The Return of the Elves.

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Larken The Elf

Meet Larken! Larken is a tricky little elf who visits us every year. He keeps an eye on the children, helps Santa, brings the children fun things to do leading up to Christmas but can be mischievous. He isn’t naughty, but often likes to play tricks and join in silly shenanigans.

Larken has been visiting our house for 6 years now, the children love him and they get so excited when he finally arrives. This year he arrived early! Normally, its the first of December. But horror of all horrors, he got lost on the way from the North Pole (we couldn’t find him). So in a panic, we got all the decorations down from the Attic early, but do not fear! Mr Butterfly Child saved the day, and all was not lost. So, rather than return everything to the attic for one more day, Larken has arrived early, but did he come alone?!

A few weeks ago, monkey asked when Larken would be here, and I said in a few weeks, the First of December as normal, and he looked puzzled at me. Monkey and Poppet sat at the Dining table whispering together, and I asked what they were up to? The cutest thing ever, was the answer. They had both helped each other write a letter to Santa asking if Larken could have a sister, and if we could “adopt” her too. So off the letter went to the North Pole and the children waited.

Larken brought a friend, a sister to be exact to help in the preparation for Christmas this year, and the children got so excited last night, I thought I would never get them to bed. I said they could each sleep with 1 elf for tonight, and after that they would need to report to Santa every night to check on toy making, the nice list and all the other things, busy elves have to help with.

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Lyric The Elf

I am not sure if I am crazy or stupid for adding an extra elf into the mix but the children love them, and Larken is very much part of our family. I was really sad when I couldn’t find him, so I am glad all is well and Christmas can continue in our house. As we have adopted her, she is quite new to the North Pole, Santa said we had to name the elf. We have a bit of a thing for “L’s” in our house, so we took to google to give us a list of names beginning with L. We searched and couldn’t agree on anything. We quite like unusual names so I came across this one, and asked the children. We had a winner, both kids like it and Mr Butterfly Child nodded. Mamma wasn’t too keen, but four out of five isn’t bad. Say hello to Lyric!

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I imagine Lyric is going to help Larken to get up to lots of mischief and will undoubtably be a pain in my … bum! But we love the fun and happiness the elves bring this time of year and I cannot wait.*

*A slight note of delay, usually I go crazy but as I am still in recovery, my kind Mum will be keeping a close eye on the elves for me!

C*******s is coming…

Yes, yes its November and I have heard a lot of mumblings of its too early and its twelve days for a reason etc., etc. Christmas is not a swear word in our house. Granted my husband is not a huge fan of getting excited too early, but each year we have been together, he relaxes that little bit more. So much so, that in November Christmas is now a word we use all the time.

Last year, my mum was in hospital for nearly the whole of December so we didn’t do as many of the wonderful festivities and activities as we normally do, so this year I wanted to make everything perfect. Obviously life had other plans as I am now, lay up in bed recovering from appendicitis or something. But I will not be deterred, Christmas is an amazing time of the year, and my favourite time of the year. My mum and my husband, thankfully are happy to pick up some of my slack, I am hoping I recover quickly so we can do all the things I have planned; from an at home nativity, carol singing to crafts and visits to Santa, I love everything about Christmas and as I am feeling sorry for myself I thought now was a good time to start looking into things I can do from my sickbed.

On this note, we don’t put our decorations up until at least the first of December, and we have a friendly elf that comes to stay with us. So even though, we have a few more days until Christmas goes full steam ahead in our house, now is a good a time as any to start thinking about activities and crafts. Stay tuned for my round ups of Pinterest arts and crafts, what will probably be some hilarious practices of our “at home nativity”, written and starring my two beautiful children in various roles, a countdown to Christmas and possibly other musings as they spring to mind.

Musings from my hospital bed…

Last week I found myself in hospital, I am still unwell but thankfully I am resting at home. I am thankful for our NHS and the hospital but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed my stay. Does anyone? Everyone kept telling me, I should rest and be thankful for the peace, use the time to catch up on some reading. But for anyone who has been in hospital and really unwell, it isn’t that easy.

I couldn’t read my brain felt foggy and I couldn’t concentrate. I attempted to get some reading in, and I read the same page 4 times before I gave in. It did give me chance to meet some of our wonderful NHS workers, Nurses and Doctors, and gave me time to think. Which as a working mother of two, I don’t always get chance to just rest and think. What are these thoughts I hear you cry out??!! 🙂 Mainly how I am really thankful for the NHS and our workers.

I was surrounded everyday by fellow Butterfly Children, these men and women came into work everyday with a smile on their face. The long hours they work and their genuine caring nature made me feel truly blessed. I am not saying they don’t have bad days, but my experience was a positive one. Alongside doing their jobs, they found the time to check in on me, took an interest in my life and I really felt cared for and looked after. For a mum, this is a strange feeling as I generally do the caring! From the cleaners, to the healthcare assistants all the way up to the Consultant Surgeons, everyone was friendly, approachable and I saw the absolute best side of the NHS. I am not naive as to think that everyones story is like this, but as a society we are quick to condemn when we have a bad experience and not quick enough to compliment. I have had some awful experiences in my life but my recent hospital stayed reminded me, that overall caring people who want to work in hospitals, doctors and for the NHS are genuine good people looking to do the best job they can with the resources they have.

I am obviously glad to be back at home. Resting and trying to recover in a busy household is hard, but I missed my children so much I wouldn’t have it any other way. As both of my children are now in full time school, I do get to rest all day, whilst they learn and play.

Which leads me onto my second pondering. I am lucky to have such an amazing support network around me. If you have an amazing husband, mum, family and friends, you should remember to thank them and love them more often. This was my realisation, I like to do a lot of things myself, but I have so much help, its unbelievable. I have amazing people around me, everyone is great and are always helping me out in big and small ways.
I work part time, I have the two children who go to school, after school clubs and a variety of other extracurricular exciting events. I have always managed to manoeuvre the children and myself without much assistance from my husband, not because he doesn’t want to, (he is an excellent husband and father,) but because he is away so often and we don’t know when he will be here or away, it became easier for me to manage the day to day. But as I am unable to drive, walk or do much of anything at the minute, he has really stepped up. He has been sorting all the school collections and drop offs, sorting out dance classes, exams, parties and clubs.
My mum has also been a godsend, to be honest she always has been and alway will be. If it is possible she has even surpassed herself, our entire household has bad colds, including my mum. Plus she had an accident and bruised all her shoulders, so she is probably sore and feeling rubbish herself. And yet, she has managed to make sure everyone is being fed healthy meals, bath times are happening without incident and everyday the children are packed off the school in beautiful uniforms, snacks and water and on time. Amidst all the chaos, she is a real angel, and I am not sure what we would do without her if I am honest.

And my final thought, is probably the most reassuring as I know I have an amazing husband and mother already. As a social person, my biggest worry is do I as an adult have a support network of friends? As you grow older, or move away from your home town, and take yourself out of situations where its easy to make friends, it does become harder to make friends. I don’t know if this is worry for most but it is for me. I am a really sociable person and I love making friends, I try to be a good person and I would do anything for anyone but if becomes hard to know who you can ask the same from in return, as I mentioned I find it hard asking others for help. Partly because I am afraid to ask, to know if I have made these friendships as a grown up. Do I have friends I can just pop around for a cuppa with? Can I ask a mum to swing round when I feel lonely and ill? Thankfully, in my moment of wondering, I was inundated with texts and messages from lots of friends to check in on me, and I wonder no more. As it turns out, these worries are probably silly but we all do have them. Even as grown ups, we have moments of insecurity. It is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as we don’t let it get us down and turn into a real fear. I, of course have friends, and I am sure I could turn to any of them in my hour of need, but it doesn’t mean for me, that my insecurity is not real for me. Just as whatever your insecurity may be, is very real for you. And this was my moment of enlightenment, everyone has fears, insecurities, moments of worry. We shouldn’t let these small things affect our life but we shouldn’t be ashamed of them either. My fear of not making friends, or being lonely makes me strive to be a good person so people will see this and want to be my friend and thus expand my little network of support. Sometimes our little quirks make us who we are!

A perfect day… book and a tea!

For a long time, my dream has been to own a tea and book shop! It’s one of those dreams, where you have dreamt of it for so long, it feels like a part of me. But its also one of those dreams, where you know it will probably never come true but you keep dreaming it anyway, just incase.

Recently, I went back to work. I want to still see the kids, and do school runs etc, so I am working part time and I am actually really enjoying it. I love to work, and I like my children to know how important a good work ethic is, but I also want my children to know that dreams and aiming for them is also really important too. I would love for them to know that if you do want something, try and give it a go. Don’t live in regrets!

On this note, I am not about to dive into opening a tea and book shop, because I also know that as a grown up, its not that easy. But I am hoping to take a step towards this goal. In my spare time, I am looking at starting a book and tea subscription box. Subscription Boxes are really taking off, and I have been looking at ordering some for myself, as a monthly gift to me. I had an idea for my own box subscription. Its only in the early stages, and I am currently doing some market research. If you have five minutes spare, I would really appreciate if you took the time to fill in my survey. Thank you.

Find it here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/T93KCPC

I am really excited, as there is nothing I love more than a good book with a beautiful cup of tea! Sharing this with like minded people, or opening up reading to even more people would be as close to my dream as possible.

To follow along on my adventure, please keep an eye out for a tea and a book posts or visit my new webpage https://athenabooks.wordpress.com

Unexpected exciting weekend…

Have you ever had to wait a really long time for something? Have you ever had to wait so long for something, that when it finally happens, it comes as a total surprise and leaves you little shocked? This happened to me this weekend, and it made me appreciated how lucky I really am.

We had a house on the market, and for a while I thought we would never sell it. It seemed to take an age, but the day was finally drawing nearer but we still have no date. Well, it finally all came together at the end of this week. It was half expected but I was still waiting for something else to go wrong. So when Mr Butterfly Child suggested putting a deposit down on a new car, and getting some quotes for new windows, and to think about where I wanted to go celebrate. I didn’t believe it would happen, so I didn’t really do much.

We out a deposit down, but in all honesty, I was worried. What if it never completed? What if the money never came entered out banks? I am a born worrier, so every worry possible, i thought! We had a gentleman round to give us a quote for windows, and we agreed to see him soon. But again, I was still waiting for the, “well, its delayed again!” speech from our solicitors. Friday was the day, the morning came and went without any news. I am now worried!
I called Mr BC, he had assured me the money was on its way, and it would simply be a case of refreshing his bank and the money would be there. I did not believe this and spent the next few hours worrying.

The garage was closing at 5:30pm, we had to drive 30 minutes to the garage. Kids needed collecting from school at 3:30pm, and we had to hadn’t the keys over at 5pm. If you’re scratching your head thinking, yeah so! Well at 3:00pm, as myself and Mr BC waited for the gates to open to school, he refreshed and there sat waiting for us, was the fruits of our labour. But we had to collect our children, get across Somerset in rush hour on a Friday, pay for and collect a car, get back to hand over keys and feed the children at some point. We were so excited, we didn’t want to wait until Monday, we wanted our new car for the weekend.

Luckily for us, my mum happily stayed to collect the children, and my sister lives near school. So collecting the children was sorted and we were on our way! Everything else went smoothly, we collected our car! I got a selfie with it, as you do, and we headed for home. We met our buyer, handed over the keys and that was the end of our excitement.

We have spent the rest of the weekend celebrating our new car, having some money and generally being thankful. We haven’t always had the best luck, but we have always made do with what we have, and have always been grateful for a roof over our heads, food in our tummies and amazing family and friends. But it is so nice to finally be able to say something has worked out well for us.

We all try to be good people, we have great days and we have bad days, but we always try to be kind and helpful and there for others if we can, as they have been for us. Even when we have had terrible luck, and everything seems against us, I have met some wonderful people who have helped me in my time of need and when I have a good weekend like this one, it reminds me of how lucky we really are, I have survived all the bad days, and I have come out of the other side. I might have been able to do this on my own, but luckily I haven’t had too, and that is why I am so lucky.

Remembrance Sunday 2017

My family do a lot of things that make me proud of them, they do a lot of things that wind me up too, but mostly they make me proud. Sometimes, its little things that other people might not think of being something to be proud of, but I am a big believer in praising people, and seeing the beauty in everything. Simple things like monkey remembering to hold hands with poppet when crossing the road, my husband driving the long way round, so I can see the beauty of the world from the top of Ham Hill as the sun sets. My two children joining beavers and rainbows and promising to be kind and helpful. Today was also one of those days.

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We don’t go to church as often as we should, but when we do, I am always really proud of my children. They are both live wires, who love to talk, can’t sit still and genuinely could ask more questions in five minutes than most people do in a lifetime. Today for the Remembrance Service, Little Monkey sat with his Beaver troop and Poppet sat next to me, and they were both incredible. We had a few whispered questions from Poppet but that was to be expected, she has only just turned 5. But my little monkey was incredible, he joined in on the parade, he was quiet when he was supposed to be, he sang the Lords Prayer and joined in on the National Anthem, all whilst being sat away from his family. When it came to a blessing, he decided he wanted to come with myself and poppet but that was ok. Mr Butterfly Child joined in the Parade and looked dashing in his uniform. Nothing makes me feel proud, sad, happy and confused more than seeing him all dressed up in his uniform. It is a mixed emotion day for myself, as for so many others. It is important we don’t forget those fallen, or why we lost them. But it is also a reminder, that a part of our family, our hearts go away still, and sadly sometimes they still don’t return.

We have been talking about Poppies, Remembrance and why it is important a lot lately. We are a Forces family, my husband, Mr Butterfly Child, is serving in the Royal Navy, and so it is really important for us, for our children, to understand our past, to keep remembrance alive and explain what it is daddy does. Its hard when our children are so young to explain what daddy does, or why we wear poppies, or why we have to remember those we have lost in wars gone by, or honour service personnel today. But it is especially important to our family. I want our children to appreciate what daddy does, and know that when (and it will be soon) he goes away again, he is doing something important and we should all be so very proud of him, as I am everyday.

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(Poppet got to bring Rainbow bear home – so she coloured some poppies with him)

Pass it on…

I have always loved reading! For as long as I can remember I have never been anywhere without a book, and I always have at least 3 on my bedside table, and I generally have a good 2 – 3 books on the go at any one time.

I think in most part, I can be thankful to my mum for this love. She is also an avid reader, and I learnt to read at a really early age. This love has carried me through my life, and my tastes have changed, grown and I hope will stay with me for my whole life. There is nothing quite like settling down in a comfy chair with a good book and a nice tea.

As you all know, I now have my own children. I try to read to them every day, and I encourage them to read there own school books every evening. We love to visit the library and borrow books, and I always try to get the pair of them to choose different books and broaden their own interests too.

My son loves to read, and astounds me everyday by his learning and understanding. He brings home a wide variety of books, last week it was a dinosaur fact book, this week was Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss. At home, he has just started reading Harry Potter to himself. I could not be more proud when he came to me with a bookmark about 4 pages in and said “Mummy, I just read this”. He is slowly making progress, it is quite hard read for a nearly 7 year old. But I am so proud he is even giving it a go, even if he reads only one page a day. My daughter has just started reception and is just starting on her reading journey and she is so excited to be able to read like her brother. Any fear I had that my love and passion for reading wasn’t being passed on, was all in vain. My children love books, they love to read, to hear stories and even make top their own stories. I may share sons story one day all about a monster called The Podding! Its good stuff for a 6 year old.

As I write this, my daughter is being read a fairy book by her Grandma and my son is reading his school book, I am thankful we all share this love and we all love to hear about books we have read or are reading. I love that it doesn’t matter if we don’t all like the same things, and it is a big deal if we don’t always read the same books. We do all love to share if we have read a good book, and we are all happy to try a new book to see if we will like it.

As a family, we love to experience the outdoors, we like to climb trees, play hide and seek and run through fields. But reading for us, is an adventure that you never have to leave your house to enjoy. Plus we take our favourite stories with us. As we walk around big manor houses, at least one of us will stand in a fireplace and say “Diagon Alley”, or walking around Ikea we always look in wardrobes, just in case Narnia is hidden amongst one of them. Poppet is always on the look out for a ballet fairy, ice dancing fairy or whichever fairy she has read about that week. Little monkey is always reading new facts about dinosaurs, and if he can bring them out into every day conversation, he will!

We have a lot of hobbies, and we are always embroiled in something exciting, fun or challenging. But we always have time to sit down, pick a favourite book and read it aloud.

Out of all the things I could have passed onto my children, I am glad one of those things was my love of reading. I wish everyone could have been surrounded by books as much as I have been, and if I can excite/ignite a love for books in just one person, I will be pleased.

*Book Review* Mistletoe Murders

Mistletoe Murders and other stories

P D James
This was only my second experience of P D James. Being a Jane Austen fan, Death at Pemberley was my first. So I had no expectations. I enjoyed Death at Pemberley, but I could never be sure if this was due to James storytelling or my love of all things Bennet and Darcy.

I can honestly admit, I loved it. James has a way of a setting a scene like no other. I could easily picture the Hall in which she went to stay as a young widower, her vivid descriptions pulled me in and got me trying to seek out clues and figure out the mysteries alongside our heros and heroine. I must admit, as a lover of murder mysteries and crime dramas, I thought I knew a thing or too, but I was tricked and sailed alonged with the rest of the captivated audience.

Mistletoe murder combines all my loves into one, a history of mystery and intriguing characters, a murder, a heroine and Christmas! The story may be similar to other murder mysteries but James tells it in such a way, that when the twist comes, it even fooled me. I saved this book for my lunchtime reading at work, but as I neared the end of the first story, I found I needed to know, so I took it home and completed the first story that evening.

The second story is just as intriguing and shocking. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first because I do love a story where you can love the titular character. There was  nothing you could like about Ernest Gabriel, I think he was written to be a character you shouldn’t like or feel anything for, but I do love to get attached to my book characters. However, the story still kept me on the edge of my seat and even surprised me at the end.   I honestly did not see the end coming, which thinking about it, was probably quite naive of me, but this just made my experience of the story even better.

For me, the third story is close to my heart as it reminds me of my parents, and is the driving force for choosing my next book. My parents watched Dalgleish on the TVs, and although I never got into that specific programme, they are the reason I love mysteries, crime dramas, thrillers and good old “who dunnits”. I would love to read more of the Dalgleish series. As I said I love a good character, and the little glimpse I got in this short story is begging me for more.  The short story was incredible and really gave a glimpse into the character, and how he works. I also loved the story within this one, the idea of secrets and lies going hidden for years, is exciting and kept me interested right until the end.

The final story in the book, for me was the low point. I did not enjoy it as much, I didn’t feel the suspense or intrigue I had felt with the others. I am a lover on ending on a high, and I don’t believe this booklet did that. The story was not bad, but it gave no insight into characters, I didn’t connect with the story like I had the others. The general storytelling was missing a little bit of James usual vivid atmosphere and descriptions. It also didn’t take much for me to guess what was happening before it happened, which I like to try to solve along with the detective/main character etc.

Overall, this collection of short stories was well worth the money and gave me an insight into P D James that until now I had been missing. I can’t wait until my next visit to the book store, a P D James novel will definitely be on my list. My one objection, is in part due to the last short story, although I guess it was a little evident in all the stories. They sometimes felt a little rushed, sometimes the build up of a mystery, and the character development is what makes a story, and within a short story, there isn’t always time for that. I will definitely be recommending this book to family and friends, and I am on the look out for my next read.

I am giving this collection of short stories:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ★ (4/5 stars)

Well worth a read, and good for a quick read on your lunch break.