11th May 2020

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  • Feeling: A bit up and down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Van der Valk

I’m feeling a bit down after the various announcements from government yesterday and today. I don’t think there are simple solutions to the situation, but I guess I’m worried that the current course of action seems foolhardy when we don’t seem to have adequate testing or contact tracing in place.

However, I don’t want to dwell on this too much although it has affected my mood this evening, we’ve had a good day.

We got some deliveries of some bean plants and new tea towels (D is fed up of my using the tea towels while baking and getting bread dough and flour all over them). The bean plants were pretty sad looking by the time they got to us – they were meant to be delivered on Friday, but only reached us today – so D has put them in pots and is hoping to revive them. On the other hand the tomato plants we got from C a few weeks ago are looking great!

The kids had art class and for the first time F actually enjoyed it. We had a talk beforehand about it, and she was worried that she would get upset because she already had a vision of what she wanted the picture to be like in her head and she didn’t think it would turn out as good as her vision. We agreed it would still be good to try, and she seemed to really enjoy it for a change.

Kids also got on with school work and had their online tutoring sessions (with Explore learning) which they seemed to enjoy. I was my usual work focussed self as it was Monday, but had a nice lunch with the rest of the family (although indoors today) and this evening we all watched Taskmaster together again (which is far too funny for the kids just before bedtime!)

F has been writing some more poems for her website, but this is one of my favourites from a couple of weeks ago:

The Outside
Listen to the howling lonely gale
Feel the cold harsh hail
The leaves stroke my cheeks
My head aches for weeks
The birds’ song fills my heart 

Thick branches scraped my heart
The summer comes
The red leaf runs

So the breeze laughs and sings 
The leaves have wings
The birds loop the trees
And you catch the dancing bees

http://www.freyapatelstephens.com/poems/

My next baking challenge is brioche – a request from Bryn – and the aim is to bake some brioche buns for burgers later in the week – I’ve never done brioche before so quite excited to try.

Stay safe, stay strong x

10th May 2020

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We all slept in this morning – even D! We didn’t get up that late (around 9) but just late enough it felt like a lie in without it feeling like we’d wasted our morning.

Although it wasn’t a very nice day weather-wise (and we spent most of it indoors, even the kids), in celebration of Garden day UK, D spent some time in the morning making herself a “flower crown” with flowers from the garden plus a few that she picked on our walk yesterday.

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Accessorising from the garden, that

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I spent some time working with B on his card playing computer program (it plays Blackjack (not 21/pontoon, but a card game similar to Uno), but my main aim for the day was to complete the little electronics project I keep meaning to do. I got a wooden automaton kit of a guitarist for my birthday and I thought it would be a nice idea to have it play music when it moved – so I fitted a light dependent resistor into the neck of the guitar which is covered/uncovered as the automaton moves. I hooked this up to a Raspberry Pi computer and a speaker and wrote a program to measure the light level and play/pause a recording of the guitar riff from Smoke on the Water depending on the amount of light falling on the resistor.

Spoke to Mum this evening and then D finished off a day of making by doing some more lovely lino prints

The weekend has had some ups and downs, and especially yesterday evening I really struggled managing F being difficult/upset at bedtime (and sadly I have to admit that I sometimes end up becoming childish in response to their behaviour) – but this evening I feel refreshed from having three days away from work and spending time sleeping, reading, baking and making.

Stay safe, stay strong x

9th May 2020

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  • Feeling: Tired out
  • Listening to: Welcombe Radio
  • Watching: The Last Jedi

Tired out this evening, despite not really doing a lot today – I blame the heat.

Woke up at a reasonable time feeling really relaxed – first time in ages I woken feeling completely rested. In the morning we went out for a walk in the small woods along the riverside in Leamington – the sun coming through the green canopy was beautiful.

While we were out I got a message to say a recording by our choir was going to be played on a local community radio station, Welcombe Radio, today – so I spent some time listening to their Art Show to hear our moment of radio play.

But the big event of the day was the release of our virtual choir performance that we’ve been working on since we haven’t been able to rehearse face-to-face. About a third of the choir took part and the musical director has turned video director to put it all together. So proud of this choir and to be part of it.

Stay safe, stay strong xs

8th May 2020

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  • Feeling: Relaxed(ish)
  • Listening to: Green Day
  • WatchingRocketman

Woke at 7 and got up to make tea – but after I’d had tea I went back to sleep while D got up, and I didn’t wake again until almost 10. I tried my hardest to relax and not think about work all day (mostly successfully). I was at my most relaxed when I was cooking (bread and then meatballs and pasta for the kids tea and plaice for D).

I barely ventured out all day it was so hot – I only made it as far as the shed to get some tools for a few little projects (which I didn’t really make much progress with). I did manage to do some reading as well. D was out in the garden and went out for a walk with the kids later on while I cooked tea.

I wasn’t great company today to be honest, but more because I was just trying to have some quiet time to myself rather than anything else (although not sure that’s a comfort to D and the kids). But we did have fun today with the dining area being converted into a “games café” for the day.

F played “Rush Hour” (a great little puzzle game) in the morning, D and the kids played Contrast in the afternoon and then we all played Happy Salmon and Exploding Kittens after tea.

I did two lots of bread today, and I’m pretty pleased with how the first lot has come out

My other bread was a sourdough focaccia recipe I’d not tried before – that’s gone in the oven just now. It looked good (weird, but good) before I put it in, so hoping it lives up to the promise.

B also did some cooking today with D, making some “whoopie pies” (small soft chocolate cakes with jam and marshmallow sandwiched in the middle) which looked and tasted great.

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Been baking with the boy, we now have no more sugar!

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All in all a good day, although the kids were sometimes a bit argumentative and I could have been less grumpy at times. But very nice to have had a “do nothing” day but still have the weekend in front of us.

Stay safe, stay strong x

Focaccia is done – looking forward to having this for breakfast tomorrow!

7th May 2020

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Another slow start to the day for me, but B flew through his school work for the day (although that meant he could then spend far too long dealing with the one problem piece of work from earlier in the week).

F was eager to do her work (create a Roman centurions shield) once D suggested she could use the spray paints she got for her birthday – she has been so looking forward to trying these out (and of course didn’t want to restrict herself to just the shield once she got going!)

As he’d planned yesterday, B setup a maths “escape room” for F (one he found online rather than created himself) and although she occasionally got frustrated, I think F enjoyed the challenge overall.

D has been doing more linocuts in her series about the favourite items in her wardrobe with a scarf yesterday and pyjamas today…

D and I have loved Taskmaster since it started and UKTV have recently created a “PG” version with all the swearing bleeped out so we decided to introduce the kids to it this week – to much excitement and hilarity on their part. Apparently tomorrow evening we are going to have a “games night” and I’m half expecting to be set a taskmaster style challenge!

Tomorrow we are all taking the day off – woo! (although when asked F still wanted to do her hour tutoring with Liz) – not sure what we’ll do but I’ll try not to get involved in any work for the day. In anticipation I’m sitting sipping some Makers Mark this evening (I was going to have a rum, but somehow have none in the house).

Stay safe, stay strong.

6th May 2020

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  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Lily Allen
  • Watching: The Great British Sewing Bee

Today is a bit of a blur – seems to have gone very quickly. I woke at a reasonable time but didn’t exactly leap out of bed. B was obviously feeling the same as he didn’t get up until 9 this morning which isn’t like him.

After breakfast it was into our usual routine – everyone at work this morning. F wasn’t that keen on doing anything to be honest but I managed to persuade her to do some VE Day comprehension that the school had sent as a special for this week and later found her a nice “maths mystery”. She’s been doing a lot of these recently (thanks to Mrs C) – you start with a list of suspects and solve maths puzzles (“clues”) to find out which ones to eliminate at each stage of your enquiry – and eventually get down to just one suspect. The crimes involved are usually pretty tame, so F was particularly pleased that the one I found involved an actual murder!

D and the kids went for a walk during the afternoon while I was on an endless procession of calls, and later F decided to create her own maths murder mystery (complete with dead body in her room made from her clothes and a polystyrene skull) for us to solve. B wants to set a puzzle around the house for F tomorrow.

D cooked tea (sausages and cauliflower cheese) and in the evening the kids and D had their weekly quiz call with aunts, uncles and cousins on D’s side of the family, while I had virtual choir. I’m hoping that I’m going to be able to share the video of the virtual choir performance we’ve been working on soon – it was in the final stages of production this evening!

During the day my family were sharing pictures of their respective gardens to each other via WhatsApp – all looking great – I’m particularly excited about our strawberry plants coming into blossom (even though I’m not particularly keen on strawberries).

Stay safe, stay strong.

5th May 2020

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  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Parks and Recreation

Woke about 5am, came downstairs and tried to doze on the sofa for a bit – eventually went back to sleep and woke again at 7:30 and went back up to bed, D made tea and I didn’t manage to actually get down to breakfast until about 8:45 and started work late as a result.

Mid-morning I went to the supermarket – finding that stressful every time. It was definitely busier than my previous trips since lockdown started and it felt like people were being less careful in terms of keeping 2m distance. I think I’ve become slightly more neurotic about it as well which isn’t great! I tried the ‘scan as you go’ app which Sainsbury’s have been encouraging to help with the queue management – but I’m not convinced it’s a great idea at the moment as it meant I spent longer on each aisle scanning everything. I also missed several items on the list and had to go back at the end which was also stressful.

Anyway, once that was done with we had lunch and I had a work call. F seemed tired this morning and not really interested in doing much work, but she wrote a lovely poem for her grandma. B seemed to have a better day and got on with his school work, and wrote a poem for the milkman(!) to go out in our empties tonight.

D setup a camera to try to capture birds as they collect nesting materials from the garden, and got a pretty good shot of a blackbird.

Thanks to her cousin and Bryn playing with the new Google 3D animals, Freya found some more exotic wildlife in the garden:

I was pretty tired by 4pm and during the last zoom call of the day I did some hard concentrating with my eyes shut…

We went for a walk after tea (which we also ate in the garden) and the front garden is looking great

Stay safe, stay strong x

4th May 2020

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  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: The Mandalorian

Feeling a bit better / less sorry for myself today. Lots of nice messages from people yesterday and a good nights sleep has done me some good.

B had a tough day today, as he struggled with some (in my opinion) poorly set school work. By the end of the day he was a bit more relaxed, but all in all a stressful day for him.

F and D both had OK days I think, and D has been doing some cute lino cuts in the evenings.

I spent most of the day on calls, and helping the kids. D got on with her work, kept the kids on track and fed us. More parcels – one for the kids from Auntie P full of goodies, and I got a new toolbox and a replacement light switch which I need to fit. In the evening the kids talked to B & Z in Chicago and showed off their new climbing frame (of which F said: “imagine your favourite food in your favourite place to eat – it’s better than that!”)

I’m still tired, still stressed, and still not feeling 100%, but today was a better day than yesterday, thankful for all my friends and family, and tomorrow should be an easier day work wise – so hopefully all on the up.

Stay safe, stay strong.

3rd May 2020

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  • Feeling: Tired and a little down
  • Listening to: Bach Motets
  • Watching: Nothing really

It’s been a “nothing really” sort of day. I got the lie in I wanted this morning and didn’t get up until 10am. D and F had been up a while but B also got up late and wasn’t much ahead of me.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a great morning – despite (or because of?) the lie in I was tired and had a headache. F got frustrated with the lack of action and company in the morning and I got frustrated with F, and we fell out. I also upset B as he embarked on making granola by himself (which was admirable) but without actually checking what ingredients we had or really thinking about the recipe before he started – which again left me frustrated. What we are learning here is I’m really not great company when I’m tired.

D stepped in and worked with B on the cooking and tried to cheer up F. Eventually we had lunch and I made up with the kids, and the day perked up a bit.

In the afternoon I made bagels with some help from B, and then D, B and F watched The Force Awakens. I sort of half watched, tried to do a puzzle on my phone, and tried (but failed) to read my book, and rest.

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Bagels!

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Overall I’m feeling a bit down this evening – I’m tired, behind with work and not really looking forward to Monday. I feel like I’ve wasted the day a bit and not been great company for D or a great parent for B or F and I’m generally feeling quite sorry for myself. Looking for something to treat myself with this evening to cheer myself up. Hopefully a good nights sleep will sort me out.

Stay safe, stay strong.

2nd May 2020

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  • Feeling: Exhausted
  • Listening to: Choir songs
  • Watching: Virtual choir video!

Today would have been spring/summer concert for the choir I sing in. Instead we decided to have a virtual event, remembering some highlights of Sing it Loud and premiering our “virtual choir” video – although that didn’t go quite as planned!

My day started last night when Seb (the musical director) got in touch about midnight to see if I had a computer that might render the virtual choir video more quickly than his (as his was not going fast enough) – and so we spent the next two hours getting me setup with the right software and files to give it a go. We set the job going, and it looked like it might work – and around 2:30 I went to sleep with the plan to wake up at 7 and hopefully see a finished video – however when I woke it was still predicting 6+ hours to finish the job – and it remained at “6 hours to go” for the rest of the day.

Happily Seb was able to put something together for the evening, and the whole event went off really well and we had a lovely time – what was meant to be just 45 minutes of memories, turned into a couple of hours of reminiscing and watching old performances, and eventually the virtual choir – the proper version will be made available on YouTube once its done, but for this evening we all enjoyed watching Seb’s “early draft” together.

Apart from choir, it was a busy day – we got pastries from Haddie & Trilby for breakfast.

Then I spent most of the day building the new trapeze and climbing frame set for the kids. We’d decided that the old swing (which was secondhand when we got) really was past it, and given the current circumstances we should get the kids something they could really play on in the garden. And so last week I ordered a single swing/trapeze frame plus a rope ladder/platform & pole from Brave Toys. While the process wasn’t entirely stress free (I didn’t always deal with the kids “helping” so well) the result was a great new garden toy and two very happy kids.

In the evening, before choir, we had the usual Saturday quiz, and F had been very keen for the dress-up theme to be books – she dressed as “Prince Johnathon” from the Song of the Lioness series, while B wanted to be the steam punk traction city of London from the Mortal Engines series.

All of that followed by choir, with less than 5 hours sleep and I’m exhausted – so I’m going to bed and hoping to have a lie in tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong.