Pool Party

No time! No time!

It’s busy busy busy as usual, if not even busier. Truth be told, we’ve been out having too much fun at the summer festivals for me to blog. So this long overdue (you can tell by the weather!) but better late than never!

The exciting news here is that all the busy times have paid off and yesterday I had my pre-registration visit with the Care Inspectorate resulting in a Registration in a few weeks time! I’m going to be a childminder! I have so much planned and can’t wait to get back to more of what I’m good at and be at home with Sandy and Rozzie more. What’s more is this is my own business. It means so much. So there will be more to follow on that shortly, but for now, enjoy our pool party from June I believe, and I will update on Sandy turning four as soon as I can!

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Forest

Recently Stuart made a gate on our back fence. It leads to a field which leads to a clearing which leads to a hill progressing into woods and a burn. Sandy calls it our forest and in the nice weather we adventured down, a little further each time, until we had an afternoon picnic on the banks of the water.

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Sandy and Rozzie loved throwing stones in the burn to make splashes, and attracted the attention of a magpie. We listend for bird calls and silence and ate less than romantic children’s food on our blanket.

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We love living here. It’s the perfect mix of rural and suburban, a stark change to Glasgow three years ago with troublesome neighbours, marching season and human waste in our doorway.

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To say 2016 has been tumultous for us is an understatement. Stuart paraphrases Sandy’s favourite singer, Ezra Furman, saying that its been a restless year. The bad times have been receding yet still there are bumps in the road. My PhD. for example. It’s a tale for another time but the long and short of it is that if I want to complete it I’m facing another year’s work, another year’s research. No funding + full time work + family + PhD = ? Well, I’m really not sure that I want to find out.

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But importantly, I have a plan. I know what I will be doing come October, should all be well with my registration. I will be a childminder. I’ve been submerged in induction training and registration forms, policies and procedures and GIRFEC. I’ve made more forms that I ever have in my life and undertaking home risk assessments, not to mention emergency evacuation plans, with floorplans. Yep.

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The end of the hard work will hopefully be my own little business, where I can spend time with my children whilst working and make great experiences not only for my own children but those that I hopefully mind.

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There are downsides: inconsistent earnings, a lack of career progression, having to do tax returns… but they seem to be outweighed by the plus points. Every time I think about it I feel positive and I’m going to try my utmost to make it a success.

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So much of the narrative between Stuart and I of late refers to happiness, and family, and what’s actually important in life. We work for the majority of our life and why would we want to do something that makes us unhappy, or where we have to hold back our own characters? For money, success, status? Perhaps I just don’t have what it takes, but I can’t seem to get on with the career thing.

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It’s the same for the PhD. What would my reasons for continuing be? To say I did it? So I didn’t have to say I didn’t? To tick the ‘Dr’ box on forms? It certainly isn’t for career advancement because – as far as I can tell – having a PhD gains you no experience or employability. Rather it detracts by making you seem overqualified and under experienced, unless you choose to try and stay in academia, which from my solitary experience requires far too much in the way of people pleasing and “networking” – code for a high school style navigation of egotistical waters. Why would I continue? Professional pride and a fear of having wasted the last four years. But wasn’t a waste! It truly wasn’t. These pictures attest to such.

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So I think I will leave it behind. I’ll let go of that dream for one more modest. One where I can control my own fate and determine my own success, where hopefully my work ethic and enthusiasm are enough.

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I’ll keep up to date of my progress into childminding and hopefully start converting the blog into this new route too.

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Something has changed in the last month for Stuart and I both, and it’s a shift in outlook that we are now making into practice. Hopefully it will make things better for our whole family.

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Work or Beach

In December last year I moved to a new job. I liked my old job well enough but it was poorly paid and there was no upward possibilities for progression despite a boss who appreciated me and acknowledged my work ethic and leadership. So I tried something else.

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Sometimes you have to make decisions without knowing if it is the right decision. We always want more and often that drives us to leave something acceptable without the surety that the other option will be better. It turns out for me that the other option was very much worse. I think I realised it the day I properly started and faced a girl who was in the same role of me who had not progressed in terms of status or pay in two years, yet was taking influence in all manner of issues outside her responsibility, including the budget, for nothing. It went downhill from there.

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It is easy to be in denial when you so badly want something to be a success, especially if you have something riding on it. Yet if I’d been honest I’d have known the environment was poor from the get go. There were few decent people there, and even those who I knew were alright had issues which made everyone else’s life harder. There was only one person there who ever actually was nice to me. Some people were nasty and others dour, some were incompetent yet in positions of authority. Others just tried to get on with things. I spent four months there and by the end of it I just couldn’t go in. I got scolded for where I stood, no guidance on performance and even berated for daring to take my lunch outwith the building. When I didn’t go in I job hunted.

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I applied for the first things I saw and overlooked issues that I would normally have taken as a red flag; salary, commute, hours. In the end I interviewed for and got a position and I was so deliriously happy that I didn’t care that it was full time; I’d been doing four days a week in hell generally so five days in heaven was so obviously better. I finished my time in my old job not working. It makes you feel bad, like a layabout and a coward, but I’ve been in situations before where I push myself too far so no-one thinks I’m weak or incompetent and end up making everything worse. And it’s not just me now. Any time things impact on my home life I draw a line: nothing touches my children. No job is worth that. So the end came and went and I moved on, taking with me only one person, the rose among the shit so to speak (who has also now escaped I am glad to report).

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I started my new job and found the fact that the problems I’d had previously were gone relieving. I had my own desk and people who I wasn’t scared to be near and an hours lunch break with no interference. The only problem was the hours. I knew when I signed up it was a full time job, but in my delirium I didn’t care. We filled the extra days of childcare needed with another day at Gran’s (yay) and a day with a childminder. The childminder situation didn’t last. Not because of the childminder but because of Roslyn who has always been a clingy little limpet and who wouldn’t settle. It’s hard when it is only one day a week but by the point where she was refusing to eat OR EVEN DRINK I had to find an alternative.

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Luckily my new job allowed me a degree of flexitime and I was able to negotiate earlier starts and an afternoon off and my dear mother stepped up much like Gran did and took an extra morning. If there is one thing I am going to do based on my experience raising children it is make myself available to care for my grandchildren. That will be my gift to Sandy and Roslyn. Because having a children and a career is virtually impossible, despite the modern world we live in. Which brings me to my current conundrum…

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My job is alright. I mean, I have no major gripes. But it’s a temporary contract and recently that has been emphasised; not only in terms of when I’m out the door but also in a condescending way. I’m a high maintenance employee in some ways, as Stuart noted yesterday I “don’t get on well with work” or something similar. It’s sad but true. I guess the education system failed to mould me into a committed and unquestioning worker, and my self broke through, because to enjoy a job I need to feel at LEAST one of three things: challenged, creative, appreciated. And at the moment I’m feeling little of either.

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The start of a job is fine because there is challenge in a simple learning curve, but as I get good at things I need to be able to use my own brain otherwise it’s all robotic. I dreamed of data entry last night; I knew it was a turning point. Don’t get me wrong, I can do robot work to an extent. I can try and be quick or try and think of how to make it more efficient, but if someone doesn’t notice that I’ve worked hard there is very little motivation to come in the next day and do the same thing, or the day after that.

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So I’ve been feeling these things and feeling the loss of my time with the kids and I know this isn’t for me. Even if anyone had shown any interest in keeping me on, or a similar role was advertised, I’d be reluctant. It’s too much fight. You fight to be helpful and fight not to upset anyone, you hide your opinions and work so damned hard and no-one bats an eye and so often I’ve found thanks are given like gold yet lessons as common as muck. I’m so fed up of only my flaws being noticed. I’m so fed up of being judged on the trivial. I’m relentlessly tired of trying to prove myself to people who are intellectually inferior yet have let the power go to their heads.

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But don’t worry, I have a plan. I thought of what my aims in life are and they’ve changed a lot in the last few years. I used to want the career and took success as for granted. It would be mine, I was ruthless then. But I birthed my son and my brain changed (some good, some bad) and it was a like a wound that will never heal, and all these little things that you can usually brush off or ignore now worry the wound and so often little hurts are so raw and real that it feels the whole world is out to get you. I feel so unprotected since I had my children because any threat to me is a threat to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’d kill for them in an instant, but most often this manifests itself as passivity and hidden tears. Being a parent changes you. Being a mother alters your brain. I am sure of it. I know me, and it has happened.

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What I want is my kids. And my home. And my creativity. I want to make things and do things and visit places. I want experiences and fun and development. And becoming a childminder will allow me that. I won’t have a career, or a fabulous pension. There will be no bonuses or titles or accolades to collect. But I think I will be happy, and my children will be happy. And if I can succeed and bring comfort and care to other children, and maybe even expose them to some new skills and experiences then at least I will have contributed. I won’t have much money but I’ve come to realise enough to pay the bills and a little to put away is PLENTY, and if I love it and I’m good at it, perhaps when Sandy and Roslyn are going through the trials and tribulations of having children and working I will be on hand to help, to accept my grandchildren with open arms, to allow them to know their babes are being loved whatever they decide to do. That would make me fulfilled.

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And what does this have to do with a trip to the beach? Everything it turns out.

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The last two years we’ve waited for the weather to come good and spontaneously packed up the car and headed to Troon. The pictures of my children in the sand grace my walls and my memories. I’ve come to love summer, and rituals and tradition. I line up pictures of the same event year on year and get misty eyed. I think of Sandy letting the sand drain between his fingers, blowing in wisps. And of Roslyn rolling and rolling until she is more sand than skin. I think of their shrieks of joy to see a crab, a plane, a tractor. And of the warm smell of sea and hot skin as we drive home, them asleep in the back, worn out and content, with me at the wheel conveying my precious cargo back to our safe place. They place they come from, the place one was born. These are the things I will cry over as a little old woman.

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I realised this year going to the beach was a long shot. Scottish weather as it is generally you can count on one hand the number of days a year where the beach will be good. It has to be hot, and not wet, with no wind. We get these days but they are rare and I knew that the chances of these days falling on a weekend were minuscule. I accepted my fate but it did not sit easily with me. No more spontaneity for the full time working mother. No more going to anything we wanted irrespective of day or time, that joy comes only to that year’s maternity leave where you are too housebound by necessity or mental strain to enjoy it. My kids are now 2 and almost 4. We have a year left before School puts an end to our carefree fun, and here I’ve given up the days I had to do it.

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I’d decided to register to become a childminder before our beach day. I was already working on the forms and gathering materials. But as the weekend came and I got that TGIF feeling the weather was nice for the first time all year. And it lasted. It was Sunday evening and the forecast and the sky told it and tomorrow was Monday and it was a bank holiday and everything aligned.

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I don’t like to say I believe in karma because I don’t, not really. It’s very woo and unconvincing and would turn me to a hypocrite if I did. But I do believe that you reap what you sow. It would be ridiculous to suggest that our beach day was deserved for some reason; it wasn’t. But it gave me hope. Hope that I can coincide happiness and work. God knows if it’s possible, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

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Roslyn’s 2nd Birthday

I posted the weekend pictures thinking the blog I wrote was there but somehow wordpress decided no, my return to blogging should be a kind of silent film affair. So this is officially me back. Unless I manage to screw up posting this too. And if I do you won’t know.

Anyway! There was quite a hiatus there. Five months or so. I just felt I had nothing to say. And if I had wanted to say something it wouldn’t have been all that positive. The job situation was awful (something which has been resolved, for me anyway) and I was submitting my thesis, so blogging took a back seat. But here I am again ready to spam you with pictures of my kids and ramblings about things you probably don’t care about. I will continue though, because there are some exciting changes afoot which I will come to in the next few posts.

For now though it’s a hello I’m back and goodbye I’m off to go to the west end festival with my family. So enjoy pictures from Roslyn’s 2nd brithday, we had a cowgirl party!

Ciao!

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SNOW

It might be two weeks after Christmas but, it SNOWED!

I was driving home from work when it started and by the time I got to the house it was lying. I went inside and made dinner. It was almost bedtime for Sandy and Rozzie and Sandy was watching the snow. I asked if he wanted to play in it in the morning. “YES! I get my wellies!” He shouted. I was about to say “no, in the morning” then from the kitchen Stuart said “If it lasts…” and I thought, what the hell, let’s get out there. So we did.

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Even more glad we did because by morning the snow was all powder and we wouldn’t have been able to make a snowman.

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True to form we didn’t just make a snowman…

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WOOF!

The next morning we went out too and played.

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The last time Rozzie was in the snow she was barely sitting up!

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So beautiful.

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Sandy loved the icicle hanging from his climbing frame canopy.

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As did this little beauty.

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Here’s hoping we will have a little more before winter is over.

Thanks for coming snow!

Our Family Christmas

Apologies for this post being so late and somewhat out of season, but here it is, our family christmas in photos!

We started Christmas morning with Roslyn crying down her monitor at 5:45 as per usual so brought her through to our bed to watch some twirlywoos while we awaited Sandy rousing.

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In the end Roslyn knocked on his door to wake him. He wasn’t all that pleased at first but as I whispered to him about Santa having been he sprung into life and was so excited to see our stockings all filled. We took them into our bedroom and opened them on the bed.

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Then we headed downstairs and discovered that Santa and the reindeer had enjoyed their treats and he had left a few more gifts under the tree.

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We took a break from presents for a nutritious Christmas breakfast…

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… then got back to opening and playing.

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The highlight of our gifts to Sandy was his Ezra Furman shirt and records.

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He really loved them.

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He was also very taken with Buzz Lightyear!

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Roslyn got Jesse and seemed to like her but generally was rather crabby all of Christmas day due to the dreaded incisors.

I lamented to family later that I spent a fair bit of time in between getting dressed to go out refereeing a fight over a christmas present from last year – not looked at in months – which suddenly was back in favour with each of them at exactly the same moment. How convenient.

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Next we headed over to the Findlays and had fun opening more presents, perusing the menu of Shug’s diner, and having some much needed down time from the whining of miss Roslyn as she napped!

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This year I wasn’t doing Christmas dinner at ours which was quite a nice break, as much as I do like being a host.

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Mum hosted and cooked and the only thing I was required to bring was my homemade pudding wine (which was good) and the parsnips and carrots. I’d saved the ones in my garden for the occasion and had been surprised when I went out in the pissing rain on Christmas eve to uproot them to find they were mostly a bloody foot long and required a lot of digging with the fork to retrieve. Worth it though, as they were tasty.

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I got a bit snap happy at the dinner table between starter and main so I’ll just leave these here for now…

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Here is Roslyn actually eating something. THANK GOD…

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… and here is Sandy eating, well , a cracker.

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Jamie clearly onto my attempts at candid photography by that point.

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Here I managed to put Sandy off of crackers for life by slightly punching him in the face. Bad mum.

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And here is our girl the cheeriest she was all day, because for once she wasn’t starving herself! She loves her “aimee” and wasn’t shy in telling us all exactly that.

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Soon it was time for the littles to get to bed so we could, you know, actually open our own presents. So jammies were donned and off to bed they went.

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We then played our christmas seceret santa gift game which was a roaring success once again.

All in all it was a fabulous and busy day which even included a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!! Roslyn and Sandy were both woken, driven home, and put back into bed with little disruption and slept through to the morning. Thank you baby Jesus!

Resolutions for 2016

Here we are again, resolution time. First, let’s see how I did last year. My Resolutions were to:

1. Regain fitness
2. Get a PhD, and then a job
3. Grow MORE fruit and veg (maybe get a greenhouse too)
4. Devote more time to my marriage.

Well for the first I was successful, for seven months, and then… yeah. Let’s get back on that now. For number two I have definitely succeeded. I got a job (and then another job too) and while I do not have my PhD yet, the full draft is in and I just await my ridiculously slow supervisors getting back to me. Whatever, it’s done and as long as it comes at some point I’m happy. For number three I did grow some more fruit and veg this year. I focussed on those which were successful the year before and had lots of broad beans, potatoes, carrots and parsnips as well as spring onions and more black and gooseberries. I got the greenhouse but late so didn’t have enough time to do it properly. I will have more time and space this year so I hopefully this will continue well. And for four I can say yes we’ve done well with that. More nights out together, a spa trip away and the return of our evenings has meant we have much more time to be together, without the littles around.

So I’d say another fairly successful year thanks to my kind of tame resolutions. Now for my goals for the year ahead.

1. Advance in my career. Now I’ve gotten into the tourism/heritage sector I’d love to advance beyond entry level roles, potentially with some supervisory experience.

2. Gain a qualification in relation to my career. I’m not sure in what capacity but I’d like to do a small course which will help make me more employable within my sector.

3. Family goal: Eat a wider variety of foods. We seem to have sunk into boring habits with our meals. I hate that Sandy and Roslyn eat the same four foods day in day out. It’s not for a lack of trying initially, just their fussiness, but I’m going to try and be more proactive about offering more, rather than not bothering because I know they won’t eat them. Here’s hoping this time next year they will be in a position to try Christmas dinner.

4. Maintain Sandy and Rozzie. My own business which I run in collaboration with my Mum has started to make a little momentum and a little extra money for me, I’d like to keep that going this year and maybe improve.

5. Live more in the moment. I have a bad tendency to be constantly preparing for the next task rather than enjoying the one in hand. Be it taking too many pictures, tidying mess, or being on my phone, I want to tone it back at bit.

So there we are, my 2016 resolutions, ready for me a year on to come and see how well I did!

Our 2015: A Family Recap

Here is our 2015:

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In January we had snow and Sandy started saying “snowball!!” when he threw things (not necessarily snowballs).

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This girl started to stand up, but she also hit up the hospital again for what would be the first of countless trips to ward 19 this year.

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In February Stuart and I had our first child free outing since Roslyn was born (!)

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Sandy turned 30 months old and I lamented that he was so grown up (how original) and the pair of them enjoyed toddler athletics classes.

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March was my last month as a PhD student and my last month having days just me and Roslyn so we made the most of it by swimming.

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The weather finally turned and we got some time to play at the park before I embarked on a new career!

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In April we hunted eggs and played in the garden.

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We watched this little bunny turn 11 months…

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… and in May one whole year.

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May also saw first steps, first shoes and first weddings.

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June was for festivals and outdoor adventures…

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… be they on the beach or in the back garden. The sun didn’t shine for long this year but we made the most of it when it did.

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In July we embarked on our ambitious holiday roadtrip and had a blast.

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We may have missed the lakes due to illness but we made the most of it in Wales before we came home.

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August was a big month for a little boy who not only turned three…

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… but also went to nursery.

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Sandy adjusted to new routines in September with the help of his partner in crime.

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We continued our summer outings, making the most of a late surge of good weather.

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In October Daddy got a year older and a new car (daddy’s blue car)…

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…and we celebrated ghosts and ghouls for Halloween.

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November was all about the fireworks, with Sandy’s first real show at Strathclyde Park…

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…and Rozzie’s first sparkler with family on my birthday.

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And finally in December we donned our gay apparel and awaited a visit from Santa.

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What a great year and we are looking forward to another just as fun.

Happy New Year everyone, here’s to a fabulous 2016!

Christmas, we are ready!

5 hours until it’s Christmas! So exciting!

It seems with Sandy and Roslyn each year gets better and better. They understand it more, their routines constrain the day less and generally they just have a more jolly time of it.

This Christmas eve we had nothing to do other than a quick jaunt to the shops to grab some last minute essentials (nappies, wipes, pepsi and pastry). So once we were back and Rozzie had napped we made some Christmas pies for Santa.

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Christmas pies are my version of mince pies, they look exactly like them, but don’t have the same filling. Instead its a kind of spicy coconut cheesecake base instead.

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Sandy is really excellent at baking now, stirring, measuring and rolling out dough. Roslyn on the other hand…

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Well, she enjoys being involved!

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Our pies turned out lovely and we played for a while before dinner.

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Our festive spread had meats, cheeses, pates and crackers for us and lorne sausage and chicken nuggets for the kids. The usual then. Yep.

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After dinner the kids had a bath and we all donned our new matching tartan jammies!!

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(Roslyn’s aren’t actually new, they were Sandy’s two years ago, shhhhh!)

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Then we headed downstairs to make some last minute preparations for Santa.

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The kids laid out their pillowcases…

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…and helped get a carrot for the reindeer and a christmas pie and milk for Santa.

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Check out Roslyn taking the task very seriously *melt*

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Aside from the tempestuous nature of one young lady at time we had a fabulous Christmas eve.

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They are both fast asleep now and we can’t wait for the morning to see what magic has happened overnight…

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Merry Christmas Eve!!