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February 2021 | Looking Back

7 March 2021

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I had this post scheduled for the end of February but unfortunately it never published and I have only just realised. However it's better late than never so here is what we got up to in February 2021.

Boys looking at Dunham Massey Estate


Although February was a short month it felt so long and by the middle we were all ready for that half term break. The excitement of being off school and doing work at home has definitely fizzled out and I think we are all ready for some normality. 

looking through a telescope

dad and son walking along a beach
Weekend Walks
Just the same as other months we really do look forward to our local weekend walks. It really gives us a reason to get up and dressed at the weekend rather than lazing about in our Pj's - although that is fun sometimes too.

boy looking out to the lake

boy climbing up a tree
Towards the end of last year we bought National Trust memberships so I am really looking forward to the restrictions lifting so we can visit some new places further afield. 

afternoon tea

Loungefly Rapunzel Bag


Valentine's Day
John planned and prepared a lovely afternoon tea for us all to enjoy for Valentines Day. It was such a lovely treat and although we don't really celebrate it he bought me a gorgeous Disney Loungefly Bag which I have wanted for so long. I was very happy. 

boy decorating his pancake


Pancake Day
During half term it was Pancake Day and the boys really enjoyed flipping pancakes and filling them with delicious treats. I offered them Nutella, jam, sweets and M&M's. They tried the lot. 

boy playing with a fidget toy


Treats
Little J was a little down for a few days. I think he had just had enough with being at home stuck with just us but he really cheered up when a package of treats arrived for him and big J. It was a lovely surprise from his Grandma and Grandad. 

Movie snacks

boys sat watching a film


Cinema Night
As another treat John and I planned a night at the Odeon cinema at home for the boys. We downloaded the Odeon at Home free resources which really made the night extra special. We had slush, coke, nachos and cheese, hotdogs, pick'n'mix and popcorn. It was a fun night and little J keeps pestering for us to do it again so he definitely enjoyed it. 

In Other News
drawing of winnie the pooh taggy

winnie the pooh taggy


Little J has become attached more than ever to his Winnie The Pooh taggy over the past year. Taggy has always been little J's favourite teddy but they are just inseparable at the moment which worries me as he will be returning to school soon. I drew him a picture of taggy (what taggy used to look like 8 years ago) and he has stuck it on his bedroom door. 

John and I have decided to watch the Marvel Movies and series again. We have already watched Captain America The First Avenger and then the Agent Carter Series 1 & 2. We've still got a long way to go but I am really looking forward to seeing them again. 

We have been thinking about our travel plans for 2021 and although we are still unsure about what we can and can't do I am hoping we will have something booked by next month. 

Michelle
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A Night In At The Cinema With Odeon At Home

24 February 2021

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We have spent the last year trying to come up with different ways to keep busy while staying at home. It's hard to make things exciting when really all you want to do is go out for a meal, go to the cinema or just get out of the house. Last week I stumbled across Odeon At Home and I thought it would be perfect way to entertain the kids during half term.

snacks


Odeon At Home has everything you need to prepare your home into an  Odeon experience. To get started we downloaded the PDF of the at home kit and created our Odeon at Home.

First pretend to work at the Odeon by popping on your name badge and also your favourite film. My favourite film changes all the time so I would struggle to fit just one on there.

Create the viewing screen by labelling your TV/Projector with Screen 1 and write the name of the movie you are going to watch next to Showing.

Odeon at home ticket


Then you need to create the tickets. The PDF includes 4 ticket stubs but if you need more you can just print out another sheet. 

Once we created the viewing area it was time to sort out snacks. Usually at the cinema you would have a choice of hotdog, nachos, popcorn, pick and mix and drinks. We had lots of fun creating the Food and Drinks section of our cinema. 

First we started with the drinks. Little J got a slush puppy machine for Christmas and John has just mastered how to make the perfect slush so this was definitely on the menu. We ordered some Coca Cola Cups from amazon which were perfect not to big or small, they were 400ml. 

Hotdogs on baguettes and nachos were easy enough to make and again we ordered the trays and hot dog holders from Amazon. The nachos were lightly salted Doritos and I had read lots of reviews saying the Riccos Nacho Cheese Sauce is just like the cinema. You can buy it in Costco however we ordered it from Amazon. The sauce did not disappoint. 

Part of the print off is make your own popcorn boxes. These were actually really easy to buy and there was no need to use cardboard, paper worked just fine. 

I popped a few tubs of pick and mix on the table with spoons so the boys could pick their own or add to their popcorn. 

Boy sitting on the sofa


Last but not least it was time to watch the movie, but before that we enjoyed an introduction from Odeon and then a selection of trailers from upcoming movies. This is available via a link which you can type in direct on your TV if it has access to the internet. This really made us feel like we were at the cinema and it was quite emotional listening to the voiceover that we have heard so many times in the past at our local Odeon. It made us all realise just how much we have missed going to the cinema. 

The movie night was a success and with the added extras it really did feel like we were at the cinema.

If you would like to win your own night at the movies then enter our giveaway below to win a £20 amazon voucher to spend on snacks and treats of your choice. 

You all need to do is enter your details below and pop back daily for bonus chances to win. 


Michelle

Competition closes on Sunday 14th March 2021

Entrants must have a valid UK address. 

Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified. 

All entrants and entries are checked and verified. 

1 lucky winner will be chosen at random by the Gleam application. 

Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winners within 7 days of the competition closing. 

The winners will be emailed to the email address given at the time of entering. 

The winners must respond within 28 days, if no response a new winner will be chosen. 

This prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative 

The Prize : £20 amazon voucher to spend on sweets and treats for a movie night in. 

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Half Term At Home | Living Arrows 8/52 (2021)

22 February 2021

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We were so ready for half term when it finally arrived. You know the kids are ready for a break when they can't be bothered with school work anymore, they are tired and whiney and if I am honest I felt the same. It had been a term of ups, downs and lots of juggling between home school and working but we got there in the end. Like most we had no plans at all and we planned on spending most of our time at home other than our walks, but it was nice not to have to worry about zooms and work for a week.

boy making pancakes


I am so glad we remembered pancake Tuesday. We do usually forget and then have to rush out to the shops to pick up some pancakes and toppings but I had already ordered them on the shopping so was very prepared. 

I gave the boys a choice of jam, Nutella, sugar, M&M's and Haribo. Little J decided to pile everything (except jam) on to his pancake and enjoyed every single bite. Big J also enjoyed his pancakes and was definitely the best flipper of the pancakes. 

Stepping Stones


We managed to head out for a few walks in-between wet and windy days as it is important to get out and about especially with little J as he has lots of energy to burn off.

Boy eating ice cream


One of little J's favourite things when we head out for a walk is to find an ice cream man or somewhere he can get an ice cream. He was so pleased when we visited a new park last week and there was an ice cream parlour. He always chooses bubblegum flavour if its there and he was pleased when it was. 

Odeon at Home ticket

brothers watching a movie


We finished off half term with a trip to the movies. This was in the living room but we made it extra special using the free resources from Odeon At Home. The boys had an amazing night with lots of cinema food, drinks and snacks and a very funny movie. 

Michelle
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Ideas To Keep The Kids Entertained The Half Term

15 February 2021

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Disclosure - We were gifted Pizza Punks kit to include in this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

February half term is my least favourite of all the school holidays. The weather is always cold, there isn't much to do and there also isn't really anything to look forward to. At least with the other half terms you can look forward to Easter, Summer, Halloween and Christmas. This half term will be a tough one even more as we are still in this national lockdown. I have been thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained this half term and I have come up with a few ideas. Most of these got us through the first lockdown last year so I know we will enjoy them again this half term.

three boys in the woods




Not Just Another Walk In The Park
By now I am sure you may be a little bored of your local park but there are ways that you can make it so it's not just another walk in the park. Go on a scavenger hunt. There are lots of free scavenger hunt tick off sheets on google that make a visit to your local park or woods a lot more interesting. Scavenger hunts will have your little ones running around trying to find all the things on their list. You can always make your own and if you are stuck for some ideas I have a template below which you can use. 

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

pizza punks ingredients


Make Your Own Pizza's
Creating our own pizza was one of the activities both boys enjoyed during lockdown. We used wraps or ready made pizza bases and added a variety of toppings. Within 10 minutes the pizzas were created and ready to pop in the oven. It's a simple activity but very enjoyable.  We recently came across Pizza Punks and their Pizza Punk It Up DoughIY kits and I wouldn't use anything else from now on. You choose how may pizzas you want (2 or 4) and 4 toppings from a large selection and the kit will be delivered direct to your door. The sourdough is ready to be shaped in to a pizza base, the sauce and topping are ready to be added, top with cheese and pop in the oven.

Pizza


The whole experience was a hit with all of us, not just the boys. We chose meatballs, ham, pepperoni and salami however you can be as adventurous as you like with lots of toppings to choose from. The ingredients all fit within a large pizza box and come in their own individual pots, you even get a little pot of flour. The packaging really adds to the experience and the boys haven't stopped talking about their pizzas since. 

two bowls of popcorn


Host A Movie Night
Enjoying a movie night brings the whole family together and it's a nice activity to while away a few hours. When it comes to hosting a movie night you can be as adventurous as you like. In the past we have made tickets and enjoyed lots of cinema snacks. I have seen others give their children some money to buy their snacks from a selection available at the pretend cinema kiosk.

I spotted Odeon are offering cinema goers the chance to have a full odeon experience at home. All you need to do is download their Odeon At Home pack and print out your tickets, activity pack and even popcorn box. To make the experience even more realistic you can scan the QR code on the downloadable pack and you will see some trailers. 

sleepover


Siblings Sleepover
Having a sleepover with friends may be off the cards but if you have siblings that don't share a room you could create a sleepover for them both to enjoy. Having a sleepover is fun and half term is the perfect opportunity to let the kids stay up a little later than usual, eat snacks in bed, play games and watch rubbish movies.

Depending on the size of the bedroom you could even make it more fun. Add a tent, a den or there are lots of companies now that offer sleepover kits but I think you can't beat your own bed so just pop their mattress in there. 

making a scrapbook


Create A Scrapbook
This past year has been a crazy rollercoaster and I am hoping we will soon come to the end of the track and it will be time to get off. Create a scrapbook of all the things you have done, celebrated and enjoyed over the past twelve months. We will never get time like this again so it will be nice to create a book that you can look back on in years to come when we all stayed home to keep safe. 

Remember that these are very unusual times. Be kind to yourself and maybe loosen the screen time limits a little or let the kids have a PJ day. Our little ones have had a very strange year and if all goes well they will be heading back to some kind of normality soon so let them enjoy this last half term where everything is closed and there is not a lot to do. Pretty soon we will all be back to our usual busy selves trying to juggle 10,000 plates at once, let's just enjoy this moment while it lasts. 

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Michelle
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Happy Valentine's Day | Our Sunday Photo 7/52

14 February 2021

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Happy Valentine's Day. 

Rapunzel Loungefly Bag


Michelle
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January 2021 - Looking Back

3 February 2021

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I'm a little late posting our January 2021 looking back post and if I'm honest I didn't think I would have a lot to share, but amongst all the home schooling and stay at home days we did have a nice January.

brothers hugging

I try to take photos as often as possible and I am so glad I do, as looking back at photos is a great reminder at what we get up to.

brothers riding a bike


Bike Rides
During the first lockdown John taught little J how to ride a bike. He hadn't shown any interest in a bike before, he preferred his scooter. Now he would much prefer to head out on his bike and the boys have enjoyed lots of lovely bike rides in our local area. 

I don't own a bike and sometimes I feel like I'm missing out but it has become something that just the three of them do so I don't want to ruin that so I stay at home and go on my exercise bike instead. 

a boy baking
Baking

Both boys have enjoyed baking this month. Little J had a maths activity that involved weighing so we decided to make it a little more interesting and turned it in to a baking activity. He made delicious cookies and it got him away from the table for a while. 

Big J decided he wanted to make us a meal which was a lovely treat. He made us a chicken dish and it was really tasty. He created it all from scratch and I think he enjoyed it. Looking forward to the next one. 

three boys making pizza


It was also nice to have another night off from cooking when the boys all made their own pizzas. All three of them love pizzas and creating their own is their favourite meal. 

boy making a snow angel

snow angel print


Snow Days
We had a few snow days this month and although it wasn't very deep it was enough for us to head out and have snowball fights and make snow angels. The days don't seem to vary much at the moment even the weekends are a bit meh, so it was nice to have some snow and it really did cheer us up. 

boy sat at a table working on a computer

boy sat at a table working on a computer


Home School 
Home schooling is pretty much our life at the moment. Little J begins the day with a zoom call with his teacher and classmates and then has four lessons to complete with another zoom call at the end of the day. John and I are in a nice routine with John doing Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings and I do Tuesday morning, all day Wednesday and Monday,Thursday and Friday afternoons. Little J usually has his work wrapped up by lunchtime so it leaves the afternoons free for us to play games, build lego or just chill in front of the TV. 

Woman and boy on beach

Weekend Walks
This used to be the highlight of our week but as we are limited to where we can visit it's not as much fun anymore. We joined The National Trust just before Christmas and we were looking forward to exploring the UK but that will have to wait. 

mum and son walking

boy and dad waling by a marina


Having said that we have managed to enjoy a few local walks including a trip to the beach, a snowy visit to Speke Hall and a cold and a windy walk along the waterfront.

In Other News...

John and I have tried to spend some time together as all we seem to do is work and homeschool at the moment. We have enjoyed an Escape Room at home but mostly we have just been watching tv and films together. We've watched so much this month which is quite unusual for us as we are usually busy doing other things. We managed to watch all Mandalorian, Finding Alice, The Pembrokeshire Murders and up to episode 4 of Marvel's Mini Series WandaVision which is just amazing and we can't wait for Friday to come around so we can watch another. As well as series we have also watched Star Wars Episode II, III, Rogue One and Episode IV. It's crazy that we have all this free time to watch these programmes and films. Usually this amount would take us months, maybe longer.

positive planner

exercise bike
I have been working hard this month to be positive and to try and exercise. Lockdown is tough and it can be quite difficult at times to think of positives in what seems like a permanent doom and gloom situation. The planner helps me pick out positivity activities to do each day and also plan in some self care. My bigger goal this year is to get fit. I have tried diets over the years and they fizzle out so my self care for year is to try and get fit and if weight loss comes with that then it will be a bonus. 

Big J has been so busy in his placement in a school training to be a teacher. At first he wasn't sure how it would work with the school only open for smaller numbers however on some days he has had over 20 kids in so almost like a full class. He is really enjoying it and seems to be able to plan and execute the lessons with ease. This is his first placement and I said to him that it will be after this one when he will realise if this is actually the job for him, he's sure it is which is great to hear. 

Fireplace with yellow and grey rug in front
Lastly we have given the living room a little colour makeover. We have gone for yellow and grey. We bought a new rug, cushions, lamp and other bits of furnishing. It's nice to change it round every few months as it feels so much brighter and fresh. 

So in the end January wasn't as dull and boring as I first thought and it's definitely my least favourite month of the year so I am glad it's done. 

Michelle
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Another Weekend, Another Walk | Living Arrows 5/52 (2021)

1 February 2021

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Another week has passed and the juggling of work and homeschool continued and we all couldn't wait for the weekend. Weekend means walk and this weekend we headed to the waterfront for a change of scenery. 

boy hiding behind a statue


We had some jobs to do around the house first so didn't manage to get out till quite late, I think it was almost 3pm. By the time we got there it was so cold and windy. It was the type of cold wind that hurts your face as you walk. We almost turned around to go back home to where it is warm but we know how important it is to get some fresh air and exercise so we persevered and we actually enjoyed it, in the end. 

Boy on a scooter


Little J took his scooter as there is lots of open space to scoot around and I was surprised how many young adults there were on skateboards. I suppose there isn't much for anyone to do at the moment so why not go skateboarding by the waterfront.

We had promised little J an ice cream but unfortunately the van was there but there was no one inside. Maybe it was too cold but he did manage to pick some sweets off another van selling lots of sweets and candy floss. 

As we were walking we saw lots of people holding Costa cups so we knew the Costa was open for takeaway. John grabbed himself a coffee. It was on those type of days I really wished I like coffee as it would have warmed me up. 

brothers hugging


After a while the cold didn't seem to bother the boys but I am really looking forward to some warmer weather. 

Michelle

Living Arrows
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Is Spring On The Way? | Our Sunday Photo 5/52

31 January 2021

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While we were out on a walk at the weekend we came across a snowdrop. It was all on its own in the middle of a patch of mud. Snowdrops are supposed to be the first sign of Spring ahead of bluebells and daffodils. 

Snowdrop

Although the weather doesn't feel like Spring is on the way I have enjoyed the lighter evenings. This Winter has been so miserable with not much to look forward to so I hope Spring arrives very soon and it's the start of brighter times. 

Michelle

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Snow Fun | Living Arrows 4/52 (2021)

25 January 2021

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This past week was exactly the same as the weeks before with the juggling of work, home schooling and trying to keep things fun. We got to midweek and I could see that sitting at the table doing school work is just so boring for little J. He loves school but doing school work at home isn't fun. There is no one his own age to bounce off during class discussions, there is no one to play with at break time and there is no escape from us. He needs to see his friends, he needs to chat to kids his own age, he needs to be a 7 year old boy and as much as we all love each other he needs space and time away from us, its natural to need a break from people even if just for a few hours.

a boy making a snow angel in the snow


I was dreading the weekend if I am honest as there is no difference really from midweek to weekend at the moment. Every day feels the same however over night on Friday we had some snowfall. 

Our snowfall wasn't as heavy as other parts of the country but it was enough to perk up our moods and we headed straight out in the garden for some snow fun.

boy falling off a sledge


Little J didn't want to make a snowman, all he wanted to do was have snowball fights, make snow angels and be pulled around on his sledge. 

After a morning of fun we headed out for an afternoon snowy winter walk at Speke Hall. It was so lovely to see the hall and grounds covered in snow. We became members of National Trust just a few months ago and haven't had chance to visit many of the NT properties yet so it was nice to visit. 

man and boy having a snowball fight


We enjoyed snowball fights on the main lawn and enjoyed a walk overlooking the airport runways. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any planes take off or land but we did see some parked on the runway. 

Our walk was cut short when it started to hail and the temperature dropped quickly but it was lovely to get some much needed fresh air.

Michelle

Living Arrows
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