Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

After last Christmases craziness, this has been a very relaxing time.  The period between the boys finishing school and Christmas Day was a week.  It was very chilled.  We did very little, spent a lot of time around the house, preparing for the big day.

I tried a couple of new things.  I made mulled wine in the slow cooker on Christmas Eve, and de seeded a pomegranate for the first time, in preparation for our Christmas Day cocktails.

Christmas Eve was spent at the Barton's. Six families, 12 adults and 14 kids (2 are missing from the picture below)

 And no fighting from anyone! Everyone was well behaved, and the kids left felling pretty sleepy.

The adults left feeling a bit fuzzy.....

Once we got home, our kids, or rather Isaac, sprinkled the reindeer food into the lawn, and set out cookies, carrots and milk for Santa.  They must have been good this year, as they had quite a pile.

And the mulled wine I mentioned earlier went down a treat.  It was yummy, and definitely something I will do again.

Isaac managed to contain himself till 6am on Christmas Day.  The boys were crazy excited. We were wise parents, and had put the coffee on the night beforehand!

The boys got straight down to opening presents.  I have never seen a child so happy over underwear before....


This was probably one of Oliver's favorite presents,  a bag to hold the skylanders.  We weren't even sure it was going to arrive on time.  Thank goodness for Amazons lightning deals!


Considering Isaac's birthday was only a month before, he did very well.  He is probably easiest to buy for, as he is in to pretty much everything, and plays with all he gets. 


All the boys received some form of play doh. They are really into it at the moment.  Seb really wanted the buzz saw pictured below, and luckily for him he got it.  The play doh was out most of the day.


We had a big turkey, which was a gift from Paul's work.  It was tasty, but far too big for us.  I think next year, when we receive it, we will give it to a food bank, so someone can have it who really appreciates it.  A lot of ours went in the freezer, but too much went in the bin.  

I think Isaac played with all his presents that day.  Oliver made about half his Lego. Sebastian still has toys he has not played with yet (it's New Year's Eve tomorrow). Santa was exceptional bad this year.  He gifted some Lego to Oliver the was meant for paul.  Whoops.....

I did pretty well too.  I got a new iPad, chocolate, a jewelry stand, Lego and other little bits.  Paul also did well, with plenty of clothes, rum and a few other little bits.

The boys went to bed at a normal time on Christmas Day.  Paul and I stayed up not too late, and didn't drink too much either.

I woke up the next morning feeling terrible.  I was sick a couple of times in the morning, and felt like death.  While I was up in the morning, paul managed to make the present for the boys from the Gosling's.  It is an awesome climbing frame.  Oliver has mastered it.  Isaac is getting there.  Sebastian can't even make the first rung yet.  He will in time.......


I spent most of the afternoon in bed, sleeping.  I managed to drag myself up to help get the boys to bed, and managed to keep done some food, so knew I would be on the mend.

Good job too, as we were off to the mountains the next day!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas is here!

Christmas officially arrived in the Gosling household last weekend.  I had been saying for a while that I wanted to go and choose our own Christmas tree, we decided to actually do it (I am getting much better at following through on the things I say I am going to do!)

After much research, discussion with hubby and texts with Rachel, we decided to go to Hidden Trails Christmas Tree Farm.  This is 30 miles south from our house.  Isaac fell asleep in the car!  It was a bright sunny, warm day.  Not your usual Christmas weather.

The people were really nice, and there were plenty of trees.  You cannot cut Fraser firs (the more traditional tree that we are used to), as they do not have any, as they do not grow below 5000ft.  So we inspected the rest.  They had many varieties, but the strangest to us was Leylandii Cypress trees, cut to be shaped like Christmas tress. After coming from England, where these are privacy trees, that can become a blight, this was very strange.  Anywhoo, we had more of a look around, and eventually settled on what I think is a Carolina Sapphire (someone please correct me if I am wrong!). This is a long needle tree. Here are the boys with the tree.


The boys had fun playing around the trees.  They were fortunate enough to get a small gift each, a little stocking with sweets, and they all had a photo done with Santa (this was extra).  Our tree was $40.  Same as it would have cost in Home Depot/ Lowes. But it is a nice feeling to know our money will stay local, with friendly people, maintaining a beautiful place.  They shake the tree to get rid of bugs/dead branches, then bag it, and help you get it in the car.  Awesome service.  

We got the tree home, and stuck it in some sugar water over night.  The next morning the decorating began.  The boys (and by boys, I mean Paul) had great fun.  

The finished product! ( you may notice loads of needles on the floor. These came from moving and positioning the tree.  I vacuumed them up the next day, and there has since been little to no needle dropping.  Does help the water is getting topped up every day)


While we have been getting all Christmassy, I have been engaging in some arts and crafts.  I have had some slate tiles in the garage for ages.  You know me, I like a bargain, and picked these slate tiles up in Lowes about a year ago for about $3.  They are a pack of 12.  While I was clearing out the arts and crafts cupboard, I found a small amount of really thin Christmas wrapping paper.  Then I had an 'ah-ha' moment.

I cleaned up the tiles with a clorox wipe, and let them dry.  In the mean time, I cut out one of the pictures from the wrapping paper.  I put a coat of modge-podge (glue) on to the tile, waited for it to go tacky, then added the wrapping paper.  I then waited 30 minutes to an hour, then coated the whole tile in more mode-podge, going over the wrapping paper also.  5-8 coats later, here is the result


I am well pleased with these.  Not sure if they are going to be coasters (I need the felt pads for the bottom if so), or just display pieces (I have 2 currently on mini easels that I bought from AC Moore, they look well cool).  They made me happy, and are very pleasing! 

Thursday, 11 December 2014


I know, its been a while.  Sorry.

Here are some shots of what we have been up to.  Sebastian had a party at school for Thanksgiving, which I was able to take him to.  He enjoyed it, even though he didn't eat anything.  It was nice to see him in his school surroundings.

Then it was Isaacs birthday.  I can't believe he is 6.  I did him a special blog post (find it here).  He did well, better than he thought he would.

He particularly loved his presents from Nanny and Granddad Gosling, and the Battle Rover that Granddad Lee got him.

We went out to eat at Carolina Ale House on the Woodruff.  Darn convenient for us, as his birthday was a tuesday, and thats the night kids eat for 99 cents.  We have been eating out in the week for about a month, to take advantage of discounted kids prices. For example, we went to Zaxby's last night, and the five of us had meals for $15 (thats about 10 quid!).

Isaac was most insistent that he wore his explorers gear out for dinner on his birthday.   It looked awesome with his beige school uniform trousers.

I made his cake, with the help of a cake topper I purchased on Amazon.  The spongebob figures and candles we picked up cheap in Walmart about 6 months ago.  I love a good rummage through the clearance sections!

He loved it!

For his birthday treat, he chose Frankies Fun Park.  Unfortunately they have changed the single go-karts so you have to be taller to ride them.  Isaac was most upset about this, but we managed to bring him round.  Then on for a game of mini golf.

We have also been to the zoo a couple of time.  Not sure we are going to renew our membership.  Admittedly the kids loved it, but we were not so keen.  We will see how we feel when it comes up for renewal. 

Here is evidence that the posed pictures of the boys take a lot of direction.

We have been in to Greenville a few times, and decided to check out the World of Miniature train display.  It was nice, very pretty, but a little pricey for 30-or-so minutes entertainment

Of course, now it is December, an elf has appeared.  Meet Emmet.  The boys are not too taken with him.  Apparently, he doesn't do enough (bad mummy and daddy).  Will have to rectify that this weekend.  He did bring them a new advent calendar, and new pajamas.  

And with Christmas comes crafting.  I have done a lot, none of which I can mention yet, as it is for various people here, as Christmas presents.  I did try out my new glue gun though, and made this delightful Christmas tree.  I was well pleased with myself.  Most of the decorations on it I have picked up in various craft stores clearance sections.  Or the dollar tree.

The boys have also got in on the crafts.  Seb and I made some cinnamon dough.  Should I say, I made it, as Seb gagged at the smell.  I cut out various Christmas shapes, using cookie cutters, and left them to dry out.  The boys decorated them last week end.  They were lucky enough to get to use my new acrylic paints.  I wanted to see how they looked, and the boys were willing participants. 

I have since coated them with Modge Podge, to give them a nice shine, and the idea is the boys will use them on tags for the gifts for their teachers (also home made by moi).  Its like I have too much time on my hands (HA!)

We have decorated outside.  We are hoping to go and get our tree this weekend, but we want to go to a pick your own place, but one where they chop it for you.  I shall be making enquiries tomorrow.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Granny Walters

My Gran, Granny Walters, passed away yesterday morning.  She was 91.

In the first part of the year, she had a couple of falls at home.  These hospitalized her, and it was decided that for her safety, she should move in to a home.  This happened in August.  My dad had to go over to Northern Ireland numerous times when she was hospitalized, then to assist her with her move.

She had settled into the home quite well, dad went to see her over October half term, and she was fine. In the last few weeks though, she has been struggling to breath.  The doctor decided to send her to the hospital on wednesday, as her oxygen output was very low.  She was found to have fluid on her lungs, so they put in a chest drain.  When they analyzed the fluid, they found cancerous cells.  The doctor called my dad to tell him.  He was already planning on flying out today.  The next day the nurses called him to advise him to get there as soon as possible, my Gran's kidneys were beginning to fail.  He rearranged his flight for friday, then called me on thursday night to tell me what was happening.

I text him yesterday to see how she was.  He asked me to call, and broke the news.  I really feel for my dad.  Like me, he is an only child.  He has done so well in taking care of her from a distance.  I know he will miss her greatly.

I initially wanted to be there for the funeral, to say my good byes, and to be there for my dad.  The funeral is Tuesday, in Northern Ireland.  I just can't get there, it is too difficult.  She will be in my thoughts all day....

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

6 years old

Isaac is now 6.  Where has the time gone???  This post is a bit of an ode to Isaac, so excuse me if I get all sentimental....

Isaac cooked the longest out of all 3 boys, 38 weeks.  He was also my first diabetic pregnancy, with me developing gestational diabetes at 24 weeks pregnant.  I was on insulin for the rest of the pregnancy (little did I know how that would affect me in the end, HA!)  The joys (!!!) of having gestational diabetes were more hospital trips and more scans.  It was during the last scan, at about 36 weeks that Isaac was discovered to be head up, and not head down.

And that is how he stayed.  All the way through pregnancy, labour and birth.  Thank goodness for epidural, Persian OB/GY doctor and a newly qualified and eager midwife! Isaac was born left bum cheek first, to an audience of midwives and student doctors.  We were fortunate enough to only have to stay in hospital 4 days.

From the moment he came home, we all loved him.  Like any good Gosling baby, he was jaundiced.  He also fitted like a glove to our little lives.  He fed like a trooper, and has always been quite stocky and bulky.  He decided to stop nursing at 8 months.  The world around him (his brother), was far more interesting).

He walked at 10 months, and was able to tell us quite clearly, and in full sentences,  what he wanted for his second birthday.  I am pretty sure being in the same house when his baby brother was born 2 months later was not on his list!!!

Isaac started preschool at 2 and a half, the youngest of all the boys.  He loved it, though he did need a bit of an adjustment period.  He has always given the impression of taking to change well, though his opposition to it usually rears its ugly head a few months later.

He has had some difficulty adjusting to life here, he is the one who craves England the most.  He loves his brothers whole heartedly, his relationship with Sebastian has truly blossomed this year.  Isaac is one of the most caring considerate children I have ever met.  He think of others a lot, and shows really good empathy for a six year old.

In some respects I am glad he has started school here, a year later than in England.  There is no pressure on him to start reading (yet!), which is good, as he hated the idea of it.  I can only imagine the battles we would have had in England.....

Isaac cares so much for the world around him.  He loves animals, and knows when something is pretty or beautiful, and is not afraid to share his thoughts.  In fact, he will share any thought that comes in to his head.  He is in danger of beating Oliver as the blabber mouth of the family.  He likes to sing.  A LOT.

He does get upset.  He has high standards, and when he feels he cannot achieve these high standards, he gets frustrated with himself, and then he starts lashing out.  Every one has been on the end of one of Isaacs incidents.  Especially school.  I know his behavior can be troublesome, and it does worry me sometimes.

You have your moments Mr Isaac, but you really are the most awesome 6 year old ever.  Happy Birthday babe!!!!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Halloween and other stuff....

I am so sorry I have not blogged in a while.  We have been pretty busy.  I uploaded these photos about a week ago, and never did anything about them.  So here goes.....

We got our pumpkins from Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch here in Simpsonville.  This is set up every year to raise money for charity.  The boys enjoyed it....

They got to pick one each, and we got a big one for the faaamiiiillllyyyy.

Seb and I took a trip to the zoo the week of Halloween.  They had their Boo in the Zoo paraphernalia set up, so he got to see all that.  Funnily enough, he does not like inflatables that move....


Here are our carved pumpkins.  The boys drew faces, and I carved them.  By the time I got to the big one, I had a good technique and was able to get quite intricate.

Isaac had a party at school for Halloween, and I got to make the cakes.  I think they turned out quite well!

Before his party, they had what is called the Primer Parade, where all the kindergarteners walk around the whole school showing off their costumes.  Here is his whole grade.


This year they did something different.  The seniors (top end of school) walked with the primers.  Isaac ended up going round with a monkey.  He was infatuated by his tail! Sebastian even got in on the action.....


And then the night itself, we ALL went trick or treating.  It was Sebastian's first time, and he loved it. To me, it didn't seem as crazy as last year.  By the time we got about half way round the subdivision, Sebastian was shot.  Think he had sensory overload from the lights, sounds, costumes and people.  He was very pleased to get home for his candy


We awoke on the 1st November to a light dusting of snow.  We had already decided to go up to the mountains to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the Autumn/Fall colors in the trees.  The nearer the mountains we got, the more snow there was.  We got to the parkway, and it was closed due to the inclement weather!  We decided to head into Asheville for some lunch, and it was still snowing, almost blizzard conditions!  We ate at the Outback, and you can see from the sign just how much snow there was!!! The boys were able to have a snowball fight as there was about 4 inches on the grass and benches!!!


We drove back to Greenville, and the sun came out, with no snow anywhere!!!

Last week the boys did their first full week of school in about a month!  They were shattered.  We have had conferences (parent teacher meetings) also.  Oliver is fine.  He is performing above average, but still needs to push himself.  Isaacs.  Well.  Lets just say we have some behavior issues.  He had been in the office on numerous occasions, the director and assistant director of lower school know him well.  We are working on ways to curb his behavior.  I think we are getting somewhere, but it is hard for him to conform.  School has been a big change for him, and I think he has struggled, particularly when he had a lot of time out.  I do remember this happening a lot at this time of year.  Its like school begins, he thinks its great.  Then he realizes he can't at home as much and starts misbehaving.  This has happened the last 2 years, I am sure of it ( I even just checked back through the blog for reference of it, but can't find a specific to link!).  I feel so awful sometimes, like we are the only ones having these issues.  I know we are not, but that doesn't help!  We are working on it, so hopefully his behavior will improve.

This weekend I did something I have been talking about for ages.  I completed Zumba Instructor basic training 1.  I am now licensed to teach Zumba!  I am so proud of myself for this.  If i want to teach here, I will need a work permit.  But I feel like I need to work out some choreography first...

Oh, and we joined the gym. This was partly for me to do regular Zumba, but also to be able to swim during the winter as a family, and for cheaper swimming lessons for the boys next spring.  Because of Paul's work discount, it is cheaper per month to be members of the gym than it is for Sebastian to go Kindermusik or Gymboree.  Madness.....

Think that is all for now.  Next up: Isaacs birthday and Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

NASCAR Talladega Race

 The Sunday morning dawned beautifully, set to be another warm day in Alabama.  We headed out fairly early.  When we did Martinsville last year, we got there about an hour before, so missed most of the trucks and merchandise trailers that were outside.  That was not going to happen this time!

It took us just over an hour to get there, and we only hit a little bit of traffic once we left the interstate.  Parking at Talladega is free, and we ended up about a 15 minute walk from the track

All the major sponsors and car companies were there with their trucks and stands, giving away free stuff.  Some even had driver appearances scheduled.  We were fortunate enough to be near the Ford stage when Carl Edwards appeared.  


If we had been there earlier in the day (like 7am!) we would have had the chance to meet certain drivers.  Maybe next time.....

We made our way through all the merchandising stands, and there were a lot.  Think a big festival, with every seller put in a small space.  That is what it is like outside a NASCAR track before a race. We hit up the Sprint area next.  As the Withers are customers, they received free gifts.  We just had our photo taken with the Sprint Cup Trophy instead.


We then headed in to the stadium to find our seats, and grab a beer and some food for the kids.  We were very early though, so decided to head back out to purchase some merchandise (you know how I love a good souvenir these days!)

Not without stopping at various other places.  I tried out this Chevrolet Silverado.  Very nice....

The boys had their photo taken in front of one of Austin Dillon's cars. You can just see Jimmie Johnson's car in the background.


Next up, the Geico area.  This is an insurance company, whose mascot/logo is a gecko.  The boys were super impressed by this carving, and we acquired yet more free stuff, as modeled beautifully by Isaac.


We knew the race was getting close to starting, as the merchandising area was starting to empty out.  We headed back in to our seats, to await the prayer, the nations colors, the National Anthem and the most famous words in NASCAR 'Drivers, start your engines!!!'     


The race was awesome.  Something about a big track, it was really like a huge arena.  We had some interesting people sitting near us again.  Some very drunk people also.

Most in the crowd were here to see this man, Dale Earnhart Jr, the most popular driver in NASCAR at present.

We were sat right by the entrance to pit row, so any time a caution came out (which was quite often), we saw the mad scrambled to slow down, and get to the pit box as soon as possible.

The boys were awesome.  Although this was a good 3 hour race, we only took one break away from our seats, and even then it was only for about 20 minutes.  They thoroughly enjoyed the race, and no one fell asleep!  Even Isaac enjoyed it.

The race was won by Brad Keslowski, one of my favorite drivers, and the current 'bad boy' of NASCAR (see here for what happened at the most recent race.....).  Paul took this video of the end of the race


We stuck around to see the end, and headed out with the crowds after watching Keslowski's burn out (a NASCAR tradition).  We were fortunate enough to be given 4 copies of the race program.  Prior to the race, these were about $5 each!  We came away with quite a lot of souvenirs.

Took us a bit of time to get out of the car park which was unfortunate.  Saw some interesting sights on the way though....

We headed back to the house to enjoy our last evening by the lake.