Thursday, November 30, 2006

Luke sings The Nightmare Before Christmas

I've been laid up in bed for most of the week and Luke has done his best to look after me. He sang me his new fave song - This is Halloween, from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I said it made me feel heaps better. So now, every time I feel sick he sings it to me, to magically make me feel better. Jude videod him singing it to me this morning. Now he has the cold too, poor lad, as does his Daddy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Well done Steve!

Oh, I'm loaded with the cold. I managed to stay on top of things all day but now that Steve is home I'm off to bed, leaving him to cope with the kids. But I just had to come online quickly to post this message.
Today Steve got the marks for the first part of his Photography HND back. This is the course that he started in October. The first part of the course was a 12 week module in which he had to take 12 prints, develop them and print them himself in black and white, to make a calender. It was quite a hard module and he spent a lot of time on it. Today he starts the next module, which is portrait photography in the studio. Anyway, the calender module was marked in 3 sections, with an overall mark. One mark was for the workbook, one mark for the essay (Steve's very first essay ever, I might add!), and one mark for the actual photographs. Well, much to our surprise and delight he got a distinction for his workbook, a distinction for his essay (!@*@! - no I didn't help him with that!) and a distinction for his photos, giving him a distinction overall!
Well done Stevie!
He was also commissioned and paid for his first bit of photography work this week too! For a local estate agents.
Right, I'm off to bed, sniff.

Judes first video

I lost this video in the link below. So, I've posted it again. Doh!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Judes first video

This is our first attempt at loading a video onto our blog via youtube. Its just a little one Jude recorded on her new camera.

edit - IF you can't see this video it is now showing in a new post. Go back to the home page to view it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Are we going yet?

Yesterday evening we went to friends house for dinner. Luke had been waiting all week to go and was beside himself when the day actually came. The daughter of this family has a huge conservatory full of toys and Luke just couldn't wait to get stuck into playing with them, especially the Barbie Cars. Yesterday morning he was up at about 6am exclaiming "Horray! We are going to H & D's house today!" Happy days. From that point onwards he proceeded to ask me every 30 seconds on average "are we going yet?" I told him we weren't going until it was dark. At about 1.30pm he ran into the room screaming excitedly that he had looked out of the window and it was now dark!

He did manage to entertain himself throughout the day with little distractions. He decided that it was of utmost importance that he paint a picture for C. He got all the paints out and set himself up on his little desk. He painted a beautiful portrait of C, which we later added glitter to, much to Luke' delight. He told me about 30 times that C was going to be so pleased with the picture he had painted her.

Thankfully, the time to leave finally came and we drove the 35 minute drive to their house, with questions every 3 minutes asking "are we there yet?", "are we half way there yet?" Luckily for us some of the towns had their christmas lights on, and this delighted Luke and distracted him enough to keep us relatively sane.

Here is a photo of Luke looking so proud with his painting of C.

He managed to distract himself for a while with various toys whilst I got a little work done about the house.

As per usual, we were treated to the obligatory end of evening performance from our two older children and C. This time, much to mine and Luke's delight, was a performance of the Scissor Sisters 'I don't feel like dancing'. Don't they just look the part?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Scissor Sisters in Belfast Photos

Here are the photos to accompany this post about the Scissor Sisters concert in Belfast. Taken by my mate Caroline. They came out pretty well considering all the lighting effects etc. The Scissor Sisters song "Don't feel like dancing" is now Luke's current favourite song. Every time we go out in the car we have to play it continually. It makes a change from The Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack, so I can't complain.


Last night we became the proud owners of an old pew. For free!

The night before that I was sitting up in the landing talking to Steve while he was painting. He is in the process of painting the hallyway, landing and stairs, which is a lot of walls. Our hall and landing are both very long and large. Since moving to this house we've had a lack of furniture in certain areas. As I was sitting along the long strip of wall between Sam's room and the office I said to Steve "this area here is just wasted space. Look at all this space that's just sitting here doing nothing. We need some sort of long chair or shelves or something for it". Then yesterday morning a lady offered a pew for free, on freecycle, to anyone who could get a van to her house to take it away. Steve phoned the van rental people and they gave him a van for free last night! Imagine that. So with the help of a friend Steve went off to pick up our new piece of furniture. Pew from row number one of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church. It's going to look fab once we get the new carpet down and the rest of the walls painted. Here's a photo of it in situe, before the decorating begins in this area. It's 6 ft long, made of pitch pine, and has brass numbers at each end, and a brass umberella stand at one end. Not bad for nothing but the cost of a bit of diesel, eh?

Freecycle is amazing. We have given things away on it, swapped things, and gained one or two things. We swapped some chairs for mini greenhouses during the summer. And I managed to get rid of a few bits this week that were cluttering up the house. I'm very grateful to the lovely lady who gave us this pew.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some Photos From Jude's New Camera

Some photos that Jude has taken this week on her new camera.

Steve at work, in his CD shop, with Luke's winter hat on?!?!?

This is me making Jude's legwarmers in her room, on her birthday.

Playing in the snow before school.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Birthdays, feet and snow...

I'm making time for a little catch up post. So much has been going on but I haven't had time really to sit and write about it. Time goes past, and more stuff happens, and then I never get around to blogging about the things I was going to blog about.

On Tuesday Luke finally got the specially made orthopedic insoles. Remember he had his feet cast for them on 1st October? The children's hospital told me that they needed to be cast, made and fitted within two weeks so that he would be able to wear them before his feet grew too big. 6 weeks later, after hearing nothing about getting the insoles fitted, I phoned the hospital and was told their next free appointment was on 20th December! When I pointed out that his feet probably would not fit the insoles by then, they agreed, and arranged for me to visit the private clinic where they had been made, and were sitting in storage. So, that's what we did, and the private clinic have agreed to see Luke from now on, at no cost to us, on behalf of the Children's Hospital. The insoles are very strange looking, not at all what I was expecting. So I took a photo (of course!)

The good thing is that the orthotist told us only to buy Luke cheep shoes from now on. He says that the insoles will do the job, and expensive Clarke's shoes will get in the way, so we are to go for cheepy Dunnes shoes instead. Woo hoo. I was tempted to ask him to kit the whole family out with them! LOL.

Anyway, today is was snowing! Yes! Snowing! Never has a little boy been so excited, as little Luke was when he woke up at 7am this morning and discovered the roof windows were covered in snow! Sam and his friend had a snowball fight in their school uniforms, before school this morning. And Luke donned his welly boots for a walk through the snowy lawn. Steve went out to the back garden to take some snowy shots for his photography course, and slipped, fell flat on his back, soaking through three layers of clothes and breaking his camera (its muddy, wet and might work properly when it's dried out).

Our back garden this morning...

Jude's birthday was a lovely day. In the morning she opened her presents before Sam went to school. Her main present was her own digital camera. She also got a knitting set (make your own leg warmers), a beano comic writing set, a box of chocolates, Nanny McPhee DVD, amongst other things.

Luke helped me wrap up the presents the night before. He was also emptying my handbag at the time, and unknown to us had taken a £5 note from my purse and wrapped it up with with some new clothes that I'd bought Jude! We didn't discover it until she opened them, and of course she was delighted with the money and the clothes.

Luke helped Jude unwrap all the presents, and she was very good to let him. He was more excited than her I think! We bought her a big chocolate cake, and Luke had to put the 10 candles on himself. He couldn't wait to eat it.

In the evening Jude and I went out for a girlie evening together. We drove to Lisburn and watched Click at the cinema. It was a good film, and Jude enjoyed it as much as me. It was much sadder than we had expected, and really could have done with more comedy at the start before getting sad. It's a story about a man whose life is really busy, with work and family commitments. He becomes the owner of a Universal Remote Control, which controls his universe. He can skip scenes, fast forward, pause, etc through his life.

After the film I let Jude choose from any of the restaurants in the area. She chose pizza hut. By now it was 9.30pm so we both felt really grown up having a meal so late at night (and on a school night too!) We had pizza, garlic bread, deserts, we were totally stuffed and took plenty home for Daddy's midnight feast. When we got home we discovered that Steve had started painting the hallway (Shock!)

I asked Jude how she enjoyed her birthday. She said "it was cool, but the best bit was talking to you in the restaurant". Isn't that cute? She really enjoyed some quality time without her brothers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jude's 10th Birthday is today!

It doesn't seem ten years since this happy day of Jude's birth. On 15th November at approx 3pm Jude was born weighing 8 lb 2 oz. The same size at birth as both her parents were. Being the reliable, rule abiding person that she has turned out to be, she arrived on the day she was due, after a damn hard delivery.

She was in a lot of pain, badly bruised, after the birth, and she cried for three solid days. The only way to stop her crying was to sit with her in my arms, perfectly still, and to sing "Hey Jude". I sat in that hospital singing Hey Jude for hours, since that was the song she recognised from her time in the womb.
I couldn't believe that we were blessed with a daughter, as well as our 17 month old son. Sam was delighted with his little sister and soon became her protector and friend. She seemed so tiny next to him, but he still wasn't even walking alone at this point. She was a gorgeous little thing, and turned into a gorgeous girl.

There have been a lot of smiles, a lot of laughs, and a lot of tears since that happy day. Jude has brought happiness and sunshine to our lives and every day I thank God for her. She has become a very sensitive caring young lady, not to mention beautiful.

She has always been our baby girl, but never did she imagine that one day she would be a BIG sister! The birth of Luke was an exciting time for young Jude. She became like a second mother to him. She was quietly pleased that he was a boy, and she could remain our special girl. Now he bosses her around, nags and moans at her. But she has taught him how to count, recognise shapes and colours etc. She is a natural teacher to him.

These days Jude enjoys reading and writing letters. She loves writing to her penpals, and is addicted to Beano comics at the moment. She plays the piano, and has won medals in archery. Every day she brings light to our lives with her constant jokes, funny stories, and little comic songs which she makes up and dances too.

She is excellent with a camera, which is what we bought her for her birthday today - her own digital camera. Now she can snap away to her hearts content, without having to use Daddy's massive, expensive camera.

Have a happy birthday Jude. May you be blessed with 10 more happy years at home with us. Please stop growing up so fast. It's just not on you know!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tomorrow is Jude's 10th birthday! And yesterday was my Dad's birthday.
Happy birthday everyone!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Engagement Party

I've got a little time this morning in my, (Yes, C, my life really is that unfulfilled) whilst Luke is still asleep, to write a bit about the engagement party. Then Luke and I will be off shopping as it's Jude's 10th birthday on Wednesday. We've already got her main present but I'd like to take a look around the shops for some nice little girlie things for her.

Well, I think everyone agrees that the engagement party was a huge success. Contrary to our doubts, people did actually turn up to wish the happy couple all the best. We had the perfect amount of people for the size of the place.

Steve and I turned up at the hall at 3pm. It was very bare, very cold, but nice enough. Jenny then turned up to help and Steve went home. We set about decorating the place, with lights, cut out hearts, heart balloons, ribbons, photographs etc. Jenny had made the most gorgeous engagement cake (she really should go into business), as well as the funkiest time capsule I'd ever seen. I made two displays of photos. One of the lovely photos that Steve took of Hannah and David a few weeks back, and one of all the funny photos we could find from our own collection, and from Hannah's and David's Beebo websites. (Some of them were hilarious - not to mention embarrassing!)

Mum arrived soon after with enough food to feed an army. She must have been baking and preparing for days! Jenny has a great talent for turning dull rooms into wonderlands (Just take a look in her shed if you ever get the chance!) and whilst I was out making sandwiches in the kitchen Jenny was heard banging, crashing and giggling in the main hall. Half an hour later Mum and I walked back in to find the hall had been transformed in a room which couldn't possibly look more like Hannah. Sparkly lights were hanging from the door, from the ceiling, round the pillars, it was almost Santa's grotto. It looked fabulous.

We also set up a little art table. We invited all the guests to draw portraits or caricature's of Hannah and David, and to add them to the gallery. That went down very well, and was a good ice breaker. I have all the portraits at home now and will put them all into a scrap book for them.

A few weeks ago a Hannah and David had a portrait sitting and the lady gave us a free DVD of the photos. We had this projected onto the wall during the evening and it was a lovelty effect.

We had about an hour to rest and recuperate before people started arriving at 8pm.

Plenty of Hannah and David's friends turned up, as well as family from both sides. We had asked people on the invitations to bring something to go into a time capsule. So people arrived with both time capsule gifts, and engagement presents. It was some fun trying to work out which pile to put them in.

Steve had put together some cd's of music for the little dance floor. After some warm up tracks, we had a little compilation of songs that the kids would like (can-can, cotton-eye-joe etc), and we invited the relatives to dance with the children. That was a good ice breaker and got all the Mums, Grannies and Grandads up to dance. By 11 o'clock the dance floor was positively hiving with all H & D's friends, who couldn't wait to sing along to Y.M.C.A! The whole evening was a great laugh. The kids were fantastically behaved and even little Luke managed to stay up until 12.30! The poor little lad was shattered though, and Steve spent most of the evening entertaining him. He slept till 10.30am the next day. (And he's still asleep today at 9.30)

The gorgeous engagement cake that Jenny made.

The time capsule and cake.
Laura and Jenny on the dance floor.

Some of H & D's friends.
The seating area, all sparkly and pretty.

Some more friends.
David's family.
Jenny, getting into the groove!
Y.M.C.A (I do believe Maddi is accosting a young lad in this photo?!)

My Dad, looking lovely, but there is a much better pic of him on flicker doing some snazzy moves.

Jenny and the girls, looking divine.

The lovely couple, cutting the cake (it was so wrong to cut such a piece of artwork! But it tasted nice)

There are lots more photos in flicker (see post below). Don't forget to click on pics to see the real size versions. If anyone is planning to print any of them let me know and I'll email you the originals, which are much larger and better quality for printing. I'll do a set for Hannah and David, and I'll get some others printed for people if they request them. I've also got a DVD which I will do copies of for everyone.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Engagement Photos

CLICK HERE to see photos from Hannah and David's engagement party. I'll write a post about it later.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Parent Teacher Interview

I'm sitting here burning the tracks onto CD that me and Steve spent two days choosing and burning, for Hannah and David's engagement party, which is tomorrow night. Hopefully someone will come to it! While I'm sitting here waiting for them to burn onto CD I thought I might use the time to write about Sam's Parent Teacher interview, which was on Wednesday.

I met his teacher for the first time. She was SOOOO different to the old cow he had at primary school, before we started home educating him. She was a bubbly, smiley, enthusiastic and friendly personality. She only had good things to say about Sam. She described him as the boy the we know and love - energetic, bubbly, friendly. The last teacher he had, in P6 at primary school described him as a quiet, introverted daydreamer who had no interest in school. That is not Sam at all, but being in her class made him subdued and robbed him of his self esteem. Hence, we took him out of school. But now we have our happy, confident boy back again.

Mrs M said that Sam's class is a very quiet, academic class in general, and that Sam is like a ray of light in the midst of them! LOL. That's really what she said. She said he is always happy, always smiling, and very enthusiastic about learning. She actually seemed to like him (Mrs B from the old school positively detested him, and any other child that wasn't scoring 100% in everything). This new form teacher told me that she has a soft spot for Sam and that he is such a likable lad, always surrounded by friends. Yes, I knew that already. Anyway, the day before the parent interviews she sat in the various classes watching the kids at work. Apparently every teacher reported on Sam's keenness to learn (is this the same child?) She said that during science most of the kids were quiet and sat yawning, whilst Sam smiled the whole way through the lesson, asked countless questions (they were learning about reptiles and amphibians), and thoroughly enjoyed himself! Well that's great. He really does seem to be enjoying himself.

I guess the teachers may presume that his being home educated has starved him of any opportunity, and that is why he is so keen to learn. I know, however, that primary school sapped away his love of learning, depressed him and stole his self confidence, and during his two years at home he learnt to love both himself and the world around him, again.

My celebrity look-a-likes?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scissor Sisters - Odyssey Arena Belfast

Wow. The Scissor Sisters were fantastic! What a great evening. They certainly put on a good performance. When I've seen the music videos I've often wondered what that girl was doing in the band, but she was certainly quality entertainment on the night. She was running the show! They were great with the audience, always talking in between songs and interacting with everyone. Everyone seemed to enjoy it except the row in front of us who sat their looking bored and stiff throughout the entire performance.

Every band I've been to see at the Odyssey (Travis, Coldplay, Busted (er, with Sam)) have always commented on Belfast's reputation amongst bands for being one of the best places to play. And at the end of the concerts they always affirm that Belfast is definitely one of the best places to play. I don't know if they say that at every concert they go to, but I feel that the good people of Belfast really are an excellent audience. I think they are so pleased to have someone come here and perform at last, after years of nothing, that they really appreciate and enjoy it. Well, me and C certainly enjoyed ourselves :)

She took some photos of the show which I'll post on the blog once she emails them to me. Here is one of us all dressed up in our glad rags which Steve took before we left.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Scissor Sisters - I don't feel like dancing

Going to see the Scissor Sisters tonight! Yeah, thanks to C's husband for pulling out and giving me his ticket. Now, I need to find something to wear. Might need to attempt to climb that ironing pile. I happen to know that C is wearing her gorgeous new dress, humph.

Click play on the screen above to watch the movie.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Our New Bedroom Photos

Finally, after 11 months, I got my 29th birthday present! Hurray!! To see the before photos scroll down a few posts. Steve spent two days painting, and he was exhausted afterwards. The ceiling had been painted in a disgusting peachy glossy vinyl paint before, and it took 3 or 4 coats of white to cover it. That's what almost killed Steve, painting the ceiling. The walls were a breeze compared to that. Anyway, I went for mineral mist in the end, but also got the willow tree colour for the hallway, stair and landing, which we haven't started on yet. The bedroom looks twice the size now that the cluttering wallpaper is gone. I've had to take several shots because I couldn't get it all in one photo. Let me know what you think, comments are always welcome... (I'm putting small images on to save space, but you can view them larger, as always, by clicking on them).

We have moved the bed which makes room for a kind of little reading area now. It seems more spacious this way. I got the wall hanging picture from Matalan for about £8. Now all I need to do is get a new bedspread to match the room (that old duvet set is well past it's best anyway) and some curtains, and then it will be all finished.
As always it's been a busy week. Sam was off school for half term break but has gone back today. This week is going to be completely packed. I think it's one of the busiest weeks that we've had planned for a long time. On Saturday we will be running Hannah and David's engagement party, and there is positively heaps to organise for that, so it's going to be work, work, work this week. As well as that I've been invited to see the Scissor Sisters in concert on Wednesday night, with a friend, tonight Jude has Brownies, tomorrow night I have to attend a drama performance that Sam is involved in through his school, Thursday night is belly dancing, Saturday night is the party, I'm not sure when I'll get to breath, but that's ok. It's all exciting fun stuff anyway.

Well, that's it for now really. Here are a few photos from our week...

Could this be the ugliest parsnip in the world? We grew it and eat it in a pumpkin soup this week.

Luke finally decided to wear the pirate outfit that he got for his birthday.

Sam and Luke called me to 'take a photo for the blog' of this Luke sandwich.

Luke sits on the doorstep eating melon whilst Sam and Jude try to fly a kite.
It wasn't a windy day so they had to run up and down the street at full speed to get the kids to catch the air. But there were plenty of screams and giggles, and it was great to see them enjoying the crisp wintery fresh air, and getting some exercise.