Little Sparkles of August

I love August, after months of military organisation with school and extra curricular events, August is the month to  relax, chill and just live in the moment.  After an indifferent start to summer, we have had great weather for the school holidays and we’re all looking sun kissed and healthy after a month outside.

Played

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Games are not a normal category in my little sparkles but it’s August and we’ve played lots! There’s imaginary games at the park and on the beach, garden games such as cricket, tennis and football and card games on holiday.  UNO is always a family favourite but thanks to a birthday present we have a new game, Monopoly Quick Deal, which we played every night on our family holiday.  Its a simple, quick and fun game and its a nice feeling to finish your day in the caravan with all the family around the table playing and laughing together.

Read

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After a very quiet year of reading, this month I managed to read 7 books!  I love the holidays for the time it gives me to relax and read.  With the age the children are now, they are able to play on their own and with friends at the park and beach giving me valuable time to read, my Kindle is always in my bag.  However I also read some real books this month, one from the library and I bought three with a book voucher I got for my birthday.  My favourites were The Trials and Triumphs of Grace Atherton and How to be Famous.  Grace was about the value of friendships and looking and caring for yourself  with the beauty of Paris and music being themes woven through the story.  How to be Famous for me was full of nostalgia and memories of the the 90s, with a strong plot that stopped the rose tinting of the era.  My children have done the Reading Challenge this summer and with my reading I reached the target too, unfortunately as an adult I didn’t get all the space stickers!

A wedding

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This month I went to the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to.  Words simply can’t describe the elegance and detail of the wedding.  As you entered the castle the smell and beauty of the flower displays simply took your breath away, whilst the live music was superb and had us all dancing.   There was the most amazing firework display to end the evening and  we were given embroidered blankets and pashminas to ward off the chill.  The bride was so beautiful and elegant and having known her for many years I’m so happy that she has her happy ever after with such a lovely man.

Our Family Holiday

This month we were in Tenby for our summer holiday and I really fell in love with this lovely little seaside town.  There were beautiful sandy beaches and the town was full of quirky, independent shops.  We stayed in an amazing caravan where the master bedroom had a dressing room and en suite!  It was a great family holiday where we simply had the chance to be together, play and relax away from all the stresses of daily life.

A summer fayre

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We always go to the local village’s summer fayre on Bank Holiday Monday.  It’s such a lovely, traditional British event with the flower tent, dog agility, town band etc.. and for me seems to signal the end of summer.  It’s a very popular event and a great opportunity to see friends and acquaintances.  It was ridiculously hot this year but great fun, one day I’ll enter something

Water Fun

In such a lovely month we’ve all spent a lot of time in the water, the sea at home and in Tenby and pools, inside and outside. As well as swimming we’ve tried lots of different activities, kayaking, water walkers, aqua jets, inflatables, water slides and pedalos.  We are so lucky to live at the seaside and embrace every opportunity to be on the beach.

And finally

So August is now at an end and September sees the start of a new school year and all that it brings.  It’s been a summer full of happy memories bathed in warm sunshine for which I am truly grateful.

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June’s Jottings

I’ve still not had the inspiration for a new title for my monthly catch up, so its a little alliteration for his month’s instalment.  June is one of my busiest months of the year, its unbelievable that we were enjoying our family break at Butlins at the start of June as that seems so long ago now.  This month has seen the family break at Butlins, a Year 6 residential, cub camp, school trips, meeting up with all the grandparents, a family celebration, sports day, transition clubs, important school meetings and future planning.  It has been busy and whilst I had a few wobbles I do try to compartmentalise my life to try and maintain a healthy balance.  This month running has been essential to my well being too.

We are now in the countdown to the end of primary school for Little Miss and its been a month full of lasts, the last school trip, sports day etc..  I’ve also been busy like all the parents on a top secret mission for the leavers assembly, which has involved going through all our old photos of special school events over the years.  Its really brought home the passing of time and the importance of making the most of every day.  In all the photos I found I think my favourite is one from World Book day, the children are dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2  and then on a whim I borrowed some Cat in the Hat props from school and despite being a bit out of my comfort zone, I did the school run dressed up, which made the children so happy.  Looking back its the little things, often spur of the moment, which bring back the happiest memories, carpe diem! In my post ‘Disappointment’ I wrote of Little Miss’ shortened residential trip, however Sports day was a big success.  This year the format was different and so much improved, it had a very inclusive feel with the children working in small groups from Reception to Year 6.  As the only Year 6 in her group, Little Miss was so good at motivating and encouraging her little team, she shone.  Later, she enjoyed the running races with her friends from Year 6.  For me it was the best Sports day yet, gorgeous weather, a great new programme of events, a perfect viewing spot with friends and a lovely refreshment tent (okay slightly bias as I had baked some cakes for the stall run by the Scouts who were fund raising)  For me the two most enjoyable events in the school year are the Christmas concert and Sports day and I’ll really miss not seeing Little Miss in the primary versions next year,  I’m not sure how the secondary school organises these events but I hope we get a chance to watch too.  One of the great ideas of Sports day this year was to put siblings in the same group so they could work together on some of the activities,  I now have a beautiful photo of my two, running hand in hand  in the snake race, its my new phone screen saver.

Another special event this month was our summer solstice evening at the beach, it was a perfect evening for a barbecue on the beach, swimming and beach games and I loved the beach hut I hired.  The day after we headed to our county town to meet up with my parents for a trip to the cinema.  First we had lunch in a delightful courtyard café, it was one of those hot, sunny days where it all felt so right, we were shaded from the hot sun by greenery around a big table full of delicious, fresh, wholesome food and good company.  After lunch, we all went to see Toy Story 4, its amazing for its animation but I felt the story just lacked a little something.  I preferred the earlier films centred on family life, this is more an adventure with only a few main characters (I missed so many, and even Buzz has a much lesser role) However it is a good film with some strong themes of belonging, love etc..

This month I have discovered a couple of new Podcasts, With Me Now, a show about Park Run and Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan.  I’m really enjoying both and find it relaxing in the evenings to sit in the garden and listen to  a podcast.  The Feel Better, Live More ep 67 is fascinating on how our environment affects our lifestyle.

We’re now on the countdown to the summer holidays and its nearly time to write our summer bucket list and plan our summer adventures.  However we have 3 more weeks and I know I will be an emotional wreck when Little Miss finishes primary school on July 19th.  She’s be going to the same site for the past 9 years, from pre school to the primary school, its been such an important and lovely place for her to be I’m going to miss her being there.

 

The May Catch Up …

I’ve decided that I’m going to pause on Little Loves and try to do a general catch up of life each month, those little things which don’t merit a post of their own but have made the month a little special and more sparkly!

I’m on a real exercise buzz this year and I’m so pleased I’ve returned to competitive running after 7 years.  I’m not competing against anyone just myself by doing Park Run and being able to measure my progress.  I used to love running before children, but life got in the way and for the past few years I’ve been running with no real focus or purpose.   However this year, I started to follow a training plan and am running properly again.  I’ve been thinking carefully at the time I can give to my hobby and have decided to focus on 5 and 10k running.  This month I did two 5K Park Runs (improving my time!) and ran 6 miles which is my longest distance for years.  I am running three times a week and am getting up at 5.30 to fit in my runs, I love this time and I’ve been reminded how good running is for my mental health, it gives me time to think and relax.

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Along a similar theme, as well as returning to running, I’ve been looking at my health generally and having lost two stone this year, I’ve enjoyed my clothes again, gone is my black, baggy wardrobe to be replaced by fitted, fun clothes.  I’m liking putting outfits together, adding a few accessories, rediscovering old favourites and buying a few new pieces.  I’ve bought two items this month which I absolutely love, a pair of bright green cropped jeans and a bright reversible skirt from White Stuff, I love to twirl in a skirt.

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This month as a half term treat, I took the children to see the new Aladdin film.  I was so impressed by so many aspects of it.  Will Smith is a great genie, I worried that I would be comparing him to the wonderful Robin Williams but they both play the genie differently.  I loved the colours in the film, the costumes are spectacular and some of the dance scenes are mesmerising how they use colour, music and movement to create stunning scenes.

This year I don’t seem to be reading at my normal voracity, however in May, I read Normal People by Sally Rooney in a few days and its a 5 star read.  The storyline is simply of a boy and girl supporting each other in their formative early adult years.  Its a book I’ll be sharing around so I can talk about it with friends.

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May has seen the start of the season in our town, for me summer starts with the parking restrictions put in place!  We have many themed weekends in our town and this month we had pirate weekend, when pirates descend on the town.  The children loved it, there were sword fights, pirate songs and stories etc.. and lots and lots of dressing up.

Half term this year was quiet, we were going to Butlins for the second half so the first part of the week was spent at home, going out for long walks (and a bit of den building), tennis and some spring cleaning.  It was really relaxing and good to be home.  Details of our Butlins trip will follow in a new post, but it was brilliant, Butlins is our family’s special place.

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Little Loves : The April Edition

img_5382This year it felt that April was a month of anticipation, waiting for a late Easter celebration.  Thanks to my part time hours and bank holidays, I felt like I was on holiday for a lot of April.  Our Easter holidays were full of activities and celebrations, from the sporty, swimming, tennis and loads of walking to family days out at the aquarium and local attractions and then a family birthday and Easter celebrations.  April was a lovely month topped off with a heatwave for Easter weekend, just perfect.

img_5375-1I’ve finished reading two books this month, The Closed Circle by Jonathon Coe and The Language of Kindness, a nurse’s story by Christie Watson.  The Closed Circle is a sequel to the Rotters Club which I really enjoyed, a story following the fortunes of a group of school boys (albeit pretty much all middle class and white).  I wasn’t so taken by the sequel but it was interesting to look back retrospectively at the late 1990s, particularly through the political events, New Labour etc..  It was quite satisfying that the privileged backgrounds didn’t bring success or happiness in all cases.  The second book was much more inspiring and heart breaking, you do need a box of tissues on hand and this book will only deepen your admiration for the nurses in our hospitals.  The book takes the reader from birth to death through different stories, I learnt so much in this book from the history of nursing to some new medical information.  I really recommend The Language of Kindness.

This month I have also read the online updates from my parents who are doing the Camino Santiago.  I’m so proud of them for having completed it. The children and I followed in our Atlas, ticking off the route as they progressed.
img_5379-1On television, my husband and I finally succumbed to all the hype about Line of Duty and are totally hooked.  Its the first series we have watched and can’t wait to the finale next weekend.

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At the cinema, I took the children to see Shazham, about a teenager who can turn into a superhero by saying Shazham.  I loved it, its funny, has a decent story line and great effects.  Its also great to see a film where the foster family have such a positive portrayal.  Its a fantastic film.
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For Little Miss this month it was her final Easter bonnet parade at school so we made a fascinator containing chocolate, she was made up.  Little man had a farmer look.

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On the final weekend of the holidays we had a family get together for Grandad’s 87th birthday.  As it was at the end of the holidays, we had time to plan our outfits and all felt that little glow you get from a well chosen outfit.

My dress is from Boden, who do the comfiest and stylish dresses in fantastic prints. I bought the small basket, ethically, hand woven in one of the art galleries in town and the scarf is an old favourite.  Little Miss’ skirt is from Fat Face and the white daisy top and rainbow trainers are from Next.

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This month, I spent an evening each with the children making their Easter bonnets, its nice to have 1:1 time on a little creative project.

I also planned and made the Easter lunch.  I wanted a simple, fresh meal as it was the day after the big family celebration for Grandad so I knew we would have eaten well and perhaps a little indulgently and also because I knew there would be lots of chocolate and treats being consumed too.  I was really pleased with the menu and food, it suited our Easter Sunday celebrations perfectly.

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Continuing with my #19for2019 theme, I made a playlist for Easter.  Its strange how some songs have such an emotional effect on you and I found in this playlist, that there are a few songs which have special family memories.  Whilst they may appear as random choices, for me there’s a story behind them, from my dad singing ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’ to me when I was a little girl, to ‘Easy Lover’ being no 1 and on the new Now album we got for an Easter to the deep, spiritual effect of the hymn ‘Were you there..’ This #19for2019 is having a special meaning for me, that I wasn’t expecting.  img_5386-1So May starts our busy, busy time of the year, our calendar is looking pretty full in the upcoming months, holidays, school and cub camps, SATS (grrrr) and a few secret surprises.  This is my favourite time of year, I’m just looking forward to feel the warm sun rays on my face and slipping on my favourite flip flops.

Little Loves ~ March 2019

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On paper, March should be quiet, we have no family birthdays or special events it’s an ordinary month.  However, this month seems to have been full of little activities that made for a busy time, many school based, Science week, World Book day, Red Nose Day all requiring a little something to be done.

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After a quiet start to the year, I’m in the groove with my reading again, having read four books this month. My favourites were This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Busy’s book is such a strong read, it’s so much more than a Hollywood memoir, it’s about teenage life, trying to get a job and being a mum and wife.  It’s not glossy and gossipy but honest, real and at times quite horrifying  but a fantastic read.  I’ve also started to read some YA novels as Little Miss begins to read them.  I thought Eleanor and Park was a really suitable read, great characters and a solid ending.  It’s wrong to label it a teen romance, it covers domestic abuse, racism and self worth but in an age appropriate way.

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Its been a quiet month for television, I love Derry Girls and have also started to watch Gilmore Girls after reading so many fabulous reviews, obviously I am many years behind on this series!  I went to the cinema to see The Lego Movie 2 with Little Man, I quite liked it and did prefer it to the original.  A big treat of Red Nose Day was the 25 year reunion of the film, Four weddings and a funeral.  I loved this film when it came out and think I ended up seeing it 3 times at the cinema with different people.  The mini movie was great and brought it all up to date.

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It’s not quite been Spring yet and we’ve been caught in that funny inbetween time where layers  are key.  I bought this new tunic from White Stuff this month which fits the bill perfectly.  I like a strong print and its been easy to wear.

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This year for World Book day, the children did not dress up as their favourite characters but were asked to make a favourite book character from a potato!  This was actually quite a fun, creative activity and I was pleased with our results, Where’s Wally and The Boy in the Dress.  There was a display at the primary school of all the potatoes and there were some very impressive models.

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I’ve  also made an Eco-brick this month by filling a bottle with single use plastic that can’t be recycled.  It’s a great project that we’re developing at school which I’ve brought home too.  The density of plastic is high, it’s 220g for a 500ml bottle but it’s great way to be more eco friendly.  We’re planning on building some players with our finished bricks.

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One of my #19for2019 was to create themed playlists for special occasions.  This month was St Patrick’s day so with some Celtic heritage I made a playlist of some of my favourite Irish musicians.  It surprised me how much of my music taste from the 90s was Celtic inspired, in addition to the Irish songs, I loved Scottish bands such as Deacon Blue and Hue and Cry.  I’ve enjoyed making and listening to this list.

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Whilst busy there were some real highlights in March, a lunch out with my parents, Mother’s Day and some nice, simple family times, including a bit of a train spotting of the Flying Scotsman and a fun workshop at our local library.

I’m now looking forward to April, an 18 day school holiday, Easter, a family get together for my Father in Law’s birthday and much more.

#littleloves February 2019

 

img_5382I’ve enjoyed February this year, yes there have been grey and wet days but generally its been bright and fresh and we’ve spent a lot of time outside, exploring and playing.  Its been a lovely month socially, a cocktail party and lots of meet ups with friends and family.

img_5375-1So my goal of reading a classic title a month is already needing to be changed, I’m now going for a total of 12 classics in total this year.  I finished I Capture the Castle, a romantic fiction, matchmaking the daughters of a poor bohemian family and their new rich, American neighbours, it was amusing but dated.  I didn’t start a new classic this month, I needed something a little more contemporary.

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I read Still Me by Jojo Moyes this month and LOVED it.  Lousia is one of my favourite book characters, I love her vintage style, sweetness and determination, the perfect half term read.

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There’s a bit of a Jojo Moyes theme developing this month as I chanced upon the film ‘Me Before You’ one Sunday night.  It was one of those gadget zapping moments when you’re planning an early night, just seeing what’s on and 2 hours later, tears drying you end up late to bed.  Emilia Clarke was perfect as Louisa and I thought the film complemented the book beautifully.

I’ve also become a little obsessed with Death in Paradise this month.  Its something I’ve not really watched before, but last summer on holiday, Little Man watched it and absolutely loved it. This series, I’ve watched it on Thursday to check its okay for him to watch on Friday mornings (such a motivator to get up dressed and ready for school v quickly) and I’ve got hooked.  The scenery, simple story device, just make for a relaxing evening.
img_5378-1As it was Valentines day, Little Miss and I made a sweet treat for all her class mates, a little packet of Love Hearts with a nice personalised message to everyone in her class.  So I didn’t set myself up for years to come, we decided that it was just for Year 6.  I also made Valentines themed packed lunches, including heart shaped sandwiches, strawberries and a few of the jelly heart sweets in the lunch boxes.  Mr S was excused the heart shaped sandwiches but did get the sweets!

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I’ve also made lots of tea in my new teapot.  I fell in love with the colour and style and it looks perfect in my kitchen.  I really enjoyed going to the tea emporium and smelling all the different brews. I’m not a huge coffee fan, tea is definitely my drink.

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Its been a quiet month fashion wise, although I did buy a pair of pyjamas for the sleepover we hosted, I didn’t want to embarrass my daughter with my very old and well worn nightwear.

For the cocktail party, I wore an old favourite, I don’t have the opportunity to dress up much so am happy to wear something which I’m comfortable and confident in.

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img_5380-1One of my #19for2019 was to create playlists for special events during the year.  I did one for Valentines day, I’m not a soppy person but it did contain some of my favourite love songs and I’ve listened to it a few times.

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February was a great month and after a long, long January it seemed short and sweet.  I’m looking forward to pancakes next month and the blossoming of spring, there’s no big plans it will simply be a month to surprise us.

The inspiration for the blogpost came from Morgana at coffeeworksleeprepeat.com and is now hosted by Anna Marie at Mummyheartsyou.com

 

 

 

January 2019 #littleloves

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And finally it’s time to breathe, what a month January turned out to be.  I had it planned as a month to prepare for the year in front and to also start some new projects but of course life took over from my neatly arranged plans.  It was overwhelming at times but I have at least finished the month feeling a little more in control.

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I think the best indicator of my life is my reading record.  Last year I read nearly a book a week, this month I struggled to finish one.  Reading is my me time, I don’t watch a huge amount of tv but do like to settle down with a book in the evenings.  If I’m not reading then something in my life isn’t quite in balance ( I blame Ofsted this month)

The book I did finish was Jayne Hardy’s The Self Care Project, the irony of the content isn’t lost on me in this busy month.  It was a really good read full of great advice, I appreciated that she doesn’t see self care as having a massage but for example doing life admin to help you feel in control etc..  It’s well worth a read.

This year I haven’t set myself a Good Reads challenge for a specific number of books but one in which I would like to read or reread a classic every month.  Whilst I didn’t finish my classic this month, I did start it and am really enjoying I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

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At the beginning of the month in the school holidays, the children and I went to the cinema to see Mary Poppins Returns.  It was such a magical film and I loved every dance, song and sparkle, a new family classic.

I also finally watched Ladybird, a film which had much critical acclaim last year.  I really liked the film, a bit Indy in style but thoughtful and from memory pretty realistic about the angst of teen life.

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It was all about the jumpers this month, layers and layers.  I love this star jumper from Next last autumn, it’s been perfect with jeans and has been keeping me warm.

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Photo from the Next website, definitely not me!

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For me cold Saturday afternoons are all about being in the kitchen and cooking.  I like a bit of a theme and as South America is one of the school topics, we made a Mexican feast.  Everything was made from scratch, salsa, guacamole, refried beans etc.. with Little Miss as my sous chef. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos, as it was a really impressive table.  Cooking is one of my favourite ways to spend time together, the kitchen is the heart of our home.

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I love a good podcast and I’ve had a few car journeys this month to enjoy the new podcast Sentimental Garbage, a ‘cast looking at brilliant chick lit books, including Bridget Jones Diary, Watermelon etc..  It’s fabulous, witty and just makes you want to read more, a great new find.

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Despite being a crazy month, there were some real highlights in January, seeing the new Mary Poppins film, a family mountain bike ride in the forest, a trip to a local animal sanctuary etc..  I’m hoping for a quieter February and a relaxing half term.

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Im hoping to link up with @mummyheartsyou the new host of Little Loves and be inspired by all the contributors to the linky.