Living arrows

Living Arrows 2021 – 3/52

Nerys turned to me on our walk yesterday, and told me she was a bit sad.

When I asked why she said it was because of all the things they’ve not been able to do at school this year.  There’ve been no school trips.  No class photos.  No assemblies.  She misses the days back in year 1 when the 3 classes across the year group would all have their doors open and they would all mix together throughout the school day.

She even misses going to the dinner hall to eat her lunch with everyone.

She has friends that she’s been close with since Rising 3s who are now in a different class to her, which means she’s barely seen them this year.  When they were at school they would sometimes see each other at play time, but had to chat from a distance, staying in their bubble’s allocated area of the playground.  And now, obviously, she doesn’t see them at all.

She seems to be coping with everything so well, and so does Rhys, that it’s easy to assume they’re fine.  So I’m relieved she opened up to me about this.  It meant we could talk about how rubbish it all is.  How it’s ok to miss things, to feel sad about all these things everyone is missing out on.

It also meant that we could talk about how wonderfully special they’ll all feel when we’re able to do them again.

We talked about how amazing it will be when the classes can mix again at school.  How special it will feel to have playdates at her friends’ houses.  How exciting it’ll be when we can go to Bluestone on holiday again.

She seemed happy again by the end of the conversation, but I’m acutely aware that this isn’t the end of it.  Thinking about how great things will be in the future doesn’t take away the sadness of not being able to do them now really, does it.  Especially not when you’re six and you miss your friends and your teachers and your family members that you’ve not seen in a long time.

I’m not really sure what the answer is, when I can’t fix everything.  I think for now the answer just needs to be hugs, and extra time reading together and watching Descendants on repeat together.  And probably chocolate.

 

Living Arrows
Twitter Siblings January 2021

The siblings project – January 2021

Sitting down to write this got me thinking about how long I’ve been doing these siblings project posts for.

So I’ve spent the last 15 minutes looking back through my archives to see when I started.  Turns out that I’ve somehow managed to stick with this since January 2017.  I’m quite proud to be honest, that I’ve been taking photos of my children together every month for the last 4 years, capturing the little details of their relationship as they grow up together.

What’s really tickled me though, is how little has really changed over those 4 years.

There are parts of the second siblings post I wrote, back in February 2017, that I could well have written yesterday.  They’re still good friends, and still enjoy playing together and spending time together – up to a point, when they then need to just back off a bit and have some time by themselves.

They’re spending a lot more time together at the moment than they normally would, with the school being closed and not really being able to go anywhere or do anything.  I think they’re quite enjoying being that bit more involved in what the other is doing for school work each day, offering advice and suggestions that are sometimes welcomed and other times not particularly appreciated!

And when the school work is done for the day they’re happy to stay together; to play Roblox together, to head out with me for a walk in the park, or just to rush outside to scoot together in our carpark.  On days when we all need to get out of the house, to burn off some energy, but don’t want to actually have to go anywhere these scoots are the perfect compromise.

And they give me a chance to take some photos of the children together in nice, natural daylight.

 

 

I think Rhys and Nerys have both naturally started to lean on each other more over the last year, as they’ve been able to see their friends less and less with school closures and social distancing in place.

They’re so lucky to have each other through all this, to have someone to talk to and to play with.  And when they do fall out, which they generally do at one point or another each day, it doesn’t take too long and too much space from each other before they’re back to being friends again.

I’m not sure how much of this time they’ll remember when they’re older, but I hope they remember that they were together through it, that they sat side by side with printed worksheets from school during the first lockdown.  How much fun they had last summer working their way through our bucket list together.  The way they listened in on each other’s live lessons with school during this latest lockdown.  How they did it all together.

Living Arrows

Living Arrows 2021 – 2/52

Here we go.  The first full week of home learning of the new year.

We did three days of it last week and it was ok.  Not amazing but not disastrous.  So I’m taking that as a win and hoping for much of the same this week.

It’s been interesting seeing posts from different parents around the UK and hearing how different things seem to be in terms of the amount of work that’s being provided for children to tackle at home.

Some seem to be really full-on, with a lot of live, online lessons and full days of work to get through.  While others seem much more hands-off, with worksheets and so on being sent out for children to get on with.

Our school has found a nice balance I think.

The children both have a live online lesson with their teacher each day, which lasts about 45 minutes.  It’s long enough for them to properly cover the work, but not too long that the children start to get too fidgety.

And luckily both Rhys and Nerys seem to enjoy them.

Nerys decided to dress as Hermione from Harry Potter for one of her lessons last week which her Harry-Potter-loving teacher appreciated.  Nerys thought it was hilarious when he commented on how he’s still waiting for his letter from Hogwarts to arrive.

 

Rhys generally needs a bit more convincing to get dressed at all for his lessons, and I think he’s loving the fact that some days he can get away with doing his school work in his PJ trousers and whatever top he decides to grab from upstairs.

 

Along with their live lessons and the piece of work associated with those, the children also generally have 2 other pieces of work to do each day.

It is a juggle when they both need my input, and I’m still trying to work out the best way to fit my own work in each day without getting stressed and feeling pulled in 3 different directions.  But I think we’ll be ok.

I think the key thing for me is to just accept that some days not everything will be done, and try and get myself focused so that when I do have a bit of time to work I can just crack on with it.  I do find that hard though, to be honest.  Dipping in and out of tasks leaves me feeling quite overwhelmed, I’m much happier when I have longer to get into something, especially when it requires a fair bit of concentration.

All things considered though, if that’s the worst of my problems at the moment then we’re doing ok.

The children have adapted pretty well to doing school work at home again.  They seem to be enjoying their live lessons, with the chance to see their teachers and some of their friends each day that way.

They’re also both pretty willing learners which is something I’m incredibly grateful for.  We have a few small battles now and then, but generally once I remind them that the quicker they just get on and do the work, the sooner they can finish and do what they want, they just get on with it.

I just hope it lasts.

The Welsh government have announced that schools will be closed until at least the end of the month, and most likely until half term unless cases start to drop dramatically before then.  So we’ve got a fair while of home learning to go, and I have a feeling this initial enthusiasm from the children may well wear off before long!

 

Living Arrows
Living Arrows

Living Arrows 2021 – 1/52

There are so many things that writing this blog has given me over the years, but the thing that I think I’m most grateful for is the push it’s given me to photograph my children and my family regularly.

I would take hundreds of photos of the children even if I didn’t write this blog, I’m sure.

But writing these Living Arrows posts, along with the ‘siblings’ and ‘me and mine’ posts that I write each month, gives a different sense of purpose and focus to the way I photograph them.

On weeks when we don’t do anything out of our normal, everyday routines these posts push me to still grab the camera and take some photos.  And even if I’m a bit uninspired by them at the time I’m always so pleased I took them when I look back at them a year later.

This will be the 6th year that I join in with Living Arrows and I still love it as much as I did back in 2016.  I love having all these photos of the children growing and changing, along with the written records of what we’ve been up to.

I’m kicking off the year with these photos of Rhys and Nerys taken on a chilly walk along the seafront.

 

We’re pretty much back in lockdown here in Wales, which has made the start of the new year feel a bit different from most years.

This time last year we were out of the Christmas haze and getting back into the swing of our normal routines.  Rhys and Nerys were heading back to a new term at school and Steve was back to walking to campus for work every day.

Right now though it feels like we’re in a sort of limbo.

Steve’s still got a few more days of leave and then he’ll be heading back to work – in our kitchen.

And the children would normally be going back to school today but have got 2 inset days and then are doing home learning for the rest of the week.  Next week is still up in the air as far as school goes.  We’re expecting to find out sometime this week whether all the children will be back in school, or if they’ll carry on with the home learning.

The children and I had a chat about it and, once again, they’ve been fantastic about it.  I can’t get over how adaptable they’ve been through this whole situation.

They do get sad about things that they can’t do and people that they can’t see, but generally they’ve just been so understanding about everything.  I wish I could give them some definite answers about things, but for now all we can do is keep taking things pretty much one day at a time.

Are your children heading back into school this week or are you keeping them at home for now?

 

Living Arrows
Twitter Me and mine december 2020

Me and Mine – December 2020

So here we are.  A pretty strange end to the strangest year.

If you’d told me back in January how things would go this year there’s not a chance I would’ve believed you.  Even now, having lived through it, it all still feels so surreal.

But here we are.

We’re ending the year in lockdown here in Wales, so we’re back to staying home as much as possible.  The guidance here is to only go out for essentials, and to stay as close to home as possible when we go out for exercise.

Luckily the weather has been pretty dry and we have a fair few places close to where we live that are really lovely for walks.

We headed down to the beach for the first time in ages the other day, and took our last family photos of the year in Victoria Park.

 

We’ve had a really quiet, lazy Christmas break this year, with a few walks around the local parks and far too much screen time.

After all the upheaval and uncertainty that the children have coped with this year, I think they’ve really needed this time to just shut off from everything for a bit.

They were due to be going back to school on the 6th of January but it’s now looking like that’ll be pushed back until at least the week after.  I’m trying hard not to worry too much about it, and just take things as they come for the next few weeks.

We’re really lucky in that both Steve and I work from home and can be flexible with our hours.  So while it is a juggle having the children at home doing school work, it is doable in a way that I know it’s not for a lot of other families.

I think we’ll hold off another day or two before chatting to the children about it all though.

For now we’ll enjoy a few more days of the Christmas bubble, full of treats and tv and playing with new toys and games.

Twitter 52

Living Arrows 2020 – 52/52

I was looking back through some of the photos that I’ve taken of the children for Living Arrows this year and I just can’t quite believe they’re all from the same year.

The photos from the very start of the year feel like they were taken a lifetime ago.  So much has changed since then, it all feels really quite surreal.

After all the changes this year, it’s been so lovely over the last week to be able to bring back some old, familiar Christmas traditions.  Like getting the children to pose for photos in front of the Christmas tree!

 

Christmas day itself was a really nice mix of old and new.

We started the day the same way we always do, with shouts of ‘he’s been’ and gathering on our bed to open our stockings, one present at a time.

Then where we would normally head up to my in-laws after breakfast, this year they came to us for the first time.

Steve had been organised and cooked the turkey and made the chocolate torte on Christmas eve, so the cooking of the main Christmas dinner was surprisingly stress-free, and the children loved spending the day with their grandparents while still getting to be at home.

We also managed to do a group video call with my parents, my siblings and their partners, and all the cousins which was so much fun, and a lovely way to feel like we’d seen each other while we were scattered around the country.

It was a lovely, fun, relaxed Christmas day that I’m so thankful we were able to have, even just for that one day before heading back into the lockdown that’s been put in place here in Wales.

Things are still so uncertain here, it’s been so nice to just shut the world out for a few days and give the children a relatively normal Christmas, with lots of treats to eat and plenty of new games and books to get stuck into.  We were also able to spoil them a bit with their main presents, thanks to contributions from their grandparents, which lead them to declare this the best Christmas ever.

So I’m holding on to the festivities for a bit longer, to enjoy this break from reality a bit more.

We’ll leave our tree and decorations up until new year’s day and in the meantime keep enjoying cheesy films, twinkly fairy lights and big piles of chocolate.

 

Living Arrows
Living arrows

Living Arrows 2020 – 51/52

I don’t really know where to start.

After everything that’s happened this year I didn’t think much would surprise me, but the announcement at 4 o’clock on Saturday that we would be going into lockdown at midnight completely caught me off guard.

It came at the end of a week of home schooling so my head was already frazzled from juggling the different bits of work set for both children, along with my own work with various deadlines that needed to be met.

I’m still sort of processing it all to be honest.

We’re really lucky in that we were only planning on seeing Steve’s parents for Christmas anyway, so we don’t have any difficult decisions to make there.  We’ve just had to accept that we can only see them on Christmas day now, rather than boxing day as well which is what we had planned.

In a lot of ways we’ve got off lightly.  I’m so angry for all the people who had got their hopes up that they could spend the day with their families and are now, suddenly, facing Christmas alone.

I understand why the restrictions have been put in place, I’m just angry that it was all done so last minute, after all the reassurances from Boris that things would be able to go ahead.

I’m trying not to dwell on that though.

Instead I’m focusing on all the things I have to be so, incredibly grateful for.

Nerys was a great help in reminding me of how amazing all the little things are last week.

She had been stuck at home isolating for 10 days, and then we had a week of home school and rain that ultimately led to her not leaving the house for 2 weeks.  So on Saturday morning the two of us went out.

We walked through Singleton park and spotted all the gorgeous wood carvings in the botanical gardens.  I let Nerys lead the way and we wandered down little pathways and over the trip trap bridge.  We watched a dog swim in the stream and threw sticks in the water to see how quickly they would be swept away.

 

Then we went to Brynmill park and strolled round the lake.  We bought duck food and tried to feed the ducks, but mainly ended up feeding seagulls.  We spotted robins and listened to them cheerfully singing to one another.

We walked and we talked and we took our time, and it was glorious.

Nerys told me over and over how much fun she was having, how great it was to just be outside together.  After 2 weeks of being stuck inside, just that simple pleasure of being out in the fresh air was wonderful.

I did have to laugh though, because the other side effect of her spending 2 weeks at home is that her feet have apparently grown, so none of her shoes fit her properly when we went to go out!

Luckily she now fits in Rhys’ shoes, so she’ll be borrowing those for a few days until the new shoes I’ve ordered her are delivered.

It really is those little things that I’m grateful for at the moment!

 

Living Arrows