2018 has been a very mixed year, with highs, lows and some major life lessons. Just before the summer holidays the kids lost their little friend at just six years old in a tragic accident. This was obviously a huge shock to us all and really made us think about how lucky we are. After the event we've been trying to celebrate his life to try and add a bit of happy to his family's lives, as there isn't anything we can really do but remember him and we all feel a bit useless. Since that day, my anxiety rocketed but I was lucky enough to get some help with my anxiety just recently so that side of things for me is getting easier to cope with.
I'm feeling a lot better health wise. My back has been better, it's still very delicate and I have to be super careful, but with doing my exercises every night and not doing things I know I shouldn't be, I've avoided any big hiccups and touch wood, managed.
My blog has been neglected a little, but I do have big plans for next year, starting with getting myself organised in all areas of my life to make things easier. I'm excited about the plans for my Etsy page too, and although I'm not convinced I can do very well on there with it being so saturated with artists, I am going to try a bit harder with marketing myself once I've re-jigged the shop and got it how I want it. My biggest venture for next year is my kids book, which although was on my goals list for 2018, I'm glad I didn't get it finished as I wasn't ready but I am now.
I'm excited for next year and looking forward with a clearer healthier mind, a new found appreciation of everything in my life and a lot of motivation to work hard and get my life in order.
We've had lots of family time this year and made lots of new memories. My favourites have been our times in quiet forests, of course our holidays and my favourite of all our days at the beach. As Adam works full time and I'm usually up half the night glued to my laptop, family time is short but sweet and I'm thankful to have lots of photos of our days together too.
Although I'm still very much learning, I've really enjoyed the time with my camera this year. Venturing out on my own when everyones at school and work has been really therapeutic and I'm enjoying seeing my skills improve but also feel I have a good eye for photos and seem to get a lot of good feedback when I share images. My plans for next year are to master all the manual settings fully.
This year has taught me how lucky I am and although they have their moments, my kids are my absolute world and I love seeing them change, grow and develop the craziest fun, clever little personalities. These two are so different, they keep me on my toes in every possible way but make life so full, happy, busy, chaotic and worthwhile.
This year we were working with Rand Farm in Lincolnshire so I blogged about our visits, shared our photos and went there pretty much every weekend until our passes ran out. The kids still beg to go every weekend but unfortunately we just haven't had the funds, but it is a great place and we hope to get signed up this year once we've saved up for another yearly pass. We all love seeing the new additions to the farm, seeing the animals all year round and of course the babies at spring time.
The beast from the east
Last winter we had an epic snow storm that lasted weeks. The kids had lots of snow days from school, Adam had some time working from home which is always nice knowing I don't have to worry about him on the road and we enjoyed every drop of that snow. We finally got to do some proper sledging, make snow men and make some proper memories as who knows how often we'll see snow like that again.
Setting up shop
I finally got to grips with Etsy and although I'm restarting this January on a slightly different path, last year got me started well and gave me a good idea of what I need to be doing to make sales and what I enjoy doing. I've also done a few commissions this Christmas which has given me a few new ideas for 2019. I even got to review a brilliant Epson printer which has given me the option to print from home which is a huge deal when you're selling prints, so I was super grateful for that opportunity and it's still going strong.
Being by the sea is always my happy place, but following the epic snow, we were given a long heatwave which meant lots of uncomfortable days wishing I was five stone lighter, but more importantly lots of extra beach days, relaxing, taking photos, swimming, making sandcastles and just spending afternoons all together feeling truly happy - perfect.
Being tourists in our city
We live in Lincoln which is packed full of history and there's a lot to explore. Having moved here originally in 2002, this year we did the most exploring locally than ever before. This was partly as a cheap option as it's all walkable from home, but also because we realised we'd neglected it a bit, the kids love it and there was a lot going on, especially during the hot summer.
Soph started school
Soph was so tiny when she started school. As a summer baby, she was nearly an entire year younger than Alf when he started so it felt really strange dropping her off, but she really was ready and has totally thrived. We've had one day so far in reception where she's been clingy, but otherwise she's confidently walked in, chatting away to her teacher (who she adores) and her new friends. I'm so proud of how she's coped and she's really enjoying the learning part of school as well as all the fun stuff. Alf has been a beautiful big brother too, looking out for her at lunch time, reassuring her and helping her with her work. I'm so proud of them both, what pros! I wish I could rewind 6 ish years and tell an anxious worried me that I am a great Mum and that the kids will become confident happy, kind amazing kids.
We were lucky enough to be invited back to Bluestone Wales this year and this time we thoroughly made the most of our time in our favourite place to visit. The beaches nearby are just stunning, we stayed an extra couple of nights on route to get the most out of our Bluestone stay and I've loved treating the kids to some extra adventures through the year. We've also been to South Devon, another favourite a couple of times and can't wait to go back in 2019.
The squirrel day was so amazing, though it did end with Soph breaking her wrist and the most tears ever to come out my face, it started off with the most magical encounter with a baby squirrel. This little critter came out of nowhere and just would not leave us alone for four hours. It had to be one of the weirdest days of my life with every emotion and I love the pictures from that day. The kids have talked about Murray the squirrel a lot since then and always look for him in the park, it was so special and I'm sure they'll never forget it. If Soph was going to break her wrist any time, I guess I'm glad that it was after something she loved so much.
The Red Arrows
Living in Lincoln, we're lucky to see the Red Arrows going over head all the time when they practise and will be so sad when they move their home elsewhere. Me and Alf went on a school trip to the RAF Scampton heritage centre where we got to see them close up on the runway, view all the history and even sit in an actual Red Arrow plane!
Sorting our kitchen
We finally got our kitchen sorted and it's been such a big change for us, we've not gained any space on paper, but the new layout and removal of a wall has meant we've gained a usable space that we've used multiple times a day, with this chair being my new favourite place in the house. The work itself was torture, I found it so stressful and the company we used turned out to supply lovely kitchens but with really crap customer service and a lot of lies. We've been left with a few damp areas that will need sorting, but as we've been there before we know it's not the biggest job, just annoying we can't just get on and enjoy it. It does look lovely though and we are so pleased with our design.
I've really appreciated nature this year and watching it all change through the seasons. Being able to photograph it more has been lovely and distracted me to the sudden loneliness of the kids both being in school. Our local park is so well kept, packed with beautiful plants and lots of colour. Just lately it's all been dying off for winter, but it's still made for some beautiful finds and loads of different mushrooms to spot which the kids are now hunting for me too.
The past few years I've been so wound up about travelling to see family in icy weather, stressing about money and all the things happening in December and this year was no different until we made some changes. I put my foot down this year and said we would be staying local, so I didn't have a long drive to worry about on Boxing day which has really dented my excitement the last two years. I really enjoyed the shopping and won vouchers from Britmums which hugely helped with the food shop and extra gifts. Overall, this Christmas was just lovely. I've been feeling a lot better health wise, we made it through December without catching any of the nasty bugs going round and just had the most perfect time, appreciating every little bit of it.
I hope you have a great 2019 filled with excitement, fun and new adventures.