Our Swansea Adventure

James has been working in Swansea for a few days a week sporadically for months now and it seems set to continue for the time being.  We all miss him the three days he spends in Wales and so back in March he suggested we all go together.  He would still have to work but at least we could have the evening and as Ollie was off school because of a teacher training day and St. Patricks day, why not?

On Mother’s Day James got us all packed up while I went to church with the boys.  Ollie was going to be singing a Mother’s Day song with the rest of the kids in front of the rest of the church.  We didn’t stay for the whole of church, we skipped out early and James was waiting for us in the car park.

We told the boys that we were all going to the airport to wave Daddy off.  They didn’t have a single suspicion… not when we unpacked a stack of bags out of the car including their Trunki…. not when we went through security and Nate and I were searched… not when we were sat at Burger King in the departure lounge!  So we broke the news by talking about it being a shame that Daddy was away, we would miss him and it would be cool if we could come too… would they like to do that.  Ollie didn’t believe us for a few minutes and once it sank in, the boys were super excited.  Ollie thought our sneakiness was hilarious… and the fact that James had packed their toys and pjs already.

The boys enjoyed the plane ride and once we landed we had to go and pick up our hire car.  It was so fancy, with a parking camera and everything!  The drive to the hotel was a few hours and both boys coped with the journey really well.  Nate slept for the most part.

Once we arrived at the hotel we got the boys bathed and into their pyjamas and we ordered room service for dinner.  Rather than having a meal each, James and I ordered a bunch of starters… we had romaine lettuce chunks with humous and pitta bread, cockle popcorn, pork belly bites with a yummy chutney, goats cheese fritters and calamari!!  It was so good and a perfect Mother’s Day treat.  Before bed the boys were brought cookies and warm milk, something the hotel offers to everyone with kids and such a lovely treat… the cookies were chewy and warm, freshly baked.  (James and I had one each too….)

The next day, James headed off to work early while the boys were still asleep.  We lazed about the room for a little while before getting ready.  The restaurant was just downstairs so we got breakfast.  The boys had a mixture of pancakes and sausages and fruit salad while I had fruit and a croissant.  It was self serve, so you could help yourself to anything.

We visited the beach that was right outside our hotel.  It was clean and BIG and we found a play park there too.  The boys drew in the sand and we collected a lot of stones and shells and only left when it got too cold and windy.  The three of us arrived back at the hotel room to find that the maid had tucked their Paw Patrol pups into bed.  The boys thought it was super funny.

After our trip to the beach we decided to go and get lunch in the tallest building in Swansea.  The views were amazing but it was a shame it was so cloudy!!

Before James was due home we headed to the hotel swimming pool for a while.  It was nice, small but warm and had a tiny kids bit too.  It was totally deserted though, we had the entire thing to ourselves.  Nate cried when we had to leave, he was having such a blast.

James got home in good time to take us all for dinner.  He has been there a lot and so knows where is good to go.  He took us to The Smoke Haus, a really cool, laid back BBQ place.  We stuffed ourselves silly with ribs and deep fried corn on the cob and fries.  When we got back to the hotel, the boys went to sleep and James and I watched tv shows on the laptop.

On Tuesday morning we got breakfast delivered to our room after James went to work.  It was amazing!  They brought us croissants and danish pastries, cereal, yoghurt, fruit juice, meat and cheese!  The boys thought it was a great idea and loved eating their breakfast in their fancy hotel bed while watching tv.  Those croissants though, oh my!!  So very very good.  With time to kill before James arrived back and we had to leave for the airport, we went for a walk around the marina to look at the boats and then we had lunch in the hotel restaurant.

We decided that last minute, spontaneous family trips are FUN!!

An Old Photo

I love looking back through old photos!  James and I scanned in all my old family photographs (more than 1000!) so that they were all somewhere safe.  I love seeing the comparisons between my brothers and Ollie and Nate… the comparison between me and the boys, but the photos also bring back a ton of memories that I had forgotten.  I love seeing ones of me and my mum… we’re super close and I love seeing the bond we already had when I was tiny!

Saying yes…

I wrote out my few New Year goals some days ago… and though all of them are important to me, one of the MOST important is my goal to say yes more.  I’ve been working on this for a few years, because I think it is an area I can always improve on.

Kids are demanding and I don’t know the statistics, but it feels like I get asked a gazillion and one questions in a day.  I am guilty of switching off and not paying my whole attention to some of those questions, maybe I am in the middle of chores or something else.  Sometimes Ollie will want to show me something and I’ll respond with a “in a few minutes honey” or “when I’m finished these dishes”.  On a busy day, I find myself saying “no” or “not right now” a little too often.  I don’t like it.  I go to bed on those days and I think about it and though my saying “not right now” or “in a few minutes” does not make the boys unhappy… I do know it makes them feel just a little disheartened.

I want to say yes more.  I love Ollie’s and Nate’s little faces when I come to them straight away, whether it is to play for just ten minutes, or to show me something they have built in Minecraft or with Lego.  I need to remind myself that dishes can wait, Ollie and Nate shouldn’t.  I can give them that time and do the dishes when they are occupied with something else, or even when they go to bed.  

My mum once said that when you die, it doesn’t say “here lies (name here), who did not do her chores” on your gravestone.  It is more likely to say “here lies (name here), who was a loving wife and mother”… and that is true. My mum is very wise ha!

I want my boys to grow up to know that I am always there for them, always have been and always will be.  When I say “yes”, what I am really saying to them is “yes, I am here for you, I want to hear what you want to say and you mean the world to me!”.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t say no.  I will still say “no” to the things that require it.  My goal is to say yes to connecting with my boys, to playing with them more, to prioritising them above chores and other unimportant things, saying yes to sillyness and fun.

My 29th Birthday!

So next year is the big one!  I want to have a big party!!  But this year, we just had a relaxed, family day and it was lovely!

I had already had some money for my birthday, which I spent on a ton of clothes that I got half price in the sale.  I also got sandals and a new bag!  So on my actual birthday day, James and the boys surprised me with more presents!  James knows me so well and got me perfect gifts.  Ollie bought me 3 stacking rings… he has been saying for some time now that he wants to buy me diamonds and on my birthday he came through! haha!

James also got me the Keri Smith Wreck This Journal, which I have wanted for AGES… along with Photos That Changed The World… which is great, and a 5 minute origami set!  He also bought a TON of special chocolate from Hotel Chocolat and a few treats from Lush.  That husband of mine is pretty awesome at presents!

After I opened my gifts, James went downstairs to make breakfast.  It is kind of tradition now that on any special occasion, he makes french toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup.  There is no point in anyone even trying to replicate it, it just isn’t as good haha!  The boys loved it too.  Me and Nate took a nap while James took Ollie to his swimming lesson.

We got up and dressed to go out for the afternoon.  We headed to one of our favourite restuarants, Il Pirata.  The food is always great, it’s nice inside and the boys like it too.  The boys each had a pizetta, we all shared whitebait and James and I both had pasta (he had fennel sausage and I had chilli prawns).  I also had the chocolate and hazelnut cake for desert.  It’s AMAZING.

When lunch was finished we headed to Stormont for a walk and a play in the park.  I sent Ollie off running to the steps of Stormont and told him I would give him a tenner if he made it.  He had no idea I was joking and James had to run after him to get him to stop.  I gave him some money anyway for his effort.  The park at Stormont is huge and has enough for each of the boys to keep occupied for a good hour and a half!

When we got home, we relaxed and had cake.  A cake that James made… and the most randomly shaped cake I’ve ever seen.  It was chocolate fudge and it was delicious.  A friend called over when we had just finished cake, and brought a big bunch of pink roses with her.  I’m very lucky to have my lovely wee family and friends who made my day very special.

How We Spent Easter!

We had such a fab Easter break… James was off work from Thursday and went back to work on Tuesday!  It was awesome to have some quality family time together… we did a ton of fun things!
On Thursday we went to Funtastic in Carryduff.  It’s awesome, I posted about it last week and had mentioned I booked Ollie’s birthday party.  We went as a family so that the kids could run around, but also so that I could show Ollie and James the place before paying the deposit.  Ollie loved it as I knew he would and we paid the deposit.

After Funtastic and a little bit of payday shopping, we went home, got into new pyjamas and decorated paper Easter eggs.  We decorated one each, Nate included and then we skyped Grandma and asked her to pick a winner… prize being a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs!  Ollie’s egg was Grandma’s favourite and being an awesome winner, he shared the eggs with all of us.

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Friday was a whirlwind of having a friend stop by for a coffee (morning coffee with a BFF sets the day to a good start!), my mum came by to take Nate out for his first pair of walking shoes (and they look so smart… he also walks better in them!), I went out for groceries while James took Ollie to the play park and in the evening I had an awesome Skype date with my friend Kendra, who lives in Canada.

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I woke on Saturday to awesome news from a dear dear friend and even though it was my day for a lie-in, I couldn’t get back to sleep… so I got up and went downstairs to make an Easter themed breakfast for my 3 guys.  I made mini pancakes with Nutella and marshmallows… bunny and chick marshmallows!

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After breakfast, we did the ultimate in Easter traditions, and we painted hard boiled eggs in preparation for rolling them down a hill!  Nate even painted one… he had never used a paintbrush before and in the end he was more interested in licking the paint off the end, than painting the egg.  Ollie loved the activity though… James turned out well too… but my eggs were the best.  I painted a king and a queen.

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My mum stopped by at lunchtime to collect Ollie to take him for a pair of new trainers.  It’s kinda a tradition now that the boys get new shoes for Easter.  He came home with a wonderful pair of bright blue trainers.  He picked them out himself

We then went to a friend’s house for a playdate.  She has 2 children of her own… he eldest is in Ollie’s class in school and her littlest isn’t too much older than Nate.  They ran around like crazy and burnt some energy Ha!

James collected us and we drove to mum’s house to drop the boys off and meet the new addition to mum’s family, a teacup yorkie called Rosie. James and I left the boys to enjoy their overnight with Grandma and Grandpa and we went home to enjoy a date night… cue takeout Indian and Silver Linings Playbook! ❤

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On Sunday we waited for the boys to come home and get their Easter baskets.  They were so surprised… Ollie more so!  He couldn’t believe how much chocolate fitted into his basket.  The boys plundered their treats for a little while and then we headed to Il Pirata in Ballyhackamore for Easter Sunday dinner with James family.  His mum, dad and his Uncle Bobby all joined us.  We LOVE Il Pirata and on Sundays they do sharing roasts for 2 people… we got 3 between the table and it was delicious!

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On Monday, my dad, Lisa and her boys (Conor and Dylan) came to visit and have lunch.  I made curried lentil soup and bought a yummy loaf.  They surprised us with a ton of chocolate and Ollie was so pleased the boys had come too… he took them upstairs to show them his lego etc.  It was lovely to catch up.

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After everyone left, we rolled our painted eggs down our little hill.  Nate didn’t quite understand the concept but Ollie enjoyed it… after a couple of rolls and not a lot of cracking, he ended up throwing them into the air as high as he could, so they would smash when they fell back down.

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We had dinner at my mum and Harry’s house on Monday night… my mum is an awesome cook… she makes this amazing Nigella Lawson ham recipe that uses coke!  She served it with cheesy mash and fried cabbage and leeks.  Harry and mum had also planned an egg hunt for Ollie which he really enjoyed.  So much chocolate 🙂

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We’re not a religious family.  So for us, Easter is all about spending time together, the start of the best seasons of the year… it’s my favourite holiday… as I mentioned before, it was so relaxed, but busy!

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Stopping in…

…to say we’re having such a lovely Easter break!  Isn’t Easter the most relaxed of the holidays?  Family time, chocolate, the snow has gone, days out… lovely!  Our days have been really full of things to do, but at the same time we haven’t felt rushed or under pressure to do certain things.  The boys have been in the best mood (and so has hubby!!) and they haven’t been being as naughty as they normally are ha!
Hope everyone is equally enjoying their Easter break!

2012 in review

January

So 2012 started off very exciting.  We were all awaiting the arrival of our new baby boy!  Having had contractions since approximately 32 weeks, I was sore and frustrated and growing very impatient.  I was spending each day wondering if he was coming or not.  This was coupled with low blood pressure and horrid back pain!  I was seeing the consultant every couple of weeks to keep an eye on my baby boy.

I tried my hardest to prepare Ollie for the new baby’s arrival and we spent time doing family things.  3 days before Nate arrived we were in the forest having a family ramble!  We wondered if it would turn my ‘spurious labour’ into the real thing!

I went into labour the morning of 18th January at about 6.45am after my waters broke.  It took us totally by surprise and we waited for my mum to arrive.  After a few minutes though, we knew it was going too fast and we had no choice but to leave right away.  My friend came over to watch Ollie until my mum arrived.

Nate’s birth went super fast and 3 1/2 hours after my waters broke, little Nate was born in a water pool using only gas and air for pain relief.  It was shocking and amazing all at the same time.  He was perfect and big!!  8lbs 8oz!  Ollie came to meet his new brother and we all went home together at 7pm the same day!

We all settled into family life quite well… and I posted Nate’s birth story.

I went on a lunchdate with Nate and my mum for my first trip out.  It was nice to get out and about and show off my newest little one.

We celebrated James birthday, James went back to work and I got stuck into being a SAHM to two.

February

We got Nate registered.  My second baby boy was made official!  It literally took us a couple of weeks to get around to doing it too!!  We were so busy being a family of four.  My boys both have different birth certificates, Ollie was born in Dublin so his is Irish!  Nate’s is the same as mine and James’.

Ollie became very affectionate and loved upon his baby brother a lot.  Snuggling both my boys, Ollie said “We’re all best friends aren’t we mummy”.

Nate was suffering from pretty bad reflux and colic.  It was very hard to put him down and he cried A LOT… so did I.  He was being given Infant Gaviscon and Infacol.

I tried my hand at single parenting for 3 days while James went to a work conference in Helsinki!  I struggled and ended up taking the boys and we all went to stay at mum’s house!

It then came around that I would be single parenting a bit more.  James had to go to London for a number of weeks for work, only home on weekends.  It was during this time, that I found out just how awesome my whole family is.  My mum, stepdad and brothers all helped out with things… even doing my dishes or keeping me company and I spent more than a few nights staying at mum’s!

Nate smiled for the first time and it was amazing.

March

Me and the boys went for a lunchdate with my brother and my mum and I spent quite a bit more time staying at mum’s house.  I couldn’t have got through those weeks without her, while James was away.

I had a parent and teacher meeting at Ollie’s school and was given a glowing report about my biggest boy.  He loved going to Nursery School and made some lovely little friends.

James and I had a wonderful and well deserved date night that included calamari, steak and frozen daiquiris!

I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a mum of two and was treated to scrambled eggs and a bagel for breakfast.  We all went to Lady Dixon Park for the day.

On the last weekend in March, I left the boys with my mum for 3 nights and I joined my husband in London for the weekend.  We had never had a mini break together before and this was well deserved.  We ate good food, drank, visited the Tate and saw The Hunger Games.  I came home happy and relaxed.  I couldn’t have spent more than those 3 nights away though.  I missed my boys.

April

James came home.  No more long long weeks of single parenting.

I made a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30 and I also joined Twitter!  I posted about how awesome it was to be a mum of two boys.

Ollie got into Forge Integrated Primary School… due to start in September.

I got what I thought was a chest infection but ended up being an asthma attack.  My first in a number of years!

Nate giggled for the first time (and spewed on his James while he was being tickled) and I got my hair cut into a long bob.

May

Nate started teething.  It really felt like my little man didn’t catch a break.  All the drama with his colic and reflux and as soon as that started to settle down… teeth!  Boo!

Ollie became more independent…

…and I fell even more in love with my little family of four.

Nate slept through for the first time, had a ball in his door bouncer and he began weaning. He took to weaning really well and loved all sorts of first foods!

James and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!  James was in London at the time though for work, so I went out for a wonderful seafood lunch with my 2 brothers and my dad instead!

The weather took an up-turn and we were able to get the paddling pool out!  Sun!!

June

My biggest boy turned 4!  Oh how the years flew by!!  He had a party with a few of his friends and I made him a Minecraft Creeper cake which I was exceedingly proud of, though not as proud as I was of my amazing Ollie.

His actual birthday was a couple of days earlier and we went to Bangor, just the 4 of us.  We went to the Pickie Park and then out for lunch.

In June he also became obsessed with the Titanic and became a genius at building with Lego!

Ollie went on his first school day trip!  I accompanied to help out…

We also celebrated Father’s Day with a lunch at Nando’s and a trip to Lady Dixon Park and finished with a trip to Barnams for icecream!

Ollie graduated from preschool and we got to go to his graduation ceremony where he wore a crown, sang songs and was presented with a certificate and folder of all his work from the year.

July

In July I turned 28 and celebrated with a girly sleepover.  I had 4 friends sleep over and we had cocktails and sushi, lots of laughter and drunken revelations!  I didn’t go to bed until 5am!!  James got me an amazing bunch of pressies, we went to The Dirty Duck for an awesome lunch, Mookie World so that Ollie could run off some steam and the then we went to mum’s house for a gorgeous roast dinner!

We were told by a stranger (a random lady while we were out) that “Your children are a credit to you”.  Aaaaw.

Ollie had an asthma attack.  It broke my heart seeing him on the bed on a nebuliser and I guess I felt just like my mum did anytime I had an asthma attack when I was younger.

I moved my blog to WordPress.

Nate moved out of our room and into his big cot in Ollie’s room.  Ollie was so excited to begin sharing with his brother!

August

In August we had to rehome our gorgeous dog Dexter because the boys were both allergic to him and he was affecting their breathing.  It broke our hearts but we were so happy with the family who adopted him from us.

I sprained my ankle!

My brother took me out for lunch to The Mourne Seafood Bar as a belated birthday gift.  It was amazing as always.  I then wandered around town BY MYSELF!

The boys and I spent a lovely day at the museum where Ollie had trouble dealing with the fact that the animals were dead and stuff.  “But I want them to be alive!”

A stray cat made his way into our house.  He now returns every single day, and Ollie has named him Catty.  If my kids didn’t have allergies, I would have adopted him properly already.

Nate teethed pretty hard.

We all went to the beach… Nate’s first time!  It wasn’t the warmest day but was pleasant enough.  We all had a paddle and Ollie spent the whole time in the sand.  We took a picnic and enjoyed being outdoors.

Nate got his first tooth… and then his second!

September

Grandma took a week off work to spend with me and Ollie before he started school.  We did a few fun things including going to The Ark open farm and Exploris Aquarium.  I don’t drive, so it was great to get out to places we wouldn’t have been able to go to otherwise.  We also stopped and picked up the rest of Ollie’s school uniform!

I took Ollie to the Dinosaur Exhibition at The Ulster Museum!

We finished decorating the dining room and turned it into a dining room/ playroom with an art corner for the boys.  It was painted green!  Cheery!

Ollie started school and the night before, I wrote him a letter.  He was so excited for his first day and went in full of beans.  It was lovely.  He came out very happy but tired and we went for a treat Burger King lunch.

James got into a cycling accident but came home with only a few cuts and bruises and sore limbs.

Nate and I went to baby massage class and me and mum went for sushi!

October

I got new glasses!

It rained an awful lot.

Ollie and I both had a dentist appointment.  He got a ‘perfect’ and I was told I needed 4 fillings!

Nate said his first word, “hiya”.

We all had some sort of illness.  Chest infections abound!  Our cupboard became full of linctus and antibiotics… and all sorts of cold and flu medication.

I started and then finished Christmas shopping for the boys!  Such a weight off one’s shoulders getting it all done early!

I realised the hard way that mums don’t really get sick days (apart from when you’ve got an awesome husband who, even though he has work to do himself, helps out).

Mum’s dog Alfie came to stay for a few nights while mum and Harry went to Scotland.  It was lovely having Alfie to stay and really made my mind up about getting a small, non-shedding (hypoallergenic) dog in the future.

James and I went on a paranormal tour of Crumlin Road Jail.  James isn’t really a believer in anything paranormal and I guess I’m not either but it was spooky nonetheless.  I’d actually love to visit the jail in the daytime and do the proper historic tour.

We saw the fireworks in Belfast with mum and Harry.  We were sneaky and instead of going into the crowds we watched the fireworks from a highrise carpark!  It was pretty cold but they fireworks were nice to watch… and then it was nice to go home to the warm!

Ollie had a Halloween party and invited a few friends.  They watched a Halloween movie, were all dressed up, ate party food and then went out trick or treating together.  Ollie dressed up as a skeleton pirate!  It was a fab party and Ollie was sad when all his friends went home… but James then brought out the indoor fireworks and that cheered Ollie up again!  Nate dressed up as a mummy… in the same costume (at 10 months) that Ollie wore when he was 18 months old!

November

Our bedroom was finally decorated.  We bought the paint almost a year ago but never got around to doing it.  Until it was decorated, we were sleeping in a bright green room with a jungle border!  Such a relief to finally have a grown up and relaxing room!

I had my first and second driving lessons.  I was VERY nervous before I went on the first one but my nerves soon went away.  On my second lesson I drove all the way to Newcastle and back (a total drive of about 1 hour and 30 minutes!  My confidence hiked when my instructor told me I was doing extremely well.

We took the boys (well, Ollie… Nate didn’t really bowl) bowling and then to the soft play next door.

I wrapped presents.

I got two of my four fillings.  I get free treatment until Nate turns 1… so as it was free I took advantage of the gas and air.  I normally get so nervous before fillings… I really hate them… and the gas and air really helped!

We put up the Christmas tree and made salt dough decorations.  We make salt dough every year and this year they turned out really well!

December

I took the boy’s Christmas card photo.

Nate met Santa for the first time.

I had my first stein of beer at the Continental market in belfast.

I had my last class at a course I had been taking since October.  All about goals and positivity.  This class motivated me to begin my journey to become a professional photographer!  I made up flyers to promote myself and offered very discounted photo sessions to build up my portfolio.

Ollie went to his first pantomime with school.

I went to my first concert in over 2 years!! Mumford and Sons… and it was excellent!

We all went on the Lapland Express to see Santa with Grandma and Grandpa Harry!

Ollie was a shepherd in his school nativity and was awesome!

We all went to Castle Espie to see Santa a second time.

An awesome Christmas was had by all of us.  Dinner at my mum’s on Christmas day and dinner at Mother In Law’s on Boxing Day… then sickness struck!  Ollie was the only one who didn’t get sick.

James and I had a date and the next day he had the snip.

…and then I wrote this post.

I didn’t figure on this post taking quite so long to write.  I guess a ton happened this year and it was lovely to go through it all.  I’m so excited for what 2013 might hold for us!!  Our family of 4 against the world… who knows what might happen!