Recap – Ice Skating and Edinburgh’s Christmas

I lied. Teasing of pictures of the big day and all you get are some of us skidding around on frozen water. But also…

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… this. Exhibit A: How I don’t put her up for adoption after she is a complete buttock. Which she is. Often. Daily.

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Anyways, off to Edinburgh. We went by train because, you know, driving into Edinburgh is like cycling to the moon, which sadly broke my vow never to travel by Scotrail again (the details of I will spare you from, lucky you).

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We got there early and hit up Costa for some hot chocolate and babychinos. Notice in this picture how my baby looks about twenty (wtaf?)

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Aaaaand back to 2. Phew.

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I’d booked for just me and Sandy to go on the ice and at first this was vindicated because he found it pretty tricky to get around on the little skatey attachments he had.

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But soon after we nicked a penguin aid and realised he could stand on the other side so I could fly round with him knocking little children and the elderly out the way (jk)…

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…Rozzie got in on the action too.

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As we went round little white blobs started falling out of the sky and I was all “oh my god Sandy it’s snowing… JUST FOR US!!!” and it wasn’t until after I realised it was eight degrees and the snow was fake foam pumped out for ambiance. Ah well, it was still amazing.

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After this we meet lovely Emma for lunch and hit up the Christmas market with her, going on the big wheel in Edinburgh for the first time.

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Stuart made a good effort at not looking like he hated it.

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Me, on the other hand…

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It was a great day, perfected of course by a cancelled train home and therefore a nap for Roslyn and my feeling vindicated in how crap Scotrail are.

Childminding – Our First Three Months

So it has been quite a while since I posted on the blog… and of course the reason for this silence is that I’ve jumped straight into the deep end of my new career as a childminder. There is so little time to stop and do things like blogging so I’ve had all these pictures and ideas and activities to share but not a spare minute to actually do just that. Finally I have a little shred of time so here is a quite round up of the past three months.

On the whole it has gone really well. My mindees are lovely and not at all hard to mind and I’m coping with the tos and fros of the school and nursery runs too. Roslyn on occasion has been a little miffed about being woken early from her nap to go pick up the kids but I think that will disappear soon as she now seems intent on dropping her nap altogether.

Luckily for me the time of year I started childminding at was chock full of events that make it easy to plan and execute fun activities for my four charges. It started with Halloween…

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We made some pumpkin decorated biscuits…

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… and carved pumpkins!

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They turned out super scary! They were out front on the night glowing creepily, and my mindees later took theirs home to do the same.

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We also had a sensory bucket full of halloween items and water beads – my newest find thanks to my friend Faye. They are like squishy marbles that grow from seeds to balls in water.

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Strangely hard not to touch! The kids loved them.

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At home my three year old mindee had been challenging me to help him build the biggest train tracks…

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… and been beating my at our Orchard Toys toddler games!

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On Fridays Roslyn and my little mindee go to bookbug while Sandy and our bigger mindee are at nursery and school.

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For Guy Fawkes we did some safe sparkling which was fun, if a little damped by the rain!

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And my mindee made me a lovely birthday card 🙂

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Neither of my kids’ or my mindees’ food choices are particularly varied so we created a food chart. Every time I offer a new food they get a sticker for giving it a try and when they get five stickers they get to pick a fun activity to do one evening. We’ve been hitting up the soft play as the rewards flew in, while some foods have now made a regular appearance on the menu such as green beans, tortellini pasta and sweet potato chips! A total success and we are now on our second chart!

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One of the ways I have been offering such new food is through interactive dinner prep such as top your own pizza night!

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Having a mindee of similar age to Sandy is great, they get on well and are little buddies always wanting to hold hands.

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Roslyn at bookbug pretending to be a sleeping scarecrow!

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Since the mindees started the art wall has flourished, with barely enough frames to accomodate the amount of art generated in a day, never mind a week!

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Christmas lights spotting season begins!

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And also rainbow spotting!

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Our oldest mindee makes up her own games and the little kids join in. This was a toy collection for a pet shop game illustrating the shameful number of plush toys my kids own!!

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We have been getting in on some science activities too, and child led learning. My oldest mindee had seen videos on YouTube of watermelon challenges, where a family were putting rubber bands round a watermelon and the pressure made it explode. We did our own experiment in the garden which was a success… so much fun!

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For Road Safety week we practiced safely crossing the road, then inside made our own lollipops and role played crossings too.

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It got chilly in November on the school run so we needed to think of more indoor activities…

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… such as visiting the library to use their drawing wall and get some books out.

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The festive season started and we have had lots of fun, starting with a walk to Dalzell Estate to collect holly to make a wreath.

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We made fake snow from shaving foam and corn flour and made our own mini snowmen…

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… so cute!

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Much crafting has been taking place…

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… and also another sensory bucket, this time an antarctic one with ice bergs (made by freezing water in freezer bags!)

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Some puddle splashing has taken place on the nursery run too!

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We made a gingerbread house, FROM SCRATCH! One of my personal best baking accomplishments, with help from my brother, Jamie.

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The kids were very happy to help decorate, and of course, demolish in due course.

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Roslyn on the nursery run.

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On the last day before christmas we had a mini christmas dinner with crackers!

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And of course we did lots of cooking and baking too.

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In the holidays I took a week off but got my mindees for three full days, rather than their hours spread over 5, so we got the chance to explore. We visited Dynamic Earth and then Almond Valley.

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Roslyn’s favourite bit? When the big pig pooed. Obvs.

So yes, all in all childminding is going well. There are ups and downs, and financially times are tight until Sandy goes to school in August and I can mind more under 5s, but it is worth it to be at home with my kids and get to work by being creative and playing all day – my favourite things (child at heart!). So bear with me if the updates are few and far between, we are having too much fun to stop just now!!

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.

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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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Sleeping Through the Night; and a September Update

Update time. I keep apologising for the lack of posts due to a busy week or two but I realise now that is just the way it is. So here I am at 5am on a work day, the day I’m meant to be having a lie in, blogging. The reason I’m up so early? I’ve had enough sleep. Seriously. And it’s all thanks to Stuart.

Recently he was away for a night for a conference and Roslyn knew this and decided to take the piss. Usually she settles much better for her Daddy has he doesn’t have the magic boobs, and when she won’t go back to sleep for me he steps in. But when he was a away she played me for all I was worth and Stuart arrived home to the sound of me saying “no more! no more! no more!” So we decided it was best if I bowed out of night wakings for a while to try and fix our broken sleeper. And it worked because she went from 3+ wakings and feeds to just the one quick bottle from her Daddy. And, about 5 days past, she SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.

*Happy Dance and general celebratory actions*

Wait though, she is SEVENTEEN BLOODY MONTHS OLD. So it’s not exactly the big achievement we all think it is, really.

Nevertheless I am happy for it. And, as far as I know at this point while the three of them slumber upstairs, she’s slept through again for the second night in her life. Woohoo!

And the moral of this story of seventeen sleepless months for all the wanabee rested parents out there? Try as hard as you can to cook up a baby who TAKES A DUMMY. Because that is literally the only difference between Sandy (who first slept through circa 8 months old) and Roslyn who partied nightly til now. Ditch the guilt and embrace the soothers, it’s now my motto. Not that I didn’t try with Roslyn, she just chose to projectile vomit everytime she eyed the thing. Sigh.

Anyway, an update!

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We’ve been having a great old time of it lately. This is us lounging on a weekend morning. Apart from the fact that I don’t have every weekend off, or full weekends when I do so to speak, we’ve been making the most of our days as a foursome and relaxing, playing and having general lovely days. This includes lazy breakfasts (sometimes involving fry ups) staying in pyjamas til well past 11 and generally bumming about the house. Perfection.

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It even stretched to the most blissful of domestic bliss locations (aka the place I was so happy in I went into labour with Roslyn)… IKEA. Now Rozzie is up and walking it also means we can rock our matching mother daughter elephants holding trunks sweaters! See me and Sandy doing it once upon a time in the photo too! He was two months younger and seemingly four months chunkier as per the norm.

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September has also brought a delightful weather system for us, in fact the best autumn weather one can hope for really. Chilly mornings means jumpers and hats and miss R modelled a cracker from her aunties Fran and Lib, as well as a Granny knit hat on the nursery run. The days turn into burnt off mists and full sun, and recently even full on hot afternoons, which we’ve been taking advantage of. What a lovely form of compensation for the largely dreary summer we had here.

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Speaking of nursery, I’ve found myself with far more time with my girl now that Sandy does his thing four mornings a week. My little side kick and I have been getting up to all sorts of shenanigans and most of them the best dull, homely ones that we love. Walks to the butcher, time at the park and of course BAKING ALL THE THINGS! Here she is helping me lick the bowl (the only reason to help make the cakes if you are under five).

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Roslyn has not only been developing her sleep abilities but also her physical ones as this picture illustrates. She did that by herself. And as delighted as I was to find her three feet off the ground (kind of stuck) on the climbing frame, it now means the garden is no longer a safe place to leave her while I grab something from upstairs/put on the dinner/clean the entire house. Ah well, won’t be long until she’s whizzing up and down like Sandy so I shouldn’t complain that she still needs supervision at this point.

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Harking back to that bit about the weather, I’d gone and put away all the summer stuff (toys, loungers, BBQ) and placed the lid firmly on the sandpit, expecting winter to arrive as it usually does, and stay until May, as it usually does. Yet here they are enjoying the garden right up to October.

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Back inside now, I’m not sure we’ve got a wonderful bedtime routine yet but we have a morning one down. Roslyn wakes with the cockerel (5:30-6 usually) and comes in to bed for a morning feed then we turn on her favourite show – Teletubbies funnily enough. She loves the “baybeee!” in the sun and giving us little confused expressions when it asks “where have the teletubbies gone?”. She points at the pillows so I will lie to her right and then Daddy to her left, until her big brother wakes and sometimes joins her, giving us amazing opportunities for photos which I will be weeping over as an old lady for sure. Stuart and I take turns showering (sometimes one or other of the kids join us) and then we head down and usually squish in a family breakfast before Stuart is off to work and the nursery run gets going.

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It’s been a bit of a culture shock to go from chillaxing right up til nap time to fed, dressed and out the door at 8:30, but we cope. This process also involves me getting ready for work many days, a hand over to Tate or Pa, and also, you know, cleaning the entire house lest I get home to a pit and want to cry. Because despite all the best intentions in the world there’s no way I’m sorting the place out after a full day walking and talking at those giant horses of mine.

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To update on the nursery situation things have gone from good to not so good to so not good that I was worried and suddenly to fine. In fact I just had a meeting with his teacher who told me he had settled, was taking part in songs and group activites and generally a happy chap. He tells me what he did each day which varies from his go-to “played toys” to “took toy, girl hit, cheeky, cry, toy, all better” and similar nursery shenanigans. Stuart hears more at night putting him in bed where he goes into more detail and it all seems good. He reassures me that he has fun and wants to go now which is fab. He runs in happily too which is a big weight off, I can tell you!

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Another thing we’ve done recently is car shopping because Stuart is moving on to a new car. More to follow on that but Sandy did have a fab time car shopping. He seemed set on Daddy getting a little white car and might be slightly sad to learn its actually big and blue but hey, can’t win them all Sanddude.

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Eating has improved on all fronts too recently. A boy who basically never ate has become a fine wolfer (as long as it is one of his staples: chips, chicken, sausage, toast, strawberries) and fussy Roslyn has been a bit better too. Hence ice cream treats for all.

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I FINALLY ended my long hair season by hacking it all off and going short. I love it. You know sometimes you do something drastic and you aren’t sure? Not this time. And I’ve gotten an extra 20 minutes a day out of it too now I don’t have to dry Rapunzel’s excessive locks.

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A quick word on having two children close together: DO IT. Picture is case in point.

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One of the highlights of the month was going to Funbox last weekend. Funbox is the guys who did the Singing Kettle, in a new guise, and well worth it.

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It was a pirate and princess party so naturally Roslyn went “ah harrr” and Sandy went ” I suppose I will wear that shirt with the boats on but there ain’t no way you are getting me into a dress mother”. Another gender stereotype SMASHED. Obviously.

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We got a picture after. What you don’t see is the split second later where Sandy loses it because I kind of grabbed him an stuck him in the picture when he didn’t really want to do it. Bad, bad Mum.

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We had dinner after and Roslyn compared herself to a giant cold coffee…

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… and Sandy invented a quicker way to ingest gallons of sugar (that’s my boy)

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So that’s it from me and my bubble heads this morning. I’m now contemplating whether to just get on with the day or to sneak back into bed and claim my lie in as if I was never here.

I’ll leave you with this. It’s Sandy’s first picture on a wall display at nursery. He’s “super boy” in a super hero display. Every time I see it I want to melt because that’s my tiny baby there, living his own life without me, on the wall with all his peers. Someone pass the tissues…

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Bye!

Sandy’s 3rd Birthday: A Day Out with Thomas!

The day after Sandy’s third birthday party we celebrated his actual birthday.

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He awoke in the morning to a little pile of presents and balloons.

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Roslyn helped him open his gifts…

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… and by helped of course I mean try and destroy things. Cheeky babe.

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The photo says it all when it comes to Sandy’s reaction to our main gift to him; Tidmouth sheds to add to his train set. We advised any lovely gift buyers that more track and pieces for his brio was the best present. He’s so into his trains and the brio set is such a lovely toy to build.

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We got started on a mega track…

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And soon it was time for cake again!!

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Sandy blew out his candle…

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… and promptly stuck his face right in the cake, as is his tradition!

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Rozzie got some too and then it was time to get ready to leave for the other part of his birthday present…

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… a Day Out with Thomas at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway!

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We spotted Duck steaming along while we waited for our ride.

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And you can just see the fat controller in the background here.

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And of course the main man was waiting at the station to see us…

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Then it was time for our train ride pulled by Hiro I believe.

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Cheeky chops enjoyed the ride just as much as her brother and was even wearing one of his Thomas shirts for the occasion. We will need to get her one of her own!

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When we got off at the other end of the journey – having watched the steam and been in the dark tunnel! – we found a chair swing ride, home baking stall, thomas face painting and temp tattoos and a puppet show all waiting on us.

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Sandy loved the chair swing and went on twice. Roslyn and I got tattoos and Roslyn’s lasted several weeks somehow, making her look mega macho. Sandy watched the puppet show on Daddy’s shoulders enthralled by the whole thing, laughing away at Mr Punch, which was so very cute. He’s such his own person now, and growing far too fast (as following nursery posts will attest to!)

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Happy Birthday to our little Sandy, the best boy a Mummy could ask for.

Sheffield: Day 3 of a Holiday Extravaganza

Day 3 of our holiday started at the delightful time of 5am with the awakening of Roslyn who is part baby part cockerel. Our rising followed a night of ridiculously bad sleep as Roslyn had cottoned on to the fact that we were reluctant to let her cry in the hotel and wake fellow residents. Leaping out of bed and grabbing her instantaneously each time had taught her that whenever she stirred she would get cuddles and milk within 5 seconds of a cry. This trend continued each night for the rest of the holiday and has not abated since our arrival home. Thanks Roslyn. You little chancer.

Despite our vigilance at night the residents of the Elmbank hotel the next morning were less forgiving than we were, when – at 7.30 amidst the cheery sounds of cbeebies, fart noises and manic giggles – someone shouted “SSSSSSHHHHHAAAAAAUUUUUUTTTT UUUPPPPPPPPP!!!!” then slammed their window closed. Oops. I felt bad, but also felt like I’d done above and beyond by keeping them quiet all night til that point. Half seven is still a good lie in for zombie parents and retired holidaymakers alike, yeah? Yeah?!

Anyway! We shipped out quite speedily after that and hit the road towards Sheffield.

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The National Emergency Services Museum was another impromptu stop off. The journey from York to Sheffield only took an hour and – haven risen with the sun – we were there well before the late morning date I had for work (more to follow) so I googled things to do in sheffield, saw some nee naws and knew it’d be a winner.

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Sandy was thrilled to ride on the Coastguard quad and was pretty gutted he had to remove the helmet. If only he weren’t so wobbly we could’ve left him there for hours and we would’ve actually been able to read some of the information on display. As it went we spent a good hour and a half chasing these two from vehicle to vehicle and at least twenty minutes cajoling them off of the fire simulation where you could pretend to put out a flaming bin yourself.

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We spent an inordinate amount of time putting on various helmets, which, as you can see from this picture, was all for the kids…

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By this point in the holiday I was right in the daft touristy photo swing of things and happy to pose in any manner of situations, no matter how ridiculous it made me look.

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The museum itself was fab. Situated in the old fire station it had a gritty feel to it, with all the sights and smells of the past making it feel very real. The volunteers running it were very helpful and one even demonstrated the fireman’s pole in use before letting Sandy get a mini shot himself.

Before long it was time to move out as I had a standing date at Outokumpu, the steelworks which made the panels on the Kelpies. So after a detour to the wrong place and the effort of getting into the place which was akin to going through airport security, I met the guys and had a tour of the warehouse where laser cutting of Kelpie pieces took place. I think I looked very fetching and anticipate safety shoes to be the next big thing in fashion.

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Next stop was to visit Marjorie, my Great “Aunt”, and therefore Sandy and Rozzie’s Great Great Aunt!

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Marjorie took us to dinner not far from here at a place with a play park in the outdoor seating area which was fabulous as the kids played while we chatted. After dinner we headed back to Marjorie’s for strawberries and ice cream which Sandy was particularly pleased about.

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Outside we played with bubbles…

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…and inside we marveled at the kids’ ability to find amusement in the simplest things.

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We even managed at group photo, not far from bedmeltdown time, where every single one of us was looking at the camera! Score!

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It was lovely to see Marjorie and to know we would be seeing her again soon as she is up here in just over a week too!

We headed to our hotel in Chesterfield and promptly crashed again, ready for another night of no sleep followed by a day of much fun to come…

York: Day 2 of a holiday extravaganza

We started out our second day on holiday by waking up surprised to have not had an utterly sleepless night. Then we did a leisurely arrangement of ourselves for venturing out. Despite it involving a 30 minute long bath we were still on the streets of York by 8am and at a loss for what to do. We grabbed some breakfast then headed back to the park beside Yorkminster where the kids roamed happily in the sunshine.

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After that we went to York’s Chocolate Story. And by went I mean faffed about going the wrong way based on hunches for half an hour. But it was okay because we were early as ever and actually arrived bang on time, taking part in the first tour of the morning. The tour told us all about the history of chocolate making in York and involved eating a lot of chocolate so it was a win-win. We had chocolate drops, an aztec chocolate chilli drink, quality streets and chocolate to taste professionally. There was a computer projected machine which turned the beans into chocolate and Sandy was the one who moulded the chocolate.

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After that we got to make our own chocolate lollipops which Sandy enjoyed, pouring a ridiculous amount of sprinkles on to his. While they dried we saw a chocolatier make moulded fondant chocolates, and then we got to eat them all. It was great and I’d go again for sure!

Roslyn fell asleep fairly soon after the tour as she was shattered still from the day before so while she napped in the sling we walked to the castle and found a carousel for the boys to enjoy.

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Sandy was brave and went on a horse this time; previously he’s always opted for the seats. He chose “Paris”.

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We went to the castle but didn’t go in as it was a good climb and we had the buggy. Instead Sandy scaled the hill despite notices not to.

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After that we wandered over to the National Railway Museum. Roslyn woke when we entered and were greeted by the most lovely staff. We went to the restaurant for lunch which is themed like a dining car before heading into the main part of the museum to explore.

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Here we are on a very fast chinese train… (excuse my not knowing anything about the trains as the two littles didn’t exactly respond favourably to standing and reading)

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They have a brilliant place for young children to play with brio tracks, soft play type things, a model train to build and a pretend ticket office. We spent an hour alone there while Sandy and Roslyn played away.

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Roslyn had her first holiday romance as a younger man (9 months) crawled over to her and they started hugging and kissing for a long time. It was very sweet.

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Sandy loved playing with the model train and dressing up in the hard hats and vests. He was utterly adorable in the ticket office sticking his head out of the window saying “tickets please! you go to the seaside now” before running around the place handing out tickets to anyone who he saw.

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We managed a (rather overexposed) family photo!

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All in all it was a fabulous place to visit. I can’t believe it is free as it is so expansive, you really could spend a whole day if not several there. I wish it was close to home so I could take the kids every week!

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After the museum we headed to another burger joint called Byron which was delicious. When we entered we were that family everyone dreads turning up to thrash and cry next to your relaxed meal, but luckily once the food was going in S and R chilled out a bit and everything calmed down.

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We headed back to the hotel utterly exhausted and put the kids to bed straight away, stupidly thinking that the decent nights sleep before would be replicated…

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Day 3 coming soon!

Gretna to York: Day 1 of a Holiday Extravaganza

We are just back from holiday. In fact we are back two days earlier than expected but, for the sake of INCREDIBLE SUSPENSE, I won’t tell you why just yet. For now, here’s our first day of the holiday.

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We set out from home at half eight in the morning and by ten were at Gretna Green for our scheduled stop to break up a three and a half hour journey to York.

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The famous blacksmith’s shop is a great stop over point, albiet quite touristy (but secretly I lap that stuff up anyway so it was a win-win).

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The littles burned off some energy in the play park which was ideal so they didn’t combust in the car.

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Anywhere that gets one of these things ticks a box in my daft tourist check list (which also contains ‘sells photo magnets’, ‘is a little bit kitcsh’ and ‘has a maze’ for what it’s worth)

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Coincidentally this place also did have a maze so we checked that out once it opened at 10am which – unlike the rest of the population – is practically midday for parents, and therefore a daft time for things to open. However, nearly every attraction opens at 10am and we routinely found ourselves leaving our hotel room at 7:50 and trying to find things without doors to do for two hours before we could get into places, by which time the kids were either hungry or tired or both so you know how that goes. Stuart decided he’s going to open a branch of tourist locations opening at 8am for families around the country because of that.

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Anyway I digress…

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The maze was… aMAZEing. Yes, I went there. Blame my new job and concession groups’ love of inoffensive play on words jokes.

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One thing that was a bit of a challenge on holiday was Rozzie’s inability to walk yet. When I thought of the holiday months ago I just assumed by almost 15 months she’d be on her feet (after all Sandy was toddling away a week after his first birthday) but alas she was not. So we spent A LOT of time hunched over having her walk holding onto our hands lest she crawl through the muck (which is all fine and well at home with 20 outfits to choose from and a tumble drier).

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The thing that Gretna of course is famous for is eloping to get married because of the age limit being younger in Scotland in the past so English lovers would come over to marry then return home. So in the spirit of that I asked the youngest man I knew to marry me…

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He said “I do” and we sealed the deal with a kiss.

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Stuart tried the same with Roslyn but she wasn’t quite ready to settle down just yet 😉

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She was however okay with a public on the ground love in with her best buddy.

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After Gretna we headed to York, just making the journey before any major whining set in. We checked into the hotel and then went out to source some dinner.

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We had time to visit Yorkmister (from the outside only this visit) where on the steps Roslyn made friends with two pugs who licked her face. She didn’t seem to mind in the slightest!

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As you can see here we got great weather on our first day and – by and large – it lasted most of the holiday.

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Roslyn was happy to be able to crawl to her hearts content on the steps.

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Learning with Daddy.

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We went to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen for dinner which was like Ketchup in Glasgow and ideal for the kids. They even a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Milkshake which was not the last appearance Uddingston’s most famous export would make on our travels…

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Finally when we got back to the hotel the kids went straight to sleep without any fuss which was incredible as I’d envisioned real issues with the four of us sharing a room for a week. And again, to add to that incredible SUSPENSE you’ve already been waiting in, I won’t reveal how project get some sleep on holiday progressed til next time…

National Museum of Rural Life

One of the National Trust for Scotland locations is the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride. I’d never been before but the kids had with Pa, who had a membership before we did. We went twice in the last two weeks on dry, warm days.

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Roslyn Lounging on the bridge. As you do.

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This time we met up with our friends Vicki and Rohan too which was great as we’ve not seen as much of them due to work constraints.

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The first time we went we took the tractor (dougal the shoogle) up to the farm and saw all the animals which was great! This time we stayed at the Museum and the park.

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Here they are happy in the Tractor barn, watching a presentation and snacking away.

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After the museum we went to the play park which is thankfully enclosed, allowing little runners and crawlers to be free range.

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Their favourite bit (apart from the swings as they are a current obsession of my two) is the old tractor. They could spend hours here happily harvesting away.

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Excellent sharing going on right here.

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There is a lot more to do which we have not yet had a chance to explore there so I’m sure we will be back many times. It’s ideal because it has indoor and outdoor activities so even in winter we can have fun.

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We had a lovely afternoon with Vicki and Rohan catching up and went for dinner after too.

Pretty Muddy 5k Race!

A while back my Mum and I signed up to do Cancer Research’s Race For Life Pretty Muddy 5k and we completed it last weekend!

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Here are our before and after selfies! You will notice the temp tattoos Mum has on, well I only had one of my four on because the other three ended up on the rest of the family…

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Roslyn got the pink army one, Sandy got “hell hath no fury” on his little bicep, and Stuart proudly wore “Stronger, Braver, Pinker” 😉

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We ran with a group of ladies from the gym we go to, Bodymorph Fitness in Hamilton. As you can see, we were clean in our before shot, and not so much in the after…

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However, Mum was miffed as I seemed to come out cleaner than her. The reason was clear as when you approached an obstacle people were spraying water and flinging shovels of mud at you, but only if you weren’t going fast enough! As you can see poor Mum got a pile of mud thrown at her as she entered the mud bath!

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I loved it! And I was very happy with the time of 30 minutes considering my PB 5k is 28:50 not including any obstacles!

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In fact it has spurred me on and Stuart and I have now shaken hands on taking part in a tough mudder sometime in the future!