May is going to be a month to remember even though it was more about what didn’t happen, rather than what did, much like April was. We’re now at the end of ten whole weeks of lockdown and have survived an entire half term of homeschooling. We were all very glad of the arrival of the half term break so we could have a week off from lessons. It’s interesting that we still all felt we needed it even though life is nowhere near as busy and hectic as it used to be – I guess that shows just how hard the girls have been working and trying to adjust to this new way of being.
We should have been in Scotland for May half term. I had a work trip lined up that would have seen us staying in Edinburgh for a few days followed by a long weekend at Loch Lomond. We’d planned to spend our time in Edinburgh doing all the Harry Potter related activities for Mimi, who would have celebrated her birthday there, and we’d hoped to meet up with my lovely friend Zoe and her gorgeous kiddos from My Little Wildlings. Our time in Loch Lomond was going to be about exploring the incredible scenery and seeing a different side of Scotland away from the city.
The trip had to be cancelled because of Covid-19 of course, though I’m hoping to be able to rearrange it for sometime next year instead. As a result, this year is the first time we’ve been at home for May half term for a while. Last year we were in Boston and Cape Cod and the year before that we were on a mini road trip through Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire visiting family and friends. We spent this year in our little bubble, much like everyone else in the UK – unable to see family or friends but doing our best to make the most of the glorious sunshine whilst it lasted.
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Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout May…
A Clockwork Princess: I finished ‘A Clockwork Princess’ by Cassandra Clare, the third book in the Infernal Devices trilogy (the prequel series to the Shadowhunters books by the same author) about three quarters of the way through the month, just before half term started. The series is set in the late 1800’s and whilst historical fiction usually isn’t my thing, I really enjoyed all three books. The characters were brilliantly developed as the story unfolded, the plotline was exciting throughout and they definitely kept me engaged. I had more than a few late nights where I stayed up to read “just one more chapter” which ended up being two or three.
The Keeper of Lost Things: I’m currently only a few chapters into ‘The Keeper Of Lost Things’ by Ruth Hogan and I already love it! I’ve never really followed a particular genre of books that I like to read – my taste is quite eclectic. The only thing I don’t really like is chick-lit so I was a bit suspicious of the front cover as it initially gave me the impression that the book might be written in that style. It just goes to show that you really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover – so far this story is intriguing, tender and unique. I’m utterly fascinated by people’s stories and I’m a bit of a collector of sentimental objects myself so I know it’s going to be a book I enjoy. The characters are interesting and varied, and I wasn’t expecting it to switch between different eras so that’s given it a surprising dynamic. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Disney movies: The arrival of the Disney+ channel in our household has led to the girls deciding to start a project: to watch all of the Disney movies, in order, right from the very beginning. I think this is maybe something we should have started when lockdown first began – that’s a lot of movies to get through! So far they’ve watched Snow White, Pinnochio and Fantasia, curled up on the sofa with popcorn and sweets and blankets. The gorgeous sunshine we’ve had for the vast majority of the month has put the project on hold temporarily – it seemed a shame to stay indoors and not take advantage of the good weather.
His Dark Materials: We recorded ‘His Dark Materials’ when it was on TV last November and have only just got around to watching it – we sped through all 8 episodes in about a week. I love the trilogy of books by Philip Pullman (which I read when I was in my late teens). However I really didn’t like ‘The Golden Compass’, the film version of the first book, so I was a bit nervous to watch the TV adaptation in case it was a let down too. I needn’t have worried – it was fantastic! The storyline was closely followed and the attention to detail in everything from the breathtaking locations; to the intricate sets and props; to the accurate way the characters were portrayed; to the CGI animal daemons was absolutely incredible. It was like the book came to life on the screen. I’m already looking forward to the next series and I’m curious as to whether they’ll also turn the prequel (‘The Book Of Dust’, which I read in June last year) and the sequel (‘The Secret Commonwealth’ which I am eagerly awaiting to read in paperback) into TV adaptations too. I very much hope so!
Little Fires Everywhere: ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ is another book that I absolutely loved (I read it whilst we were on holiday in Italy) that has now been turned into a TV series. I adore Reese Witherspoon – everything she is part of is brilliant – and I think she’s perfect in the role she plays in this show. Joshua Jackson being in it was a rather pleasant surprise too. I first fell in love with him in ‘Dawson’s Creek’ way back in the 90’s and more recently enjoyed watching him in his role in ‘The Affair’. We still have a couple of episodes to go before we finish the series and it’s so hard waiting until the girls are in bed before we start watching it in the evening!
Video from school: Lola’s primary school emailed all of the parents a video that the teachers and staff had put together saying how much they missed all the pupils. It was set to the theme tune from ‘Friends’ and I got really emotional whilst I was watching it! Lola watched it three times in a row and whilst she’d been ok with the lockdown situation up until that point I think it made her realise just how much she was missing school. It was such a lovely, thoughtful thing to do and it helped us feel really connected to the teachers even though everything is so different.
Biopsy results: Following Lola’s operation to remove a tumour on her arm last month, we had the results of the biopsy come through. Lola’s surgeon had warned me that the results usually take 6-8 weeks to arrive and that it may be even longer due to Covid-19. When I had a phone call after just two weeks I have to admit that I panicked a bit, instantly imagining all the possible worst-case scenarios. Thankfully it was actually good news – we heard that the tumour was benign (non-cancerous) and that she has the all-clear! I can’t even begin to describe how relieved I feel and how grateful I am to her surgeon and the team at the hospital who looked after her. It’s healed well and we’re now doing what we can to help the scar tissue that’s left.
ClickPro decision: At the very end of last month I quietly submitted my application to become a ClickPro through ClickinMoms. In order to apply I had to put together portfolio of 150 of my very best images for review by a panel of judges, who would award scores for seven different categories: exposure; use of light; colour & white balance; composition; processing & cohesion; technical basics; and creativity intention. My dear friend in America, Amy (who did our photoshoot in Boston last year), mentored me through the whole process, helping me choose the images I wanted to submit and coaching me through re-editing and organising them all. I needed a minimum of 32 points out of a possible maximum of 42 to be awarded ClickPro status.
I heard back a week later that I received 27 points overall and therefore my application was declined. Obviously that’s not something to love (in keeping with the usual Little Loves posts I write) but I’m choosing to see it as the first step towards achieving ClickPro. I was expecting to be declined anyway and I got some really useful feedback to help me improve in the areas that I most need to. I’m disappointed of course but I’m doing my best to approach the decision from a position of growth as much as I can – I’m going to work really hard to get better and will try again next year.
School news: We heard the news that all three girls will definitely be home from school now until the new school year starts in September. None of them fall into the school years that are set to return to the classroom in June and so we now have seven more weeks of homeschooling ahead of us before the summer holidays begin at the end of July. It is slightly daunting of course but overall I am really enjoying having them home. There has only been one day since lockdown started back in March where I’ve thought to myself that they’d maybe be better off going to school. It will of course be different once the husband returns to work when the hospitality industry opens up again (he is a pub manager) but I know we’ll manage ok.
DIY Essential Oil hacks: Since signing up as a member and starting to use Young Living essential oils in January, I’ve been immersing myself in learning all about just how many different uses there are for them. We love having them in our diffuser on a daily basis and as I’ve gradually expanded my selection of oils I’ve started playing around with using them in other ways too.
I made myself a ‘Glow Serum’ – a face serum made from a combination of Lavender, Francincense and Young Living’s ‘Valor’ blend then topped witih jojoba oil. I use it just before I go to bed once I’ve taken off all my make up and washed my face and so far I’m really, really impressed. I usually have oily, spot-prone skin that I’ve battled with my whole life and after just one month of using this Glow Serum I’m tentatively considering ditching the long term antibiotics I’ve been on for over three years because it’s making such a positive difference. It’s been a long time since my skin has felt this good.
Essential oils are also fantastic natural cleaning products, so I made a ‘Soft Scrub’ which is a combination of bicarbonate of soda, Young Living’s ‘Thieves’ Household Cleaner and Lemon oil. It forms a sort of paste that you can use to get stains out of sinks and showers. We tried it out and it works brilliantly. I love that it’s completely non-toxic too.
Wildflower bouquets: Most days I take my ‘daily exercise’ in the form of a walk along a trail near our house. It’s been fascinating watching it change as the season has progressed – early Spring flowers such as daffodils in March gave way to bluebells and blossom in April. Throughout May there have been swarthes of ‘fairy lace’ (cow parsley) lining the trail, plus blankets of sky-blue forget-me-knots, happily nodding clusters of giant white daisies and an abundance of greenery on the trees. As we’ve come to the end of the month, colourful poppies have begun to bloom too. I’ve been (carefully and sparingly) collecting wildflowers to bring home and make into little bouquets, and it makes me so happy to see them brightening up my kitchen.
Nothing new to report here! The hot weather has meant shorts and Tshirts for all of us and it’s been wonderful to feel the sun on my skin. The girls are growing like wildflowers though and are desperately in need of some new clothes and shoes that actually fit them. As much as I’d rather keep them at home, we’re going to have to venture out to the shops (one child at a time) when they start to re-open in order to replenish their wardrobes because at the moment they’re squeezing into things that are far too small for them and online shopping just doesn’t work for us.
May is a month of birthdays for us. My Grannie would have been 100 years old this year if she was still with us (she sadly passed away last year). I often wonder what she would have made of this strange new world we’re currently living in. I turned thirty-seven at the start of the month and we celebrated Mimi’s 12th birthday at the beginning of half term too.
My birthday: My birthday tends to be a pretty normal day anyway so lockdown didn’t really change anything much. The only things that were different this year because of lockdown were that my Mum and Stepdad couldn’t come and visit like they usually do, and that I didn’t get to fulfil my one request of seeing the bluebells in the forest because travelling to ‘beauty spots’ was still banned at that point. Despite those things I still had a really lovely day – I got spoiled with books and flowers and homemade cards and sunshine, and Mimi gave me 37 hugs (one for each of my thirty-seven trips around the sun). It was everything I needed.
Mimi’s birthday: Whereas I wasn’t bothered about not being able to do much for my birthday, I really did feel for Mimi having a lockdown birthday – it must have been hard not seeing or celebrating with her friends and, as I mentioned earlier, our plans of being in Scotland for her birthday had all been cancelled. We did our very best to make her birthday as special as we could though, despite the circumstances.
The day before her birthday, Mimi’s best friend Ava popped over for a socially-distanced chat on the driveway – the first time they’ve seen each other since lockdown began. Listening to them talk together about the things they missed about school was heartbreaking but it was lovely to see Mimi laugh and smile as they joked around like they used to before the world shifted to what it is now. Ava brought some Harry Potter cupcakes that she’d made for Mimi as well as some really thoughtful gifts and I know it made Mimi’s day to feel so loved and special.
On the day itself she spent the morning opening cards and presents and then we all followed her only two requests: to play board games together as a family and to play in the garden in the sunshine. It was definitely a very different birthday from what she’s used to but hopefully it was just as memorable for all the right reasons.
The days in between have been mostly spent trying to balance homeschooling the girls with working from home, doing #PEwithJoe when we can, daily walks for me, and soaking up some sunshine in the garden. I feel so lucky that all of us are healthy and so is everyone we know and love because there are plenty of people for whom that’s not the case.
Chapter five of 2020 has closed and who knows what June has in store?! Hopefully, if it’s safe enough, lockdown might start to ease a little bit and we’ll be allowed to see family again. We’re all missing Sophie, my parents and the husband’s parents a lot. There may also be potential for Neil to go back to work in a few weeks time to get ready for hospitality industry potentially re-opening at the start of July, though we won’t know for sure until the Prime Minister announces his decision. It’ll change the dynamic at home and we’ll all have another ‘new normal’ to get used to.
Other than those possible changes I guess we’ll just be carrying on doing what we’ve been doing and feeling grateful for the bonus time with the girls.
I hope May has been a good month for you too and that you find many little things to love throughout June.
Stay well x