I like to do a review post of the year at this time, it helps me keep focus and it’s always good to look back. I know my health has been a main issue for the past year but I will try and focus on other things in this post, but first a quick run down on my issues. In January 2017 I was re-diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrom with PERM (Progressive encephemyelitis with rigidity and myoclonus.) I immediately went for IV steroid treatment and then high dose steroids for 3 months with little effect (other than making me put on nearly two stone.) I was then approved for IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) which I had hoped would be my miracle cure but wasn’t. I did however have some improvement so I’m continuing with this for a while longer to see if the improvements get better. I am still unable to walk very far and in pain every moment of every day. I am still trying to live life as full as I can and make lots of memories for my lovely children.

So here goes, illness aside, this is what we have been up to in 2017.

January

In January, along with a lot of reflecting on life, I wrote a post of our Christmas presents last year. Reading back I’m surprised at how much fun we had with Lego Dimensions, a game that has hardly been played since last January! The race track has had lots more play time though.

February

My lovely little chef Boo made a Valentines Cake. It was adorable and we made two lovely videos showing how she made the cake and how she decorated it. 

March

Here is another recipe for you, a gorgeous Banana Honey and Walnut Tea Loaf
In a reflective mood I also wrote a post about my Dad who passed away when I was very young. 

April

In April I joined the National Trust and our first outing was to Packwood House. I had hoped for many more visits to different places during the year but we didn’t manage many. My main regret is going somewhere just before Christmas but we had a big snow fall and ended up not being able to go out at all. Still, we did have a few wonderful outings and Packwood house will definitely be visited again. 

May

My favourite post for May is where I reflect on having a second chance at motherhood. I had two children in my early 20s and mostly raised them alone when their Dad decided to move abroad. But I met my current husband in my mid 30s and he didn’t have children. We decided we’d like a family together but our first child wasn’t born until I was nearly 40! Then we went on to have two more, was I crazy?

June

We generally start June with a holiday at half term. This year we went to Weymouth and had a lovely time. We usually get some fantastic weather too so I’m a little concerned that in 2018 we’ve chosen to go away in August instead, the weather is much more temperamental in the Summer.
On the way home I achieved something that I’d wanted to do for a long long time. I went to visit a shop in a tiny village. We drove miles out of our way on our way home from Weymouth just to go there and even though the shop was tiny we spent well over an hour in there. I’d set myself a strict budget on what I could spend but I so wish I could have spent more. So here is my story of my Pilgrimage to Wincanton and the Discworld Emporium.

July

July is Boo’s birthday month and we celebrated with a Dog Making Party. We had some gorgeous dogs from Splodge Teddy Parties that needed filling and then fastening to make a lovely cuddly pet. The girls had a whale of a time and were able to take their new pets home with them. I also made a nifty looking Dog cake, even if I do say so myself. 

August

We started August with a weekend away in Bridport, Dorset. The place where Broadchurch was filmed. We had changeable weather, pouring down one minute and then really sunny the next. The kids had a fabulous time and I even managed a paddle in the sea.
August is also the month for The Little Man and Star’s birthdays. No parties for them this year, although the Little Man had a couple of friends around to play and Star had her usual meal out at Pizza Hut. 
Then at the end of the month we had another day out at a National Trust Property, Hanbury Hall.


September

Back to school, and for two of my kids a brand new school building! The primary and secondary school are merging so it will be an all through school from Reception to Year 11. It seems to be working out well so far, but the Little Man is left behind in the old school and they don’t seem to be giving them as much attention as those in the new school. 
We did have a great day out in early September to Stratford-on-Avon. Our picnic plans were scuppered by rain but we ended up in the fantastic MAD museum. This is one of my favourite videos of this year. 

October

I love the Great British Bake Off but this year I didn’t get much chance to bake along. When I did, it didn’t exactly go to plan as these Chocolate Molten Puddings show. They were tasty though.
We also got the chance to visit a local farm to carve our pumpkins which was really good, at least we didn’t have all the mess at home.


November

In November poor Star fractured her wrist in an accident at school. 
I also got to write about Autism when The A Word had it’s second series on BBC1, this post is about schools.
Then we had a fun day out at Hatton Adventure world and The Enchanted Christmas Kingdom where the kids got to visit Father Christmas in his grotto and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

December

December has been an exciting month with Christmas preparations. Most exciting was my birthday present from my friend which was a trip to the Ballet to see the Nutcracker. It was the perfect start to the holiday season.
I don’t think it’s been a bad year, probably not very exciting but I’ve taken my health issues out of the picture for this post and they dictate a lot on what we can and can’t do. I really hope I’ve created some lovely memories for my children. 

image source

When this time in their life comes, it is going to be both exciting and sad for both parties. You will have been the glue that has held their life together for years and years, you rely on each other for more than you realise. But when the time eventually does come, there’s a certain sense of pride that you’ll feel. A lot of parents seem to be stuck with their children for longer than they wish to be. But when the time does come they’ll realise that all the times they thought their children are pains in the bum will fade, and they’ll miss those times. So, to make the process a little easier on everyone, there’s a few things you can do to make sure you’re helping them fly the nest.


Funds

This is going to be something they’re really going to struggle with. We can all remember our first move, and it was never really a pleasant experience, especially when it comes to the money side of things. There’s so many unexpected things to pay, and so many items to buy for the house that they might not have thought about in the first place. Now, they should never fully rely on the bank of mom and dad, but a helping hand really will go a long way. You could buy them a few items of furniture, or just give a bit towards the deposit so that their mortgage is just slightly lower. Any contribution will make such a big difference to their stress levels. If you know your child’s move is a few years away still, you could start saving for them now so they have a nice lump sum of money ready for them. More ways in which you can help them with funds can be found here, http://time.com.

The Move

This is definitely one of the most stressful parts of a move. There’s so much planning to do, it is often too much to handle when you’ve never done it before. If you want to help them with the process, you could always sort out the movers, such as the ones found through this link https://www.mybekins.com/location/santa-fe-springs-ca-movers/. Then you can organise things such as finding the best deals on the bills and even the things they’re going to put into the house. When it’s their first move they might not always be clued up to search for the bargains out there, they’ll just pick the first thing that they see.

Settling In

For this part you really don’t have to do much. All you need to do is give them their space to enjoy their freedom. Owning your first home is the first insight into what true independence is, they need to realise this sooner rather than later. A lot of children still rely on their parents heavily when they first move out. Not only will this be a nightmare for you, it’ll be a nightmare for them when you finally do stop giving them your help. Let them figure things out for themselves, and definitely don’t go up uninvited. An overbearing parent is the last thing they’re going to want, especially if they’ve moved in with a partner.

Disclosure: Collaborative post

Happy New Years Eve Eve Eve!
It’s Christmas Limbo week and I’m sure there are loads of fun stuff to be doing but we are still in recovery mode. Tonight we were supposed to be going to a party but silly me has been really ill for the past few days so it’s a no show from us.
Wednesday I literally did not move all day! I was so poorly. I did manage to watch a couple of movies, Big Hero 6, which is one of my favourite animation movies and IRobot, which is based on one of the very first Sci-fi books I read at the age of twelve (a long time ago.) Both films give you lots to think about and in ways both are similar in their approach to human nature. 
Yesterday I was feeling a little better and you’ll be pleased to know I managed my first shower since Christmas Eve…yes, I was beginning to stink! 
Christmas has been a bit of a blur, with illness and other stuff going on. It certainly didn’t feel like Christmas this year. The kids, however, have had a ball. Just look at their faces on Christmas Morning!
wouldn’t you be smiling with a pile of presents like that before you?
They loved all their gifts and had everything they wanted and more. Christmas dinner went well but we forgot the pigs in blankets! We also didn’t bother with pudding, things were started to go pear shaped by late afternoon. The kids went to bed and Christmas day was well and truly over. We didn’t even have an alcoholic drink. 
Next up is New Years Eve. We don’t really party but we do have a tradition of watching a movie while snacking on party food and finishing the evening with cheese and crackers and a few bevvies. 
We’ve not decided on our movie yet but previous years offerings have been Sean of the Dead and End of the World. I quite fancy Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy! 

So my word of the week this week has to be limbo. Are you in the Christmas limbo or are you still partying your way to the New Year? 

The Reading Residence

With Christmas Day so close now it has to be the word of my week. This week has been very Christmas focused, with Christmas food shopping and present wrapping. But my favourite thing about Christmas is joining the kids at school for activities and concerts.

This year both schools (which are really one school but the younger ones haven’t moved over to the new building yet) have had Christmas Wonderland Events. On Tuesday we were at the big school where we were treated to hot chocolate and mince pies while we pottered around the stalls decorating Christmas hats and baubles, playing pin the nose on the reindeer and other games and purchasing Christmas cards designed by the children, as well as lots of other stuff. One thing we did enjoy was having selfies with Father Christmas, even I had a go. There were props too and hubby gave Father Christmas a sign pointing to me which said naughty. I was not happy and promptly told FC that I’d been a very good girl and he promised that he would bring me lots of presents on Christmas Eve. I’m sorted!

After the Wonderland the school gave a concert (But not until after the raffle was drawn where I won a box of 12 Christmas cupcakes!) The kids at that school are incredibly talented. They do focus on the music lessons and have what they call ‘band musicianship where the children are encouraged to play instruments of their choice and create their own bands. They even have a recording studio. Star wasn’t in this particular performance but I still enjoyed the show.

Then yesterday we had the  Winter Wonderland at the little school which was very similar but still lots of fun. errr I won the raffle again! This time we had a choice of prizes and I sent Boo to choose and she came back with a cake, she wasn’t impressed when I told her it was a fruit cake though.

There’s been only one dampener on the week though and that was my eldest daughter getting sick yesterday. I’m just hoping we don’t all come down with it now but I do have a sneaky feeling it was something she ate, dodgy mayonnaise.

Merry Christmas!

The Reading Residence