Life in a lockdown – Part 1

Years and years ago when I was a kid my Mum used to buy and write in a yearly Dairy Diary. I don’t think she kept it up all of the time but I found one when I was a teenager which was dated 1990.

Inside it my Mum had written a bit about how she felt when the Gulf war had started. At the time she and my Dad were still married, they had 4 children and 1 on the way and life was very different compared to how it was when I came across the diary years later.

There wasn’t much there but I remember finding it fascinating and it obviously worked its way into my bones somewhere because 18 years later it’s still a vivid memory – and my memory is atrocious for the main part. Of course we can all search the internet for the Gulf war now. The facts are easy to find. But I loved that little peek into what my Mum was thinking and feeling about it all.

Fast forward many more years and now we find ourselves living through something that I don’t think any of us expected. An event which, I think, will become something we talk about for a long time after it ends. Moose writes a little diary once a week and I thought I would too.

Week one

It’s hard to believe that it was only 1 week ago that Boris made the announcement that we were not to leave our homes unless we absolutely needed to. Some supermarkets have began to enforce a 1 person from each household rule. Last week the shelves were stripped bare of items like pasta, loo roll and hand soap. This week it’s better. I wouldn’t say that everything is available but with these new stricter measures, it’s definitely better.

I popped to Marks & Spencer (because the queue to get into big Tesco was soo long) and managed to get some fresh fruit and veg and sausages. No bloody way was I spending £1.50 on a pack of spaghetti though. I usually pay 20p a pack from Aldi. My Mum is considered vulnerable so she isn’t supposed to leave the house at all. I picked her up some ready meals and fruit. Cost of food is worrying me. I’ve seen some local shops put their prices up since all of this started and of course everyone goes for the cheaper stuff first so you end up paying more for less.

Now that the entrance to Aldi has been restricted and stock levels are going back up I will try again. Certainly not going to our local Nisa which, frankly, is like playing a really shit game of Pac-Man as I try to avoid people in it’s narrow aisles.

I put a ban on our children going into shops over a week ago because it seemed like common sense and today they have made it a rule. No kids unless it cannot be avoided. I think that shops need to step up their home deliveries to make this work. I was number 149000 in the queue on the Ocado website the other day..

Getting out

Aside from food shopping (which I have been trying to keep to a minimum) I have been leaving the house only for my 1 lot of daily exercise which is currently allowed. So I have been walking Fudge the Beagle once a day and then Bess has. Fudge is 14 years old and is used to 1 walk a day. Poor dog just looks really confused but seems pretty happy with the arrangement!  I take Mason out on his scooter when he starts to show signs of going a bit stir crazy. For the most part he is happy enough in the garden. Thank fuck we have a garden.

The kids

All schools have been closed to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable children who need to be there.

Bess

Bess has been trying to get on with her school work in her bedroom. I feel a bit conflicted about this. Maybe I should be making her sit down here with us so we can police it a bit. On the other hand she has never done anything to make me think that she won’t be trying her best. She knows it’s important and I think it’s good for her to be able to chat to her mates while she works. She might not see them in person for quite some time.

Col

I haven’t seen Col for weeks. He moved out a little while ago and we had a silly argument a few weeks before all of this started. Because he lives elsewhere the rules are that he is not allowed to come here. We are chatting on social media and he seems like he’s Ok. He works nights at a supermarket. I hate that this puts him at risk. Thankful though that he can work and has money during all of this.  I miss him a lot.

Moose

Moose seems to be enjoying being at home. I have been trying to do some schoolwork with him. We’ve got really into starting the day by doing PE with Joe Wicks (like the rest of the nation just now) and his teacher has been really supportive. He has work set on the class page online and I’ve been playing games with him too.

I must admit that we have had days where he has been quiet and really not in the mood and on those days I have let it slide. There is too much going on to be battling with him over phonics. I hate phonics too. A favourite this week has been watching Countdown. I pause the screen after the letters have been picked and he has to write down as many words as he can. He loves it! I used to play this with Bess and she loved it too.

Me and MrG

G was furloughed on Friday. A lot of the country has been. The government will pay up to 80% of his wages and his work isn’t currently considered essential so he is at home for the foreseeable future. On the upside this means that he suddenly has time to do a lot of the odd jobs around the house. Unfortunately though, non food shops have had to shut too. We can order stuff online but I must admit I have been wiping parcels down with diluted bleach just in case. It feels weird and maybe a bit OTT to be doing this.

I’m OK. Working from home means I am used to being here most of the time. I try to limit how much of the news I look at each day. It was starting to really get me down. Not so much the actual news but trying to sort the reliable sources from the utter shite posted by some people. I do like to listen or watch the governments daily broadcast updates. Ask me again in a week and I might feel differently.

 

Meal Plan – Is chocolate spread an acceptable pasta sauce in times of crisis?

Well, meal planning this week is a bit odd isn’t it!? As one of the many self employed people facing a massively uncertain financial future over the next year or so I am having to seriously examine our budget. The bulk of our budget, as with many families, goes on food so if that’s an area we can make savings on then all the better. On the plus side, the usual temptations of places like McDonalds and Starbucks are all shut so eating on a budget is in a way a lot easier at the moment!

The shops shelves have been looking a little bare for the last couple of weeks which doesn’t really help when you are trying to feed a (fussy) family! Luckily before all of this madness started I had done a bit of a big shop. I tend to do 1 a month to stock the freezer and cupboards and then top up the fridge once a week. I could not be happier that I bought pasta and eggs!

Our cupboards are nowhere near empty but I think that after this week our meals might start looking a bit …random.. I really don’t want to make trips to the shops unless I have to though so random it is!

Keep safe everyone, I am really looking forward to being out the other side of this whole thing.

This week in food 

Friday – Sausage pasta bake with salad

Saturday – Burgers (in bagels, we don’t have rolls) with wedges and popcorn shrimp and corn on the cob.

Sunday – Roast beef with yorkshire puddings and veg.

Monday – Chicken and ham pie with mashed potato and veg

Tuesday – Sausage and chips with baked beans

Wednesday – Prawn curry with rice and homemade flatbreads

Thursday – Chicken Parmigiana (again, just because we love it!) with spinach

 

Katykicker

Social distancing? No spend ideas for families stuck at home in isolation

Hands up who has no idea how they will cope for the next ( number as yet undisclosed) few weeks? I am facing the prospect of school closures with massively mixed feelings. All I have wanted since Moose started school last year was just a little more time with him. I have missed our days together so much.

However, I also have to think practically. I am lucky that I work for myself from home but I work in the wedding industry and the CofE limiting wedding gatherings to 5 people and nobody having the dosh to plan weddings for next year means I am a bit stuffed financially. I’m 99% sure you are probably in a similar boat. Buying an endless amount of toys and games is absolutely off the menu for us. Whatever we do is going to have to be either low or (preferably) no spend.

We all know that bored children equals headache stricken parents so I thought I would chuck together a few ideas to (hopefully) get us through. Obviously my ideas are based on what we have laying around (hello to my fellow hoarders, this is what we have been training for forever – not hoarders of loo roll though. You can gtfo)

Log on

  • Visit the zoo from your sofa! Remember when we all watched the baby giraffe being born a while ago? Zoos still have web cams installed and you can log onto them for free. I think this will be a favourite for Moose and I am hoping we will spot an animal that we can follow for the duration of the school closures and maybe write about? The great thing is that you are not confined to UK zoos!
  • Let your child be the teacher. At Christmas I bought Minecraft for our Nintendo Switch. I really don’t get the appeal but Moose LOVES it. We have agreed that if he tries his best with learning at home then sometimes we can swap roles and he can teach me how to play Minecraft. If there is something that your child loves why not do the same? If nothing else it will give you a chance to have some bonding time on their terms.
  • There are a LOT of websites offering free downloadable or printable resources for learning from home. The Knight Tribe has created a great post illustrating this. I have a feeling I will keep coming back to this one!
  • Get moving indoors. Moose has recently been practising yoga at school. He loves showing off the poses he has learnt and so as part of our “school day” I have decided that we should start with this. We will be using Cosmic Yoga on You Tube. Their channel is great! I have promised Moose that I will do it too and I think that starting the day like this will be really good for the both of us.

Use what you have

  • Just lately Bess has developed a keen interest in sewing. We had a mini sewing machine buried in the shed and I just sorted out our airing cupboard and my wardrobe and instead of throwing out the stuff I no longer wanted, I gave it to her to play with. I can’t wait to see what she decides to do with it all. I wish I could sew and I love that she is teaching herself via You Tube and blogs!
  • Go through your child’s bedroom and find all of those craft kits they got for birthdays and Christmases. If yours are anything like mine you will find a fine array of paint your own money boxes, scrapbook kits and more.
  • Have your child keep a diary. It will be nice to show their teacher and classmates when they return to school.
  • Create a treasure hunt using clues. You could use learning questions as clues perhaps?
  • Make pasta collages. I’m kidding, who has pasta to spare right now?! But I bet you do have things you can use for crafts. Make salt dough, create street art with chalks on your patio, upcycle something old, decorate plant pots.. and if you really cannot think of a single thing then go and visit Kiddy Charts for some inspiration!
  • Get the kids in the kitchen! If you happen to have baking kits then great! If not then teach them age appropriate kitchen skills. You could have your very own sous chef in the making…

boy making chocolate cakes

Garden fun

  • You know the phrase “jumpers for goal posts”? Well, er that! If you have an outdoor space then get out there, create a makeshift goal and have a penalty shoot out (or if you have enough children start coaching your own team)
  • Create a crazy golf course using plant pots and toys.
  • Time to clear out the shed. I have just remembered that we have a Swingball somewhere in the back of ours which I will definitely be digging out!
  • Start planting. I know absolutely nothing about gardening but I think that we can learn together. It would be great to have a nice garden by the end of all of this that we can enjoy over the summer. Plus it is great exercise! Check out this post from Whinge Whinge Wine for some great tips for how to get started.
  • If we get some nice weather you could move your learning outdoors. A makeshift outdoor classroom (Pimms for the adults is optional), create a bug hotel or a hedgehog house. Unless like us you have a dog who has decided that hedgehogs are her nemesis. Your dog is probably not as twatty as ours though so you should be good to go.

Remember what is important

  • You are not a teacher, you are a parent. Be a parent first and don’t be too hard on yourself when you or your child hit the proverbial wall. Very few of us have received any kind of training for this sort of an event so a lot are winging it. There are Facebook groups out there to help. Go and look them up!
  • Connect with friends. One of the worries I have about Moose missing so much school is the social factor. I am quite happy to play the hermit for weeks but he will miss his friends. I am hoping that I can organise regular video chats for him and cousins and friends.
  • Have a Netflix party! I think this is quite cool. You can install it for free and it allows groups of kids, teens or in fact middle aged women to watch tv and chat together without having to leave the house!
  • Write a letter. You could have them write it to a school friend or maybe someone elderly who otherwise wouldn’t have much interaction socially?
  • Take some time off! School at home doesn’t have to be rigid so if your child wakes up and neither of you are in the mood to do any formal learning then delay it. Reshuffle your day and don’t feel bad about it. You are in charge! Your children probably won’t have much of a memory of  why they had to be out of school but they will remember how they felt when they had this time with you. Make those memories as good as they can be but don’t feel pressure to be ON all of the time.

 

I hope you get something from this post but I will be adding to it as we go and if you have any suggestions then please do comment below – it takes a (virtual) village after all!

Good luck x

 

 

 

 

Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs Review

This product was sent to us for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions remain honest and our own. 

If you are looking for a great alternative to edible Easter treats this year then Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs are definitely for you!

What is it?

Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs are a new addition to the surprise toy market. Priced at just £4.99 per egg they represent egg-cellent (hehe) value for money.

Open the hard plastic (but reusable) shell to discover a softer, squidgy rubber shell. Squeeze this until it pops to find your surprise new alien friend and some slime!

How do you play with it?

The hard plastic casing comes apart easily. The inner squishy egg is really tactile and Moose absolutely loved squishing it and pulling it apart. It took him a little while to get it to POP but he managed it eventually.

You will probably want to do the Pop part on a wipe clean surface as the slime will come out – which Moose found hilarious! Inside the squishy egg along with the slime you will find an alien character and a little treasure accessory or even the ultimate treasure: Real gem.

There are 12 characters to collect. Inside our Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs we found Braingor, Spiklops and Soogle Slug! We also found a Galactic Power Egg with a real gem inside – Moose was beside himself!

What did we think?

There was no way that Moose wasn’t going to fall in love with this toy from the get go. Egg? Check! Surprise toy? Check! Slime? Check! Collectable element? Check!

He loved that there were several play elements to the Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs and he spent a fair amount of time opening them and then playing with them afterwards! The aliens are soft and can be squeezed so they suck up the slime …and then spit it out of course. Gross but great fun for kids.

Treasure X Aliens Surprise Eggs are priced at £4.99 each and are available from Smyths Toy Shops and if you would like to find out more go to www.treasurex.co.uk for information, games and chances to win prizes too!

Camden and a new homework project – Living Arrows week 10 2020

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

Last week I took a trip to London with Bess. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with all of my children but having a bit of girly time with my daughter was just what I needed. London was great and we got to have a wander around Bess’ favourite part, Camden. She even posed for a couple of pics – is it a trip to London if you don’t get a photo of one of the underground station signs?

Last week Moose got new homework. At his school they don’t do weekly homework. They have projects – this can be a blessing and a curse if I’m honest. I do quite like his latest homework project though. The children are supposed to plant seeds and then keep a diary and update it. It feels more like an assignment for Moose rather than me this time around!

Moose is growing radishes. So far he is enjoying it!

 

Living Arrows