Tuesday 30 March 2021

Our new pets - two little goldfish

The children have been nagging for a pet for years. The trouble is that (in normal times at least!) we are often away from home, and we don't have anyone close by that I'd feel happy asking to come in and feed a pet. But I've kept goldfish in the past, and I sometimes used to leave my most recent goldfish on his own for a week or so at a time with a slow release food pellet. We also recently discovered that you can now buy such things as automated fish feeders which can be used to feed fish while you are away.

So we have finally relented, and after plenty of research between the four of us we decided that we would invite two goldfish to share our home. I still had my old tiny goldfish tank in the loft, but times have changed since I was a teenager and pet shops quite rightly are a lot more fussy now about making sure that you have the correct size tank for your fish. So we invested in a fancy new tank that came with a light and filter included.

Fish tank with two goldfish

I was sure to warn the children not to get too attached to the fish that we bought, just in case they didn't settle well into their new home. I remember setting up a tank and watching fish after fish die before I was left with three sturdy fish that lived for years. But fingers crossed so far so good, and we've been coming down in the mornings to see them still swimming happily around.

Two goldfish in a tank

Harry's fish is the one with the white patch, and he's called Archimedes. Mia has named her goldfish Glimmer. They each chose a decoration for the tank, with the little bridge in the middle coming from my original tank. At the back you can see my paint by numbers painting, which is the perfect size to hide all the cables. 

I've always enjoyed having fish, and I must admit that it is lovely watching them swim around. It's very relaxing, and we've each been spending time sitting on a chair pulled up in front of the tank just watching them going about their business. Fingers crossed they are with us for a long while yet!

Thursday 25 March 2021

Making a plan for the Easter holidays

I think one of the hardest times for me last year was the Easter holidays. School closed very suddenly leaving traumatised children, both had been suffering from mild coronavirus symptoms, there were food shortages and there was just so much anxiety and uncertainty to cope with. Proper online learning was yet to be set up, and a return to school after the holiday was looking more and more unlikely. With all our fixed and potential plans for the holiday cancelled, along with far too much screen time and late nights, things didn't go well.

This year things are very different of course. The anxiety has lessened greatly now that it feels as though everything is finally on the right track. And hopefully from the 29th of March we will be able to meet some friends and family, albeit outside in smaller groups.

However we are still left with three weeks to fill, as won't be going out and about too much. I'm also quite busy with work at the moment, so it would be nice if I could find things to keep the children occupied while I get a few hours done each day.

To help me, I've printed out a blank template for the three weeks that they will be off. It's completely empty at the moment, but I'm busy trying to arrange a few meetups with friends and family. We are lucky to have big beaches close by where there is plenty of space to spread out even when it's busy, and along with toilets and ice cream vans it's an ideal place to meet.

In terms of things to do around the house, I'm planning on delving into the toy cupboard and pulling out some things that haven't seen the light of day for a while. Harry may be growing up fast, but I think he'll still have fun playing with the Duplo and the Hot Wheels for a bit! He's also not too old for den building and picnics in the garden (or living room depending on the weather) and I'm teaching him to bake me lots of treats.

Easter cake with eggs on top
Photo credit Haley Owens via Unsplash.

They both have lots of crafty things to get on with. My Mum bought them each a big paint by numbers kit which they've made good starts on, and with a bit of time each day they might be able to get them finished. Mia has several diamond painting kits to complete, and we have buckets and buckets of Hama beads that are crying out for some attention. Mia and I will write in our journals together and hopefully there will be lots of reading.

With a bit of luck we'll be blessed with the same lovely weather as last year, and I can continue my start on the planting of seeds for the vegetable patch and plant pots. The garden furniture will definitely be coming out of the garage, and I'll be dragging the children out for walks around the neighbourhood to get some fresh air and sunshine.

It will still be difficult to try for a reasonable bedtime when they don't need to get up early in the morning, but if I can keep them away from screens before bed at least then I think that will definitely help. There will still be lots of screen time I'm sure, as for Mia in particular playing games online is the way that she socialises with her friends. But hopefully I can steer the screen time mainly towards something more productive, for example Harry is quite interested in coding at the moment and is teaching himself Python.

Fingers crossed we can have a lovely Easter break!

Blank journal page
Photo credit Ashley West Edwards via Unsplash.

What do you have planned for the Easter holidays?

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Playing videogames for the children while they are at school

I am really hoping that I'm not the only indulgent parent that does this!

Now that the children are back at school their screen time has been drastically reduced. This is fantastic of course, they've had far too much over the past year, but they are finding the separation a little difficult. Some of these games are very addictive, and you have to log in to each game each day to get various rewards. I can understand the feeling, I've already written about our collective Animal Crossing addiction

The trouble is that I'm far too soft. That's why I've spent the last week logging into Roblox everyday to join children across the world playing Club Roblox. I spend my days collecting tokens that Mia can then use to buy exotic pets for herself and her friends. Originally she told me that I could just be 'AFK' (away from keyboard) in the Pizza restaurant then I would earn tokens in the background while I was working in another window. But I soon noticed that I could earn extra tokens by carrying out tasks, so I became obsessed with trying to get as many as I could by teleporting all around this imaginary world, attending parties, bowling, visiting the vets and so on.

This is of course all while I'm trying to work on my PC at the same time. My poor virtual baby, given the carefully chosen name "My Mia", just cries all day, because I'm far too busy making ice creams alongside Roblox addicted tweens to take care of her needs.  

Roblox pizza earning points

Then of course there's still our Animal Crossing to take care of as well, and I am often given a job to do during the day. I regularly log in to check the turnip prices, and this week I was tasked with taking a photo of the first rainbow to appear on our island (the children were pleased but I must admit that I found it distinctly underwhelming, you can barely see it).

Animal Crossing rainbow

My Roblox playing is becoming an obsession. Every time I collect enough points for Mia to buy whatever it is that she wants, she sets her goal higher and I need to collect her even more tokens. I'm going to have to call a stop to it soon otherwise I'll never get anything done!

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Starting to write in a journal

I remember a book that I read once, it was a non-fiction book but I can't remember anything else about it apart from just one part. The author described going on some kind of retreat and about how she didn't feel sociable one evening, she would rather sit in her room and write in her journal. It really struck a chord with me, and it made me want to be the sort of person that could spend an evening writing in her journal. 

I have always enjoyed writing things down in notebooks. As a teenage I kept a regularly daily diary which I wrote in just before bed. I usually just wrote about what I'd been doing that day, but I also found it a good way of working through my feelings and problems. It definitely helped clear my head before bed.

So I thought that I quite fancied the idea of starting a journal, and when I mentioned it to Mia she was very enthusiastic. She also likes writing in notebooks and I think that it will really help her with processing her emotions if she gets used to writing things down. So I popped onto Amazon and we each chose a nice new journal to write in. They arrived the next day, and we have started setting aside some time each day to sit at the table and write together. She likes to decorate her pages with drawings and stickers whereas I just stick to words. We both agree that our journals are private and that we won't look at what the other is writing.

I feel as though I'm just writing nonsense really. Sometimes it's things that I've done that day, sometimes things that are going around my head, sometimes just random lists. But I've found that my head does feel clearer after I've spent a few minutes writing, and also it has helped me to come up with new ideas for blog posts and other projects that I want to do. It's definitely a habit that I want to keep up with!

Journal with flowers and pen on crochet blanket

Affiliate link to my journal - Lined Journal

Wednesday 3 March 2021

My goals for March

Earlier this week I shared my excellent progress with my February goals. I completed them all, and I found it really motivating to have a few things to work on during the month. So I've decided to do the same this month and make a list of goals for March.

It's not such an easy month as February, when I knew that we'd just be staying at home for the whole month. On Monday the children will be back at school, which will be a big shakeup to our family routine, but then the children break up for their three weeks of Easter holiday on the 26th March. 

So here's what I want to accomplish:

* Get back into the school routine. I'm hoping that this will make a big difference to the mental health of the children, and that any new changes, like masks and regular testing, don't cause us too much stress.   

* Continue my exercise. In particular I want to get back to regular running, hopefully combining the school drop off with a run along the seafront. I have made a new running playlist on Spotify in preparation. I also have a couple of fitness challenges that I'm working on. One of them is this Shredded Abs challenge. I'm on Day 4 and I like to think that I can see a difference, the exercises are certainly getting easier, so I'll let you know how shredded my abs actually become!

* Get the garden furniture out from the garage and clean it off ready for the summer.

* Sort out the garden - tidy up my strawberry plants which seem to have survived the winter, weed the vegetable patch and flower beds. Also make a start on my planting. 

* Continue with the healthy eating and lose the last little bit of weight. I also want to investigate some healthy baking recipes, as I love baking but it's so many calories. I quite fancy trying some new things like beetroot brownies or these healthier Easter chocolate nests

* Find some podcasts to listen to on the school run. I've never been into podcasts but I'd like to find some short ones to make my school run drive more interesting and bearable. 

* Finish building my pallet planter and paint it. Hopefully the weather will start to warm up a bit so I can get outside and do some work on it.

* Try and manage some socialising. Currently one person can meet one other from a different household outdoors, at the moment for exercise and from next week to socialise. Then from the 29th March the rule of six, or two households, will be back in place. So it would be really good for me to schedule in some walks with my friends, and then maybe meet up with another family or two over the holidays for some outdoor play, assuming that the restrictions allow.

* Clean out the kitchen cupboards. This job is long overdue. I'm not too bad at sorting them out and using up out of date food, but I'm not very good at taking everything out and giving it all a good clean inside!

* Plan for the Easter holidays. Get some activities lined up, and try and plan for a routine which will keep everyone happy. Hopefully we will be treated to some nice weather like last year so that we can get out and about in the sunshine!

* Publish at least one blog post a week. This one is at the bottom as it's something that I'm struggling with at the moment! But hopefully there will be some new things going on this month and I'll actually have something to write about! 

Monday 1 March 2021

My February goals - update

I can't believe that February has finished already. It's a very good job that I didn't have writing blog posts as one of my February goals!

But I have done very well with keeping up with the February goals that I did set at the beginning of the month. Here's how I've got on:

Focus on the children and their mental health - I've been doing the best that I can. Spending lots of time with them especially at bedtime, reading to them and talking to them about the things that are on their mind. 

Last week we were able to arrange an appointment for Mia with the well being adviser at school, a lady that she usually sees weekly but hasn't seen since December. I'm not entirely sure what it involves as she's rather secretive about it, but she came out with a big grin on her face and said that it had been helpful for her, so I'm very grateful that our school is able to provide this service. 

The news about school starting next week has definitely made a positive impact on us all, it's nice to be able to count down now and they are both very much looking forward to going back.

Paint my nails - I have had painted nails every day and loved it! My nails are really long and nicely shaped now. I'll definitely be continuing this one!

Lose the Christmas and January weight - Yes! I've eaten well all month, on a diet that includes enough treats to keep me going, and I'm back to the weight that I was a few months ago. I still want to lose a tiny bit more, but I'm confident that I'll get there soon.

Keep up the exercise - Again yes, and I'm really pleased with how I'm doing. I've not been for a proper run since before Christmas as I find it hard to get out when the children are around. But I've replaced this with a variety of different YouTube and Apple Fitness videos and I'm enjoying doing some more varied workouts. I've definitely noticed a positive change in my body shape. 

Buy seeds and compost - I have my seeds and compost ready to go, I'll start my planting this month.

Do something with my pallet - This has been sitting untouched in the garage for far too long. I lack the correct tools and strength to fully dismantle the pallet, but I attacked it with a saw and it's starting to look like I want it to. I've got a vague idea at least of what I want to do with it, I need to add some little shelves and then paint it and I've been collecting tins to decorate for plants. It's a job for when the weather is warmer!

Upload a YouTube video - I present to you a video filmed in conjunction with my son. It's his Mindstorms device for improving the Animal Crossing experience by repeatedly pressing a button that enables you to convert Nook miles into Bells. It has been very useful!

I'm feeling very pleased with myself for my February achievements. It definitely helped me to have my goals written out so that I could keep them in mind as the month went on. I will shortly be publishing my goals for March so that I can keep myself accountable once again!