Hello and welcome back to another week of “MyHeartyLife” – an opportunity for us to share in the goodness and positive points of the previous week!

This week for us has been half term, and whilst I had great plans for a “No spend” week, confident in the fact I could muster up lots of free ideas and days out, by mid week we were headed to the cinema and I was more than ready to dish out the dough for some peace! I am not usually a parent to whine about the school holidays; I usually really love them and I love the bonus days we get to spend together again. But there has been something about this half term that has been incredibly hard and a real test of my patience!

The kids have spent a lot of time arguing and fighting with each other, nagging and making Alice cry! The weather was awful most days, and our washer broke, and so under the circumstances I have sadly been counting down the days until they are back to school, whilst clinging to the brief moments of peace and laughter!

Grateful For

Despite the rubbish weather, and contentious kiddies, I have been grateful for the lovely moments we have been able to enjoy together – The laughs when Ethan got soaked by a wave at the seaside on Tuesday, the lovely date at the Cinema to see Coco for Valentines… a great time walking in the muddy fields and puddles yesterday, and hanging with cousins on Wednesday.

Coco was such a brilliant film and I am grateful that we got to go and see it together. It was so thought provoking and touching, and I look forward to seeing again when it is released on DVD! Our tickets were only £4 each too, so I am grateful that it was cheap!

I am also grateful this week for the lovely day I had in London on Saturday with Ethan, and for my lovely husband and valentine – Nathan! I am grateful everyday for him and the love we share, but I am grateful to have a had a day to really stop and look at what has grown as a result of that love and express it a little more. We are not big celebrators of Valentines day, but we do have our little low key traditions that we enjoy. I love the reminder of how great it is to love and be loved in return and grateful for a bonus little date together!

Succeeded At 

My biggest success has been getting through this crazy hard half term without losing my mind completely!! I know I usually crack jokes with stuff like this, but nah – this is for real people. I feel it a great accomplishment, and I am hoping that the next school holidays are a lot smoother than this one has been!

Found Beauty In

The 2 most beautiful sights this week were on Tuesday and Yesterday. Both were outdoors and appreciative of nature!

On Tuesday we headed to the coast to collect rocks from the beach to paint, have some fresh air and a walk, and get a few things from the shops. Turns out the air was way more fresh than we anticipated and with a cold blustery day the waves were going nuts and with the added rain, we pretty much froze! It was however a beautiful sight as always to see the waves crashing against the harbour wall and rolling vigorously over the sand.

I loved watching the joy on Ethan’s face as he ran between waves to collect his much wanted rocks.

Yesterday I once again found beauty in our lovely village and surrounding countryside, when we decided to make the most of a lovely sunny day and go for a muddy walk. We did indeed have a muddy walk – after 3 days of heavy rain the fields were ridiculously muddy, yet having all of this beauty and space to breathe right on our doorstep, combined with blue skies and sunshine, and the kids enjoying themselves, was truly a beautiful thing indeed!

I am looking forward to a day in the city with the kids today and the fact that we have also booked a little night away for us all in a hotel (with pool). We all need to just unwind and regroup and so we are hoping for a lovely weekend and some lovely family moments!

#MyHeartyLife Rules

You can link up one post a week that fits into either or all of the “Prompts”, and I ask that you at least comment on mine and one or 2 others too. Kindness costs nothing and a comment on your blog feels amaze!

Please use the #MyHeartyLife on Social media whenever to share the goodness and cheerful moments in your life that day! It might also help when summing up the week into a blog post to link up!

 

The Hearty Life


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There is something special about being in a capital city… being in such a famous place that is filled with so many people, so many stories and spectacular sights. There is something special about taking your own kids to all of the places you have loved from being a kid and sharing in their excitement as well as holding your own, over all of the famous sights of our beloved London!

For a few weeks now Ethan and I have been excited about our approaching trip to London which took place on Saturday. We had plans to go on a date (just the 2 of us for just the day) and see a few sights, go to the theatre, ride the underground and eat sushi. I love that because we live in Yorkshire, going to London always feels like such an adventure for us, and whilst parent/child dates are becoming an ordinary for us – this one was certainly more extra ordinary!

I really love London these days. We used to live a short tube ride away as a kid, and I have fond memories of being on daddy daughter dates with my Dad there! I also remember in my early 20’s I spent a lot of time visiting my now sister in law at Uni in London and it was always a lot of fun. But as I have had my kids and entered my 30’s, I haven’t had that many opportunities to visit, and at times (with current affairs) I have also felt more than a little anxious to go!

However, since blogging more seriously over the last couple of years I have had many opportunities and reasons to go, and each time I have grown more in love with it again and found myself feeling way more comfortable there. I love that no matter how many times we visit, and no matter what the weather, London never fails to impress and excite me, and being in the capital feels so special!

Seeing London through the eyes of kids is something else though, and the moments spent there with Ethan this weekend were wonderful. It felt so much lighter and less rushed than it usually is. We wandered along those city streets avoiding puddles and laughed as we ran for the tube and through each barrier. We stood in awe at the London eye and the river Thames (because its “such an amazing river”). And we snuggled and sat mesmerized together at the theatre, before enjoying the lights of Leicester square in the evening (and a quick trip to Zara!!).

We didn’t see everything, but we saw enough. He got to see the River, Big Ben, the London Eye, and the main focus – We got to have a wonderful afternoon at the National theatre seeing Pinocchio. And then to tip it all off, we scoffed sushi and noodles on the train as we headed back north in the evening which is something we both share a love for, but that the rest of our little family turn their noses up to!

I really loved my date in London with Ethan. I loved how exciting things felt that I have seen so many times before, and I loved the moments we shared in the capital on our adventure together. I feel we bonded in a way that was much needed between us, and as we headed back to Kingscross station for our train home we made plans to return again very soon to see where the Great fire broke out (his latest interest) and to visit the pigeons and fountains of Trafalgar square.

Parent and child dates provide so many ordinary and special moments together and this is a special little date we will both treasure for a long time.

The main purpose of our visit was to see Pinocchio – if you would like a sneaky preview then you can catch it here. My review should be live in the next day or so if you want to pop back and have a read! It was a spectacular and magical show and we haven’t stopped talking about it!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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With 2 of our kids in school I often wonder (whilst at home with Alice) what they are both getting up to, or how they are and what their little routines are. I wonder what school is like for them and if they are having a good day. I put my hands up and say that I do miss my kids most of the time they’re away from home, and wish we could hang out far more than we do in term time… days are so busy and we don’t often get time to sit and talk and catch up.

Of course I can usually battle to get snippets from them about their day and friends, over dinner or on the way home, but hearing about it and seeing it for myself just aren’t quite the same. So when we moved here, we were all excited to discover that parents were allowed to go in to school and sit and have lunch with their kids if they wanted to (or take them out for a picnic at the front), and whilst I am sure we all have tales to tell when we hear the words “School Dinners”, I couldn’t wait to go in!

For my kids anything around food is the highlight of their day and whenever I ask about how their day was, its always what they had for dinner that comes up first. We play a little guessing game of what was on the menu and what they chose (even though I usually already know) and this is followed up by them asking when I will be coming in for dinner!

To be honest I had half forgotten up until a couple of weeks ago, and when I did remember I thought that I would need someone to watch Alice for me. The truth was that I didn’t at all and they welcomed us both last Thursday for School dinners with the kids and it was a lovely moment in our week!

It was the cutest thing to see them lined up with their little trays, and how good they were at getting their cutlery. They had excellent manners and I loved that the dinner ladies knew exactly what Ethan prefers and how happy he was to get peaches instead of a pudding! I loved how kind the dinner ladies were to Alice and I, helping me to get our food and pouring our water. And I loved how Megan was trying to be so sensible but wiggled in her own little way as dinner was put onto her tray!

We all grabbed our dumplings and stewed beef with veg (and shortbread with custard) and sat down on the little chairs at the little tables! We instantly had friends battling to sit with us and it was so much fun sat chatting in school with all of them about their morning and about what they were looking forward to in the coming afternoon. I pretended to be mischievous and the kids were laughing their heads off – “You can’t do that at school”! And overlooked by a couple of teachers we snapped back into best behaviour!

Alice chucked food around whilst we all gobbled up the (mostly) lovely lunch before having hugs and saying goodbye til home time!

School dinners aren’t anything amazing but it was one of my favourite lunches because of where I was and who I was sharing it with. I think they have come on a bit since we were there, and the shortbread and custard was a tasty bonus, but this moment of being sat together at their school enjoying lunch was just brilliant.

I love the ordinary moments of motherhood where we get to have a glimpse into their independent little lives and share special moments in our days that are just a little bit out of our ordinary routines! I loved seeing them in their school setting and sharing lunch together. I loved the day we went for School dinners and I look forward to our next lunch date!

The Ordinary Moments
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Before we get any closer to the end of January (and therefore any further away from Christmas), I wanted to to share with you why I regret some things about Christmas that we did with the kids. I guess it’s something I see as a bit of a parenting fail and something I have been harbouring for the last few weeks.

My Christmas Regrets

My Christmas regrets really came to light on the bus back from our annual NYRM trip. Whilst I had been feeling something I wasn’t 100% sure what it was, and then as I chatted with me sister in law and brother in law about their approaches to gift buying for their kids, and how Christmas went, I began to be able to label and own it.

R E G R E T!

I was feeling regretful.

We of course had an amazing Christmas time filled with lovely things, opportunities to help others, lots of family and yummy food. But as I sat watching the kids on Christmas morning, my joy of giving them a lot of what they had asked for was tarnished with feelings of regret! It was a hard thing to admit, but yes – I had regret for how much stuff they had and how this in return created attitudes that made me cringe!

The key there was that I had given them what they had asked for. There was no element of surprise and mystery, it was a bunch of stuff they wanted and that wasn’t necessarily the best things, and this suddenly made them all about self and a sense of entitlement – Of course they got this and that over there, because they had asked for it.

I didn’t like it – not one bit.

I wanted them to be gracious and grateful for what they had, and I wondered what happened to the days kids got one surprise of a well made gift they cherished for years to come? How far we have come from that and how off this Christmas felt. The gifts I went nuts over buying for them, felt so annoying for how they had made my children be.

Even after all the suffering they had seen in the homeless and refugees, all they had had a hand in doing in aiding others during December. It seemed to mean nothing and I was absolutely gobsmacked that it was all “me me me”! Excitement was there yes and that was lovely, but there was no thought for any one but themselves and a “Oh yeah, of course I go this and that!” type of smug attitude.

The gratitude and thoughtfulness was overshadowed by beastly children in the attitude of self and that was a lot to do with me buying almost all of what they wanted!

In comparison to others, they didn’t particular have loads, and what we spent wasn’t particularly excessive either, but somewhere along the way we had lost what we wanted for kids at Christmas time. I looked on that scene, and their behaviour following, and suddenly felt I had lost vision of what Christmas is, and especially what we wanted it to be in our family!

Christmas isn’t about them 

In our home/Family it isn’t about them – not really. I am not a tight skinflint parent, and I do not feel that this attitude is harsh. But I do not want them getting so much stuff just because it’s Christmas and then expecting that every year. I don’t want to hear “Me, Me, Me” leading up to the day and them talking all about themselves and what they are getting.

Christmas is not about them, and nor is it about any of us and what we are getting or wanting. It is about giving – giving gifts to loved ones, giving of our time, our means and our excess. It’s about giving our love to others in what ever way we are able just as Christ did when he came to the earth for us and helping to make the season brighter for those who suffer. It’s about celebrating what we have because of the Christmas story and singing praises about what that means and how wonderful and joyful it is.

It’s about playing our part to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all!

Its not about our kids and lists as longs as their arm because they saw it last week on an advert, it’s about others first and celebrating Christ! And because of that realisation early on in our parenting journey we quickly changed our “Want, Need, Wear, Read” approach to the kids gift giving, to just 3 gifts under the tree. Yes only 3 … to symbolise what Christ was given by the wise men and then a small one and stocking next to their bed from Father Christmas.

So yes we give gifts, and look forward to the magic of Santa coming, but we want them to realise that it is so much more than that!  And that is why this year I regret how it all panned out.

Next year there will be no lists 

And so because of that regret, next year there will be no lists. No expectations and no “I want, I want, I want”!

Our focus again will be about random acts of kindness for others, singing Christmas songs and being with family. We will have festive family outings and lots of treats and Christmas films whilst we snuggle, and they will have some lovely things under the tree to look forward to too, but none of them will be things they have asked for, gone on about and whined about! We will not be asking our children what they would like for Christmas and they understand that they will not ask, demand or expect either.

They won’t be writing lists, which take up their time thinking of themselves, and we will not be having weeks of talking about themselves and what they’re getting, or throwing tantrums and moods when you say “No, I don’t think so”!

Instead we will chose for them things we know they will like, and things that are appropriate and not too excessive. Things that are age appropriate and lasting. They will have just one good main gift and a couple of smaller things (not 3 big ones like this year), and these will continue to be in accordance to the budget we feel we can afford at the time and the symbolism of the 3 gifts Christ received. The stockings will remain with all the little bits, but the Santa gift will be toned down too to the one small thing (A little toy no doubt). We don’t want to take Father Christmas out of the equation because it is such a magical and brief part of childhood, but we don’t want our kids thinking he can just bring them whatever they want and ask for. I really don’t want another Christmas morning looking upon the faces of my kids and seeing that attitude. I want them to be grateful and appreciative of what is given, and far from an attitude of expectation at Christmas time.

Our kids want for nothing so I wonder why throw so much at them in the name of Christmas? This year, and in years to come they are going to have a great time and have lovely things and lovely surprises to look forward to, because we know our kids and we know what they love and what will be great. But we don’t need to ask and write lists of stuff because what will be good is often very different to what they think will make them happy!

I do not want Christmas regrets next year, but to get the balance of a magical Christmas and lovely gifts with gratitude and thoughts for others just right. We feel by making these changes that this way they can be, because that is what they will have received and they have a choice to whine about it or be grateful and love it.

Their Birthdays are about them – all the way. They can ask for anything then, but Christmas? No. That is about others and what we can give and how we can make the season better for those who suffer. Christmas is about moments, changing us and making us better people. It isn’t about stuff, but rather how we feel, the spirit of the season, and what actions that ignites with in us to make the world a better place.

Because of the love I have for each of them I want to nip any element of selfishness in the bud and I will not spoil them with all they ask for, but rather teach them gratitude, appreciation and the element of surprise and giving to others!

 

 

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