Well, that’s the longest month of the year over! For the first time ever, I decided to give myself a break over Christmas and gave myself a very generous 3 weeks off. Toward the end of last year, I realised more than ever that juggling family life, the home, the blog, my day job and studying for my degree was a lot. I noticed all I was really doing was eating, sleeping and working. So as 2024 arrived, I decided to make a resolution to have more fun this year!
So far, I think I’ve managed to add in a bit more fun. I’d like to crank it up a notch though, but I need to try and balance it well. As it is, I haven’t gone back to spinning all the plates at the same rate I was before Christmas. I have very much just eased myself into the year, as you may or may not have noticed. Despite it being such a long month, (I thought we’d never get to payday), I only really feel like things are starting to go back to ‘normal’ now. For the first time in weeks, I actually feel like writing too! So, here I am with a recap of January 🙂
We started off the year with my birthday. We’d gone to the BBC Earth Exhibition as an early celebration at the end of December. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it all the same! Reuben was mesmerised by the fish and I could have sat there for hours. However, Autumn got bored around half way through and started asking when we could leave.
Our plans for my birthday were to have lunch locally and then go for a walk at Greenwich Park and market, while my parents looked after the children. Unfortunately, I had a headache and wasn’t really feeling going out for lunch. However, I dosed up and began to slowly get ready, trying to turn the day around. We decided we’d get a late lunch in Greenwich instead. When we got to the edge of the Gravesend on the A2, all we could see ahead was red brake lights. In the end we got stuck on the A2 for 2 hours, thanks to someone driving a stolen car and crashing into others as they tried to get away from police.
Being stubborn as I am, we continued to Greenwich Park. By the time we got there it was dark, though. We only had time to walk fast through the park, get some chips to eat, walk back via the (closed) market and run back up the hill by the observatory before we got locked in the car park.
It wasn’t all bad though. I’d had a lovely visit from one friend in the morning and passed another by chance in the traffic stuck on the A2. I saw my family in the evening where another friend visited me. I was lucky to receive many wonderful and thoughtful presents and I had not one, but two birthday cakes!
I still call him my baby, even though he’s started telling me he’s not a baby. Perhaps it’s time to admit it though, as at the beginning of the month he turned 3! He asked if he could have a chocolate cake with Paw Patrol on it and helped me to shop for the ingredients. He insisted on carrying the basket and putting item in it (so cute!) I didn’t have lots of time to make a cake as elaborate as the train cake I made last year, but I delivered what he wanted and he seemed very happy with it. Perhaps needless to say, he was also very excited to open presents as he’d got a real taste for it over Christmas!
We celebrated his birthday by taking him to Nickolodeon Adventure Lakeside. We mainly had the Paw Patrol section in mind as he’s a big fan – and he loved it! He loved pretending to drive the different vehicles with Autumn and going down the lookout tower slide. However, he was a little unsure about meeting Chase! He loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ride and play area too, as well as Mrs Puff’s Driving School in the Spongebob part (he is also a Spongebob fan!)
I was SO excited to see snow and that it was settling! Unfortunately there wasn’t much and it was quite short-lived. I was hoping there would be enough to build snowmen or at least have a snowball fight with the children. The best we got was the faces Autumn drew in the snow on my car.
It was a little bit milder by the end of the week and we wrapped up to go for a walk in the woods. It felt such a long time since I’d been out of the towns and the fresh air made me feel so much more relaxed. I need to try to immerse myself in nature much more often this year. Reuben loved helping to find ‘good sticks’ and squelching his little wellies in the mud.
We had dinner when we got home, then we all set to following instructions from our Mud & Bloom box. We wrapped colourful string around our sticks and placed beads on them. I didn’t have a small vase so I used the plainest glass I had to put them in. They looked quite effective! I’m not sure what Maisie thought though, as she was sniffing them very suspiciously.
The third week of January was definitely all about piggybacks for Reuben. He insisted on piggybacks from everyone, directing us to go all around the house! Of course, he squealed with joy every time.
The children were so excited to fill balloons with water and put them in the freezer. This was another of our Mud & Bloom activities for the month. When they were frozen, the children decorated them with leaves and flowers. It was a bit tricky, but they did a really good job. They looked lovely! It was -3°C outside that night, so they lasted ages. In fact, they’d only half melted by the time Autumn got home from school the following afternoon!
We once again wrapped up warm, as we went to see some light art brightening up the dark winter night at Ebbsfleet Garden City. We’d been nearby so decided to pay it a visit. When we were there also was a brilliant fusion of Indian music and Bhangra drums with pop music, along with fire dancers. It was something a bit different to do on a Saturday night, rather than just lolloping around on the sofa.
I’ve been trying to make more time to play with the children. I’m guilty of saying “not right now” or “I’m busy” so often. This has resulted in lots of silliness, hugs and laughter with Autumn after school. Reuben has been wearing his chef’s hat and cooking me lots of food! One day, I found I had a spare half an hour before work so we fitted in a trip to the playground. We ran around together and I found myself surprised at how much he’s grown up since I’d taken him there last. He just seems so much more able all of a sudden.
Fun things aside, my first university assignment of the year was due. It was a whopper, with so many sources to try and pull from. I found myself very overwhelmed. However, I made it through with support from my family and some excellent Spotify playlists!
I have been quite used to driving to work in the dark the last few weeks. For the first time, there was a sunrise instead. And it was beautiful! I couldn’t resist stopping to take a photo. I don’t like winter, but this is a sure sign that spring is on its way (as are the daffodils that I’ve noticed around over the last couple of days!)
Lunch with my Nan
I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had lunch out, just my Nan and I. However, I was child-free as I’d just been to a hospital appointment with her and it was lunchtime, so the opportunity presented itself! We both had jacket potatoes with the most amazing slaw on the side. I don’t like coleslaw, but this was not just any slaw, this was M&S Cafe rainbow slaw. It had what I think was spinach in it, along with carrots, red cabbage and pomegranate seeds. It was delicious!