September is one of my most favourite months of the year. It’s when summer and autumn collide and overlap – it’s still just about warm and sunny enough to be T-Shirt wearing weather but with the tantalising promise of the change in season hanging temptingly in the cooler morning air and the turning colours of the leaves. September always feels much more like New Year to me than January ever does – there’s a definite shift in energy somehow. A freshness that arrives along with the wind.
This September represents the start of a whole new era for us as a family because Lola started high school (*sob*). I still can’t quite believe that my youngest has finished primary school forever and that all three of our girls are now at this stage of their journey.
It always takes a little while to settle into the new back-to-school routine, especially after a big transition. This month, however, has felt incredibly disjointed and chaotic. After Lola unexpectedly caught Covid at the end of August, it was Ella’s turn to test positive right at the start of this month. Thankfully because her symptoms had started quite a few days before the PCR test confirmed what we already knew, she’d already been staying home and her isolation ended on the first day back at school just like Lola’s did (they had staggered return dates) so she didn’t actually miss anything either.
Then the husband and Mimi both started feeling ill and tested positive a few days later as well, like dominoes, one after the other. Mimi ended up having to miss the whole first week of school and Neil was really very poorly with it. I’m pretty sure that he would have ended up in hospital if he hadn’t been double vaccinated – it was actually quite scary. Somehow I’ve managed to stay healthy the whole way through!
It wasn’t quite the smooth transition back to school that we’d hoped for but we managed ok. It felt like we’d just about found our rhythm at the end of the third week of the month and then the girls’ school had to close for a deep clean because the number of positive cases exploded and rose exponentially – over 250 pupils and almost half the teachers were all off with Covid – so it was back to online learning for the final week of the month. You couldn’t make it up!
Still, despite all of the disruption and illness there were plenty of good moments too.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout September…
The First Phone Call From Heaven: It took me ages to get into this and I’m not really sure why as I have loved every single one of Mitch Albom’s other books. I got about a third of the way through this one and then had a couple of weeks break from reading as I just wasn’t feeling it. When I eventually went back to it once everyone was mostly recovered from Covid, I finished it within a matter of days! I’ve been trying to figure out what it was that I got stuck with and I’m wondering if it’s because there was no singular main character – there were lots of central ones. All of their stories tangled and inter-connected beautifully, but there wasn’t someone specific to really dive into and get to know and care about.
The book tackles big questions like ‘does heaven exist?’ and ‘what happens after someone dies?’ alongside the themes of grief and tragedy and family and regret. It sounds like a heavy topic but it didn’t feel like it was – the way Mitch Albom writes made it seem lighter. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as his other books but it made me think (a lot), it made me feel, and the author’s signature bit of magic crept in right at the end too.
Cruella: We didn’t manage to see Cruella while it was on at the cinema during the summer so we waited patiently for it to arrive on Disney+ instead. One rainy Sunday afternoon, whilst everyone was either recovering from or still in the midst of feeling poorly with Covid, we all squished on the sofa and watched it together with popcorn and sweets and blankets. I stayed awake (always a good sign!) and we all really enjoyed it – even the teen who is adamant that she hates Disney – so I’d say it was a resounding success.
Strictly Come Dancing: I don’t usually watch much television but there are a couple of shows I make an exception for. Strictly Come Dancing is one of them – it’s my absolute favourite and I look forward to it every single year.
We are big supporters of Tom Fletcher in our house (Lola has most of his books) so he’s definitely our favourite to win. We also like Tilly Ramsey – Neil is a fan of chef Gordon Ramsey (Tilly’s Dad) and the girls used to watch her TV cookery show ‘Matilda and the Ramsey Bunch’ when they were little. I don’t think she’s likely to win – the standards already seem high and competition is really tough this year! – but we’re cheering her on anyway.
I think it’s brilliant that they are showcasing a deaf participant (I’m fascinated by how she feels the music rather than hearing it) and the first ever male couple – it’s just fantastic and such a great example to set the kids.
Lola loves Strictly too so she, Neil and I all watch it together on a Sunday evening (the husband works on a Saturday night so we rarely get to watch it live). She loves staying up late with us as a bit of a treat and I’m hoping it’s going to become a lasting happy memory of her childhood.
Sex Education: The second exception to my TV rule is Sex Education, one of our other favourite shows. It’s hysterically funny; incredibly poignant; eye-opening; heart-warming (and heart-wrenching) and it raises some absolutely brilliant key issues that need to be talked about more. If you haven’t seen it already, go and watch it. 10/10 highly recommend.
School chat: One of my favourite parts of the day is when the girls all pile into the car after school and tell me about their days. I try and ask questions that invite them to share more (rather than the standard “I don’t know” or “it was ok” or “I can’t remember”). Things like what their best lesson was and the most interesting thing they learned from it, who they spent time with at lunch break, something funny that happened, something positive that they’d noticed and who their favourite teacher was that day.
It doesn’t always work because sometimes they aren’t in the mood or are really tired, but when it does open up the conversation it’s so interesting hearing their different perspectives on their high school experience and I treasure the little glimpses I get into their world.
Ed Sheeran: We heard Ed Sheeran’s new song, ‘Shivers’, on the radio on the way to school one morning and it’s been playing on repeat on my Spotify playlist ever since. It’s so good! I am ridiculously excited for his new album, ‘=’, out next month – it’s on the top of my Christmas wishlist already.
Plans for next year: With the persistent uncertainty of the last eighteen months through the pandemic, events and travel constantly being cancelled and the rules regularly changing, it would be really easy to simply choose to not make any plans for the future just to avoid the disappointment if they ended up not going ahead. I really don’t want to live my life like that though – I think we all need things to look forward to and be excited for.
As a result we’ve made some tentative plans for 2022. We’ve booked a couple of modest UK trips for next year – our regular happy place in Cornwall and somewhere new for us to explore as well that I think we’re all going to love. We’ve also got tickets for a couple of gigs that I’m really excited about. I’m hoping that we might be able to get on a plane and escape somewhere warm and sunny at some point too, though I’m still very much in the research stage of the process at the moment.
School uniform: It felt so strange taking this photo of all three of my girls in shirts, ties and blazers! I still can’t believe they’re all at high school now. Don’t they look smart though?
Adventures: After so much of the month was spent indoors on the sofa for Neil and the girls, our first post-Covid adventure was a small walk on Cannock Chase to the place where the heather grows in abundance and the views stretch spectacularly all the way across to the next county. Sadly we’d missed the peak purple colours but it was still pretty and it felt good to blow the cobwebs away.
The views of Telford Wrekin in the distance also served as inspiration our next adventure…
…we climbed The Wrekin in Telford! We’ve done it once before about five years ago when the girls were much smaller and have been wanting to do it again for ages. Considering that four out of five of us were still recovering from Covid and one of us (me) has a newly diagnosed heart condition, we managed the ascent surprisingly well and I’m proud of us for achieving it. I’m very much hoping to squeeze in a few more adventures like this before Autumn is over because time spent doing things like this with my family fills my heart and soul with everything I need.
Chapter nine of 2021 has now drawn to a close and I can’t believe we’re three quarters of the way through the year. I’m not normally a fan of the nights drawing in and the colder weather beginning to arrive but something feels different this year and I’m fully embracing this seasonal shift because why not? If these last 18 months have taught us anything it’s to make the most of wherever you happen to be.
I’m really looking forward to October – we have quite a few fun things planned which hopefully we’ll be able to go ahead with (all things being well). It feels good to have a diary that’s looking a little bit more full!
I hope that September has been kind to you all and that October is full of positivity and promise.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)