New Year, New Blog… Sort Of

Happy New Year!!

I’m not really starting a new blog, but rather giving this blog a new start.  I fell way behind towards the end of last year for a ton of reasons.  That isn’t to say that I didn’t have things that I wanted to share and post about, but rather, it just wasn’t a good time and I lacked the enthusiasm to sit down and document our goings-on.

But it’s a new year and with that comes a whole bout of inspiration and new energy, including that for the blog.

Also, there is super loads to catch up on so bare with me while I get my crap together!

That One Time The Police Visited!

During the summer, when Ollie started getting restless and bored, I took the initiative to write to the PSNI headquarters to see if there was any way that we could come and visit a police station. I explained in my email that Ollie had an avid interest in everything emergency services related and it was an interest that I wanted to encourage.  I didn’t think my email would go far but I figured that if I didn’t ask……

I was surprised a few days later when I got an email saying thank you for writing and that they were passing my mail to someone in my area.  I then got an email from the Constable Dunne who was the police man for our area and he said that we couldn’t visit the station for a number of different reasons but that he and a colleague could call out with the police car and visit with us. Excitement!!

When they were on their way, Ollie had no idea.  I didn’t tell either of the boys about my plan so when a police car showed up right outside the house, with two police men stepping out of it, Ollie looked excited and confused.

While they were here they answered Ollie’s questions and filled him in on this things he would need to do if he wanted to work for the PSNI one day.  They told him he needed to listen to his mummy more, always listen to his teacher and try hard at school and they told him a little about the young offenders unit just up the road from here and that the boys who were there hadn’t been very good.  They were so good with the boys, let them try their police hats on, showed them the items they kept in their duty belt (gun, cuffs, baton, cs spray, a radio and a torch).  They also brought some PSNI branded stationery for the boys (rulers, pencils and rubbers)!

When it was time for them to go, they let Ollie into the front of the car.  They switched the lights on, let the siren go and then we took a photo outside the car.  I can’t imagine what the neighbours thought!

How awesome is that for community engagement though.  I know the boys will remember the day forever.

How Thirty Feels

I realise that I haven’t been very consistent with posting on my blog lately.  Life has been quite the whirlwind since September started.  I find myself either insanely business or lacking even a particle of motivation.  Neither of which is conducive to keeping up a blog haha!

Anyway… I’ve been 30 for almost 3 months now and I think back to the start of July when I was apprehensive about turning the big 3-0.  Why was I so worried?

It sounds so clich├ęd but I literally waited until midnight, while James slept beside me, waiting for the hand to tick over to officially announce that it was my 30th birthday, and the moment it clicked, I felt different.  Yep, it sounds really silly and maybe it is all in my head… but I felt great.

I woke on the morning of the 16th July so ready to start being 30.

In the last 3 months I’ve passed my driving test, started at a yoga class, joined a running club, ran my first 5k, my second 5k and my first 10k, I started my degree course, I let go of grudges and broken friendships and I started paying more attention to my important and existing friendships in my life.  It’s been so good and I hope the rest of my year can go just as well.  I’ve more planned… more goals to reach for and things to keep me busy.  I’m happier and settled in myself, comfortable in my own skin and confident of the wisdom I’ve gained in my 30 years on earth.  30 is actually awesome.

Biggest Is Back At School

I am a little late in the day with Ollie’s back to school post with it being almost month 1 over but anyway.  Better late than never!

So… Ollie started his third year of primary school… it’s hard to believe how fast a school year goes!  Now the real work starts for him!

He goes to a really wonderful primary school in Belfast and we have never had any problems with it.  Ollie has always been happy to go to school and comes home either tired or excited about his day! 

I was so surprised with how grown up he looked since his last day before summer break in June. He just isn’t a baby at all now haha!

I think this is the year that the real work starts.  For P1 and P2, he mainly learned through play and the moments of actually sitting still at a desk, studying, weren’t so long.  It’s different now… school isn’t QUITE as exciting and fun and his homework has doubled in both difficulty and quantity.  He gets a spelling and math test (or challenge as school calls them) every Friday and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he stays in school until 3 o’clock! 

There have only been 2 days so far that he hasn’t felt like going to school… one of those was because of a fallout with a friend and the other was because he didn’t sleep very good the night before.

We are still figuring it all out… friendships are another thing.  As much as I want him to have close friends, I would prefer that he was friends with everyone because when there comes a time that he and his bestie have a fallout, he doesn’t know what to do with himself.  So that’s what I am encouraging.  That he be friends with everyone in school, not just a couple of kids… and that he make a special effort to look for the kids who don’t seem happy or that are standing along and to be a good friend to them and include them in the games he is playing.

He is making us proud. 

Ollie was very lucky to be sent the Tools For School pack from Stuck On You.  Until now, he hasn’t required a pencil case or his own colours etc.  P3 is for big kids though and they need their own, labelled items.  How does one go about labelling individual pencils!? Ha!  Luckily that is not something I have to worry about because every item in the pack is labelled already.

The pack includes the case, a sharpener, scissors (with a safety case), a ruler, a rubber, a pack of colouring pencils, a pack of double ended felt tip pens and 2 wooden pencils with grips.  That’s all included and EVERYTHING has his name on it.  

We love the quality of everything included.  The case itself isn’t chunky or bulky but is large enough to carry the stationery and also Ollie’s challenge book and homework diary.  He has to take those items everyday so it makes sense that they go in his case.  We even chose the picture on the front of it and figured since he was relatively new to riding his bike without stabilisers, that the boy on the bike would be a good fit.  

Ollie was delighted when it arrived and couldn’t wait to take it into school with him!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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!