Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wasn't meant to be a photo drop

So I am now the proud (!!!) parent of an eight year old.  Oliver had a good birthday, with a trip to Frankie's Fun Park, where he and Isaac raced each other in the go karts.  Isaac could barely see over the steering wheel, bless him.  We had dinner there also, which was very nice.

Here is Oliver with his cake.  I may have ordered one that was slightly too big....

Saturday morning we went to Cars and Coffee up at the Michelin headquarters on Pelham Road.  This is only the second one we have been to, they are on every month.  The boys loved it, and there was even a Ferrari, which Seb had kittens over.  It is one of his new words, except he calls it a 'errari'.  Thanks mum for the t-shirt, Oliver loves it.

We had a BBQ on Sunday, or as it was known in this house, race day.  What with the Monaco Grand Prix in the morning, the Indy 500 in the afternoon and the Nascar Charlotte race in the evening, there was no shortage of racing (I have 3 car mad boys, when is there ever a shortage of racing?!?).  We attempted ribs on the BBQ for the first time, and they were delicious.  Definitely something we will do again.

It was Memorial day Monday, which meant everyone was off.  We were able to see the hot air balloons from Aloft fly over the house every morning, which was lovely.  one day we will make that event, but at $20 each, it is not cheap, then there is the additional costs.... Maybe one day!

Instead, Oliver built his Millenium Falcon.  I was surprised how quickly he did it, it is a very complex set.  We got him some Technic Lego also, to possibly prepare him for the next step in his Lego career.

Another of Oliver's presents was a slot car set.  Scalectrix brand is not really rated over here, and difficult to get, so Paul found a Nascar Carrera set for a bargain price from a local independant toy store, OP Taylor's in Greenville.  This is the set Oliver got.  He then found a slightly different set on Craigslist even cheaper, from an expat who is on the move, so we ended up with that too.  Works well though, as the boys are able to have epic tracks.  Paul has download a track design app, so he is having great fun too!

Tuesday afternoon Seb and I spent some quality time at the pool.  I realized it would be our last afternoon just the 2 of us for about 12 weeks.  This photo was taken about 5 minutes before he toppled over from the same pose, and went head first under the water.  Didn't phase him, he just got out and jumped in again.  We are loving the pool this year, especially as it has now got really hot and humid.

Today was Oliver's beach day at school.  A half day, followed by another half day tomorrow, then he is done till the end of August.  Isaac chose to wear a shirt also today.  He now picks his own clothes in the morning.  He has some firm favorites, and some interesting combination.

Isaac has been having a hard time at school the last couple of weeks.  He is very emotional when things don't go as he expects, and is lashing out a lot.  Not sure what we are going to do about it yet, I have his conference in about 10 days time, so I will get a good chance to chat to his teacher then.  He is like it at home, but I have a feeling he may be getting bored/growing out of the Montessori way of learning.  We will see....

Thank you auntie Jen for Oliver's sticker album, he loves it. He has even managed to figure out how to do the stickers on his own.  If anyone has any Panini World Cup stickers spare/swaps, let me know and I will give you our address!  We already have some swaps from the many packets Jen sent!

Last but not least, I got my car back today after the deer incident.  Paul reckons the rear quater panel looks a bit different than it should but I can't tell.....I am just glad to have it back in time for our trip.  I will keep using the mini this week, then swap back to the X5.  I have missed my heads up display....

Obviously, the summer holidays are upon us, I hope to do a blog post in the next few days about what our rough plans are...…

********************Don't forget to look for #theyearofoliver******************************

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Oliver is (almost) 8!!!

Tommorrow my biggest boy turns 8.  I can't quite believe where the time has gone....

My smallest baby (5lbs 14 oz), my earliest arrival (35 weeks).  We had to stay in the hospital for 11 days thanks to severe jandice.  Can't believe that was 8 years ago.

He walked at a year, nursed for 13 months, and took his time talking.  He was potty trained just before his 3rd birthday, about the same time he started talking.

He started preschool just before he turned 3, and really liked it (eventually).  He learned to ride his bike pretty early, and his stabilizers came off when he was nearly 5.

Oliver went from preschool to school with 3 pretty good friends, 2 Jacks and a Connor.  He settled in to school really well, and was reading by Christmas.  

He has always been obsessed with cars, he still is.  But now he loves lego and his brothers too.  Not forgetting computers.  He would play Xbox all day if we let him (we never do, we have very strict rules about this!!!)

Then we moved stateside.  He still loves computers, but is becoming a tiny bit more understanding about our rules.  He is in an awesome school, where he is excelling.  He reads a couple of grades ahead, and his math skills are amazing.  

Oliver has never been the most coordinated of children, though this has not held him back.  He loved street dance in the UK.

Now he plays baseball, and really enjoys it.  He plays an important role  in the outfield, and rarely strike out.  He can't wait to get to the pool and get swimming.

He is not the easiest of children, but there has never been a dull moment since he came along.  He has been through a serious operation already this year, with another to come (more on that in another post).  He can be the most caring, considerate of children in one breath, then the meanest in the next.  I think that is eight year olds....  Doesn't stop me from loving him, even if he does my head in sometimes!

Paul was looking for recent photos of him to put on his birthday cake.  It was hard to find one!!!  This leads me to #yearofOliver.  Plenty of people have done something similar to this, where you take a photo everyday for a year.  I shall be doing this for Oliver, starting on his birthday, and posting them to Instagram. You can find me under claregosling55.  If I remember, I will share them on Facebook and twitter too!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The BIG trip - the plan

So seeing as we are about a month away from our trip, I thought I would share our itinery as we have had requests from family.  So here goes....

These are all the journeys we will be doing.  It is about 2500+ miles in total! and that's just from accommodation to accommodation.  There are hotels and vacation rentals spread out across the trip, 9 different accommodations over 16 nights.  The longest we stay on one place is 3 nights.....

Leg 1- Simpsonville to Norfolk, 431 miles, 6 hours 50 minutes

We initially wanted to head straight to Washington, D.C., but it is just too far.  I decided on Norfolk, as it seemed a good place.  We have a hotel right on the beach, and intend to leave early, so when we finally get there we can check in and chuck the boys straight on to the beach, then into the pool.  We are only staying one night here.  

Leg 2 - Norfolk to Washington, D.C., 188 miles, 3 hours

On our journey to Washington, we are hoping to stop at Norfolk Naval Base and do a bus tour.  This is one of the biggest naval bases on the east coast with a very interesting history (find it here).
Our hotel in Washington is pretty central, with underground parking (at an additional cost of course). We are staying 2 nights, which gives us 1 full day and 1 maybe 2 half days.  We will see how we go! We want to see the monuments, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.  And of course the White House!

Leg 3 - Washington, D.C. to New York, 231 miles, 4 hours 5 minutes 

We are actually staying in Queens.  We are renting a top floor apartment, for a very reasonable rate.  The hotels were soooooooo expensive, especially in Manhattan.  The area we are staying looks interesting but there is an Indian restaurant within walking distance, and the subway is 15 minutes walk.  We are staying 2 nights again, so the one full day we have we intend to jump on a subway and go in to Manhattan.  The subway will take us to a boat trip in lower Manhatten, plus the World Trade Centre site.  Then up to Central Park, where we want to go to the zoo, then to the Empire State Building and Times Square, then back over the Brooklyn Bridge, change trains at the Barclays Arena (Brooklyn nets basketball team play here) and head back to the apartment absolutely exhausted!

Leg 4 - New York to Douglas, MA, 185 miles, 3 hours 15 minutes

This looks like quite a scenic drive along the coast of the Long Island Sound.  We are staying in a cottage in Douglas for 2 nights.  The cottage has a lake at the back of the garden, supplied by a small spring, and the owner maintains a beach there, so hopefully the boys will enjoy it.  
I initially wanted to stay in Boston, but it was sooooo expensive.  Douglas is about an hour away from Boston, so we will take a day trip.  This is for me really.  I want to do some of the Freedom trail, the USS Constitution boat, and take in the culture (as much as you can in one day!).  It looks like such an amazing old city, depending on our first impressions, we may go back again at some point in the future.

Leg 5 - Douglas to Cortland, NY, 285 miles, 4 hours 40 minutes

This was actually the first thing I booked through Groupon.  2 nights in a resort with day passes to a water park on site.  I have looked at the water park, and it seems good for the boys.  It is in the Finger Lakes area of New York State, so will hopefully be very beautiful.  This is a good stop over point, with hopefully enough for the boys to do.  It is actually a pretty good deal when you throw in the water park tickets (they would be $150 for all of us if we weren't staying at the resort)

Leg 6 - Cortland, NY to Buffallo, NY via Niagra Falls, 187 miles, 3 hours

As we are up there, we may as well do Niagra Falls.  Due to complications with the car insurance, we cannot go into Canada, so will be seeing the falls from the American side.  We plan to do the Maid of the Mist boat trip, and take lots of photos.  Other than that there doesn't seem much to do.  We are staying in Buffalo for one night as it is cheaper.

Leg 7 - Buffalo, NY to Port Clinton, OH, 280 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes

We have booked a ground floor condo in Port Clinton on the shore of Lake Erie for 3 nights  It has a pool, a beach and a playground, and appears to be a walk into town.  From what I have seen, the Great Lakes are quite touristy.  There are a few islands in the lake which we may take a trip to, or there is a big amusement park about 30 minutes drive away. We will probably do a bit of exploring, and a lot of relaxing here

Leg 8 - Port Clinton, OH, to Indianapolis, IN, 256 miles, 4 hours 3 minutes

My boys want to see the race track.  If you know my boys, you will understand this.  We have a hotel booked right in the centre of the city, which is about a 20 minute drive from the track.  We are already booked on to a tour.  The boys are excited about this, as am I.  We will be in Indianapolis for 2 nights, so intend to have a little explore.  I can't imagine it is that different from any other medium size city in America, but we shall see.  We are planning on doing the zoo also, and possibly the children's museum, it gets very good reviews.  I have also just found out that the terra-cotta warriors are on a special exhibit there while we are in town.  Super exciting!!!! From here on in we are heading home....

Leg 9 - Indianapolis, IN, to Knoxville, TN, 340 miles, 5 hours

This is a one night stop to break up the journey.  You can even see Greenville on the map above.  This is a hotel with a cool pool, so hopefully it will be ok.  

So there you have it!  It is a lot to take in, many places will be seen, albeit briefly.  But we are not the kind of people who go and crazily explore one place, we like to just scratch the surface and get a feel for places.  It is going to be hard with the kids, but they are excited about seeing loads of different places, and watching lots of films, so hopefully it will all work out ok.  I have lots of stuff planned in my head to make it go as smoothly as possible....

I am going to try and blog as I go too.....wifi dependent of course! 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Another photo drop

Apologies again for being a very slack blogger.  We are just living life at the moment, nothing strange and startling happening, but we are having fun.

Here is a rough outline of what we have been up to.

We had our friends Rachel, Riley, Layla, Christy and Edmund round to play a few weeks ago.  It was so much fun, and the kids all played so well together, making it a nice time for the mummies to chat.

I have been throwing myself into my Uni work lately, doing my best to stay ahead, especially as we have the holiday coming up (more on that to come).  But something popped up in my Facebook feed on Wednesday morning, and I was taken with it straight away.  Basically it was a pack of preprinted c-v-c cards, perfect to assist Isaac in the first steps to reading and writing.  So I spent the morning cutting and laminating them.  Isaac and/or Seb have done these at least once a day since I made them.  Not always properly, but they are practicing pen control.

Yesterday was Isaac's International Festival.  Paul took the day off, so we all went along.  We did not dress Isaac up, as we don't really have any costumes to represent England.  Last year he wore his Liverpool shirt.  According to his teachers, he got quite upset when he saw everyone else dressed up, so they found this for him to wear.

He looks so cute, and so pleased with himself.  The festival was to the usual standards, and i bought some plants for the garden after (more to come on that too....).  We went out for lunch after, and both Seb and Isaac fell asleep on the way home.  Isaac slept for about an hour and a half, Seb for about 45 minutes.

I get a little worried about Seb sleeping in the day unpredicatably.  He is now potty trained!  In the weeks leading up to Easter, he had loads of nappy off time.  Rachel had sent me a really good book to assist in potty training, so over Easter we went for it.  Friday and Saturday were nappy off days, Sunday was pants only, Monday was pants and shorts.  Tuesday he went to school in pants, and held his wee all morning.  The Wednesday he went twice at school.  We are now 2 weeks in, and he is doing pretty good.  Very few accidents, and even doing number 2's on the toilet.  He is waking up in the morning dry, and the same if he falls asleep in the car.   I am so proud of him for doing this, particularly as he doesn't tell us.  He just takes himself to his potty when he needs to go, admittedly his pants are normally the other side of the room, but at least the liquid is in the potty.....  The next step is to get him a bed, then we will be completely over the baby stage.

Sob, sob.....