We have been making the most of our time at home and in the garden during lockdown and really loving it. When we moved into our home three years ago, the garden was so overgrown we couldn’t see where it ended; to say it needed some TLC is a huge understatement!
The photo below was taken the day we moved in. The most useful thing left in the garden was the ladder and we’ve used it lots. But an old broken canoe was also left in the garden which wasn’t so useful!
The photo below was taken after a fair amount of work had been done but it gives the scale of the amount of work that was in store for us. A post will follow showing the different stages of the project.
Over the past three years, through an enormous amount of hard work from family and friends we have finally got a beautifully big space perfect for very energetic children! The decking was finished at the end of last summer so this is the first time we’ve properly been able to make use of it. Little did we know how necessary the space would be last summer!
Eoin and I just can’t believe the transformation and how far we’ve come with this garden. We now have two plum trees, two wisterias, a rhododendron, a heebie and an apple tree! Eoin also put up a washing line for me a couple of weeks ago which is now my pride and joy!
During his paternity leave, Eoin gave himself another project and made the children a mud kitchen using palettes. It’s brilliant! Benedict, Rose and Clara absolutely love it and are getting so much fun out of it.
Finally, we succumbed to the ‘lockdown haircut’. Eoin shaved his head a couple of weeks ago… using a beard trimmer. There were some scary moments in the middle of it all when we thought the beard trimmer had stopped working. Luckily, it saw it through to the end. But Eoin is looking quite different!
The last couple of weeks I have felt a lot better since giving birth and so we have ventured out a bit further to enjoy our daily exercise. We have discovered some beautiful places during lockdown, including stunning rapeseed fields showing off carpets of bright yellow. We also found some wonderful bluebell walks in the woods and an apple orchard with hundreds of trees in full blossom. Amidst the seriousness and sadness of the Corona virus, we have had some really beautiful experiences as a family which I will never forget.
Some pics of the bluebell wood we visited:
Clara was running up and down the path shouting at the top of her voice “BELLS! BELLS” It had us in stitches:
And the apple orchard:
Eoin found a broken branch off one of the trees and decided to take it home to try and propagate it.
And some homemade blondies for three blondies!
On Thursday 26th March at 6.39am, we welcomed little Jacob Peter into our family. He was 40 weeks and 4 days when he was born and weighing a very healthy 9lb 2oz.
Jacob was born in the first week of lockdown due to the Corona virus outbreak. It has been so strange that no-one outside our family has met him yet and he is already 5 weeks old! We are trying to focus on the positive side, like not having to leave the house with a newborn (especially for the school run!). It has been so nice not to have to rush anywhere and just be with Jacob and enjoy him. He is getting so many hugs and kisses from Benedict, Rose and Clara. He is incredibly loved!
We were very blessed to have my sister stay with us while we were waiting for Jacob’s arrival – this is becoming a tradition when I am about to give birth… and we are so grateful!! The schools closed the same week Jacob was born and so my sister took it upon herself to homeschool Benedict and Rose – how lucky we have been!
The Covid-19 outbreak also meant that Eoin wasn’t allowed into the hospital until I was in established labour. So from 2.30am until 5.30am, I was alone in a hospital room and Eoin was sitting outside in his car in the hospital car park while I called him on FaceTime. It was the most surreal experience. Once I got into the delivery suite, everything went fine and we had the nicest midwife who reminded me of Miranda Heart! We left the hospital that evening and Jacob was greeted by some very excited siblings.
For three weeks now I have been mostly housebound. The first two weeks our car was broken and then this week Rose has been unwell with tonsillitis.
It’s been very slow moving and I’ve had a tendency to busy myself in the housework. But in a lot of ways it’s been a welcome-break; not rushing around doing the school-run or preparing to be out for the day, or needing to be somewhere at a certain time. It has “forced” me to stop my busyness and take time to hear the silence.
A couple of days ago, I was sitting on my bed in the morning listening to the silence (a very rare experience for me these days!) and then I heard Clara climbing up the stairs singing to herself.
I was filled with very conflicting emotions has I heard her coming closer! Part of me just craved more silence, to be still with the Lord a little longer, and then as I continued to listen to her innocent voice, I realised there would come a time when all the children have left home and no-one comes to interrupt me!
I’m loving the Abiding Together podcasts at the moment and for lent they’re discussing Father Jacques Philippe’s book: Searching for and Maintaining Peace. It is amazing!! This quote from his book really struck me:
[We have] the temptation to believe that, in the situation which is ours (personal, family, etc.) we lack something essential and that because of this, our progress, and the possibility of blossoming spiritually, is denied us.
For example… my immediate family prevents me from organising my spiritual activities as I wish.
This was definitely written for me! I need this constant reminder; that this is my life – a busy wife and mother of three small children – not some other life in an ideal world. These are my busy days and God is still present in my busyness; He just needs me to recognise those seconds of silence in the day and then continue along my path of motherhood beside Him.
I’m learning to love the interruptions and to cherish that smile on Clara’s triumphant face when she found me sitting on my bed! I’m thankful for this ‘welcome-break’, but when Rose is back to full health, I’m ready to carry on living this busy life God has given me with those special little moments of silence.
Life with little ones is so fast paced it would be easy to forget the little joys that happen along the way. Most things will just be enjoyed in the moment, but there are some things I want to remember in years to come when the “baby-days” have long gone.
I never want to forget Clara wondering around singing to herself in a world of her own, or when she uses a bib for a hand bag and it’s just hanging off her arm. Or Rose, when she’s lost in her imaginary game of preschools with her dollies, and Benedict busy building lego on the top bunk so Clara can’t reach him or his lego; the times when Benedict and Rose play Mass together or mums and dads, and Clara watching intently so she can copy what they’re doing and join in. All these just to name a few…
Reading The Enchanted Wood
Bateman’s National Trust
Rose playing preschool
Bodiam Castle NT
Knole Park NT
Today was one of the first days since the end of winter that we could spend outside in the garden; it was so warm that Benedict and Rose had to put shorts and t-shirts on!
Recently, I’d been thinking about how we could create a den in the garden without buying an “already-made-one”. We visited Knole Park yesterday and in the gift shop they had a beautiful, portable “den-making kit” rucksack, with everything you could possibly need to make one. It was £40 and part of me was tempted to buy it, but somehow it went against everything I think a den stands for. Isn’t a den meant to be made out of everything and anything you can find lying around and an excuse to get creative?
So that’s what Eoin and the kids did this morning – they found some bamboo sticks, some string, two old sheets and some pegs. Then, they decorated the bamboo using giant chalks for that added homely touch…
Here’s one we made in some woods near our house:
I can’t get enough of this picture!
A couple of weeks ago we made an impulsive decision to go to Bruges for the day for the Christmas markets! It’s a major benefit of living in Kent and being so close to the Euro Tunnel – it is so easy to get into France and then travel to Belgium.
Benedict and Rose were so excited (we were too!)! We left our home at 5am and reached Belgium at 10.30am local time. We had mulled wine in the local markets and bought some chocolate santas, snowmen and reindeers in the chocolate shops. We were also lucky enough to stumble across a nativity show with Mary riding a donkey, the three wise men riding shire horses, and a stable being pulled along by a tractor. It was perfect for Benedict and Rose in helping them visualise the first Christmas.
We also went to the Basilica of the Holy Blood to venerate the relic of Jesus’ Precious Blood. It was incredibly moving, especially to do it with Benedict and Rose and helping them understand its real significance.
We ended our trip with some authentic Belgium waffles topped with a large dollop of Nutella – I think Eoin was the only one who finished his!! It was the best way to end a wonderful trip.
Three countries in a day, as Benedict said – we’re obviously living life on the edge 😉
On the 9th of this month, Clara turned one – our first winter birthday in our family. We had a little family gathering at ours for some chicken tagine and birthday cake. Eoin and I had the great idea of making a hundreds and thousands birthday cake for Clara after watching a youtube video that made it look very easy to do… however, it turned out to be an epic fail! Our icing sugar and water ratio was wrong which meant the cake ended up sliding around everywhere… So we improvised with chocolate fingers – it still tasted yummy though and actually ended up not looking that bad after all!
Rose helping Clara open her presents:
Clara wearing her new bear jumper from Aunty Catriona:
Clara is 10 months today and this picture sums her up completely…
She is so full of life, fun, happiness and smiles. I love how at 10 months she’s managed to form beautiful relationships with Benedict and Rose. They can’t get enough of her – Rose knows to get Clara a rattle when she’s tired of being in the car, and Benedict knows exactly what faces to pull to get a giggle! She fits in so wonderfully with our family and I can’t believe we’ve only known her for 10 months.
Eoin and I have been thinking for a while now to get a National Trust membership. We missed the boat for this summer but yesterday we decided to take the plunge and I am so glad we did!
Today, I took Rose and Clara to Scotney Castle. We thought we’d suss it out to see whether the boys might like it! It dates back to the eleven hundreds and used to be owned by the Hussey family. The place is enormous with lakes, woods, parklands and lots of different walks and trails, so I’m really excited to go back and explore properly as a family.
Today we mainly explored the natural play area which is really unique. They had a mud kitchen (Rose was in her element!), a wooden house, swings, a toy theatre, some drums made out of tree trunks and a ball slide. It was really fun!
The play area: