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Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo

 

Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  My name is Victoria Sully.  I'm a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker who’s always trying to make and save more money.  I’m passionate about making money online, healthy living and blogging.  I’m a mama on a mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Please join me on my journey.


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Category: Monthly Family Roundups

  1. January 2019 mont­­hly family roundup

    Posted on

    Welcome to my UK family lifestyle roundup.  It's a monthly roundup where you get an insight into the person behind this blog and what my little family and I have been up to for a whole month.  It's also a place for me to document our lives each month and save them in this category so we can look back through them and remember what we've done!

    If you follow me on Instagram then you’re probably up to date!  But here is a more in-depth blog post of things we’ve been up to and family happenings.

    We're a family of four - Victoria 33, Ben 35, Bella 6 and Reuben 3 in Gloucestershire, south west England, UK.

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018
    September 2018
    October 2018
    November 2018
    December 2018

    January 2019 mont­­hly family roundup

    January has been half calm and half busy.  It’s my mum’s birthday in January so there’s always something to celebrate at the start of the year.  We’ve been cracking on with business plans and discussions as well as focusing on our savings.  My goal for 2019 is to save an emergency fund of £10,000.  I was half way there by the end of 2018.  I’d hoped to complete in 2018, but we lost a lot of money on selling Ben’s old car which typically got an engine problem as we came to sell (around £3000 lost) and then we had two big car repair bills for the new car within five months of owning it (£2400 for a new turbo and to replace the head gasket/top of the engine).  Very frustrating!  So I’m one year behind on my savings already thanks to annoying cars and also my dental work that was a LOT more than we expected.   But I am thankful we had been saving already and so had the funds available to pay for such extensive car repairs, towards a new car and for my pricey dental work.

    I’ve always been a spender, especially when younger getting into horrific debt at an early age, but now things have changed and I am focusing on spending less and saving more with specific goals in mind.  We’re even planning a no-spend month in February so we can really top up our savings!  I couldn’t do it in January as I had already booked a few appointments, meals out and have my mum’s birthday.  So it’s postponed to February and I’m actually looking forward to it.

    Before I crack on with the rest of January, here are my best Instagram posts (based on likes I believe) of 2018.  Goodbye 2018!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 6

    Family businesses – a reflection and going forward

    Happy New Year!  2019 is well and truly here and we are all settling in nicely.  2018 was a great year for us overall.  My self-employed business had a successful year and improved greatly on 2017.  I’m hoping for an even better year in 2019 as I have four blogs now, so I hope I can increase my income and have plenty of back up too!  More blogs with more niches opens me up to more opportunities – well, that’s my plan!  I also love blogging so it makes sense to do more of what I love to make an income for myself.

    Related - How I made £35000 from home, blogging and online in 2018

    Ben started his handmade furniture business in 2018 and he hopes to grow it in 2019. Time is just the struggle for both of us, especially with two young children and Ben already having a full-time job.  We may just convert our playroom into an ensuite bedroom for a lodger after all.  It’s something we’ve ummed and arred about for a while and you may remember me mentioning it in previous blog posts.  This will give us an income to cover the mortgage payments and then perhaps Ben can have more freedom to pursue his passion and reconsider his existing career. 

    I know that’s what he wants to do ideally, but we obviously need his stable income at the moment as mine is never guaranteed.  It would definitely be risky for us to both be full-time self-employed at the moment.  Hopefully we can come up with some great ways to make this happen though in 2019 or even 2020!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 2

    January has been a healthier month than December, where I let my usual healthy eating habits slide for a couple of weeks and then felt awful!

    The kids and school

    The kids had a great year.  Bella has completed her first term in year two, that’s the last year of infant school.  I can’t believe she will move up to juniors at the end of 2019!  This means it’s also time for Reuben to start school this year too as he turns four in March!  We have applied for his place and await the confirmation.  It’s the same school as Bella so there should be no issues with him getting a place there.  I’ve already heard that 14/30 of the new school places will be filled with siblings and 10 of those are boys!  Wow!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 8

    Christmas school holidays

    So the first week of January was the school holidays.  Ben was back to work, but he had New Year’s Day off.  We went to Stratford Park in Stroud with the kids for the afternoon.  It’s somewhere I went as a child so it’s great to take my own children now and see them have so much fun there.  We spent a day with my mum and sister playing at our home.  We spent a morning at Jungle Chums soft play in Thornbury with my friend who has four boys, so the kids loved that.  The kids went to holiday club the other two days of that week so I could crack on with some work.  We also saw Ben’s Dad at the end of the week for Christmas and went for a carvery at The Fountain Inn in the Forest of Dean – they did a vegan option for us.

    Back to school, pre-school and nursery

    The second week of January was back to school, work, nursery and so on as normal.  I felt totally in hibernation mode and the weather really seemed to get freezing that week, so I struggled to get back in the swing of things in the day times, which only led to catching up at night staying up late and being tired again the next day… a catch-22 situation I needed to get myself out of sharpish!  The kids settled back into school and nursery well and after a week the holidays seemed an age away already as they always do.

    Vegan meal at The Red Lion, Wainlode Hill

    It’s my mum’s birthday in January so we met up for a meal at The Red Lion pub and restaurant in Norton, Gloucestershire on Wainlode Hill.  It’s a place me and Ben used to go to for a drink after work when we first got together as it was on the way home from work!  It’s set by the river so perfect for sitting outside on a sunny day and then wandering off for a walk along the river and through the meadows.

    Luckily they had some great vegan options.  Ben ordered roasted avocado which was stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic oil and pine nuts on a bed of salad leaves and baby potatoes.  Me and the kids had a pumpkin and potato hot pot with vegetables.  The kids weren’t too impressed and barely tried it.  I’m sure if they did then they’d have been fine.  Mine was OK, but I’ll be ordering the avocado if we ever return!  Mine was a tasty but like a bowl of mush.  I’d have preferred the veg to still be chunky and have a bit of firmness!  It’s a lovely place though and has been refurbished since we used to go years ago and now has a rustic cosy feel.

    A day out in Stroud town and a vegan lunch

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 7

    At the start of January I had a day out in Stroud with two of my friends.  We live so close to Stroud and often go to a park there called Stratford Park with the kids, but I’ve never really explored the town centre.  It’s crazy really as they have a very indie vibe and lots of lovely vegan places to eat!  In 2019 I will explore these cafes and eateries more foe sure.  I’m already going back in February for a photo shoot as I need head shots for my business, so I hope to go for lunch again!

    In January I had a peek around the market and saw a few vegan options such as homemade vegan pasties.  We snuck our heads into a few vegan friendly cafes to check out the offerings, but decided to eat at Falafel Mama as soon as I spied someone’s amazing looking pitta they were eating outside!  It looked delicious so I had to try one.  They are vegan friendly and homemade falafels served in pittas or as salads with a huge selection of salads and condiments.  Mine was so good!  We also had a bliss ball each.  I loved the creative energy of the place, the friendly staff and the music.  I’ll definitely go back! 

    I’m starting to think I want to move to Stroud.  I feel it’s more my kind of place and lifestyle.  I’d love to sit and work in the cafes each day with my laptop!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 4

    Bella in a 5000 year old house near Stroud

    Planning holidays and events

    Perhaps it’s the January and winter blues, especially as I said this is the year of saving and not holidaying, but towards the end of January I booked two holidays for 2019.  We will return to Bluestone Resort in Wales for a short stay in the Christmas holidays.  We went last year and loved it! 

    I’ve also booked to go to Pentewan Sands in Cornwall in the autumn.  A seven night break was only £400!  I’d much prefer to hop on a plane and go and get some guaranteed sunshine, like we did in 2018 to Fuerteventura, but it was so expensive.  We need some cheaper holidays this year so I can reach my savings goals.  £400 is an absolute bargain for a week in Cornwall, on a beach, with indoor pools, parks and a soft play.  Plus Bella is super excited to stay in a ‘caravan’.  I always find it funny people call them caravans – it’s actually more a mobile home. 

    When I was little we stayed in a real caravan – a dinky little thing where the table turned into the bed and you couldn’t swing a cat in it!  We’ve also been looking at a possible summer trip as we’d love to drive the Bongo to Europe, but I think we’ll wait and see how our savings goals go first.

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 3

    The usual

    Most of this month was just the usual. We go to the gym at least three times a week and the kids go to kids club.  Bella has swimming ever Saturday and she’s doing great – I think she’s even starting to enjoy it and so it’s becoming less of a chore to get her there!  It still sometimes takes her a while to get in the pool, but once she’s in she is off.  There’s some sort of fear there still that she’ll hopefully overcome this year.

     

    Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we get up to in January!

    January 2019 mont__hly family roundup

  2. December 2018 mont­­hly family roundup

    Posted on

    Welcome to my UK family lifestyle roundup.  It's a monthly roundup where you get an insight into the person behind this blog and what my little family and I have been up to for a whole month.  It's also a place for me to document our lives each month and save them in this category so we can look back through them and remember what we've done!

    If you follow me on Instagram then you’re probably up to date!  But here is a more in-depth blog post of things we’ve been up to and family happenings.

    We're a family of four - Victoria 33, Ben 35, Bella 6 and Reuben 3 in Gloucestershire, south west England, UK.

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018
    September 2018
    October 2018
    November 2018

    December 2018 mont­­hly family roundup

    December 2018 monthly family roundup santa

    I probably don’t need to say it, but December was busy!  We did lots of Christmas events, went on a festive holiday and of course had Christmas Day itself.

    I do love Christmas and all the preparation and busyness, but at the same time I also kind of want to go away for the entire thing!  It’s my quietest time of the year, work-wise, and so the best time for me to go on holiday and switch off.  We did have a small three night break this year and I’m hoping to do the same next year and perhaps even go on a winter sun holiday a following year, if I can convince Ben and he can get it off work!

    Bella and Reuben always have a very busy December as there are so many festive activities for them at school, pre-school and nursery.  Reuben goes to two settings, a pre-school and a nursery, so he had two lots.  They both also go to the kids club at David Lloyd around three times per week so they also had a lot of festive crafts. 

    Bella had a Christmas jumper day at school, an entire Christmas craft day on a Saturday and a Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.  They also have a Christmas party day at school where the children have an entire day of games, a Christmas lunch and they can wear their own clothes.  Bella takes a packed lunch as we’re vegan, so I just put a few extra treats in.

    Reuben had an entire Christmas jumper week at nursery and he was also in his very first Christmas play!  The entire pre-school class at his nursery took part at the local church hall as there were too many to squeeze in the nursery!  It was very cute and quite amusing too with the three and four year olds taking part, often shouting ‘I need a wee’ out loud and more!  I’m not sure Reuben really knew what was going on and he just sat on a bench most of the time not joining in with the songs.  He only goes to that setting twice a week so I think he missed a lot of the practice sessions.

    Both children also went to the special Christmas event at our David Lloyd club which was a disco and a meet the Santa 30 minute experience.  The kids club staff are always really amazing with the kids and go all out with these events.

    Oh and Bella also met Santa at her school!  There was a Christmas fair one day after school and they had a Santa.  She met Santa three times this year.  Totally unplanned as at the start of the month I hadn’t arranged anything, but then we saw all these events.  I wonder if she realises they are all different Santas?!

    For the kids it was a super exciting month and they were both pretty exhausted by the end of term.  As you can begin to tell it was a very festive month with numerous Christmas events!  There was more too… Here’s what else has been going on:

    Gloucester vegan Christmas market

    December 2018 monthly family roundup vegan food haul

    We went to the Gloucester vegan Christmas market for the first time at Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester.  It was the first time I’d been to this building in Gloucester and it’s really beautiful.  It’s a medieval 13th century priory.  I had no idea it even existed.  We live on the very outskirts of Gloucester and are both from Cheltenham, so don’t know all of Gloucester too well.

    The vegan market was great, but a bit tricky taking the children.  I think Bella is at an OK age to enjoy it now and look at all the stalls, but Reuben is only three and he just wanted to grab everything and got bored!  Luckily they had a craft room where they could make a Christmas tree decoration each so they loved this.

    I didn’t get to totally explore every stall as the kids needed to get out and run around!  What I did see was great and I managed to spend all our spending money within about ten minutes on lots of yummy food!  I’ve realised I only really love the vegan fairs for the food stalls!

    Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle

    December 2018 monthly family roundup spectacle of light

    December 2018 monthly family roundup blog

    December 2018 monthly family roundup sudeley castle spectacle of light

    This was our first trip to the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle and it was amazing!  I’d heard of it last year when friends and family attended, so I already knew about it this year and wanted to go.  My sister bought our tickets as our Christmas present. 

    The entire gardens and surrounds of the castle were lit up with different light displays following an Alice in Wonderland theme.  It looked incredible and we all enjoyed it, from my kids to us, to my mum and sister.  It was suitable for all ages.  I’d definitely go again and I’d highly recommend it.

    Vegan Christmas lunch at The Golden Heart, Birdlip on Christmas Day

    December 2018 monthly family roundup

    On Christmas Day we went out for Christmas lunch for the first time ever!  Usually we spend it at home, in the eight years I’ve been with Ben, and before this I always went to my Mum’s.  Ben once said he only wanted Christmas Day at home, but for 2018 he changed his mind! 

    The Golden Heart is a cosy country pub as short drive from our home and they serve a lot of vegan and vegetarian food.  They had an entire vegan Christmas Day menu so as soon as we saw it we knew we wanted to go, even Ben!

    It felt like a real treat to go out on Christmas Day.  It also meant we didn’t have to spend time in the kitchen cooking or do any cleaning up in the afternoon!  Bliss!

    We really enjoyed the meal and I think in the future we’ll probably witch up whether we eat at home or out on Christmas Day.  The only downside is how expensive it is, so I’m already thinking maybe we have Christmas Day at home next year and have a special meal out on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve.

    The food was great and they really catered for us as vegans. They even had mince pies for us and dairy-free ice-cream for the kids.  I was very naughty over Christmas and indulged in these sugary treats that I wouldn’t normally.

    Family Christmas get-togethers

    December 2018 monthly family roundup christmas tree

    December 2018 monthly family roundup christmas

    We had two family Christmas get-togethers in Christmas week and another that had to wait until the New Year as we were away after Boxing Day, then back to work.  My Mum and sister hosted a family get-together with one of my uncle’s, cousins and Grandad.  Ben’s brother hosted a get-together with their sister and their kids.  I’d like to host one of these at our home next year.  Usually with Ben’s sister and brother we take it in turns to host.

    Festive 3 night break at Bluestone, Wales

    December 2018 mont­­hly family roundup

    December 2018 monthly family roundups

    This was the Christmas of firsts!  As well as it being the first time we ate out on Christmas Day, it was also the first year that we went away!  Not for Christmas Day itself, but for a three night festive break in-between the day and New Year’s Eve, so the 27th to 30th.  I’d booked it at the start of the year in January so we’d waited all year for our magical break away!

    It didn’t disappoint and the kids had an amazing time.  It was really all about the kids having a magical time and we had four festive themed activities booked which pretty much took up the two and a half days we were there in-between meal times.  We had Kingdom of the Elves tickets included in our stay which was the activity Bella says was the best!

    We also went to the panto, Santa’s workshop and Bella did a festive lantern craft workshop.

    The whole place was littered in fairy lights and there was even a lit up nature trail with lots to see.  It was a bit drizzly during our stay so the kids didn’t use the outdoor playground, but inside was a massive wooden adventure playground and bouncy castle, so they were very happy indoors!

    Ben took the kids to the swimming pool which they enjoyed for a couple of hours.  I bet when the kids are older we’ll struggle to get them out of the pool!

    The accommodation was very spacious and clean.  We stayed in a cottage in The Village, rather than in a wooden lodge.  We also enjoyed the best vegan pizza at The Oak Tree restaurant.

    My only complaint is that we didn’t book long enough!  It was a whirlwind enchanting break for the children, but there was so much we didn’t get to see.  We managed a short woodland walk, but there were some woods on the other side we didn’t even see.  There’s also a beach nearby that looks stunning in the photos on their website.  I’d love to return again for another magical Christmas break whilst the kids are still young and believe in Santa, but also for a summer break to explore the outdoor area more.

    Reverse advent calendar

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas - reverse advent calendar - uk

    December 2018 monthly family round-up

    We dropped off our reverse advent calendar donation to the food bank.  Well, the food bank wasn’t open at the weekends so we dropped it at a local Tesco.  It was a great way to raise awareness and donate food to those in need.  I’ll definitely do it again next year as the food banks need a lot more donations for December, but we’ll also donate more food throughout the year too.  Read more here: help others this Christmas with a Reverse Advent Calendar

     

    That was pretty much it for December.  Of course there was also New Year’s Eve, but it was just a normal evening for us.  I think Ben worked in his workshop and I worked on my blog, then I was in bed early!

    Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we get up to in January!

    December 2018 monthly family roundup

  3. November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup

    Posted on

    Welcome to my November UK family lifestyle roundup.  It's my monthly roundup where you get an insight into the person behind this blog and what my little family and I have been up to for a whole month.  It's also a place for me to document our lives each month and save them in this category so we can look back through them and remember what we've done!

    If you follow me on Instagram then you’re probably up to date!  But here is a more in-depth blog post of things we’ve been up to and family happenings.

    We're a family of four - Victoria 33, Ben 35, Bella 6 and Reuben 3 in Gloucestershire, south west England, UK.

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018
    September 2018
    October 2018

    November 2018 mont­­hly family roundup

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup

    Although every month feels busy, I didn’t feel like we did many day trips or outings in November.  Ben has been busy working in his workshop on a couple of furniture commissions, so we didn’t go out anywhere extraordinary at the weekends.  This is going to be the difficulty of Ben trying to set up his own business – he already works full time, so it only leaves the evenings and weekends to do it. 

    With cold dark nights upon us and little time after work/dinner/kids, it really only leaves the weekend days for him to make things in the workshop.  It’s fine and I support him, but it means we are getting a lot less family time together at the weekends.  I’m sure the summer will be better when it’s lighter and warmer for longer and he can work more evenings on his business venture and make use of working outdoors in the sunshine until late!

    We still did a lot of little things this month and even managed to alter our kitchen to improve it. 

    Plus we've been feeling a bit more festive as the kids get excited for Christmas and we've seen displays, trees and lights in shops.

    Here’s what’s been happening:

    We see two sets of fireworks

    We went to see two sets of fireworks this month.  Well, we all went to the local Churchdown fireworks which is the next part of Gloucester to where we live in Brockworth.  The display was amazing.  I also took Bella to Calton Primary School’s fireworks at the end of the month in Gloucester, so Bella and I saw two displays!  Last year we went to Birdlip which was brilliant, but I want to keep trying different venues each year.  In 2019 I want to go to Alton Towers to see their fireworks extravaganza!

    New kitchen worktop and design

    kitchen worktop and bar stool breakfast area to cover side door we never use

    Our fridge-freezer had been on the brink for ages and had started getting too warm, causing food to go off quicker than usual.  It was around 10 years old and only a cheap appliance.  It was definitely time for a replacement!  I had a plan though – rather than get another tall fridge-freezer, I wanted to get individual under counter versions and extend our kitchen worktop instead.  Our kitchen is really small and the room I was most disappointed with when we bought this house.  I was happy when we looked round, until I saw the kitchen and my stomach sank.  I had hoped for a kitchen diner, a hub of the home where we could cook and be together as a family, but instead we have a poxy kitchen that even me and Ben can’t cook in together without constantly getting in each other’s way.

    We have a side door on the kitchen which we never use.  So I thought we could increase our kitchen worktop space by around 50% if we get under counter appliances and cover up the door!  We did get a quote to brick it up properly and insert a window to the top, but we were looking at around £1300-£1500.  Instead, Ben thought he could cover it up with something, leaving the window at the top and then it could be reverted back to a door in the future if needed.  We went with this option and it actually looks great!  Ben boarded up the bottom half of the door, painted it, added new worktop, a windowsill and tiled so it blends in with the rest of the kitchen.  We just need to add some skirting board under the counter to complete.

    It looks great and has given us extra worktop space and also somewhere to sit in the kitchen.  We have added two bar stools so the kids can eat their breakfast in the kitchen now or do their homework and I can keep an eye on them.  I hope it will make a big difference.

    I go shorter again with my latest hair cut

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (6)

    Yet again I went to the hairdresser for a trim and decided to have more cut off!  I definitely went too short for my liking this time and so I’ll grow it back down to the last length which I feel suits me more.  For now though it is chin length!

    Kundalini clubbing

    I went and experienced Kundalini clubbing in Stroud for the first time with a friend!  It was definitely an experience, but also very fun!  I hated the beginning as we sat in a large circle (30-40 of us) and had to go around and introduce ourselves and why we were there.  I felt like I was at an AA meeting or something!  I hate speaking in front of large groups of people so my heart was racing and palms getting sweaty the closer it got to my turn.  That over, we had some raw cacao drink for a burst of energy for the night.  We had to do some sort of salute to the North, South, East and West – again something that felt a bit bizarre, but I went with it.

    After these two parts which were either a bit strange or increased my anxiety, we did some kundalini yoga and I felt much more relaxed.  It’s more breathing technique than posture and I found it very relaxing and empowering. 

    Next was dancing!  All sorts of club music and tribal music to dance around to for a couple of hours and to let myself go!  This was so much fun as I haven’t danced around since going ‘club clubbing’ over 7 years ago!  Then a gong bath to finish which is super relaxing – lying on yoga mats with a blanket and listening to the soothing sound of live gongs.

    Ben creates a custom bespoke fitted wardrobe (for a customer!)

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (2)

    As mentioned above, Ben has been working on creating a bespoke fitted wardrobe using a mix of new and reclaimed materials.  He’s so far only made standalone furniture items, so this was his first installation in someone’s house.  Luckily it was at my best friend’s girlfriend’s house, so it meant they were very relaxed about the whole thing and understood he had limited time around his full time job and family life!

    It took a few weeks of lots of evenings in his workshop and whole weekend days, but it is finally complete and looks amazing!  The customer is very happy with the new wardrobe so well done Ben!  He’s had a few commissions so far and already has another one to start now he's finished the wardrobe, so this is a great start to his side business.

    Reverse advent calendar

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas - reverse advent calendar - uk

    I took part in the ‘reverse advent calendar’ which is organised by the UK Money Bloggers who I am a part of.  I saw it a little too late last year, but this year I knew I wanted to get involved once I saw everyone’s blog posts on the subject.  It involved adding an item of food or toiletries to a box once per day for 24 days – the length of an advent calendar.  Instead of receiving during advent, it’s a way to give.  It’s all about raising awareness of food banks and especially at Christmas when they see a 45% increase in their services in the two weeks before. 

    Read more here: Help others this Christmas with a Reverse Advent Calendar

    I try the vegan burger at The Swan, Cheltenham

    Not only did I go Kundalini Clubbing with a friend this month, but the following Saturday I went out into Cheltenham for a meal with two friends.  I rarely go out and never two weekends in a row, so this has been a real treat.  I definitely need to get out more and have a bit of a social life again instead of just working and being mum which is often how I feel!  I wanted to try the vegan menu at The Swan in Cheltenham as I’d seen it shared in a local vegan group and luckily my friends were happy to go with my suggestion.  We all had a vegan burger and all thoroughly enjoyed it!  It’s a lovely cosy pub in the centre of Cheltenham with friendly staff and great vegan food.  I recommend it and will go back again as soon as possible!

    Building quotes

    We got a fair few quotes for our home in November.  I mentioned the kitchen one above to brick up the door, but we also got more.  I quite desperately want our artex removed and plastered, but we had a quote of £1600 for that!  It’s too much at the moment.  I should probably get a few more quotes just to see if that’s right.  It’s two smallish ceilings, a large ceiling and three walls.  I’ve no idea how anyone ever thought artex was a good idea or that it looked attractive!

    We also had a quote for the front of the house to change the window on our garage conversion into a smaller window and door.  I’d like to convert the room into an ensuite room to rent out and to give its own entrance so people don’t have to access it through our home.  When we don’t have people staying then it will be a guest room for us and will also provide us with a downstairs toilet.  It’s all an idea stage at the moment, but it was good to get a quote of just £1300 to add a door to the front if we need to.  We’d need quotes of adding an ensuite (probably Saniflo unfortunately) and also relocating all our meters which are in this room.  That’ll probably be a porch on the front which is something else I’d like to add to our home.

    We have lots of ideas at the moment, but we’re not moving forward with anything just yet.  I have a two year plan at the moment to save an emergency fund to cover our mortgage and bills for one year in year one, and then to pay our personal debt off in year two.  I think at the moment these two things are the most sensible financial things to do before improving our home anymore.  If anything happens with either of our jobs then we can think about converting the room into a lodging opportunity if we need the money!  But for now I think it’s safer to wait and get all our savings and finances on track.

    Re-mortgage is finally complete

    Wow, after starting the whole process of re-mortgage towards the end of August, we finally had our new mortgage in place in the middle of November!  It seemed to go on forever!  Read why I won’t use a mortgage adviser again to see why I’ll try and go it alone next time.

    My teeth are finished

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (3)

    My teeth are finished!  Kind of!  The brace is off and my permanent false teeth are on – two bridges.  I might just need some bonding for a gap that is next to one of my canines and the tooth behind.  But otherwise, they look great!

    Read my thoughts and final ‘braces at 30’ blog entry here: Braces 30– Was it worth it?

    Reuben’s new bedroom shelves

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (4)

    In an attempt to minimise my office space even more, I moved a large square unit up to Reuben’s bedroom for his toys and books and it fits perfectly!  I now have more space in my office area and Reuben has plenty of space for toys and books in his bedroom.  I think it really brings his room together and feels more complete.  Before there was a much smaller unit there and it felt a bit bare.

    Reuben has a hospital visit

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (8)

    Reuben had his first heart check-up appointment in one year.  We used to go every three months when he was a baby, then 6 months and now once per year as he is growing and everything is stabilising.  He has pulmonary stenosis and had two heart interventions called balloon dilation when he was a baby.  This involved feeding a tiny balloon up an artery from his leg to his heart and blowing the balloon up to force the heart valve to widen.  Scary stuff!  At a couple of our last appointments there was talk of open heart surgery, but luckily the pressure in his heart is going down as he grows, so it’s a case of monitoring it until he’s an adult and then he may need a donor, but we’ll see what happens when we reach that point or if anything changes in the meantime. 

    We rarely think about Reuben’s heart now unless he has an appointment.  It doesn’t seem to bother him or affect him in any way so he just seems like a normal child.  Read more about his story here.

    Walking treadmill desk

    Setting up a successful business space from your home

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (9)

    Isn’t this amazing?!  I had been thinking of getting a treadmill desk for ages, but they are so expensive – around £1000.  But once I’d cleared the shelves out of my office space, I had lots of room so thought about it again.  I looked online and found just the treadmill part which could go under my desk and then bought a rising stand for my laptop.  I still need to get a better laptop set up as I look down to type, same as if I was sat at the desk, so I need to get a separate keyboard and split level stand so I look straight ahead instead.

    Here’s a more in depth review of the treadmill desk:

    Make your own walking treadmill desk and be healthier at work

    £2k car repair bill

    November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup (1)

    Eugh!  So last month I mentioned our Bongo was in the garage (again) and potentially needed £1000 of repairs… well, the final bill was over £1900!!!!!  Oh my goodness.  My actual cars usually cost that much or less, so a bill of even just £300 for a repair is the most I’ve ever had previously and I thought that was expensive!

    The head gasket needed replacing which meant they had to replace the top half of the engine or something or other.

    We were originally quoted £1200… then told £500 extra for the part… then turned up to a £2200 bill which we had no idea about and were not happy with.  They knocked £300 off, but it was still far too much. 

    Our savings have really taken a knock this year due to this Bongo so now I’m only halfway to my savings target for this year. Grrr!

    I just hope nothing else goes wrong with the Bongo or I’m going to want to sell it and just settle for a cheaper car for Ben.  Only problem is he now says he needs it for his furniture business to be able to pick up large pieces of wood and deliver his furniture.  If it takes off then he can get a separate work van and cover the costs from his business in the future as it’s too much to keep paying out of our personal accounts.  It’s definitely too much of an extravagance.  I think our previous cars cost a lot anyway, before we had the Bongo, yet they never cost us anywhere near this much.

    Someone told me the head gasket always eventually goes and that we should be fine now.  I hope they are right!

    Bella’s swimming lessons

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    Woohoo! Such a proud moment! Anyone who has seen my blog posts about this or who knows us will know what a journey this has been ☺️??‍♀️ Bella had one whole year of group swimming lessons and just didn’t progress at all. She hated even a drop of water splashing her in the face in the pool, would cry, scream and get upset ? I felt in a class of six they couldn’t give her the attention she really needed so in Jan this year, after a year of trying the classes, we decided to move her elsewhere for private lessons. I’d mentioned this idea once to her lesson teacher who said the group would be fine and she didn’t need private lessons.... hmmm ? Well, private lessons have been amazing - she got the best teacher who knew exactly what she needed and worked for months on improving her confidence in the water before teaching her to swim. It’s been slow progress, but 11 months later (yesterday) she jumped in all by herself and swam to the other side on her back! So amazing to see! ??? Go Bella! So amazing considering even a month ago she wouldn’t jump in, and a few months ago she was still screaming if water went on her head! . . . . #momliferocks #ohheymama #momblog #momswhoblog #wondermom #momsoninstagram #mumlife #mumblog #mumblogger #Mummyblogger #Mummyblog #Pbloggers #Pbloggersuk #Mbloggersuk #Mbloggers #Ukmbloggers #Ukpbloggers #Ukparentbloggers #Parentbloggers #Parentbloggersuk #Mumlifeuk #Parenting #Ukparenting #Letthembelittle #documentyourdays #Capturingchildhood #Childhood #Childofig #swimminglessons #swimmingcertificate

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    On to some good news – Bella can swim!!  Yay!  It’s taken almost two years of lessons – a year in a class, then a year of private lessons.  She can swim a whole width on her back!  She is fine doing this, but still panics a little on her front, so needs to work on this over the next few weeks.  I’ve promised her a trip to town for vegan chocolate cake once she swims a width on her front, so she’s very keen to do it!

    She technically got her swimming certificate at the start of December, but she had already swam the length on her back in November.  Go Bella!

     

    Aside from the gym, kids clubs, meeting friends and family, etc, that's about all my news for this month.  We didn’t have any days out or breaks this month.  Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we get up to in December – a busier month I’m sure!

    November 2018 monthly family lifestyle roundup

  4. October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

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    Welcome to my October personal family roundup.  It's my monthly roundup where you get an insight into the person behind this blog and what me and my little family have been up to for a whole month.  It's also a place for me to document our lives each month and save them in this category so we can look back through them and remember what we've done!

    Read on to see what we've been up to in October 2018.

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018
    September 2018

    Once a month I look back through our photos and my planner to record the highlights of the previous month.  It’s a great way to create an online scrapbook that I, hubby and the children can look back on for years to come.  I bet they’ll love reading through this category when they’re grown up!

    October 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    Bella's Inset Day

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (10)

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (11)

    Bella had an inset day so we had a lovely mummy-daughter day together.  We went swimming in the morning, then sat in the cafe at David Lloyd for a drink and snack whilst mummy caught up on work emails and Bella coloured in.  Then we headed into town for Bella to choose some gloves and a scarf.  We popped to Bella Italia for lunch where they have lots of vegan options.  Bella had a vegan cheese pizza and I had some amazing spiralized veg with lentils and veg.  It was delicious!  I took Bella to Waterstones for the first time and she was amazed!  She could have stayed there all day.  As she recently had an amazing Parent's Evening, I let her choose two books as a reward.

    Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (2)

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (6)

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (7)

    Ben and I spent 24 hours in Rhossili Bay, The Gower, Wales on a last minute camping trip.  My mum had the kids overnight and we drove there in the camper finding a campsite for only £16 for the night.  I hope we can do more of these last minute trips next year.  The whole 24 hours away for fuel, camping, snacks and a meal out was £100.  Such a bargain!  We could even cut it down as we could take our own homemade food really.  We'd easily spend £100-300 per night just on a hotel room for the night, so an entire night away with food and fuel for only £100 is great to us.

    Read what we got up to here: A last minute campervan camping trip to Rhossili Bay in the Gower, Wales

    Bella's fun homework

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (18)

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (3)

    These are pics of Bella doing her homework!  From now, year 2, until year 6 she has a homework folder called PAWS (Purposeful Activities Without School).  There are 8 sections with 3 tasks each and she gets to choose one task from each section.  They have around 1.5 terms to complete it all.  It's a great idea as she gets to choose which tasks/projects she wants to complete.  They're not all on paper either as these two weren't.  She was to tidy an area of the house so picked her bedroom.  I took photo evidence of the progress and we stuck it into the folder.  In the first photo she is making vegan flapjacks and documented her method and recipe with photos.  For now she enjoys doing these and I hope this continues through school!  She's also made a fire safety poster, penned a poem and discussed the secret of great friendship among other tasks.  It's so much more interesting than a piece of maths additions, though she may start to get those to bring home too, who knows.

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (4)

    Now, this wasn't Bella's homework, but I found it in her bedrrom!  Cute!

    Half term - Brean

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    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (14)

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (15)

     

    The half term was pretty normal in October as the kids went to holiday club 8.30am-3.30pm for four days.  We all took the Wednesday off though and went to Brean.  I wanted to check out the beach and have a nice sea-breeze walk.  We also climbed to the top of the cliff that separates Brean Sands and Weston-Super-Mare.  I wasn't sure the kids would make it up so many steps, but they managed and loved running around the top of the cliff.  The views were amazing and it was so refreshing to be up there.  I love the beach and Weston/Brean are the closest to us with a one hour drive.  One day I will live by the beach.  I feel so free and fresh by the beach.

    Reuben’s swimming lessons

    We decided to cancel Reuben's swimming lessons for now and restart them when he is four.  He didn't settle at all after four lessons and was really distressed.  He's such a monkey as I've since taken him swimming and he was trying to swim and jumping in no problem!  That's why I thought he was ready, but he was totally the opposite in the lessons.

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (9)

    Bella’s swimming lessons

    She is so close!  Bella has swam around a meter to the edge but with kind of cycling arms and legs!  She needs to do her straight kicking legs and realise the water will hold her up and she'll be off!  Hoping she'll crack it in November!

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (8)

    Vix dental work

    Braces bridges false teeth cosmetic dentistry before after

    Woohoo!  After over 2 years with a brace, 3 teeth removed, whitening and two false bridges, I FINALLY have my perfect smile and permanent bridge fitted!!  I've had a billion appointments and now I think I just have one or two more in November for final adjustments.

    New mortgage

    We expected our new mortgage to go through in October, but we are still waiting!  I started the application in August, so it's taking forever!  Hopefully it will all be completed in November.

    The Truth About Cancer

    I spent 14 hours of my October watching a docu-series called The Truth About Cancer which I highly recommend watching.  It's available to purchase here: https://go2.thetruthaboutcancer.com/agq/silver/ but I watched it for free online.  Sometimes they show each episode for 24 hours only online which is how I watched it.  I had to commit to watching it for around 10 days as each episode was only available for 24 hours each.  It's full of so much amazing life-saving information and I learnt so much.  I'm hoping to buy the DVDs in the future so I can watch them all again as there is just so much information.

    All Things Wild

    We returned to All Things Wild with friends who had never been.  I really do love it there and it was our second visit this year.  There is so much for the children to see and do including dinosaurs which are a winner!

    Read my previous review here to see how great it is for kids: All Things Wild Nature Centre Review

    Vegan Pop Up Chippy

    Veganism is definitely on the rise and I am so pleased with my decision to go plant-based almost one year ago now!  before this I was veggie for 5 years and had already started drinking plant based milk for the last two years of being veggie.  I had been thinking of going 100% plant based for a while and once I had increased my knowledge I knew it was the right decision for me and my health.  I only wish I'd had all this knowledge as a youngster and I would have made the decision so much sooner.

    Though we are mainly stuffing our faces with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and home cooked meals, we do sometimes treat ourselves to naughty food - usually once per week!  on the way back from All Things Wild we popped to Cheltenham where there was a pop up vegan chippy!  It's so great there are so many more options now and I see vegan menus springing up all over the place.

    Massage

    My amazing massage lady is back from her travels.  I can't remember if I've mentioned her before, but I used to go to her salon and have massages regularly.  She was the best person I found for getting knots out of my shoulders and giving the right pressure massage for me.  After being away for two years, she's back!  If you are in Gloucestershire then I highly recommend Sally.  She's doing at-home visits and can be found here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PolkadotBeautyChelt/

    Bongo trouble

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (17)

    Though we love our Bongo, I am worried we have bought a money pit!  It is 20 years old and we've only had it since June, but it's now been to the garage twice already!  The first was £400 to replace the turbo and now it's back in again with around £1000 of repairs, but it's not out yet and it's been there a week so who knows what else they are finding?!  I hope this is the last fix for a good while!  It's so upsetting to see all our savings we have worked so hard to save go on all these car repairs!  With my car having some issues this year too, we have spent £2000 on car repairs.  Arg!

    Halloween

    We don't go trick or treating.  The children don't really know about it as they are young, but I'm not too keen on it anyway.  I'm very anti sugary snacks like sweets so I would not encourage them to have any or go round asking people to give some to them!  I did read about someone who puts their collected sweets outdoors for the 'vegan witch' to change into vegan sweets overnight which is a sweet idea.  I avoid giving the kids sweets so it's not really for us.  They do get excited hearing about Halloween though and seeing all the costumes in the stores, so we took them to a local Halloween disco which had a spooky house with Halloween activities.  Maybe when they're older they'll want to go trick or treating and we'll just go to houses we can tell are taking part.  In our area you should light a pumpkin in a front window if you are expecting trick or treaters.

     

    Aside from the gym, kids clubs, meeting friends and family, etc, that's about all my news for this month.  Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we get up to in November!

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

  5. September 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

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    Wow, one whole month has gone since the kids went back to school!  Well, Bella back to school and Reuben back to preschool.  Reuben is at two settings and one of them is term time only so he didn’t go there for the school holidays, but upped his hours at the other setting.

    Luckily both kids have settled really well into their new school year.  Bella has been keen to go everyday which is a great sign, so she must really like her teacher.  Reuben has also enjoyed being back and seeing some of his friends he didn’t see over the holidays, but many of his old friends were older and have moved up to school.  This is his final year before proper school so I’m excited to see him grow and change so much this year.

    Autumn is properly here now and we even lit the fire for the first time last night!  I can’t believe it’s that time of year already.

    Here are some autumn posts from September:

    27 reasons I know autumn is here
    My winter bucket list
    Autumn style staples for kids – how to have a capsule children’s wardrobe

    Read on to see what we did as a family in September 2018.

    September 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018

    Welcome to my latest monthly family roundup.  Once a month I look back through our photos and my planner to record the highlights of the previous month.  It’s a great way to create an online scrapbook that I, hubby and the children can look back on for years to come.  I always think that even if the rest of my blog fails somehow one day, I’d still write these posts and use my blog as an online memory book for me and the children.  I bet they’ll love reading through this category when they’re grown up!

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    Back to school!

    Reuben’s swimming lessons

    Reuben started his swimming lessons this month and they haven’t gone well!  I was going to wait until he was around four years old, like Bella was, but he just seemed so ready.  He’s never been afraid of the water and loved going to the pool as a family.  He’d spend most of the time jumping in, didn’t mind splashing or going under the water a bit and even started to refuse wearing armbands and would try to swim!  He seemed at the perfect age to start a preschool lesson, but it did not go as expected.  He had three lessons and just did not want to get in the pool or even jump in. He was like a different child in the lessons compared to when we took him swimming!  He’s also very stubborn and I think he has it in his head he doesn’t want these lessons so he’s not going to do it!  We’ve decided to wait until he’s older and his language is more developed and try again.

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    Meal out with Mummy as a treat before back to school!

    Bella’s swimming lessons

    Bella is doing so amazing!  She is very close to swimming by herself!  It’s been quite a journey.  Bella was always petrified of the water and didn’t even enjoy swimming with us as a family when she was younger.  She was just petrified!  We tried a year of swimming lessons and she didn’t progress, so this whole year she has had private lessons.  It was a very slow start, but he rightly concentrated on her confidence in the water rather than swimming technique. It was just what she needed.  In the last couple of months she really has come on leaps and bounds.  She’ll swim for around six seconds with a float whilst keeping her head in the water!  She’ll also jump in holding one hand.  She’s also very close to swimming without the float as soon as she realises the water will hold her up!  Whilst these may not seem like he achievements in almost two years of lessons, for Bella they are amazing.  Even just say three months ago she’d scream so loud if water splashed her in the face and wouldn’t even put her nose in the water!  All of a sudden she is swimming with her face in the water and jumping in with a big splash!  Well done Bella!  I have promised her a trip to a vegan café for a slice of cake as soon as she can swim by herself so she’s on a mission!

    September 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

    New mortgage

    We have signed up to a new mortgage deal so will be staying in our home for five years.  I’ve said before on this blog how we were so undecided on what to do.  There were some lovely new builds near our home and I had my eye on one, but it would mean doubling our mortgage!  I really don’t want to be a slave to a mortgage and dream of being mortgage free.  So we decided (or I decided) to stay put for now.  The mortgage rates are so amazing at the moment that we have left our deal a year early so we can lock in a much better rate for five years.  We don’t save anything for the next year, because of the product fee it just cancels out any potential savings, but we do have the security of a much lower rate for five years.  I was worried if we waited until next Summer when our current five year deal was up, that the rates could have increased.  Whilst our home is in no way ideal for us and the layout and single toilet is frustrating, we’ll have to settle down and be done with it for five years at least!  It’s kind of nice in a way to feel settled for a while after being so undecided on what to do for so long.

    Vix dental work

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (2)

    Starting to see the final result with a temporary bridge!

    My dental work is ongoing and I have had my teeth prepared for a bridge.  I’ve had two temporary bridges so far and I should have the permanent one fitted in October.  I’ve not logged it on my blog yet as I may do one final finale type blog post in my Braces at 30 section to explain what’s been going on.  It’s so nice to come to the end of it all after 2.5 years!  I will soon have my mouth back and the appointments will die down!

    Sudeley Castle

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (3)

    We only had one day out in September.  As we had the kids swimming lessons Saturday mornings to early afternoon, it meant we could only plan a whole day out on a Sunday.  Plus Ben was building a new shed in the garden which meant he needed days to do this.  So things have been quiet on the days out front.  Luckily I was invited to review Sudeley Castle so we did manage a lovely family day out here: My very honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in the Cotswolds

    Ben builds another shed

    Ben has built another shed!  This time from scratch!  His first is his workshop, but he had nowhere to store anything.  The second shed is for storage and also as a ‘show shed’ as he can build them from scratch in all sorts of sizes for other people.

    You can follow him on Instagram here to see all his projects in our home and the furniture he makes: www.instagram.com/wood_create

    Boating on Pittville Lake in Cheltenham

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (7)

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (1)

    Having lived in Gloucestershire all my life, and Cheltenham for 26 of those years, I had never gone boating on Pittville Lake in Cheltneham until now!  So much fun!  The kids loved it and we obviously didn't make them row the whole way!

    Just general life

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (5)

    This month has mostly been about settling the kids back into school.  They’re always tired when they go back to school and have a full on week again.  Though they did go to childcare in the holidays, it was for less hours than normal school and more relaxed – more play than learning.  It feels like a much calmer month with fewer days out and so on, but was probably needed after a busy summer.  Even without proper day out plans we are always so busy with the gym, family life, visiting friends and family (and a new baby this month – our friend’s new baby, Ella), random appointments, homework and so on.  It never stops!  Work has also been so busy and I never have enough time.

    I did have my hair cut again to the shortest ever!  I can't even tie it up now:

    September 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup (6)

    Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we did in October!