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Monthly family roundup: December 2017

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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.

December was clearly a very busy month!  With the kids having chicken pox, Christmas prep and the two weeks school holidays it was quite full on and also quite stressful at times!  Trying to work self-employed is pretty impossible when the kids are at home.  At ages 2 and 5 it’s constant when they’re here.  Plus Ben had some time off over Christmas so we had lots of family days.  It is definitely a downside to being self-employed.  Taking time off not only means I don’t get paid as there’s no holiday pay, but it also means I get less work as a part of what I do involves me actively finding work every day.  So if I’m not working I’m missing out on potential future work as well as pay for that day.  2017 was my first year being full time self-employed so everything is still a learning curve.  Hopefully I will work out when I’ll need to take time off such as over Christmas and be able to work out the best way to do this or when quiet patches are.

Here’s what we got up to in December 2017:

New shoes

It always seems like the kids feet grow together.  They must be in sync.  Both Bella and Reuben’s feet went up at the same time.  They were both complaining of their shoes hurting in the same week.  We took them to get measured and Bella had increased a whole size in one and a size and a half in the other foot.  Reuben had gone up half a size.  This meant an evening of trawling round the shops looking for a pair of boys’ trainers and girl’s shoes and boots.  We can get away with one pair of new shoes for Reuben, but Bella needs the lot.  School pumps, dance trainers, wellies for home and school, school shoes, school boots, play shoes.  Hopefully now her feet won’t grow for another year at least!

Santa Special at Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway

This was amazing!  I’d heard from other people over the years how good it is and always wanted to go.  We’d not been on the steam train before and have always wanted to, so we finally booked the Santa Special and had a ride!  It must have been so magical for the children.  We travelled from Cheltenham to Winchcombe (aka North Pole) where we visited Santa in his grotto, well a train carriage!  It’s such a fun idea for the kids to see Santa and I’d recommend it.


We had snow, real snow!  It is the first time the kids have seen real life snow so super exciting.  The last time we had snow that settled was when Bella was a baby so she'd not experienced it before.  The kids even had two snow days as the school was closed.  It was freezing and I detest the cold, but we went for a walk so they could have a play and crunch through the snow.

Chicken Pox and the struggle of working from home

The chicken pox saga continued as Reuben had his into the start of December so another 6 days of illness and me being at home with him.  On one hand it’s brilliant being self-employed so I have the flexibility to look after the kids when ill, but on the other hand it’s difficult as I can’t take a day’s holiday pay as that doesn’t exist when working for myself. Plus I’m the only one who can do the work, I can’t pass it on to anyone else if I can’t be there to do it.  It just has to wait and build up or I have to do it with the kids here as that’s how it has to be for me to make an income.  Hopefully this will get easier as the kids get older as Reuben is only two years old, so he needs a lot more looking after at this age.

On a more positive note, at least he had it at the start of the month and not over Christmas.  Plus that’s all the chicken pox done in our household.  Woohoo!

Related post: Common Childhood Illnesses: Colds, Chicken Pox and Conjunctivitis


Obviously we enjoyed Christmas and the holidays in December.  The kids had two weeks and two days off school.  The first week they went to a holiday club so I could work as it’s impossible when they’re here.  The second week was the Christmas week and Ben only had to go to work one day, so we enjoyed lots of family time. 

We had my mum and sister here on the day and we did a roast dinner.  A veggie one for me, Bella and my Mum.  Ben, my sister and Reuben had some chicken breasts.

We had Ben’s sister and brother with their partners/kids over on the 27th.  We always do Christmas at one of our homes and it was the first year at ours.  We had a buffet and the kids loved playing with their cousins.

We do Christmas at Ben’s Dad’s too so that was the following Saturday.  Plus a Christmas meet up at my mum’s with my uncle and Grandad.  We always see Ben’s best friend and his family too.

So it was a busy week!

For New Year’s we just stayed at home.  We planned to go to bed at a normal time around 10pm, but got sucked into watching Making a Murderer on Netflix so stayed up until just past midnight!  We’re not very rock and roll here on New Year’s eve since having kids!  The all-nighters are well behind me thank goodness.

I do really want to go away for Christmas, so we’re going to look into a few days away next year.  It’s the perfect time for me to go away as I have no work for the Christmas week or very little.  Plus Ben usually has some time off.

One to One Swimming Lessons

Bella had her final lesson at her old swimming class just before the Christmas holidays and is now only having the private lessons.  She’s had three so far and they’ve gone really well.  I can definitely see a massive difference compared to the class lessons.  She’s not the most confident in the water and after a year of being in a class of six she hadn’t progressed much at all.  I know she’ll not be a natural water baby and that’s not what I was expecting, but because she isn’t confident in the water I can tell she just needs a bit more time and attention to do things.  In a class of six the teacher was unable to give this to her as she had other children waiting.  In a private lesson Bella gets all the attention and I really think it’s what she needs to boost her confidence and help her progress.  I feel happy we tried the class for one year to see, especially as at the trial I suggested her maybe needing private lessons and they suggested the class would be better.  I think sometimes we know our children best!

At the moment I can’t remember what else we did. I usually look back through my planner whilst I write these blog posts, but I threw it in the bin once we hit January!  Oops!  I’ve been bugging Ben to upload his photos to our family network so once he does I might find some more things to add.

Until next time.