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.  

Monday, 3 November 2014

Talladega Forest

We were home 4 days before we were off again!  Friday morning, we headed out to Alabama.  We had tickets for the NASCAR race on the sunday.  Our friends, the Withers (Tom, Rachel, Riley and Layla) came with us.  We had a pleasant drive through Atlanta, Georgia, then on to a little area of Alabama called Wedowee.  A very scenic, picturesque, Southern town.  We arrived at the house just before the Withers.  I initially picked this house for its accommodation and proximity to the lake.

It had plenty of bedrooms.  Tom and Rachel took the one on the top floor, Paul and I took the one on the main floor, and all the kids got bundled in the 2 rooms downstairs.  The back of the house had decking, which took you out to the pontoon.  

The view from the pontoon down onto the river was beautiful.  

Plenty of space in the main living area.  There was also another living area just though the door pictured below.  This had a lovely swinging bed, which the kids (and Rachel) loved sitting on.  

It may have been the second weekend in October, but it was not cold.  30 degrees outside!  Tom decided he was going for a swim in the Lake.  Then all the boys wanted in on the action.

The air may have been warm but the water was not.  Isaac would not go in.  Sebastian, the little water baby went in, then got out very quickly.  Oliver went for it though, as did Riley.  As ours went in, Paul had to go in too.  I think he enjoyed it!

After a quick swim, the boys headed back in to get warm.  Riley was very good about letting Sebastian play games with him.  

We had a BBQ dinner, and packed the kids off to bed.  Ours were still a bit messed up by the time change after England, and decided 5.30 was a good time  to wake up and come upstairs.  Unfortunately, I was led to believe it was 6.30, and put the TV on for them in the second living room. Whoops....Paul got up and went and sat with them (honestly, he is the best father/husband ever!) Riley and Layla surfaced about 7.  Tom made us breakfast,  while we discussed the plans for the day.

Tom had been doing some research, and had found a car museum in Alexander City, about an hours drive away.  It seemed like a good shout.  Seb and Isaac slept in the car on the way there, which was a brucey! 

Wellborn Muscle Car Museum is devoted to cars from the 60's and 70's.  It has the nations largest high performance Dodge collection.

There were a lot of cars to see.  Given the proximity of the museum to Talladega, I can imagine that this was probably one of their busier weekends.  

The kids were free, making this a fairly cheap trip out.  Not sure if it is something we would have done if we were on our own, but it was fun all the same.  

Lunch time was fast approaching, so we decided to head back towards Roanoke for some lunch.  Tom found a little BBQ place, where we stopped for some lunch.  Not sure the kids ate much, but it was good all the same! 

We headed back to the house, where the kids played kindles, I watched Frozen (first time ever!!!) and we all chilled out, ready for the excitement of the next day....

The rest of Legoland Windsor, heading home

The boys treated us to a 7am wake up call, not too bad!  We dressed quickly and headed down for breakfast in Bricks Restaurant.  If you stay in the hotel, breakfast is included, and there was plenty of choice.  Isaac was happy with his coco pops, Oliver had bacon, sausage and scrambled egg, and Sebastian went with pancakes.  Both Paul and myself went for hot breakfasts. Man it was nice to have proper bacon again!

After breakfast we headed to the pool/splash area.  This is a small area, but at 8.15am there were not many people in it.  The boys had great fun splashing around.  When you are in the pool at 8.15, you know it is going to be a long day.  We headed back up to our room about 9, and prepared to check out.  
Whilst heading down to reception for check out, the fire alarm went off.  This meant a mass evacuation to the car park over the road.  Thank goodness we were not in the pool at the time!  I don't know what was going on in the park/ hotel, but there were people dressed as Storm Troopers and Jedi.  Princess Lea was also there.  

The boys were so happy about this, and were able to get photos taken with various Star Wars characters. This turned a bad situation in to a very good one for our boys!

Staying in the hotel means you get to access the park 30 minutes before the general public.  Granted, we lost some of this time due to a fire alarm and checking out, but we still made it up.  We did 5 rides in 2 hours, we certainly got our monies worth.  

We had to do another quick stop at mini world, the boys so love seeing the countries represented, even if America was very small! 

Another quick ride before a stop at the shop (again!).

We left Legoland about midday.  All in, we had an awesome time, and are now deciding if we can make it to Legoland California before our time in the states is up.

We collected my mums car from Grandad Lee's that afternoon.  My mum signed it over to me before she died.  I had to drive it to Paul's parents up in Oxford.  I took Isaac with me for company, but I think he found my company a bit boring.  It has been a long time since I drove a manual, but I did ok.  That little car goes like stink!!!

We spent Saturday night at the Goslings, Tony and Jenny were also there.  It was nice to catch up with everyone, before saying our goodbyes the following morning.

Our last night in the UK was spent at my dads.  We even subjected him to his first kebab for about 5 years.  I think he enjoyed it, even if he did leave half of it for his lunch the next day.

By staying at my dads, we were able to be on the road to the airport at 5.30am, and dropping the car off at 6.  We checked in to terminal 3, and got through security very quickly.  There is a kids area in the upstairs of the terminal, which is quite unknown.  In fact, it took the cleaning lady in the toilets to bring it to my attention.  The kids were able to run around pretty much to their hearts content.

Our plane was on time.  Paul sat in the row of 4 with the boys, while I sat in the aisle seat on the other side.  The kids were good, but not as awesome as Paul, who kept them perfectly under control.  I hope that now they are getting older, flying will become a lot easier.....

We arrived home about 6pm on the Monday night, absolutely shattered.  Being an awesome mum, I didn't make them got to school on the tuesday.  Good job too, as no one was awake till 9am!