Our Scottish Break

With James having moved jobs and becoming self employed, he wasn't able to take many days off work this summer.  If he takes a day off, he doesn't get paid.  Me and the boys however, were off all the time and my Mum proposed that we go with her and my stepdad Harry to stay with Harry's mum in Scotland for a week.

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We took the ferry and then a long drive to get to Harry's mum's house near Inverness.  Ollie has been on a ferry a couple of times but this was Nate's first time and he was pretty excited to go on the 'big boat'.  They had each packed a bag of toys to keep themselves occupied but both ended up falling asleep halfway through the ferry crossing.  Maybe the excitement wore them out.

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After the ferry journey we had a huge drive, but stops along the way, little sleeps and the amaaaaazing scenery made it all quite enjoyable.  We went to bed pretty much as soon as we arrived at our destination, after we met Harry's mum.

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The house was amazing.  Harry grew up in the house and it was extended over the years.  There are chickens in the front garden and so much space for the boys to run around freely without getting into trouble.  They made up their own games using some inexpensive toys we picked up at Tesco (a frisbee, a skipping rope... that sort of thing) and they kept each other quite entertained!

We woke each morning to the same wonderful views... and everywhere we went, the scenery was stunning.  I'm a sucker for beautiful countryside and while in Scotland, I decided I could quite happily live somewhere more rural now that I can drive.

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Harry's mum, who the boys (and everyone else) refer to as Granny, owns a bunch of chickens and their run is right out the back door... the boys enjoyed seeing the chickens and loved knowing that the eggs we were eating came from them!  They got to feed them some bread scraps.

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We took a lovely evening walk one evening up to the Cairn... and to see the Viaduct.  The boys had a lot of fun running around the old stone piles and I enjoyed being outside in the fresh air.

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On one of the days we went to Nairn beach... a lovely beach that also has a playground, a coffee shop and a paddling pool.  We quickly ate some sandwiches and then Ollie decided to get his brave boots on and took his clothes off to go swimming in the sea.  He plunged into the sea without a care in the world.  Nate on the other hand, searched for baby shrimp and we caught a couple with our bug bucket.  We then went to the paddling pool for a splash.... found a funfair and then had icecreams together.

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We heard that there was a great place not too far away, to spot dolphins.  I love dolphins and thought this would be a great holiday activity for the boys (and us!).  We drove to Chanonry Point and when we arrive there were already some people standing around.  There was a gorgeous lighthouse and we got to work searching for some pretty sea glass while we waited.  I asked one of the photographers that was already set up, when the dolphins might appear and he told us it would be within the next 45 minutes-1 hour.  Sure enough... bang on when he said they would come, they came.  The beach was very busy by then and we watched the dolphins swim for about 20 minutes.  Such a wonderful experience.

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When in Scotland... what is one food that you should eat?  Yep, haggis.  Except haggis doesn't appeal to me so I bought a vegetarian one that we enjoyed with toast and poached eggs.  The boys both enjoyed it too which surprised me!

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On one of our last days, we visited Blackisle Wildlife Park which, from the outside, looks very small but once we got inside we found out it is actually a HUGE wildlife park/ farm.  So many cute goats... ponies, llamas, a random bunny just hopping around... racoons, wallabys, zebras... and birds.  They even had a furry animal petting zoo bit and a train to take you round the park! It was a great day out and the boys went home shattered!

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Later that evening, I took Ollie for a date just me and him to Pizza Hut.  It was lovely to spend some one on one time with my eldest dude and after our dinner date we went back to the house to watch Horrid Henry together while eating Lucky Charms.

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Our last day came and we all said goodbye to Granny.  Harry and Mum have been married for ages now and I can't believe we only just got to meet Helen.  She is 94 and really remarkable.  I hope we get to see her again soon!

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On the drive home we stopped in Aviemore.  A popular ski and adventure sports village/ town... I dunno lol!  It was so picturesque and I'd love to spend time there to holiday!  We went into the mountains a little to this cool Funicular Railway... I have no idea what that means, but it's a cool way to go up the mountain.  The boys loved it and when we got to the top there should have been amazing views but it was so thick with fog, we couldn't see a thing!  We had lunch there, went down the mountain in the train and got on with our long drive home.

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We got to the ferry very late at night and there were hardly any people on it.  We got home then after 1am... so glad to see my husband... holidays without him are hard!  A great week away though.

I Am Here!

I spent August writing a blog post every single day.  When I planned to do that, it seemed easier than the ACTUAL carrying out of the task.  I'll hold my hands up and admit that I found it pretty hard to write EVERY DAY... but I had fun writing the posts and I made some new blog friends along the way.  The 'writing every day for 31 days' thing really burnt me out though and I here I find myself 2 weeks into September, having not written a single post since the last day of August!

But I'm here and I plan to recommence my twice weekly, or once weekly or whatever weekly, posts.  I love keeping my blog and have a ton of posts in my head about things that have taken place recently... it'll take me a while to catch up!  I haven't entirely disappeared!!

31/31: The Best Thing About This Month

Last day!!  That's 31 posts in 31 days... I blogged every day this month.  It was pretty hard if I am honest... but here we are on the last day of August and I'm looking back at my posts and feeling pretty proud of myself... I couldn't really fail though, could I... being the one who started it came with a certain kind of pressure hahaha!!

So August here is the second month of our 2 month summer break for schools.  It was awesome to have Ollie home but tomorrow he returns to school.  

We had a great month actually.  It started with a hike through the Mournes which ended with James and I totally drenched.  The weather was awful!

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I passed my driving test!!  Unexpectedly.  I thought for sure that I'd fail for the 4th time but I passed, much to the relief of my husband.  The boys and I went to Scotland with my Mum and stepdad, Harry.  A whole week of exploring Scotland... the scenery was breathtaking and we even got to see dolphins!  Our community policemen visited our house after I sent an email telling them of Ollie's avid interest in all things policey.  I went to 3 gigs... 1) Twin Atlantic and Biffy Clyro 2) Tom Odell and Kodaline and 3) Bastille and The Killers.  I took part in my first ever 5k which I completed in just over 37 minutes... dang proud of myself for that!!!  

I don't know how next month could possibly top this month, but I'm also looking forward to getting back into routine and things being a little easier before I start my Open University course in October!

30/31: A Special Memory

{Ok so I messed up and somehow, totally by accident, I made two of the prompts about memories.  I have no idea why... but I'm going along with it anyway!  This one was supposed to be about an early memory but because I already wrote about my earliest memories I'm going to write about a special memory)

26th May, 2007 - Our Wedding

Our wedding day was fantastic!  It really was so super and there is honestly nothing that I would change about it if we were to do it again.... (ok Pinterest was not invented when we got married, but had it been I probably would have added a lot more little touches!).

I remember waking up very early, before 6.30am.  I was just excited and couldn't get back to sleep so I ran into Mum and Harry's room and climbed into their bed, we chatted for a while and then I went to get showered because Mum, Dawn (my bridesmaid and oldest friend) and I had to go to the hairdressers.

After our hair was finished, my dad made breakfast of scrambled egg and smoked salmon. James sister came upstairs to do my makeup soon after and did my makeup for me.  I still didn't have my dress on and it was close to 12.45, mum had gone to get ready!

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At 1.00pm, Mum arrived to put my dress on and Dad came up to take some photos.  Eunice, the registrar came up to talk to me too.  She told me that James was very calm and was wearing funny trainers (he wore Vans).  I felt really sick at this point and was unsure whether it was because of nerves or the fact my Dad had made the scrambled eggs using milk, which I can't have.

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As I walked downstairs, the kitchen staff and Charles (the owner of the castle) were standing there and told me I looked lovely.  We (my Dad and I), stood behind the door so we could not be seen and then Dawn went in.  My part of the music came and away I went.  The walk up the aisle went by so fast that I wish I could do it again.

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Our vows were so so lovely.  I loved it so much and James locked eyes with my the entire time. So romantic.  He kissed me quickly when told to, but was told to kiss me again and gave me a PROPER kiss.  Everyone clapped when the ceremony was finished.

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After some photos were taken outside we went inside to enjoy our wedding meal.  Everyone was already sitting and they clapped for us as James and I went in.  The food was delicious and the staff were so friendly and good to us.  I loved it all.  I couldn't finish my meal though... by the end I could feel that my dress was very tight.

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The speeches were great!  James' dad's speech was amazing and full of cringy jokes and stories about James... James also did a speech and thanked my mum for giving birth to me, my Dad talked about the time I cut my own fringe the day before I started school and my Grandpa even made a speech saying that our wedding was the best reason ever to come back to Northern Ireland (he had moved away to England a few years previous and missed Northern Ireland since).

Our cake looked amazing and it tasted delicious.  We had gone for individual cakes, each perfectly iced... alternating between banana cake and carrot cake.  There was one whole little cake per person (and a few spare that we snuck to our room!).

Everyone took a small break after dinner and James and I went for a little walk together.  Our first moments totally alone.  When we got back to the room, the reception was in full swing.  Mum and everyone had stayed the night before to decorate the reception room for us and it looked wonderful.

Our first dance was totally cringy but the rest of the reception was lovely!  I loved our day.

Now here we are 7 and a bit years later!

29/31: 5 Things I Couldn't Live Without

As if it even needed any explanation, this list is light-hearted.  Obviously I could live without the following things, but that's the title of this post so........... I just wanted to write a list that didn't include the things like food, water, family, friends, shelter etc......... aside from those things, what is closest to my heart. :)

1. Good food
2. Music
3. My camera
4. Hot baths
5. Beaches

28/31: My Inspiration

It's going to sound soppy, but my mum is my biggest inspiration.  Is that awfully clichéd? 

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My mum hasn't had it easy peasy in life.  She has had more than her fair share of bumps in the road.  Her childhood wasn't as easy as mine was and when I was in my 5th year of high school she and my dad divorced.  She raised the 3 of us and kept her head up when things were hard. I am where I am today, first and foremost because of my mum's huge influence.  An influence which at times growing up, got on my nerves.  But looking back I know I wouldn't be who I am, where I am, if things had been any different.  She is pretty much one of the strongest people I know and I'm proud to call her my mum.  Always the first person I'd call (after my husband) if I'm upset or in some sort of predicament and she is always right there with words of wisdom.  She's an amazing Grandma too.  If I could be anything like my mum is some day, then I'd be pretty awesome! :)

27/31: Something Difficult

I've been quite lucky in life with regards the amount of bad things happening to me.  Growing up, my childhood was perfect apart from the blip that was my parents divorce... even then, it didn't mess me up and now that I'm grown, I know it was for good reason.  That's as bad as it got. Apart from that, everything was easy.

Until I was a grown up... and it's not something I often talk about or dwell upon... but it's definitely something that made me so much more appreciative and thankful for the family I have, because this little family didn't just happen.

(This is a repost from May of last year)

Every single day... I look at both of my little boys... and I can't believe how lucky we have been. James and I have two amazing, smart, healthy and fun little boys, that are ours for forever.  We aren't going to have any more children, and as I mentioned in the past, there is such a lovely feeling comes from knowing you are finished and that your family is complete.

Our amazing little family didn't come easily though.

When Ollie had turned 1, James and I started talking about adding to our family and we started trying for baby number 2 in the August.  We fell pregnant very fast with Ollie and expected the same the second time around.

We were ecstatic when we found out, just a couple of months later, that we were pregnant and the baby was due to arrive a couple of days after Ollie turned 2.  How perfectly timed.  A two year age gap sounded wonderful and we were excited for Ollie to have a sibling.

Unfortunately I started bleeding at 8 weeks.  We went to the hospital to find that the baby was only measuring 6 weeks and there was no heartbeat present.  They could not confirm whether I was miscarrying and booked me in for another scan a week later to see if there was any growth.  James and I spent a horrendous week in limbo drifting between hope and heartache.  The waiting was so painful.

At the second scan the Dr. told us it was bad news, but at the same time told us that because of a minuscule size difference than the week before, they could not legally advise me of my options.  They told me to come back in another week.  The sonographer who performed the (internal) scan was a little rough and I had a feeling she had prompted things to happen naturally.

I lost the baby 3 days later on Sunday, 8th November, 2009 at 9pm.  Losing the baby was the most terrifying thing to happen in my life.  It seemed like hours but was in fact less than 20 minutes.  Then it was over.  I arranged a scan for Monday morning, but I knew they would confirm that the pregnancy was over and the miscarriage was finished.

We were broken hearted.  I swore I never wanted to try again.  I couldn’t understand why it was happening to us… you don’t imagine bad things happening to you and when they do it’s a shock.

A few days later, I was adamant that I DID in fact, want to try again.  It felt like, if we didn't try again and we didn't get our wish of having another baby, that the devastating experience we had been through would have been in vain.

James and I started trying again.  After falling pregnant twice, rather fast… it came as a surprise when it took more than a year to fall pregnant for the third time.  I couldn’t get my head around why it was taking so long and worried that maybe there was something wrong and maybe we would never have another child.

We found out we were pregnant after Christmas, after trying for about 15 months.  I couldn’t believe our luck.  It was such a relief knowing that we could in fact get pregnant and we were again, excited.  Our joy was short lived as one week into the pregnancy my symptoms disappeared and I took a pregnancy test which came up negative.  Just a week before I had had symptoms and a positive test… what had happened in between?

I lost the baby a week later.  My heart broke for a second time.

I went for tests at my Dr. to first of find out if everything was working ok and she referred us to the fertility clinic at the hospital.  The appointment was made to rule out any problems there might be, why it had taken more than a year to fall pregnant and to question why I had miscarried twice.

The appointment date came through for April, blood was taken, questions were asked… and a followup appointment was made for August.  We didn’t need the followup appointment…

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At the end of April something must have clicked because I found out a week and a half into May that we were pregnant for the 4th time.

This time, nothing went wrong… I was on tenter hooks the whole pregnancy but that’s exactly what I got… a WHOLE pregnancy and a baby boy, born on 18th January 2012.

I think back to my original thoughts after the first miscarriage, 3 1/2 years ago, thoughts about never wanting to try again... and can't imagine what life would be like if we hadn't continued trying... we wouldn't be this family of 4.  We wouldn't have a home filled with love and laughter of 2 parents and 2 little boys.  I feel crazy lucky to be called mum, mummy and mama by two handsome mini gentlemen.

I originally wrote this post to let people going through the same thing, know that sometimes it works out, but only if you don't give up.

26/31: My 5 Favourite Posts

As with any of the posts this month that have been about favourites, I find it hard to narrow it down, so these posts aren't in a particular order at all.

1.  {The First Moments}  I wrote this post as a comparison of both of my boys births and the first moments I got to spend with them.  Their births and the first moments we had, could not have been more different.

2.  {Nate's Birth Story}  As the title says!

3.  {Ollie's Birth Story}  Again, as the title says!  I should probably issue a disclaimer for this post and the one above.  They are graphic.... no photos of birth etc, but the posts themselves are pretty descriptive.  Don't read if you've not yet had a baby, but would like one some day.... these might put you off! Ha!

4.  {On Being A Mama To Boys}  A post about what it's like to be the only girl in a house of boys and why I'm ok with that!

5.  {Random Things About Our Family}  As the title says!  Some random things that would help you know our family a little better.

Looking forward to seeing your favourite posts!!!!!