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  1. November 2018 mont­­hly family lifestyle roundup

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    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

    View this post on Instagram

    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

    A post shared by Victoria: UK Lifestyle Blogger (@lyliarose) on

    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

  2. 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

    October 2018 Monthly Family Roundup (13)

    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

  3. 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!

  4. August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

    Posted on

    Can you believe it is back to school already?  The start of the summer holidays feel like such a long time ago now as well as that glorious never seemingly ending heatwave!  Unfortunately we had a dark gloomy morning yesterday and lots of rain just in time for the return of the school runs.

    Today I will share with you my monthly family roundup for August 2018.  Time as always with kids is flying by faster than we could ever imagine.  Reuben now starts his preschool year and Bella is in the last year of infants – year two.  Madness!

    August did not seem as hectic as July for some reason.  I think we had a lot more day trips and holidays in July, but we’ll see now as I look back through my photos and calendar to see everything we did in August.  Perhaps it was more hectic than I remember, it usually is!

    Ben took the first few days of August off as it was the end of his two week annual summer leave, then everything was sort of back to normal.  I work full time from home and it’s impossible to get any work done with the children here, so Reuben was put in for some extra times at nursery and Bella went to their holiday club four days per week.  I kept them at home on Wednesdays for a home rest/play day.

    Read on to see what we did as a family in August 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

    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!

    August 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    Center Parcs

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - super happy reuben center parcs longle

    We started the month at Center Parcs.  We went at the end of July and first couple of days of August.  It’s a lovely place and we had a great time, but it was very expensive!  I picked the most expensive week of the year!  I’d return, but with enough spending money to make the most of lots of the activities and I’d try to avoid such an expensive week for accommodation (£300 per night).

    Even with limited budget there are a few things to do.  Read my blog post 7 free things to do with kids at Center Parcs Longleat

    My birthday

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - bongo campervan victoria sully

    Whilst at Center Parcs, it was my birthday. All the threes.  I’m now 33.  I’m never very fussed about my birthday and just like a nice day out with my husband and children along with a tasty meal in a restaurant.  We were planning on going to Bella Italia which is in the park itself and didn’t book as we usually go for dinner really early with the kids.  Big mistake as we ended up going for a huge walk round the complex and arriving at Bella Italia much later than anticipated, so they were fully booked!

    Center Parcs do dining in though so we ordered some Indian to the lodge.  The Indian vegetable curries are vegan!  Yum!

    We did pop to Bristol when we got back home as we had to take our Bongo to be fixed at a specialist garage, so we popped to Peppeneros for some of our favourite vegan pizza!

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - bristol

    Ben went to Poland

    As soon as we got back from Center Parcs, Ben went to Poland for three days with work!  He must have been sick of going away – two camping trips in a row, Center Parcs and then Poland, one after the other!

    Hopefully enjoyed a break from the kids and a stay in a hotel by himself!  I got to stay up late blogging without feeling guilty!

    Vix books dental work

    My braces and false teeth saga is coming to an end!  I had two consultations in August back at a private cosmetic dentist in Cheltenham after I was massively unimpressed with the denture I received from my usual NHS dentist.

    So I decided to go to a specialist dentist with more of a cosmetic focus, as that’s a big part of the reason I had the braces, and I have a date at the end of September to fit two bridges which will in effect give me six false teeth in a row!  But they should look amazing!

    Catch up on my blog post here:

    Braces at 30 experience - only 5 weeks until I get my bridges!

    Vegan Campout 2018

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - filthy vegan burgers

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - vegan campout booja booja vegan ice cr

    We went to Vegan Campout which is a small vegan festival in its third year.  I believe it changes location, but it was in Nottingham this year and will be again next year.  I’ve already booked my tickets for next year!  Though I won’t be taking the kids next year and I explain why in my review below.

    Read what I thought from a family point of view here:

    My Very Honest UK Vegan Campout Review­ (as a family)

    TheVeganKind Monthly Subscription Box

    Marriage anniversary

    Whilst at Vegan campout it was our wedding anniversary!  We’re honestly not too fussed by our birthdays and anniversaries.  We just enjoy spending the day together perhaps a family day out to an attraction and meal out.  We didn’t buy each other presents and remembered after about three days to give each other the cards we had bought!

    Cotswold Wildlife Park

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - cotswold wildlife park giant leaves

    I had the kids on Wednesdays in the holidays and we booked to go to Cotswold Wildlife Park with my mum and sister (aka Nana and Auntie Jess to the kids).  I really love it at Cotswold Wildlife Park.  There’s a lot to see and I can happily spend the whole day there.  I’m never 100% sure how I feel about zoos, particularly when you see some of the smaller cages and tanks, but I think when animals have been rescued from captivity and are being rehabilitated then it can be a great thing.  Many of them I understand cannot go back into the wild, so at least they are being well cared for, I hope.

    Cotswold Wildlife Park is somewhere we’ve visited with the children each year by ourselves or with family members, so it’s becoming a yearly family tradition.

    Stratford Park

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - stratford park stroud

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup - stratford park

    Another place I visited with the kids and my mum was Stratford Park in Stroud.  This is a place my mum took me and my sister too regularly as children.  There’s a lake, ducks to feed, bridge to play Pooh Sticks, woodland, arboretum, museum, lido, sports center, café, fields and then a huge playpark with a zip wire!  It’s a great place for a few hours to play, walk around and stop for a picnic or pop into the café or pub across the road.  It was the first time I’ve been with my mum and my kids, so it was quite a special day to have three generations at the park that’s always been loved.  Even my mum was taken there as a youngster so it’s a special place for her.

    So we did get up to a fair amount in August, but not as much as July!  It felt like a pretty normal month really as the kids were in holiday club four days per week and I worked.  Our summer holiday was mostly the last two weeks of July.  We also had some family visits, play dates and kids birthday parties as is normal.  We also go to the gym 4-5 times a week and the kids go to kids club there, but that’s just a standard part of our weekly routine now.  Life is busy!

    Please pin me:

    August 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

  5. July 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

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    July was a super busy month!  The summer months usually are as we make more holiday plans and have days out thanks to the good weather.  The weather this year has been particularly good with around one whole month of nonstop sunshine and temperatures hitting 30 degrees!  A real summer for once in Britain!

    Life is usually hectic busy all the time with me and Ben both working full time, Bella at school and Reuben at two settings, both a nursery and pre-school, kids swimming lessons, going to the gym at least four times a week and cooking homemade meals every day.  Just all that alone keeps us so busy and fills each day along with keeping on top of the house, chickens, Ben trying to do woodwork and keeping up to date with friends, family and so on.

    We’ve also surprisingly crammed in several mini breaks and a holiday this month.  Read below to see what we’ve been up to!

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

    July 2018 Mont­­hly Family Roundup

    Sold Ben’s car to We Buy Any Car

    photo of new mazda bongo with pop top up in camping site in oxwich bay devo

    Our new Bongo - King Bongo!

    You may have seen me mention in previous posts about selling Ben’s old car, but we finally did.  Unfortunately we had to use We Buy Any Car.  We already knew we wanted a Mazda Bongo and had started looking.  The plan was to sell Ben’s car and then use the money to fund the purchase.  We thought we could get £3500-4000 for Ben’s car and a Bongo for around £4500-5000.  Thing was, we’d already started looking at Bongos and saw a really good condition one with low mileage that was the same price as others in terrible condition with twice the mileage!  So we had to go and look at it.  Big mistake as we went ahead and put a deposit down, turning our funding options around.  We used all our savings to buy the Bongo, listed at £5000 but we got it down to £4500, with the plan to pay it back with Ben’s car sale.

    Then, of course, an engine light came on almost immediately in Ben’s car.  Probably to teach us a lesson for doing things backwards with the finance side of things.  After several garage trips, some paid, to find someone with the right car reader to read the fault we found out it would cost around £1500 to fix and most garages seemed to be quoting high as it was such a pain of a job they weren’t keen to do it at all.  Gah!

    Then of course, we’d still have to sell Ben’s car for the maximum price possible and who knew how long that would take.

    So, begrudgingly, but for a quick sale, Ben used We Buy Any Car who gave us a whopping £1500, but I guess after the cost of repairs this would have worked out about the same if we couldn’t sell Ben’s car for the maximum possible price, though maybe £500-£1000 less than we could have got in the end.

    So the car is gone, thankfully, but I feel like we lost out on quite a bit of money from our original plan so our emergency fund savings took quite a hit.  Luckily we had them to cover it and I’ve been desperately trying to top them up and working as much as possible, even until the early hours some nights, to try and replace the funds.  I want to save six months’ worth of wages in our emergency fund and within three years.  I was hoping to be a third there by the end of this year and still plan to.  Being self-employed means I’m always anxious about money so I want the security of a large lump sum sat there in case anything ever changes with my income.  Plus, of course, it can cover any household or car emergencies.

    Next time we will sell the car first and then buy the new car!

    See why I’m saving an emergency find here: Why saving an emergency fund is a great idea

    Bella runs on sports day!

    Woohoo, Bella runs on sports day!  Looking back at her last sports day here, she did so much better!  Last year she stopped and cried and the teaching assistant had to grab her and run to the end with her!  This year she was really panicking before and not wanting to practice in her P.E lessons.  We gave her lots of encouragement, Ben practiced with her in the garden, we upped her sports activites at the gym, and it all must have worked as on the day she ran no problem, she didn’t come last (which I know doesn’t matter but it did give her a big confidence boost) and she was SO chuffed with herself!  Go Bella!  Hopefully that’s the fear of sports day over now and she’ll enjoy it a little more from now on.  We try to encourage the taking part and not that winning is the most important factor.

    Bella has first hair cut and I go shorter

    photo of bella getting her hair cut for the first time age 6 for blog post

    Bella’s hair just does not grow!  It’s got to just below shoulder length when straight, but it’s super curly so it sits above her shoulders to look at.  This is the longest it’s got in her six years of life!  Lots of her classmates have had their hair cut, some several times, and she was asking when she could have hers done, so I booked a hairdresser appointment and she had her first trim!  Her hair grows into a point in the middle so this was straightened out and the hairdresser is confident with regular 12 week trims we can get it to grow down healthily and start to get a little more length.  She loved her first haircut and must have felt very grown up!

    photo of my new hair cut for July 2018 Monthly Family Roundup

    I also had my haircut even shorter, so short, the shortest it's ever been!

    Diggerland

    photo of the entrance to diggerland devon for blog post July 2018 Monthly F

    I was lucky to be invited to Diggerland to review on my blog so we attended at the start of July.  We had a great time and chose one of the most boiling hot days to go!  Luckily that day one of the England World Cup football games was on so it was dead quiet.

    Click here to read my full thoughts: Diggerland Devon review

    Vix orthodontic treatment over

    July 2018 Monthly Family Roundup brace off

    Brace off, retainer with two temporary false teeth (can you spot which ones, it's quite obvious?!)

    photo of essix retainer with two false lateral incisor teeth for blog post

    My orthodontic treatment is over.  I had my braces on for over two years and they are now both removed.  I now have my retainers full time, but that might only be until October.  Then I’ll need to wear them part time in the evenings only.  This is forever more to hold the teeth in their new positions.  Many people stop wearing their retainers and then their teeth start to move again, so after spending £3000 on braces I will be wearing my retainers part time forever more!

    My teeth aren’t perfect yet though.  I had to have my peg tooth removed so now I have no lateral incisors at all which are the teeth next to the top front teeth.  Ben says I look like a pirate!  Luckily I have a retainer with two false teeth to cover the gaps temporarily.  I have an appointment with a cosmetic dentist next week to discuss my options which will probably be two bridges.

    I can’t wait.  I just want my mouth back and to be able to eat socially, as well as my new perfect smile of course!

    Here are all my blog updates from July:

    Peg tooth extraction
    No more braces after 28 months (but it's not over yet)
    12 reasons I hate the clear plastic Essix retainer
    Upper Hawley and lower Essix retainer fitting appointment
    The partial denture disappointment

    Kid-free trip to the Gower

    photo of me and my husband ben in oxwich bay gower wales for blog post July

    Before taking the kids camping in our new Bongo, we thought we’d better test it out for a night ourselves, so me and Ben went to the Gower for one night.  It was the first night we’d had away by ourselves, kid-free, this whole year, so we really enjoyed it!

    Here’s what we got up to: Kid-free travel review – Our first campervan trip to Greenways of Gower, Oxwich Bay

    Bella finishes year one

    photo of my daughter bella on last day in year two for blog post July 2018

    I can’t believe it, but Bella has completed two full school years and will be entering her final year of infants in September!  This school year was twice as fast as last year I swear!  This means it’s only one year until Reuben starts school too and we’ll be applying for his school place this autumn.  Wow!

    Ben goes camping with Pete

    As is becoming their yearly tradition, Ben and his best friend went camping.  They went somewhere in mid Wales for two nights, both in their campervans this time!  They went climbing, which Pete is becoming an expert at, and got lost in some mountains on a mega trek!

    Funnily I just looked at my family roundup from July 2017, one year ago, and we did a lot of the same things.  Obviously school ended and Bella had sports day, but it was the same month that we had a kid-free trip and Ben went camping with Pete!  Deja vu!

    First family camping trip in the campervan to Devon

    July 2018 Monthly Family Roundup branscombe bay photo

    Branscombe Bay

    photo of my kids on a cruise in devon for blog post July 2018 Monthly Famil

    After the success of mine and Ben’s first campout in the Bongo, we took the kids to try one night camping with them.  We visited Devon for one night and spent two full days exploring a few beaches.  It was successful and the kids loved it.  We only forgot to take Bella’s nightlight so she ended up down with us half way through the night, so I had a squished night’s sleep, but next time we’ll not forget some torches and nightlights for them!

    Here’s my full two day diary: Branscombe Airfield and Campsite review and two day Devon travel diary

    Fat Toni’s date night

    photo of giant pizza at fat tonis cheltenham pizzeria for blog post July 20

    Ben and I luckily had a date night out, thanks to Ben’s brother babysitting for us as a treat for our birthdays.  I’m hoping to find a local babysitter as I love the luxury of someone coming to our home and us being able to pop out for a meal for a couple of hours every now and then.  We went to Fat Toni’s which is a pizzeria in Gloucestershire that we’ve only had takeaways from before.  We’re quite far out so have only had cold takeaways from their so far, but we knew piping hot it would be amazing.  They make the largest pizzas ever to share and have loads of vegan options.  We had a huge vegan pizza to share with vegan pesto, asparagus, wild mushroom, spinach, tomatoes and more!  It was delicious and amazing piping hot as we had thought!  We went to the Cheltenham restaurant, but they also have takeaway only outlets in Stroud and Gloucester.

    Center Parcs, Longleat

    We finished off July with the start of our summer holiday to Center Parcs in Longleat.  It was the first time we’d been to Center Parcs and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype!  We did have a great time, but I won’t pick the most expensive week of the year next time.  As it cost so much to go, around £300 per night, we didn’t have much spending money left, or really I couldn’t justify much more.  So we enjoyed a few meals out as a treat, a pedalo ride and crazy golf, but didn’t take part in any of the booked activities.  If we go again, which I’m sure we will, I’ll aim for a cheaper week if they exist in the school holidays and pre-book some activities before we go to spread the cost.  It is an amazing place, but I feel you need to take part in some activities to really get the most out of it.

    That said, here are 7 free things to do with kids at Center Parcs Longleat

    photo of lake beach at center parcs longleat for blog post July 2018 Monthl

    photot of pedalo at center parcs longleat for blog post July 2018 Monthly F

    A super busy month with so many trips and days out!  August is looking pretty much the same with weekend plans galore whilst it’s the summer holidays, then things will start to quieten down as the kids go back to school and the weather starts to cool.

    July 2018 Monthly Family Roundup