I’m not quite sure how it’s December already, it only feels like 5 minutes ago that we were preparing for last Christmas! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic 2018, it’s been a very different year for us and one that, this time last year, I never dreamed would be possible.
If you are regular followers of my blog you’ll know that at the beginning of this year I started a new job which enabled me to work from home full time. As a good friend of mine said “that’s the dream!”. Any parent will understand the constant struggle that comes with both working and being a parent. Ever since Archie was born our aim was to enable me to stay at home – whether that be to work from home or to be in a position for me to be a stay at home mum. Working long hours away from home and busy children just doesn’t mix and when Mum was no longer available for regular childcare it just became completely impossible. It took 14 years to make that dream a reality but it has been totally worth the wait. No longer worrying about rushing back from work in time to pick up the kids, having to take time off when they’re sick, the constant arguments about who’s job is more important and regularly missing shows/plays and assemblies has made life so much more pleasurable for everyone!
The thing that makes this story so special for me is that this blog and the work associated with it’s setup, the social media accounts I have established and my youtube channel has enabled me to gain the knowledge to work full time in digital advertising and social media and it is literally my dream job. The only downside is the fact that, working full time, I now struggle for time to write on the blog but I will always keep it active and will write from time to time whenever the mood takes me or whenever I have time. Being at home full time hasn’t made life any less busy but it has made it far more manageable and allowed the children to have more freedom when it comes to joining clubs and after school activities.
Archie is still enjoying life at the Boys School and always embraces all the opportunities on offer. He joined the cast of Chicago at the beginning of the year and we rarely saw him with regular late night and weekend rehearsals. He loved it and it was a brilliant show! He also enjoyed taking part in a production of Around the World in 80 Days in July, where he put his talent for card magic to good use, and also joined the ensemble in a modern take on Twelfth Night in November. Due to a pretty nasty ingrowing toenail he had to stop both basketball and gymnastics for about 6 months but is now back playing basketball every week and is due to go back to gymnastics in the new year. April was quite a trying time for Arch as he had to make his final decisions on his GCSE options. Unfortunately the school only allow boys to take one expressive art subject which, for Archie, posed a huge problem! For a boy who loves drama but has a natural talent for music the decision was a tough one to make. In the end music won over, with the promise of being able to take drama at A’level if he is still keen. He also decided to take triple science but has since dropped down to double science and taken computer science instead which he is finding tough but is definitely enjoying. Archie has also achieved his Duke of Edinburgh bronze award this year. I won’t say he enjoyed it, the expeditions were definitely not his favourite (I think he takes after me in that respect) but he was pleased to complete it although is pretty certain he won’t be taking it any further and doing his Silver award!
Phoebe still gives most of her passion to dancing and performing. Having been at Top Hat Theatre School for two years, since we first moved to Northampton, she decided she wanted to start taking part in festivals this year. So far she is just entering the modern section for her age group and after 5 festivals and not being placed at any of them (she was definitely robbed at some of them!) she began to get a little disheartened. Her dance teacher decided to give her a new routine and with just 4 weeks to learn it before the next festival it was touch and go if she would be ready. At the beginning of November she took part in her first festival with her new routine and got a very well deserved 2nd place! Her face was an absolute picture and everyone was delighted for her to be placed at last! June was taken up, as always, with numerous rehearsals for her end of year show where I always help as a chaperone. It’s a fantastic experience both watching the show and helping out back stage and it always makes me very proud what they manage to achieve and all the hard work they put in. Since September Phoebe has started both a singing class and a Jazz class at Top Hat which brings the total to 8 classes a week! This will get even busier next year as she begins rehearsals for their trip to perform at Disneyland Paris in June! Thank goodness there is a lovely cafe with wifi there where I can work while she dances! Phoebe continues to do very well at school and is showing a talent for writing which is exciting to hear!
We have seen much less of Harry this year as he has been busy studying for his A’Levels. All the hard work was definitely worth it though as he achieved the grades he needed and has recently started his degree in Music Performance at BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) in Manchester. He’s settled in well and is thoroughly enjoying his course. It was lovely that he was able to join us on a very special family holiday in the Summer, we love to be able to take him with us and specifically organised it so we would be home in time to get his A’Level results!
Andrew is still working at American Amusements, spending hours upon hours driving up and down the length of the country. He was beginning to find the long hours at the wheel a little too much but since he was prescribed some driving glasses things have definitely improved! When we moved to our current home Andrew moved his daily workout out of the house and to the local gym but, in an attempt to save money, he recently cancelled his membership and decided to convert the garage into a home gym. Not one to ever do things by halves he set about filling it with all the kit he needed for his daily workouts and getting rid of all our junk that was in the garage before! His workouts will soon be taken over by cycle training as he has added a spin bike to the gym to help him train for the Ride London 100 mile bike ride that he is taking part in next August. Andrew was approached by BACTA (the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry) earlier this year to see if he would be interested in joining their team for Ride London and he said he’d be happy to do it as a stand in if they couldn’t get enough people (thinking they wouldn’t need him!). They got back in touch in November to say ‘Yes Please!’ Anyone who knows Andrew will know that the actual fitness required to do the ride won’t be a problem at all but taking part in a big event with lots of other people will be a huge challenge for him. We’ll let you all know when his sponsorship page is setup and we look forward to supporting him on the sidelines!
As for me, I continue to enjoy my singing and travel back to Thrapston every Wednesday to sing with the Allegra Singers. We have performed in a few concerts this year and also were very excited to win the community choirs section of the Oundle Festival in March. I rejoined Weight Watchers in June as I thought it was about time I got back to my pre-kids weight. It was actually easier than I expected and now, a dress size down, I am more than happy with the way I feel! Although, the amount I’m eating now Christmas is on it’s way might mean the weight won’t stay off for long! I might have to venture out into the garage and onto Andrew’s spin bike if my love of the mince pie takes over! As I mentioned earlier my writing has had to take a back seat since working full time but I have tried to keep up with making videos on my Youtube channel which I thoroughly enjoy. Why anyone would want to watch me clean the house still escapes me, but hey…each to their own!
We have been very lucky to have enjoyed a few days out and trips away this year. To celebrate Andrew’s birthday in January we went up to London to see The Book of Mormon. I’m sure it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea but we loved it! We also made what has become our annual trip down to Devon to see Andrew’s family for my birthday. It was really lovely to catch up with everyone and spend a few relaxing days by the sea. I decided on a few days of culture for the kids over October half term and we visited the Natural History Museum, Warwick Castle and the Tim Peake exhibition at Peterborough Cathedral.
Our Summer trip was a pretty epic one as we took a mini roadtrip down the east coast of Florida from Fort Lauderdale down to Key West, back up to Key Largo, across to Orlando and then finally down to Miami. It was an incredible two weeks and we packed in as much as we were able. A boat trip to see the dolphins and another out to the Dry Tortugas, two days at Universal Studios and a day out at Kennedy Space Centre were just some of the things we got up to! If you’re interested in hearing more about our trip then I made a couple of video diaries and you can see them here.
So I think that’s about it for 2018. We’re not quite finished yet with a multitude of concerts and school plays to attend over the next two weeks but it has been a pretty great year for us and we’re very much looking forward to finding out what 2019 brings.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and the very best of New Years – we will catch you all again in 2019!