Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Gran and Gramps come to visit the Borders!

Back in 2014, when Ella was just 3 months old Byron's Gran and Gramps came to visit from South Africa.  We had a super fun week with them! They loved meeting Ella for the first time and being there for her special blessing day at church, but obviously Ella didn't remember much about it! and so we were very excited when they came to spend another week with us this year! 

They also timed it impeccably and managed to be here for the only whole sunny week we've had so far this year!! I kept saying they had brought the South African sun with them! So we got out and about each day soaking up the gorgeous weather, showing them the sights and just enjoying spending time with them! 

I had to do a bit of explaining before they came about who they were to Ella, and so I was trying to explain Ella's different Granny and Grandad's and how they were her Great Gran and Gramps and were called Bill and Flo, somehow she really picked up on the 'Flo' and so for half of their visit she called them 'Gramps and Flo' and the rest of the time she called them Granny and my 'Gamps'!! Either way was pretty cute! 

After picking them up in Edinburgh, we made a quick pit stop at Ella's fave - Ikea - and introduced them to the delights of the pull your own ice cream cone machine! 

and then it was home to play in the garden!

On the Monday, we awoke to gorgeous blue skies and so we headed to Peebles - one of our fave Border towns! 

It was a beautiful day to walk down by the river! 

and Ella was especially delighted at another opportunity for ice cream - especially when it's blue!

She also enjoyed having a larger audience than usual at the playpark! 

Her face is so funny in this swing pic!

Peebles - you are so dreamy! 

We headed to Kailzie Gardens, where we stumbled upon this giant apple reserve.  Ella wanted to eat them all! 

Admiring the alliums - my fave!

Smiles and cuddles with Great Granny!

Amazing views in every direction! 

I had to look up as we walked through the woodland and snap this! It is so rare we get uninterrupted blue skies here, and it makes my heart happy!

I was in love with this cute little bridge!

Gran and Gramps being great sports at the park after Ella ordered them on to the see saw! She's getting ever so bossy these days, but they were only too happen to oblige! 

Ella can't get enough of sand so was loving this giant sandpit and got stuck in to make some sandcastles.

I love this shot! Ella and her fun loving great grandparents that were always game to join in with everything!

The next morning Ella went off to playgroup in Coldstream so we picked a picnic lunch and stopped in at The Hirsel after picking her up.  It was another amazingly sunny day and it is always so pretty there by the water! 

That evening we headed to Scott's View...

because who wouldn't love views like this! 

...well apparently Ella!! I guess she has a limit for how many times she can be photographed! duly noted!

The next morning it was all smiles again at Melrose Abbey - back in her happy place, hunting for ghosts!!

She happened to bump into a little girl visiting from Australia, who we nicknamed her dungaree twin! They were so cute with their matching dungarees and pink trainers, and they were both the same age too! The little girl was playing with her mummy's audio tour device pretending it was a camera.  Ella came and asked me for her camera! (I hadn't taken the audio device knowing full well I wouldn't get to pay attention to it with Ella to run after!) so I gave her my phone and she was quite happy to pretend with that! 

They were too adorable together! Ella kept saying 'let's play chase' to her!! 

She was also especially happy to spot the pig on the roof of the abbey, which is one of the things they tell you about on the tour.  I told her we could climb the tower to go up on the roof - I failed to tell her we wouldn't be able to get to the exact spot of the pig, and so she wasn't impressed when we reached the top of the abbey and the pig was out of reach!!! 

but when there are a zillion stones to play with you forget what you were crying about in the first place pretty quick!

All smiles with Gran and Gramps!

We always pop across the road to the Harmony Garden after visiting the Abbey, because it's just too pretty - hello lupins! 

I can't get enough of this holding hands pair! 

Our last stop was at Abbotsford House where the rhodo's were in full awesome bloom! 

and again my heart was filled with Lupin loving in the walled garden area! 

Ella amused herself by doing running races across the lawns! 

with the promise of a toe dip in the river after we were done with all the walking.

Our little naturist had to go full hog and wanted to go all the way in! (these days she's all about 'being naked' as much of the time as possible! which doesn't always bode so well in a Scottish summer - because aside from this awesome week of amazing weather, it has been more like winter around these parts!)

My buttercup baby!

More thrills in store at the playpark with Granny! 

We rounded off our amazingly sunny week with a BBQ - what else! 

and yet more ice cream - Ella couldn't believe her luck! 

We said our sad goodbyes to Gran and Gramps on the Saturday morning, we made a quick pitstop in Jedburgh to show them the beautiful abbey there too - Ella was already asking to look for ghosts! but it was on to Newcastle where we dropped them at the train station.  Ella was most disappointed when we got to the platform and she realised she wasn't going on the train too! Shame!

It was such a fun filled week, and we cherished these times with Gran and Gramps as now they are back in South Africa and it will be at least another couple of years before we see them again.  Grateful for all their help - they even were able to help us out and babysit one evening when we had to attend a meeting at Ella's nursery school, and Ella still talks about the time they babysat her and fed her egg for dinner! it must have been one memorable egg! By's Gran mended all his trousers that needed alterations, his Gramps helped him make a bird table for the garden he'd been wanting to do and they helped pretty up our garden too, and as if they weren't cool enough already as evidenced by all the park playing they did and ring-a-ring-a-roses singing and playing with Ella - they even stayed up til midnight playing Settlers of Catan with us! Not an easy game to follow, especially when you're in your eighties but they were quite the gamers! We were definitely sad to see them go!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Ella Bella turns two!

Remember when I cried my way through writing a blog post when Ella turned 1? Well, I can feel it's going to happen again! I'm teary just from picking the photos...never mind the sentiments that will go along with them! 

How is it that we have a two year old? I'm pretty sure this is going to be the opener for all future birthday blog posts! 

How is it even possible that 2 years has gone by since we brought this precious baby girl into our lives? 

How has she turned into such a little character now, who we can have conversations with, and make plans with, and play games with, and have favourite traditions with, who has her own little opinions and ideas?

How am I SO excited for all the new words/sentences that are starting to tumble out her mouth just now, yet so heartbroken at the same time that this conversationalist is the end of our baby as we know her?

How can I be so proud of her starting out at playgroup on her own and showing courage to go it alone...with only some tears along the way, yet so relieved that there are tears at all to show that she is as sad to be apart from me as I am from her?!

How can I be so excited for all the things that are still to come...her first day of nursery, her first time on a ski slope and her first time on an aeroplane, yet feel such sadness at those firsts like walking and talking that we'll never get to relive again!!

So we're going to talk about all the things we LOVE about this little girl of ours, and lets focus on all the joy and less of the tears! Speaking of joy - Ella finds so much joy in everything! She is such a happy little soul - I feel like the picture above sums her up perfectly! She has so much enthusiasm for everything - 'wow, wee' is definitely her phrase of the moment! I love that she gets as excited for things in life as I the outdoors, music, chocolate, baking...yes she is definitely my daughter! 

These pictures are photos that I picked to make into a little photo bunting for her party - each picture is taken from a month of last year and so they show her growing from a 1 year old to a 2 year old, I also feel like they show a lot of all her favourite things to do - like the baking cupcake shot above! 

and they show some of the news things she got to do this year - like trick and treating and being a witch on Halloween!

She is also never happier then when she has a stick in her hand - or preferably both hands! A love of the outdoors and nature and exploring and the world is something that I always hope she holds on to! When she sees a nice sunset she will say 'wow-wee' and she also loves looking at the stars, and her new favourite is looking for the moon too which she cutely calls the 'm-ow-n'! and of course we love going on forest walks and puddle jumping never gets old either!

She also had a whole new appreciation for Christmas this year and will still say 'ho ho ho' anytime we talk about it!! 

and there was a whole lot of excitement for the snow we got too! I seriously love how excited she gets about everything! I love seeing that she is so like me, and her enthusiasm is most certainly contagious! 

So...being so like her Mama, she has plenty of 'obsessions'! like bears, cats, mice, dogs, monkeys, and so I gave her the option of what she would like her party theme to be and of course it had to be monkeys! 

She is still SO in love with her monkeys, even two years on! She still has to take them everywhere, and along with her original monkey that she has had since before she was born she now sleeps with an additional 8 different monkeys in her cot too - it's getting out of control!! 

All the Jones side of the family came up for a fun little monkey celebration! 

This was the little photo bunting I put together of all her monthly pics from the last year.

Auntie Mara brought these delicious chocolate fudge cake slices complete with foam bananas,

and some banana choc chip cupcakes to go with the occasion too!

I whipped up these coconut and white chocolate doughnuts because it seemed like something tropical you could find in the jungle!!

and of course it had to be a monkey cake! A chocolate cake, sandwiched with chocolate frosting and a peanut butter monkey face - all the birthday girl's favourite flavours! 

She had been anticipating the blowing out the candles part for weeks! and kept practicing with imaginary candles leading up to the big day! 

She did give four gallant attempts but when her little puffs just weren't enough to cut it cousin Ellis stepped in to get the job done, and spit all over the cake in the process, haha!! whoops! 

Fortunately Ella didn't seem to mind and I was SO glad that she devoured the cake this year after last year's absolute fail! 

Just incase you think we only ever eat cake, there was a savoury spread too - homemade sausage rolls and bbq chicken pizza roll ups thanks to chef daddy!

Then it was on to the party games! It's not a party without pass the parcel!

Even Grandad agreed, and had to get involved!

Ellis was delighted with the mini Thomas train that he won!

and you can't beat a bit of musical monkey bumps!

Auntie Mara helped keep the competitors dancing, until there was only one man standing and Ellis own again - are you noticing a theme here?!

and hide and seek always goes down a treat!

Ella got spoilt with sooo many lovely gifts!

She loved auntie Mara's stripes socks that she just had to put them on right away!

Can you tell she was happy with them?! haha

My little 8 year old cousin in South Africa Tyler sent Ella the most beautiful hand drawn card, she is quite the little artist!! 

and her and my aunt sent this adorable little rucksack that again Ella just had to put on right away!

Granny got her Mia cuddles in! 

Ella was especially pleased with her money from her Granny in South Africa and threw it up in the air as it drifted down around her - where did she learn that from?!

So many of my friends sent her lovely gifts - this package from my lovely friend Laur was covered in Peppa stickers and everything! so sweet! 

She had to play with her Thomas train from Uncle Ja straight away - she is big into Thomas these days!

and her hoover from Granny was another hit! She hasn't stopped hoovering since - if only it was real!!

More Mia loving! She is so sweet, with the cutest smiles for us all! 

Granny and Ella got some dancing in! 

and Ella taught Grandad how to play sleeping bunnies! check Granny's face in the background - I think she was wondering whether he'd be able to get back up again!!

cousin lovin'' on the trampoline!

and catching a quick story with Granny! 

It was a fun filled day packed with laughter, tasty treats and the ones we love - our favourite kind of gatherings!!

On her actual birthday on the Monday Auntie Mara was still here and we all took a trip to Edinburgh to the Zoo.  It's our little family tradition, last year was Chester Zoo, this year Edinburgh - I wonder which zoo it will be next year!

She was very excited to see the penguins! Pingu is one of her fave programmes to watch!!

They walked right by us...

and then she got up close and personal with one! 

She just loved watching them dive into the water, and she couldn't stop giggling with each belly flop!

Our little nature lover in the making! going in for a closer look!

Loving some extra snuggles with Auntie Mara!

and this little rondavel run out to the zebras was very exciting! 

A zoo with a view!

She fit in especially well with her little monkey backpack Grandpa had brought back from South Africa for her!

Watching the monkeys with her monkey!

and the panda was her definite highlight! despite being asleep! For weeks after when anyone asked her about her trip to the zoo the first thing she would say was bear (panda bear) and then she'd make snoring noises, and then she'd say ta-da - telling people that the panda was asleep, and she had tried to wake him up by saying ta-da but sadly that didn't work!! haha! 

We stopped on the way home for ice cream at 'Kea' because she'd been talking about it for weeks! 

That ice cream machine is the highlight of her little life, haha!

When we got home, of course, we needed to have more cake and another candle blowing out sesh! Ella managed this one with one blow! Good work baby girl! 

She was very happy about her monkey bunting too!

The next morning was her first day at playgroup! 

We took this picture outside our house, just before we set off! I was very proud of her that there were no tears as mommy and daddy said goodbye to her.  Apparently when I went back to pick her up there were lots of tears when she realised we weren't coming back! but it certainly made me easier to leave her on that first morning as she seemed happy enough! 

A month on and it hasn't been such an easy transition for her, but we're getting there slowly and this week has been the best week so far! 

and just like that we have a 2 year old!!