A Week of Lockdown Activities for the Kids (& Parents)

As we’re unable to spend time out and about at the moment, I thought it’d be helpful to make a wee list of activities to keep the kids entertained. I know how hard it is to keep my almost 3 year old entertained so I feel for all the parents out there. I’ve put together a weeks’ worth of ideas that are cheap and cheerful and don’t require a lot of equipment. Enjoy!

  1. Make some treats

Baking is a great way to entertain kids. It’s simple, fun to do and there’s a tasty treat at the end, perfect! If your kid is anything like mine and has a very short attention span, why not try making something super easy together- like chocolate nests with mini eggs, yum.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

200 g milk chocolate, 80 g shredded wheat or similar type of cereal, mini eggs for decoration

Melt the chocolate and mix with the shredded wheat. Put the mixture into cupcakes cases and leave in the fridge to harden. Decorate with the mini eggs and you’re done! You can also mix the melted chocolate with rice crispies, corn flakes or similar and add extras such a mini marshmallows or sprinkles.

2. Indoor Treasure Hunt

It’s so simple BUT sooo much fun for little ones. I used to love playing detective and looking for treasure when I was wee. You can make it any theme you want and the clues can be easier or trickier depending on the age of the kids.

The idea is to create a series of clues that the child needs to solve to get the next one and so on, and at the end they get the treasure- some chocolate coins, a toy or another prize relevant to the theme.

Check out this article by Persil for tips on preparing a treasure hunt: https://www.persil.com/uk/dirt-is-good/games/plan-treasure-hunt-kids.html

3. Have an Indoor Picnic

Grab a big blanket, set up a picnic area on the floor and gather all your favourite treats- sandwiches, cakes, crisps, dips, fruit…the list is endless. A super easy and fun way for the family to enjoy some food and quality time together. Kids will love it. Why not get them involved in preparing the food too?

4. Dressing Up

It’s a great idea to have a box to chuck some old clothes and dressing up bits in. Whether it’s an skirt, dress or shirt that doesn’t quite fit you anymore, Grandad’s hat or your auntie’s old feather boa, the kids will love to play dress up with these ‘vintage’ clothes. Necklaces and bracelets add even more colour and detail to those amazing homemade looks- just make sure they are safe to play with. You may even want to add in some face paints for maximum silliness.

5. Indoor Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics are now postponed until 2021 and many people will be disappointed, so why not recreate the excitement and spark the competitive spirit in your own home? The ‘sports’ can be anything you like- egg and spoon races, sprints, hula-hooping, trampolining- whatever you can set up indoors or the garden (if you’re luckier than me and have one). See how many stairs the kids can run up and down in 3 minutes- that will surely tire them out, right?! Chocolate coins make great medals for the winners ceremony.

6. Make your own toys

This one again can be as simple or detailed as you like. Grab a couple of loo roll tubes, string them together and make a snake. Get some paint out and make a family tree- paint a trunk and use fingerprints to make the leaves. Make some balloon animals. If you’re not feeling too crafty or you’re low on time, then why not try a kids artsy subscription box? I recently started getting the toucanBox for my almost 3 year old (see my previous blog post about it here).

7. Plant some flowers

My lovely parents picked up a few of the Little Garden seedling pots from Marks & Spencers for my eldest daughter. They come in little compostable pots and are ideal for putting on the windowsill if you don’t have any outdoor space for plants. The micro-cress and lettuce have made an appearance and we are patiently waiting for the forget-me-nots to sprout.

If you have a garden then get the kids involved. Weeding, planting seeds and watering the plants are all helpful tasks but also teach the children how to care for living things. It also helps them to learn about fruit and veg.

Please let me know in the comments what you and your family have been doing to keep busy during lockdown, I’m always looking for ideas. Keep safe x

The Story of Darcy

My beautiful old boy has been gone for one year today. I can’t believe it has been that long, it feels like it only happened a few weeks ago. I can remember that day vividly (even with my terrible memory). You’d think that with me being a vet it would have protected me from the utter sadness as I’ve dealt with the death of animals many times, but that was not the case.

Carrying out euthanasia was always so scary to me before Darcy died. Not the practical side of it, but the emotional. I’ve always been a very empathetic person and hate to see other people suffering, which is inevitable when clients are saying their final farewells to their beloved pets. I’d dread it when a pet was booked in for euthanasia with me as I’d be so worried about getting upset and looking unprofessional in front of grieving owners. But that changed after Darcy died.

I found Darcy at the Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home in 2010. He had been there for a few weeks, brought in by his previous owners as they had split up and couldn’t give him the attention he needed. I lived with my sister at the time, and she and her boyfriend had adopted a lovely wee dog, Skye, from the EDCH a few years prior. We took him along with us to make sure any dog I was interested in would get on with him. The first dog (a rather large and bouncy boxer x staffie) was far too big and scary for timid wee Skye so that was a no-go. Skye seemed to be anxious around all of the dogs and I thought I’d never find a canine companion of my own. Then they brought out Darcy. He was so beautiful. A leggy whippet- fawn, white and brindle with a white tip on the end of his tail and gorgeous big caramel-coloured eyes. He and Skye got on like a house on fire, so that decided it. I signed the paperwork and we took him home a few hours later.

I was half-way through my first degree in Biological Sciences and Darcy was the best study buddy, offering ad-lib cuddles and reassuring glances. He loved going for walks, playing with Skye and snuggling up to anyone that looked like they could do with some love. I met my now husband in 2012, and at first he thought Darcy looked like a snake (I took great offense at this) due to his long nose, but the dog soon had John’s affection too.

John and I moved into our flat in 2014 and Darcy obviously came with us. This was when his separation anxiety really came to the fore and became a big issue. John was working full-time and I was now in vet school. I tried training, trying to get him used to a crate, but he wasn’t having it and I hated seeing him so stressed. So it was parents to the rescue (Mum in particular). I used to drop the dog off at my mum and dads before uni every day, and pick him up on the way home. As a result, my mum grew very fond of Darcy.

Darcy was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in 2016. This disease affects the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body and is caused by a tumour in either the pituitary or adrenal gland. It isn’t curable but can be managed with medication and most dogs will survive for up to 3 years following diagnosis. It was just my luck that Darcy’s Cushing’s was incredibly difficult to manage and he was in and out of the vets and the specialists a lot over the next few years. He was always very well behaved at the vets, even though he was frightened, and was generally well except for a bad bout of gastroenteritis in autumn 2018.

The last photo I took of Darcy, snug as ever

On the morning that Darcy died, John and I woke up so find him struggling to breathe. I knew straight away that he was very ill. He had been his usual self the night before so it was a shock. I phoned my work in tears (I graduated in 2017) and said I was bringing Darcy straight in. My colleagues handled everything perfectly. They calmed me down, looked after my boy as if he was their own and did everything they possibly could to save him. But his body was tired and I knew he had had enough.

I lay on the floor of my consult room, cuddling him, telling him how much I loved him while my wonderful colleague put him to sleep. It was so quick and peaceful. I stayed with him for a few more minutes and we said our goodbyes.

Darcy’s paw prints & fur clipping

The few weeks that followed were so difficult, Darcy had been such a constant in my life and now he was gone. We got his ashes back and I buried them in my parents garden as we don’t have one and he loved basking in the sun there. My Dad and I picked a lovely rose bush to place on top of his ashes so we have a pretty place to remember him. Due to covid-19, I couldn’t go and say hello to him today but my parents did it for me ❤

Losing Darcy has been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I now totally understand what my clients are feeling, but I’m stronger for having gone through it myself. I’m still very sad every time a patient dies but I feel I’m able to cope better and help the owners in a better way.

A few months later and I needed to get another dog. Life without a furry wee pal in the house was too strange, so I started looking at rescue centres and asking on vet groups on Facebook. We came across a veterinary nurse who had rescued a lurcher from the RSPCA after she was dumped and left for dead with multiple injuries. The nurse was sadly unable to keep the dog and wanted to re-home her. One photo of the dog in question and I knew we had to have her. So now we have the lovely Penny long-legs and she’s just gorgeous. Daft as a brush, but so sweet.

Penelope long-legs aka Penny

Now when I think of Darcy it is all the funny, mischievous things he used to get up to I think of, not the sad ones. My husband commissioned a wonderful painting of him from his very talented friend and it hangs in our bedroom so I see him every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed.

If you’re going through pet loss then please reach out to your friends and family. Pet bereavement support and helplines are available from the Blue Cross at (https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss) , the Cats Protection League (https://www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/grief/advice) and many other organisations.

Good morning mastitis!

I woke up at 5 am yesterday morning in so much pain. My right boob was red, sore and hot and I knew straight away it was the dreaded mastitis. I remember first learning about mastitis as a vet student in farm animal lectures (those poor moo cows). It looked like it hurt a lot, now I know it surely does. My 5 month old, Ivy, has been breastfed since birth. She has been teething over the last few weeks, resulting in regular comfort feeds during the night. Yesterday morning was the first time in weeks that Ivy slept for several consecutive hours. I had to wake her up to feed her so I could get some relief.

The little trouble maker

I checked on the NHS website and followed the advice- massaging, expressing and allowing the baby to feed off the sore side frequently. A few hours later and I felt so much worse- it was like having the flu, a migraine and a sore boob all at once. I called NHS 24 and as I had a temperature of 39.1, I was put through to the Covid-19 screening line. The NHS are quite rightly being very thorough and cautious just now, but the nurse agreed with me that it was likely the mastitis causing the fever. I was told a doctor would call me back within 4 hours and that they couldn’t send me anywhere as I had a few possible coronavirus symptoms (headache, shivers, fever)- I was dreading this wait as I honestly felt so unwell.

The doctor called me 10 minutes later! She arranged a prescription for antibiotics to be sent to the nearest open pharmacy (on a Sunday) for me and was so lovely. An hour later and I had my medicine (thanks Dad!) A few hours later and I was already feeling better.

It amazes that even in these most remarkable of times, the NHS are still working flat out to help everyone that needs it. We are so fortunate to live in a country where health care is available to all, free at the point of access. This is the second time I’ve been unwell this year (sinusitis isn’t fun either), my husband had surgery a few months ago and Ivy was in hospital over Christmas with meningitis and sepsis (she is all good now). I can’t imagine how terrifying it must be to watch your family suffer with illness and then also have medical bills hanging over your head.

If you have any of the symptoms of mastitis then seek medical advise early, it can get nasty quickly and in extreme cases, can lead to sepsis. If you’re reading this and you or a family member work for the NHS, thank you so much, you are so appreciated. Stay safe.

Getting crafty with toucanBox

Today was a dreich day in Edinburgh (not a rarity), so we decided to skip our usual post-lunch walk and get stuck into the toucanBox instead. If you’re not familiar with this brand, it’s an arts and crafts subscription box for kids. It’s aimed at 3-8 year olds and the crafts on offer vary according to age. I thought I’d order one for Emma as it is hard enough trying to keep a toddler entertained in the current climate without having to constantly think of ideas myself.

Aaand I’m so glad I did! It comes addressed to the child (Emma loves a parcel) and is beautifully presented in a brightly coloured box. There are several different crafts each month and you pick two that you think your child would enjoy and is suitable for their age. We went for the dinosaur dress-up and nature bag. Emma loves anything dino-themed so that was a no-brainer, and the nature bag seemed great as the wee one can make it and then use it when out for walks or play time. It also comes with a mystery object (a magnet this time), stickers and a magazine choc-a-bloc full of ideas to keep your child’s brain engaged. In this month’s magazine there’s a recipe for pizza flatbreads, how to make a rocket (plus fuel!) and an experiment to create a slimey oobleck, plus lots of other fun and games.

The dinosaur dress-up was a big hit as I’d expected. It was fun and easy to create, and there was lots of roaring going on all round! Emma did proceed to pick all the decorations off her dinosaur tail…but I should mention she is not quite 3 yet which is the suggested minimum age, and she is obsessed with stickers and things, so it was a bit inevitable. There was much concentration involved in colouring in her triceratops mask, and I could see she was trying to colour different sections in with different colours.

I really loved the Nature Bag activity, and my husband helped with this one too. He and Emma followed the instructions and made the lovely bag. We waited *not so patiently* for it to dry then used the stencil to create the nature shapes. It came with 4 little seasonal ‘bingo’ cards- these can be popped in the Nature Bag and used for a scavenger hunt (we’re going to try this tomorrow with the Spring card).

This was our first time trying toucanBox and I would highly recommend trying it out. Especially any parents who are struggling to keep their wee ones occupied at the moment! I saw the ad online and signed up for 50% off our first box, and I have a 50% off code for anyone else that may want to try it out (I’ll also get 50% off for each person that signs up): https://www.toucanbox.com/friends/lorna-hg01

Please share your thoughts and recommendations on the toucanBox and any other kids subscription boxes that you love 🙂

Covid-19- Life in Lockdown

This is surreal. Unbelievable. And totally exhausting. I don’t need to go into much detail about the coronavirus as we’re all in the same boat- we’re around 10 days into lockdown now and it is taking it’s toll already. Highlight of the week is going to the supermarket and getting some ‘me’ time. This sounds so selfish but being stuck in our 2 bed flat with my husband (who is working from home), my two girls (aged 2.5 years and 4.5 months) and our large, bouncy lurcher is hard-going. I’m on maternity leave so I don’t have my job to distract me from being mummy. What I would give to meet my mum pals at a soft play right now and have a good old natter!

My elder daugher E is due to start nursery in August (hopefully?!) so she’s never really had any formal teaching routine before. Trying to get her interested in homeschooling was never going to happen as she’s fiercely independent with the attention span of a puppy (albeit an adorable one). Why are toddlers so hard to entertain! We have some semblance of a schedule each day, which is mainly dictated by the baby and when she wants fed (then I’m out of action for at least 45 mins). Get dressed, have breakfast, attempt yoga (Cosmic Kids on YouTube for the win), watch movie, help with chores, lunch, go for walk, arts and crafts, dinner, bath and bed….(HAH!) I’m lucky if I get halfway through one thing without being dragged in another direction.

But we’re getting through it, one day at a time…

The baby is teething at the moment and has been banshee shrieking periodically over the last few days. A lovely soundtrack for all the shit happening right now. Seriously though it’s such a shame, poor baby. She’s one tough cookie that’s for sure. Meningitis and sepsis at 6 weeks of age couldn’t stop her, so 2 tiny wee teeth aren’t going to get the better of her (especially with the help of Bonjela and Calpol).

My husband works in banking and was already set-up to be able to work from home so that’s great, but we don’t have an office and he works from a desk in our living room. While I’m looking after the kids in there. And the dog. Yeah, it feels like we’re tripping over each other a lot right now. We were due to move into our new build house in May/June by that’s all being delayed for obvious reasons but I want our extra bedrooms and garden now *exasperated sign*. I’m still on maternity leave and I miss being a vet and not ‘just’ mum all the time. I really feel for my colleagues who are still working and seeing emergencies at the moment. It is tough.

Forgive my cabin feveresque ranty post, it’s been cathartic. I hope you are well and keeping safe in these unprecedented and odd times. I keep reminding myself that it won’t be forever and we’ll be able to see our loved ones again soon. I know that I’m incredibly lucky compared to some- I have a job to go back to after mat leave, I have my beautiful supportive family and wonderful friends. And I’m healthy. There are many people out there who don’t have any of these things, and I hope they can get the help they need to get through these scary times.

I’d like to take a moment to big up our amazing NHS. We’re had our fair share of it’s benefits over the last year. There was the excellent care from my midwife Catriona throughout my pregnancy with baby Ivy, the Birth Centre midwife and student midwife who delivered her, the A&E staff who saw to my husband when he had an emergency GI issue and lost a lot of blood, and the paediatric A&E department who diagnosed Ivy with meningitis and sepsis and saved her life. I’ll be forever indebted to the NHS and the people who work for it are real life heroes. Thank you, for everything you all do, especially in these most frightening times.

Stay safe, stay home, help our NHS x

Hello everyone!

My name is Lorna and this is my first venture into the world of blogging and I’m slightly nervous. As I type these first tentative sentences, I worry that I won’t have the energy to dedicate to this blog due to the stresses of having two kids under 3, but here goes!

Aaaaand the baby just threw up, ahhh motherhood *sighs*.

I decided to start blogging as a way to have some me time (lol, what is that?!). It might sound a bit selfish, but I’m currently on maternity leave and all my time is taken up with being a mummy. And with all the craziness in the world with the global Covid-19 pandemic I thought now was as good a time as ever to start.

I really enjoy reading other lifestyle and parenting blogs as there is always so much to discover and contribute. I in no way want to become a preachy mum blog. What I would love is for people to connect and share their experiences of parenting, their livelihoods and the things that excite them. I’m a vet, so there will probably be quite a few animal tales along the way too if that’s up your street…

A photo from back in my uni days- lambing time! Sadly I don’t get to cuddle these wee babies anymore as I’m strictly a small animal vet