August has felt like a very long, very slow month. I normally love the summer holidays, filled with day trips and fun activities, but this year has felt different. We’ve mostly stayed at home as Neil and I have both been working a lot, the girls didn’t really want to go anywhere and the weather has been questionable – on some days it felt like November had arrived several months too early!
In all honesty, I deeply regret not booking a holiday in the sunshine (or even a UK-based adventure) because it feels like we haven’t really done anything or made any memories. Of course deep down I know that’s not really true – we’ve had a few local expeditions and shared plenty of joyful moments – I’m just not sure they’ll be things that the girls will remember forever, you know? For me that’s what the summer holidays (and actual holidays away from home) are for – making memories that will last a lifetime.
I’m trying to trust that it’s exactly what everyone needed ahead of the big transition of Lola starting high school and Ella starting her GCSE studies when the new term and academic year starts next month, and that these quiet days of nothingness are just as valuable and important as busy days.
As it turns out, we ended the summer holidays in exactly the same way we started them in July – with Lola in isolation. However, this time it wasn’t because she was a close contact of someone with Covid… she actually tested positive for Covid herself. We’re still not entirely sure where she picked it up from as we have been SO careful. She’s been quite poorly with it (bad cough, super tired, no appetite because “food tastes weird”, a temperature) but thankfully she seems to be on the mend now.
Her first day of freedom is the first day of school so we have been very fortunate in that respect – missing her first day at high school would have been awful! We’ve all spent the last ten days on ‘Covid watch’, doing lateral flow tests every day and keeping an eye out for symptoms in the rest of us, keeping everything crossed that everyone stays well. It blows my mind a little bit if I think about it too deeply – what a crazy world we’re currently living in.
Anyway, in between all of that there have been a lot of positives and lovely things, so here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately in August…
The First Phone Call From Heaven: I am a huge fan of Mitch Albom and have read many of his books. They always seem to have exactly the message I need inherent within them and so I had high hopes for this one. However, it has taken me ages to get into it and I’ve only managed to read about 60 pages so far. I’m keeping an open mind about it though and will keep persevering with it, a/ because I hate leaving things unfinished and b/ because I know there will be some wisdom within this story somewhere that matters and will make a difference.
Butterfly life cycle: I try and think of a couple of new things to do with the girls every summer and, with us staying home this year, I decided to order some caterpillars from Insectlore so we could raise some butterflies and watch the whole process of their lifecycle.
They arrived during the middle of the heatwave at the end of last month and the warmth made the whole process much faster than it usually would have been – the transformation through the chrysalis stage and into fully fledged butterflies only took a couple of weeks in total. Sadly one of the ten butterflies didn’t make it and two others had slightly crumpled wings but at the start of August we took them to an open green space with plenty of flowers near our house and let them go.
Watching them fly off to freedom was really lovely! They settled for a short while on our hands before they took off and I can confirm that their feet are very tickly when they delicately walk across your skin. I found the whole process fascinating and Lola did too although the others weren’t quite so interested. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if you have younger children – it’s such a great way to learn.
Health news: I finally got the results from the heart monitor & lung function tests I had over the last couple of months. The good news is that my lungs are in perfect working order so that’s positive! Apparently my heart is a little bit broken though and I heard that I have something called Super Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT), which means that my heart is doing too many beats.
In the consultant’s own words I’m having “an awful lot” of extra heart beats – 3337 over and above what is the ‘normal’ maximum amount for someone of my age and size in just two days apparently. My heart is working very hard and that’s what’s causing the breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue and all the other symptoms I’ve been experiencing.
Thankfully it’s nothing too serious and it can be managed with lifestyle changes (reducing stress because it’s an excess of adrenaline that is one of the factors involved) plus medication (a beta blocker) if I want to take it. I’m still trying to figure out how to adjust things in my life and I’m not sure what that’s going to look like yet but I’m choosing to take it as a signal that a life shift is imminent – I’m a firm believer that there is always something good in every challenge we face, even if it takes a while to find it.
Travel Vlogs: As it’s been such a slow summer, in between my therapy work with clients I’ve finally managed to make the time to catch up on putting together some vlogs from our modest travels this year. These videos take so much time and concentration but I absolutely love doing it.
Curating the clips, trimming them down, deciding on transitions, making it cohesive, choosing music that fits, looking back over everything we did and all the moments that I managed to capture… knowing that I’m creating a legacy of memories for the girls just fills my heart so much.
I’m completely self taught in the art of video creation so whilst they’re nowhere near professional level (yet!) I’m quite proud of what I’m able to make. Please do hit the ‘subscribe’ button if you enjoy watching them and would like to see more as and when I create them.
First up is a video of our trip to Bude back in April during the Easter holidays:
Second is a video of our time in Edinburgh during the Whitsun half term in May, the first part of our mini Scottish road trip:
Earrings: Lola has been begging to have her ears pierced for absolutely ages. She’s the first one of the girls who has shown any interest in having them done. We said she could have them pierced for her 11th birthday back in January but then we went into lockdown straight after Christmas. She has been so patient – I wanted to wait until things felt safer with regards to the pandemic before we went ahead with it- and at the start of this month she finally got her wish. I figured that the summer holidays would be a good time to do it as it would give them enough time to heal properly before going back to school and doing PE in September.
We chose to go to a local jewellers to have them pierced and I’m so glad we did as it was such a personal service. The ladies who did it were absolutely lovely and they went through everything with her, showed her all the equipment they would use and really put her at ease. She was so brave! Her eyes widened a little at the moment the earrings went in but she didn’t cry at all and so far her ears seem to be healing really well. She’s absolutely thrilled with them, loves the blue sparkly studs she had them pierced with and is very excited to be able to start wearing different earrings in a couple of weeks time too.
Double jabbed: I had my 2nd Covid vaccination this month and boy am I glad I did – I got it two weeks before Lola tested positive for Covid and being fully vaccinated is a definite relief. I had a few side effects with both jabs but it’s 100% worth it if it helps keep me and everyone else around me safer. Although we’re not planning any foreign travel this year, knowing that it gives us a bit more freedom next year if we do choose to go away on holiday somewhere feels good too.
Click Community Summer Photo Hunt: Usually the Summer Photo Hunt is only for the month of July but this year the team at Click Community (which used to be called ClickinMoms – they rebranded over the summer) extended it throughout August as well. I was thrilled because it’s meant I can tick off so many more of the prompts.
I think I managed nine overall (out of 85 total prompts on the list, although a lot of them are USA specific): fan; shells; nap; critter; peaches; dandelion; sunflower; summer book; and front porch. You can see them all over on my Instagram account. There’s no prize other than the chance to get featured on the Click Community blog and Instagram feed, it’s just lots of fun getting creative, playing with the prompts and seeing other people’s incredible work. The photography community really is such an uplifting and inspiring place to be.
Anniversary: This month Neil and I celebrated 17 years of being together! I say ‘celebrated’ – we didn’t actually do anything as both of us were working but it’s a good milestone to reach.
Seven houses; four kids; three cats; job changes; more life challenges than I care to count; travel; a LOT of laughter and a relationship that we’ve worked really hard to build on a foundation of infinite patience, unwavering support, endless encouragement, deep understanding and love. It’s messy and chaotic and noisy and stressful, there are sulks and disagreements, we are total opposites in so many ways (but agree on the important things like Top Gun being the best movie ever) and it’s definitely not easy but there is no-one else in this world that I would rather do this life with.
Summer holidays: The summer holidays are now nearly done. We’ve been for walks at The Punchbowl on Cannock Chase, visited Canalside Farm (we were gutted to have missed out on fruit picking there as both times they’ve been open Lola was isolating and we couldn’t go!), wandered around Shugborough (our local National Trust) and explored Stafford Castle. We’ve been bowling and played in the arcade, we’ve seen both sets of grandparents and there have been sleepovers and meetups with friends. Plus lots and lots and lots of time at home spent reading, colouring, playing cards, baking, painting, playing in the garden (dodging the rain showers) and doing jigsaw puzzles.
The beauty, as always, of these monthly Little Loves posts is that they help me to see all of the things I sometimes overlook. I felt so frustrated that we didn’t have a holiday or any big day trips this summer but actually, looking back, there were so many moments of belly laughs and time together that would otherwise be forgotten if I didn’t capture them on camera or document them in words like this. I need to work on appreciating them more in the moment rather than in retrospect I think.
Chapter eight of 2021 has now drawn to a close and next month is the start of a whole new phase of life for us all to adjust to with all three girls being at high school. September always feels like the start of a new year to me much more than January ever does, so I’m definitely looking forward to that aspect of it – reflecting on the months that have passed and putting plans in place for the future.
I have mixed feelings about the girls going back to school. I know they really need it – they need to be with their friends, need to be away from screens, need to be moving their bodies and getting outside away from the four walls of our house. They need some independence and some intellectual and creative stimulation. I am concerned too though – who knows what the next few months are going to bring in terms of new waves of Covid infections and the prospects of more lockdowns and possibly even a return to homeschooling? Hopefully it won’t come to that. I guess I’ll have to allow the two to co-exist – it’s completely normal to be looking forward to them going back to school whilst simultaneously already be counting down the days to half term, right?!
I hope that August has been kind to you all and that September is full of positivity and promise.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)