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Monthly family roundup: February 2018

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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!

Looking back is such a great way to see what we’ve done.  It’s felt like a really long winter this year, but I’m always surprised at how much we’ve actually got out, even though I feel like we’ve been inside forever!  We’ve managed to get out into the woods near our home a few times and up to the top of a nearby beacon.  There have been children’s birthday parties, soft play visits and play dates as usual. 

Here are some of the family highlights of our February:

Clearwell Caves

We had a great day out courtesy of Ben’s sister for our Christmas present.  She promised us and Ben’s brother a day out.  It’s a much nicer idea than a present.  We are going to do a more minimal Christmas next year with only four presents for each of the children following ‘something you want, something you need, something to eat and something to read’.  We’ll also be buying more charity gifts and asking for a donation on our behalf to a charity instead of gifts, or a family day out.

So for our promised family day out we went to the Forest of Dean which is 45 minutes to one hour from our home in Gloucester.  Ben’s brother and Dad live in the forest as well as my cousin, so we often venture out that way.  We’d never been to Clearwell caves though so this was a first for us.  The kids were a bit terrified!  It’s obviously dark and underground so they were a little spooked!  The caves are amazing to see though and I want to go back to spend some more time exploring them.  Bella needed a wee (maybe a ploy to get out quicker) so I rushed through and didn’t take much time to have a good look around, but was impressed by what I did get to see.

The Secret Forest

After the caves we went to The Secret Forest.  You might have heard of Puzzlewood and this is a similar style forest with exposed tree roots and that magical feeling, but it’s on a smaller scale and in some ways a bit better.  It’s not as large as Puzzlewood, so that’s definitely worth a trip, but there were no other tourists there at all (Puzzlewood was rammed when we went).  This meant we had the place to ourselves.  It was only about £2 each for entry too.  There’s a rather quirky café at the end and it’s all very homemade and genuine.  They have a Viking village, some animals to see, a huge wooden chair which is great for photos and composting loos if you need to go!  It was my first experience using a composting toilet and it was fine.  You have to throw a scoop of sawdust on your business when you’ve finished!

Painswick Beacon

Just behind our home is Painswick village and Painswick Beacon which we ventured up for the very first time.  We had no idea it was there!  We were off to explore some more woods behind our home and discovered the Beacon with stunning views all around from the highest point.  It was super windy up there though and we were frozen!  We’ll know to wrap up warm next time.  I’m so glad we know that spot is there and we can visit more for weekend afternoon walks and summer picnics.

7 year anniversary

Me and Ben celebrated seven years together in February.  We didn’t do anything special and we don’t even have a set date for when we officially got together, but our first ‘date’ was in the second half of February and we’ve been together ever since.

Shortest hair ever

I had my hair cut to its shortest length ever!  I’ve always had rib length hair as standard, then cut to around boob length a few times.  I went to my shoulders this time and I love it.  I never have time to sort my hair out properly and it had grown mid-back length again which needs a lot of attention.  It takes so long to wash it and dry when so long and I just don’t have the time.  I tend to go to the gym several times a week, so shower more than once a day sometimes.  It’s usually shoved in a messy mum bun, then Ben has to brush out the knots once a week as I can’t even do it!  It’s just too much hassle with long hair so I chopped it!  I really like it and I might keep it short for a while now.  I was never brace enough before to go short as my whole focus was on my nose and trying to distract people from my face with long hair. Now I have a new nose which is not far off being totally healed and my teeth should also be finished this year, I felt brave enough to go for the chop.  I feel less self-conscious of my face with my new nose and I’m hoping to feel totally confident with it (or as close as possible) once my teeth are finished.  Hopefully in 6 months!  Eek!

See also: A peek at my new short hair and the most fashionable styles for 2018

Bella quits dance

Sadly Bella decided to quit her dance lessons with Anneli, a local street dance group.  It was a shame as she’s been going since the day she started school (they hire their school hall).  I made her go for a few weeks to see if it was just a momentary thing, but she continued to say she wanted to leave and was super happy when I said she could.  Now, for the first time in a year and a half, she’d not doing anything immediately after school.  Just swimming lessons at the weekend which are going swimmingly well!  Her confidence is growing every week with private lessons.  I’m also pleased we changed to one to one lessons to help boost her confidence and help her progress.  Hopefully she might want to try another activity when she’s a bit older.

Valentine’s Day

We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we did get each other a card and I think we ordered pizza!  I can’t quite remember, but we ordered one somewhere around the date.  We found a pizza place that focuses on alternative diets and uses no refined sugar in their homemade bases and sauces.  They also have vegan cheese made from coconut oil!  Amazing!  I can now order pizza.  Next one is on Mother’s Day!

Ice Skating Date

My mum had the kids for an overnight stay and I wanted to do something fun instead of the usual DIY we plan.  We went to Malvern to an ice-skating rink and had a go at skating!  I’ve not been for years and I can’t even remember if Ben said he’d been before.  It was great fun, though I want to go somewhere bigger next time.  Malvern only does one hour slots and it was full of youths – we felt old!  Because it’s only one hour, everyone scrambles onto the rink at the same time and it was packed.  You couldn’t get any speed up for fear of crashing into someone or someone else cutting you up.  We had a great time though and it’s so fun to get out the house and do a kid-free activity that’s exhilarating!

Ben still ‘veganish’

Amazingly Ben has continued on his ‘Veganish’ journey as I call it.  He wanted to try Veganuary, but he decided to do what I do and still eat honey and eggs.  We have chickens in our garden so we eat those eggs.  I’ve gone off honey recently after reading more about it, but Ben is still eating it.  So we’re really just dairy and meat free, but I keep asking Ben if he’s still Veganish as I thought it was only for January.  He’s starting to come round to everything I watch and question how moral it is to eat meat and dairy, so he could be converted.  Something I never ever imagined would happen as he ate meat every day and was brought up with a lot of meat with his German family especially.

Related Trying a Vegan Lifestyle? 7 Common Issues and How to Overcome Them 

Half term

We had half term and didn’t do too much as I had lots of work on.  The kids go to holiday club, so they spent three days there.  Ben booked the last Thursday and Friday off so we could have gone away for a long weekend, but our chicken coop really needed extending.  It now has a massive extension and raised floor to stop it getting boggy in heavy rain and snow.  It’s turning into a chicken palace!  We also took away the bit they had at the front and we'll pop grass down.  Bella had a sleepover at her cousins too, but that was all, not a very adventurous half term.