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.

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!

Finally! Paddling Pool Weather!

Last week, while parts of England were having a heat wave of 40 degrees and sun, we were having a heat wave of muggy overcast days and hot showers. We planned a work BBQ based on the weather forecast and, as expected, it changed closer to the date and we ended up taking refuge at a colleagues home from the rain rather than BBQing it up with the Kelpies.

However, we were lucky enough (ha) to have ONE sunny day during this heat wave and the kids and I made the most of it by getting the paddling pool out.

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Sandy and Rozzie inhaled strawberries as I pumped up the pool…

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…and pumped…

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…and pumped…

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…and then worried about repetitive strain injury as the bloody thing was still only half done…

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…and then I finished it and realised I’d only done one part of the blasted thing so I gave up and made it a rather shallow pool (which actually was ideal so Sandy could get in and out at his leisure).

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We put the chute from the climbing frame into the pool to make a waterslide and I poured buckets of water down behind Sandy as he went down.

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Roslyn loved it. Luckily I’d put the water out early and let it heat up over lunch so it wasn’t too chilly for little skinny bear.

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Much splashing fun!

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Water slide King.

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We then had a BBQ with home made elderflower champagne (a post on that to follow!) which was the lovely end to a fab day. Here’s hoping there will be one or two more before the end of summer.

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Soon it will be all systems go for our holiday which I don’t think I’ve mentioned on here yet. We are going to York for two days, then Sheffield to see my Great Aunt Marjorie, on to Derby to have a MASSIVE third birthday party with Sandy’s mumsnet group, on to Portmeirion in Wales for two nights and up to the Lakes for two before heading home. I’m quite excited! We’ve planned lots of exciting outings on the trip and (apart from sharing a room the four of us each night!) can’t wait for our first holiday as a family of four!

5 Ways Being a Mum Made me a Better Person

Something I keep coming back to recently is how I’ve changed in the last three years. I think of how I handle things and imagine how different these scenarios would have been prior to becoming a Mum. I’ve learned a lot since having them and in some ways it feels like I’ve done a decade’s worth of personal development in less than a third of the time. There are character traits I’ve toned down, or lost completely, and new attributes I’ve gained. Nearly all of this change has been positive and it’s a nice feeling to know that not only did I gain two new people in the last three years, I also received a better me.

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Patient

I’ve never been a patient person. I do things quickly or not at all, and those who do things slowly or ineffectively would have been disregarded. While being impatient can be positive – in relation to getting things done – it was always something I disliked about myself but found very hard to change. Changing any part of your character is hard, and without changing the structure around yourself it is nigh on impossible. I had all I needed pre-children and thus not enough impetus to change. But of course when Sandy exploded it my life things did change and I found it very difficult to adapt; the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in fact. But the result of this was that my patience has grown. I doubt I will ever be described as patient, but being a little less impatient is progress enough for me, and I continue to work on it. Being unable to rush things – like rocking a baby to sleep, getting a newborn tummy full, or managing out the door on time despite last minute nappy changes – forced me to be patient.

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Selfless

Having children has also forced me to put other people’s needs ahead of my own desires. I realise now that all my decision making pre-babies seemed to myself to be normal, but was in fact entirely selfish. I was just so caught up in my own life – that being me doing what I wanted – that I literally couldn’t see other people’s going on beside mine. It feels awful to admit that but because being selfish didn’t bring me direct harm I never realised or changed. It wasn’t until being selfish resulted in a lot of crying and heartache that I realised how self-centred I was. It’s hard to go from devoting nearly all your resources to yourself to pretty much your entire efforts to another being. Add in the inability to ever step away from these duties and you have a person who is a little bit shell shocked, but emerges from the change as a far more selfless person. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to do things for me, but it’s all too often now that the children have had their second meal of the day and I still haven’t had a drink since I woke.

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Accepting

Stuart often tells me that I am a person who “doesn’t suffer fools” and he is pretty spot on with this analysis. Certainly when it comes to most interactions this remains the case. I find it hard to defer to anyone who seems less qualified or intelligent than me. Yet this also spilled over into disliking those with different opinions, or different aims, or ever different daily schedules. I found it so hard to comprehend why others wouldn’t do things just like me. Since I had the kids though I realise that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, none less than myself. I see Sandy trying to climb the big kids frame at the park; or Roslyn struggling to get the spoon in her mouth and I realise that with a little patience also comes acceptance of our shortfalls. I can see other people’s views more now and try hard to sit on the fence at least for a little while. Even if something someone does is completely against my perspective it all boils down to me thinking “but that’s someone’s baby”. The idea that this person is to another how Sandy or Roslyn are to me means I can be nothing but accepting.

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Humility

And with this acceptance comes some humility, for you have to admit often that you are not always right. I had a lot of trouble with this before and I literally always thought I was right. Being a high(ish) performer throughout my life (which consisted of only education really) I was pretty arrogant, and I came to the conclusion that continual good results on course work meant continual good results in life; something which couldn’t be further from the truth. People can never always be right – something which is taught well by babies. You try what worked the day before and it doesn’t. You are wrong and there is no logic. You think you are amazing because you got them to eat and then you can’t anymore and all arrogance melts away until it feels like you have no expectation of success left at all, so the only way is up. I used to be too confident, and then I lost it all following Sandy, but it’s been coming back and I’m hopeful my children have taught me to balance arrogance and humility.

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Adaptable

Finally, I am infinitely more adaptable than I was pre-children. Not only was I forced to be flexible in relation to plans, timings and my own wishes, it was demanded of me that I take a myriad of tasks and somehow fit them all in to a day, despite respite from being needed by children being a few minute spells, sporadically scattered throughout the day. So I email while I feed and I shower with them. Errands are done on the way to work and anything else requires a joint nap. It’s hard to complete tasks with constant interruption and never your whole focus, but it is achievable. I used to write on my CV about how efficient I was and laugh now, knowing the powers I now possess for getting stuff done in a frenzy.

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I constantly feel grateful to Sandy and Roslyn, not only for bringing themselves to me, but bringing a better me along with them. Nobody likes change, but sometimes when it happens, the positives that come from it are worth the anguish endured in adapting.

Roslyn’s 1st Birthday

We celebrated Roslyn’s first birthday on the 7th of May.

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The little bear woke to a small pile of presents and a brother very eager to help her open them.

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Birthday morning’s are so special. I love all the opening of presents in pyjamas and inevitably sugar filled breakfast that follows.

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Our main present to Roslyn was a new charm for her bracelet. We got her a charm bracelet with an “R” charm for her first christmas, and now have the joy of picking out new charms each year to add for her.

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I thought that I’d got her an adult size but it turns out it’s a child one. It’s good though because she can wear it and then we will upgrade it for her when she’s bigger. So she tried it on for the first time.

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We picked her out a ladybird. When I was pregnant with her and convinced she was a girl I kept seeing ladybirds. And now that she’s here she has had them land on her several times, so a ladybird for our lady seemed ideal!

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Tate and Pa came bearing gifts too and bought her TWO MORE CHARMS, lucky little thing that she is!

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One that they got her was the bear one we had been swithering over before deciding on the ladybird…

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…and the other was a horse, because our girl loves horses and her toy stable!

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Daddy got Roslyn a pair of polkadot Vans which she helped pick a few weeks ago when we went en mass family shoe shopping to Schuh!

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Her toy gift was a push a long lawnmower that Sandy’s pal Rohan has. They were both pretty taken with it and if the weather ever improves they can help out when we do the garden.

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Here’s a little sneak preview of Roslyn’s under the sea party which I will post on very soon…!

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Pa’s charges.

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Sandy got a token gift or two as well. A Shirt from us and a thomas book from tate and pa which he was pretty happy to receive.

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And then it was cake time!

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When Sandy received his first birthday cake he immediately face planted it and we had hoped for the same with Roslyn but, true to form, she was faaaaar too lady like for that and instead daintily poked at it and scraped a tiny sliver of icing into her mouth.

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Sandy did show her how to do it but she wasn’t impressed.

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Gran, Granda and Auntie Nicola came over too and Roslyn was spoiled with presents too, including a buggy for the baby to go in, lovely clothes and Tomy eggs!

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All in all she had a fabulous day!

One of Those Weeks

I’m glad to see the back of last week. And I probably won’t be all that disappointed when this one is over either.

Roslyn’s been ill. AGAIN. Nothing major, but once you have a toddler you forget just how hard it is to keep a minorly sick baby relatively happy. I mean, if you are sick (as I am now, thanks for that darling daughter) you rest, right? Well babies don’t. They don’t get that they are sick, so they don’t think oh I should rest. Instead I reckon this is what runs through their little brains:

Oh, I feel rubbish, wahhh wahhh. Oh good Mum is here, she will make it better and- OH LOOK AT THAT ON THE FLOOR! Wahhh I wan’t down. Oh Wait! I feel AWFUL! Wahhh! Up! Up! MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA! Thank god, she’s here agai-WOOOOW look what my brother’s doing, I must get to him! WAH WAH DOWN NOW! Hi Sandy, hi, let me see, oh wait I don’t feel good, and I’m tired, WAH WAH WAH! Phew, it’s Mum. Oh wait… naptime? No way! I wan’t to explore and make cognitive developments WAH WAH WAH…. and so on.

So what does a desperate parent do when this goes on all day long? She cracks open the bubbles.

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They kept her from crying for about four minutes, a 100% increase on the pre-bubble scenario, so WIN, I guess.

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Amid all this illness (and the inevitable toddler misbehaviour that is a result of relative neglect) Roslyn turned 10 months old.

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Happy ten months little doll, and how is it now only two months until you are ONE?!?

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Anyway she perked up at the weekend, just in time for me to come down with it, which is always the way isn’t it?

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Still we soldier on don’t we? Because let’s face it, there’s little else to do. There are few things I miss about my pre-children life but there are two main ones: Sleep and being able to be ill. Of course I still get ill but I can’t be ill, you just have to do the same old crap you always do only feeling like someone’s armpit at the same time. And considering that this illness usually follows a child’s ill period – and thus a period of no sleep – it’s extra rubbish. I suppose I am lucky that I am ill today when my Mum has them, but then I am spending today resting (and blogging while on a brief paracetamol high) at the expense of my thesis. So yeah, that feels good.

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Anyway, enough moaning about things one can’t change and more cute pictures. Do you see this boy? My god I love this boy.

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He’s the sweetest little thing and he runs round the supermarket saying “get the mummy! get the mummy!” then he grabs my hand and kisses it and it’s just TOO MUCH LOVE.

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And this girl, crankiness and sleeplessness aside (aka the 30 whinge-less minutes each day brings at the moment) is also pretty top notch. She’s constantly sticking her tongue out at the moment, to get attention and at funny angles. So sweet.

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It’s lovely to be told by friends about how dainty her little face is and how lovely she is because I really couldn’t agree more. Plus we took her swimming yesterday (FYI swimming when you feel dizzy is not a great idea but I digress…) and you should have seen her in her first little cozzie. Oh my! Check instagram for that one cause not only are DSLR cameras not waterproof, they also make you look like a big ol’ perv when brandished poolside.

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Ok I’m going to stop now before I run out of energy from sitting up (oh god I hate being ill more than anything) and try and preserve some for a bit of phd work after a rest lest I feel like a complete bum.

Bye!

P.S. I got a job, and I will fill you all in soonishly.

Another Catch Up Post

Lucky you!

Like I mentioned before, things have been a tad hectic recently due to it being my transition month comprising the finishing stretch of my phd full draft and the job hunt for when my funding runs out at the end of march. All my free time has been going to these pursuits so the blog has been a little neglected. But that’s the way with these things. Life etc. So here’s what has been going down at what Sandy now officially does call his castle recently…

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A trip to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, narrated by Chris of Chris and Pui on Cbeebies. What a great time we had. Sandy loved doing all the actions and Roslyn could not take her eyes off the orchestra (and some of them couldn’t take their eyes off her either with all the cute clapping and waving she was doing). We got some swag after in the form of a signed Chris and Pui card and posters. Sandy was extatic to find the poster in his room and now everyday I hear “mummy! mummy! look! this way! scalwag and gold pants poo!” (Don’t ask about the poo bit)

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We’ve been to toddler athletics again which is great fun. Best of all Roslyn joins in for free (SCORE!) and last week adored the parachute.

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There has been a lot of Sandy/Babee loving going on up in here…

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We were upstairs and they were in Sandy’s room while I was gutting Stuart’s wardrobe (wife o the year, right here) and I heard her chatting so decided to take go get her and bring her next to me. As I lifted her Sandy pipes up “no, mummy, babee back here”. Later I found him on his bed as she stood against the side of it, reading his mog book to her (“look babee, mog babee”). Heart = pile of goo on the floor.

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And speaking of standing up it’s all she’s been doing. Bring on when she learns to sit back down herself so I don’t have to rescue her every 11 seconds.

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We also unearthed the 9-12 months wardrobe which is funnnnn! Looking at all the spring outfits to come. I never thought I’d say it but wow I love dressing babies.

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We met some net friends at a soft play in Edinburgh recently which was great fun. Sandy brought tractor (“tractor come to soft play too”) after not thinking my idea of leaving him to “guard the car” a very wise one. Fair dos young man.

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Despite charging £2.50 JUST TO REGISTER (wtaf??) it was a good soft play. The awesome light tunnel of selfiedom and free carousel with neenaws were highlights.

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The other thing we’ve been sorting recently is sleep. Again. Roslyn was down to one wake up a night at the end of January and self-settling for 2.5hour naps. It was BLISS. And just when she lulled us into a false sense of security she reverted back to her old wakeful ways. Sigh. It was either the teeth, or the cold which necessitated steroids from the GP and much inhaler-ing (but thank god not hospital this time) or maybe both. Anyway the night of SIX WAKE UPS demanded a bit of tough love (nothing too harsh I promise) and having passed through night two there is progress so maybe I will be back to tell of her wonderous sleepy nights again soon (I hope. Please.)

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I’m loving exercise at the moment. My classes on a Wednesday night (HIT, Pilates and Circuits) have done wonders for the belly tyres already and have helped my running. I just achieved 5k in 30 minutes for the first time ever, and most of it up blinking hills too. Quite chuffed I am.

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Sandy’s eating improvements have yielded fun family dinners which has been lovely.

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And I really feel like Sandy is in such a happy place right now, perfect little lad that he is.

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This is a gratuitous birthday suit shot of Rozzie with no narrative to accompany it…

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… and this is just because SHE’S A GIGGLESAURUS.

Surely it doesn’t get much better than that? (Check back to see if my job hunting is productive for a follow up on that!!)

The Problem With ‘This Too Shall Pass’

‘This too shall pass’ has become one of the cornerstones of parenting mantradom. Ask for advice or express concern about anything your child is doing or not doing and you are bound to be told that it’s a phase and that it will pass. Your child is screaming all day? This too shall pass. Won’t eat anything except butter out the tub? This too shall pass. Keeps on getting ill with one bug running into the next? This too shall pass.

It’s supposed to be a supportive encouragement to give you the strength to keep going until the unpleasantness ends, and when people say it I have no doubt that they are trying to be helpful. But in many circumstances, ‘this too shall pass’ is actually quite demoralising.

An example: Your baby won’t sleep. It’s been 6 or 8 or 18 months and they still wake up every two hours at least in the night, and naps longer than 20 minutes are nonexistent. You feel like your very soul has been worn away with the patience and resilience required every single night to be constantly woken and spend hours soothing and rocking and cajoling. You creep out of rooms and fall asleep sitting up and scream with rage when you head hits the pillow and the crying starts again. It’s really, really hard. You are at that stage where it is so difficult to cope that you begin to worry that you are actually depressed.

You then express this disappointment to someone. Maybe its a family member, or your friend, or the woman at the checkout who asks if you have a good baby. You tell them that you are knackered and they don’t sleep. That you’ve tried everything and nothing worked. That you know people with ones that have slept through from six weeks and that it just seems horribly, horribly unfair…

‘This too shall pass’

It’s like banging your head against a wall.

I mean, deep down you know that they mean it well but they may as well have told you: ‘suck it up’ or ‘tough s**t’
This too shall pass doesn’t give any practical or emotional help. It just reiterates that you are well and truly trapped. And also, you do know it will pass. You know that they will be lazy teenagers and you will be struggling to get them out of bed for school one day, but you know what? Right now that seems like a long way away. Because it is.

This too shall pass is okay for, say, their routine vaccinations. No it’s not nice to have to see them cry, but it will pass. And it’s fine for that phase of blowing raspberries with the spoon of food at their lips. That will pass. But when it comes to something as life altering as having no more than two hours of consecutive sleep for a year? This too will pass is like a smack in the face. I mean, they’d never say ‘don’t worry, they will sleep in a couple of years’ time’ and expect you to take solace in that.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes for something to pass, if it’s hard it’s hard, and even if it goes away eventually it doesn’t change the fact that the very act of going through it is horrible, and wearing, and sometimes traumatic.

So I’m going to try hard never to tell someone that it will pass, or that something is a phase that needs waited out. The chances are I’d have been told because they are struggling with it, and if I don’t have any direct advice or solutions, I will try offering practical help in another way. Get them some time to themselves, or a cup of tea, or a night out. And at the very least I will commiserate, tell them you can see it is hard and agree it’s unfair and let them feel crap because it probably is. And I will never, ever, EVER tell them about how I never dealt with that particular problem, because that would be the worst thing to hear of all.

It Snowed Again

More snow. Why couldn’t it do this in December? It would have been ultra-festive! I suppose I should just be glad we get some though.

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Sandy had a blast in the snow again and is now a master snowman builder.

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Here he is “smiling” for the camera with his snowdog.

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Roslyn stayed in with Tate this time, seeing as last time she wasn’t particularly enamoured by the snow. She had fun watching her brother play though.

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Snowman love.

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And still eating ice.

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Stuart taught him to throw snowballs so he spent a lot of his time outside whacking them onto the glass in front of Rozzie.

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Love my boy.

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A pretty good snowman if I do say so myself. Sandy tends to enjoy making the body then bores as I make a happy face with matching coloured stones and such.

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The snowdog wasn’t as good as last time due to the weirdness of the snow. When we went out early in the morning it was powdery and too hard to work with. When we got home the sun had been out and it had melted a little and was perfect, so we made the snowman with ease. I decorated him then went to make the snowdog and it was powdery again… seriously? Bizarre. So that’s why the snowdog is a little lumpy!

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“Sandy foot print. Cat foot print”

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Merry snow everyone!

2014

Here it is, the obligatory end of year recap! Obvious but somehow enthralling… for me anyway. It’s always interesting to look back over a year and see how time has flown. I’ll insert the clichés here to get it out the way: Wow my kids have grown, I can’t believe she was ever that small, holy crap I swallowed a football, OMG only 4 months til I have to hand in my PhD 😐 and so on.

I’ll spare you most of the words though and sum up our year in twelve pictures:

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Happy New Year when it comes!