Thursday, 31 October 2013

Weekend in Virginia

We headed up north this weekend.  When I say north, I mean Virginia, but it is the furthest north I have been so far.  We left here about 10am, and stopped for some lunch just north of Charlotte.  It was an ok journey, not helped by our hangovers from the night before.  Thank goodness we invested in DVD players for the car.  Once we got into Virginia, we turned off the interstates quite quickly.  We drove through a beautiful town called Galax. This is an area renowned for 'Bluegrass' folk music, and holds quite a few festivals through out the year.  We drove out and headed towards Fries where we were staying.

Fries is named for North Carolina cotton mill owner Colonel Francis Fries. The mill began operating 1903, leading to migration to the town.  The mill operated till 1989. It  closed down with the loss of 1700 jobs.  The site is now a hydro electric station, generating electricity.

From the towns website

'Located on the banks of the New River, Fries is known for outdoor adventure. The head of the New River Trail is located in downtown Fries. We offer everything for the outdoor enthusiast, kayaking and canoeing, fishing, biking, birding, horseback riding, camping, rock climbing, tubing and much more! With the fog rising off the river in the early morning and Bald Eagles soaring in the afternoon sun, the town is simply a tranquil, photogenic place for those looking for beautiful countryside. Right now the Town of Fries is in a exciting new phase of change for our future in tourism and restoration of our past. Fries began as a little mill town here in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is now the ultimate destination for vacationing and outdoor recreation.'

As we drove over the New River, the sight that greeted us was just amazing.  We drove up, past the new hazmat fire station, very impressive for a town that has a population of 450.  There was also bike rental and golf buggy tours available at the entrance to town.  We carried on, into the town.  The houses were all very small, and very near each other.  Almost a typical layout for a mill or mining town in the UK.  We turned off Main Street, and on to Riverview Road.  The view was just amazing.  Just near the end of the road we pulled up outside Aunt Myrtles River House.  The view from outside was stunning.


We went on in.  The house was really nicely laid out, with kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom at the back.  The dining room and main bathroom were in the middle, with the living area and second bedroom at the front.  There was a wrap around porch that went form the patio doors off the dining room all the way round to the front, with steps down to ground level.  We got the boys a snack, but didn't really bother unpacking.  We were only going to be there for 2 nights.  The boys started to get a bit restless, so we decided to take a walk.  It was very cold this day, and quite cloudy so we all wrapped up warm.  We walked down the road, and along to the River front, treading in copious geese poo as we went

There is an old train carriage set out as a nice cream shop to cater for tourists on the New River State Trail, which ran just outside the house.  Obviously it was closed, we definitely would not have wanted ice cream on a day like this.  We continued walking west towards the dam/waterfall, past the only restaurant in town.  

We cut round in front of the old fire station which has not been demolished yet, and probably won't be for a while (the Americans seem to like holding on to their old buildings for a while, they don't seem keen to demolish them.  Don't know if it is the cost, or the fact there are so many other places to build new ones....).  

We headed up the hill past the New Inn, and further towards the damn.  There was a man fishing in the river.  My only thought was how cold he must have been.  We kept going through an old derelict area, may have been a building of some description once, and along a path next to the river, passing over one of the New Rivers many tributaries.  We eventually reached the end of the path

I believe this was once the mill, which is now the electrical generator.  It is very pleasing to know that old industry in this country can be recycled to create new industry.  America is often thought to be a bit of a throw away nation, but this is the second building we have seen like this in our year here, where they are using renewable resources to create power, and recycling old facilities at the same time.

We headed back the way we came, I was pretty cold to the core by now.  The boys stopped and played in the park by the house.  Not the best park, pretty run down, but it did have an old fashioned seesaw, which was nice (if a little dangerous).  The boys had fun climbing up the apparatus.

They insisted on having a little play on the rail road carriage before heading back to the house.  The owners of the house knocked on the door to introduce themselves and make sure there were no issues.  We had got the heating and the tv working ok, so we were fine. The boys had a sandwich dinner before we packed them off to bed.  We were not far behind, our hangovers caught up with us and we were in bed by 10pm, ready for the excitement of Nascar the next day.

I am going to do a separate post on the NASCAR 

After an exciting day at NASCAR the boys awoke at 7am on the Monday, ready to get going.  We were all packed up and ready to go by 10am. The owners stopped by again, and Paul was able to ask about the local wildlife.  Bald eagles are spotted along the river.  Bears are also prevalent.  A man in town has cameras attached to his house, and has filmed a fair few over the summer.  They come from the forest area on the other side of the river.  The river does look like it would be perfect for them to fish in.

We decided to take the scenic route home.  By scenic, I mean long.  We drove from Fries, back through Galax, then along to Independance.  I love the names of the towns here.  We were travelling real back roads, going up and town with valleys, and pretty much following the New River.  The New River is thought to be the 3rd oldest river in the world, and the oldest in America.  It runs from North Carolina through Virginia to West Virginia, eventually emptying into the Mississippi Rover. It has created some beautiful landscapes and valleys.    As we crossed from Virginia into North Carolina, we started to notice some Christmas tree farms.  At first they started off small, but then they seemed to get bigger, and bigger and bigger

There was one point along this route, where i looked at the valley and every hillside on it was covered with Christmas trees.  This made me feel a bit uncomfortable, a bit like the shell shop in Myrtle Beach.  It is good that people are able to make money off the land and provide a local low carbon footprint Christmas tree to most of the east coast.  But when you think about the areas of natural forest that were cleared to start these farms, it makes me a bit sad.  I know people have been making a livelihood form the land for centuries, but it just felt a bit extreme.  I am not a tree hugged or environmentalist in any shape or form.  On the bigger picture, the areas that were cleared are probably a small percentage of the natural forest that cover such a vast area of this country.  I just hope they choose not to clear many more areas.

We travelled on to Boone.  This is quite a well known ski resort.  Obviously we are off season at the moment, and these kind of places never seem to look as good then.  Admittedly, we just stopped there for some food.  Pizza Hut buffet for all, before carrying on our way.

As we drove from Boone to Marion, we noticed we were travelling almost parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a very scenic, well travelled route.  We got very close to GrandFather Mountain, which is a place I would quite like to visit one day.  It was still so pretty, despite most of the trees having already lost their leaves.  Funny, most of the trees here still have the majority of theirs, though they are starting to fall.

From here we drove down to Rutherfordton.  This is a town that comes up in our local news quite a lot.  It does not have many tall buildings, and felt a little trapped in a time warp

Again, I would not mind going back and exploring it a bit more, finding out the history etc.  we then crossed the border into South Carolina.  We drove through Chesnee, which is right near Cowpens Battleground National Park.  I would also like to explore this.  From here we crossed Lake Blalock on the Chesenee highway

By now we had had enough of trees, and slower moving roads.  Time was ticking on, and if we were not careful, we would hit the interstates around Greenville at rush hour.  We exited onto I85 just north of Spartenburg, back in familiar territory.

It was so nice to visit Virginia.  We would like to go back again, but our time here is so short, and we have so many places we wan to visit, I don't know how likely it is.  It was good to do the scenic route back, and see sights we would never have seen if we had stuck to the interstates.  It has made me awars of places I want to visit that can be done in a day trip.  I look forward to planning these trips, and doing some research.

I am also extremely grateful we have DVD players in the car.  The boys were so patient and contented while we had our little explore.  They were even taking in the scenery when they glanced up from their screens.......

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Sunshine Awards

Thanks to Liene from Femme au Foyer for nominating me for the Sunshine awards.  This works like so.....

* The rules: 
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger, 
2. Share eleven random facts about yourself, 
3. Answer the eleven questions set by your nominating blogger
4. Nominate eleven bloggers yourself, 
5. Post eleven questions for your nominees to answer then let them know they're up.

So 11 random facts about me......

• My first name is actually Yvonne

• I was born in Northern Ireland and lived there till I was nearly 7

• I lost my dog and cat, and my mum lost a lot of possessions in a house fire when I was 14

• I gave up college twice

• At one point I was working 3 jobs

• I met my husband in France

• I proposed to Paul on leap day 2004

•I worked in London for about 2 months as an admin assistant for a textile company (it was so dull.....)

•I didn't pass my driving test till I was 29.

•I have given birth 3 times naturally.  Isaac came out left bum cheek first

•Since moving to America I have become slightly infatuated with NASCAR 

So these are the 11 questions Liene set me

1. If you could choose only one blog post to represent you, which one would you choose?
Probably this one, as it shows in photos what we have done in the last year
2. Name your favorite author, and favorite childhood author.
This is a tricky one!  I don't have one particular favorite.  I like Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown, Pat Conway.  I like books that are historical, mystery, detective type books.  Not into chick-lit as much as I used to be.  As a child I loved Judy Blume books, but also really enjoyed the 'Point' series (point horror, point romance, point thriller)

3. What is one thing you are most looking forward to in the coming year?
Probably our trips back over the pond, to England at Christmas and France in the summer

4. Your favorite accent? (for example, an Aussie speaking English)
It's a tie between French and Northern Irish

5. (Repeating this one from Sara) What would you choose as your last meal?
Kebab!  With plenty of beer to wash it down

6. Do you have a favorite spectator sport? 
NASCAR and/or Formula 1

7. If you could spend one year living anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? (Pretend language and distance from family isn’t a barrier)
I am going to cheat a bit on this.....  I would buy an rv and travel around the States.  This is such a great and vast country, you would need to dedicate at least a year traveling around to see the majority of it.  Even then, I don't think you would scratch the surface....

8. Name five things your refrigerator is never without.
Cheese, milk, butter, mayonnaise,apple juice

9. What is your biggest pet peeve?

10. You win an all-expenses paid, week-long vacation to anywhere in the world – where are you headed?
The Caribbean

11 Describe the favorite place in your home.
Again, another tie between the sofa and my bed!

I am going to nominate the following bloggers for the sunshine award: 
Rose at A Record of Rose
Lindsay at You are the Roots
Liz at A. Liz Adventures
Ashley at Ashley Quite Frankly
Richard at Atheist Dad
Jenny at 30 days hath November
Sarah at Short Stop
Sarah at We have moved to the USA
Larissa at Just another day in Paradise
Amie at Triple T mum
Kimberley at Natural Beach Living

So my 11 questions to you are:

1.  Favorite alcohol beverage ever (or non-alcoholic if you don't drink!)

2. What was your favorite subject at school

3. Would you change anything about the country you live in?

4. Nicest thing your partner has ever done for you.

5. 5 items you would take to a desert island.

6. What is in your wallet/purse right now?

7. Best kids film of all time

8. Which musician inspires you

9. Do you have a favorite sports star? If so, who?

10. What is the yukkiest food in the world, that nothing would ever make you want to eat it?

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time???

I look forward to hearing back from my fellow bloggers.

Here is a reminder of the rules

* The rules: 
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger, 
2. Share eleven random facts about yourself, 
3. Answer the eleven questions set by your nominating blogger
4. Nominate eleven bloggers yourself, 
5. Post eleven questions for your nominees to answer then let them know they're up. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Planes, just me and the small ones

Yoozers, it's been a bit too long since I posted a catch up post.  I will try and keep this brief

Paul was away for part of last week.  The boys and I survived well.  We didn't really do much, just the normal mundane stuff.

Last weekend there was a special event at Greenville downtown airport.  My friend has posted in more detail about it here.  3 very old airplanes were at the airport all weekend for people to tour (for a price, it would have been $40 for all of us), or to take a flight in. They were the Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” WWII Heavy Bomber, the P-51 Mustang Fighter “Betty Jane” and a vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress ”Nine O Nine". We headed there on the Sunday morning, and managed to see them from a distance (we were not prepared to pay).  The boys liked them, but they had more fun playing in the park next to the Runway Cafe.

Paul was then away again this week, all week this time.  The first half was spent at Carolina Motor Speedway near Columbia, then the second half at Talladega.  Again, the boys and I survived just fine!  I will admit, I have not done much homeschooling type stuff with Seb.  I just have not had the energy to dedicate to it.  We did the usual Gymboree on Monday.  Tuesday we stayed in all day, as we were going to our friend Liene's house for dinner.  The boys all had a great time, ate plenty of pizza, and played really well.  Liene gave me a couple of puzzle boards for Seb, which he loves

It occurred to me that we left all this kind of thing behind in the UK, as we deemed it too babyish.  Silly me....  Seb is awesome with them, and I hope it gets him interested in puzzled.

Wednesday we had another quiet day, as we were off to baseball in the evening.  This meant a very early dinner, particularly as we had to be there even earlier for Oliver to have photos done.  Man, it was cold.  Like really cold.  Thank goodness his game was at 6.  In the last 2 weeks Oliver has had 2 baseball games, they are still undefeated.  Oliver did really well in this one.  He did some good fielding in the in and out field. He is not a baseball natural, think he needs to watch it a bit more on TV.  He also got a couple more runs under his belt which was good.

The last 2 nights have been really cold, like 4 degrees celcius at night.  The heating is now on upstairs and downstairs.  It really feels like winter out there, never mind fall...

Yesterday morning I went for the open morning at Oliver's school, mainly to check out the primer (kindergarten) rooms.  I was assigned parent ambassador, and a senior student, who turned out to be the librarians boy.  Obviously I took Seb.  He was good as gold during all the introductory chats and speeches.  Then we went on the tour. I got a good look at the primer classrooms.  They are all quite different, each one matches the personality of the teachers, who seem lovely.  I got to look at some of the work they were doing, very good. I was thoroughly impressed.  Next we went to the 4th and 3rd grade classroom, as I wanted to see  what Oliver has to come.  We are in for some fun....  I came away really wanting Isaac to go next year.  It felt right for him.  

We met our good friends Christy and Edmund at the zoo.  It was all decked out for Boo in the Zoo which takes place this weekend and last weekend.  This is billed as a safe, non-scary trick-or-treat event for kids 12 & under.  We are not planning on doing it this year, due to other plans, and the fact Oliver and Isaac really want to do trick or treating round our neighbourhood. 
This morning Anna came round to look after Isaac and Seb while I went for Isaacs conference at school.  He is doing really well, he just needs to choose trickier work and become more interested in letters and words.  I asked her a bit about kindergarten next year.  Once the 3-4 year olds are gone, they cover up a lot of the classroom, and focus on tricky work which entails maths, literacy  letters and words. Plus they get homework. She also said that those who started kindergarten unable to read, were generally reading by christmas.  I came away feeling very pleased with Isaac for the progress he is making.  I also felt happy that if he ends up staying there, he will really excel academically, as well as socially.  

Paul came home this afternoon, woohooo.  He even picked up Oliver for me, so Isaac and I watched a film, and had a chilled day before the chaos of this weekend.....

Don't forget to check out my Facebook page, there is a little giveaway going on right now

And my Twitter feed, follow me and I shall lead you down the merry path, mmwwwaaaahhhhh....

Before I forget, my awesome sis-in-law has set up a blogging thing for November.  Find the link here.  I shall be partaking in some of the blogs.  The idea is to write about a topic she has put up for each day.  There are a few that catch my eye that I am already looking forward to.  So if you are an experienced blogger, or new to this writing malarky,  please, have a little look.  If you decide to do it, make sure you link back to her blog.  Could  be a lot of fun....

Now to continue drinking beer packing

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Homeschooling - the story so far....

WARNING!!!!  This post contains lots of links.  It also contains lots of educational type stuff!
But I hope you find it interesting.....

Ok, so you know the story....

After Seb got turned down by the Montessori school Isaac attends on the basis he was not ready, we decided to do something about it.

We began quite well, particularly when Oliver was still off school.  We are now about 2 months down the line, so thought I would post up a progress report.

It's hard!!!! We gave up quite quickly on the days, date, month etc.  Seb isn't bothered.  If he had his way, he would watch Tv all morning.  What I am trying to do is an hour of activities, an hour of TV, then some time out somewhere. I have made and purchased a whole load of items to assist.  This is just an example of some of them.  I am trying to keep to the Montessori method of child led learning as much as possible, but as i said, if Seb led the way we would be Nickelodeon led....

I have had varying degrees of success with the above items.  

The laminated sheets were done for both Seb and Isaac.  They both did them once, practicing tracing their names etc.  These have since fallen well out of favor.  I also scanned and laminated one of Isaacs first reading books in the hope that him tracing the words as we read them together would get him more interested in reading.  It didn't, and I am a little worried about his apparent lack of interest in reading, though he seems to know lots of words by sight, but that is for a different post. 

It is difficult to see things in detail in this photo.  The tree I made, with magnetic tape on the back, the leaves were purchased from the Dollar Tree.  Again, no interest shown.  Same with the pumpkins.  

Funnily enough, anything with number is quite popular.  Seb likes the foam blocks, again Dollar Tree, and the Duplo towers, in which he can built towers up to five, all of the same colours.  Money is also popular, as are animals.  

He likes the Brown Bear matching halves cards, but not the size sequencing cards.  

We also have flash cards with words that begin with the same letter, I got this idea here ( a blog I follow).  These are good, and would make great talking points, if he talked.  But he doesn't.  

And that is what I am finding the hardest.  I know that when it all starts coming out, he will get so much from these activities.  

I tend to get a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest, and more recently Facebook.  I have started 'liking' a few preschool/toddler/Montessori pages on there, and this has lead on to more blogs being found.  These are written by people like me, attempting to either educate their preschooler before school, or going the whole hog, and homeschooling all their kids. I take my hats off to these people, I could not do half the things they do, and find the time to blog about it!

Now I have yabbered, I will show some photos of what we all get up to during our activity time.  Below is Oliver and Isaac, before they went back to school. They are doing an experiment with milk, food dye and washing up liquid.  Basically, a plate of mile with food dye dropped in it.  You touch a bit of washing up liquid on a cotton bud/Q-tip, and the colour separates out.  Bot sure of the science (see why I am no good at chemistry), but I got it from Steve Spangler Science.  This site is awesome, and I have since subscribed to their emails.  Lots of good ideas

This is more recent.  The boys decorated their pumpkins for fall/Halloween.  They had great fun.  once the pumpkins were done, they moved on to Lego printing as they had loads of paint left.

Isaac loves doing activities after school.  Here he is using the play doh we made to create areas for the animal to live.  Isaac is also very easily distracted by the Tv.  For about the first month after all the boys were back at school, in the afternoons while Seb slept we did not have it on.  He tends to prefer playing with the Lego though, particularly as it is kept in the Learning room.

Below is another activity he loves, baking soda and coloured vinegar.  In fact, we did this again this afternoon.  He can normally do it for a good half hour. 

Below is a picture of the book shelf Paul made for the reading corner.  Pretty cool.  Trying to get the younger kids interested in taking care of their belongs and learning about the world has certainly brought out a more creative side to Paul and myself.


Now, on to what Seb does all day.

Here we are with his favourite things, the cars.  I am trying to get him to line up the correct amount of cars for the number.  He kinda got it..... Needs work.

Posting letters into the coffee tin.  He has gone off this a bit, think he is a bit below him.  I possibly need to get him to try and sort them into colour piles first.  Every time I do this at the moment, he insists on messing up the piles, then loses interest. 

This is him with the laminated sheets I mentioned earlier, and some colouring sheets concerning the letter 'm'.  He liked these, I think because he likes the animals.

Below are the foam blocks I mentioned earlier.  These were $1 for 50.  I wrote the number on them.  Although Seb is not interested in the numbers (yet, don't think he has noticed them to be honest), it will come.  It occurred to me after I made these that the only kind of blocks we have had in the house since leaving the UK are the kind that stick together, i.e., Lego/Duplo.  We had loads of wooden blocks before we lived here, but they were always removed quite quickly after being got out, due to them being thrown by the older 2. So Seb had very little knowledge of anything like this (bad mummy alert).  Seb likes stacking these.

Notice the pancakes in the background, this was done before school time, before 7.15am
I purchased some alphabet stamps, mainly for the older 2.  Seb gets them out occasionally, but he is not overly keen on stamping.

Before it started getting too cool in the mornings, we would often go outside to do something.  I think Seb benefits a lot from sensory type play.  One morning I filled up a bowl with shaving foam, then stuck some of his cars in it.  I then stuck loads of construction paper together hoping the shaving foam would leave tracks.  It didn't.  All it did was make a big mess (some of which is still on my patio....)

 I also froze some of the plastic insects we had in a bowl.  Seb tried using different salts and liquids to get the insects out.  In the end time did the trick.  Didn't stop Seb from tipping all the salt and liquid all over them first though.  This was a little beyond him, but will be perfect for Isaac soon

Seb seems to have two favourite areas: scooping and messy/water play.  one of the first things I set up was this bean tray.  Again all from Dollar Tree.  It probably cost $7 to make, we already had all the utensils, and he loves it.  It gets played with at least once a day.  He scoops, tongs, fills up cups, plates, bowls.  He can be known to sit for half hour completely undisturbed, and you always know where he is due to the sound.  I think he finds it therapeutic. 

 I recently introduced rice into a different container, with an ice cream scoop.  He seemed to love this just as much.  We have since had cross contamination with the beans, as there just wasn't enough rice.  I want to make coloured rice, with Seb's help, eventually.

Below is Seb painting with cars.  He did enjoy this.  In fact he does like painting, but can lose interest quickly.  I am never sure how much he wants me to be involved....

 Seb's favourite thing by far is water play.  After watching him the other morning tip his juice into Isaacs cup, and back again a few times, I though we needed to do something.  I didn't really want to stick him in the bath, so set up the washing up bowl with towels on the kitchen floor.  I gave him a few cups and some pool toys.  He only played with the cups.  So I gave him a measuring jug.  He was away.  He played for 30 minutes completely undisturbed.  Ok, I had to put an extra towel down, and there was hardly any water left in the bowl, but he loved it.  Completely in his element.

So thats it, so far.  I am trying to keep him interested, but the biggest issue I have is the lack of communication.  I know in time this will come. But I am very impatient.

I may try and do one of these types of posts more often.  Let me know what you think


Seeing other peoples homeschool blogs on Pinterest and google+, I know how important linking back is to the original contributors.  Most of what I have done can be found on my Pinterest boards.

Here is the link to things I deem suitable for Seb (age 2)

Here is the link for things suitable for Isaac (age 4)

If you find this blog and find things you have originally done, please let me know so I can give you proper credit. (email:, or comment below)

I mentioned earlier, pages I have recently liked on Facebook.  Interesting stories now appear in my news feed, and I urge you to take a look.  I have included the links to their actual websites. 

I find this a particularly good source of info about kids taking things at their own pace, and how to deal with it 

This is good Montessori education for all ages 

These guys are awesome, I have seen some of my friends who are early years providers in the UK linking this source to Facebook 

This lady lives in Oz, and has been recently talking about toy rotation.  Something I am thinking of doing myself after having a good sort through recently 

I first found Toddler Approved on Pinterest, and have followed them ever since 

The Imagination Tree is great on arts and crafts.  not always things my boys would like, but good for inspiration. 

As I stated above, please let me know if I owe you any credit.  I find the blogosphere a wonderful source of information these days!  

Also please find my page on Facebook, and give it a like , and if you have got this far, you may as well find me on twitter @HGmTravel

Monday, 14 October 2013

Fall break fun

It's been a while, so this could be epic.  I apologize now.....

Last weekend we went up to Charlotte in North Carolina.  Paul had bought a bike from eBay, for a very bargain price, so we went and picked it up.  It is quite old, with most of the original parts, but luckily it does not need too much work.  Plus paul is used to working on bikes and knows exactly what he is doing.  On the way back we stopped at the Spartanburg International Festival.  My fried Liene put me on to this.  They have been running this festival for about 28 years.  There were copious stands representing 33 countries.  Liene was manning the Latvian stand.  We said hello, had a quick look around, they headed back to the car.  If it had not been so hot we may have stuck around a bit longer, but it was warm, the boys were grumpy, and we were all tired from being in the car so long.

Oliver and Isaac have both been off on fall break for the last week, Oliver on the Monday and Tuesday, Isaac all week. We all went to Gymboree on Monday.  I had promised the boys they could play iPods while Seb did his session, but they were far to busy watching and encouraging Sebastian to take part. They were able to come and so the bubbles and parachute part which they absolutely loved.  They were really well behaved, and a privilege to call mine. 

Decorating pumpkins
Tuesday we chilled around the house, and went out after dinner to watch Oliver play baseball.  His team won again!

Wednesday Oliver was back at school.  Isaac, Seb and myself met up with our friend Tracey and her Isaac at Monkey Joes.  This is a big building with about 8 bouncy castles/houses/slides in it.  We went the week before, and Seb was not very keen.  But with his big brother there, he was all over it.  By the end he had been in every bounce house, and was even going down the very big slides all on his own.  It is so nice once he gets used to places.

2 Isaacs + Sebastian = Monkey Joe's fun

From here, we headed to our friend Anna's house for some lunch and a nice catch up for me.  Again the boys were awesome, really well behaved all day.  Both boys fell asleep on the way to get Oliver.  This was the first time in about a month that Isaac has fallen asleep in the day.  My boy is growing up.....   When we arrived home, the package from Grandad had arrived.  This contained loads of lego base plates, the boys spent the afternoon setting up their city.  Lego is huge in our house at the moment.  Oliver had another baseball game on Wednesday night.  They won again.  They have not lost a game all season...... 

I was supposed to have my exam on Wednesday.  Unfortunately my assignment scores were very low, so low that if I had got 100% in the exam, I still would have failed.  I chose to not put myself through the stress of revising for an exam I was not going to pass, especially since changing my degree.

I was practicing with Oliver at baseball on Wednesday night.  When I awoke Thursday morning, I noticed my ring finger was all swollen.  I managed to get my wedding ring off, then I noticed the shape of my engagement ring.  It was all bent!  But in such a way, it had made my finger swell up.  I tried to get it off using some lotion, but it would not budge, and managed to cut my finger.  Paul came home at lunchtime, and had a go at reshaping it while still on my finger.  He did this at various times during the evening.  The cuts are pretty deep, but the swelling has gone down.  I am waiting for the cuts to heal before I try and get it off again.  This has happened before with this ring, and we managed to get it repaired.  I will wait to get it off my finger before we decide what we are going to do (new ring, new ring!!!)

Friday, Oliver forgot his lunch box.  I didn't know what to do with the boys this day, so this gave me a few ideas.  After we had dropped Oliver's lunchbox back at school, Seb, Isaac and I headed to Conastee park for a quick play.  From there we headed to Dollar Tree for my monthly pilgrimage of arts and learning supplies for Seb and Isaac(I will do a post about homeschooling soon, I am just lining up all my resources).  I love Dollar Tree.  I got loads, and the joy is everything is a dollar.  I spent under $20!  The on to Bi-Lo, for the food shopping, where I spent significantly more.....  Paul came home from work early, to watch the England Football game.

Yesterday we took a walk round our subdivision (estate) in the morning.  I love walking round.  It makes our front garden seem not so messy.  Lots of people had Halloween decorations out, which the boys enjoyed.  In the afternoon we headed to Fall for Greenville. This is a foodie type festival held down Main Street in Greenville.  It is in its 32nd year.  They close off the whole of Main Street and a lot of the side roads.  There were tents from over 40 restaurants this year, 3 live music stages and a kids area.  We arrived about 4pm.  Man, it was busy.....and we don't do busy.


But it was manageable, as there were breaks in the crowd in between the stands.  The boys enjoyed the kids area, and went on quite a few of the bouncy castles.  We headed further down the street towards Falls Park and got some food. The boys all had pizza from Mellow Mushroom.  Paul had a slider and I had some Irish nachos from Fitzpatricks Food and Spirits.  These were crisps covered in salsa with gooey cheese.  They were all yummy, and reasonably priced.  There was not an empty plate.  By now all the boys were tired, and it seemed to have got busier.  I think we arrived at just the right time.  It felt like the daytime people were leaving as we arrived, and the evening crowd arriving as we were leaving.  As I said, we don't really like things like this, but we really enjoyed Fall for Greenville.  I think we will be back next year.  

Today we attempted to go to IHOP for breakfast.  Because we wanted to watch the formula 1 first, we didn't end up leaving till 11.  By this time, all the churches were kicking out, and both the local IHOP's
had people waiting outside.  So we went to Frankie's fun park instead, where the boys got to play a couple of rounds of minigolf and some arcade games before heading into Johnny Rockets for some lunch.  Paul has headed off on a drive event this afternoon, so it is just me and the chimps till Tuesday.  

I knew this was going to be an essay!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

9 Years

Today is our wedding anniversary.  Paul and I have been married for 9 years.  The traditional gift for this year is willow, but we ended up getting each other almost the same gifts.

My gift to him was a photo, from a map of where we met.  His gift to me was a huge frame containing a photo from our wedding day.

I still remember our wedding day.  We got married in Burford, a picturesque village in the Cotswolds.  We hired out a very small hotel, The Bay Tree Hotel, and had the whole shebang there.  Service, photos, reception, party.  It had been raining most of the morning, but the sun came out for the photos in the afternoon.  It was lovely to have family there.  Most of my family in Northern Ireland flew over for the event, and I am so glad they did.  It is the last time I have seen most of them. It was a good day, a lovely reception, with delectable food, and an awesome party.  Our first dance song was 'Good Riddance' by Green Day.  An odd choice perhaps, but the lyrics are very fitting.  We hear it quite a lot on the radio here in the States.

Marriage is funny.  You always hear about statistics about so and so marriages end in divorce etc.  My parents are divorced, Paul's parents have been together for about 30+ years.  I hope our marriage lasts as long as theirs.  Marriage is not easy, you have to compromise.  Particularly when kids come along.  When I met Paul, and until the kids came along, Paul had a couple of 'toy' cars.  These were awesome, but a huge financial drain.  Before Oliver was born, he got rid of them.

Probably the biggest difficulty in our married life together has been money.  We have had some real downs in this department, but have managed to pull through by scrimping, cutting costs, borrowing from family (thank you!) and trying not to live beyond our means.  This was particularly hard in the UK, where the cost of everything just seems to be on an upward trend, constantly.  We have been very lucky to have had lots of good friends, and family, who have given or loaned, or bought things for the kids.  A lot of people still do. Again, thank you.

Having children has reaffirmed our relationship, having more than one has certainly showed how much we rely on each other, and work as a team.  For us, it is for the best.  Quite often on the weekend, Paul will amuse the boys while I catch up on things (usually sleep).  I look after most of the house and school side of family life, whereas he deals with money and garden work. A fair compromise I feel!

I am grateful to Paul for having got himself a career in the UK, which gave us an opportunity to move here.  Being away from extended family has only cemented the bond we have, and made us much closer, and even more reliant on each other.  We function better together than apart, and I look forward to enjoying at least the next nine years of our lives together.

What ever the world may throw at us......

Apples, Sickness and Airplanes

Been a while since I did a catch up post so here goes.

Seb and I went apple picking with my friend Donna and her lad Leo.  We went to Nivens, which is only about a 30 minute drive from here on the way to Spartanburg.  We got there nice and early, good job too as plenty if preschool groups turned up.  It was pretty well priced.  I paid $9 for a bushel of apples, which was a small carrier bags worth.  We had a look at the animals, and the pumpkin patch, and off we went.  We both managed to fill our bags quite quickly, with the boys eating their way round.  There were lots of rotting apples on the ground, so lots of bugs.  Once our bags were full, we did not stay long.

I looked after my friends little boy on Wednesday, as she had an appointment to keep.  Him and Isaac were so pleased to see each other when we got Isaac from school.  Very cute.

Then the sicknesses hit.  First Seb, then Paul, then me and now Isaac.  Paul took Thursday off work as he was so unwell on the Wednesday.  Good job too, as Thursday was not a good day for me.  I drifted in and our of sleep on the sofa all day.  Oliver was supposed to have baseball, luckily for us it rained most of the day, so it was cancelled

Paul went back to work in the Friday, and I took it very easy.  The boys watched a lot of tv.....

Isaac had a birthday party to attend on the Saturday morning.  It was a cinema party, so we got to watch Cloudy Wiyh A Chance of Meatballs 2.  It is an awesome film, and we both really enjoyed it.  The birthday boys mum is the Spanish teacher at Isaacs school, so knew Isaac well.  He enjoyed it, and his party bag was one of the best I have seen.  From there we went to Costco for the big shop, then on to Chillis for some dinner.

After a busy saturday, Sunday had to be a pajama day. I was still not feeling great, so again spent the best chunk of the day on the sofa, sleeping or watching the NASCAR.  Really getting into the NASCAR, and looking forward to going to see it at the end of this month

I took Sebastian to Gymboree yesterday morning.  He really enjoys it, and even let out a big YEAH when we parked up.  We then decided to meet Paul for lunch.  Most of his department are away on a drive event this week, which he was not required to go on.  We met at Firehouse Subs on Pelham Road.  OMG these subs were huge, and so tasty.  Seb really enjoyed his cheese toasted sandwich, his first one ever!  Oliver had a baseball game last night, which Paul took him too.  His team won again, they have not lost a game yet this season.

We met Paul again for lunch today.  I was already talking of taking Seb to the new park at the airport to check it out.  Although it is still not completely finished (they are building it on donations  and grants, for more details see here), there are play areas in for small children.  Perfect for Seb.  He played while we waited for Paul.  It was hot today. I was glad I put cream on him and brought his hat.  We then went and had some lunch at the Runway Cafe.  While there we must have seen about 8 planes take off or land over the space of an hour.  At first Seb was a bit freaked by the noise of the jets , but he soon got used to them.  It has been really nice meeting up with Paul for the last couple of days lunches.

Plus it has meant I have not had to be too bothered about cooking.....  Only for the kids.....