Friday Focus 13/08/21 – Eventful

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for us, starting off with a trip down to Cornwall for a week’s holiday at Coombe Mill. On the whole, we had a lovely time. The children loved joining in with the feed run each morning; we enjoyed a few days out around the area and made the most of being able to switch off and enjoy some family time together.


The word 'eventful' in blue


Emotionally it was quite an up and down week. Our first full week away since Jessica died; our first family holiday that wasn’t a Christmas break. There were a lot of memories from that very last family holiday with Jessica that came rushing back. The realisation on putting Sophie and Thomas to bed in the same room on the first night that the last time we’d had two children sleeping in beds next to each other on holiday, it was Jessica and Sophie. That last holiday with Jessica is quite a painful one to remember as she wasn’t well that week and died a week after our return. The memories bring up a lot of guilt and questions over decisions made during that time. Things that did need to come back up to the surface and be worked through.


Emotional rollercoaster aside, it was a nice holiday though. It was lovely to have that time away; to see the children making new friends and to slow down for a few days.


Sophie and Thomas feeding the goats on the feed run at Coombe Mill


This last week has been an eventful one too. We’ve started potty training Thomas. This is probably my least-favourite stage of parenting a toddler/preschooler. I found it quite a stressful process with both the girls (‘potty training hell’ is how we describe it!) although they did get to grips with it reasonably quickly. The first day with Thomas was much less successful than it had been with the girls. I did wonder at one point if we were going to run out of pants! But he’s now starting to get the hang of it, and there’s been fewer accidents since the first day than I was anticipating, so fingers crossed for a less stressful process this time around.


Thomas lounging on the sofa reading 'I Want My Potty'


Thomas has been keeping me on my toes in other ways though. Yesterday while enjoying a day out, he ate a yew berry that was decorating a mud cupcake. I managed to fish some of it out of his mouth but the stone in the centre (the toxic bit) looked crushed and I wasn’t sure if he’d swallowed any. 111 advised us to go straight to A&E where we spent several hours under observation. Sophie was quite frightened by it – she gets very scared and worried that Thomas might die if he needs hospital treatment for anything, which is understandable given her memories of the night Jessica died. One of the nurses who saw us was the one I remember being on shift after Jessica died (she was the one who took us to the mortuary and also happened to be the nurse who triaged us when Sophie broke her arm a few weeks’ later). Thankfully Thomas was fine but I’ll certainly be watching him like a hawk around mud kitchens from now on!


The boiler stopped working during the week. Thankfully it’s summer and we have an electric shower so the lack of heating and hot water has not been too much of an issue. We’ve got someone coming to have a look at it today.


Finally on the eventful front, I’ve set myself a challenge this month to do 400,000 steps to raise money for The Compassionate Friends, who provide peer support for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. It works out at an average of nearly 13,000 steps per day (a bit more my 9000 per day average in July!). So far I’m managing to stay on track and hopefully I’ll manage to reach my target.



What I’ve been grateful for this fortnight:


Sophie and Thomas being entertained by my friend hiding behind a cushion; Sophie and Thomas on a tree swing; Thomas feeding the chickens at Coombe Mill; Sophie and Thomas reading a board at the Lost Gardens of Heligan; Thomas on my back in the toddler carrier; Sophie and Thomas on the beach with 'Jessica' written in the sand; Sophie playing Mah Jongg - "#365daysofgratitude 2021 - Week 31"


  • Day 211 – I am grateful for friends who are brilliant at keeping my children amused.


  • Day 212 – I am grateful for the simple joy of two children swinging together on a tree swing.


  • Day 213 – I am grateful for Thomas’s joy at helping to feed chickens. He was quite determined to try and catch one but they were too quick for him!


  • Day 214 – I am grateful for a lovely walk around the Lost Gardens of Heligan.


  • Day 215 – I am grateful that Thomas is still quite comfortable to carry on my back in the Tula toddler carrier.


  • Day 216 – I am grateful for a lovely afternoon at the beach.


  • Day 217 – I am grateful for teaching Sophie how to play Mah Jongg. It’s been a long time since we last had a game. Brought back happy memories of playing this late into the evening at Christmas with my family.



Sophie standing by a stone cross looking at a treasure trails sheet; Sophie feeding the goats at Coombe Mill; Sophie walking through the park; a smiling Thomas in his pyjamas; Sophie and Thomas sitting on a picnic blanket surrounded by soft toys and listening to a story; Sophie and Thomas playing with Bing toys in the tuff tray in the garden; Thomas sitting on a bed in A&E - "#365daysofgratitude 2021 - Week 32"


  • Day 218 – I am grateful for an afternoon following a treasure trail.


  • Day 219 – I am grateful for a wonderful week away at Coombe Mill and the joy of seeing the children feeding animals and making friends on the feed run each morning. Was also lovely to take a detour on the way home and catch up with some friends.


  • Day 220 – I am grateful for a play date at the park.


  • Day 221 – I am grateful that bedtime brings a brief respite from the joyousness of potty training.


  • Day 222 – I am grateful for a teddy bears’ picnic with stories followed by a lovely impromptu play date for Sophie with her best friend from preschool who she hasn’t seen in a long time.


  • Day 223 – I am grateful for warm weather and watching Sophie and Thomas play in the garden.


  • Day 224 – I am grateful that Thomas is okay after he gave us a scare earlier by eating a yew berry while out and about. We’ve had a few hours in A&E with him being kept under observation but are back home again and feeling very relieved!



Other things that have made me smile over the last two weeks:

  • Being able to let Sophie go to the playground or games room with her new friends by herself in the safe environment of Coombe Mill.


  • Enjoying the peace and quiet of an early morning breakfast on the decking before the rest of the family woke up.


A continental breakfast and cup of tea on a picnic table out on the decking of one of the lodges at Coombe Mill looking out on the river


  • Bumping into some friends from Southampton while visiting the Lost Gardens of Heligan.


  • Waking up in the middle of the night and going for a walk outside to admire the stars.


  • Thomas introducing himself to other children with, “I’m Thomas. T-H-O-M-A-S. Thomas.”


  • Thomas falling asleep on the potty.


  • Going pond dipping with Sophie and Thomas.


Sophie doing some pond dipping


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22 thoughts on “Friday Focus 13/08/21 – Eventful

  1. You certainly have had an eventful week! The holiday away sounds such fun and despite everything, you are able to pick out some positives.
    Mah Jongg! I have a friend in Holland who is forever telling me about this game. I can never get my head around it and what is involved as her English isn’t very good etc. I guess I will Google it and see if it’s something that we might like.
    Thomas will get the potty training right, in his time, lol.
    Have a great week ahead and enjoy all the bits, too soon and they will be just memories.

    1. Mah Jongg is quite complicated although it’s one of those games that is easier to learn by playing than by trying to explain. The scoring system is the most complicated part but Sophie managed to pick up the gist of the game itself.

  2. So many lovely moments. I can imagine there were so many other moments that reminded you of Jessica, that only rare events like going on holiday could bring up. I’m glad the holiday was a success. Your list of smiles made me smile too. Little milestones there for all of you. How funny Thomas is spelling his name out. How did the children react? I’m glad the yew berry didn’t cause any problems. We have a yew tree in our garden, so it was well drilled in to my three when they were little. We had so many other potential nasties that they always asked me first, even with blackberries! I hope the potty training is going well. I remember that book. It always made me smile. And how independent of Sophie to go off with her friends. Perfect place for her to try and flap her wings. Hope you have a lovely week. #wotw

    1. We have raspberry bushes in our garden and have always tried to make sure the children ask before picking anything but it doesn’t always work and Thomas is so curious about everything. He certainly keeps me on my toes at times!

  3. How lovely that you visited Coombe Mill again. It sounds like you had a nice time despite all the memories flooding back about Jessica.
    Good boy Thomas for doing so well with the potty training and what a scare he must have given you with the yew berry. I am so glad he’s OK.
    I hope your boiler has been fixed and good luck with your 400,000 steps. x

    1. Thanks Kim, still waiting for the boiler to be fixed – just as well we can manage without it at the moment!

  4. An extremely eventful week for you! I always hated the potty training too, I was lucky that my youngest was taught at pre-nursery and I didn’t have to do much at all. All the children went to potty at the same time and he just followed suit. It would have been much harder at home. I’m glad you enjoyed your holiday despite the sad memories poking through. And I’m glad that Thomas had no ill effects from the yew berry. Our children certainly keep us on our toes don’t they,

    1. I think it will be easier at preschool when other children are going as well (plus it’s two mornings a week I don’t have to worry about it!) but we are starting to get there now thankfully.

  5. Sounds lovely that you were back at Coombe Mill, despite the emotional aspect. Hopefully Thomas gets the potty training fast. It was the hardest thing with N too. Thankfully after a failure, 3 months later he did it himself which was painless.

    1. Thanks Emma. We’re gradually getting there with the potty training and it hasn’t been quite as stressful as I thought it might be given that first day!

  6. I wish you luck with the 400,000 steps, did I read that right? I’m struggling with 10,000 a day most days. Lovely you were able to get away for a holiday with the children, I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been the first time without Jessica.
    No wonder Sophie was worried, pleased to hear Thomas was OK.

    1. Thank you, it was such a relief that he had no side effects from eating the berry. You did read 400,000 steps right and I’m definitely finding 13,000 steps a big effort to manage most days but I’m determined to do it!

  7. Oh no, that sounds very stressful with the berry, glad he was ok and that potty training isn’t going too badly, I don’t miss that particular milestone. Glad you got to enjoy Coombe Mill even with the emotions that go with it #365

    1. Thank you – it was very stressful and such a relief that he was okay. Coombe Mill was lovely even with the mixed emotions.

  8. I love our holiday’s at Coombe Mill but not sure we will back now that its no longer run by Fiona and Nick – how was it?
    Glad to hear that Thomas was ok and good luck with the potty training

    1. I was a bit unsure about going back with the new owners but they are so lovely and it was just as much fun being back again. I did manage to catch up with Fiona while I was there as well which was really nice.

  9. I can’t believe Thomas is ready for a potty already! Looks like a lovely time despite the emotional aspect. We hope to visit Cornwall next year… #project365

    1. He’s certainly growing up quickly. So far we’re not doing too badly with the potty training either.

  10. Your word sums up the week very well! I hope you are okay after the emotional rollercoaster. So glad to hear Thomas is okay as well must have been a very worrying time for you all. Harry has always been a little bit the same getting himself into all sorts of mischief. We loved the Lost Gardens of Heligan when we visited a few years ago.

    1. Thank you, we’re doing okay. It’s a challenge when you have little ones who are mischief-magnets isn’t it!

  11. It must have been lovely to get away but I can understand it being bittersweet. We really do need to visit Coombe Mill. Thomas really did give you a scare! I would have been beside myself. I hope you have won the potty training battle. I must admit I needed helo with both of mine #WotW

    1. Thank you, we’re getting there with the potty training – he’s managing to stay dry more often than not now which is good. Coombe Mill is such a lovely place, I would definitely recommend it.

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