My week … the one with so much uni work to do …

Whilst the temptation was not to write a post this week, I am giving myself 15 minutes to simply jot down a few things, it’ll be a bullet point format but at least will provide some details of the week.

  • As you may guess from the title, my Uni deadline is looming, 40 days and counting and I should be fully focused on my project. However I am also having that moment of panic, best illustrated by extreme procrastination at times this week. What else could explain having wrapped all the Christmas presents and having written and addressed the Christmas cards when I in fact should have been reading and writing. No distractions now, the work must be done. I am dreaming of the January 8th when there will be with no more study stress (although in the best possible timing, I may have a promotion at work starting that week too!)
  • My Zoom life. As if Zoom at work wasn’t suffice, its been a work of Zoom meetings at home too. Scouts continues on Zoom and this week’s Taskmaster edition was excellent, so much fun. We then had our son’s Annual Review on Zoom, and as a parent, I embrace this medium for Annual reviews and teacher meetings, it takes so much faff away from the meeting and simply focuses on the content. It was a great meeting and lovely to have Little man appearing in the meeting too and showing the strong relationship he has with his new teacher.
  • The Great British Bake Off. I loved this series and how the team got it produced and aired in the Covid pandemic is amazing. The final was great and showed the simple joys of life, baking with friends. At the end of the programme, there was a dedication to all those getting us through 2020 and it gave me all the feels.
  • I’ve been reading Olive by Emma Gannon as I go to bed, just to simply switch off from academic work. Its a good read on the choices around becoming a parent, real and witty with some great characters.
  • We haven’t put up the Christmas tree. Despite a concerted effort form the Sparkles family to persuade me otherwise, I’ve remained strong on not putting up the Christmas tree early. I can’t bring myself to do it in November, I love my tree and decorations but it needs to be done in December. As compensation, I have planned a special Christmas day next Saturday to allow us to do this with some festive treats.

My time deadline is up now. Back to the studies and hopefully I’ll finish my portfolio tonight by bedtime. Last night I was doing Uni work at 11pm on a Saturday night, how did this happen?


My week … the one with the monotony of Lockdown 2.0

First of all I would like to stress that I recognise what a fortunate position I am in during Lockdown 2.0. My family are all healthy, our finances have not been affected by the pandemic, we live in a nice house and have all the essentials we need. Monotony is a small price to pay for such positives.

But the monotony is there, lockdown is dull, the lack of plans and the sense of disorientation as you try to work out what the coming weeks will look like. Life has become a merry go round of home life, work, runs and study. There is a glimmer of hope as a vaccine seems closer to being approved and the promise of ‘normal’ life is sweet.

However, even in the ground hog day exietence we are living through, there are always things to be recognised.

I watched …

This week, from a friend’s recommendation I watched the Children In Need DIY SOS special on iPlayer. It was the most life affirming and heart warming programme as the team built a surf centre for a charity who teach disabled children how to surf. I was blinking back tears throughout the programme, it was full of just the most amazing and inspiring people, volunteers, parents and children.

I read …

The Girls by Emma Cline. It is a disturbing book, based loosely on the Charles Manson story and I did find some of the scenes with the vulnerable young lead character very uncomfortable. However there was something gripping to the story in which you just had to find out how the horrific crime happened. I now need a much lighter book for my next read.

I ran …

At the beginning of the year as I was returning to running, I set a little challenge to run 500 miles over the year. It started fine, there were a few storms in January and February but generally I was doing 2 or 3 runs a week. And then lockdown came, which in the first instance, meant only one daily exercise allowed a day. This rule meant I ran less than 10 miles combined for April and May as I took my exercise with my family as long walks or cycle rides instead of running. However, this pause sparked a desire to run and when the rules were relaxed I started to run more often and for longer distances, I’m now doing 4 runs a week doing around 20 miles, I even managed a 100 mile month in October and this week, completed the 500 mile challenge. I’m happy where I am, I’ve no desire to run longer, more frequently or harder next year, my current routine keeps me healthy and balanced.

I studied … (and read and highlighted, and read and highlighted, and read and highlighted)

I’m currently doing a professional award for work with Exeter Uni. Its been a strange experience, I loved the first module, meeting up with others for lectures, discussions and support. However module 2 has very much been online and our assessment has been modified to recognise the difficulties of our original task in a pandemic. I am now working on my final assessment which seems to occupy every waking thought. However, I have an end date to work to and I am looking forward to relaxing after the submission date, its going to be manic til then, 48 days and counting.

Next week is more of the same, work and study, c’est la vie, but boy am I looking forward to 2021, a blank diary to fill with my studies completed. A year to celebrate the simple pleasures we have so missed in 2020.

My week … the one with more of lockdown 2.0

One day, I’ll write a different post to My week, but with juggling the looming assessment deadline for my Uni course, work in a pandemic and family life, my blog is on pause except for this weekly update. Its been a pretty miserable day, the heavy rain making a lockdown weekend even more challenging. We had a quick stomp in the woods this morning, I did the dreaded lockdown haircut for Little Man and we had a family game of Monopoly. At least, Strictly is on shortly, even with a few notable absences due to Covid, to finish my day with a sparkle.

Its been a strange week as I had a minor procedure on my foot this week. I had been expecting it to be postponed but it happened, under the most secure Covid precautions I have encountered. With Mr S at home, I was able to rest properly and with a few painkillers spent the day propped up in bed. What a luxury, I listened to my favourite podcasts, snoozed, did more Christmas planning and orders and read, it felt like a mini holiday.

Here are some highlights of the week .

I read …

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens and it was the perfect book for a lazy day in bed. It was one of my infamous Kindle 99p deal of the day books. It felt like a grown up rom com and had a good ending which I appreciated, I don’t do soppy mush. It amused me that the main character disliked New Year’s eve as much as me, I’m glad I’m not alone, even if it is a fictional character.

I listened …

I’m a big fan of a kitchen disco and today is my disco day as I love a Saturday afternoon prepping and cooking a special dinner. This week, I went for funk and soul and played it loud and proud. It really raised my spirits. I have seen that Craig Charles is playing a set next summer at the local music festival and I would love to be in that crowd. In lockdown 2.0, you need to be looking forward and planning for exciting times ahead.

I had a Christmas drink …

As a little treat after my clinic appointment, I popped into Starbucks for a takeaway Christmas drink. Whilst it was delicious, gingerbread hot chocolate, I wish I could say it gave me the festive feels, but with the clinic being in a shopping centre, and all the shops closed, it was an extremely eerie and strange experience. Whilst every year, I complain that Christmas comes too early, I realise that I secretly need the tinny Christmas songs on repeat with the glitzy decorations hanging in the shop windows.

I attended parents evening 2 …

On Tuesday, we had our son’s virtual parents evening. We are so proud of how well he has settled into his new school and his teacher is just lovely. I felt so happy and emotional after the meeting, we heard how well he is doing in his work, friendships are blossoming and his character is shining through.

And finally

For the next 6 weeks, my focus is solely on my uni work, as I have a coursework deadline to meet. However, I am prepared for short term pain for a long term gain!

Have a happy week.

My week … the one with lockdown 2.0

Normally this blog is about family life but this week seems to have been dominated by the national news of a new lockdown and international news with a final result in the fractious American presidential election. Family dinner table conversation has been about these topics and has given us a real chance with particular regards to the U.S. election to discuss some big themes, democracy, equality, representation. It sounds a bit heavy but the conversations have been presented in child friendly ways and I am proud of the values our children are developing.

This is also a week where my work has seeped into home life too. Lockdown 2.0 has meant loads of additional work due to the unique nature of our setting and its been long days, late nights and doing a few hours on my days off too.

Here are a few highlights from this week

I read

I have read Bella Mackie’s Jog On and it is a really interesting and thought provoking read. Given the title, running is a theme through the book, but it looks at anxiety and wellbeing too. Given Lockdown its a pertinent read and a timely reminder to look after ourselves.

I ran with my daughter …

I am genuinely becoming very concerned about the long term effect on children’s wellbeing in lockdown. We have been out every day during both lockdowns for long walks, cycle rides or in sunnier times, swimming in the sea but I am aware that my children don’t get the hard, physical challenges they used to, some close contact sports are banned and there are no after school sport clubs, competitions etc… To try and counter this we’ve tried to be more physically active at home, Mr S has been out in the garden with Little Man this week to play football and I have run some 5Ks with Little Miss. I do like these runs, I get to talk and listen with my girl and she always feels so much better at the end of a run. On one of her runs she said that she was missing parkrun and playing team sports like netball at school, its all a little heart breaking. However, we can’t focus on what we can’t do but enjoy what we are doing now and the runs will continue in lockdown 2.

I paused to remember the war dead …

Again, another very strange experience for Remembrance Sunday. For the last five years, Little Man has always been part of the parade through scouting. He is military mad and Remembrance day is a big thing for him. He was so proud last year when he got to represent his school at the children’s service and plant a cross for a soldier. This morning, I walked him up to the war memorial to observe a socially distanced 2 minute silence at 11am. It was respectfully observed, the location makes it easy for people to spread out and there was no service just a lone bugler to start and finish the silence. On this morning’s early run I did run up to the memorial and just pause, the memorial looks out onto the sea and on a dark, misty morning it felt eerily peaceful.

I followed the American Presidential election …

Whilst it became a bit of a marathon, so many page refreshes, with no result until Saturday evening, I have been following the American election so closely this week. As an aside, James Naughtie back on Radio 4 was great and Twitter was superb, my friends and I were sharing lots of tweets with articles, gifs etc.. It didn’t seem an election just to elect a President, but a culture. Thankfully that culture of respect, democracy and equality seems to have prevailed. I felt so much love and optimism with the result and the future feels so much brighter. I’ve become a total fan girl of Madam VP, Kamala Harris, the role model we need all our children to have.

And finally

If all goes to plan, I am going to stop and rest this week with a minor procedure on my foot. Although its painful, I am secretly looking forward to 24 hours in bed resting my foot. My whole week will hopefully be at a slower speed, as I simply cannot keep up with the pace of this last week.

Have a good week.

My week … the one with the wet half term break

When I was preparing my photos for this week, I realised that its going to be one of those entries that actually looks far more impressive than the reality of what the week was, a wet and windy half term break, topped off with the news of lockdown 2.

We always go out daily, no matter what the weather (yep we’re those parents) so we did plenty of walks and a bike ride in the forest, although there were lazy afternoons playing Monopoly and computer games too. I had a night out with friends, albeit outside in a garden. It was such a lovely night and I kept warm thanks to a wood burner and many layers. I was thinking that we might just be able to do this winter socialising lark and then by the end of the week, we’re back to lockdown.

However as in every week there were highlights and here they are ..

I ran 100 miles in a month and completed a virtual 10k.

I never had a plan to run 100 miles in October, but about halfway through the month I totted up my miles and realised that it could be possible to run this milestone by the end of October and even with a wet final week, I did it with one day to spare. I’m dead chuffed as it seems such a big number and works out to around a 5k every day. I had a bit of epiphany at the start of the last lockdown and increased my runs and miles to help my wellbeing, there’s nothing like a pandemic to put your health and lifestyle into focus. I genuinely feel so much more relaxed and grounded with my running. This week as part of my running, I completed the virtual London 10k. I had been due to run a local 10k race in June and it was one of my #20for2020. However when it was cancelled I resigned myself that it would be an item to carry forward to #21for21. I then discovered that the London 10k was going virtual, so I signed up and using Map My Run, recorded and submitted my 10k. I love the idea, I created a playlist of songs connected to London as I love a theme and ran around thinking of my favourite parts of London. I have now signed up to the Edinburgh 10k. I was born in London and have connections to Edinburgh through my maternal grandparents, so I’ll run it and think of happy memories of my Scottish family. And of course, there will be another themed playlist.

I decorated the house for Halloween.

Although we did the pumpkins last weekend, I decorated the house midweek. I was a few days late this year as we were finishing off our bedroom makeover and I needed the house tidy and in order before I started on a new project. I did our traditional kitchen window, I love the decorations here, its a more stylish feel and then in a new departure, I decorated the children’s bedroom windows. I did the bedroom windows so they could be more easily seen by children on a pumpkin hunt, this year’s lockdown alternative to trick and treating. I used special pens for glass and was really impressed by the quality of the pictures on the windows. On Halloween itself, we played some games in the afternoon, a scavenger hunt, Halloween bingo, find the wiggly worms and hanging doughnuts. It was a simple but fun afternoon.

I helped with Halloween bakes!

On Friday morning, we made the most of a lazy morning and I made Halloween pancakes for breakfast. In the afternoon, I helped Little Man make Halloween shortbreads, half were flavoured with dried raspberries, the others with fudge. He was brilliant and I had very little to do apart from putting them in and out of the oven. On Wednesday afternoon, after a drizzly cycle ride in the forest, Little Miss came home and made Peanut butter chocolate brownies, the perfect snack served with hot chocolates to warm us all up.

I appreciated an art project …

On one of my morning runs, I was surprised but delighted to see a large fish on the wall of our local theatre. I researched the project a little further as after a few days it disappeared and we started to miss it. It was part of an environmental campaign to highlight the over fishing in the oceans and was brought to shore from the sea and then hung. I really hope that its the start of further art projects at the building, it got us all interested and pleased to see some new art.

I got reading glasses

I collected my reading glasses this week, after an urgent Saturday morning visit as I presumed my Thursday fitting appointment would be cancelled with lockdown. I cannot believe the difference they make and have made me realise how bad my eyes must have been, even the text on my phone looks so different.

I did some sewing …

In the last lockdown, I was disappointed that I didn’t manage to get my sewing machine out, so on a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon, I got it out in preparation of lockdown 2, did a little maintenance and then did a couple of repairs on masks and a jacket. Now, its time to find a sewing project to keep me busy and creative (and a possible distraction from my must finish by Christmas, Uni project)

And finally

So lockdown 2 starts on Thursday, typically the day I was meeting a friend for lunch which has now been postponed. I’m not sure what this lockdown will look like, I’m really hoping the children get to stay at school as they are both happy and taking them away from friends and routines will be tough. As a key worker, I’ll be at work onsite, as I have been every working day throughout the pandemic and this is as it should be.

Have a happy week in these strange times.