It’s a while since I’ve posted here. If I’m honest, I haven’t felt much like writing about family life. It’s been a challenging few weeks that have felt quite miserable at times, but on New Year’s Eve we spent some time reflecting on some of our recent highlights and I remembered that there are always fun times worth remembering amidst the depressing news.
We’ve spent nearly the entire last two months at home. At the end of November, after nearly an entire term of uninterrupted school (and consequently work), a case of Covid-19 was identified in Sophie’s class bubble. That meant that the entire year group had to self-isolate at home for two weeks, so we were abruptly back to homeschool for Sophie. And after two days of that, several other cases across a few year groups meant that they had to close the entire school for ten days. So, at an incredibly busy period of work for Matt and I, we found ourselves juggling our jobs and both the kids. And this time, without the benefit of long, sunny days in the garden.
I’m not going to lie, it was a tough fortnight with the kids enjoying more screentime than ever as we did call after call and worked into the night. But we made it through and the children don’t seem too scarred. I had to take a festive photo of myself in my home office for a work presentation so we staged the one below! It makes me chuckle every time I look at it – as if my duo ever sit quietly together pouring over a book like that!
They were finally able to get back to school with about a week to go before the Christmas break and were super excited at the prospect of end of term festive lunches, class parties and dress-up days. But just a couple of days after they got back to school, Matt suddenly developed a cough. So we sent him off for a Covid-19 test and settled into a full family self-isolation while we awaited the results. After three days we got the results back – to discover he had coronavirus. After months of being so careful! I suspect the kids have been asymptomatic and brought it home from school.
Suddenly we were all legally confined to the house until Christmas Day! This sent me into a major panic as I had been waiting to sort out Christmas present and food shopping until I’d finished work for the break. I’d had a big plan to try and shop entirely local, but that went out of the window and I spent a few frantic evenings on Amazon scrabbling together stockings and presents for everyone. And our local friends were amazing, helping us keep our fridge well stocked when we couldn’t nip out.
And then just when the end was in sight, I woke on Christmas Eve to find I’d lost all sense of smell and taste – on our final day of self-isolation! So I took myself off to the Covid test centre and began another ten day isolation period. Thankfully this time, Matt and the kids could at least get out and about so we felt a little less stir crazy in the house together. [As a footnote to the story, it took eight days for my test result to come back and it ended up being inconclusive!]
Despite December and the Christmas period being so far from how we’d envisaged it (we were originally due to be spending the week in a beautiful house up in Scotland!), we still had plenty of fun together, and it was wonderful to unplug from work for a while. And I will be eternally grateful that our symptoms were mild.
We enjoyed a Star Wars marathon, watching all the movies and The Mandalorian series over the break. We did a ridiculous number of jigsaws and lego kits.
We’ve even managed to drag the kids away from their screens for some more artistic activities (although Alex most frequently draws characters from his favourite video games!)
Of course, we’ve been cooking and baking together (including some vibrant cakes to celebrate Joe Biden’s win!)!
We successfully made a chocolate log, and Alex decided to make chocolate meringue poo emojis! The perfect bake to sum up 2020 I think!
Sticking to the theme of food, we’ve been taking part in monthly Japanese cookery classes online with an old university friend of ours who now lives in Toyko! With our normal weekend activities all cancelled, it’s been such a joy cooking live with people all over the world via Zoom – and we’ve learned to make udon noodles, katsu, ramen and chicken yakitori (sign up here if you fancy joining in from February!)
A huge highlight (of the year I think) for Alex was the chance to take part in an online dance workshop with a cast member from Hamilton as part of his Stagecoach theatre school sessions. He dressed up in his show t-shirt, dug out his programme and set his zoom name as ‘Alexander (Hamilton) Agar’! He spent a happy hour learning the choreography for My Shot (and I confess, I listened in from the hall and learned it too!). Such a special experience. I cannot wait to see it on stage again!
In the limited windows we weren’t stuck at home self-isolating, we’ve tried to get outside. Alex got a new road bike as an early Christmas present, so he and Matt have been upping the mileage. Alex managed a 43km circuit out into Kent which felt like quite an achievement for a 10 year old!
Mostly, we’re still making the most of our local parks (again) – but the kids don’t seem to mind!
As we got nearer Christmas, my family helped out by sending activities in the post to help us pass the time. My auntie sent the kids a gingerbread house to decorate and construct
And my mum sent us all mini Christmas trees, with decorations the kids could colour in for theirs. We had such a fun morning decorating them.
We luckily got our main Christmas tree before we were all locked down, and enjoyed the fact that this year the children were both big enough and excited enough to carry it home from the local garden centre by themselves!
And their decoration skills are improving!
We enjoyed a lovely Christmas Day together – but I can’t say it was particularly peaceful since Santa brought us a drum kit and bass guitar! We have all the components of a family band now!
The four of us celebrated New Year’s Eve together with the kids staying up until midnight with us. Here we are at the turn of the year, happy to be saying goodbye to 2020!
While the beginning of 2021 certainly feels bleak, and endless juggle of homeschool and work is relentless, I feel hopeful about the year ahead with my gang.