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Trying To Mix It Up | Living Arrows 3/52 (2021)

18 January 2021

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Last week was our second week of home schooling and just as I expected the novelty had definitely worn off and little J was not as keen or interested to get started on Monday morning as he was the week before. However he managed to pick himself up and get stuck in and seemed to enjoy some of the work set.

boy with sunlight behind him
At the moment we have no idea how long the schools will be closed for so we are trying to mix up the home school day as much as we can so he doesn't become bored. There is quite a lot of work set this time around and zoom calls at the beginning and the end of the day so he doesn't have a lot of free time. 

boy measuring out ingredients


One of his lessons last week involved measuring so we took it one step further and made some cookies. Little J enjoyed measuring the ingredients out and made sure we took lots of photographs so we could send them to his teacher. 

He has one scheduled PE session a week which encourages the children to head outside for a walk or bike ride or do an indoor PE / Exercise session such as PE with Joe. We have tried to make sure we get out and about at least 4 out of the 5 days for a walk or bike ride. We are lucky that we have lots of cycle paths and a park close by so it's been nice for him to be able to enjoy a bike ride locally.

boy looking at a computer screen


Little J is reading Charlie and the chocolate factory at the moment and was really keen to know what happened at the end so I suggested we watch the movie. I am a huge fan of the original so I popped it on and he didn't move all the way through, he absolutely loved it. He has also loved being able to bring his teddies to his homeschool lessons.

box of sweets


For RE he had to talk about someone he loves and we had a discussion about why he loves that person. I had no doubt in my mind who he would choose, his brother. To make it more interesting and fun he made a gift box which he decorated himself and we filled it with a few chocolates so he could treat his brother. 

two boys on bikes


Big J had a good week doing his university course online. It has been hard learning how to become a teacher through zoom calls but he has just found out that he will be actually going in to a school to help out until half term so is over the moon. It means he won't be at home during the day as much and I know the boys will both miss each other. They did spend lots of time together this past week both in and outside which I just love. 

Michelle

Living Arrows
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Back To Home School | Living Arrows 2/52 (2021)

11 January 2021

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Well things have certainly changed since last weeks Living Arrows post. On Monday it was announced that all schools were to close after being told the day before they were safe. We all knew a National Lockdown was on the cards and that it was going to be soon but it was still a shock. Home schooling began here on Wednesday and it was definitely more organised than the last time schools closed. 

at boy doing homework
Little J starts his day with a Zoom call. It's a chance to see his friends on the screen and for his teacher to discuss what she has planned for them throughout the day. It's a lovely way to begin his day but it's also so sad because I know how much he missed his friends last time and seeing them on a screen just isn't the same. 

After the zoom he has four lessons to complete. Maths, English, RE and then a foundation subject. The workload has been okay so far but I am expecting more this week now they have had a little more time to prepare. 

a boy doing homework
The home schooling isn't as easy for us this time around as parents as I am now in work. I was furloughed last time which obviously made it easier but now we are trying to fit everything in-between John's work and mine. 

John and I are both key workers however we made a decision to keep little J home as the infection rate in our area is so high and we obviously want him safe at home. 

a boy reading
After he has finished his lessons we have been colouring and then also reading. He is reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and loves it so far. 

Once his school day is done we email all his work over for marking and he finishes the day with another Zoom call. It's a little catch up of the day and the teacher reads then a short story. 

boy on a zoom


So far little J is enjoying being at home and it is definitely the best place for him to be until this madness is over. 

Michelle

Living Arrows
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Be Positive | Our Sunday photo 2/52

10 January 2021

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Disclosure - Previously gifted item. 

At the moment everything feels negative. There doesn't seem to be much positivity in the air but I am trying my best to not let the negativity take over. I have been writing in my planner and it's really helping me.

The positive planner

The positive planner
Each day I focus on my mantra, my positive intentions, my top three to-do's, my self care moment and my note to self. In the evening I reflect on my day. 

I have never done anything like this before but the way the world is at the moment I have enjoyed trying to pick out the positives and they are there but I just have to search a little harder to find them. 

Michelle
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Top 7 for 2020

8 January 2021

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I usually like to do a round up post of the year highlighting the ups and downs but then I spotted this on We're Going On An Adventure blog. It's a Top 7 for 2020 including 7 of my favourite posts, 7 things I have loved about this year and 7 things I am looking forward to in 2021. I'm a little late sharing but here it goes...

3 people looking over a bridge



boys walking

Firstly here are my top 7 posts of 2020

We are regular visitors to Alton Towers throughout the year but we have never actually visited and appreciated the gardens. Alton opened the gardens only just after lockdown eased and this was our first day out and it was just what we needed. A change of scenery and some normality. 

Boy on a bike


Little J's birthday was right at the beginning of lockdown and he decided he wanted a bike with birthday money he received. He has had a bike in the past but has always preferred a scooter so we were shocked when he asked for a bike. Teaching him to ride became a project for John to focus on over the lockdown and they got there and he is now a whizz and loves going on bike rides with his Dad. 

Boys walking through woods


This post is one of my favourites for many reasons. It brings back lots of good and some bad memories of our walk and how much we laughed and cried (me) but mainly it is one of my favourites as it opened up a new passion in us all we didn't realise we had. We loved the walk, figuring out how to get to the top and pushing ourselves when we didn't think we could go any further. The walk we took was supposed to be an easy one however it took us twice as long and it wasn't easy, not for me anyway but the sense of achievement when we got to the top and then back to the start was amazing, I will never forget it. 

Mum and Son on a ride


Another Alton Towers post. We were obviously a little anxious about visiting the theme park when Covid-19 was still very much present and we hadn't been anywhere like that since before lockdown. We were really impressed with the rides and how they operated queues to allow social distancing although it was still a little busier than we had expected but we used our common sense and if an area or ride was busy we moved along to the next one. 

Dad and son standing on a large rock


For the past few years we have booked a Summer weekend break with all the family, so 14 of us in total. We booked Snowdonia in 2019 so had no idea whether we could make it or not but we did and we all had an amazing time. It was our first visit to Wales as a family and we would definitely return again. 
 
boy standing up a mountain


I mentioned before that our walk from the Grizedale Visitor Centre was one of my favourite memories as it made us realise we love going for walks. Our walk at Rivington Pike was just the three of us but we enjoyed it so much. Again we didn't find it easy and we managed to go off the path and ended up adding some steep climbs to our route but we loved it. 

Disneyland Paris Castle


This post was so hard to write as it reminded me of how much I love Disneyland Paris and how we hadn't stepped inside a Disney Park in 2020. However I also enjoyed writing it as it brought back so many happy memories and I loved browsing through old photos and videos of our trips from the past 15 years. 

Next here are 7 Things I Have Loved In 2020. 

mum and son playing a game on the grass


Unexpected Family Time
No one could have ever expected what was thrown at us in 2020. When we went in to lockdown I was placed on furlough and the boys were at home from school. John and I did everything we could to make the boys time at home fun and educational. I will never forget all the extra time we got together and even though we were at home we created so many memories that I will cherish forever. 

Turning 40
I had so many plans for my 40th but as my birthday was during lockdown none of my plans happened but I actually had a lovely birthday and spent it with my favourite people in the whole world. As I didn't get to celebrate it the way you should celebrate a 'big' birthday it means we have an excuse to celebrate on my next. 

Our Walks
I have loved our walks this year and I love that we have all enjoyed them too. It's a great way to challenge yourself physically and mentally and I enjoy browsing online finding new ones to explore.

playing football in the garden


Our Garden
We spent so much of this year in the garden. We went outside first thing in the morning, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner out there and stayed out until it went dark. Having the astro turf meant we could be outside no matter what and we did most of our playing and learning outside and it was amazing. 

A Level Results
John and I are so proud of big J and how he handled leaving school early. The last few months of school would have been hard taking his A Levels but he missed the experience and I am sad for him but he did amazing and is now in university beginning his journey to become a primary school teacher.

boy splashing in the pool


Pool Time
The weather was very kind to us this year and some days it felt like we were abroad on holiday, it was that hot. Very early in to lockdown John bought us a pool so little J could have a splash. When it arrived it was huge and could actually fit all four of us in with room to spare. Each morning we would fill it up and spend most of the day in there. It really was like we were on holiday. 

Christmas
Our favourite time of year. Christmas was quieter than usual and we didn't go on as many Christmas days out as we would have liked, but we had a lovely Christmas and we got to see our families which made it even better. 

Last but not least here are 7 things I am most looking forward to.

Spending Time Together
I think it will be a long time before we will back to normal and I think tier restrictions and possible lockdowns will dominate especially the first half of 2021. I am looking forward to spending time together.

Using Our National Trust Passes
Just before Christmas we purchased National Trust passes after visiting a few of the sites over November and December. We are really looking forward to using our passes over the year and exploring more of the UK (hopefully)

Travelling
We love travelling and it doesn't always have to be abroad. We love visiting cities and places in the UK too. Travelling was something we all missed in 2020 and it felt so good when we finally were able to go on days out. 

Visiting A Disney Park
I am hopeful that by Christmas 2021 we will be able to head to Disneyland Paris to celebrate Christmas time in our favourite place. 2020 was the first time in a very long time that we hadn't visited a Disney park so I really do hope we get to go. 

Seeing Family and Friends
Spending time with our family and friends is something we really missed this year. We love having people over even if just for a cup of tea and a catch up. The boys also love having their friends over and it was definitely a lot quieter than usual last year having no visitors.

Getting Fit
Both John and I want to be fitter in 2021 and hopefully our walking will help us achieve that. We say it every year and we do so well for the first few months but I am hoping this year we will make it happen. 

Watching The Boys Grow
I made myself a photo slideshow of 2020 and it was amazing to see how much the boys had grown over the past twelve months. It's not just their appearance that has changed. They adapted so well and so quickly to the changes 2020 threw at us and they were both so mature about the whole situation. 

Now that I have looked back 2020 wasn't as bad as I remembered. We tried to make it as normal as possible for the boys and I think we managed .... just about. 

My list of things to look forward to is quite big but I will just take every day as it comes and hope for the best. 

What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

Michelle
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The Fresh Sea Air | Living Arrows 1/52 (2021)

4 January 2021

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Between Christmas and New Year was so cold and although we just wanted to stay in our PJ's I knew we needed to head out for a walk so little J could burn off some energy. Unfortunately we were placed in Tier 3 on New Years Eve so we are quite restricted for places to go. We decided to head to the beach and get some fresh sea air. 

boy with toy story mask on



When we arrived it was so busy, I guess everyone had the same idea as us. I suppose this will happen now, everyone will congregate in the same places as there are not many to choose from. We popped on our masks and tried to social distance as much as possible. There are only a few paths to the beach so that was hard but once on the beach it was a lot easier as there was lots of space.

boy writing name in sand
The tide was quite far out but the sand was nice and wet. I prefer wet sand rather than dry, it's much easier to walk on. Little J drew his name in the sand and then made up a game for us to play with his big bouncy ball. 

I did try and walk towards the sea but my wellies got stuck in sinking sand. Luckily I kept my balance and John came to my rescue. 

sunset over the beach and sea
It suddenly went extremely cold and the sun started to go down so we headed back to the start. We walked the longer way round back to the car to try and avoid any crowds. 

boy looking at the sunset



Although it was freezing it was lovely and we definitely needed the fresh air. 

Michelle

Living Arrows
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Looking For Snow | Our Sunday Photo 1/52 (2021)

3 January 2021

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Over the past few days little J has come in to our bedroom and opened the blinds to see if it has snowed overnight. He reminds me of the boy from The Snowman. Luckily we have had a few flurries so he has been able to go out in the garden to play. 

Boy looking out the window for snow
I love the snow but we never seem to get enough so that you can build a snowman or go sledging. Hopefully this year we will.

Michelle




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December 2020 - Looking Back

31 December 2020

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Well today is the last day of December but also the final day of one of the strangest years I think we will ever experience. I have spent some time looking back at 2020 and although we did have some nice times together, I'm glad it's over. I think like most people December is the month when we spend far too much, eat far too much but absolutely love spending time together with family and friends. For most of the UK this wasn't possible due to tiers and lockdowns but I hope if you were affected then you were still able to enjoy December and Christmas as best you could. 

mum and son looking at each other


We have remained in Tier 2 for most of this month so we have been allowed to go to the shops, visit the hairdressers and barbers and also see friends under the rule of 6. However even though we were allowed we didn't head out unless absolute necessary and spent most of the month in just our own bubble of 4.

elf on the shelf in a glass jar


Our month began with our Elf, Jingle returning from the North Pole. He was in Elf Isolation for 72 hours but once he was free he caused lots of mischief around the house and little J loved it. He has now returned to the North Pole to rest and prepare for next Christmas. 

3 people walking

3 people walking

3 people walking over a bridge


We decided to join The National Trust this month after enjoying a few walks and in December we visited a Christmas Trail at Tatton Park and also headed to Dunham Massey for a Peter Rabbit Trail. We love the outdoors and exploring so I know we will make good use of our passes in 2021. 

boy with muddy football boots


Little J managed to squeeze some football in-between lockdowns and tier changes and it was good to see him back on the pitch after having so much time off this year. Luckily he still enjoys it and cannot wait to return next week. 

Big J finished his online university course for Christmas a week earlier than us so enjoyed some time away from the screen. I hate that his university experience is online. He is not having the experience he expected but I am so proud he is sticking at it. He is back a week later than us in January so hopefully things may change in the world soon and he can start to head out rather than being stuck in his room. 

Disneyland Paris Bauble


I have said this so many times over the last few months and it still makes me want to cry but this year is the first in many many years that we haven't been to Disneyland Paris at Christmas time. It's a huge part of our Christmas and not being there felt wrong. Big and Little J surprised us with a Disneyland Paris decoration that they had ordered for us and it's just perfect.

Present Poem


Little J was both sad and happy on his last day of school. He finished all his work including this poem which he wrote himself and we just love. He was happy to finish but also sad as he was going to miss his friends. His friends are so important to him and they are all lovely but he will be back with them soon. 

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers


We managed another day out in-between lockdowns and tier changes to Alton Towers. This is another tradition for us and whilst it wasn't the same as usual, Alton did an amazing job at making it safe for everyone. It was really quiet and at times it felt like there was only us there. We didn't think we would be able to see Santa this year but we did and the whole experience was fantastic. 

a tractor decorated in Christmas Lights


The week before Christmas we did something unusual we headed out to watch a tractor convoy parade which was raising money for a children's hospital. 80 tractors decorated with Christmas lights passed by and although it may seem random it was really good.

man and woman in christmas jumpers


John and I managed to squeeze in a date night. We popped on our Christmas jumpers and headed to Breakout to tackle a Christmas themed escape room. It was lots of fun and we escaped with 14 minutes to spare. 

queue


The day before Christmas Eve we all went to be tested for Covid-19 at a no symptoms test centre. It was so cold and raining and we had to queue for almost 2 hours but it was worth it so we could see our Christmas bubble safely on Christmas Day. 

a selection of presents


Father Christmas came on Christmas Eve and brought lots of presents for little J. Our Christmas was quieter than usual but we all enjoyed it and we got to see both sets of parents on the day so that was lovely and more than I think we expected. 

a family playing a board game


Christmas came and went and we were left with lots of toys and games to play with and that's pretty much what we did for the days after. 

The weather wasn't great but we did manage a few walks to blow away the cobwebs which was nice. Despite everything that is happening in the UK and the World right now we did have a lovely December and we are looking forward to a much happier and brighter year in 2021. 

Michelle
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November 2020 - Looking Back

30 November 2020

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November was a very strange month, pretty much like the rest of the year really but we have spent most of it in lockdown although unlike March we have been allowed to go to school and work. So whilst it hasn't felt like it did last time we have still obeyed the rules and kept to just the four of us but we have had a lovely time enjoying time at home and winter walks at the weekend. 

Boys wellies
Two boys lying on a large inflatable
Before lockdown kicked in, we began the month still on half term break so whilst I had to return to work little J had a bonus day off which he spent with John and his friend.

boy holding a pencil writing christmas list
Little J wanted to write his Christmas list and get it sent off to the North Pole. This year he has asked for a gaming chair and Fifa 21 from Santa. He also would like something in his stocking. 

As all the non essential shops have closed we have been trying to buy most of our presents online and supporting small local businesses too. 

Little J did a small play in school about Noah and the Ark. Unfortunately we were unable to go in and watch however we did get to watch it later that day online. It was so lovely and little J had a speaking part which was so nice. 

two boys walking over sand dunes
We enjoyed a lovely walk at The Red Squirrel Reserve in Formby. Although it was quite a wet day we all really enjoyed it and we even got to head over the sand dunes to the beach for some fresh sea air. 

pudsey t-shirt
We helped raise money for Children in Need by wearing our Pudsey T-shirts and ears. 

Big J is still doing the majority of his university course online which isn't ideal but at least he is safe at home. He has been in a few times now and one time was to do art which is his worst subject but he did really well.

rainbow
Our wellies have had lots of wear over the past month as it has been so wet but because of all the rain we have enjoyed lots of rainbows. 

snow white jigsaw
Harry Potter jigsaw
I finally finished my Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs puzzle. It has taken me so long but I got there in the end and it was worth the wait. I love it. I've now moved on to my next puzzle 'Harry Potter'

Christmas lights at Albert dock
The Christmas Lights have popped up at the Albert Dock so we headed there for an evening stroll. It was so nice to wrap up warm and enjoy the lights. 

man and boy walking through woods
Another day out, this time at Speke Hall Estate and Gardens and we all really enjoyed it. It's another National Trust and it has made us consider getting National Trust memberships as we are really enjoying the days out.

Mickey Mouse christmas bedding
We haven't put our Christmas decorations up yet but we have bought new Christmas PJ's and Christmas bedding. 

boy on a bike
Due to the lockdown little J's grassroots football has completely stopped so he has been enjoying bike rides with John instead in his spare time. He is really enjoying it but I know if he could he would choose football over anything but for now it's bike rides.

The new tier system was announced last week and it seems most of the country are in tier 2 and 3. For us it just means nothing much has changed and we will just continue how we are anyway until it changes. I am a little anxious as to what Christmas will look like but I know we will try and make it special and fun as much as we possibly can for the boys.

Michelle
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