A Messy Home Is A Blessed Home

So a text from a friend yesterday got me thinking... it was actually as soon as I replied to her that I really began thinking and I realised that the advice I had given her was sound... though it wasn't advice I had ever taken on myself!

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Her text message was something we all think... and that's the simple fact that as parents, our houses are never sparkling... because we have young children running around like whirlwinds all the time.  With their sticky fingers touching the tv, chocolate handprints up the stair walls, pencil and pen and crayon drawings artistically and spontaneously displayed on random doors and furniture.  As soon as we tidy up one area, they empty the toy box in another.  Legos EVERYWHERE...crackers and sandwich crusts under the sofa cushions... the list never ends.  My friend's text also included that there were bite marks on the tv table.  This made me giggle to myself as I thought of the baby in 'A Series Of Unfortunate Events'.

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My reply was something along the lines of the following: "You gotta keep a spare tub of paint to cover up the marks and I got my floors because I was sick of having to get the carpet cleaned. It's normal.  You'll miss the sticky tv when they are grown and married and you'll be begging for your grandchildren to come over and mess your home up a little." I then thought of it this way.... "We're LUCKY to have sticky tvs and marked walls.  Some people are out there now are wishing that their house could be a little less pristine."

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The more and more I thought about this the more it resonated with me and today I looked at my house a little differently.  I didn't glance at the pencil on the walls and the clutter... and the things that were just not in their place, with the same exasperation as I did the day before.  I felt exactly what I wrote in my reply to my friend.  I felt lucky... SO lucky to have these two little terrors, destroying my furniture, walls and my sanity!!  A day will come all too soon, and these boys won't live here anymore.  My house will be tidy and clean and I know it won't feel the same.  I'll miss it.

Living Arrows 13/52, 14/52 and 15/52

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." Kahlil Gibran

13/52

Ollie  //  It was science week at school for Ollie and on the Friday they had to go in dressed as scientists.  We have a lab coat here but it was WAY too big so he settled for a shirt tucked into blue cord trousers, pens in his pocket, a notebook and thick glasses.  I could die of cuteness overload... he looks SO good in my old glasses and he was all pleased with himself.

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Nate  //  I swear Nate was a monkey in a previous life.  Never have I seen a child love bananas so much!  Bananas are his favourite snack and he would eat them at any opportunity.  Ollie isn't so keen so maybe that's why it seems like such a huge opposite.

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14/52

Ollie and Nate  //  The evenings are getting bright so quickly!  I remember, as a kid, that I used to love going to bed in the summer.  it was such a comfort to fall asleep when it was still light outside.  My boys are the opposite though.  Ollie gets cranky that it is 'still daytime' and if we put Nate to bed we find him on his floor playing with toys 15 minutes later.  Luckily they are gradually getting used to it.  Nate has been going to bed with a sheet tucked to the upper bunk, to make it dark and cosy on the underneath bunk.  That's helped a little too.  Black out blinds were invented for a reason and I really need to invest in some!

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15/52

Ollie  //  This past week, both boys have suffered dreadfully with chicken pox (as detailed in my last post haha!).  Ollie was at first delighted to get a whole week off school, but as the week dragged on he got irritable and bored.  Luckily he is out the other side and knows that he most likely won't get it ever again... he is old enough to explain to that it's better to get it younger than it is to get it when you are older.  He has been a star.... so brave and funny.

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Nate  //  I had no idea that the boys would develop such a different dose of the pox.  Nate's were horrendous and approximately 3 times as many as Ollie had and they were mainly in his nappy area.  How horrid must that be!!  We had 4 nights of hardly any sleep.... LOTS of bicarbonate of soda baths and oat baths too... lots of cuddles.  He is still a baby in the sense that we couldn't explain to him what was happening or what could help... but we are lucky to be out the other side and like Ollie, it's most likely he won't ever get them again.

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Chicken Pox-plosion

I know that it's been a little quiet around here recently.  That is because we've have the pleasure of finding out what it's like for an almost 6 year old and a 2 year old to get chicken pox together.

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Our chicken pox story began last Monday, when Ollie came home from school with a spot.  Just one.  He is prone to the odd bout of hives etc when he gets too warm so I thought nothing of it.  Roll on Tuesday morning when I ask him to take his pyjamas off to get ready for school.  SPOTS!  LOTS!  Within ten minutes the number of spots had almost doubled... it was insanely quick and they weren't just spots but blisters too.  I told him then that he wouldn't be going to school and that in fact, he would be off for the whole week!  He thought this was brilliant!

Knowing what to expect, I thought it best we stock up on supplies so we went to the chemist to get a calamine cream and an antihistamine... we also got some treats.  

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Day two started with about a gazillion more spots... not exaggerating.  They were on his face, between his toes, his groin, his belly and his back and through his hair.  He is an age where it's easier to explain what will help and for him to know now to scratch so much, but I know that whatever age someone is, a bad itch is bad!

Ollie had a friend come over to play on Tuesday... it was good to have someone come and take his mind off the itching... and funny that the person who was able to come and play was also the person that gave him the chicken pox!  They played outside for a while and this kept him cool and distracted.  While his friend was here, we noticed that Nate's groin area just under his nappy had come out in a few blisters... I knew it wasn't a rash because it wasn't super red... just blistered.

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Roll on a few more days and we are at Sunday... chicken pox day 7 for Ollie and day 6 for Nate...

Ollie is able to return to school tomorrow because his have crusted over now.  He hasn't needed an anti-histamine for a few days now and his sleep hasn't been entirely broken.  His spots aren't so bad and I think they will clear up just fine.  I'm so proud of how he dealt with the last week... it hasn't been easy.  It's been uncomfortable and kind of boring for him and he missed his school friends, but he has been a trooper.

Nate's dose of chicken pox came on a lot worse than Ollie's did and I don't know if that has anything to do with age or overall health or anything... but if I had to sum it up in one word, Nate's has been horrendous.  His entire nappy area broke out in too many blisters to count. Proper liquid filled blisters in his creases... all over his butt, his unmentionables... the poor thing really suffered.  He had a bad dose of them on his back and belly and all over his fair and head, but none of those even bothered him.  The ones in his nappy were unimaginable and they got so bad that we took him to the Dr. because they didn't seem to be getting any better.  A few more creams to try and today they seem to finally be on the way out... although he is still walking like a sumo wrestler.  We haven't slept properly in 4 nights because he has been so upset and hasn't know what to do with himself.  I am daydreaming of a night with 7 hours unbroken sleep!!

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Since Wednesday, my littlest dude hasn't had a nappy one except for portions of the night and today when we went out for a couple of hours.  We have been unexpectedly potty training and for something so unplanned, I can't believe how well it is going.  He tells me when he wants to go to the toilet or use the potty and at times has gone to get the potty himself.  I think we are going to continue because if he can grasp it so well with all THIS going on, then I figure he will get the hang of it really quick when things settle down.  I bought him big boy underwear today and he is excited.

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So... things I learnt from this experience...

1. Oat baths work, but are weird...
2. Bicarbonate of soda baths are also excellent.
3. Sleep is for the weak... and I can manage on just 4 hours worth!
4. You can't tell a 2 year old not to scratch.
5. Mummy cuddles can make everything ok, for a few minutes.

Hopefully now that they have both had it once, they don't get it again.  

Recently...

Do you get that feeling... where you are sure you've been nothing but busy, because you've felt overwhelmed and pulled in all directions, but when you sit down to write a post of what you've been up to... nothing comes to mind?  That's why a Twitter feed is priceless.  It helps me remember what I did in a month haha!  That and Instagram!

So yep, lots has been happening here. 

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I've been driving lots.  I'm feeling so much more confident and I am hoping that for my test, it will be 4th time lucky.  The test IS really hard to pass here, most people take more than one go... but I feel dumb nonetheless.  I am so looking forward to the freedom having my licence will bring. I'll be able to take the boys to the beach in the summer!

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Ollie made his Beavers promise.  He is done with Squirrels and has moved up a level in his Scouting career.  The new blue sweatshirt looks great and since making his promise he has earned a badge for taking part in a 5km sponsored walk.  He raised £110 altogether!!!!!!!

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The boys went to a birthday party at Ards Swimming Pool and while they we thought it was so great, we decided to book Ollie's party there in June.  He is so excited.... we have use of the pool, the function room with a kitchen and Ollie is allowed to invite up to 30 friends!  It's going to be great.  I can't believe he is going to be 6 so soon... he wants a Playmobil Police Station from us.  Also, he seems to be the only almost 6 year old to not have lost a single tooth.  He comes and checks with me often, I give them a wiggle and it's always a no.

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Nate is coming on leaps and bounds with regards to independence.  He wants to do everything himself which is awesome, but not so awesome when he has a melt down because I need him to get into his pram... he just wants to walk everywhere himself and sometimes that isn't practical.  He is trying so so hard to talk, but I'm a little worried about his speech.  He tries SO HARD.  He goes to a Creche on Tuesday morning and they have put in a referral for a speech therapist to come out and play with him in a couple of Tuesdays just to see where he is at and what we can do next.  Although he doesn't have certain words, he knows how to make you understand what he wants.  He is incredible.

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I had a lovely Mother's Day on Sunday.  Ollie and Nate came in and we had cuddles and they gave me presents which consisted of a huge tub of pic n' mix sweets and top that Ollie chose. They also had a ton of handmade cards and pictures and Ollie had a handmade flower for me too.  The boys and I then set off for church and during the service the kids all got up at the front to sing a song for the mamas and then they brought each of us a flower!!  It was so lovely.  We had a duvet day for the rest of Sunday, snuggled on the sofa and watched Matilda.  James picked up takeout for dinner, but not just any takeout.... Big Als from Stranmillis: Ribs, wings and chilli cheese fries.  Actually AMAZING.

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Oh and I'm going to see The Killers and Bastille in August!!!!  My dad got tickets for me and him for my 30th birthday in July and we are currently having a lot of work done on our home!

Living Arrows 12/52

"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." Kahlil Gibran

Nate  //  We were so pleased to see that springtime is trying to come out of hiding!  I've noticed it getting warmer recently and to see sunshine and dry paths is just brilliant.  Being an optimist, I mowed the lawn a few days ago when it was dry... then I went to Smyth's to buy some garden toys for the boys... but when we got home it had started to rain heavily.  It was only this week that they finally got outside to put their new toys to use.  They got a trampoline, a rocker and a digger.  They both love playing outside and spent nearly two hours playing with the things in the garden before it got chilly. 

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Ollie  //  Some of the toys in the garden have become outgrown by Ollie, but he just uses those toys in new ways!  He used the slide as a platform to jump off and when he landed he would roll down the hill (which we later realised was sodden with the previous rainfall and he got muddy). These boys do well outside, because there isn't enough room in the house for them to expend the energy they have.  I know they were in better moods because of it!

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Photos are priceless, or at least I think so!

I have always been a memory hoarder.  I wrote diaries from a young age, I kept lists... heck at the back of my diaries there are lists of the boys I kissed through my teens!  I've kept concert tickets, cinema tickets, notes passed between my friends and I... best friend necklaces and other little trinkets, that although small, fill an entire huge storage box in the loft.

My mum holding me, newborn in July 1984.  Mum was the same age as I was when I had Ollie.

My mum holding me, newborn in July 1984.  Mum was the same age as I was when I had Ollie.

As I got older the things I would hoard changed from teenage angst filled notes and diaries, to scan pictures and keeping the first items that belonged to my boys when they were newborns. AND PHOTOS.  I was given my first digital camera the summer I left school to go to America to Au Pair for 3 months and I got big into taking photos.  Since that summer, I've kept pretty much every photo I've taken and I've photographed every big event or family outing since then... I've also documented both of my boy's first years in the form of 365 projects... a photo every day, starting on the day they were born.

Me and James and Ollie, just minutes after his arrival in June 2008.

Me and James and Ollie, just minutes after his arrival in June 2008.

If you were to ask me what my most prized possession is, it would be my photos.  My huge collection of 12,000+ photos spanning my whole life.  The photos I own are not just of my little family as it is now... I have all of the photos from my own childhood that James and I painstakingly scanned in one by one on a weekend.  We also scanned in old photos, from when my mum was a kid.  So many moments and memories documented.

I'm not sure what these photos and memories will mean to my children as they grow up, but I know how grateful I am to have photos from my own childhood.  Just looking through them reminds me of moments long forgotten and they make me smile.  Everything is documented... certain birthdays, me and both my brothers as newborns, family holidays and school photos too. I've never lost any of my photos and I can't describe how I would feel if I did lose them.  They are priceless to me.

Nate cradled in my arms just an hour after he was born... while Ollie was at nursery in January 2012.

Nate cradled in my arms just an hour after he was born... while Ollie was at nursery in January 2012.

Because they are so so incredibly important to me, I keep well on top of keeping them all backed up safely and read somewhere that it is best to have your photos stored in at least 2 completely separate places.  I have them on my computer... and if that should break, well at least I have them all safely stored online using Flickr, if Flickr should go down... I have them all stored on a harddrive.   Chances of losing them from all 3 places?  Pretty slim don't ya think.

After nursery, Ollie came straight to the hospital to meet his new brother. January 2012.

After nursery, Ollie came straight to the hospital to meet his new brother. January 2012.

I was lucky to receive a brand new Western Digital 1TB My Passport Air from Tesco Compare home insurance!  It is formatted to work with a Mac (I've a Macbook Air).  An external hardrive is a wonderful and inexpensive way to keep important photos safe.  The WD Passport Air is fast compared to others I have used in the past and it's so sleek and small!  I could easily carry it around in my handbag.  There is also no setup... just plug in and transfer files!  It couldn't be easier.  I'm a bit crazy about the organising of my photos and I keep them organised by date and then event... it makes them easier to find!

NB I recieved a free harddrive in exchange for writing this review.