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April 2021 | Looking Back

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April was a busy one for us. It was nice to have the boys off school so we could enjoy half term and some adventures together. Like most of the months this year, April just flew by and I actually cannot believe we are in May already. We did have a lovely month  and I have really enjoyed looking back at our April. 

boy lying on the grass


National Trust
Once again we tried to make the most of our National Trust passes this month. Sometimes it can be hard to plan in advance as you have to book up to a week in advance. The tickets for the week ahead go on sale early Friday morning.  So far we have been lucky and have visited every time we have booked and the weather has always been kind to us. 

boy completing an easter egg hunt

boy completing an easter egg hunt

Easter egg treat


First we headed to Speke Hall. There was an Easter Egg Trail around the estate for the children to enjoy. It was lots of fun and little J enjoyed following the arrows, solving the clues and getting a chocolate treat at the end.

boy on grass

boy on grass

meeting percy the park keeper


Tatton Park was also on our visit list for this month. Here we enjoyed a different type of trail. Percy the Park Keeper has created a secret path to follow to help find his friends and gather all the tools he needs for a big spring clean up. We really enjoyed this trail in Tatton Park Gardens and got to meet Percy at the end. 

Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank Mill


Next we visited Quarry bank Mill where little J enjoyed another Easter Egg Trail. We’ve never visited Quarry Bank Mill before so had no idea what to expect. We all enjoyed lovely views of the gardens, the mill and then headed on one of the walks. 

I am so pleased that we bought our National Trust memberships last year. It’s really helped us get up and go over the past few months and enjoy some lovely properties, gardens and walks.

Spending Time With Family and Friends
This month we managed to squeeze in some time with our family and friends within the lockdown restrictions.

boys in the woods


We took little J and his friend to another National Trust favourite of ours, Formby Red Squirrel Reserve. They spent the day building dens, swinging from a tree swing, rolling down sand-hills, enjoying a picnic and even finding some animal bones. It was lovely to see them play together and catch up on all the things they’ve missed out on over the past few months.

boys playing


We also had the chance to head to the park for a lovely afternoon with family. Watching Little J and his cousins play together made us all so happy as they have missed out on so much time together over the past few months.

boy on a trampoline


Another family day out was to the Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire. This was definitely our favourite day out this month. It's been a very long time since we visited the Ice Cream Farm so we were pleasantly surprised how much it has changed with lots more to see and do. They boys spent their day climbing, bouncing, crawling and digging for jewels. We finished off the day with an ice cream.

broken finger


Another Injury
Unfortunately there was another injury this month.  Last month was big J hurting his ankle and ending up on crutches, this month little J broke his little finger. It happened while he was playing for his football team. As he is the goalie he has to make lots of difficult saves and sometimes gets trampled on. We’re not quite sure which one caused the break, maybe it was a mixture of the two. 

boy with a bandaged arm


We hesitated at first about taking him to A&E and thought about strapping his little finger together to the next with a bit of cotton wool and tape. We are so glad we took him because his little finger was broken. He ended up with a full cast up to his elbow. This is a new procedure for broken fingers at our local hospital and hopefully it means that he will be on the mend sooner. The bad news was it did mean that his goalie duties were passed on to somebody else and he had to watch his team from the sidelines.

Looking forward to a fun May with lots planned.

Michelle
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March 2021 | Looking Back

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We are now officially in the second quarter of the year and we can start to look forward to warmer days and lighter evenings. March was the beginning of back to some kind of normal with the children returning to school and also the rule of six coming back in to play again. Little J was happy to be back at school and has settled back in to his routine without any trouble at all. 

Boy sat on the grass
Weekend Walks
The highlights of our months recently always involve our walks. They are what we look forward to the most at the moment and have carried us through the past year. 

boys overlooking the sea

the waterfront
boy pretending to pull anchor

I really do hope that we that we continue to explore our local woods, enjoy walking along the waterfront  and just appreciate the simple things.

boy eating an ice cream

Days out don't have to cost much and you don't have to travel for miles either. We have found so many beautiful places local to us that either are free or a small entrance / parking charge. Our days out have usually consisted of a home made packed lunch and a trip to the ice cream van at the end of the day. Travel time and cost have been minimal but they have been some of the best days out we have ever had. 

Boy under the duvet

a swollen foot

Illness and Injuries
Disaster struck mid month when little J got tonsillitis and big J tore his ligaments playing basketball. Firstly little J getting ill before his birthday is nothing new. He has been ill on most of birthdays so far with tonsillitis, vomiting and chicken pox. Luckily a course of antibiotics and a few home days off school he was okay for his actually birthday. 

Big J's plans for the month changed when he was playing basketball in the garden, fell and tore his ligament in his foot. He was in a lot of pain even after doing the recommended RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) so John took him to A&E and it was confirmed he had injured it. He has had a cast on it and also using crutches. He has had one lot of physio so far and some exercises to do at home. Hopefully he will be on the mend soon.

Boy holding up an 8 sign

presents
2nd Lockdown Birthday
Despite this being his second lockdown birthday and no party planned little J was so excited for his special day. Up until the day before he didn't have any ideas of what he wanted for his birthday except for a box of fidget toys and surprises. He woke very early at just before 6am and loved every minute of his day. He loved all his presents including AirPods off his brother, a bike off us and his much wanted fidget toys. We had a small lunch and birthday cake, headed to grandparents to collect even more presents  and all day he received messages, cards and visits from his friends. his favourite surprise of all was his Pizza Hut dinner. He has wanted Pizza Hut for so long and he had no idea we were collecting an order for him. He was very surprised. 

Disney home items
In Other News

Little J's football has returned so that means lots of training sessions and matches each week. I've put my family organiser back on the fridge to keep track of everything. 

John and I are still making our way through the Marvel Movies and Series. We are absolutely loving Agents of Shield at the moment and are just about to finish season two. 

Next month we are looking forward to spending more time in the garden and outdoors with family and friends, haircuts, trips to the beer gardens and non essential shops opening. 

What are you looking forward to in April?

Michelle
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February 2021 | Looking Back

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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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Create A Movie Night At Home

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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.

Unfortunately our giveaway is no closed. 

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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)

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

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Happy Valentine's Day. 

Rapunzel Loungefly Bag


Michelle
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January 2021 - Looking Back

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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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