Friday, 16 March 2018

10 years of Byron Loving!

This was the first picture that was ever taken of the two of us! from our earliest dating days! I think we had maybe been dating for a month or so here - can you tell from our huge grins we were smitten?! We were both 19...and whoever could have known back then all that would unfold from that summer of fun in Olney! 

I met Byron at a call centre, for those of you who don't know the story.  I had just returned from my first year of Uni at Stirling.  My sister Mel was already working at a call centre in Milton Keynes for the summer and so she got me a job there - it was called Merchants.  We were taking incoming calls from markers who were marking exam scripts for the exam board EdExcel. About 2 weeks after I started a new department started in the desks beside where we worked - and so Mel and I eagerly watched the talent file in the morning their training started and I remember spotting Byron right away, he was wearing the right skate make of trainers, had baggy jeans and long shaggy hair and I was sold!   The first time we hung out outside of work was a week after we had met, purely because it was the night before my birthday and my mom had told me to leave the house so she could wrap my birthday prezzies! but where will I go? I whined to her! My parents had only lived in Olney for less than a year and that whole time I'd been at university in Scotland so I didn't have any friends or know anyone in Olney! Mel said what about that new guy at work? because as it turned out he lived in Olney too! so I sheepishly called him to see if he wanted to hang out, and thank goodness he did! and the rest as the say is history! 
So we took Ella Bella back to find Merchants in Milton Keynes and this picture above is us standing outside the front entrance.  We were able to tell her the story that this is where her mommy and daddy met and it felt extra magical having her there with us as we walked down memory lane! 

So although our 10 year anniversary was on the 25th August, and I'm obviously a bit late to the game with this post, I just couldn't leave it going undocumented! because it's a pretty huge accomplishment and one I'm so proud of! I wanted to ponder and look back at some of the epic things we've done in those 10 years! 

We have lived in over 10 different houses/flats/maisonettes/coachouses spanning 5 different countries! 

We have had some amazing adventures! 

From honeymooning in Mauritius and meeting some lion cubs up close and personal

and going on an undersea walk on the seabed!

To elephant trekking through Thailand

To paragliding in the Caribbean!

To Ski/Snowboard seasons at Whistler

To becoming parents to the most beautiful little girl we had ever laid eyes on!

To hiking Table Mountain to announce our latest baby news! 

It's been a wild and awesome ride, and I wouldn't have wanted to experience it with anyone else! 

When Byron and I started dating I could never have imagined what an amazing dad he would become...

 We didn't have any baby or young nieces and nephews between us back then...

I had never seen him with a baby or child before and so it's not like I ever had a hint as to what he would be like, 

but knowing the honest to good person he is inside and out I could imagine he would be fantastic.  

He has exceeded all my expectations of the kind of father I want for my children though! 

and it is a joy to watch!

We planned our Anniversary fun to co-incide with a trip to London! so we were welcomed to my sisters place in West Hampstead with this cute little bunting and an anniversary card! 

We had opened these other cards that morning as we left Bedford.  I remember for our 1st wedding anniversary we got about 30 cards! and then every other year has just been from our parents so getting 5 this time again made it seem like an extra special one! 

Auntie Mara was of course a very willing babysitter for our date night, which Ella was just thrilled about! It is no secret that Auntie Mara is her fave! 

So Ella didn't even bat an eyelid as we headed out for the night! 

I had spent hours googling where to go for our anniversary meal! Since date nights for just the two of us are so infrequent these days I feel like we really need to make the most of them and any old place just won't do! but I am always faced with the decision of wanting to go to a fancy restaurant inside or going to a restaurant that serves milkshakes! the two don't seem to exist together!!! Since it was our anniversary I decided a fancy interior should trump milkshakes this time (and we had actually had lunch with my Harpenden friends earlier that day at The Waffle House and so I got my milkshake fix then!)

So my lovely friend Tash recommended Asia de Cuba in Covent Garden! 
It had a great fusion menu that was a little bit different, and certainly something we would never come across in the Scottish Borders! 

These shrimp churros were the highlight of my meal! literally soooo delicious! I have only ever had sweet churros before but these savoury ones were a game changer! 

We also got these amazing little bites of guava bbq pork casabe cakes for starters which we were very impressed with.
The actual main meals weren't as photogenic or quite as delish as the starters, but it was still a tasty meal all round! 

We headed onto La Gelataria for dessert, because I'd read such rave reviews!

Byron declared it the best ice cream he'd ever had (peanut butter flavour)! and my Nutella offering was pretty tasty too!

We headed on down to Southbank, one of our fave spots in London where we have spent many a date night in years gone by.  Plus the night was still young, we had a free babysitter and so we wanted to live it up! 

Unfortunately since I'm not so good at wearing heels these days, our walk was short lived! as my feet started killing! but it was still magical to be taking in the lights and love of London! 

and to reflect on how blessed I've been these last 10 years! Here's to the next 10, I can't wait to see what they bring!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Ella Bella turns 3!

So before she turns 4, I thought it was time to blog the birthday! I've been putting it off because there are just sooo many photos, but I definitely want to document this one! 

How is it that I blinked and this little dinky 7 lbs newborn is suddenly the tallest 3 year old around! 

We had a trampoline coming in a few days for Ella's main birthday present so on the actual day all we had for her was an electric toothbrush! I didn't think it was super exciting, but cue never knowing the mind of a toddler because she thought it was the greatest thing ever! It did have Aeriel on after all! and she couldn't wait to test it out right away! 

The real day of her bday was a Wednesday - Feb 8th, so Daddy took the day off work and we headed to East Links Farm in Dunbar to continue our tradition of an animal related day out! 

She was especially excited by the 'horsies'!

and had great fun testing out the tractor circuit!

These little wagons were the cutest! and such a good idea to help little legs from getting too tired out whilst checking out the animals!

You can't beat a highland cow! This one was especially photogenic.

I always love the way Ella's February birthday helps me get through that long gloomy January after all the Christmas hoopla has died's nice to have something excited to look forward to, but man oh man February birthdays in Scotland are not great weather wise! It was a freezing cold day, not helped by the fact there was an arctic wind accompanying the cold that we had Ella wrapped up super warm!

and kept trying out every activity like the grass sledging to try and warm us up!!

Ella enjoyed the little train ride, and the animals running alongside us hoping for some food! 

but the real highlight of her day was the 'jelly bean' which ironically she didn't even want to get on to begin with! but after some persuading from Byron she finally did and then didn't want to get off!

I think we played on that thing for an hour or more! look at those giggles!

Feeding the reindeer, after we worked out where to get the food from!

We rode around on these super cool little buggy's, it was so fun and again a good way to save your legs getting too tired! (I say that but I wasn't the one pedal-ling half the time so I'm sure Byron's legs got plenty tired!!)

Ella was having lots of fun despite the straight face above! 

After we were done at the farm we popped down to the beach...and Ella had a great time collecting shells,

and splashing about in the water!

She is a beach baby through and through that's for sure!

We had to pass through the John Muir country park to get back to the car, it is such a beautiful part of the world that it's easy to see where John Muir got his nature loving ways from!

We decided on two parties, since again birthday's in February mean guests can't spill out into the garden and we didn't think we'd comfortably house everyone for one party! and who doesn't like their birthday dragging on with not one but two parties!

So I just saved some mini rainbow cupcakes from the batch we had made for her to take into her playgroup on Tuesday, rather than making a whole other cake again! Loved these ice cream cups my mom found!

and this was the little ice cream topping station I set up.

This ice cream van, another amazing find by my mom, was just perfect for holding all the flakes! 

and if you're going to have to have some savoury food to even it out, might as well make the sandwiches ice cream shaped with cream cheese swirls! 

Apparently all 'cheese' faces these days have to include sticking out tongues! 

It was easier to capture her unaware! 

and yes the irony of an ice cream party in February, accompanied by a backdrop of snow was not lost on me! It just started snowing that very morning...and actually reminded me of the year she was born, how the morning after we brought her home it started to snow too.  My mom was staying with us so she watched Ella while Byron and I headed out to play in the snow!! 

First things first, we started with lunch!

and then cracked out the cakes.  Excuse Ella's blotchy face, it's a hard life when your friends blow out your candles for you, haha! 

Pin the cherry on the ice cream! 

and can't beat a bit of pass the parcel

then onto some ice cream style musical bumps

and plenty of dancing!

Lastly, it was time for them to get stuck in with the ice cream bar and design their own ice creams!

They were far more restrained with their toppings than you would expect a bunch of 3 year olds to be! 

So serious when there is ice cream to be scoffed! 

Fun times with friends! (Ella looks like she's gearing up for some karaoke hahaha!)

The next morning we woke up and did it all again! 

This time I whipped up a real deal birthday cake - mint choc chip ice cream themed because that is her fave ice cream flavour! 

These little ice cream sundae bowls complete with sprinkle drippings came in handy, and that awesome ice cream light was a present from one of her friends the day before! 

I was more excited by this spread...because hello A&W! I don't think any Jones family get together is complete unless root beer is involved! 

Every birthday I have done some kind of decoration involving monthly photos of the birthday girl.  This year I had seen an idea on pinterest where you pinned the photos all the way down the balloon strings so I printed out 12 photos and got to work.  After taping just two pictures on each balloon string they started to pull the balloons down under the weight! So that was a bit of a pinterest fail! not sure how the ones I saw online would have done it! but the tissue paper pom poms were a youtube tutorial video success so there was that! 

I fear we won't ever get 'nice' birthday pictures again!! 

Had to get a family snap of the 3 of us.

Auntie Mel impressed us all with her hoopla skills! 

and this time Ella had the candles all to herself so all was good! 

Mia is just the happiest cutest little cousin ever! 

On to the prezzies...the ice cream theme was being carried over by some!

Troll loving from Ellis & co..

and she had to try on these boots from Granny straight away! I wanted them in my size too!

Apparently present opening can be a bit too much effort for a newly turned 3 year old, so luckily big cousin Ellis (of 3 and a half!!) was there to step in and gladly assist!! 

Auntie Mara's prezzie of a big stash of dressing up clothes was a hit! 

so everyone got involved! 

even little Mia!

and Granny's Charlie and Lola books had to be read out immediately! 

Love this little duo!! So much love for her Granny!

Games take 2! Auntie Mel was having to coax them over to her for being swung around to actually get them to leave their ice cream stations!!

I'm not sure if this is some cheating going on here? either way, they were very exact in their placing of the cherry!! 

and no Ella&Ellis time is complete without a few rounds of sleeping bunnies...and then sleeping dinosaurs and so on and so forth! 

Ice cream sundaes for everyone! 

Even Mia! who was loving it...until the ice cream got too cold for her little hands to take and the tears started!! 

On Sunday night the Yorkshire lot and Shropshire lot had to bid their farewells, but Auntie Mara stayed another night so on the Monday we headed off to North Berwick.  

I had been wanting to visit this fairy trail ever since I heard about it opening up!! 

Of course we chose another especially freezing day to be up in East Lothian! but everything is more fun when Auntie Mara is around so Ella didn't seem to mind!

This door was just the cutest! 

Ella felt very special that only she could go through it, and we had to go through the big people door! 

They have little signs accompanying each fairy house telling you the name of the fairy and a little about their personality too.

Seriously when Auntie Mara is around it's like 'mommy who?!' but it's so lovely to see! 

All the little fairy houses were sooo cute, I especially love the mini ladders! 

Ella was a fan of the mushrooms! 

Rather disappointingly...the fairy trail didn't actually consist of any fairies!!! just fairy houses, and then they sell you 'fairydust' that Ella had fun sprinkling at each house! 

This bridge! 

We had the place to ourselves, February babies!!

There was one bonus house, in the middle of a willow maze, outside of the trail. It didn't have a little board up with the fairies name on so I told her it was called Ella and she couldn't have been happier about that little fact!

Random giant frames just calling out for photo ops!

About to tie her ribbon on to the wishing tree, she wished for a pink deer!!

Then it was back to their amazing cafe to warm up with some tasty lunch and cake, 

finished off by a little play in their park! Archerfield you were awesome! 

We had to check out the beach at North Berwick despite it being so windy and cold and it was the cutest little town from what we saw with the light fading fast - I told myself we would go back on a sunny day to explore it fully, and we have been back twice since then and it is fast becoming my new fave place in this part of the world!! 

Before this becomes the longest blog post ever, a few of the things I want to remember about Ella at this age...

She is such a deep thinker.  She really ponders on things that I would never have expected her to even consider, and she often catches me off guard with the things she questions or wants to learn more about! 

She feels things deeply and wears her heart on her sleeve! She is never afraid to show her emotions, she just loves to tell us how much she loves us and gets very worried if we start to close the bedroom door at bedtime and she hasn't told each of us individually how much she loves us both! Recently she will just spontaneously turn to me and say 'mommy, you are the best' or 'you are my favourite' or 'you have the nicest eyes'! She is the sweetest compliment giver.  A few months back when we were reading the story of the crucifixion (in a very light hearted skim the surface sort of way) in her animated bible story book before bed she started crying about the fact they had killed Jesus.  She spontaneously prays in her prayers sometimes about how much she loves Jesus and God and likes to talk about how Heavenly Father is her daddy in heaven and Byron is her daddy at home - I love that! 

She recognises and looks for the good.  She is often heard saying 'that is sooo beautiful' and loves to seek out pretty flowers on our walks in the woods.  She gets excited when the sun is shining and is cross when there is too much grey in the sky (I wonder who she gets that from!!) and when we baked a cake this week to take to someone at church who had a birthday she turned to me as we were making it and said 'that will be really kind won't it'.  I love to praise her at the end of the day for the kind moments I witnessed her taking part in, but also use it as an opportunity to discuss moments where she could have been kinder - as we know with little bossy, not so hot on turn taking, toddlers there can be many of those moments! 

So as already mentioned she loves baking, loves painting and making cards for people - drawing spiders inside the cards is her speciality right now! I hope no one who has been receiving them is afraid of spiders!! she also loves to adorn these cards and envelopes in dozens of stickers too! She loves flowers, just like her mommy! Cherry blossoms have been her favourite recently, and she loved spotting them out the car window and anytime we saw one she would want to break off one of the flowers to keep! She is now in her 'rapeseed spotting' mode and just this evening asked to go play in some rapeseed we saw as we were driving along! I asked her this week what her favourite flower is and she said our neighbours tulips! (they are pretty good!)

I hope she always continues to be the happy, excitable, grateful and loving little girl and I can't wait to see what the next year brings.  Four...we're ready for you, but also don't come too soon! She told me just today she wanted to be small forever, I told her I wanted that too! but reminded her that when she gets bigger and gets to be 6 she will maybe lose a tooth and get to put it in her tooth fairy pillow (that Grandpa brought her from Barbados a few weeks ago, and she is so desperate to use!) and that she will be able to go to the cat cafe in Newcastle - that she fell in love with the other week but was heartbroken when we told her it said age 6 and above on the she has all that to look forward to! 

Ella are the best!