Wednesday, 29 April 2020

20 Educational (and Great) Films for Teens to Watch during Lockdown

20 movies header

Lockdown is lasting us a fair while and I think it is safe to say that life will not go back to normal for many months yet, so I think we'll still be having our kids home with us for long periods of time to come. If your tweens and teens are anything like mine they are happily watching a lot of TV, with box sets being high up on their hit list.

I don't mind the kids watching TV at all, but it is nice to sometimes direct their attention towards something that is educational as well as being really enjoyable to watch. Here I have collated together a list of films that I have loved over the years and all of them have great lessons to teach - whether they are about life lessons, morals or maybe just giving an insight to our history.

These all offer guilt-free screen time and (I feel) could count towards their education -

Rating PG


1.   Dead Poets Society (1989)
Run Time:  140 Minutes
Themes:  Live life to the full, challenge the norm

When an inspirational and unorthodox teacher joins the staff of the elite all-male prep school, Welton Academy the students are inspired to be different and to break away from the norm. It's amazing to see the young men realise that can break from tradition and make their own choices. Rebellion isn't always a bad thing, especially not when it allows you to seize the day!


2.   Soul Surfer (2011)
Run Time: 106 Minutes
Themes:  Perseverance, overcoming adversity, hard work

The true story of Bethany Hamilton, who was a champion teenage surfer, when a shark attack took her arm. Her faith and the support of her friends and family help her to surf again and go on to be a professional surfer.



Sunday, 26 April 2020

Looking for Reasons to be Cheerful in Lockdown

Wild garlic on JJ and my walk earlier this week

It's the end of another week and yes, like everyone else, they are all merging into each other. We're coming into our seventh week of being home as a family now as the kids came out of school early as my hubby had a cough and we were recommended to isolate. I can hardly believe they have been home learning for that amount of time. I think we are finally finding a bit of a rhythm and the girls are getting on with their work, which in turn allows me time to do mine.

I must say I felt quite normal last night. I headed to Lidl to get a bit of shopping and there were very few people there and it didn't even feel like we were purposely distancing (but we were) and then I picked up an Indian takeaway for us all and came back and enjoyed it with Saturday night TV. It was blissful to take the 20-minute drive in the early evening sun.

Today I am doing my normal Sunday routine with an online church service, a roast dinner and then probably a walk with my JJ this afternoon. Perhaps exploring a new part of our local area. but this is becoming harder as we have to keep walking further and further out. If only we could drive somewhere!

It's not been a bad week here, how can it be when the sun is shining and we have so much space? The girls have been swimming in the lake, playing ball and creating environmental art. We've had a BBQ, outdoor worship around a fire and some great food.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Send a little Love with Design Bundles

Rainbow unicorn bundle from Design Bundles

{This is a collaborative post}

It's not anywhere near as easy to be in touch with our friends and loved ones right now. Yes, we have technology and that, of course, is an absolute blessing as we can still see each other and connect, but nothing beats being face-to-face and being able to have a hug and clearly hear their voice.

For people like my husband's grandma, who is 96 there is no option for video calling as she doesn't have any gadgets and she doesn't understand the technology even. So I have been sending her letters, jigsaw puzzles, books and other care packages to help things feel a little brighter and for her to know that we are still thinking of her between the phone calls. It's at times like this when I really feel the difficulty of living over a hundred miles from both our families. I would just love to be able to nip around and leave some groceries on her doorstep, or to have a cuppa in her garden as she sits inside, as per social distancing.

It brings me a lot of joy to create things that I think will speak to the person they are intended for. I wouldn't say I have a natural talent for craft but I think I can create some nice cards from fairly basic materials. My go-to approach is to use card blanks, along with coloured card, printed papers and toppers to create a layered approach. I also like to add some washi tape and things like stick-on diamontes/ pearl beads.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Seven ways to Create a Low-Maintenance Garden

garden with artifical grass
Image Source: Grass Direct Facebook
{This is a collaborative post}

Outside space is an absolute blessing. Most of us love to sit out as the sun goes down and enjoy a glass of something delicious (Baileys in my case), or read our book on a sun lounger, or perhaps watch the kids as they play happily in the playhouse. However, gardens can become a real chore and cause many headaches.

Not everyone is naturally green-fingered or has the time or inclination to spend hours in the garden keeping it looking nice, and let's be honest who wants to sit out if the space just looks like some wasteland? If gardening isn't your thing but you do want to enjoy the outdoors, then read on to see my tips for creating a low-maintenance garden that will look fabulous and leave you with all your free time to do the things you really love. 

1.  Go for artificial grass
I remember the first time I realised you could have artificial grass in your garden, it was a game-changer for me. I was at a party at a new friends house with all our two-year-olds and they were happily playing in the garden without picking up grass and dirt and putting it in their mouths. I remember saying to Lisa, how much I loved it and she said there was no going back once you'd had artificial grass. As the maintenance is easy with just a weekly hose down, you also don't ever have to worry about muddy footprints again and your grass stays green the whole year-round. It's a winner!

Artificial grass

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Keeping your Teenager busy during Lockdown - Over 50 Ideas

3 Teens whittling wood

It looks like lockdown will go on for another few weeks yet and who knows when school will recommence. I've been gentle with my 16-year-old JJ for the last few weeks, he has had some leeway to play games online, chat to his mates and just sleep (Isn't that what teens do best?) but now I need to get tough and get him doing some different things.

He'd have me believe that because he doesn't have to take his GCSEs I should allow him to wallow in his bedroom for the next five months, but that can't be good for him, so I revisited the posts I'd already written about getting your teen off their screen/ tech (you can check them out here and here) and enlisted my girls to think about all the different tasks we could get JJ involved in.

These are things all teens (or maybe even tweens and twenties too) could do and will hopefully either enjoy, learn something new or get a sense of satisfaction from. I suspect many of them will get an eye roll and the declaration of 'lame' but still, I'm on a mission to get JJ doing some different things.

I'll start with the activities I have already managed to get him to do during this lockdown -

  1. Go for a walk and chat to whoever you're with. Try a new route and discover your neighbourhood
  2. Play outdoor games with the family - frisbee, football, handball
  3. Teach your siblings to whittle wood and make skewers for toasting marshmallows, or create a carved walking stick
  4. Light a firepit or small campfire and toast marshmallow, or make easy dough to cook on a stick
  5. Play board and card games. Favourites recently have been Catan, Azul and Ticket to Ride
  6. Watch a film with the family
  7. Watch a theatre show with the family (The show must go on is showing an Andrew Lloyd Webber one each weekend)
  8. Cook us all dinner, or lunch, or yummy waffles
  9. Bake some treats - we've had courgette and cheese muffins, Easter chocolate cake and fruit and nut flapjack so far
  10. Do housework - Empty and refill the dishwasher, hand-wash the pots, change his bed, hoover and dust his room. Of course, none of these are particularly exciting but I find he'll do them fine if we work alongside each other and chat as we go
  11. Do the recycling
  12. Hoover, wash and polish the car. Ours looks great now and we have no-where to go! lol
  13. Do an M.O.T on the family computers to check they are running optimally and free up space
  14. Sign up for the daily newsletter from TEDed, so he has good content dropping into his inbox that will inform and engage him each day
  15. Create a family music playlist. We enjoy him playing random songs and the rest of us have to be quickest to guess the song title and the artist. This was something we used to do in the car, now it is home-based. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Practising Self-Compassion as Coronavirus Realisation Sets In

Beautiful view to an orangery and church

We're now into our fourth week of lockdown here in the UK and I think the realisation of this situation has hit home with mostly everyone. Daily life has dramatically changed and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I am hopeful for some good to come from this awful time, but honestly, there will also be a whole load of crap too. People are dying, businesses are folding, many won't have a job to go back to and I won't even pretend to understand what is going to happen to our economy, but of course, the dreaded recession word is being used, and that is never good.

As I sat having lunch today I realised that we are all going through a trauma and I don't think we are giving ourselves the space or time to really process what is going on. If you're anything like me then you have gone into auto-pilot, trying to help everyone else in the family feel OK about what is happening. I'm organising, shopping, cleaning, sorting, playing, teaching, cooking, washing, listening, chatting etc etc, What I'm not doing is taking time to think through how all these changes impact me.

I realised a couple of weeks ago that something was wrong as I kept wanting to buy hand sanitiser even though I didn't need it, it was almost as if I thought it might get me through this tough time. It was super irrational but the mind plays tricks on us when it feels overloaded. I also recognised that I wasn't getting much done in a day, I felt busier than before the lockdown and how could that be as my work has dried up and I didn't have to go anywhere?

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

We're not machines and the sooner we realise that the better, the enormity of this situation we all find ourselves in, will have a different impact on every one of us. It's difficult, it's hard to process and it is humungous. There is so much uncertainty right now, it's no wonder that we feel a bit off-kilter.

We know that kindness and withholding judgement are essential at the moment. We do not know what is going on in someone else's life and it is not for us to say if it is OK for them to walk their dog four times a day, or to go for a drive in the hills. But we also have to remember that the kindness needs to be extended to ourselves as well.

It's almost Graduation Time - Planning your Senior Invitations

Photo by Logan Isbell on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Graduation is an important and exciting time for every young person. It is the time when you come together with all your friends and classmates to celebrate the hard work you have put in and (hopefully) the great results you leave with. You invite your close family to watch as you stand before them and proudly accept your certificate and shake the principles hand.

I've graduated three times here in the UK, the first from my Higher National Diploma, age 20, the second from my Ba degree conversion at age 21 and most recently from my Masters in 2007 at the age of 34. Each of these has been very proud days for me and I've been able to share them with my close family, as well as partying with my friends afterwards.

In the USA young people graduate from High School at around age 18 and this is the same age our young people leave college but there is no celebration or farewell for that stage here in the UK. My JJ is just finishing school now at age 16 and he should have a prom in June, but of course, coronavirus is making it unlikely that will happen. I think this is really sad for all the young people who have worked so hard and now cannot take their exams, nor attend prom to celebrate their successes.

For this reason, I was stoked to discover Basic Invite, a company that offers every type of invitation and announcement card you could possibly need and in so many stunning designs. Senior invitations are exactly what I need for JJ, as I can send these to friends and family far and wide to shout out how proud I am that he had graduated from school and will be starting college in the fall.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Reasons to be Cheerful - Lockdown Edition 2

French onion soup cooking in the pot and cooking dough on sticks

This lockdown lark really is a funny old thing. I feel busier than in my regular days and all I seem to hear is 'Mum'....  but I will be forever grateful that I have people who call me Mum and I get to spend time with them during this craziness.

As you know, we are super lucky with where we live and I, therefore, can not moan too much. The weather has been brilliant and we have been all over the site, walking, playing, having cook-outs, swinging, bike riding and in the paddling pool too. We also heard yesterday we can swim in the lake if we want to.  I totally will NOT want to, but I suspect my girls might. (For anyone not in the know, we live in the 220 acre grounds of my husbands work and this means we have a whole private estate to enjoy at this time. We're not being naughty and going out!)


We put the paddling pool up today and the gazebo will go up tomorrow, so we can eat outside. I am really enjoying being outdoors a lot and have managed to clear out loads of garden toys and have a good tidy.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

What will the Legacies of Coronavirus be? I'm hopeful...

Cherry blossom buds close up
Spring - a time of new life

We are of course going through a major crisis right now. Wherever you live in the world, the new Covid-19 coronavirus will be having an impact on you. We are forever hearing people tell us this situation is unprecedented and of course that is because it is. The last time there was anything that impacted the world in these kinds of ways, it was the second world war.

I don't think any of us would have wanted this situation to happen, but now it has, I am wondering about what the legacies will be that come from this time when most of the world locked down and stopped their citizens freely roaming the streets.

History has shown us that things change after times of crisis, we can thank Boots (the Chemist) during the great depression for the introduction of the two-day weekend, and of course, women working in factories and taking over roles traditionally held by men during WWII, continued long after the war had ended.

Each day I avidly watch the news to see what the current status is, how many more lives have been lost to this awful virus and what other hardships are emerging as we isolate more and more. Despite the economic difficulties and the loss of lives, I can't help looking to the flip side and hoping there will be positives for the future. I pray that in the long-term we will be seeing a lot of good coming from this time too.