Thankful Thursday #2 💛

There is so much to be thankful for here at the moment, and I started the day in my very favourite of places to reflect on it all this morning, out for an early-morning hack with my boy – something I’m so grateful for in itself. 💛

The last week has seen some changes in the easing of lockdown here in Scotland that have meant the world to our family, as it was announced that children were no longer required to observe physical distancing from other children and adults outdoors; meaning that our 2-year-old could run into the rest of our family’s arms once more, after so long apart; and our 3-month-old baby be held by them for the first time at last.

I’m prouder than I can put into words of our eldest for how she’s handled everything in these last few months – but most especially in the last six weeks for managing to understand distancing, and doing so with her usual optimism in spite of how impossibly hard to comprehend it must have been. I’m so very relieved it’s over for her now, and that she can be as close as she wants to be to her beloved extended family again. And our youngest, so alert and so interested, growing and changing every day, had no idea how far from normal the world she was born into was, just taking it all in her stride and settling to our little family of four. In the last few weeks though, as we’ve seen others again, she’s been so interested, even at a distance figuring out all her people – and she was so content this week to find herself in all their arms for the first time.

This week has been full of flashes of joy and special moments – reunions in our gardens after what I know has been such a difficult long wait for everyone, some in the sunshine and some under tarpaulins and umbrellas, but all so lovely; and walks and catch-ups with friends we’ve missed so much. I have been so grateful to be able to spend a little more time with family and friends again and slowly but surely relax back into it all, feeling such a relief at seeing them properly with the girls again at last.

This coming week everything changes once more and we edge ever forward as we find ourselves able to visit in each other’s houses. I’m so so looking forward to being able to sink into the sofas in my mum’s and dad’s and the other family homes that have always felt like an extension of our own and that we now haven’t been inside for any length of time in four months. It does feel strange making these changes after all this time, and the progress we’re making seems to bring waves of anxiety and uncertainty that it’s all ok, along with the joy: – but as we find our way and continue to take our tentative steps forward, I’m just so grateful to be doing it all together.

Hope all reading are doing well, wherever you are in the twists and turns of this strange time, and wish you a really lovely weekend. 💛

Thankful Thursday 💛

This week there has been so much to be thankful for here in our little corner of the world. With lockdown measures easing for the first time on Friday, we found ourselves able to meet at least a little with others once more; and over a long weekend we managed to catch up with our family – the opportunity to see each other again in person after almost three months apart one I was so very, very grateful for.

Things aren’t quite back to normal yet, and won’t be for a long time I imagine. Social distancing remains in place and it does feel very strange to keep back from those we’re most desperate to be close to, but just having the opportunity to sit, even a little apart, and chat in person felt so much closer to normal than life has for a long time. It was beyond wonderful to be able to see our oldest little daughter’s face light up seeing her family again, and to have all of them meet our youngest for the very first time.

Things have settled back a little now after all the excitement, for us at least. After a few days of absolutely perfect sunshine just when we needed it, letting us sit out together in gardens comfortably; the last couple of days it’s been cooler and rainier, and we’re back to mostly indoor games, video calls and the lockdown life we’ve grown so accustomed to over the last few months.

Even so, I’m so thankful for all our connections with our family and friends – in lockdown, in this new transitional phase back to normality and always. Unexpected cards and little gifts arriving in the post, giving such a lift just when needed the most; laughter on virtual games nights all together, just as around the family dinner table; baking dropped off on a doorstep; books read and shared; breathing in the sight of the faces of my wonderful, wonderful family and my oldest friends in the warmth of sun this last week, smiling across the distance; the memories of all the day-to-day things we’ve shared together for a lifetime and look forward to again with a renewed understanding of their indescribable value. I’m very grateful for wonderful people around us, the time we got to share together this week, and the hope of more to come. ❤️

Hope you are all keeping well, doing alright whatever stage of this strange time you’re at, and having a good week. X

The Sunshine in Lockdown

As we come to the end of the first phase of lockdown, I look forward to being able to be with family and friends again, albeit at a distance, more than I can say. We’re reaching a time it sometimes seemed would never come and it will be beyond lovely to sit outside with the people we love most and speak in person after so long.

Being here at last, however, has had me looking back on the last couple of months. We have been incredibly lucky during these last 10 weeks we have been at home to all have been well, to have been well-connected with family and friends and to have everything we need at home to make it a positive place to be.

For us, these weeks have been time we could really enjoy as a little family, especially as our newest member arrived just a couple of weeks in. I will always look back on the bubble we had at this time as so special in spite of all the restrictions. It’s been a time span that’s covered so much for us – our second little daughter’s birth and first weeks, growing from a tiny newborn into a now 8-week-old holding her head up to take in the world and the sights and sounds around her, enjoying the breeze in the garden and giggling at the chaos of her big sister’s world of play. I’ve kept a diary for her of life in lockdown and her arrival into a world that was as far from its norm as it could have been but that we were all able to be together in while we waited to widen our circle once more.

For all of us, it’s been the beginning of a new era. Some of the things I’d been looking forward to most about family life have arrived. We’ve found our feet in a routine and taken a daily walk together every lunchtime as a four. The two girls have grown together, played together and settled into their new roles as sisters. We’ve had our first couple of family takeaway nights, our eldest’s eyes wide at the food arriving in boxes. We’ve started settling to a film all together – working our way through Disney films on quiet Sunday afternoons. We’ve had long walks gathering sticks and stones, the big little loving the exploring around our village that we often didn’t end up doing in favour of woodland or park walks further afield.

It’s been amazing how much more we’ve taken in of our own little corner of the world. A couple of months ago it seems now that we were just passing through the garden to jump in the car for busy days. Now we’re completely paused here, and are able to properly see it. At the moment we have blue tits nesting in the bird box in our back garden which is wonderful to see – they are just building their nest at the moment – and sparrows in a fir tree in the front garden whose babies have hatched already – they are very tucked away and we haven’t gone too close to see them but they are filling the garden with their tiny chorus when their mother flies in and out with food. Across the road too, a rural but normally busy one, now much more silent, deer and hares are running so much closer and more freely than ever before and are lovely to see. On our walks, just to the edge of the village usually, although once or twice slightly longer down to the shore we’re lucky to have just a couple of miles away, we’ve seen buzzards soaring and really enjoyed the wildlife and the world around us blooming even more for the lack of traffic and bustle.

Mostly we’ve been so blessed and I’ve been so grateful, but as I’m sure is the case for everyone there have been some times I’ve struggled more with being locked down and being away from my own family. In these, I’ve turned to some much appreciated rays of sunshine in this strange time. The wonderful world of video calling – Zoom, Messenger, House Party, we’ve tried them all! – has made the distance seem so much shorter, and has meant we haven’t been socially distanced at all, only physically. Week after week we’ve gathered with family and with friends too for quizzes, games nights and chats and it’s been wonderful to feel in some small way that we’re still able to sit and relax together, hanging on to all the things that are most important. We’ve managed to translate so many things across the distance – Pictionary, charades and Guess Who popping up in our increasingly inventive family games nights; quizzes and drinks with friends somehow managing to feel at least a little like the relaxed chat of pub nights; an afternoon coffee with a friend; book group analysis of our latest read; and even surprisingly successful play dates for the toddler, her and her friends loving seeing each other and amazing us by just going with it and adapting to the new normal.

I’ve found myself reading lots in my spare time (mostly in the middle of the night just now!), books a wonderful escape. Some will forever be synonymous for me now with this period and because a lot of what I’ve been reading recently has ended up being books I’ve been sharing with or had recommended by family and friends it’s been another wonderful way to keep connected.

TV box sets have also kept me going – we had already started watching our way through Parks and Recreation together for the first time when lockdown began and had been so enjoying it, but our watching definitely ramped up from then on. Feel-good, heartwarming and hilarious, I have absolutely loved it, and when we got to the end of the seven seasons we even had the extra bonus of the April 2020 special filmed and set during the pandemic, so perfectly pitched to be a lift at this time, and with all the heart of the show and a tear-jerker finale. ❤️ I’ve also turned to some proper cosy British comedy TV – The Vicar of Dibley and Outnumbered a couple of my go-to comfort programmes; and as so many of the country have done, we have found Gogglebox more appealing than ever these last few weeks – something so lovely about finding a way of still settling into the living rooms of familiar faces on a Friday night.

One of the biggest joys has of course been the actual sunshine – it’s been so wonderful as we’ve all passed the time, played and stretched our legs to have such wonderful weather; and now it’s even more of a blessing as we prepare to welcome family to our garden over the next couple of days at last.

As we move into the new phase, I’m so grateful for all that kept us going. I know our return to normal life will be gradual and these things will keep sustaining us when needed. I am so thankful to be able to look to seeing family again, and also for the time we’ve had as a little unit in these last weeks, before we take these first steps forward all together.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a good week. Xx

May Days 🌸

Life is moving at a very swift pace as we’ve somehow made our way through April and arrived into May. Our youngest daughter has just turned 5 weeks old, and so for us these weeks have been centred around settling into life as a family of four. The first couple were undoubtedly a blur, sleep very elusive and everything a new and different whirlwind, but the last few weeks everything has hit a very steady rhythm and we’ve had time and space to settle to all our new roles and to getting to know our little girl.

Lockdown continues to be in place here and defines our days at the moment – its biggest impact on us at the moment being separation from our closest family and friends, which I really am feeling now, especially knowing how desperate they are to meet our newest addition. Very conscious however how very blessed we are just to have the health of our loved ones in this uncertain time, and how important it is to follow all advice to weather this pandemic. In the meantime trying to focus on positives, the chance to have so much focused time as our little unit here being a big one. We leave the house once a day for our walk, all together wherever we can, which serves as our exercise and fresh air and also leads us into a much-needed nap time for the oldest little one too! Other than that we’re focused at home, inside and in the garden where it’s been wonderful to have such amazing weather.

Life has returned in some ways to “normal” this week with my husband back to work after paternity leave – but as that is just at the kitchen table it’s a much gentler transition than it would have been otherwise! Finding my feet creating the day’s routines for two little ones and juggling what they both need, and been so enjoying the time with them and entering into this new chapter. Online story and rhyme sessions and at-home versions of yoga and music classes have made their return, tents and makeshift “parks” have been popping up in the garden, and we’ve had FaceTimes with my oldest’s little friends – it’s all different and unusual but we are finding our way with it all and enjoying the challenge – and the wonderful benefits too, like being able to shout my husband through yesterday to witness our baby’s first wide-mouthed smiles!

I’m so grateful to still be able to be getting along to check on the pony too, and very happy to see him looking healthy and thriving on the transition into summer. My photos in my last post of a fluffy bear of a pony in glinting winter sun seem so far away already as I arrive on May mornings at the farm with the sun already high in the sky at 7am, the smell of citronella spray in the air as I greet my short-coated fly-rug-clad boy.

These are undoubtedly very strange days and it can be an unsettling time for us all, but keeping focused here on how lucky we are to be well, have each other and have the technology to keep so well connected with family and friends while we look forward to getting together again. Hope everyone reading is safe and well, coping alright and enjoying the beautiful weather as May settles in. Take care all. Xx

Lockdown adventures with the little one

Gearing up for another week of life in lockdown, and reflecting a little on the very different experience – one shared in every household across the country – that last week was. For me, it was mostly spent finding ways to keep an active and inquisitive toddler entertained while housebound, instead of with our usual routines full of morning play groups and afternoons between home and the farm. It’s been a good focus to have in the midst of all this, definitely a learning curve and a surprisingly fun challenge – and one that’s connected so many of us too, with parents sharing ideas near and far through the wonders of technology that we’re so lucky to have.

As last week went on, we settled into splitting our days up into separate sections to keep them as varied as possible, which I think we’ll stick to as this week begins. We also tried to use as many different places around the house as we could to break it up even more – starting after breakfast in the living room until snack time, up to the bedroom for a change of scene, and after lunch often out to the garden for a lot of the afternoon, with bath towards the end too – which has become a huge activity all of its own, trying to keep up swimming activities and pouring games even in the small space! 

It’s amazing how things have changed over the course of a week, and a lot of it has meant a real perspective shift, as some of the things I would previously just get done myself quickly – running bath, putting a washing on, making tea and looking after our little hamster, Sandy – have become not only activities that we can do together, but in fact also often highlights of the day. I feel guilty in fact with many of these for not working them into our day more so far, but it’s a good lesson learned and definitely something we can continue to do when all this madness is over! Mealtimes too have become such highlights, with my husband working from home it’s been lovely all of us getting together three times a day for meals instead of just once and we’ve all enjoyed more time together.

I’m so amazed at how quickly the wee one has adapted to all this, looking forward to heading up to her bedroom for some time with her dolls’ house, or out to gather sticks even just in the small area of the garden; and we were able to add some extra socialising too with video calls to family and friends, something I think we’ll do more and more as we all get used to this.

We began our week with an online version of our usual Monday music class on Zoom, which was wonderful – she so enjoyed seeing her teacher, singing her same songs and playing along with instruments at home with the other children on. Since then, we’ve utilised online activities as much as we possibly can to keep screen time as positive and as interactive as possible. Our local library has been running activity ideas, lego-building competitions, drawing lessons with children’s illustators, readings by favourite authors, which have been great to dip into. A few Bookbug sessions too, where we normally find ourselves in person at least once a week – gathered round in the library with familiar faces – have been uploaded to YouTube for using anytime, so have been brilliant for doing some songs and rhymes with actions from home. Within a couple of days it was clear how brilliant participating in online classes was, especially the ones that keep us moving, and we’ve also discovered through recommendations a couple of other ways to do the same – Cosmic Kids Yoga has been wonderful for getting some exercise in from home, accessible yoga for all the family to the narration of well-loved stories – the Very Hungry Caterpillar our favourite so far! And PE with Joe, which seems to be keeping just about every household in the UK and beyond active just now, has been wonderful too – though I hope I’m not the only one who’s realised how unfit I am through doing it!! 

As we begin this week, I think we will use these activities mostly as our starts to the days, in place of the usual groups we’d have been out at, as this seemed to work very well last week – moving on to snack and a quieter time with some of our usual stories or games later in the morning, just as we would have done on returning back home.

This is undoubtedly a very strange time for all of us, the littlest of children included; but it’s actually quite refreshing in some ways to have the challenge on our hands of finding ways to fill the day without the usual well-worn routines. There’s been a lot more time spent indoors than normal but I’m pleasantly surprised by how captivating activities like painting and stickering have become – and even more so at the imaginative play emerging just with a small play tent and a few soft toys. It’s been lovely too keeping in touch with other parents online and bouncing ideas backwards and forwards. We’re all in this together, and it feels like an experience we can all learn something from as we adapt to our new normal for the next little while. 

A big hello to everyone in the same boat, and wishing you all, whatever your situation, all the best for another week of keeping busy and keeping cabin fever at bay! 🙂 

 

Thoughts in a locked-down world

I’ve opened up WordPress a few times in the last couple of weeks, since these increasingly strange days began, bringing with them so much change – at first little by little, then something new, bigger and more overwhelming each day; until within a matter of weeks the world around us is completely unrecognizable. Each time I’ve dipped back in here, I’ve found it impossible to know where to begin – what to write, how to reconcile the reality we find ourselves in with where ‘normal life’ left off such a short time ago. I have two drafts I’d been waiting to post, both of which I’ve found myself just staring at in disbelief that they can possibly feel so distant already: One about a road trip I took with my daughter just at the end of January, up round some of our favourite places in Highland Perthshire – driving freely, popping in and out of small shops, chatting with walkers in the woods, visiting family – all things I could never have imagined would be taken away from us within weeks. The other, my March reading diary, a regular post I’ve been keeping running in my drafts each month with notes on the books I’ve read throughout, and then posted all together at the end of the month. This one begins with a book I went to the launch of on March 1st, on a wonderful night out with a lovely friend, having dinner, drinks, and sitting in a room packed full of people listening to the author speak. That we can have gone from that to this in a little over three weeks is almost unbelievable – and yet here we are.

I just wanted to post a hello, and a hand-hold out across this online world – now all of a sudden really our only way of connecting in the world – to you all. We entered our own isolation at home here just over a couple of weeks ago now, as my daughter and husband both came down with what we’re sure was just a cold, but had a cough with it, so we began a period of household isolation for 14 days. We watched from inside as the wider world changed a little more every day, with social distancing measures introduced for all, isolation lengths and vulnerable groups guidance updated, workplaces closing, public facilities, then schools and nurseries, cafes and restaurants; until finally we got to where we found ourselves here on Monday night: total lockdown. Every day, after our new routine – my husband working from home in a little pop-up office in our kitchen and me filling our daughter’s day with activity as best I can in just about every other room of the house; we come together to watch the daily briefing at 5pm, and hear the latest on all the efforts to battle this virus.

That is really all that matters in the midst of all this. All of the vast changes we might have had to make to our daily lives in the last few weeks – even adjustments that may have felt so difficult, like replacing the much-valued company of family and friends with phone conversations and video calls; pale into insignificance alongside the experience of those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. It is tragic how many lives have been lost so far across the world, and all I hope for is that we can keep this at bay as much as we possibly can, and keep as many people as possible well and healthy. These are huge and unprecedented days, and all this is so very disconcerting; but all we can do is our best to stay as safe for ourselves and each other as we can and follow all the advice as it updates and changes with all the new research that is being worked on so tirelessly, until those amazing people who can achieve it can find a way to conquer this.

In the meantime, we adjust to life as it is for the time being. Since our own household isolation ended yesterday, I’ve been able to return to the farm to check on Charmer after the longest time away from him I’ve had in years, which I’m so thankful for; although of course keeping it to the absolute minimum, just what’s essential to keep him well and looked-after. I’m very grateful to the others at the farm who kindly looked after him while I couldn’t, and to our yard owners who have put so much in place to ensure we can have a small isolated slot each day to care for our horses without risking crossing paths with each other – and also that there are plans in place for if we do find ourselves unable to visit.

Being on maternity leave has meant life is very different for me than it would have been otherwise, as I would have been working more than ever in what is currently the most impossible time of crisis in the world of home care – a challenging one to keep staffed and running efficiently and safely for all our vulnerable clients at the best of times. As it stands, I can’t do anything to help at the moment, just days away from giving birth, other than hope and pray for the safety and health of my colleagues and clients – and all who are out there working in so many different fields to keep others as safe as they possibly can.

My days are being spent at home looking after my two-year-old, where I’m very grateful to be able to be; and every day I’m more amazed by her perspective on all this and how she is adapting to such completely different routines and taking it all in her stride. For our new little one, due to join us this very week, this will be such a strange time to be born. All is well with the baby, which is wonderful, but I did have to go for a check up at the weekend, after a couple of concerns and having missed a couple of regular ante-natal checks due to being in isolation; and it was a strange experience being taken into the hospital “red zone”, face mask on, to be seen. When I got in there, though, the midwife was beyond kind, caring and reassuring; all staff just doing the most wonderful job imaginable even at such an overwhelming time for them all.

Everything around us is just so unknown just now, and it’s good to have a little outlet here, to gather thoughts and to read and write in the midst of it all. I will write more soon – for one thing with possibly the biggest list of books I’ve ever read in one month before, which I’ve found to be the most wonderful escape in an unsettling time; and also with how we’re keeping busy, especially the little one, in these strange days, as we hole up, take care and wait for our newest addition to join us. In the meantime, hope everyone is well, stay safe, and take care all. xx