While the Cat’s Away

This summer the Doctor took flight for parts very southern for a month and the wee one and I had to keep ourselves occupied on the weekends in his absence.  We had a lot of happy adventures.  The time passed rather quickly in reflection, though as we counted the days it did sometimes seem like an eternity.

We had a day at Cairnie Fruit Farm which involved a large strawberry…

…finding our way around the maize maze…

… and some very gleeful moments on the trampoline.

Another afternoon was spent at the Science Centre in Dundee, which was hosting an exhibition of robots – the wee guy is quite the Star Wars fan (without having yet seen the films…that can wait) and he was very excited to meet these two…

…and have a go at manipulating these little robots…

…and have a go at making Iron Man hands on our way out.

This led to some inventive play with the old Duplo blocks when we got home.

We had a sunny afternoon at the beach…

…a lovely lunch at the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem…

…and picnic tea on the beach after preschool…

…and celebrated Mama’s new job with some cheery flowers at home.

We counted the days…

…and finally Dada came home!  We missed you Dada, we are SO glad you are back…please don’t go away again.

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Friends and Farewells

We were lucky in August to have a visit from our dear friends Julia and Jon from the US. Their visit flew by, but we were glad to show them St Andrews at its sunny gorgeous best (a rare sight this summer!).  Here we were perched on the famous pier.

It was Edinburgh Fringe Festival time – so we took the train to Edinburgh for the day and dragged them along to an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and the Whale.  It was a total hit with the wee one – and brought a tear to my eye as it was laced with a charming narrative about a girl whose Dad (forces) was away more than at home.  Something that seemed to be the case in our house this year.  [Though I exaggerate wildly here.]

Sure enough though, it seemed that the very next day we were savouring our fleeting memories of our dear friends’ visit whilst trying to quickly slot in some lasting memories of our own Dada before he hopped on the plane for a month in Oz.  Farewell!!

Family Wedding Time

June was wedding month.  Sadly, our circumstances did not allow us to jet off to Michigan to join our lovely friends Tim and Ruthann on the occasion of their flowery country nuptials.  However, since we had missed a few wider-family events in the past couple of years, it was grand to be able to don our glad rags and join with the doctor’s family in Ireland for his cousin’s wedding.

Kazuo was so excited about being SMART for the wedding.  I made him a little outfit to wear and he was so proud of looking neat and tidy.

Weddings are not really pre-schooler friendly events, so it was a quite a big ask for the wee guy to keep fairly quiet (he mostly managed this, though he did echo the wedding vows, which I thought rather endearing, especially the ‘Love you’ part!) and on best behaviour for an entire day.  In the above picture he was hungrily eyeing up the chocolate cookies on the tea tray…but after munching them down, he eventually lost the plot and crawled under the sofa – so we took a little break.

Thankfully Kaz brought some of his friends to keep him company for the weekend.

Dinner was a lovely but rather lengthy affair.  I was so grateful for the diversions provided by the iPad and some new creator Lego – it kept both the lads occupied.

Akira’s very kind family made it so easy for us to enjoy their celebration and we are so grateful for their thoughtfulness.  For the first time ever, I settled Kaz to sleep in the onsite suite we were staying in, and a lovely local girl baby sat so that we could go back in our dancing shoes and continue to join in the festivities.  This bodes well for our future social life!  I’ll not forget the bride and groom…they were charming and elegant hosts and we had a lovely weekend celebrating with everyone, may they have a long and happy life together!

Whiling Away the Winter Days

The winter days are lengthening finally.  We no longer leave for work and drive home in the dark.  But there is an icy grip on the land still, and whilst darling little buds are appearing in the garden (pinch me, I have a garden, with buds in it!) we are still cosying up for the final weeks of winter.  And the light has been low enough to warrant some mellow afternoons with candle power…and trains in the living room…and the toasty glow of the gas fire…and the eeiriness of a little iPad entertainment…

Wintry afternoons also call for a little home baking with Mama – and the wee one and I have tried our hand at gingerbread, choc-chip-cranberry-oatmeal cookies, muffins and shortbread – rolling and cutting out is the best part (apart from the gobbling down later).

There have been wonderful arty outbursts – wads of paper and oodles of ink later…

…and on the rainiest of days we have gathered together all the birdy friends in the living room for impromptu picnics…

…it seems that Pukeko are particularly partial to carrots…

…and of course, when the cars are out, sometimes they just need organising into a massive convoy…

So we are whiling away the winter days indoors, but also heading out into the chilly gardens and parks in anticpation of everything thawing out soon.  It has been the mildest of winters, so we have been lucky enough to spend much more time outside than previous winters – but the short days must also give way to warmth and hours of daylight to venture out after work and those days cannot come too soon!

Construction Zone

Another catch up from me…a couple of weeks ago our lounge was taken over by tiny construction workers.  Kazuo has been fixated by all things building and constructing for some months now, and when it came to celebrating three years of his little life (yes, three!  A big pre schooler…) he asked for a digger party.  He also said that parties are a bit scary – but equivocated from not wanting anyone to come, to wanting everyone he knows to turn up.  We settled on the three-friends-for-three-years rule, and hopefully that will set a relaxing precedent.  On the day before his birthday we set up a few construction zones in the lounge…

…put out some adult/kid friendly antipasto, fruit kebabs and drinks…

…sang happy birthday to our boy – who blew out the candle and then swiped an oreo-cookie wheel from…

…his digger cake.  Now I am no cake decorator – as my past year’s efforts will show – so it took both the doctor and I to construct this crazy overly yellow creation…and I think the best thing about it was that you could tell it was a digger – sort of.  I think I might be able to get away with this very amateur approach to cake making for another couple of years, and then I will either have to bow out to the professionals, or revert to the olde worlde manner of just baking a cake and throwing some icing on it and not pretending to make it look like anything other than a cake!

The next day – the actual birthday – was a work/preschool day.  Kaz started preschool the week before and has LOVED the transition – we are so pleased with how much he has grown up over the past few months and how rapidly he has made himself at home in the preschool class.  He took in birthday cake to his new friends, and then we came home for favourite-bolognese-dinner,  birthday cake part II and presents from the family.

So many changes have ocurred this winter for little Kaz – he is a charming, sociable, inquiring, entertaining little person and delights us daily with his observations of both his real and imagined worlds.  Happy Three Years Kaz, we think you are fab!

Christmas Recap

And, January disappeared!  Where did it go?  Before the rest of the year escapes me…let me fill in a couple of gaps.  Christmas was a fab festivity.  Finally I get why it becomes all about the kiddoes – Kaz had a marvellous time.  With all of it!  He began by eagerly anticipating the arrival of the southern family members:

He woke at a wonderfully civilised hour on the day, but we whiled away half an hour in bed opening the stocking treasures – which staved off the eager anticipation of the presents under the tree until breakfast and lunch prep was dispatched with.

And finally, the presents!  He delighted us with squeals, clapping, punctuating his delighted expressions of ‘wow’ with huge beaming smiles and little shivers of glee. He was VERY grateful.

Table decor was simple this year – cobbling together some outdoorsy elements (branches from the garden, conkers we saved from yesteryear, tiny pinecones), wedding linen from Ireland, Great Grandma’s crystal, little glasses from Egypt and some cute napkins with robins and a St Louis MO postage stamp on them.  A little bit of our family story everywhere…

Kaz kept himself occupied through dinner with the cracker treats…

…and after dinner he managed to sing the ABC song 26 times with Grandpa and Dada helping him along to complete the very colourful Lion puzzle from Nana in New Zealand.  It was a charming and very relaxing day – it seems worlds away, but it was a lovely festival.  Hopefully, I will have some more contemporary news in a day or two, still catching up with myself!

Christmas Countdown

Only eight more sleeps to go…This year I really wanted to initiate Kazuo into the counting down to Christmas that was such a cherished part of my childhood.  He is still acquiring the capacity to deal with delayed gratification, so this has been an interesting lesson.  I did feel that having a tiny treat each day might just help to pass the time and fend off any attempt to try opening the presents under the tree, or raid ‘the secret place’ upstairs where the unwrapped gifts were being stored away.

But I didn’t want to just pick up some over-commercialised, once-only cardboard calendar (though I realise that would have done the trick admirably).  In the spirit of establishing a tradition, I made a Christmas Countdown…  Out with some stamps, some garden pegs, some leftover fabric from my bridesmaids’ skirts and Kazuo’s birdy blanket, a little ribbon and twenty-four tiny little treasures and hey presto:

When we presented it to Kaz on 1 December and mounted it on the wall, we explained that each day there was something to eat, something to do or something to wear.  [This year this translates as Chocolate Penguins, stickers, tree decorations, bubble blowers and some cutsey little badges]. He has been quite excited about opening the Countdown-Thingy each day and we have made a little ritual out of it.

Last weekend we collected our Caring Christmas Tree and decorated the house for the festive season.  This year Kaz was not so phased by the spiky needles, and was keen to help put up decorations, though he did have a charming propensity to put them ALL on the same branch at his height…but with a little help from mama and dada they are now evenly re-distributed.  He was VERY pleased with himself afterwards.

This past week has  been full of wintery tummy bugs.  First Kazuo (all week – he is on the mend today, but it was a long week for him I think) and now Mama.  We are now hoping that we are not having to quarantine ourselves for the festive season, and hope to have the door open to you if you care to drop by and celebrate with us.  Happy holidays.  Hope you enjoy the rest of the countdown!

Finally At Home

It has been a rather lengthy hiatus of painting, re-insulating, packing, unpacking, getting a hundred colds and flus and trying to juggle the minutiae of daily life with the desire to prettify and make homely…but I can finally report that we have made ourselves well and truly At Home.  I mentioned some months back (in another long winded apology for my absence) that we were looking for a house.  After a protracted round-the-houses search, we finally settled on the very first place we looked at, in the charming village that had initally caught our eye.  So now we are slowly settling into village life.

Our Scottish village is a little unusual in that it has all the essentials of an English village.  It boasts a village green, a charming kirk, a couple of pubs, an art gallery, a pottery, an antique shop,  a village shop, a butcher, a post office, a school and – to the little one’s delight – a playground.

One thing that I am particularly glad about is the abundance of footpaths and walking routes.  A year of being somewhat stranded at the house without any way to go walkabout has taken its toll on me and I am itching to get out and about exploring.  But for now, we moved in just as the winter weather crept in and we are gathering gloom on our way to the shortest day, so exploring will have to wait a little longer…

The house was a cottage that has had a little extension done to it.  We were grateful to find a home that had room for everyone, and a garden for the chooks who have settled in happily and seem to be thriving.  The doctor even found a pond in the garden, so we should have some hoppity friends in the summer.  There are still little homely tasks to complete, but we have managed to make ourselves comfy enough to welcome one lot of visitors and now we are cosying up for Christmas.

The little one settled in pretty well, he seems to love racing down the hallway, and pottering about in his new room – ‘working’ at his ‘office’ or building towers or constructing train tracks in the lounge.  I even managed to unpack the sewing machine and cobble together a hasty Bob outfit for his first day at nursery after the move (a little more warning for next year’s Halloween costume would be handy!)

So we are at home for the holidays and hoping that new space and more organisation might just mean I pop in and out of here a little more often.  Finger’s crossed!