolutely perfect for us.

The biggest factor of using the Help to Buy scheme was that we wouldn’t need to find a huge deposit as well as having a brand spanking new house that wouldn’t need anything doing to it. As an NHS worker, there was also an extra incentive with lots of the house builders.

The houses we were looking at were being built by Barratt Homes and they weren’t yet at the stage of having show houses available to look around, but there was another area being built near us so we booked an appointment to go and have a look at the kind of houses they offered.

The houses that we looked at were beautifully decorated, I would have happily packed up and moved in at first sight. There were two houses that we were taken around, and both of them were so lovely. One house had the perfect downstairs with an open plan kitchen opening out onto the garden with french doors, and the other house had the perfect upstairs with large bedrooms, the master being absolutely gorgeous.

If we could take the downstairs from the first and the upstairs from the second we would have literally found the perfect home.

The only thing we could fault was the really small gardens. Isabelle would have had to sacrifice her much loved 12ft trampoline which I’m guessing will be an epic battle.

chris had his sensible head on whereas I was already thinking about how soon we’d be able to move in!

We just had to wait for the site to be set up.

Then the whole coronavirus happened and building was suspended until who knows when.

We’d just have to sit tight, save up as much as we can and wait for the pandemic to end.

Then the building started and we waited to be able to book in for a viewing and start the ball rolling. We got a call from their sales team, and then the news that they were’nt building the four bedroom houses until 2022!

We were a bit gutted as the Help to Buy scheme is only available for newly built houses.

So it was back to the drawing board.

Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long before we found out about another development not too far from us and made enquiries. This time it was with Taylor Wimpey, but because of the pandemic we had to go through the eligibility process and accepted before we were able to go and view any of the show rooms.

We sat and went through the process over the phone and were given the news that we didn’t meet the criteria for the Help to Buy scheme.

This was because Chris has a job that pays a basic salary and the rest is commission based, but they can only take the basic salary into account even though he has proof of earnings etc.

This is the same for self-employed people, even if you have proof of earnings so it’s not accessible to all.

Poof ….. Just like that our house buying dream was taken away for the foreseeable.

We now have to go down the traditional house buying route which means we need a lot more money for a deposit, and so our saving journey begins. One thing that made me chuckle was that the mortgage broker kept referring to us looking at secondhand properties. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody calling a house ‘secondhand’ before!

I’m going to post regular updates about our journey and some insight into the things we’re doing to achieve it.

Wish us luck x

 

Our Family Life 2021 (6/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (6/52)

Goodbye January – Hello February!

January felt like the longest month ever. It was the hangover of Christmas with lockdown thrown in for good measure. So what’s to look forward to in February? Half term of course. Not because we have plans but because it means no homeschooling!

Having said that, the homeschooling reigns are over to Chris this week as he’s off work. I love how he checks the teachers feedback every day to see if he (yes, HE) has been given any Dojo points. Apparently we’re in competition and he thinks he’s a much better teacher than me!

Tuesday was just homeschooling and not much else. look at that hair? I know the pic is a bit blurry but he’s two and doesn’t stay still at all. I think when this lockdown is over we might need to shorten these beautiful curls. It’s ridiculous how much like his sister that he looks!

Wednesday I went for my Covid-19 vaccine. I’m considered a key worker, but far from being frontline working with poorly people I work in admin for the NHS.

I went into the building and was entered into a queue, all socially distanced using spots on the floor. We moved from spot to spot until we reached the desk where we were booked before joining the next lot of spots on the floor. At the individual jabbing stations, there was one admin person and two nurses. I was asked a series of questions before presenting my arm to be jabbed.

A short sharp prick later and it was done. I was then led out to an area where you had to sit for 15 minutes to make sure we felt well. This was the hardest bit as all the windows and doors were open and it was freezing.

I felt fine, and that was that until mid April when I get my second jab.

We also went on a little bike ride which turned into a puddle jumping session. Fred was so wet that I had to pour the puddle water out of his boots. He loved it though so it was worth it.

Thursday my arm was sore. It started to progressively hurt as the day went on yesterday, but today it’s hurting a lot. Small price to pay for getting that one step closer to normality.

Friday we needed to get out of the house so Belle got on with her schoolwork so that we could have a quick lunch and get outside. We were all ready to go when it chucked down so we waited until it stopped and left. We went to the quay and the kids had ice cream and I had a piece of blackberry and yoghurt topped flapjack which is the nicest I’ve ever had. We had a lovely walk and felt better for being outside.

Saturday we just a day of chilling out whilst the kids played. It was much needed before Chris went back to work.

Sunday was a day of playing games and Playdoh. Freddie can now hold his attention long enough to play a couple of games. He likes matching pairs and the shopping game from orchard toys which are quick and easy games. Chris was back at work so it was just me and the kids.

Only one more week of homeschooling before half term.

We CAN do this x

Our Family Life 2021 (5/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (5/52)

Another week, and today is another work day but I can’t concentrate one little bit. I have a funeral to go to tomorrow and it’s the only thing I can think of. Losing someone, particularly now whilst we aren’t able to see people is so hard. Working was a welcome distraction.

Tuesday 26th January – it was the funeral of my brother-in-law today. Taken far too soon. It was a shock and will be for some time.

The funeral was very different to the usual set up, but I’m glad that we were given the chance to say goodbye. It was very strange wearing a mask throughout. It was hot and your your face underneath literally gets covered in snot. There was no wake, no drink to toast his life, but it’s something we can do when the time is right.

Wednesday was our lovely Charlie’s 7th birthday, and not a year goes by without cake and presents for him.

Making a cake and wrapping presents for him was a welcome distraction after yesterday.

We love how he knows when presents are for him. He throws himself into shredding the wrapping paper making so much mess, but it’s all part of the fun.

Much like children, I can’t believe that our fur baby is seven already (49 in dog years). As a labradoodle he’s a bit of a nutter by nature, but he has slowed down over the last year or so. He too is craving the attention of people other than us.

Thursday – let’s just say. Homeschooling, work and a toddler – Day written off!

Friday our son comes home with his son which is always a lovely distraction. Freddie loves having his nephew here to play. Ryan’s currently working towards his A level in maths which he needs for his engineering course. I’ve no doubt that he’ll smash this if he puts his mind to it.

Saturday was just a day of playing. I had intended for us to go for a walk but the weather is absolutely shocking at the moment.

Sunday is the first day of a week off for Chris. He works really long hours and so we don’t really get much time together so we spent the day chilling, playing and being silly on the switch. We even roped him into a Just Dance session. Shame that I couldn’t sneak a video of him absolutely killing the dad dancing.

Like Christmas everybody is looking forward to the back of January. It’s been a tough, long month……..

Our Family Life 2021 (4/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (4/52)

Monday’s I would usually be at home with the kids, but I’ve had temporarily change my work days to Monday and Friday to fit in with Chris’ job.

We also had a delivery of rock cakes and chocolate cakes from Nanny which was a welcome treat.

Homeschooling will probably feature in these diaries quite a bit since it’s taking up most of our time.

To break up the day a bit Belle made us lunch today. We had a picky lunch which is a favourite of ours. It’s just loads of randoms like crackers, cheese, pickles, cucumber etc.

As the days are long and stressful for all of us, we have to take the wind where we can and pick our fights, and know when to just let things go. We finished up the day with a bedroom disco which the kids love and it gives me a minute to regain my sanity.

Thursday was a work day for me, and I should confess that it’s one of the days that I wake up with a smile on my face knowing that I’m not the one homeschooling today. There’s definitely a spring in my step on the way upstairs for a day of hard graft. I think Chris appreciates that staying home with the kids isn’t the day off that he once thought!

I even took the opportunity to nip out to the shop ON MY OWN! It was lovely to be outside without the constant kid whinging noises or somebody wanting something. I’m not ashamed to say that I took my sweet time walking there and back!

Friday…..looking forward to the weekend and therefore the end of the school week. I don’t know if it was because Belle knew it was friday, but she ploughed on with her work so we finished off the day watching a couple of episodes of the Jurassic World cartoon series on Netflix which was really nice for all of us.

We also had a huge duplicate session and made robots.

Saturday – We seem to be working on incentives at the moment. Using treats and activities as a way of getting through each day. Most of the time it works so for now we’ll keep doing this. It’s totally exhausting but we take each day as it comes.

Belle wanted to do some baking this weekend so fairy cakes was the simple thing to do. We made a batch of 12 and split them up so that they both had six each to decorate.

Isabelle spent ages decorating hers whilst Freddie was done in around seven minutes, but he enjoyed it all the same.

Sunday was just a day of staying in pyjamas until nearly lunchtime, playing and chilling. We need to get outside but the weather is shocking at the moment with so much rain.

Another week down…..another week closer to the end of the pandemic!!

Our Family Life 2021 (3/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (3/52)

Another week of homeschooling to get through, but so far so good. We’re managing with a little bit of bribery, and lots of encouragement from Belles teacher who sends a video every morning just to say hello and outline what the kids are doing that day.

We had a bit of upset with Belle getting annoyed with the activities that I’m doing with Freddie. I guess a lot of mums and Dads must be in this position. I do activities with both of them when the school work is finished but she can’t help getting FOMO about anything we do whilst shes doing schoolwork.

We did manage a bit of painting for my nieces birthday which Freddie really enjoyed.

It was my nieces 12th birthday today. Another birthday during a lockdown. We used our daily exercise to walk to her house for a doorstep visit since she’s so close to us. It was lovely to see her and my sister.

It was also a work day for me, and I’m not going to lie, I literally skipped up the stairs. No homeschooling for me today – over to you Chris!!

All the days seem to blur into one at the moment so I have to check my phone just to see what day it is. Its hard to get pictures of Freddie these days since he never stays still. If lockdown goes on much longer maybe we should do away with our regular furniture and set up a soft play so he can burn off all that excess energy.

Friday was my Mums birthday. We ordered her and my dad a sweet and savoury afternoon tea from a local company who deliver. We also used our dog walk just to pop by and wish her Happy Birthday on the doorstep.

The weekend our son was back with our grandson so it was hectic, but nice that Freddie had somebody to play with.

Isabelle received a certificate which was hand delivered through the door from school. it was such a nice thing for somebody to take their time to do it m, and at the weekend as well. It was for showing outstanding values throughout the school with a little well done note.

That’s another week done. Another week where not a lots been happening. I keep thinking we’ll do some baking and then I remember that thing that’s taking over – Homeschooling!

Is anybody else feeling so so tired at the moment?

Our Family Life 2021 (2/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (2/52)

4th – Belle went back to school today. We received an email from the school over the weekend saying that the Teachers Union had advised teachers to stand down, so it was a watch and wait situation to see if things would change. There was to be yet another announcement from the Prime Minister. At the moment primary school outside of Tier 4 areas have reopened but high schools remain closed until mid January.

Lockdown 3!

As expected, Boris made his announcement (on time this time) and all schools have been shut until February half term (at least) except for children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. We’ve entered another national lockdown (Lockdown 3).

As a keyworker, Isabelle could continue to go to school, but it just doesn’t feel safe for us and as we have no issues with childcare we feel better having her home with us.

Back to homeschooling!

Back to daily walks!

Essential shopping only!

The message is to Stay at Home – Stay Safe – Protect our NHS.

We waited until Tuesday to break the news to Isabelle, and she was very upset. She was upset as she’d just got a new teacher. She was upset that she only got to spend one day back with her friends.

Homeworking and Homeschooling

I’ve now been given a laptop to work from home which I feel much better about. However, it does mean that the kids and I are going to be together pretty much 24/7 which is a bit daunting.

One day at a time is all we can do.

Our first day was total and utter shit. Isabelle was the most reluctant student ever. The work took forever! There were three tasks to do – English, Maths and Science. By 7pm we literally gave up as I had to get Freddie to bed.

Well today was even more fun!

Think I’ll retrain as a teacher.

NOT! With friggin bells on!

We had to complete what we didn’t get done yesterday and still didn’t manage to finish school until 4.45pm.

This on top of me fitting in a full days work is an absolute joke. No silver lining here – Utter Utter Shit!!

I wasn’t hopeful when I woke up on Friday morning, but we ploughed through the work and she even scored herself two Dojo’s (merit points). So this afternoon Belle was allowed to do what she wanted so she opted for some tablet time in her room.

Saturday and Sunday were chilled days as we needed a break from the school work and get out in the fresh air so we took ourselves off for a dog walk. Freddie loves being outside and extra points if he can splash in puddles and squish in mud.

He was able to do both and it was great to get outside. The rest of Sunday we watched films and then topped off the weekend with a much needed takeaway.

Our Family Life 2021 (1/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (1/52)

So last year so the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and life as we knew it changed. I started the Coronavirus Diaries but I didn’t publish many of them as they all became a bit ranty as we grew less enthusiastic about how to entertain the kids, and FaceTime and zoom calls became something we dreaded. Our Family Life Diary is going to be a weekly catch up of what we’ve been up to, so that we can look back on how life was during a global pandemic as it already feels like we’re on rocky ground. 

2021 had so much promise….

A new year and a fresh start is how it’s supposed to go. Setting goals and making plans for the year ahead.

Sadly it’s likely that the beginning part of this year is still going to be a time to live each day as it comes with all plans on hold or with back up options. We’ll await the next instalment from Boris on that one.

I thought that instead of a coronavirus diary, I would write a weekly update on what we’ve been up to, more for ourselves to look back on.

Christmas

Christmas for us was how we’d planned it to be. Us and the kids at home which is what we did. Obviously we would have liked to have still visited family instead of doing doorstep present deliveries but the actual day itself went as we’d hoped.

Mum and Kids in Matching Christmas Pyjamas on Christmas Eve

Boxing Day was a bit rubbish. Chris went back to work so it was just me and the kids. We would usually go to my mums and my brother and sisters would come over with all the kids so it was a bit of a low day.

We spent the next few days eating our own body weights in cheese, pate and chocolate.

Toddler standing in mud on a dog walk

The weather has been awful with lots of rain and wind but we did manage a nice dog walk. Freddie was happy walking in the ‘squishy mud’ and we found some amazing icy puddles to crack. 

New Years Eve

New Years Eve was spent pretty much how we spend every year. We ordered a takeaway and had some nice drinks.

This year was slightly different as we let Belle stay up until the real midnight this year. For the last couple of years we’ve put the previous years New Years fireworks on YouTube on the TV at around 9pm and done our own countdown and cheers before happily packing her off to bed at around 9.30pm.

Harsh you may think, but we thought it was genius!

My Favourite First Job of the Year!

Is of course writing my calendar and starting to fill my Planner. I like to sit down with something good to watch and a glass of wine. I use my best pens……like a pig in muck!

Board Games

Freddie’s not really one for sitting down to play games or do jigsaw puzzles, but we’ve managed to play a couple of the Orchard games which are really quick to play and a good introduction to family games.

Buddy the Elf brought the kids Pull My Finger which is also a great game to play when you’re two years old! parp!!

The plan is to post our week’s activities every Monday so we can keep a diary of these odd times and all entries can be found in the Family Life link at the top of the page.