Ollie’s 7th Birthday!

We did something a little different for Ollie’s birthday this year… most years he has a party where all his friends are invited and a small family party at home too but this year when given the choice between a party for friends or a trip camping, he chose camping.  Nate hadn’t ever been camping and Ollie hadn’t been camping for a good while… I’d not camped for about 4 years.  We were so excited!

Ollie had to go to school on his birthday so we opened presents before he left in the morning.  This year his most requested presents were inline skates and a real life tool kit.  That’s what he got.  He was so excited and immediately asked if it meant we could go skating together.  The tool kit we got was Red Tool Box which makes real usable tools but for kid sized hands.  He can’t wait to get started with them.

Birthday brekkie was pancakes with syrup and sprinkles…

…and then he went to school while James and I tidied the house and packed for our camping trip.

We headed straight to Bloody Bridge in Newcastle when we got Ollie, weather was lovely so far albeit a little windy, we found a lovely spot, pitched our tents and the kids ran around like they’d never known freedom before while I started a BBQ for Ollie’s birthday dinner.

We had chicken kebabs, pork chops, hotdogs, BBQ corn on the cob, mushrooms and sweet chilli chicken fillets.  James told me I brought too much food, but almost everything got eaten in one sitting.  There was cake for desert.  I made a quick chocolate chip cake with chocolate fudge icing before we left the house and decorated it with chocolate stars in the shape of a ‘7’.

After dinner and cake we had a small fire and toasted marshmallows and made smores before it got windy and chilly and we got into the tent.

The boys fell asleep really well.  Ollie was sleeping in the small tent with James and I was sleeping in the larder tent with Nate. Everyone slept better than I did… I got myself terrified imagining what all the noises were outside and the wind was crazy.  I saw 3 o’clock and then managed to snooze a little.

The next day we decided to head to Tollymore Forest Park which is really nearby after braving the campsite showers.  The weather was being a butt though and we weren’t sure if the rain was going to go off at all but after waiting in the car during a downpour for half an hour, the rain stopped and we got some lovely sunshine to enjoy a dander through the forest.

Tollymore is one of my favourite forest parks and it brings back memories of when I was a kid.  I haven’t been in a very long time.  There is so much to explore there.

After Tollymore we headed to Mourne Seafood Bar for lunch where Ollie got mussels, James got chowder and chilli squid, Nate got langoustines and I got langoustines and thai mussels.  It was all so good and I loved that they bring kids a half plate of anything from the adult menu.  We then made our way back to base camp to hang out/ snooze/ read/ play.

Dinner was along the seafront in Newcastle.  We got chips and sausages and tried to not get blown away haha!  It was lovely and peaceful and the sun was out the entire time.

Back at camp the boys made some friends with a family who had arrived that day.  They both make friends so easily… there is no strangeness or anything, just an urge to get stuck in a play together.  We did colouring in, played zombie dice, played Battleships (one of Ollie’s birthday presents) and lit the fire again to toast the remainder of the marshmallows before bed.

When the boys went to bed, James and I climbed into the car to eat treats and play games until we were tired… James then left to sleep in the tent while I stayed put in the car.  I figured I’d get more sleep there than my previous night of just a few hours.

Sunday morning, we didn’t shower or anything… we packed the car and headed home!  Everyone loved the trip but being home, in comfort, is good too and Ollie got a chance to play with some of his gifts.

On Monday night we had the usual birthday tea party crowd over.  It’s always the same group of people, every year, for both Ollie and Nate’s birthdays and Halloween parties… so it’s lovely that everyone knows each other by now.  We made spaghetti bolognese, pizza, garlic bread, cocktail sausages and lots of sweet treats.  Ollie had requested a ninja cake and beamed when we brought it out to him all lit up.  That grin reminds me every year why I make their cakes myself.  That grin makes the cake decorating stress so so worth it.

I say it every year, but I feel so lucky and happy to know the boys each have so many loving people in their lives.

Letter to my 7 year old!

Dear Ollie,

You’ve been 7 for almost a month now, we’ve known each other for more than 2500 days!  It’s so hard to comprehend just how fast your years are flying by us.  You are growing at an astonishing pace while I watch in awe.  It really was 7 years ago that you arrived into our family and changed our whole world.  If you want to stop time soon and stay your sweet, energetic, excited little self then be my guest.  Haha!

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We are so proud of you Ollie, you have the largest personality of anyone I know and your confidence is in bucketloads.  You have so many friends in school and though you have a little trouble paying attention for extended periods of time, you’re doing really very well there!  We just got your report home and your scores are above average.  You’re so imaginative and you consistently get your maths and spellings tests all correct on Fridays.  You absorb information from the pages of books like nothing I have ever seen.  You’re so curious and that’s just one of the amazing things about you.

At school you’ve a few best friends, but mostly you’re very good friends with everyone.  You are finding interests in common with your friends and I’m catching a glimpse of what it will be like in the future with regards trends and all that malarky!  At the moment it is a few computer games which you all talk about endlessly, movies too.

Your little brother looks up to you in every way.  He loves when you come home from school and he loves when you spend quality time playing with him.  Even when you are not here, he plays the things that you play and he waits patiently until after lunchtime, giving a big grin when I tell him it is time to collect you.  You’ve such an important job as his big brother and I know you know that already because I sometimes see you trying hard and trying to have patience with him.  I know it’s not always easy!

In the past year you have made me laugh so incredibly much, you’ve told me your stories, you’ve told me your worries.  You had your first date with Sophie, read your first novel by yourself, cuddled me almost every night before bed and you got your own bedroom.

You love anything to do with Egypt, ninjas, assassins, computer games, Minecraft, lego and you spend the majority of your time outside with friends on your scooter or your bike.  An independence that you were ready before long before I was.  You love rambling in the forest and for your birthday you got your first real life set of tools… your grasp of technology astounds me! Your favourite foods are baked potatoes, cereal, pizza and sushi.  You’re even brave enough to eat the raw sushi which mummy won’t even try!

You’re just wonderful.

You are my world, Ollie Hughes, you are my heart and I love every single day that I get to be your mummy and I’m excited for the days and years to come.

Love you millions, Mummy.

Our Swansea Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Burnout and a Thirty Update

I’ve kept this blog now for 7 years.  I’ve so far recorded the majority of happenings in the life of my family and occasionally I’ll go through a period of having NO motivation to sit down a blog.  It’s only ever once before lasted 6 months.  I could say that nothing blog-worthy has been happening here, but my Instagram feed would tell a whole different story.  I guess we sometimes just find ourselves overwhelmed with life that it causes us to crash when we get the chance… crashing instead of blogging!

In just 11 1/2 weeks, I turn 31.  That sounds so much older than 30.  I had hoped that this would be the year I would get my s*** together. Has this happened?  Kind of.  Not really… but I’ve 11 1/2 weeks left.  My thirtieth year has been crazy… it has been both amazing and crummy… unproductive and chockablock.  I’ve achieved so much but also dealt with some of the hardest obstacles I’ve ever encountered.

To sum up the last six months…

The Bad:

I got behind on my degree course and had to defer.
James and I had our biggest relationship road block in 10 years of being together.

The Good:

We celebrated a lovely Christmas.
We got super into playing board games as a family and decided it was proper quality time.

I decorated some.
We celebrated Nate’s and James’ Birthdays.
James and I went for a weekend away to the castle that we got married.

We discovered Spoon Street, a local froyo place!

Went to the beach multiple times, the farm, the zoo, swimming and gigs!
James took the four of us to Swansea for a few days!

I started roller derby and got on my way to getting fit and healthy!


James and I fixed the road block and got ourselves to a place better than ever.

Life isn’t all peachy but I have a hell of a lot of good stuff going on right now.  Nobody ever said that life is supposed to be easy or plain sailing!  I’m trying to have it more figured out before my birthday so I can enjoy 31 a little more than I enjoy 30.  The same productivity but with a little more happiness.

Shake It Off!

10919268_341657849365808_165253830_nI don’t know what it is that makes the start of the year so hard for me to be motivated… maybe it’s the fact that it is so cold and gloomy here or maybe the Christmas come-down just lingers too long in my head… but I don’t get to feeling real perky about the year ahead until Spring!  Maybe even Easter!  As soon as the weather starts to get better/ warmer and the days start to get longer, my motivation grows and I become super productive, full of new ideas and enthusiasm for the rest of the year.  Is that normal or is it just me?

The end of March is nearly upon us and I can feel myself shaking off the slump that is the first quarter after Christmas!

I’m currently compiling a list of things that make me happy, to help speed up the shake-off phase.  Little things.

So far I have the following:

Compliments when you are least expecting them.
Browsing Pinterest for decor ideas for the boys new rooms.
Sunny mornings.
Driving alone.
Spicy sausage rolls from Attridge and Cole.
Playing board games as a family.
Snuggling with the boys in a blanket while introducing them to movies from my childhood.
Daffodils.
Frozen yoghurt with mochi and sprinkles from Spoon Street.
Seeing my amazing friends.

:)

Nate’s Birthday Party!

DSC_1534 I’m so late in getting this posted but I had a lot of trouble with my blog and those loose ends needed tidied up before I posted anything new.  Nate’s birthday was indeed a couple of months ago now and this year we chose to stay at home and have a few people over.  My littlest man hasn’t yet been to nursery school or anything so he hasn’t the same amount of friends to invite to a big party like Ollie does, so a small celebration at home was perfect.

DSC_1523 He dressed up as Hulk to answer the door to our friends and family… the theme was Avengers, so we had avengers table decor and Ollie drew all the characters on the blackboard in the dining room.  I also made a Hulk cake.

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Instead of party bags that we normally do, I made up little bags of mixed sweeties and chocolate and tied them with a Hulk label that said “Thanks for coming to my party”.

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We got him one of the huge number balloons that are filled with helium and he loved it.  He dragged it about from room to room.

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Most of the friends that came are friends of Ollie’s who, since Nate was born, have taken to him also.  They are all very good with him and include him as much as they can.  We have the same group over for most birthdays and Halloween!

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The food we served consisted of sandwiches, pizza, chips, chicken nuggets, tortilla chips and salsa, grapes, cookies, sausages and potato salad and my mum made a huge pot of her amazing pumpkin soup.

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I also bought limeade, which Nate called “Hulk juice” because it was bright green and he took to calling the grapes “Hulk grapes” too.

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Nate loved the Hulk cake… the second Hulk cake in a week, but by far the easier one because I just iced the cake green and put a Pop Vinyl Hulk on top of it.

629A8469 DSC_1539He opened his presents when everyone went home and he got awesome gifts.  He was given some clothes, puzzles, stickle bricks, building blocks that are blackboard that you can draw on with chalk, a huge toy airplane, a transformer truck, TMNT boxers and a gorgeous Superman dressing gown!.  Both boys were run ragged after the party and so was I! HAHA!

Thank goodness there is a few months before the next one!