Monday, 28 April 2014

Busy bee

April has been such a great month, so much seems to have happened, plus there was Easter when we got to be with all of the family (more of that in another post - there's a lot to write so it warrants a post all to itself!).

At the beginning of the month, Caleb and I got to meet up with one of my best friends, Kathryn and her son Theo. Kat and I have known each other for about 13 years now, we met when we both worked in the same department store while we were at university and bonded over out mutual love of Einaudi (the most amazing pianist ever! Even if you think you haven't heard any of his music, you probably have, it's everywhere!) and it all went from there. When we both lived in Norwich we used to meet for hot chocolates and put the world to rights. We used to moan that there were no decent guys about and how we never thought we would meet anyone. Fast forward a couple more years and we used to chat about this amazing guy that Kat had met on her Masters degree course and an amazing guy at church who had recently started to show an interest in me. Fast forward a couple more years from that and our chats would consist of wedding planning to the aforementioned amazing guys. Kat then moved to Scotland and Seth and I got married and moved to Lancaster. We still managed to meet fairly frequently in Carlisle, which was a good half way point for both of us. We were at each other's weddings, I played the piano at Kat's wedding for her coming down the aisle and now here we are, with our sons! It's funny looking back and seeing how much our lives have changed from when we first met but also nice that we seem to have gone through the big stages of life at more or less the same time as each other. Despite knowing Kat for so long, the only photo I actually have of us together is this one from her wedding.

We went to an indoor play place so that the boys could burn off some energy and have fun. They weren't interested in the age - appropriate play area, they wanted to go in the area for 4 years plus, they are both such adventurers! It was pretty fun seeing Caleb discovering and exploring the different areas, trying to climb up ladders and walk across rope bridges!

Afterwards we went to Bluewater where we window shopped and stopped for hot chocolates where again we put the world to rights as our boys played! It's always so lovely to see Kat. Even though we don't get to see each other that frequently, whenever we get together again, we just pick up where we left off! I love that our boys get on so well with each other too, Caleb has been talking about Theo a lot since we saw them.

Later on that week, Seth and I went to my friend Theresa's wedding reception in Cobham. I went to university with Theresa - we first met 13 years ago! I can't believe how long it's been since we were there, it only seems a few weeks ago when we were working together on our language acquisition project! We've only seen each other a handful of times since then but it was so lovely to be able to share her special day with her. The venue was amazing and Theresa's dress was just incredible, she was a stunning bride, as we all knew she would be, she's a beautiful person inside and out.

Mum and Laura came down for a couple of days and as always we had a great time. Caleb absolutely adores both of them and he loved having them with us. Non-stop entertainment all around!

If you're wondering what is going on in the first picture, Laura is entertaining Caleb by putting McFlurry container lids on her ears. As you do. I don't think Caleb was that impressed though :). The other one is Caleb eating a piece of sandwich with a fork. He's so proper, you know ;).

Seth and I thought we would take advantage of Mum and Laura being here for a couple of days and we had a lovely date night. It's always so nice to be able to spend time together, I love it! We went to the cinema to see the new Captain America film. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would, it was a pretty good film.

That weekend we went to the temple and saw more of the family but I'll probably talk about that when I write about Easter - I was a bit slack with taking photos so I am waiting for Laura to upload hers so that I can steal them. I'm nice like that.

Between seeing family and lovely friends, we had a pretty great start to our April. Happy April!

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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Meeting Isaac

So do any other bloggers think that they have already blogged about something that happened a while ago and then when they look back on their blog they realise that they actually didn't at all? No? Just me? Okay then.

As you might know, as the beginning of February, my lovely great nephew, Isaac was born. I didn't get to go and visit as soon as I would have liked as Caleb and I both fell ill and we didn't want to go spreading our germs with a lovely newborn but at the end of February, we journeyed down to Trowbridge to see my niece, Rachel and her gorgeous new little boy.

I was really interested to see how Caleb would react to being around a new baby. He has been the baby of the family for quite some time now and he has now been ousted from his youngest member of the family" place, so I wondered how he would feel about that :). To be honest, in his one and a half year old fashion, he wasn't overly bothered by Isaac and soon lost interest, instead favouring playing with a baking tray on the kitchen floor for ages! But when he was with Isaac, he was so gentle, I was very impressed as usually he doesn't really know how to be gentle, he's a bit of a rough and tumble boy!

Isaac is absolutely beautiful! I had seen a lot of pictures of him on facebook and that Rach had sent to me. He has lovely chubby cheeks so I thought he would be quite a chunky monkey but he actually isn't, he's just inherited his Mum's cheeks! I got to hold him for ages and he fell asleep on me as well, it was so lovely! It doesn't seem that long ago that Caleb was at that stage and it's only when I hold a newborn (okay, Isaac is the only newborn I have held since Caleb) that I realise how much Caleb has grown and that my baby really isn't a baby anymore.

Rach was looking amazing and I have no idea how, I'm pretty sure that I was a complete mess for at least three months after Caleb arrived but she looked glowing, healthy and not at all sleep deprived, despite the fact that she had only had a couple of hours sleep the night before.

It's a bit surreal thinking that my niece now has her own baby as I remember so clearly when she was Caleb's age. That makes me feel really old! (seriously people, I'm not that old). I'm so glad that Caleb and I got to go and meet Isaac, he is a gorgeous new addition to the family!

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Photo Wall

Waaaay back in September I blogged about us decorating the hallway (you can read about all of the fun and games here) and I said that I wanted to do a picture wall. I love photos and we don't really have that many of us on display in our home. Not that I am being narcissistic or anything but I just wanted more pictures of our little family in our hallway to make it feel more personal, more like it is our home. Also, because I am a huge fan of pictures and the memories that go with them. What better reason to create a little family gallery?

Behold the transformation of our hallway....

I didn't have a before picture of the hallway but take my word for it, it was seriously ugly. The wallpaper had been painted over and it was yellow - I couldn't actually tell if that was the original colour or if it was just dirty! I stripped 3 or 4 layers of wallpaper from these walls! The carpet was also pretty nasty, I'm so glad that's gone!

I'm looking guilty in this picture because Seth had told me that the paint was wet and to be careful not to lean on it. I painted the woodwork on the doorway next to this wall and when I came down the ladder, I leant on the wall for stability without thinking. Fail. In the other picture the wall is painted grey but you can't really see it that well.

And here is the finished product. I love all of these pictures and every time I look at them, I just smile because I love all of the memories behind each one and seeing how our family has grown and developed. In case you really want to know, I'll tell you about each picture, working from the top middle one clockwise.

1. This was Seth and I at Morecambe beach. We started off our married life living in Lancaster where Seth was a student and I worked at the same university. One evening after work we just decided to drive to the beach, write our names in the sand, etc. The picture brings back happy memories of our early married life when I was the breadwinner :).

2. This is just a really cute picture of Caleb in his highchair. You can't really see but his eyes look amazing here.

3. This was mine and Seth's engagement picture and the one that went on our wedding invitations.

4. Seth and Caleb on a Sunday afternoon at Hall Place. Caleb wasn't yet one in the picture.

5. This picture was taken at the Arc de Triumphe in Paris. Seth surprised me by taking me there for my 30th Birthday. We had such an amazing time (you can read about it here and here).

6. You can't see clearly but Caleb is doing his "Caleb" jigsaw puzzle. I love seeing him figure things out.

7. Selfie! Taken on our honeymoon in Malta.

8. Um, I wonder where this one was taken??

9. Just me and Caleb hanging out on a Sunday afternoon. We don't have many pictures of us together so one of us definitely needed to make it onto the wall.

10. Seth and I at our temple in London.

11. This one was taken at a grotto on our honeymoon.

Don't you just love Seth's concentration face in the selfies? It makes me laugh every time. For the triple frame in the middle, I just did the drawings until we could find more pictures to replace them but everyone who sees it, Seth included thinks that we should leave the drawings there so it looks like they are here to stay.

And there we have it, the Manning family photo wall!

By the way, if you have noticed my little social media buttons to the right, you may have noticed that I have added the twitter one. Yes, that's right, I have finally succumbed to the modern age and am now on twitter. If you feel so inclined, follow me @KirstyJSM!

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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

the thing that drives me mad....

There is something that I hate more than anything else, something that frustrates me so much that it can actually make me lose sleep and drive me to tears because I will get so annoyed. I'm not a violent person but it just makes me want to punch something. And what is it that makes me react this way, you ask? Losing things.

I cannot stand losing things. It literally drives me mad. The thing is, I just never understand how I can possibly lose something. Before I got married, everything had its place - I could tell you where everything was down to the place and position on a shelf. I was always so organised and so I rarely lost things. Since being married, it has got far worse. I still try to be organised but when I lived at home, I was only responsible for one small place - my bedroom. Since being married and having Caleb, I am responsible for a house and all that goes in it. Again, if it were just my own things it wouldn't be so bad, but it's Seth's and Caleb's stuff too. I just tend to ignore Seth's stuff and let him get on with it, ha ha! I think the reason things disappear (note how I phrased that? NOT the reason I lose things, I accept no responsibility whatsoever!) is that there is never enough space for all of our stuff and sometimes things just end up in random places. I don't put them in random places, I think this is more of a Seth thing and I can say that because a) he knows it's true and b) he never reads this anyway so it doesn't matter!

The recent things to go missing were some bibs of Caleb's (yes, even though he is nearly two, he is never seen without a bib on. Anyone who sees him regularly knows why. That boy can dribble for England!) and his red gap t-shirt. It's such a cute t-shirt and I love it on him. I have turned the house upside down and I can't find them anywhere! And it just makes no sense to me why things should get lost. There just never seems to be a logical explanation as to why it should happen. Shouldn't they just be in the drawer where they always are? Grrr.

The other thing I can't find is a photo album with all of the photos I had of Dad and both of us together. He died when I was 12 and I remember wanting to have all of the photos of him in one place. Which is all very well until you lose it! It was only a few weeks ago when I thought to look for it. Every Father's Day, I put the same picture of me and Dad as my profile picture on Facebook. It's not even a picture of just us either, I cropped the rest of my family out (I do love them, in case you were wondering!), so I thought that I would scan in all of the pictures I have of me and Dad so that when Father's Day comes around again, I could put a different picture up of us. It was at that point that I looked around for the photo album and couldn't find it. As far as Caleb's t-shirt is concerned, I know that only got lost in the last month because he has been wearing it recently but that photo album of me and Dad? I don't even remember where I last saw it, including before I even got married. I have a couple of bags where I keep everything of significance and it's not there, or anywhere else, it would seem. I have asked family members and they haven't seen it either.

Am I the only one who gets so annoyed about losing things? Or am I the only one who loses things so much?!! I think I will have to work out some sort of a system to stop myself from losing things in the future, for the sake of my sanity!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


A few months ago, Laura told me that she was going to Portugal and asked me if I would like to join her for a few days. She said that she would pay for my flights and everything (anyone who knows Laura knows that she is actually the most generous person ever! And no, I'm not just saying that because she will probably be reading this!), so after thinking about it for about one minute, I said yes! I was a little apprehensive about leaving Caleb behind for 5 days as I have never been apart from him for more than a few hours at a time and even that's rare! However, Seth was taking time off work to spend with Caleb so I knew that I would have nothing to worry about and that the boys would have fun while I was away. The last time Laura and I went on holiday together was in September 2008 when we went to San Diego together (our last hurrah before Seth and I got married the following year) so needless to say, I was really excited to be going away with Lau again.

We had SO much fun! The resort we were staying at was amazing. It had pretty much everything you could wish for. As it was still pretty early on in the season there weren't that many tourists about so it felt like we pretty much had the run of the place. Breakfasts were always great, not just because of the lovely food (pastries anyone?) but the view was incredible, the restaurant overlooked the resort pool, out towards the sea. Who wouldn't want to see that every morning when eating breakfast?!

The spa was incredible. We had a hydrotherapy session which I've never had before, you basically sit in what looks like an enclosed bathtub and get pummelled with jets of cold, then warm water all at different times, all over your body. It was so nice, I could happily have a hydrotherapy session every day! We went to the spa a couple of times, I was a little bit obsessed with the submerged sunbeds with jets of water coming out, so lovely. I have a story to tell about the spa! I guess different people and places have different rules when it comes to the apparel you wear when going into a steam room and sauna. In our one, you have to wear swimwear (thank goodness! Really didn't want to be naked!). However, one guy just decided to waive those rules. He was casually strolling along the side of his pool au naturale and then he went into the steam room. I dared Laura to go and join him and to stay in there for 1 minute. So she did it! She claims that she was in there for about 3 minutes, but she wasn't. It amused me more than somewhat! A little later on Laura and I wanted to go into the sauna but the naked man was laying on a lounger right outside and I didn't want to walk past him, I was pretty much collapsed against the wall just behind where he was, laughing. Because I'm such a grown up like that!

On one of my days there we went to Sagres. They have a few really cool surf shops there (I don't surf, Laura does. I just like the clothes!). It is a lovely place, we walked around the remains of an old fort there and walked out along the peninsula, the view was so pretty and the sea was so blue! We went a bit further up the coast and stopped for a while to watch the surfers, it's so cool watching them, I would love to be able to surf. We also went to the southern most point in Europe which was pretty cool.

On another one of the days, we went to Lagos and wandered around the cobbled streets of the old town, it was so picturesque. I love places that are so different to home! Not that where I live isn't picturesque, just in a different way!

Of course, as I was on holiday with Laura, working out was involved! It was like having my very own personal trainer. It hurt but felt really good at the same time! It was also really nice to be able to work out whenever we wanted as I don't usually have that freedom at home. We ran along the beach in front of the resort, I love running bare feet along the sand. I was pretty wet by the end of it as the waves got me a few times but I loved it. I am pretty much just obsessed with beaches!

We went to visit a couple of them during my time there. One of them, in Felacia, was so pretty! It had really pretty red rocks and cliffs which made me think of Arizona. We gained a stalker while we were at that beach. Needless to say we didn't stay there for a long time! I didn't realise he was in one of our pictures until we got home and were looking at them, ha ha!

Although it was lovely to get back home to my boys, I am also so happy that I went, we had a great few days, it was so fun to have some sister time!