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Our Family Life 2021 (13/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (13/52)

Our Family Life started off with such sad news. A missed call from my Mum in the middle of the night and I knew that my Step-dad was gone. It wasn’t a surprise. When I said goodbye to him in the hospice yesterday I had a feeling that it was the last time. You think that you’re prepared when you know that it’s happening, but it still takes your breath away when it actually happens. Today was a sad day, made sadder when I had to ring our son to tell him that he was gone, and more so when I told Isabelle that her Grandad that she’d only been able to see from their balcony. Knowing that your kids are hurting hurts more than anything.

Tuesday I was grateful that I was on annual leave from work. I spent the day wiping my nose (thanks for the cold Freddie) and having lots of cuddles to get me through the day. Belle wanted to go to school to see her friends so I let her teacher know what had happened so that she could keep an eye on her.

Garden Play

Wednesday Freddie and I spent the morning in the garden. Our garden isn’t ready for playing in for ages yet. It doesn’t have very good drainage so the grass stays really wet, but that didn’t stop up getting the tuff tray out on the patio with some water in it. probably not the best option given that we’re both recovering from colds, but the fresh air was helping me stay awake and Freddie had a lovely time.

Thursday I think I’m finally over my cold so I went to see my Mum to help with the funeral arrangements and other bits and bobs. We still can’t decide which songs to choose. He was a huge fan of Mama Mia, but none of the songs feel appropriate. It made us laugh thinking of the last song being Dancing Queen or Money Money Money!

Friday was a quiet day at home. Freddie keeps me distracted by playing Playdoh, Paw Patrol and we also did some Easter Painting which he really enjoyed. Belle hates it when we do fun stuff whilst she’s at school so we have to try and play it down to save ourselves a drama.

Setting up an Indoor Camp

Saturday we had a really fun day setting up an indoor camp as a dry run in preparation for The Big Little Tent Festival. It’s amazing what you can create with blankets, cushions, pillows, and your dining table. I wasn’t really in the mood for it, but the kids had a lot of fun and it passed the day away so all in all was a good day.

Moldy Bread!

Yesterday we had a bit of an abrupt start. We actually forgot about the clocks changing so we got up with very little time for Chris to get up and out to work. On weekends we like to have a bit of a leisurely breakfast. Isabelle opted for poached egg on toast and Freddie chose to have coconut yoghurt and granola. As we were almost finished eating, Isabelle noticed a spot of mold on the edge of her toast. Yep, total Mum fail, we were eating moldy bread. After reassuring her that she wouldn’t get ill from eating moldy bread she was fine, but she totally milked it for the rest of the day.

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What We’re doing for The Big Little Tent Festival 2021

What We’re doing for The Big Little Tent Festival 2021

This past year has been an awful year on so many levels, but we’ve also had some good times as well. Spending time in our own little bubble, doing our own thing at a leisurely pace has definitely been the highlight.

We’ve done loads of stuff including setting up a cafe for afternoon tea, made a sweet shop, had many a lounge disco and I’ve lost count of how many Movie nights we’ve had over the last year. One thing that the kids have always pestered us to do is go camping. I sit firmly in the ‘anti-camping camp’ but could be persuaded to give glamping a go at some point.

The Big Little Tent  Festival

The Big Little Tent Festival set up by the Caravan Club last year is a way of grabbing a little piece of camp life in the comfort of your own home. Set up a tent in your garden or, like us you could set up camp in your living room and join in the fun.

To join in the festival there is a downloadable pack that contains everything you need to bring the festival to you including a checklist of things you will need,  festival wristbands, bunting templates as well as a whole host of activity ideas which you could easily spread out over a few days. There’s even a chance to win a childs Raleigh bike.

Setting up Camp

So as we don’t own any actual camping gear, we’re going to set up camp in our living room with all our home comforts which is very appealing from my point of view. We’re going to get festival ready with hair chalks, facepaint and an anything-goes dress code.

You could of course drag out your entire camping kit and set up in your garden. The Festival is running over Easter weekend with an action packed schedule including a Zoom Party where you can meet the Mermaid Princess and the Friendly Neighbourhood Hero for games, superhero training, and a campfire song!

Our Festival Menu

So thinking along the lines of food we would probably buy should we be in a real life festival, we thought we’d go for hotdogs, chips and corn on the cob followed by our own version of S’mores and popcorn at the request of Isabelle.

 

Our Family Life 2021 (12/52 weeks)

Our Family Life 2021 (12/52)

Our Family Life 2021 – Monday was just the usual (yey, for the usual) school run, etc. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into my Mother’s Day Hamper, but we ordered such a big takeaway yesterday that we need to finish that off today. Tomorrow…..

Tuesday is all about the cheese. Cracking open my hamper and stuffing our faces with olives, cheeses, nice bread, and crackers. Mmmmm nom nom nom. If I was food, I would be cheese, I love it!

Subscription Boxes

Wednesday my new Birch Box came which is always a nice surprise. I love getting some little treats just for me and this one definitely ticked all the boxes. I’m really looking forward to using the Gold Revitalising Eye Gels which I think I need for my dark circles. Freddie wanted the box to put his Superwings in, so he was happy. I really love subscription boxes and the element of surprise, so I think I might give a few more a go. I would love any suggestions of any subscription boxes you may have tried.

Thursday was a workday for me in the office. I booked my second Covid vaccination for the 21st of April which felt good. Although a lot of people are having more side effects from the second dose than the first. I did have a reaction with the first vaccine, all the lymph nodes under my armpits became inflamed for a few days, and using deodorant was a bit ouchy. Apparently, the best thing to do is to take Paracetamol before you have the vaccine and make sure that you keep hydrated so that’s what I’ll do. Fingers crossed if you’ve got yours coming up.

I went to see my Step-Dad today in the hospice. It was a shock to see him as he’s changed so much only in a few days. He’s no longer getting out of bed to sit in the chair. He was sleeping so I sat and chatted to him about what we’d been up to, and played some of his favourite music, and he squeezed my hand a few times. Bit by bit he’s slipping away. He may not wake up now, so we’ll keep on visiting. Keep on chatting to him and hopefully, he knows that we’re there. I feel grateful that he hasn’t been transferred to a nursing home since we wouldn’t be able to see him at all, but the end is close…….

Friday I felt exhausted so Freddie and I just had a chilled day playing. He loves to cuddle and must have realised that I needed that more than anything.

Saturday Freddie woke up and was full of a cold and very clingy. Isabelle was terrified that she was going to catch Freddie’s germs so spent the day in her room, only coming down wearing a mask for snacks!

Sunday I went back to see my Step-Dad, and it was very upsetting. He was completely unresponsive. I sat and watched his chest go up and down, holding my own breath every time the rhythm changed. It’s awful losing somebody you love to cancer. Watching them disappear and shrink before your eyes. I’m not really sure how the Hospice staff do their jobs when everybody is so sad and upset all the time. It takes a special kind of person.

Sorry to get all doom and gloom on you.

Potty Training Update

In other news, the potty training is going really well. Freddie is using both his potty and the toilet with no problems or accidents at all. He prefers to wear pull-ups rather than pants which is fine by us. We’ve also switched him from nappies to pull-ups at night, and these are pretty dry in the mornings so we’re pretty impressed with our clever little boy.

Our Family Life 2021 (11/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (11/52)

Monday 8th March – the day the kids went back to school. Will they last longer than the one day they went back to school in January? Let’s hope so.

These last couple of months have been tough.

The kids need routine.

We need routine.

As well as the schools re-opening, the weather has turned a corner which is always nice. I wonder how long it’ll be before the nation is moaning about doing the school pick-up. Thursday maybe Friday I’d put my money on.

Tuesday was a cake making day for me. It’s my Nephews 21st birthday tomorrow so I’m making a huge chocolate cake with lashings of chocolate butter cream, chocolate ganache and topped with more chocolate.

I also went to see my Step-Dad before he moves to a nursing home. It’s a bit worrying that this might be the last time I see him since the rules for visiting nursing homes are really strict for obvious reasons.

When I arrived at the hospice I had to have a lateral flow test and wait 30 minutes for the result to come through. We saw my step-dad in the corridor and he was trying to get into the room that we were in.

When we finally got to see him after testing negative it was a bit of a shock. He was so thin and had changed so much since seeing him a couple of weeks ago. He still had some of his sense of humour, but he also kept disappearing mid conversation and mumbling things we couldn’t make out.

It was quite upsetting to see him like that, knowing that we well lose more of him bit by bit.

Wednesday we were back on the potty training with Freddie. We tried a couple of weeks ago but he started holding his wee in and ended up getting really upset, but today he asked to wear pants. So far so good!

Thursday I had a bit of a blog catch-up and did some of the admin bits and pieces and then treated myself to a long soak in the bath which was a bit of a treat.

Friday was a funny weather day. It was either lashing down with rain or blue skies and sunshine. We’ve reached a tricky stage with Freddie in terms of his pushchair. Generally we don’t use it, but there are days when we’ve been busy and I know he won’t cope with the school pick-up. It’s trial and error at the moment. Some days I take it out and he doesn’t go in it and other days he knackered and will happily sit in it. My other two were out of prams by his age, but they all do thing in their own way.

Freddie looking for Belle on the way to school

Potty training is still going well with no accidents.

Saturday Ryan was back with us and he had Luka, so it was a day of lots of playing and noise. I though Freddie would be too distracted to remember to tell me if he needed a wee, but he’s done amazingly well. He had his first accident today when he was doing some secret Mother’s Day stuff with Belle and she couldn’t get him to the potty on time, but one accident in four days is pretty amazing.

Sunday it was Mother’s Day, and the day started off as a good one. I was given homemade cards by the kids and a huge hamper from Darts Farm with loads of goodies including cheeses and truffles. Chris made bacon sandwiches before he had to go off to work, and the day took a turn for the worse. Isabelle has been having huge outbursts for the last few months and today was one of those days. It’s so hard to get her out of these awful moods, so we had a good few hours where she stayed in her room in a grump. I always wonder about the pics people put on social media of their perfect days, and whether it’s true to form or just a small snippet of a day where all the usual family squabbles, tantrums and fallouts happen.

I wanted a picture of all three kids and as you can see, none of them are insta-perfect!

Next year I think I’ll take myself off for a spa day with a good book!

This is the lovely Mother’s Day Sweet and Savoury Afternoon Tea that we ordered for Chris’ mum from Orchardlea Occasion Foods who are local to us.

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Our Family Life 2021 (10/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (10/52)

Monday – it’s the 1st March. The end of homeschooling is in sight. It feels like there’s light at the end of a very long tunnel. We’re not quite out of it yet, but it really does feel like we’re a step closer. The weather has clearly caught onto our dreary mood as a nation and decided to give us some much needed sunshine.

Oh and our sandwich shape cutter arrived this morning. It’s funny how a sandwich cut into the shape of a dinosaur will be eaten by a two year old but a normal square or triangle won’t do…

Tuesday I was back at work (from home). At the moment it feels like a day off just to be out of the homeschooling.

The perks of working from home is McDonalds drive-through. It was a bit of a last week of homeschooling treat for us all.

Wednesday I knew was going to be a battle just by the look on Belles face when she came down for breakfast. Good or bad decision but I let her ditch some of her classes so that she could do some craft instead.

She’s really into My Froggy Stuff which is a YouTuber who does all things Barbie from making a setting up scenes to giving them total makeovers. So she decided to make a sweet shop with miniature sweets, a till, wrapping paper and little bags. I thought she did a pretty good job, and put in loads of details.

Thursday I worked on site at work. It’s not the best having to wear a mask all day, but it’s good to be seeing people other than Chris and the kids.

We decided to get Belle a little treat to say well done for putting up with us as shonky teachers for the past year, so we got her a new scooter, and all went out for a scoot. Needless to say, we carried Freddie’s all bar the 10 seconds at the beginning.

I’m still waiting for my teacher present to emerge!

Oh and even better, the school have decided to give the kids the day off on Friday. Today was………THE LAST DAY OF HOMESCHOOLING!!!

Friday we got up. We sat in our pyjamas in front of the TV……It was a good day!!

Saturday and Sunday were the usual chill out in preparation for return to school on Monday. Thankfully Belle’s school shoes still fit her so that was one less thing to stress about.

Roll on Monday. Woo Hoo!!

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Our Family Life 2021 (9/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (8/52)

Monday was back to homeschooling with a very reluctant Isabelle. I really feel like we’ve gone as far as we can with homeschooling this way. The return to school can’t come quick enough now. That said, we have to remember that we’re still living in a pandemic and life could change again. Hopefully not though.

A while ago I was sent a letter from NatWest who I bank with personally and for my business asking if I would like to swap to another bank, and that they would give me £1250 for doing so. So I did just that and swapped to Starling, and this morning I got notification of the £1250 in my account. Anybody looking for a new account, I would highly recommend Starling.

Tuesday I had this day as an annual leave day, which doesn’t feel that great since we can’t go anywhere.

Wednesday was a day of messy play. Freddie and I started the day by making Playdoh monsters and superhero face masks followed by cornflour gloop (see my Instagram Messy Play Highlights for the full effect) for a science experiment. I brought the tuff tray in the kitchen to hopefully reduce the mess. Well, the kitchen was left with splatters of blue gloop all over it and the floor took days of cleaning before it was clean of a fine film of dustiness.

Thursday was agin just a get the homeschooling done kind of day. Oh and clean the kitchen again!

Same again on Friday!

Saturday and Sunday we went for a walk and just chilled at home. Freddie is really into setting up his play sets and will now sit happily and play with them for a while on his own which is nice. He’s still quite heavy handed with his toys so the train track doesn’t stay together very long and he loves to bash all of his cars and trains together

Overall, the days and weeks have started to drag now and all of our enthusiasm has been sucked away……

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