Little Loves: June 2020

June: we’re somehow already halfway through the year; three and a half months into lockdown; and ten weeks into homeschooling.   It has felt like a very up and down month overall and even though the Government have announced that lockdown is beginning to ease, life is still nowhere near being ‘back to normal’.  I’m not sure it ever will be to be honest (or even whether I want it to be!).

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The girls are all feeling disappointed that they won’t be going back to school until September.  They’re missing their friends and I think maybe missing the structure that school provides.  The workload they’re being asked to complete is really full on and it’s becoming more difficult to motivate them, especially now that the husband has gone back to work and I’m still having to fit my work in around their needs.  I’m beginning to see more and more the impact that this whole situation is having on them.

When they do eventually go back to school it’s going to be a very different experience for them.  Mimi and Ella’s high school have already said that it’s likely to be a blend of having some lessons at school in the classroom with their teachers whilst mainly continuing with a lot of online learning at home.  We’re still not sure about Lola’s primary school – it’s only small so if social distancing measures are still in place then not everyone is going to be able to return. She will be moving up into Year 6 though, so she might be able to go back as it’s an important year.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

So much uncertainty, so many questions and not very many answers!  We’re all doing our best though and whilst this month has had all of these challenges (and we’re still not allowed to hug our families!), there have been plenty of wonderful moments too.

Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout June…

A good homeschooling day! It’s not always like this – some days all three girls have to be split up into separate rooms so they can concentrate and not argue, and some days no work gets done at all. They’re doing the best they can though, and that’s always enough.

 

READ

June has been a good month for reading!  I’ve been really keen to dive into the books I bought myself when lockdown first started and the books I received for my birthday last month, so I’ve been trying to make it a priority.  I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time in front of a screen at the moment – both for my own work with clients and helping the girls with their online learning – so I’ve been making a really conscious effort to switch off my laptop every evening and pick up my book instead.  It definitely makes a positive difference.

Click Magazine:  The May/June edition of Click Magazine arrived at the start of the month.  I get it a little bit later than most people because it comes all the way over to the UK from the ClickinMoms team in America and it’s always worth the wait.  It’s such a beautiful magazine and I like to take my time over reading it, letting my gaze wander over every single gorgeous image, soaking up all the details and absorbing every accompanying word.  If you’re a photographer, it’s well worth subscribing.

I really enjoyed the article on photographing still life and creating flatlays – it’s a real artform.  The piece was so informative and I loved learning about the process of how the author creates them.  They’re so full of texture and shadows and light and even though they’re so simple, I find them to be somehow peaceful and emotive all at once.  Plus I was thrilled to see my friend Lucy from Capture By Lucy get a mention for her beautiful backdrops – one of which you can see in the photo below!

I also loved the article which interviewed 23 different photographers about their favourite places to capture images in their homes.  Since we moved into our house back in December I’ve loved creating a ‘light map’ in my mind: following the light around the house; figuring out where it falls at different times of day; and playing with how I can use it to create interesting images.  The photographic journal of lockdown in China right at the start of the coronavirus outbreak was also fascinating – it really documented the depth and beauty of the different feelings experienced that so closely mirror my own even though we’re half a world away.  I guess shared experiences close distances and disregard geographical borders.

The May/June issue of Click Magazine is beautiful!

The Keeper Of Lost Things:  I finished ‘The Keeper Of Lost Things’ by Ruth Hogan which I’d started at the end of last month.  It was a really lovely story and a fairly easy read.  I liked how everything got tied up together neatly at the end – it was one of those books where you knew it would all come together, you just weren’t quite sure how.  I found myself rooting for and caring about the characters and can recommend it if you’re in need of an uplifting story that’s a bit different.

Untamed:  I absolutely loved Glennon Doyle’s first two books – ‘Carry On Warrior’ and ‘Love Warrior’ – and have been eagerly anticipating her third book, ‘Untamed’, for a while now.  It is, in essence, a memoir and I love reading about people’s personal stories so it more than lived up to my expectations – I started and finished it in the space of a week and couldn’t put it down.  I’ve underlined almost every sentence and virtually all the pages now have their corners turned down because there are so many things I want to refer back to.  The wisdom born from her personal experiences and the honest thoughts and feelings she shares have really made me think how I’ve been living my life versus how I want to live my life, how I parent, how I love and more.  I highly recommend that every woman takes the time to read this.

It skipped about a bit timeline-wise but there was a reason for it – it was all relevant and made sense in the narrative of the book.  The chapters are short so it’s easy to dip in and out of (or devour it all in one go like I did!).  She covers everything from parenting to racism to God to sexuality to marriage and even though some of those things aren’t relevant to me I still found immense comfort and understanding in her words.  Honestly, it’s an utterly brilliant book and I know it will be one that I read again and again and again.

‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle is a must-read

The Immortalists:  I loved the idea behind ‘The Immortalists’ by Chloe Benjamin.  It begins in New York in the late 1960’s, where four children sneak out of their home to see a fortune teller who tells each of them the exact date they are going to die.  The book then follows each character in turn as they grow up:  how the impending date affects them mentally and emotionally, how it impacts on their choices in how they live their lives and whether or not the prediction actually comes true.  The siblings’ stories inevitably overlapped and intermingled and the characters were all detailed in a way that meant you really felt like you knew them.

I found the ending a little bit… unsatisfying though, almost as if the story wasn’t quite finished.  I won’t share why as I don’t want to give away any spoilers – I’ll just say that it left me with a lot of questions.  Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the book as I’ve always been fascinated with the concepts of fate and destiny so it made me think quite deeply about those things and I picked it up to read it at every opportunity I got.  It’s actually her second book and I enjoyed it enough to want to read her first one as well (‘The Anatomy Of Dreams’) so I’ve added that to my wish list.

I loved ‘The Immortalists’ by Chloe Benjamin

 

WATCHED

Football:  Football returned to the TV in mid-June so I now have zero chance of watching the things I want to watch in the evenings!  It’s weird seeing matches played behind closed doors with no cheering crowds to create an atmosphere.  The husband was thrilled to see Liverpool FC win the Premier League (and is still celebrating now) whereas I’m still patiently waiting to finish watching ‘Little Fires Everywhere’.

Sunrises and sunsets:  I managed to tick off an item from my ’40 Things Before I’m 40′ list by watching both the sunrise and the sunset on the longest day of the year.  The summer solstice always feels a little bit magical and this year is the first I’ve seen where the skies have been pretty at both the start and the end of the day.  Dawn and dusk truly are my favourite times of day – I find them so peaceful and intimate.

Summer solstice sunrise

Sunset on the longest day of the year – this was taken just before 10pm!

 

HEARD

Novo Amor:  Homeschooling has been hit and miss but one thing we’ve found that helps is having some calming music on whilst the girls are working.  Classic FM is always a good option (and Mimi is always excited when the Harry Potter theme tune gets played).  Anything by Ludovico Einaudi is a perennial favourite of mine and I also recently discovered a singer/songwriter called ‘Novo Amor’ via Instagram stories.  I love his songs, particularly ‘Anchor’, ‘From Gold’ and ‘Repeat Until Death’ – they’re just beautiful.

I find music so emotional – hearing certain songs is like time travelling and I’m instantly transported to another place and feeling.  And songs which I have no prior connection to can often bring me to tears the very first time I hear them for no reason at all.

 

MADE

Adjustments to (another) new normal:  The second half of the month saw us all having to make another big adjustment with regards to Covid-19 and lockdown as Neil went back to work.  He’s a pub manager and after being furloughed for three months needed to go back in order to get his pub ready for re-opening on 4th July.  It feels very strange suddenly not having him around any more and the girls are finding it quite tough – they had very much got used to having him at home and loved him being here.  Their excitement levels when he gets home from work are just so lovely to see!

Household Cleaner:  Since diving into the world of essential oils in January, I’ve been exploring what other products Young Living offer.  Their cleaning line – ‘Thieves’ – is brilliant and I’m loving learning about all of the DIY things I can make to help our family home be cleaner, happier and healthier.  I made a soft scrub cleaner last month and this month I’ve made a bottle of all-purpose household cleaner.

It was SO easy to make, it can be used for pretty much everything, it smells amazing (a combination of Coca-Cola and Christmas!), it’s completely pet-safe (unlike the antibacterial cleaners I’ve been buying from the supermarket up until now), it’s environmentally friendly and it really works.  It’s incredibly economical too – just one bottle of the Thieves concentrated cleaner makes 16 bottles of cleaning spray which will easily last us for a year.  I’m still blown away at the difference these products are making in our family.  If you’re interested in making the switch and getting started, you can sign up here.

Art and bucket lists:  When the girls were little I wasn’t very good at letting them do messy play.  As they’ve got older and their creativity has headed off in different directions I’m trying to say yes more.  Making art helps them to calm down, to process their thoughts and feelings and to share their ideas – my new motto is “when in doubt, get the paint out”.  Art makes everything better and I always love seeing what they create.  Even I joined in this time and had a little go at painting!

Also, completely unprompted, they shut themselves in the little boxroom we have (which we call ‘the quiet room’) and made bucket lists together!  It was all their own idea and they spent ages squished in there working on it, helping each other come up with suggestions to put on their lists and designs they could create.  Among some of my favourite ambitions they wrote down were: “stay up for 24 hours”; “own seven cats”; “go to someone’s hundredth birthday party”; “send a message in a bottle”; and “go stargazing”.  Seeing them getting along and having fun together made my heart so very happy as it doesn’t happen very often these days.

When in doubt, get the paint out

My attempt. It’s not a masterpiece by any means but I had fun doing it and that’s all that matters 🙂

The girls spontaneously decided to make bucket lists together

 

WORE

A dress(!):  The weather has been as up and down as everyone’s emotions this month!  We’ve had epic thunderstorms, a week of non-stop rain, strong winds and then another mini heatwave.  Deciding what to wear each day has been tricky to say the least, even for someone like me who lives in jeans and tshirts/jumpers.  I did wear a dress for the first time in ages – just a plain, black, simple, TShirt style, cotton one with a gathered waist and pockets (dresses with pockets are the best thing ever) from H&M.  It’s actually been in my wardrobe with the tags on for (no joke) about three years now.  I’m glad I kept it – it was so comfy and I have no idea why I haven’t worn it before now!

My wedding dress:  I have been wanting to do a wedding dress photoshoot with the girls for absolutely ages now and what better day to do it than on our wedding anniversary in lockdown?  I pulled it out from the suitcase in the back of the wardrobe where it’s lived for the last six years and persuaded the girls to try it on.  Of course it was too big for them but I actually got quite emotional when I stood next to them as they looked in the mirror – it was like I’d jumped forwards in time to their own wedding days!  They only gave me about five minutes each to play around with taking some shots but I’m happy with them.

Ella wearing my wedding dress

Mimi wearing my wedding dress (she only ever wears shorts or leggings so it was very strange seeing her in a dress)

Lola wearing my wedding dress

 

AND FINALLY…

Anniversary:  As mentioned above, we ‘celebrated’ six years of being married, except, of course, there weren’t any real celebrations because of lockdown.  Not that we do much anyway usually but it would have been good to go out for a meal and to see a film at the cinema at least – we’d been eagerly anticipating the ‘Top Gun’ sequel.  We’ll save it for a few months time when hopefully the easing restrictions haven’t resulted in a second spike of coronavirus and it’s more ok to be out and about.

Water fights:  I’m trying to keep some fun going at home instead of everything being about homeschool work and the latest government update and the girls having to stay quiet whilst I see my clients online.  During the heatwave I surprised them with a huge tub of water balloons to play with and they were thrilled!  The balloons were all gone in about 30 seconds but then they turned the hosepipe on each other and ended up being in the garden for a couple of hours playing together – it was wonderful listening to their shrieks of laughter and I felt that maybe I’m actually getting something right in this whole parenting thing.

Having a water fight in the back garden!

Fruit picking:  We also headed to Canalside Farm to do some fruit picking.  It’s one of our annual summer traditions and always a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon.  Canalside Farm is family-run and the staff are all absolutely lovely.  It was very well organised with regards to social distancing – everyone was complying even though it was busy and there was hand sanitiser and contactless payments in place, plus a takeaway hot drinks stand because the café was still closed.  The fruit this year was amazing, so fresh and juicy and delicious.  We picked strawberries and raspberries and will definitely be going back again before the season is over.

Picking raspberries in the polytunnel at Canalside Farm

A good haul of fresh fruit!

Chapter six and the first half of this incredibly unusual year has come to a close and I think we’re all wondering what the rest of 2020 is going to look like.  We’re definitely looking forward to the end of the school year next month and the start of the summer holidays, even though they’re going to be different too.  Hopefully we’ll be able to see Sophie, my parents and the husband’s parents in July – we really miss them all.

I hope that June has been a good month for you too and that you find many little things to love throughout July.

Stay well x

(Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and #littleloves)

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