Galgorm Resort and Spa

Galgorm’s Spa September!

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to a press event at the Galgorm Resort and Spa, in Ballymena County Antrim, to launch their month long journey of events, exploring mindfulness, wellbeing and relaxation. They have recently completed their £2million spa extension and I was keen to see what they had to offer!

The Galgorm Resort and Spa sits on 163 acres of spectacular parkland, on the banks of the river Maine, a truly outstanding location. I had visited the Galgorm for a friends wedding in the Ghost House and afterwards to a beautiful reception in the Four Seasons Suite and I had been to The River Room for afternoon tea with the girls but I had yet to try the Spa!

The Spa is the ultimate in luxury! I was not disappointed with the reviews I had read prior to my visit. If you are looking for a way to de-stress and switch off from the hectic lifestyles we all tend to lead, then look no further! The spa at the Galgorm is a unique Thermal Village and the first of its kind in Ireland. And access to the Thermal Village facilities are included for all residents of the hotel and are also part of their Day Spa Packages.

So back to my evening at Galgorm! It was a wet and rather gloomy evening, nothing new for Northern Ireland but we were not going to let the weather dampen our spirits! We made our way to the reception are in the Spa, we were greeted by friendly and welcoming staff, easy to see why the spa is an award winning facility! We were directed to the changing rooms to allow us to change into spa robes before heading over to The Orangery.
The Orangery is “the perfect place to unwind after a treatment” a beautifully decorated room with relaxation beds and swing chairs. “A tranquil space of pure comfort and relaxation”

We were greeted by Juliet from Scarlett Pr and Tara the Spa Manager and treated to procecco and a non-alcoholic versions for those of us who were driving. We also sampled delicious canapés from the menu available in the Elements Cafe. Once we had finished mingling and introduced ourselves to fellow bloggers we took our seats ready to listen to what the resort had to offer!

The Orangery at Galgorm
The non-alcoholic option!

Tara Moore is the manager at the Spa and she was on hand to introduce us to the Spa and its wonderful team and welcome us to the wonderful resort. She spoke to us about the recently completed, spa expansion works and explained that we would get to explore the spa at our leisure but not before we had found out all about the new line of products exclusive to the Spa at the Galgorm.

Bioeffect is an Icelandic skincare company that have partnered with the Galgorm Spa to launch a range of professional spa treatments specifically tailored to the Spa at Galgorm. We were treated to a demonstration of one of the bespoke facials using the Bioeffects products.

Bioeffect products

The Orangery Room, overlooking the gardens and River Maine

Once the demonstration was over we made our way through the beautifully manicured grounds to the brand new Spa cafe Dome; Elements. The dome construction of Elements is unique and one of only 5 in the world. Here we were treated to a cocktail masterclass and a feast of freshly prepared food available from the menu at Elements cafe.

The interior of the Elements Dome at Galgorm

Then it was time to explore the thermal village and Spa! It was late at night, it was dark and the heavens had opened! There we were walking around in the Northern Ireland rain in nothing but our bikinis and robe! A truly magical and unforgettable experience as we got to sample the hot tub, jacuzzi, and many other features too many to mention!! We didn’t get to see even half of the facilities so we will definitely be back for another visit soon.

Full 20 metre indoor heated leisure pool at Galgorm

If you fancy a trip to check out the wonder Resort for yourself, the Galgorm team have kindly gifted my followers one hours complimentary thermal Village Experience when you book a Bioeffect Ultimate EFG Facial. This offer is available Monday-Thursday throughout the months of October and November 2017. To book please email Louise on lnicholl@galgorm.com quoting “spa September Bloggers”

If you get the chance to visit the resort soon, be sure to share with me your thoughts! You won’t be disappointed!

Claire
*this event was a press event, all opinions and throughts are my own*

Feeling Rather Smug!

Feeling rather smug! 

Last night as I face-timed (Dave my partner) I was stressing out over the amount of items I still had to label and things needing organised for the children going back to school. 

Schools in Northern Ireland finish up for the summer break the last week in June, the kids are then treated to almost nine weeks of freedom from the classrooms. For parents it marks the start of fun filled weeks of family time, making memories (we did this too!) but for me it marked the start of endless arguing, and playing referee to three kids that after an hour of each other’s company ends in them each being sent to separate rooms for time out! 

Asides from being too long a break to keep kids entertained (in a climate that sees on average 3 days of sunshine warm enough to call it summer),  it also gives parents plenty of time to get themselves organised for the new school term. You’d think!!! 
Despite being organised in July with the purchase of most of the kids uniforms in the Marks and Spencers 20% off event, stationary, school bags and lunch boxes added to the list of items bought as the weeks counted down. I found myself in a complete meltdown! I had left things to the last minute again. Nine weeks of summer holidays clearly wasn’t enough time to get organised for the kids going back to school. I knew the dates they went back, they were in my dairy and in my phone. I had no excuse. So why then the last minute rush? 
Fast forward to this morning, the alarm was set for 7am! I was already awake, I woke the kids got them up, washed and dressed and we were all sat eating breakfast for 8! It was an achievement, as all summer I had battled with them to to do anything within a timescale. We even had time for a quick face-time call from Dave, wishing them well and to have a great day in school. 
We left the house for 8.30 and drove to school. Parking was madness and the air of excitement in the car had reached a new level when the kids spotted other children from their classes. 
We walked our way through the school playground, my eldest who doesn’t start school until Friday came with us and helped Connie find her class line in the playground and her friends. I walked on through to the junior playground to find where Reubyn’s line for his class. We found it, put his bags down and without a second thought for me, ran off to play, leaving me standing alone. It was then I realised that was the summer holidays over, routine was back in our lives and I am for one very glad!
Fast forward 12.15, the bell rang and out of the classrooms came lots of happy children. The first day back at school was over! We came home changed out of their uniforms had lunch together. We chatted about their first day back, what their new teachers were like, who they are sitting beside and the buzz from their friends.  They are even looking forward to going back again tomorrow! 
We did it!!! 

Claire
P.s maybe next year I’ll be a little more prepared! 

The Little Book of Lykke

A couple of weeks ago as I sifted through my emails, a daily ritual over a fresh brew. I was excited to have received an email from Ruth at Penguin Life Publishers offering me the chance to review the new book by none other than Meik Wiking! Now if you follow me over on Instagram as Mumtothreelittlemonkeys you will know that I adore my books, anything from homes, interiors, cookery and self help books!

Meik’s first book “the Little Book Of Hygge, The danish way to live well.” Was a massive hit and was on The Sunday Times bestseller and The New York times bestseller lists. Not at all surprising as the nation grasped ahold of the concept, Instagram feeds and blog posts were full of all thing hygge. Candles, blankets, cosy fires and simple evenings spent with our nearest and dearest. I loved the concept of “Hygge” (pronounced “HUE-gah”) put simply is the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

The new book due to be released on general sale on the 7 September, arrived on my door step yesterday morning. Well when I say it arrived, I was fast asleep and the postman knocked my door so hard I thought the house was on fire! Hand delivered – no less and no need to rush off to the local post office with that dreaded red card in hand for a missed delivery!

It was totally worth the abrupt awakening!

This beautifully wrapped present is the latest book by the author Meik Wiking CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He has committed his life to finding out what makes people happy and in his last book concluded that Hygge is the magic ingredient.

In his new book The Little Book of Lykke, Meik looks at the concept of Lykke (Luu-kah) (n): Happiness.

The Little Book of Lykke

So what has this little book got in store for us?

I was excited to get the nicely wrapped parcel opened and start flicking through the pages. I haven’t been able to put it down since opening it. Like the first book The little book of Hygge, it is a beautifully presented book, wonderful illustrations an photos throughout. The contents of the book is decided into nine chapters,

1, The Treasure Hunt

2, How do you measure happiness?

3, Togetherness

4, Money

5, Health

6, Freedom

7, Trust

8, Kindness

9, Putting the pieces together.

In this book Meik takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to a good life. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner. He has gathered evidence and stories and tips from around the world and put them together in this little book as the ultimate guide to how we can all find a little more lykke in our lives.

I’m already sure that this little book will become another go to book that will sit on my coffee table, that both my children and visitors alike will pick up for a read. It is available on general sale from the 7 September, and you can pre-order it on Amazon at the offer price of five pounds, I have added the link here, Little book of Lykke

I would love to hear what you think of Meik’s latest book!

Claire

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A Smear could save your life. 

It’s cervical cancer awareness week! This year it runs from the 22-28 of January and I’ve decided to share my story. 
It was August 2008, I was 29, in good health and I got my routine smear test appointment through the post. As I did every three years I rang the surgery to make an appointment.  But this year was different. Jade Goody the big brother reality television star had passed away from cervical cancer in March. She left behind two young children and I couldn’t help think about her as I made the appointment. I too had two small children, Harrison was three and Connie was 8 months old. 
A couple of weeks passed and I attended the GP for my smear, my Doctor is lovely and put me right at ease. She did the smear and said the same thing she had on previous occasions “everything looks good, I’ll send these away and you’ll get the results in a few weeks.” 

A few weeks passed and life was busy with the kids, I was still on maternity leave enjoying being a mum. I forgot all about the smear results,  until one day in October my mobile rang and it was the surgery asking me if I could come in for a repeat smear. At first I thought maybe they had lost my first test. 

So off I went  to the surgery. I sat in the waiting room and when I heard my name called made my way to the room. This time I could sense something wasn’t quite right. Call it a sixth sense or years of working as a nurse but I knew this wasn’t going to be the usual “Hi Claire how’s the family, kids getting big” type chat. 
My GP sat at her desk and started to read the computer screen. I had, had my smear in the middle of August and it was now nearing the end of October, results that are usually back in a couple of weeks had taken almost 9 weeks. Put down to the “Jade effect”  the screening service all over the UK had seen a sharp rise in women attending for a smear putting increased pressure on the system. 

The news wasn’t what I had expected! My results had shown I had CIN 2 ( CIN 2 – is where abnormal cells have been detected and there’s a moderate chance the cells will become cancerous and treatment to remove them is usually recommended). 
I was shocked, I had never had an abnormal result before, I had no symptoms and I found myself asking why me? Everything went through my head and all I could think about was I’m I going to get cancer? My paternal grandmother had died at the age of 61 of uterine cancer I was scared. 
That day was a blur, the GP decided against a repeat smear and instead arranged for a appointment at the local hospital for a colposcopy. The next couple of weeks I didn’t function and couldn’t get past the fact my results had been abnormal. 
My appointment came through for the colposcopy and I attended my appointment. I had read the literature sent out with the appointment and googled everything I could possibly get my eyes on! I knew what to expect. 

The Doctors and nurses were lovely, putting me at ease explaining and carrying out the test. It was a little uncomfortable but I kept thinking I had two babies I can do this! 

The colposcopy was straightforward the Doctor was able to tell me there and then I was going to need further treatment. The area on my cervix however was bigger than she had expected given my results and instead of being able to treat me during the colposcopy, she would need to arrange a day procedure appointment. She took some samples to send away and said she would see me in a couple of weeks. 

Waiting was the worst. I was supposed to be enjoying motherhood. The day came and I was admitted to hospital to have a procedure known as (LLETZ) – large loop excision of the transformation zone. A procedure were a heated wire loop is used to remove the abnormal cells. LLETZ is usually carried out while you’re awake using local anaesthetic to numb the cervix and once recovered you can go home the same day. However the Doctor had previously advised that because I had such a large area and I was such an emotional mess she would put me to sleep if I preferred. So that was it! A general anaesthetic it was going to be. I remember the day clearly , I sat up on the ward with the other women in my theatre gown and fancy stockings waiting for my turn. I was a mess, they say nurses make the worst patients and they are right in my case! I cried like a baby walking down to theatre, it wasn’t just Cancer that was freaking me out it was the fear I wasn’t going to wake up! 

The surgery went well, the anaesthetic nurse came to visit me afterwards up on the ward and we had a laugh at the fact I had got from 10 down to 2 and was still awake! They had to give me quite a bit of medication to get me to sleep and it would probably take me a little longer to feel totally with it and ready to go home.
I left that afternoon thankful to still be alive, and happy to be going home to my babies. 

A week later I had a follow up appointment at the hospital to discuss the result of the biopsies taken during surgery and generally check I was healing. I had bled quite a bit after the surgery and was still spotting. I had a little discomfort but nothing a couple of paracetamol didn’t sort. I thought I was on the homeward straight. But my journey didn’t end there. 
Nothing could have prepared me for what was next. I sat there in front of the consultant that had done my surgery, she had my notes in her hand. Looking over the top of her glasses she started to tell me that surgery hadn’t got rid of all the abnormal cells as expected and that the biopsy taken had shown CGIN. ( CGIN is were the there’s a high chance the cells will become cancerous and treatment to remove them is recommended).

She recommended further treatment that would require more surgery and this time she recommended a cone biopsy. A cone biopsy is a minor operation to cut out a cone-shaped piece of tissue containing the abnormal cells only tends to be used if a large area of tissue needs to be removed. 

Yet again I found myself thinking the worst! A couple of weeks passed and I had the surgery, and got the news I had waited months for. They had got rid of all the abnormal cells. The next step would be a smear at 6 months for a year then yearly smears depending on the results. 

I’m now 8 years on from 6 months of stress, appointments, tests and two operations. I have kept up to date with my smears and I happy to report they have all been normal. I even carried another pregnancy to term despite the cone biopsy weakening my cervix. 
I thank my lucky stars every day I attended for my routine smear. The doctor said the changes in my results between initial smear, colposcopy and biopsies taken in theatre she had no doubt the story would have been a very different one had I not attended for my smear when I did. It was unfortunate that my initial results had taken so long to be reported, however I feel the outcome would probably have been the same. 
Don’t hesitate, put off or make excuses for not attending for a smear. 5 minutes could save your life, it did mine. 
Claire 
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The facts, 
Every day in the UK 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer

3 women lose their lives from the disease every day

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35

75% of cervical cancers are prevented by cervical screening (smear tests) 

However 1 in 4 women do not attend this potentially life-saving test  source Jo’s Trust

New year and plenty of Christmas memories made!

I have neglected my blog for a few weeks. There just haven’t been enough hours in the day. 
Christmas holidays and kids off school for half-term made for a busy household. Nothing new there! 

On the run up to Christmas I find it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. While everyone is itching to put their Christmas trees up as soon as December arrives, I on the other hand tend to wait until the last minute. I’m not sure what it is, whether it is the clutter of the decorations around the house, or my reluctance to just run with the excitement! However once in the mood for Christmas there’s no stopping me! 
When the children were born I decided we would have some Christmas traditions we would do each year. From the elves bringing the kids their new pyjamas in time for Santa arriving, to eating out with family on Christmas Eve to making Christmas cookies to give out to family and friends. Then there are the Christmas movies!! 
Everyone loves Christmas movies, don’t they? I’m one of those 30 something females who gets rather excited by the appearance of the Christmas channels on the sky planner!  There’s nothing quite like watching a Christmas movie to get you in the Christmas spirit.  There are many great Christmas movies out there from the Home Alone movies to Miracle on 34th Street. And let’s face it there is nothing nicer than sitting with the kids, snuggled in front of the fire under cosy blankets and eating popcorn, watching a movie!

This Christmas we had the pleasure of being invited to see a showing of the Polar Express in the wonderful surroundings of The Ulster Transport and Folk Museum. The Polar Express is a family favourite so we jumped at the chance!   It was arranged by the Pop up cinema club, a company that specialises in  cinema experiences in a variety of unique locations throughout the year. 

So off we went, on a dark December evening, dressed in our Christmas jumpers to the Transport Museum. The excitement levels were high, even for my eldest son who at 11 is a non-believer, but is more than happy to go along with the story of Santa for the benefit of his younger siblings. (Much to my relief.)
We parked the car up and made our way toward the museum. On arrival we were greeted by the friendly museum staff who issued our special tickets for the showing. 

As we made our way towards the train gallery we had our tickets punched in true Polar Express fashion! A conductor, complete with uniform and playing the part to the amazement of the children! 

The surroundings of the museum did not disappoint. 

Before the start of the movie the kids had the opportunity to play and explore some of the restored Trains that are housed at the museum. 

We had Hot Chocolate, Popcorn and Cookies during the showing. 

After the movie as the credits started to roll, a bell started to ring and the appearance of a certain man, dressed in his red suit appeared at the back of the hall! The children were ecstatic and ran to greet him. Santa with the help of the conductor greeted each child and gave them a little bell as a small memento of the evening. Santa was very good with all the children and happily posed for photos! 

We had a fantastic evening and an experience neither the kids or I will forget. Adding to our Christmas memories. 

To book tickets for special showings throughout the year & for further information go to Pop Up Cinema Club.

Claire 

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All opinions are my own.
 

Christmas Gifts for teachers! 

For your mistle toes!!!
The month of December has passed rather hurriedly and with only two days left before the kids finish school for the Christmas break. The pressure was on to come up with a quick and easy gift to make for the teachers.

With three children all of school age, the amount of teachers, classroom assistants, and specialist teachers all add up so I always look for an easy to make present, that is not only simple to make but cost effective too! 
This year I decided with the help of Pinterest to make these simple nail polish and nail files gift bags for the teachers. 

You will need. 

Nail polish

Nail files

Gift tags

Small gift bags

Printable

For your mistle toes printable from www.persialou.com

Stationary
Firstly I printed out the “printable” on to white paper and cut it to size to fit the gift tag. If you are good at freehand lettering you could skip this stage and just write the message freehand.
For your mistle toes gift tag

Then I added a message in chalk pen to the back of the tag.

Add your message to the reverse

Now you are ready to wrap one nail polish and a nail file in your gift bag. You could add hand cream into your gift bag if you wanted to spend a little more. 
Ready to wrap
Finished teachers gift

Such a quick and easy gift to make for all the female teachers, classroom assistants. 

If you have male teachers to buy for, you could replace the nail polish and file with a pair of socks and still use the same tag! 
Happy making!!
Love 

Claire 

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Advent Calendar

Since I was a child I have had a love for finding driftwood at the beach and bringing it home to add to my collection. I have a few larger pieces that live in my garden and a small box of twig size pieces on display in my living room. Over on pinterest there are lots of ideas of things to make and plenty of ideas for christmas. I decided to make an advent calendar with one of the larger pieces from my collection.

This is what you’ll need, 

A large piece of driftwood or similar size branch, string, scissors and pens

(If you do bring home some beach finds be sure to give it a good wash or it will start to smell pretty quickly. I usually fill a bucket with a strong bleach solution and cold water and leave to soak for a few days.)


Start by adding string to each end of the Driftood to act as a hanger. Then carefully add 25 lenghs of string along the branch. You can make these different lengths to add interest to the finished calendar.

 

Now you are ready to decorate and add the numbers to your little envelopes. 


Once you have numbered the little envelopes you can add your chosen treat or task. 


I wanted the children to think about the run up to Christmas and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. There are plenty of examples of lists on Pinterest. But the kids were a little disappointed I hadn’t included chocolate. Then the lovely Christine from Flouringsdays gave me the idea to include a chocolate coin! 

So I carefully added a single chocolate coin to each of the envelopes once the kids had gone to bed!


I picked these little pegs up from our local pound world but you could pick them up from any good craft supply shop. I used these to attach an envelope to the end of each of the strings.

 

And there you have it! Such a simple idea for the festive season. You can add foliage of your choice to decorate.
Happy Christmas 

Claire

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Pallet Tree!

Today marks the last day of November and tomorrow I can talk about Christmas as much as I want! The man of the house says its too early to talk christmas in November so instead I have been slipping a few christmas touches into the house. A few strings of  fairy lights.  You can never have enough fairy lights in my opinion anyway! And a few christmas berries on the mantle.

 

I love crafts and any excuse to make something for the festive season I’m all over it! I work in a day centre and we love crafts and always make cards and gifts to send home. This year we made simple christmas cards using plain white cards with little gift tags from the store, Tiger. We mounted the tags on to green card and added some glitter! Simple!

Greeting cards made using gift tags from the Tiger Store
 

I love Pinterest and for years I have been gathering and pinning images of things you can make with a wooden pallet. So this year I was determined to make a pallet tree just in time for the festive season. 

I am a novice when it comes to power tools so if I can do it anyone can.

What you’ll need-

A pallet of any size
A jig-saw or ordinary saw, hammer, ruler and chalk for marking.
 

Then you can begin. I had my 5 year old to help me! Lay the pallet on the ground with the planks of wood running horizontal, count up from the bottom, using the claw on your hammer, remove the second plank completely. This will expose the central batton and will form your tree trunk.   The third plank is going to be the bottom branch if you want to call it that of your tree. Using the chalk and ruler you need to draw two lines down from the centre of the pallet to the outer edge of the third plank. 

Mark the pallet with chalk so you can see where you need to cut.
Mark the pallet with chalk so you can see where you need to cut.
 
Once you have marked out the outline for your tree you can begin to cut. Be sure to wear safely goggles when you are cutting the pallet as the wood is rather cheap and will splinter easily.

Using the chalk as a guide to cut
Cut the pallet carefully up both sides of your triangle. Then you are ready to cut the very bottom plank on both sides to form your stand. Using your chalk and ruler measure equal distances and at both sides of your tree trunk and cut with saw or jig-saw. 

You will need to turn your pallet over (depending on the size of it you might need help to do this ). Once turned over you can make the same cuts to the bottom plank at the back. Now that all your cuts have been made, your tree will be free to lift from the pallet. You will also need to make two cuts to the top plank at the back of the stem.

Once all the cuts have been made your tree will be free
 
There you have it, your pallet tree. I am going to set mine on the front step and decorate it with fairy lights and a star at the top!

Pallet tree is ready to decorate
 
I’d love to see what you come up with! 


Happy crafting
Claire
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Not just a glorified taxi service.


When i was growing up I often heard my mum say she felt like a glorified taxi service. I didn’t quite know what she meant. I mean what’s the big deal? I was a teenager who wasn’t old enough to drive so therefore needed my parents to taxi me about. I used public transport to get to and from school, but it was at the weekends and for the after school activities I needed my parents to taxi me about. It didn’t stop when I had passed my driving test at 17,  those after school clubs became pubs and still my parents services were needed, as they yet again played taxi at all hours of the day and night! 
My children haven’t even reached their teenage years and already the past few years I have played taxi service, I now know exactly what my parents meant all those years ago. As I sit and type this post, in I am our local leisure centre cafe. I am surrounded by school children huddled in groups talking or playing on their phones, parents with kids doing their homework. There are tables with one of two adults sitting chatting and then there are those parents, who like me are quietly wishing their life away as they sit and wait for their children to finish swimming, trampolining or gymnastics. 

As the weeks of the school year pass, the faces become familiar as it is the same thing we all do every week! To some like me  it’s an hour each week we will never get back. The leisure centre is to far away from home to drop off and collect later, too far away from the nearest shopping centre and it is winter so it is dark outside so better to stay inside and keep warm. To some it’s an hours peace and quiet, time to sit and watch the world go by, time to sit and have a coffee and chat with friends. To me it’s an hour were I find myself thinking abut the list of things I need to get done or making new list for tomorrow and the week ahead and better still, thinking about the next child I need to collect and drop off to the next activity.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge my children the opportunity  to go to clubs and attend organisations outside of school, after all I have no room to talk I did the same. But I do find myself every week why I don’t have a taxi sign on the roof of my car. Maybe my parents should have got one, they could have passed it on to me!   With three children there are lots of activities and clubs, life revolves around the kids.

I am a working mum,by that I mean I am employed and get a wage. Lets face it all mums are working mums whether or not they get a salary at the end of the month. I work because I have always wanted to have a career. I had all three of my children and worked right up to near their due dates and returned to work after my maternity leave was over. But I am struggling lately with the work/life/children balance. (A post for another day). Family life is busy no matter how many children we have. We are all juggling life. I often dream about that lottery win,  although I should start doing it if I ever stand a chance! 

So until that life changing lottery win I’m not sure if there are any ways around the much needed taxi service, so for now I shall battle on! I would love to hear from you if you have found yourself in a routine of work, kids sleep and how you kept the momentum going?

Claire

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