Monday, 31 December 2012

Highlight of 2012

2012 - it's been a great year for our family. Many happy memories of the big and small things that have happened but the ultimate highlight of the year just pipped in right at the end with the arrival of our beautiful baby boy -

 Seth Peter Simon McNee

Born 1:10 am 29th December 2012

8lb 9ozs of the purest loveliness 

We're all totally smitten by him.

Looking forward to 2013 now as a family of five.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


The Book of Mormon is full of examples I can relate too. Numerous times where God's people were slow to remember how they had recieved blessings from his hand.

 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in apride; yea, how quick tobboast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to cwalk in wisdom’s paths!
In recent weeks we've had a few setbacks namely a momentary lapse of sense which led to one car door being totally crumpled and in need of replacement, days later the dryer decided to give up the ghost. These mishaps alongside the normal business of life, Nathan having another slow month at work, lots of church work, getting ready for Christmas and our imminent arrival of our new baby - I have to confess there have been times I've murmured and even inwardly  exclaimed 'where are the open windows of heaven?' I know - embarrassing when my trials are so insignificant to those faced by others. Which is why I feel I need to write this down so that I am not slow to remember that the windows of heaven have been very much open and we have been blessed so much in these past few weeks.
We've had friends randomly ring up and say they've made us tea and would like to bring it round, friends lend us their car whilst ours was getting fixed; friends who will watch the boys so I can do a quick shop, friends who offer to go and collect the new dryer, home teachers turn up unannounced just at the right time to help Nathan install the dryer, Friends invite us round for dinner, envelopes through the door, family at the end of the phone ready to help. Yes the windows of Heaven have been very much open, I know our prayers have been heard, promptings have been followed and I feel very much blessed.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A night in Bethlehem

The ward party this year was 'A night in Bethlehem' 
It was a lovely night simple in format - come dressed as a Bethlehemite, sign the census, trade coins for food at the food stalls, mingle and chat with one another, play the dreidel game for chocolate if you like and then enjoy some time for reflection whilst watching the nativity and singing some carols. 
The organisation of it was also fairly simple in the end, from my point of view. My task was to find the best people to do a great job in their given area. Everyone fulfilled their task and it was great to see how working together we can put on a really lovely event, which seemed to be really enjoyed. Also the 6pm start meant that even those who stayed to tidy up ( and there was actually quite a lot ) left the chapel at 9:15pm - happy days :)
 Mayan and Becky did a great job of creating the market stall scene. The children loved the driedel game, Joseph made a cute shepherd and we took along to Bethlehem our own thumb sucking cow :)
Baby Simon played the perfect baby Jesus - no crying did he make (unlike the baby Jesus Nathan and I provided five years ago for the RS nativity - that baby Jesus was in no mood to be put in a manger and let everyone know it) I think mum and dad were really quite proud. Nathan enjoyed being a wise man from the East :)

Christmas cookie jars

Teacher Christmas gifts this year were jars with Christmas cookie mix. 
Wrapped in hand stamped bags the boys decorated. 
So proud that Joseph can now write his own name and insists on writing the full version :)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The cutest cow in town

Ben's nursery nativity was fab. He made the cutest cow. A momentary sucking of the thumb was expected but fleeting, like he knew he shouldn't really. I loved him singing ' Mary had a baby, yes Lord' he bobbed his head up and down and over pronunciated  'lord' and 'straw' - so cute I couldn't help but giggle. They did really well. Watching your children in school productions - priceless.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The boy does NOT like fruit

'I don't like fruit
I not like fruit
I like porridge


12 days of Christmas 2012

A tradition I've done for a few years now is a 12 days of Christmas for the Grandparents - one photo each day in the run up to Christmas. These photos then are used to create a calender for the year ahead.
This year's version is a waiting the 12th photo - hopefully baby will be here by the 24th.

12 Days of Christmas - Hillary version

12 days of Christmas - McNee version

The boy's a singer

Joseph loves to sing. He sings loud and clear with gusto and indeed feeling. Today was his school Christmas performance - The Supersonic lamb. It was great to see him amidst the KS1 group and though at times  I couldn't see him, I could hear him. Some fab moments - the light hitting his hair making him look like a little angel, his need to keep standing up to wave at me,  a small tumble whilst doing his dance routine (he wasn't allowed to boogie) Ngaika obviously being annoyed by a wedgy whilst doing the dancing star routine. Looking forward to Ben's on Thursday.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Bay Leaf Wreath

Using the tutorial from Make it Love it; a polystrene ring; bay leaves from a bush in the garden; a glue gun; a wooden decoration and some ribbon also from Carol's country baskets haul, I came up with this whilst Ben was at nursery this morning.
 Traditional nesting urges to dust, deep clean are also in full swing alongside this strong urge to deck the halls :)

Christmas Tree Garland

Had some creative fun choosing the fabric from my stash to make this Christmas tree garland. Carol gave me the wooden hearts and stars, from the haul she bought at Country Baskets. I have to say  looking at this hanging across the kitchen wall pleases me :) 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Snugglers for the baby

As well as Christmas making there has been baby making - that is making things for the baby :) 

I used the snuggler pattern found here. They came up really easily and then I embroidered motifs I found in one of my expanding collection of craft books - Scandinavian Needlecraft . I love this book especially for inspiration at this time of year.

I also whipped up a ric rac trimmed blanket using a polka dot tablecloth I found in a charity shop. Oh and the toiletry bags aren't for the baby but just fit into collage I was making on picmonkey :)

Grey Lace Bag

This project combines two of my favourite things - lace and the colour grey as also demonstrated by the scarf I made recently found here.  I had the grey fabric in my stash - it's been one of my goals this year to use up from the stash first and so far I've done pretty well. The lace is from a net curtain I found in a charity shop and then chopped up. I love the effect and hope to make one for myself as this one is for a gift.

Christmas making - car caddies, doll sleeping bags and i-spy bags

Well with the up n' coming arrival of baby McNee the third, we've had to get a bit more organised for Christmas than normal.
The sewing machine has been pretty busy and I've enjoyed browsing the web for some gift ideas.

So far I've made 3 car caddies - tutorial found here on Homemade by Jill

Two doll sleeping bags. Tutorial found here on  Technology and Tuftus

and three i-spy bags found also on Homemade by Jill

Saturday, 17 November 2012

By small and simple things..

Today was full of small things I'm grateful for -

Finding Nathan in the boys bed, as he'd slept there to give us more space because they'd come into our bed.
Warm duvet covers.
Having a lie in til 9:30
Nathan taking Joseph to football
Joseph coming up with a good idea about when it would be a good time to have a packet of crisps (ie not for breakfast but after he'd been a good boy at football)
Nathan sanding away the black marks from the worktop (talk about dust)
Finding a new mat for the utility room for 99p, some coral beads and a piece of lace fabric for a bag for Amy.
Following my instinct and  not buying sealant in Wilkos for £7.99 but finding the same stuff in YTC for £1.99 - oh yes :)
Traditional saturday bacon butties for lunch
Nathan resealing around the belfast sink - he really didn't want to but did and it looks so much better.
Joseph helping me dust throughout the house. He used a sock over his hand with polish on it and was really good at getting in the low nooks and crannies - he even said it was fun :)
Ben seeing that Joseph was rewarded for helping mummy - deciding that he wanted to help to and set about picking up bits from the floor and he did some dusting too.
Joseph wanting me to help him with his lego.
Nathan reoiling the worktop.
Nathan on a mission to find the missing lego pieces (this is currently what he's doing now @ 21:54)
Joseph totally engaged and focused on designing his own lego masterpieces.
Ben playing cars sprawled out on the floor.
Joseph saying ' oh she looks pretty' for every single lady on Strictly Come Dancing including Lisa Riley.
Lisa Riley doing the splits on Strictly - in the words of Craig Revel- Holwood 'A- Ma-Zing'
Ben playing in the bath ' Oh mummy look bubbles.... they're so cute... I pop them'
Feeling the baby move.
The boys getting excited about the new baby.
Ben in general saying 'oh so cute'
Reading the scriptures with the boys and Joseph Paying close attention.
Reading 'Guess how much I love you'
Finding them asleep snuggled up.

A day full of small and simple things which made it a good one.

A rambling reflective post

I think it would be fair to say I've been a tad grouchy recently, perhaps more than a tad and more than grouchy. Hormonal is the word I like to hide behind. Quite often between the hours or 2 and 3 in the afternoon I get emotional and feel like I can't cope this often is the time that Nathan rings home to see how I'm doing. It's kind of embarrassing when every time he asks 'how are you?' the honest truth would be - 'I'm feeling emotional'. I've been very impatient with the children - the sound of tipping (lego, cars, playmobil) makes my skin crawl, the cushions being thrown of the sofa, the throws being messed with, packets and wrappers and orange peel not being put in the bin, cereal on the front room floor, shoes left in the middle of the kitchen floor - all make me mad. I've started to wonder if this is actually because I'm tired and pregnant or if this is just me. We had a great lesson in RS on Sunday about being kind - it struck home. I want to be kind. Kindness touches my heart. When I see a kind act to someone in need or receive kindness myself it moves me. Kindness is of God and comes from the spirit of Christ. I want to be more kind especially to my children and Nathan. So I'm going to try harder to work through those moments of grouchiness and try to be more positive and kind. You know how in Harry Potter the death eaters appear and suck all the happiness out of their victim and the way to get rid of them is for the victim to create their own Patronus. Well that's what I need to do - create more light, be more patient, more kind, focus on the positive and less on the negative. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

From the mouth of babes

Sometimes Ben says things which I know he's picked up from being around me.
When I hear him say 'Ah, that's kind' or 'Excuse me please' I give myself a pat on the back.
On the other hand when he does something he's annoyed about and exclaims' Oh my gosh' I tend to inwardly cringe and have actually burst into tears, nominating oneself for worst mother of the year. (I suppose it's one way to pick up on bad habits I've developed.)

The boys are notoriously bad at waking up on the middle of the night and coming into our bed. Joseph will not come up alone and leave Ben behind, Ben will leave Joseph - sometimes we get the two of them and a box of duplo brought up for good measure (why ????) We as parents are notoriously bad for letting them get away with this bad habit. As the bump is growing the four in a bed situation gradually gets more cramped and more often than not leave the three of them and go into the bottom bunk. When the boys wake up they then come and find me there leaving Nathan in the double all by himself. 
Currently most early morning conversations with Joseph revolve around the subject of Christmas 'Is it Christmas tomorrow?' 'Is it nearly Christmas' 'When is it nearly Christmas?' This morning when he found me in his bed. He went through an explantion behind his bed swapping behaviour.
'When I went to bed it was not comfortable so I came in your bed and it was so comfortable.... then it became uncomfortable and I came in my bed (where I was) and it was soooooooo it nearly Christmas?'

On Saturday morning, Joseph has started to go to a football club at Barlby. He seems to really enjoy it and the coaches do a great job - patience of saints let me tell you :)
I asked Joseph before he went what he should remember about how to behave at football club. His responses -

Don't pull my pants down
Don't put my hands down my pants
Listen to the coaches
Do what they say.

I think that pretty much covers it. The pant pulling down incident happened on the week I took him - of course :)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Escape to the country

This weekend, Nathan and I escaped to the country (well from one part to another) for a weekend away.
This was something we had planned to do for our tenth wedding anniversary back in July but a weekend in the Lakes is great at anytime of year.

 To be honest I can't think that it could have looked anymore beautiful than it did. There is just something about being immersed in God's creations that just rejuvenates my spirit like nothing else. As we drove around from Ambleside past Rydal water and Grasmere then back tracked to  Hawkshead,  then to coniston  and finally to Tarn hows the colours of the autumnal trees against the blue of the sky and the white of the snow topped peaks, lyrics to hymns filled my mind.

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue skyWhenever I feel the rain on my faceOr the wind as it rushes by

Whenever I touch a velvet roseOr walk by a lilac treeI’m glad that I live in this beautiful worldHeavenly Father created for me

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
and hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
We walked around Ambleside town, then drove to Coniston for a hot chocolate and cake. Then at Tarn Hows, we ummed and arred about whether it was beyond me to take a walk around the tarn. The opportunity to take photos of the stunning scenery won me over and we went for it. 

For half way round I was fine, the second half I huffed, puffed, strained and plodded very, very slowly as the baby had moved into a resting position on a nerve - not comfortable at all!

Anyway I made it - big pat on the back to me :) and the photos were certainly worth it.

In the evening we watched the new Bond and then had chinese food. A lovely day with my most favourite person to spend a day with.

On Sunday we decided to go to Chorley instead of Kendal which was the closest ward to us. It seemed like it was really where we were meant to be as not only did we get to see Grandma but Lucy was there too - also visiting Chorley on her very last Sunday before she and her family move to Vancouver . A real blessing to see one of my oldest friends totally unexpectedly.

On our way home though ready to pick up our boys, we stopped in to see Grandma Hillary. It was nice to sit and chat without interruption and hear some stories from when she was a girl.

A really wonderful weekend - exactly what we needed time for us to be... well just us.

Two cheeky boys..

...ready for conference :)


We took our two mini vikings trick or treating around the village with Superman and a skeleton.
Their pumpkins were filled and they were very happy boys.
At the first house we knocked on, when the door opened, Ben actually walked into their house at another he pulled out a packet of sweets from the offered tub, looked at them and said 'no, not that one'  and got something else instead. When he was lagging a little behind he called out 'wait for me guys'
 Very cute.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

September / October catch up

At the end of September we had a lovely ward trip to the temple. Whilst the youth and adults were inside, the primary presidency had organised some activities for the children. Joseph's admiration for McKay began on this day. He and his family have moved into the ward from Arizona via Poland. Joseph LOVES him. We went around for FHE the other Monday. After giving the pep talk about appropriate behaviour - don't go noseying around the house, don't open their fridge, don't ask for food - yada, yada we knocked on the door. Nate opened the door and in they ran, flying past Nate's kegs and straight up the stairs, in a scene reminiscent (according to Nathan - I totally cracked up laughing when he said this to me on the way home) to the Dunkirk landings, the boat doors opened and the soldiers run for it. Pep talk worked then :) Within thirty seconds they were downstairs having found battery powered plastic machine guns - proud moment lol!
They kept the lesson nicely brief and afterwards it was nice to chat and get to know them. The boys loved playing with McKay and Cole and for the next few days Joseph asked daily if we could go again. Today at church he wanted to go and sit with McKay and then after church he wanted to go to his house or for him to come to ours - hope McKay is OK with all this adoration :)

We've had some pretty heavy rainfall resulting in the bridge being shut for the past two and half weeks. Fortunately the flood defenses held, the water was very close to overcoming them so the army and fire services came in the middle of the night to create extra height with sandbags.

The Autumn nights are drawing in and it's been nice to get the candles out and enjoy our cosy living room.

On Saturday, Skipwith was calling. A sunny Autumn day walk at Skipwith is a tonic to the hustle and bustle (and thankfully midgey free). We found the long horned cattle, the boys obviously found twig guns, a branch hobby horse and the puddles. They played tag with Daddy around the ramps and very graciously posed for a few photos for mum. It was particularly lovely to see Jospeh looking after his little brother ' Come on Ben' 'Hold my hand'.