Back in June I felt elated as I handed in my final portfolio. All of the tears, late night study sessions, questioning about what I was doing and general stress had come to an end and I jumped for joy as I looked and realised – I had done it! For the first time in years I had actually stuck to something. I had found my passion (and career path) and I had seen it to the end. I had accomplished a course and It felt absolutely mint!

Since September 2017 I have been going to college every Wednesday night to study a Level 3 Diploma in Counselling Skills. Back in the Summer I came to the realisation that counselling would make a great career for me and would be great around the family too in these coming years. After a lot of thinking and praying about it, it just seemed such a clear and fulfilling path to take. It felt like it would fit me so well and though it might sound strange to some, it felt like a calling!! It made me really excited.

The more I contemplated it as an option, I thought about how it would use both my natural talents and life experiences and bring them together to be something that would be beneficial to others. I thought about how it would be a job that really mattered and I would be doing something that was as varied as I am day to day. As I looked at everything I had ever done in my life; from after school jobs, to full time jobs, and from volunteer work and subject interests, it all suddenly became less random and seemingly indecisive, and came together under this umbrella of giving me various experiences, talents and interests that all had a common thread of preparing me to be able to be a therapist at this stage in my life.

I felt more confident and clear about my life and my life choices/experiences than I have ever previously done. And so I went for it – the first step – A level 3 Diploma in counselling skills … part-time!

I kept it a secret for a while. I suppose I didn’t want to have to tell a lot of people about it and then feel like a failure if down the road it didn’t go to plan. I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of if I did quit like I have done so often before, that people wouldn’t know and judge. I know now thats really silly but at the time, and the me back in September, that’s what felt right.

The difference this time though was that I was really invested. I knew deep down that however hard it was, this was what I needed to do and what I wanted to be.

I felt like I had found my calling in life – it was something I enjoyed learning about and practicing and it was helping me grow in incredible ways too. I knew that, because of the things we were studying, that to push and fight through the hard things would eventually make me a better person and better capable in my life as well as being capable of helping and guiding others on their journeys.

I loved the theory – I found it super interesting. And I enjoyed putting my skills into practice and working with people. It felt good to know my limits and interests and comfortable with both.

I learnt from this course so much about me – my excuses, my fears, my weaknesses and judgements of others, and how to combat them and overcome them. I also grew in confidence as I discovered my strengths and who I really am and wanted to be in life. I learnt the tools to own my choices and how to handle worrying situations. And it was those latter lessons (amongst others) that made me more determined than ever to accomplish this course and progress to be more. It became less about just doing this course but then my level 4 and eventual degree too and to be practicing when all of my kids would be in full time school.

I experienced a lot of struggles but a lot of growth too and with that it has been great to see what I can become and offer to the world. It has felt good to discover parts of me that have been suppressed by difficulty or how I have taken others behaviours towards me and it has been so great to be more open minded and more self confident. I have loved feeling secure in myself and my life/day to day choices. I have enjoyed the freedom of being okay with where I am at and knowing how I can become whoever I want to be. I have felt fulfilled to be able to accept and be okay with my weaknesses and I feel empowered by knowing my strengths and talents.

I guess you could say this course has helped me feel accomplished because I have not only completed something around a  young family, but I found me in the process. And there I found how to be okay with all of my scars, weaknesses, flaws, choices, gifts and abilities – and that was a wonderful feeling.

Collecting my Certificate

Last Thursday I went  to collect my certificate – I had accomplished the first step to being a counsellor. I had completed it and now to pass it felt even better than completing it in the first place.

I had accomplished my goal and it was so great.

It really wasn’t easy to study around kids (not easy at all) and it wasn’t easy to study for a topic that at times was hugely sensitive and heavy. A subject that resurfaced a lot of pain and highlighted a lot of painful things and insecurities about me, but I did it. I persevered, I worked through those hard times with my new friends and persoanlly and I smashed down the mental walls I had built up. I dealt with things I needed to that were holding me back…and then with lots of study and essays – I did it – I passed!!

I am so proud of my little certificate. I am so proud of my progress.

I haven’t just accomplished a course people, I have overcome great barriers and personal insecurities. I have found a purpose and passion beyond that of motherhood and something that feels so right for me to be doing in life. I love the vast options that being a therapist offers and in the process of all of this discovery, I have made brilliant friends from all walks of life.

This certificate is a symbol of the power I have to do hard things and to be ever growing and being better on a personal level. It shows me, however hard it is some weeks with a young family to study, I can still reach my personal goals and I become someone to make a difference in the world. I can reach my educational and life goals.

This certificate represents hours of work, lots of tears, and it stands as a reminder that I have power!

I look forward to my next course. I know it will be harder, it will require more commitment and dedication and more work and balancing of family life. But I am looking forward to more personal growth, more knowledge on a topic that completely fascinates me, and I look forward to at last doing something I am very passionate about and feel very strongly is something I was always meant to do (but that needed me to experience a few things before I would be fully equipped to do it).

Thank you so much to my friends and family that helped me power through and accomplish a course that was both challenging but hugely satisfying!

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This week has been fantastic! We have spent 3 days at various beaches up the Yorkshire coast – each in different and equally fab company. We have loved being able to pack a picnic, grab our beach gear and just play all day on the shore in the sun! It has been both relaxing and adventurous to swim in the sea and sample seaside goodies, and we have loved these days together.

Unfortunately though midweek, both Nathan and I started feeling ill and have now ended the week with incredibly painful throats, dry coughs and feeling all rather chesty with little energy. Little Alice too isn’t doing so great, so we have spent this weekend at home downing hot water and honey, watching movies and resting where we can whilst coughing our heads off!

Grateful For 

I am grateful this week for wonderful friends in the village. A bunch of us went up to Hunmanby Gap on Wednesday for the day with all of our kids and it was such fun. We chatted, laughed, swam and the kids played non stop for a good 6 hours. I was so happy to be there in that moment and have since felt grateful to have found such great people that are on the same level as me and are a bit nuts too. I am grateful that they have good kids that get on so well with mine and who are lovely friends for each other. We had a really lovely day that made us all feel great joy!

This week I am also grateful again to be living closer to the coast so we could enjoy 3 trips to the beach. I am grateful to have finally had a waffle on the harbour (Nutella, banana and cream – it was lush) and to have spent time with my littlest sister and her girls. I am also grateful to have received my certificate from college!

Succeeded At

I just succeeded at finding some deals in the ZARA online sale yesterday (now lets hope they look as good on me!). And also succeeded at passing my Level 3 counselling course!! I went on Thursday to collect my certificate and it felt so flipping good! It wasn’t easy to study around kids for a topic that at times was hugely sensitive and hard, but I did it and I passed. I am so proud of my little certificate.

Found Beauty In 

The beach and seaside of course! I absolutely love the beach, especially in the Summer. I love seeing my kids enjoy it and I have loved swimming in the sea and generally soaking up the Yorkshire Coast – such a beautiful and happy place to be!

 

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Almost a month ago now, on the 19th of July, our little rainbow and baby of the family (Miss Alice) turned a big 2 years old! Like last year, I meant to write about it around when it all happened, but as it always falls so close to the end of term and at busy time of year, we unfortunately got so busy and swept up in the start of the Summer holidays that writing about it all just passed me by!

I suppose being an end of July baby, this could be a sign of things to come. Thank goodness she has her Dad’s laid back tendencies with things!

This year it was another simple affair, which I am also quickly realising seems to go a long with Alice’s chilled nature. As it was her 2nd birthday (and by family tradition we would normally have their first party), we soon realised unlike her siblings she doesn’t particularly mingle with any kids her age on a regular basis that we would think to invite. She has a couple of girls at church but barely will go near anyone, and then her cousins are all spread out and so we decided that we would have a simple family picnic on the green and a family day out at the weekend.

The weather was great on her birthday and I spent the day with her at the Deep in Hull with a friend and her son from the village whilst the kids were at school. She loves fish and animals and had a lot of joy and excitement from this trip. That evening Grandma Smith came over and we headed to the village green for a picnic tea with lots of her faves. It was so chilled that we didn’t even have a cake for her, but rather she was simply delighted with a little chocolate cupcake and candle (that she soon realised was not edible!).

At the weekend we headed to the coast and took her on a boat ride, followed by chips and an ice cream on the Harbour. It was a lovely evening and a great way to celebrate Alice. She quickly cottoned on to what “A Happy Birthday” meant and she thoroughly enjoyed it all!

At 2 I want to remember her belly laughs and how she laughs at “goggys” (dogs) whilst signing “dogs”!

I want to remember how she stands on her tippy toes to put the bathroom taps on and then laughs her head off as water sprays every where!!

I want to remember her brilliant horrified face and the way she turns her nose up at any foods you push her way that she doesn’t like.

I want to remember how she says “bah-bye” to anything that disappears, how she adores her daddy and watches him leave for work from the bay window, whilst shouting “bah-bye daddy”.

I want to remember how she goes nuts and panics over the teeniest of creatures and calls them all “piders”!

I want to remember how much she loves playing with her siblings, how she fights them back and how cheeky she is with them!

I want to remember how loving and kind she is and how every morning on the way to school she signs birds as she hears them in the trees!

I want to remember how she climbs up on to the counter tops and then sits on the window sill to help herself to the fruit bowl!

I want to remember how she loves to pick daisys on the school run, hates being in the pram and can undo her car seat and climb out (every journey!).

I want to remember how she snuggles, holds my little finger instead of my hand and how she hold my shoulders when I carrier on hikes!

I want to remember how girly and pretty she is in style and how everyone loves her big blue eyes and blonde curls.

Happy 2nd Birthday Alice (even if it is rather late). You are fierce, loving, really nuts and life is better with you in it!

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On Saturday, after camping over for the night just outside of Bakewell in the Peak District, we enjoyed a wonderful family day out at Chatsworth House. I have wanted to visit for such a long time (since first seeing Pride and Prejudice) and have known since then that if I went to Chatsworth house, I would simply love it (and I did)! This post however, isn’t about how much I loved it – that’s a given as I have such a fondness for stately homes! No, this post is a review on how much I loved it as a location for a family day out and how it was to visit with kids. And, in that regard I can already tell you that it was great –  we had a lovely day!

The house 

Chatsworth house has an incredible history. It is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house is open to the public, but you only walk around a portion of it – which is enough to appreciate its history and grandeur. It took us about 90 mins or maybe more to take a tour, which led us through the main hall, gallery’s, bedrooms, Library, dining room, hallways and staircase.

It is impressive as soon as you enter the gates and the kids loved the architecture and majesty of the house. They noticed the statues and small carvings in the stone, were interested in how it was made, and then once inside loved looking around at the grand ceilings, staircase and rooms. I love visiting places like this with the kids because they always notice and find fascination in things we tend to overlook. And it was these small things that made the visit more enjoyable, interesting and exciting for them too.

For Ethan it was the grandfather clock in the corner of a hallways that people rushed passed, and a small set of cutlery in a case in front of the piano, that contained so much detail that he said it “was so fancy”!

Megan on the other hand took great interest in the key art and stood for ages looking at the intricate details of the various keys. She also enjoyed walking the stairs like a queen and seeing the thrones that were given to the family from the monarchy.

We all loved the ceiling paintings which adorned most rooms, and hearing the amazing stories from those who worked there – like the one about the bed that Charles II was placed in after his death (would you stay there?!), and the one about how they found all of the signatures of the people that worked in the house on the walls when they started renovating ( 2 of many that make it such an exciting place to spend some time)!

The kids also spent a lot of time in the courtyard where they also have a fun foam building activity that helps them recreate some of the pottery they have seen in the house. They liked this part, and we enjoyed sitting out by the fountain and observing!

The House caters really well for kids – the staff are lovely and were eager to chat to them and help history come alive. Our kids enjoyed these little nuggets of information, as well as looking at the information cards in each room and going around to find out what they needed to know about the different people from history (that had some kind of influence), in order to collect all of the pocket cards that they have which is part of the experience for kids!

It is a beautiful, extremely interesting and exciting place to visit as a family!

* Please note that Chatsworth do not allow prams, pushchairs or rucksack style baby carriers in the house!

Gardens

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the gardens/park itself – it was a very hot day and the kids were eager to get up to the farm and have lunch. I am a little disappointed as they have very beautiful landscaping and statues that would be wonderful for any kid (or adult) to explore.

Later on though, Ethan and I returned to explore the green houses, a place he was eager to see! He is a budding gardener with his Grandma and enjoys looking at plants and how things work and the green houses were most impressive and certainly a little piece of adventure for him. I enjoyed exploring this tranquil part of the estate with my biggest boy and we both were impressed!

Farm/Playground

The farm was lovely and all of the animals were well cared for and happy. They have goats, pigs, horses and donkeys, sheep, cows, rabbits and guinea pigs and chickens. Whilst we were there they also had some newly born chicks and piglets; both of which were absolutely adorable and very exciting for the kids!

The farm really caters for little visitors, with a vintage tractor to climb on, to a tractor land for under 6’s and tractor tours for a couple of pounds! They have regular petting sessions in the Oak barn (like every 20-30 mins) and an opportunity to go into Guinea pig town and sit with the guinea pigs! It is a small farm but very happening!

You have to pay entry to the farm to access the playground and a family ticket for both of these costs £23, which is for 2 adults and 3 kids (thank you Chatsworth for being aware that some families have more than 2 kids!). Having had visited and seen all they have, I find this a really reasonable price for a family day out. Obviously if you choose to do the house and gardens, as well as the farm and playground, then you are looking at £65 for a family ticket (again 2 adults and 3 kids). Either way the farm and playground alone would make for a fantastic day out with a picnic.

The playground was definitely a favourite and was very welcomed by the kids after a morning around the house. It is unbelievable and was fantastic for them to run, jump and climb on after being so sensible! I was impressed by the size of it and how well planned out it was. It easily caters for tiny tots right up to young teens and has so many amazing things to it – you have to see it to believe it!

They have ropes and rope bridges, they have courses through the woods, multilevel frames that are mega high and teeny frames for the little ones. There is a trampoline and lots of slides.

We loved the sand and water area and the kids spent a chunk of time in there building with the sand and drawing water from the stream. The weather was lush and it was a beautiful part of the grounds that catered so well for younger visitors. I thinks its great that you can go to Chatsworth for the day and take the kids just to the farm and playground and that in itself would fill a whole day too!

Food!

There is a great array of food available at Chatsworth (and some rather classy dishes too!). They have a snack bar in the grounds of the house, 2 restaurants near the gift shop, and a cafe in the farm. They have a wide range on offer (including lots of local produce) and a kids lunch bag is £5 (you can choose 4 items – A sandwich, Drink, Crisps, Fruit or Yogurt). They also sell Ice creams in all of these places, as well as in the gift shops too.

I personally would stick to taking a picnic. They have several lovely assigned areas where you can eat it and as we were so busy with so much to see, it would have been cheaper and way more convenient to just nibble as we went or set up at a table in the playground so they could graze all afternoon whilst they play!

I think sometimes as parents we may look at the grandeur of a place like Chatsworth House and feel like taking our wild little ones wouldn’t be the best place or more stress than its worth to give them a cultural and historical experience. But having been with my 3 this last weekend, I cannot tell you enough what a great location it is for a family day out. It is full of wide open spaces, a house that becomes a treasure trove for kids – building imagination and takesing them into a different world. The whole place helps them appreciate history and offers a fun family adventure in the farm, gardens and playground.

If you are looking for somewhere special to take the kids this Summer then this would be first on my list! If you would like to plan a visit this Summer, then click here to see what they have on!

I really want to take them back again – perhaps when they are slightly older and don’t tire so easily in the heat! We didn’t see all we wanted to and even then we were there for the whole day!

I also want to go back to Chatsworth for the house and Gardens at Christmas time for myself. I have seen pictures and heard about it from friends and it looks incredible. I want to go without kids so that I can stroll round the Christmas market they have and do some shopping, as well as taking my time in the house to notice all of the festive details. But yes, we will definitely go back again as a family. If you are looking for an exciting adventure filled with outdoor fun and animals, a bit of history and imagination, then you should totally check it out this Summer. Its popular and a little busy but it was also totally fine. We spent 6 hours there and only left because we were so tired! But it gets 2 thumbs up from us all!

*We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review! Our visit was fantastic and all images and thoughts are our own! Thanks to Chatsworth for a wonderful family day out. 

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