February is my least favourite month of the year. 2020 represents five years since my Dad died and one year since the fire in our kitchen happened. I try and stay positive about it, but honestly, all the challenging stuff in our lives seems to happen in February! This year has been no different: our garden fence blew down in the storms; our kitchen ceiling started leaking; our shower broke; my car needed an expensive repair; and I’ve had to cancel my attendance at an event I was really looking forward to (with a very valid reason, but I still feel sad about it).
It’s a good job there have been lots of lovely things to enjoy this month too. That’s what I like most about this monthly post – it helps me focus on all the good things that are going on even in the midst of difficulties.
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Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout February…
Shadowhunters: I finally finished City of Heavenly Fire, the sixth (and last) Shadowhunters book in the series. Part of me wanted to immediately dive right in to the prequel trilogy and part of me wanted a bit of a break from the Shadowhunter world. As it happens I’ve not actually made time to read any fiction as I’ve been busy with work and aforementioned house-related issues, so I guess I’ll be saving them for my March reading list.
Travel Guides: I have a bit of an adventure coming up next month – I’m off to Atlanta, Georgia in the US for the ClickinMoms annual photography conference, ClickAway. I am ridiculously excited as some of the friends I made at Leap Retreat in Colorado are going, as is Amy, who did our family photoshoot in Boston last year. I’ll have a little bit of free time in between classes so I’ve been reading Lonely Planet’s guide to Eastern USA to give me a bit more of an idea about exploring the city. Lonely Planet are the only travel guidebooks I ever use and I have a funny little ambition to collect them all. I’ve also been reading lots of online blogs, articles and websites about things to do and places to visit.
A dream come true: A whole month after her birthday, I got to watch Lola experience her biggest dream coming true. She has been begging for horse-riding lessons for the longest time and so for her birthday back in January we gave her the gift of riding lessons. Sadly we had to postpone them as right after her birthday she got really poorly with a strange stomach virus and, once she recovered after a whole week of being ill, she still needed a bit of time to build her strength back up again.
She was so excited when the day of her very first lesson dawned. I could feel her nerves as we pulled up at the stables but she somehow seemed to be simultaneously quite confident too. She got fitted out with a riding hat and then we met the pony she would be having her lesson on: Rio.
He was a cheeky little thing, nuzzling for treats and sniffing her. We were lucky enough to have a small window of dy (albeit freezing cold!) weather too. I had a bit of an emotional moment as I watched her mount and then be led down the track to the riding arena. I started riding lessons when I was about Lola’s age and I absolutely loved it. Seeing Lola beginning her own journey brought back so many memories.
I was expecting her to simply be led round at a walk for the half hour lesson but her instructor, Becky, had Lola stopping and starting, changing rein and trying sitting and rising trot. Right at the end Becky took her off the lead rein so Lola was fully in charge of Rio for a short while. She didn’t stop smiling the whole time and I can’t wait to see her love of this new hobby grow.
TV: We watched Season Two of ‘You’ after really enjoying the first season last year. This second series was just as creepy – I can only watch one episode a night as it messes with my head too much! I liked that you got to learn more about the background of the main character – some of the reasons behind why he behaves in the way he does. I thought the final episode was a bit strange and almost unsatisfying but it’s definitely left me curious to find out what’s going to happen in Season Three next year.
I needed something a bit lighter after ‘You’, so we’ve started watching ‘Sex Education’ on Netflix. It’s absolutely hysterical (I regularly get fits of the giggles) but what really surprised me is that it’s also incredibly poignant, meaningful and heart-warming as well. We’re still on Season One so far and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
DVDs: It feels like it’s been raining for months. Every weekend throughout February, plus the whole week of half term, has been a complete wash-out and I’ve lost count of the number of sodden school runs I’ve done where I’ve had to wring out my socks once I’ve got home. I try not to let the weather get to me too much – after all, we can’t control it, we can only choose how we respond to it – but I have to admit it’s starting to get me down
a bit a lot. I’m definitely solar-powered and am desperately craving some sunshine and warmth. I know it’s still winter, but I can’t help looking forward to the blue skies and heat of summer.
The relentless wet weather has meant that we’ve watched quite a lot of movies this month. Sometimes I make it extra fun with a bowl of popcorn, sweets and chocolate to share, and sometimes the girls just snuggle up under a blanket on a Sunday afternoon to watch a film whilst I work my way through the ironing pile. I introduced them to Grease, one of my (many) favourite films. I’d completely forgotten how inappropriate some parts of it are though – they asked quite a few questions that I had to figure out a delicate answer to. How it’s only a PG I’ll never know! Night At The Museum 3 was also a hit – I love listening to them all giggling together.
Lovely words: Every half term at Lola’s primary school a few students from each class get chosen to receive an award. The awards are for the presentation of their work; their demonstration of the school values; or their academic achievements. We got invited to attend an assembly just before the half term break so I knew Lola had received one of them, I just didn’t know which one. I kept it as a surprise from her so she had no idea she was even going to get an award and the look on her face when her name was called was just wonderful.
It turns out she got the award for always having good presentation of her work. Hearing her teacher say such lovely words about her was, of course, a very proud moment for me as her Mum but what I loved most was seeing Lola light up inside with her own pride.
An important date: We have finally heard news of a date for Lola’s operation to remove the tumour on her arm. It’s next month and whilst part of me is already feeling nervous for her, a much bigger part is relieved that it’s all going to be over and done with very soon. She seems ok with it so far – she’s asking lots of questions and is mostly just cross that she isn’t allowed to eat breakfast on the morning of the operation.
Lemon cake: I have many happy memories from when I was younger of baking lemon cake in the kitchen with my Mum. I haven’t made it for years, probably since the girls were tiny, and I had a sudden urge to bake one. To be fair, Sophie and the girls did it mostly themselves without any help from me, though I did add a couple of drops of Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential Oil to the mixture to give it that extra little lemony boost. I wasn’t expecting it to make much of a difference but it really did! The flavour had more depth and the texture was better too. The girls loved it and between all of us the whole cake was gone in three days. I didn’t even get the chance to take a photo so of course I had to make another one!
New recipes: One of my goals for this year was to try out a new recipe every month. I completely missed out January so I’ve made up for it by trying out two in February. First up was Chicken & Chorizo Spanish Rice for the husband and I’s dinner one weekday night, which was delicious. The second recipe was a joint effort – Ella and Mimi had French homework that required them to make a French dish, so we made French Crepes instead of pancakes on Pancake Day. They were more complicated than pancakes but seemed to turn out ok. They got devoured pretty quickly so they must have been good!
Wellies: The weather has been wild this month! Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis, random snow flurries and SO MUCH RAIN… and as a result I’ve mostly lived in my trusty old wellies. Fingers crossed everything calms down a bit in March and we can enjoy a bit of Spring sunshine.
Sophie: Sophie came to stay for the weekend at the start of the month and it was really good to see her. She probably won’t come up to us again now until the Easter holidays. We all miss her now that her visits are less frequent than they used to be. She’s busy with sixth form, she has A-level exams coming up in May and she has a part-time job as well as spending time with her friends. She’ll be off to university in September too. We make the most of her when she is here, grateful that she still wants to spend time with us. We all adore her – I’m so happy I managed to capture a couple of photos of all four girls together whilst she was here.
Meeting an idol: Mimi gets a little obsessive about books. When she finds a series that she really loves, she reads them over and over and over again until she knows them inside out. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are her ongoing favourites. More recently she’s fallen in love with books written by an author called Michelle Harrison.
We found out that Michelle Harrison was going to be signing copies of her brand new book, ‘A Sprinkle Of Sorcery’ (sequel to ‘A Pinch Of Magic’), in our local Waterstones bookshop and so we went along to the event to meet her. She was lovely and we chatted for quite a while – Mimi had a list of questions that she wanted to ask, though when the time came to ask them she got a little bit nervous. We found out that Michelle used to work in that very shop before she got published!
I love doing stuff like this with the girls – I hope it’s something Mimi remembers for a long time. We also met Jacqueline Wilson a few years ago and she was lovely too.
Young Living Essential Oils: We’ve been using Young Living Essential Oils for a month now and I can say with complete confidence that they’re going to be a permanent addition to our home. They are making a huge positive difference to Mimi’s sleep and that on it’s own would be enough to convince me to keep going – it’s 100% worth it.
I still have so much to learn and I’m picking up tips daily from other people who use the oils. There are so many simple uses for them and we only have a small selection that came in the starter kit that I bought. So far I’ve used:
- Lemon oil to remove plasters without hurting or tugging at the skin
- StressAway blend (inhaled) whilst at a dentist appointment to help stay calm when feeling nervous
- Thieves blend in the diffuser to stop a cold in its tracks
- Frankincense rolled on as skin support – it’s helping with spots and fine lines (because even at the age of 36 it seems that my hormones still think that they’re teenagers whilst my worry lines seem to be multiplying at an alarmingly rapid rate)
- Lemon vitality oil in the lemon cake I made (as mentioned above)
- Purification blend to help a vase of cut flowers last longer with just a couple of drops
- Lavender oil in the diffuser as sleep support
- Peppermint and lemon oil in the diffuser to perk us up in the morning and start the day off positively
I’m going to be adding more oils and blends to my collection as the months go by – the newest addition has been a blend called Abundance. I’m also going to try out the Thieves Cleaner as I want to try and reduce the number of chemicals we have in our home and that seems to be as good a place as any to start. I’ve only heard good things about it so I’ll report back once I’ve tried it out.
If you’re interested in finding out more you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. And if you want to sign up straight away you can buy a starter kit here.
As lovely as February has been in many ways, I’m glad it’s over. March looks set to be a busy and exciting month and I can’t wait for Spring to hurry up and arrive.
Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and Little Loves.