I’m not a fan of November. It’s one of my least favourite months of the year (along with January and February). Dark mornings and evenings combined with cold and drizzly weather are not fun, no matter how much I try and shift my mindset to being happy to hibernate indoors in front of the TV – that’s just not ‘me’. I need fresh air and sunshine and movement and greenery and light in order to function. We’ve not managed to go out for a single family walk or outdoor adventure together this month, which is a real shame.
However, there have been some really lovely moments in amongst all the rain: family celebrations; cinema trips; time at home together and, on a personal note, pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do something new.
It’s been interesting looking back at my Little Loves post from last November – I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since the husband was in Las Vegas!
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout this November…
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Don’t quote me yet but I think I might have reached my target of reading twelve books this year and I’ve even done it a month early! I was determined to read at least a book a month in 2019 and whilst it hasn’t been spread out quite as evenly or exactly as that, I’m pretty sure I’ve read twelve in total so far.
Shadowhunters: I finished City Of Bones*, the first book in the six part Shadowhunters series by Cassandra Clare that my eldest daughter is obsessed with, and quickly started on book two – City Of Ashes*. I finished that one within a week! Escaping to the supernatural fantasy version of a modern day New York that’s filled with demons, werewolves, vampires, warlocks, faeries and shadowhunters has been exactly what I’ve needed. They’re fairly easy to read and I’m enjoying them so far, taking the opportunity to read a few more pages whenever I get the chance.
Everything is F*cked (A Book About Hope): I’m still working my way through this one. It’s easy to read but quite hard going at the same time if you know what I mean? I have to concentrate on it and it makes me think, and when my head is already so full of so many other things it means I can only read it in smallish chunks. So far I definitely prefer his first book, ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck*‘, although this one about hope does make a lot of sense and covers topics spanning from religion to politics and everything you can think of in between.
Undercover Thief: Ella recently had the opportunity to review a brand new book (‘Undercover Thief’) by up-and-coming author H.T.King. My little resident bookworm gave it 4 out of 5 stars and says that it’s good for age 10+. So if you’re looking for a little stocking-filler for a book-loving tween or young teen in your life then this might be a good option. Read this post for her full review of the book and her interview with the author!
The Addams Family: We went to see The Addams Family at the cinema on the very last day of half term, way back at the beginning of the month. It was ok, we enjoyed it, but it’s not a patch on the original! I think maybe we need a family movie night so the girls can watch the proper version.
Frozen 2: It sounds daft but the Frozen franchise has played a big part in my girls’ childhoods, much like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and various other Disney films did in mine I guess. ‘Frozen’ was the very first film I ever took Ella to see at the cinema. We went for her 7th birthday and whilst she found the whole experience a bit overwhelming at the time we of course bought the DVD (so her sisters could watch it too), had the CD in the car and the whole family ended up being hooked. It became the soundtrack of one particular holiday in Cornwall we had in the year we got married and I have fond memories of us all belting out the songs at the top of our lungs as we drove through the country lanes.
As Mimi got older and shunned pretty dresses in favour of more sports-oriented clothes, she changed her mind and declared that she hated Frozen, a sentiment that she still holds true today. There was no way we were going to go and see ‘Frozen 2’ without Mimi though – the husband in particular has been looking forward to it for months! So last weekend we dragged her along (amidst much protest) and by the end of the film even she begrudgingly agreed that it was “quite good” and that she “sort of enjoyed it”. The rest of us loved it and even thought the songs aren’t quite as catchy as ‘Let It Go’ I’m sure they’ll be ingrained in our brains before too long if the littlest one has anything to do with it. Go and see it immediately (the trailer is below).
Sophie turn 18: Towards the start of the month we watched the teenager (as she’s known here on my blog) – Neil’s eldest daughter, my stepdaughter, the girls’ big sister – turn 18 years old and officially become an adult. Eighteen! I can’t wrap my head around that. I first met her just a couple of months before her 3rd birthday when she was a blond-haired, dimple-cheeked, feisty and cute little toddler. Having the privilege of watching her grow up over the last fifteen + years, and being able to play a small part in her journey, has been wonderful. She was the first experience I had of what real motherhood might be like and she has taught me more than she will ever know.
(Note: all the photos from Sophie’s birthday party were taken on my phone and the lighting was so tricky to navigate. Many of them are a bit blurry but they’re all I have to remind us of happy memories so that’s good enough for me)
House news: A couple of weeks ago we heard that our buyer had pulled out of our sale, causing the entire upwards chain to collapse. There had already been a ridiculous amount of to-ing and fro-ing and negotiating and arguing and endless phone calls and emails with solicitors and estate agents in the lead up to him making that decision so in truth I wasn’t really surprised as he clearly wasn’t happy about something. I made my peace with it, accepted that we’d be staying where we are and allowed myself to relax a little.
Then literally just a couple of days later he changed his mind. There was immense pressure from all sides as more negotiations ensued and suddenly it was all back on again. Honestly, I’ve spent the last month feeling permanently sick and anxious and my hair is falling out in handfuls from all the stress of not knowing what’s happening. The girls have asked every single day if we’re still moving house or not and I’ve not been able to give them a definite answer. It’s been an utterly horrible experience and one that I hope we don’t have to do again for a very long time.
On a positive note (because this is Little Loves after all), we’ve now heard that we have an actual completion date agreed (hurrah!) and, as long as it all progresses smoothly going forwards from now, we’ll be in our new home just in time for Christmas!
Chocolate orange cinnamon buns: When we’re inundated with wet weekends, we retreat to the kitchen and bake. The girls have been hankering to make cinnamon buns for ages. I couldn’t find our usual recipe (it’s packed in a box somewhere!) but I did find an alternative recipe for chocolate orange cinnamon buns that I’d printed out ages ago from a website (I can’t remember which one). We spent a happy, drizzly afternoon baking them and they turned out really well. They all disappeared within a couple of days so I think they were a hit that we’ll be adding to our repertoire.
Ella and I made some toffee fudge cookies together as well but I didn’t manage to get a photo of those!
Sophie’s birthday present: I wanted to do something special and personal for Sophie’s birthday in addition to her actual main gift from us. I’ve got hundreds of photos of her throughout the years and so I decided to make a photobook of all the memories we have from when she was little right up to now.
I use Snapfish to make a calendar for my Mum and Stepdad for Christmas every year so I thought I’d give their photobooks a try too. It took me absolutely ages to put together as I had fifteen years worth of photos to trawl through, but it was so very worth it.
I was really pleased with the final result – it was good quality, reasonably priced and delivered quickly. We gave Sophie her photobook at her birthday party and although there was a lot going on and she was pretty distracted, I think she liked it too.
Two trips: I made two trips away from home this month! The first one was a bit of a step into the unknown and out of my comfort zone: a work-related adventure down to London to spend the day at World Travel Market. WTM is a travel conference where I was hoping to make some connections and contacts in the travel industry to enable me to continue creating useful, interesting and fun travel-based content for this blog.
It was also the chance to meet up with some family travel bloggers that I’ve been talking to for a couple of years online and had yet to meet in person. Of course they were all just as lovely in real life as they are in the digital universe and it was really good to be able to chat with people who have been doing what I do for a lot longer than I have – I picked up some really helpful tips.
Lola happened to have an inset day that day as it was just after half term, so the husband had the day off work to be with her and they made bat cupcakes together. He sent me this photo after they’d made them – look how proud she is, bless her.
The second trip was just a few days later. All five of us travelled down to Hertfordshire for the weekend to celebrate Sophie turning eighteen and to attend her birthday party. We popped in to have lunch with my Mum and Stepdad on the way, which was lovely, and had a good time at the party on the Saturday night. We couldn’t get Lola off the dancefloor! It was wonderful to see Sophie so happy and enjoying herself, surrounded by all the people most important to her.
We stayed overnight in a nearby Premier Inn hotel which was the cause of much excitement for the girls – they don’t remember the one and only other time they’ve stayed in a hotel as it was nine years ago for my best friend’s wedding. Whenever we travel we always opt for self catering but for just the one night we figured a hotel would be fine. Of course they were absolute superstars.
I was really proud of myself for driving home the next day (the husband was a little bit worse for wear!). It was quite a big personal victory actually – I normally only drive if it’s less than an hour. This journey was three hours AND I had to navigate the M25 for the first time ever.
Sophie wanted a ‘smart casual’ dress code for her party. I wore a long black dress, topped with a denim jacket and sparkly eyeshadow. Ella and Lola also wore dresses and Mimi opted for a jumpsuit. The husband was in smart jeans with a shirt, waistcoat and jacket. It felt really good to dress up and make a bit of an effort – we don’t go out a lot so it always feels extra special when there is a celebratory event or occasion to go to.
For a bit of fun, Neil also had a TShirt printed which he put on over his shirt and under his jacket to
surprise embarrass Sophie with – it was a photo of her as a sassy four year old and it worked a treat. I hope she keeps it!
Other than the excitement described above from the beginning of November, it’s been a very quiet month. Thanks to all the rain we’ve had we didn’t even have any sparklers for Bonfire Night! I’ve decided to save them for New Year’s Eve instead. I’ve made a tentative start on the Christmas shopping but with not really knowing what was going on with the house until recently, I’ve not been wanting to get too many presents yet in case we have to pack them and move them with us to the new house. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s only a few weeks until Christmas!
December is always busy and as crazy as it gets I do really enjoy it. As well as the usual festive activities going on at both of the schools we also have Ella and the husband’s birthdays to celebrate plus all of our Christmassy family traditions that we do each year. My Mum is coming up to visit for a few days and (fingers crossed!) we really will be moving house this time.
Wishing you all a wonderful month ahead and I hope you enjoy the final chapter of the decade (!) in every way possible.
Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and Little Loves