Saturday, 31 December 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As  the title suggests, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This is going to be a catch up post, prompted by photos.  I don't really have the inclination this year to do a big post on how 2016 has been for us.  A lot has happened in the last year, and most of it is documented here.  So for now, lets go on some photos from December.

I did a craft fair every weekend through december.  The photo below is from the one I did in Worthing town centre.

We used to live in Worthing, when Oliver was born.  We know the town.  This was billed as a big event with at least 30 craft stalls over 2 days.  I chose to only do the Sunday, as I could not do both.  It was a flop..... The pitch fee was expensive, the amount of people coming by was good, but there were hardly and handmade / craft stalls, more local produce.  And I had to share that gazebo with 2 other people. I wrote a strongly worded email to the organiser afterwards. Funnily enough, I haven't heard back form her.  I made more money at Sebastians school Christmas fair, than I made in Worthing.  The other fairs have done really well, particularly the Christmas items.  I am already booked in for about 12 craft fairs next year, but am always on the look out for more.  If you know of any good ones, let me know.  I am more than willing to travel.  (shameless plug for my etsy store here)

The Zumba classes attendance have tailed off a little towards  the end of the year.  It is to be expected I think.  Hoping January is going to be busier.  I have all my paperwork and forms ready to go, my new routines sorted.  I even have a new Zumba Gold class to teach out of a gym in Havant.  BodyWorx360 has been there since July, but is starting to offer classes in January.  I will be there on a Monday morning, 9.30-10.30am. Super excited.

Almost as exciting as my Christmas week at Zumba, where pretty much everyone who came dressed festive, one way or another! 

The final week of school was a busy one. Paul was away, so it was hard work.  Isaac had  a brass band concert on the Monday afternoon.  Every term, the school bring in an outside music teacher.  Isaacs year got to learn a brass instrument this term.  Isaac played the trumpet.  He didn't cry, have a paddy or get upset about having to perform.  Not sure how much actually playing he did, but the boy done good

Thursday afternoon of that week was Sebastians whole school Carol Concert in one of the local churches.  It is so good they are able to walk there.  It is a beautiful church, just about big enough to hold the whole school, and the parents.  He did sing, I think, but he also got very distracted, a lot.  Funny how my younger 2 always seem to end up sitting with the teachers..... I so love the boys schools, both of them.  They are really benefiting from being in smaller schools....

Friday morning was my last Zumba Gold for the year.  I absolutely LOVE all my classes.  These ladies below have been with me since day 1.  They are such a good bunch, and we ALWAYS have a laugh.  They certainly get my weekends started right! 

Before my Gold class, I have to attend a special assembly at Isaacs  school.  He had been nominated for an award, but I didn't know which one.  Turns out, every term they give 3 awards per year, as well as the reading challenge (special homework), attendance ( most of the school had a sickness bug at some point).  Isaacs award was last. He was nominated for the most Successful Learner in his year.  This is someone who keeps going, keeps trying, is achieving, and doesn't let adversity hold them back. As soon as his teacher started describing the winner I knew  it was him.  And yes I cried (I am welling up as I write this).  His face was a picture.  He is so proud of himself.  We are so proud of how far he has come. When I think back to where he was this time last year, he has done so well.  He won a selection box as his prize, and received 2 certificates.  One for his nomination, and one for his win.

And then school was over.  We had a full week between school finishing and Christmas.  It was a long, long week, but we all survived. We have seen friends, done some walks etc.  And now Christmas is done.  It was a low key affair for us. We saw my step dad and stepsisters on Christmas eve, which was really nice. A lovely thing to do.  Christmas day was spent at home relaxing, opening presents and eating and drinking too much. Boxing Day, Pauls parents came down, with the gifts from his brother and sister.  We spent the day chatting and eating.  Since then we have been swimming, bowling and had haircuts for all males in the house.  That was entertaining....

This afternoon we will be going for a walk, probably somewhere like this....

Or this.....

New Year eve will be spent at home, we will let Oliver and Isaac stay up as long as they can.  Seb will probably be in bed by 9pm......

Happy New Year! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Isaac's 8th birthday

My middle one celebrated his birthday last weekend.  His birthday fell on a friday.  His presents were not as numerous as they were in the States, though he did not seem to notice or care. 

Isaac is difficult, yet easy to buy for.  He likes pretty much everything, and didn't give us much of an idea of what he wanted, other than Lego

I think he was pleased with what we got him.  He had a 'Secret Life of Pets' birthday cake from Tesco (big supermarket chain).

It wasn't the best of cakes.  Lesson learned.

Isaac had initially wanted a birthday party, but luckily for us he changed his mind about a month ago. When we discovered there was a Lego store opening in Leicester Square, London, we thought about going, especially as that was what hew wanted for his birthday.  So I started investigating.

Trains are always a good experience for boys, and there are plenty of train stations in the UK.  But there are 5 of us, and travelling to London and around London can be expensive on public transport.  But it beats sitting in traffic.  I came across this Friends and Family Railcard.  Using this, you can get up to a third off train fares.  I was able to use my Tesco Clubcard Points to purchase the rail card at 50% off (Note to US friends: Tesco Clubcard points are a bit like Bi Lo fuel perks, except you can use them in many different ways, not just on fuel.  For every pound you spend in the grocery store, you get 1 point.  These accumulate, and then different organisations offer different schemes to redeem your points).  We were able to get 5 train tickets, plus one day travel cards for each of us for 60 pounds.  Thats 12 each! A one day travel card gives you unlimited travel on the underground all day too.  The card is valid for a year, so I can see a few more trips to London occurring. 

Isaac wanted to go to the Imperial War Museum (IWM).  Paul and I went pre-kids and we were a little uncertain, but went for it anyway.  We got the train to Victoria, then the underground across to Waterloo, then walked the short distance to the museum.

The IWM had a refit in 2014, so was completely different from what we remember.  It is over 4 floors, with a large central atrium. Typically, It covers World War 2, World War 2 and lots of other, more recent conflicts.

The museum is free to get in, though you can give a donation if you wish.  It was really interesting going over the levels.  They had members of staff giving talks in very places, but ours are still a little young to stand and listen.

The IWM is definitely worth a visit.  Paul and I would like to go back again in the future to actually take our time.  We didn't take the kids to the Holocaust area.  We are not sure they would understand (or behave).  In the future, we will.  It is important for them to learn about.

From the IWM we walked towards the London Eye, in search of some lunch. I spotted a row of restaurants nestled by London County Hall, near the river.  Fortunately, they all seemed to hav loads of kids in them.  We chose Troia restaurant.  Very glad we did.  A Mediterranean style restaurant, they had mini chairs and tables for everyone. The service was, good, customers were coming and going constantly.  It was a very busy saturday lunchtime! The food was delicious.  The boys had nuggets and burgers from the kids menu.  Paul and I indulged in kebab style meals.  It was a great little stop, I would highly recommend to anyone passing by. 

Next stop: The Coca Cola London Eye. Again, planning in advance I was able to use the Clubcard vouchers again.  Per person, I used a 2.50 voucher, then paid 10 per person, so effectively we rode the London Eye for half price.  We booked our flight tickets for 2.30pm. 

We arrived about 1.45, and a good job we were early.  The queue was a good size, though it was moving.  We to into our pod about 2.20

This was an awesome experience.  Paul is not the best with heights, so spent the first half sitting in the middle.  Towards the top he got brave, and started venturing nearer the edge. We were lucky to have a beautiful semi cloudy day, so we were able to see for miles.  The pods have helpful screens in them which you can use to find land marks 

The pods could do with a little bit of a clean.  From the Eye, we got the tube to Leicester Square.  That was busy.  Getting out of the tube station was crazy, super, super busy.  Keeping track of 3 boys was tricky, but at least we did it with our wallets intact too.  We headed towards the Lego store.  Then we saw the queue. They had been open 5 days, it was Leicester Square, there were going to be queues. But we joined the queue.  We had to wait about 30 minutes.  I think it was worth it.  The boys were able to pick something each.  It was very busy, but the staff were very helpful.  We had a quick look in the Nickelodeon store, but it was no way as good!

Then it was time to head back for our train.  We had a good 90 minutes before our schedule train back to the coast.  We got to Victoria, looked at the departure boards, and noticed there was one leaving in 5 minutes.  So we ran for it.  And made it.  The train was really busy, but we were able to all get seats after about 4 stops.

It was a great day out.  Everything ran really smoothly.  The boys were really well behaved.  It is good to know we can do London with the boys. I look forward to doing it again (and I don't even like London!)