Saturday, 30 December 2006

Photos from my 30th birthday

Yesterday was my 30th birthday and I was thoroughly spoilt, as usual. Luke was as excited as expected and helped me open every present. I was woken up at 10.30am and taken downstairs to a room full of balloons, present and croissants & tea. Aunty Hannah and Uncle David had stayed overnight so they were here too.

As expected I look very glamorous in some of these photos - in my dressing gown and bed hair.

I got lots of lovely presents including some perfume that Steve remembered me liking when we were at the shops once, lots of socks, a book and CD that I had expressed an interest in from Above Rubies, chocolates, and lots more. I asked for some ladies wellies for my gardening. I told Steve that they had to be feminine ones and these are what he came up with! Aren't they erm, unique? Sam's gonna be delighted when I pick him up from school in them! Ha ha.

During the afternoon me and Hannah took the kids to see the Santa Claus 3 movie at the cinema. In the evening Hannah & David babysat for us while we went to the local Italian restaurant for a meal, and then on to the cinema to see 'The Holiday'. It was a girlie movie, a romantic comedy, perfect for me. I enjoyed it thoroughly although it was very long.

Thanks to Steve for his lovely blog post (below). It was very thoughtful and a lovely surprise!

Here are some photos from the last few days.

Hannah gave David a huge space hopper for Christmas. Everyone has had fun on it. Here is David helping Luke to bounce on it, and Hannah bouncing up and down the hall way.

Aunty Maddi & Uncle Tom bought Sam a scientist goo making set for Christmas. He has really enjoyed it (Maddi has turned into a super star at present picking!) Here he is making some goo at the kitchen table, and then with one of his red goo creatures.

It all gets too much for Nanny and Luke during an evening of feasting at our house and so they crash out on the living room floor!

Birthdays are just so exhausting!

Luke helps me to blow out the candles on my cake (again!)

On my birthday I received two beautiful hand made cards from Tinkhani, in prison in Zambia. One of them was for Christmas. It's amazing that they came on my birthday as it was such a special treat. There was also a lovely letter in it, in response to the photos and letter that I sent from our trip to Geneva.
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Honourable Lady Hazel the Prohibited of Puddleston St Droop
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Friday, 29 December 2006

HAZEL 30 TODAY!!!!!!!

HAZEL 30 TODAY !!!!!!!!!!

Hi, Steve here. Never wrote a Blog before but I thought I would put today’s entry on for Hazel.

I truly believe that I am very lucky and blessed to have such a wife as Hazel, and I really appreciate her.

When I first met Haze she was only 16. Married at 17 and had two children by the time she was 19. She was still a child and did not really know what she wanted from life. I think people thought we were mad and some I am sure thought that things would not last. Well I would just like to say on this Blog today that the main reason we are still together is because my wife is an amazing women !!

In the last 13 to 14 years Hazels grown in confidence amazingly from the girl I first met, very smart and intelligent and great at coming up with ideas and solutions. She is gifted in many areas and always there to help me with what ever I need. I could not cope without her. My wife is very content and often goes without at the expense of her family. She always spends lots of time effort and energy with us all.

What more could a man ask for ?

What more can a man ask for and what more does a man need than a wife like mine, and if everyone was like my wife the world would be a better place!

If anybody does not know all these things about Hazel, they don’t know her at all.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

All about Christmas

Christmas was a great success. We had a lovely day on Christmas day. As expected, Luke slept in on Christmas morning, just as he did on his birthday. Despite coming in to our bedroom to snuggle up with me and Steve, every single morning at 5am. He manages to sleep in on his birthday and on Christmas. Sam and Jude gently woke him at about 8.30. He opened his eyes wide and said "that was a lovely snoozums I had". How cute.

We all piled into the living room to see what Santa had brought. I love this photo of their excited little faces before discovering their presents.

As usual they weren't disappointed. Three full stockings and a pile of presents awaited them. Luke was ever so excited about his stocking when he discovered a chocolate Santa Claus poking out from the top of it. Stockings were soon emptied and various sweets and chocolates consumed. Then it was onto present opening. Santa had left Luke a large wrapped box. He was very excited about it but asked "where are the Thomas trains I asked for?" He opened the large box and discovered that inside it were lots of little presents. Santa had been shopping on Ebay or somewhere, and bought him a 2nd hand collection of Thomas the Tank Engine Trains. In all there was an assortment of 69 trains, carriages and cars, most of which were individually wrapped. These came with a train track, and various bits of stations and accessories. He has spent 3 days playing with this set and has not been bored for a single second.

Jude and Sam didn't ask for much so most of what Santa brought them were surprises. Sam had asked for the FIFA 2007 PSP game, which he did get. And Jude asked for some gameboy games, which she also got. This year Santa decided that they were mature enough to get their own TVs for their rooms. Santa must have felt that this would be appreciated, since Luke tends to hog the downstairs TV and cause too much commotion to watch anything in peace and quiet. They were very surprised with these presents.

The morning was spent opening presents and playing with them. We had our Christmas dinner at lunch time, although Luke had spent all morning eating sweets so he wasn't at all hungry. The dinner was lovely, turkey, duck and gammon, with the usual roast potatoes etc.

During the afternoon we just chilled with the kids. Played games. Auntie Jacqueline had given Luke a game that we all enjoyed. The idea was to press down the sharks teeth. Whoever made the shark bite was out. We all laughed and laughed playing that game. Jude got the grown ups version of Monopoly which we have been playing for 3 days now. We are almost at the end of the game! Steve bought me a game called Othello, which is very simple to learn, and we've all been playing that too. We still need to play Sams new Upwords. Sam also got a new Star Wars chess set which he is waiting to play with Steve.

Here are some of the photos from our Christmas day...

Every evening we have had an open fire, which makes the place feel so much more homely. Its been so nice to chill out and spend time as a family. Steve is back at work for two days, but then he will have four days off. Just in time for my birthday.

Yesterday, boxing day, we all slept in. Steve didn't get up until I woke him at 11.30 to ask if he wanted to go to my Dads house for some lunch. He did, so we tidied up, got dressed and headed to my Dad's new house, which we haven't seen yet. He put on a nice boxing day spread, and Luke entertained us all with songs and chat. Luke took some of his trains with him to entertain himself. Sam showed his Grandad some of the chords he has been learning on the guitar and then Grandad entertained us all with a few songs, including 'Grandma's Feather Bed'!

In the evening we had our friends Davy, Heather and Catherine round for some food and fun. It turned out to be a great evening. I taught Heather how to play Othello, and Steve taught Davy. Then they competed against each other. The kids all played together for hours until midnight! (Although Luke put himself to bed at 8.30pm) We roasted marshmallows on the fire, drank hot chocolates, and even put some candles on a cake for Davy who has his birthday on Christmas Day. Poor guy.

These are Davy's photos. The first one is four cute bottoms roasting marshmallows on the fire, and the second is myself on miniature accordion with Steve and Sam dancing (a sort of cross between Irish dancing and Morris dancing!) You can't say it's not entertaining coming round to ours for dinner!! Steve and Heather disappeared into the garage for a game of darts at one point and left myself and Davy heading dangerously towards various political and religious debates. However, we managed to avoid a fall out and did a bit of a film review instead. (he he).

I must say that so far this has been one of the best Christmas weeks I can remember. All started off with my surprise party. I don't want life to return to normal for a while yet :) I'm having too much fun with my gorgeous happy family.

Thanks to everyone who sent gifts to the children and ourselves, for both Christmas and my birthday. We will write our thank you letters soon.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Phone Call From Emanuel

I was washing up in the kitchen when the phone rang. For some reason I just knew it would be Emanuel. I picked up the phone and heard the American operator asking if I would accept a collect call, so of course I said yes. And it was Emanuel! We got a 15 minute call but it seemed so much more like 5 minutes. It was great to talk to him, for only the 2nd time after 76 or more letters! He ribbed me for sending him a book which turned out not to be very good. Oooops. I bought it because it was written by a man serving time in a prison in Northern Ireland. I thought it might be interesting to him, but what I didn't realise, because I didn't read the book myself, was that it was about a gay relationship behind prison walls. LOL. Not really Emanuels cup of tea, so he passed it on and had a good laugh at my stupidity. Doh. I told him all about my surprise birthday party (see post below for that). It was so good to talk to him. Really made my day and put a smile on my face :)

Saturday, 23 December 2006

A surprise party for me!

Today was a pretty good day all in all. The morning was quite lazy. Oh the kids were great today! They spent about 4 hours playing in Jude's room together. It was so nice. The nicest thing was that all 3 of them were engrossed in the game. Not just Sam and Jude, but Luke too. I really enjoyed seeing them find something that they could all relate to, rather than them having to humour Luke all the time.

In the afternoon we made some cakes on a stick. We saw something similar on the tv yesterday and thought it would be fun to try. Basically we just cut up shop-bought cake, into rectangles, dipped them in melted chocolate and stuck dried fruits and nuts to them. We put them onto sticks to make lollies. It was great fun for the kids.

In the afternoon I finished my home made Christmas gift. Every year we put our names into a hat and draw one out each. We have to make a present for that person. Its a secret who we get. After Christmas I'll post some photos of the things we made. Last year I made painted and varnished pebble paper weights for Sam, Sam made a photo album of my life for me, Jude made Steve a box of little niknaks, and Steve made Jude a collage of photos in a frame. This year I am making for Luke as well as my secret person, so that he doesn't feel left out. I'm pretty proud of my efforts this year.

Well, it was arranged that we would be going round to Mums house for dinner tonight. The plan was to pick Steve up from work at 6pm and drive on to Mums house. Of course, I was in no rush, thinking I had all the time in the world. I rocked up to Steves shop at about 6.20pm, after showering Luke, putting on something half decent to wear and a little bit of makeup. I'm so glad I did. I almost went in my jogging bottoms. lol. I was running late and just thought that Mum wouldn't care if I arrived looking like a stay-at-home-Mum. Doh.

When we finally arrived at Mums at about 7pm I gave Mum the chocolate cakes on a stick that we had made. She whisked them off me at full speed and I took them back to show her them and give the kids the glory they deserved for their efforts. Lol. So I was in the kitchen taking my time, chatting away, unaware of anything at all unusual. Finally Mum said she had a job for the kids to do, so I should just go into the living room and make myself at home. Well, when I opened the living room door I nearly had a heart attack. The room was full of my family, all letting off streamers and party poppers, yelling "SURPRISE!!!" My goodness! Poor Luke didn't have a clue what was happening and stood clinging to my leg looking utterly bemused. Sam, Jude and Steve all knew what was happening but didn't even give a hint away. Well done kids! Of course, no one told Luke because he can't keep a secret. lol. There were loads of balloons with 'happy 30th birthday' on them, banners on the wall, and all my favourite people were there (apart from my Dad, who was there in thought :)

Well, after recovering from the shock I had to open presents! WOW. My birthday isn't until the 29th, which is why I was so un-suspicious. Jenny's kids gave me a big badge saying 'birthday girl', and I got one from Hannah too saying 'lady of leisure'. Luke helped me open every single present. He was shocked and kept saying "we didn't know this was going to happen, did we Mummy?" He is great at helping with present opening. Bless him. Well, I don't think I've ever been so excited before! lol. Dad sent a gift for me. Inside the bag were some really lovely seaweed body products. When I opened the envelope that was with them I found a voucher for two people to have a hot seaweed bath, steam and shower at a health spa type place in Newcastle (Co Down). How fabulous! I was really pleased with that. What an exciting, luxurious gift (thanks Dad). I got so many presents, as well as some Christmas presents including home made truffles and jewelry (from Mum), a big Lush gift box and a £25 voucher (from Maddi and Tom), candles and a makeup bag full of boots botanicals (from Hannah and David), and a big tray of bath products (from Jenny) amongst other things. I was truly spoilt!

The evening got better and better for the kids as some Christmas presents were handed out as well. My niece Bevin had bought every one a little gift with her own pocket money which was really sweet.

Mum must have spent all day in the kitchen because there was a huge array of gorgeous food and we all made pigs of ourselves eating them. Jenny had organised a few party games which were great fun. The first was 'pin the tail on the donkey'. Well, I haven't played that for years! It was hilarious. Jenny blindfolded us and spun us around. You can see a short video of Steve trying to pin the tail on the donkey by clicking here. I was in stitches watching the adults stumbling around the room trying to find the wall with the donkey on it! Then we had a game of pass the parcel. Adults and children. There is another short video of that which you can see by clicking here. The adults enjoy these things as much as the kids I think!

Jenny had decorated a chocolate cake with Thorntons Chocolates to make a big 30. Luke helped me to blow out the candles.

The whole evening was great fun and a huge surprise. I haven't been as surprised since the time that Steve told me he was bringing home lunch and turned up with my best friend from school, who had flown over from England without me suspecting a thing. (That was years ago). If you would like to see all the photos from the evening you can view them in flickr by clicking here.

Thanks everyone for the big surprise and the lovely evening. I hope you all have a happy Christmas and enjoy yourselves to the full. I'll be having another quiet birthday at home with the kids on the 29th so I'm a very lucky Mummy indeed :)

Friday, 22 December 2006

A Walk Through Our Hallway

For those family who are interested (or anyone else) here is a little video of our newly decorated hallyway and landing. lol. Our new carpet finally arrived today to replace the migrain inducing carpet that was there before. Steve spent weeks painting all the walls, and our pew now looks good.

Jude wins gold

Oh yes, how could I forget to mention that on Wednesday evening Jude went to the Archery Christmas shoot. They have one at the end of every term, a huge shooting session where all the archers from all the different lessons compete together. It goes on all evening and there is always a huge turnout.
Well, at the end of the evening Jude won a gold medal! She was the top scorer for her age group in the girls section. That has completed her set now as she has two bronze medals, one silver, and now the gold. She was thrilled.

Has the world gone crazy?

I've just been to Tescos. It was 11am and I had an hour before Sam came out of school. Obviously it was packed. I expected that. It took me 1o minutes to find a space in their massive car park. Even though the shop was packed to capacity there were so many thoughtless shoppers who would just abandon their trolleys, mid aisle, whilst they searched for some cheese, thus causing a tailback 20 trolleys long. Then they would meander back to their cart at a snails pace and slowly move on, as if completely oblivious to the stress they were causing. I slowly made my way round, filling my half sized trolley with the few bits and pieces we still needed for Christmas dinner - potatoes, brussel sprouts, pate, the usual stuff. At 10 to 12 I started my way to the checkout to pay. I walked all the way up the aisle, from the bottom where the bread is for sale, to the top where the checkout is, passing people on the way. At the checkout I realised that all those people I had passed were actually queuing to pay! Holy moly! There are like 20 checkouts, each with a queue about 40 trolleys long. What is going on with the world? I know its Christmas but you'd have thought a famine was breaking out. I had to abandon my trolley! I paid for the milk and chocolate mooses that Luke was expecting at the '10 items or less till' and told the guy there where my trolley full of abandoned goods was. Poor Luke has been feeling slightly under the weather and he just couldn't sit in that queue. So tonight, when Steve comes home at 10pm I have to go and do it all over again, without the kids this time. When did Christmas become so crazy?


On Wednesday we had Hannah and David over for dinner. We all sat around the fire roasting marshmallows, eating lots of cake and having a good time when Luke piped up with this fantastic little gem...

"Girls don't have willies do they Aunty Hannah?"
"No Luke, they don't"
"Do you have a willy Aunty Hannah?"

ROFL. I love them at that age.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Visit to Santa, Sprucefield.

Today we took a drive to Sprucefield in Lisburn to visit Santa in his grotto. We were the first ones there for it's opening time of 2pm. Best of all, it was free, plus there was no queue. Luke was very excited, but shy once Santa sat him on his knee. They were given a chocolate Santa lolly and I got to take a few photos. Luke asked for some trains for Christmas (phew) and also asked if he was on the naughty or the nice list. Aww. Here are the pics...

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

More of Steves portraits

Ok, I couldn't resist putting some more on. They are all so adorable, especially because they are my kids, so I just had to post them.

Don't forget to click on them for a better view.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Steves Portraits

This evening I looked at some of the photos Steve took in the college photography studio last week, as part of his course. I just had to come and put some of them on my blog. These aren't necessarily the ones he is entering for his course, but a few of the ones I liked (there were hundreds - it was hard to pick!) I'm sure I'll be posting more over the coming days. The session was primarily shooting pictures of Jude but he took a few group ones of the kids too...

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Stress levels pretty high

Ahhh, I'm so stressed. I seem to have spent all day looking for lost things. Firstly we have misplaced a christmas present that we got Jude for Christmas. It's quite large (board game sized) so I don't know how we could lose it, but I just can't find it anywhere.

In the last few days Sam has managed to lose his coat (twice), his PE kit (twice), his lunch box, his pencil case (which he had last night) and possibly his brain (the jury is still out on that one). The boy needs to have everything stapled to his personage in order not to lose it. My stress levels are through the roof.

I'm going on now to see if I can order a nice book for my american death row penpal for his Christmas present. I can get it delivered directly from Amazon to save posting it from here. Not sure what to get but it's going to be something heavy!

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Jude plays Silent Night on the Piano

Today Jude played Silent Night at a piano concert, which he got sponsors for. This is her practising for the concert. Isn't her playing getting good? Check out Judes blog (in sidebar at the right) to see her playing her Grade 2 piece.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Sam at school

Only one week left of school until the Christmas holidays. I can't wait to have Sam at home for a while. It feels as if we hardly see him any more. He has settled into school life very well and seems very happy. He even seems to enjoy his work. The only thing bothering him is one of the boys in his class. Every day when he gets home he has to talk about this boy for 20 minutes to get it off his chest and out of his system. LOL. It seems from what Sam says as if this boy is a real slacker. His only friend seems to be Sam and he kind of latches onto him, even though Sam has lots of other friends as well. Every time a partner is required this boys latches on to Sam, but then proceeds to let Sam do all the work and carry the brunt of the burden. Today they partnered up for a history assignment. They had to write some sort of essay about the Battle of Hastings, I think it was a newspaper report. Sam says that he did all the work by himself while this boy surfed the internet looking at sites about cars. Sam was not amused. He has written a note at the end of his essay to say that he worked alone and that his partner just skivvied. I advised him to try to partner with someone else. I said that if his friend is upset about it then explain that you can't partner with him because he doesn't pull his weight. Maybe that will teach him to work a little harder.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

What do I want for my birthday?

Well, my 30th is fast approaching, and I'm starting to feel old. No longer will people be surprised that I have 3 kids (one of which is at Secondary School) because my age starts with a 3, instead of a 2. No, I'm not looking forward to it. Im going to age disgracefully.

Steve has asked me to write a list of things I might like for my birthday. Naturally I've been thinking all year about this. Every month that has passed I've thought "I'll get that for my birthday", but now that the time has come, and I have my pen in my hand, can I think of a single thing??? Nope.

So I went onto Ebay for some inspiration, and came up with
and this or this, (I've been hankering after one of these for quite some time)
or there is this, yes it's dull I know, but I was after one in the summer when I was growing all that veg, and I know I'll want one next summer and won't spend that sort of money on myself.

I just know there were lots of books I wanted to read, but wouldn't buy for myself, but I just can't remember what they were now.

So here is my question to you. What should I get for my birthday? Any suggestions? Do you think this might be too much to ask for?

And yes, I realise now that if Steve does bid on any of those ebay items you will all be able to see how much he pays! he he.

Happenings in the house

I've just uploaded 86 photos from Jude's new digital camera and I'm surprised at how much we have done lately. Here are some of the best photos from this week.

On Saturday we took a trip to Belfast while Sam was at stage school. The christmas market was on at the city hall so we looked around it, and then had some cake in a cafe.

Jude eating a chocolate waffle in the market.

Jude at one of the stalls.

Jude and Steve in the cafe.

Mummy and Luke about to dig in to christmas cake and apple pie! Yum yum. Luke was ever so excited about ordering christmas cake in a real cafe!

Jude got some Happy Mais for her birthday and yesterday we finally got it out to create with. Jude decided to make a Christmas decoration with hers.

Here is the fantastic Christmas tree scene that she made. I was well impressed.

Equally impressive was Luke sunshine which he made completely unassisted. He even drew on the plate with felt pen to finish it off. Not bad for a 3 year old I think.

Less impressive, however, was my attempt at making a person. This person started off standing upright, but I must have wet the maize too much because he started leaning. I made a wall for him to lean on, and a dog to keep him company. An hour after taking this photo my little person had shrivelled up into a ball of gloopy mess!

Luke always loves to help me in the kitchen. Here he is getting me a mushroom out of the fridge.

Last night I made a lovely roast dinner. Whilst I was cooking it Luke made some fresh juice with the juicer. Here he is single handedly juicing some pears and apples, which he added to the melon juice in the pink jug which he had already made. He made this entirely on his own and was very proud of himself!

We are still harvesting the last few vegetables from the garden. Here are the parsnips that we dug up and roasted yesterday, and a huge cabbage which weights an absolute ton!

Steve did a big 2 hour studio photography shoot this week for his course. He used Jude as his subject and came away with some excellent images. I popped Luke and Sam in at the end for a couple of quick photos and there are some nice ones of them too. When he has decided what he's doing with them I will post a few on here, as they are really lovely and very professional looking. I know Jude had a blast posing for them all.