That's the best way I can describe the last few weeks: 90% nose to the grindstone, but with pockets of loveliness that make everything okay. Better than okay.
The two weeks leading up to the end of term were exhausting: full days, busy evenings and weekends, while fighting off (and eventually succumbing to) a horrible head cold. The Mother's Day weekend was a little ray of actual sunshine in the middle of it all and we spent most of it gardening and doing jobs outside.
The first gardening weekend of the the year is always a big one, so quite a few hours were spent cutting, weeding, tidying, sweeping, planting, moving things around. There was a trip to the tip, an afternoon spent washing two cars during which the vacuum mysteriously stopped working (it's since started - a protest, perhaps?) and a huge washing mountain.
But then there was also a lingering lunch outside in the warm sun, time spent sat in the garden on the bench with a cup of tea and a magazine.
I have two of these magnificent shrubs, above, in the garden. They are absolutely weighed down by tiny, frothy white blossoms at the moment, they look like they are covered in snow. Does anyone happen to know what they are called?
On Mother's day Bella and Angus made me breakfast in bed. I don't particularly like breakfast in bed, but I kept that thought to myself and pretended I hadn't smelled the burning downstairs or heard them come clattering up the stairs with a tray, shushing each other. There were sweet cards and gifts, a bunch of tulips and a lovely dinner at my parents. You see? Pockets of loveliness.
And now we are here in the Easter holidays. It's just been the children and I these last few days while John works, and we've fallen into a routine of mornings at home, afternoons out with the dog. There's been a fair amount of spring cleaning here. During term time I only manage to keep on top of housework in the most superficial way, so I rely on the school holidays to have a bit of a sort out and do things properly. I've cleaned not just the oven but the whole kitchen too, emptied out cupboards, washed and packed away winter things, taken bags to the charity shop, cleaned windows and under furniture not just around it. The weather has been nice so I've also done a huge amount of washing and ironing too. While completing these tasks does bring a sense of satisfaction, I'm a bit fed up with the housework now, and looking forward to getting out and about over the rest of the Easter holidays.
But in amongst the scrubbing and sorting, you find little moments of happiness, like finding a copy of Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries III in near perfect condition in the charity shop for £2.50.
Like picking flowers from the garden and putting them in a vase on my bedside table. The droopy tulip was a result of Angus kicking his football right at my planter full of blooming, fragile flowers and beheading half of them.
Like taking Bella and Angus to the library and watching them choose books, and then pick out things they think the other will like too. We use our local library a lot, it has a well stocked children and teen section and the kids pester me to go every couple of weeks.
Like making salted caramel cupcakes with Angus. Without any prompting or interference from me, he pulled a baking book off the shelf (Hummingbird Bakery: Home Sweet Home) and spent an hour going through it with a pack of post-it notes, highlighting things he wanted us to bake together over the holidays. Everything contains either chocolate or buttercream and involves every pan in the kitchen, and quite a lot of time, but bless him.
Like watching signs of spring emerge in the woods on our dog walks and seeing the first bluebells of the year.
Like crocheting my shawl, and delighting in the colour changes as it grows.
And best of all, coming downstairs on Sunday afternoon to this sight in the garden.
You've got to look for these moments, haven't you? Enjoy the small stuff, be thankful for the moments of happiness, when they occur. I've been feeling very flat lately - a combination of tiredness, worry about so many things (Brexit mainly, and money) and an uncharacteristic lack of energy and enthusiasm - but I think you just have to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, looking for the positives, being thankful for what you have and looking upwards.