I love my in-laws. Every single one of them. I’ve even learnt to cope with them en mass (Gary has five siblings, who are all married and have at least two children each, you do the maths…..). I think I probably have the best sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law in the whole world and I know for certain I have the best mother-in-law and father-in-law 🙂
It is never a hassle to go visit them all in Northern Ireland; in fact it feels like going home. And this time round was no different. Heather, Gary’s mum, takes care of us so well. Gary and I often arrive very tired from a year’s worth of homeschooling past since the last time we went. Only other home-schoolers would understand how full on teaching five children can be. Going to Northern Ireland is our once a year chance to recharge our batteries, reflect on the year past and discuss and pray about changes we might want to make in the future is such a gift and it is made possible by the hard work of Gary’s dad and mum. I am certain Heather does not know just what a vital part she plays in this and just how grateful we are to her for it.
This post is full of photos, probably too many, but it is our memory of a lovely holiday….
On the first Sunday we went out to lunch with a family we have been friends with for what seems like forever. Our older children grew up together before we moved back to England, and seeing them again simply means picking up where we left off:
We still all get on really well and we enjoyed watching the two eight year olds (who were only six months old when we moved) hit it off straight away. A8 definitely found a kindred spirit in P 🙂
We took Granny and Grandad bowling, which was huge fun!
We went back to old haunts such as cheeky chimps, favourite beaches; we had fun with the girls losing to the boys in a bet and Lillie had the dubious pleasure of Thomas doing her make-up! Oh, and we celebrated the girls’ fourteenth birthday:
In fact, we had a huge family gathering for the girls’ birthday:
where cousins played with cousins:
And we all got caught up on each others’ news:
So, so grateful and blessed by our large family <3
We met up with Caroline, a friend I have known since I was 16, and her lovely family:
Spending a day eating her gorgeous food and catching up on the past four years (Caroline has been a missionary in Israel for the last few years and this was the first chance we had to catch up):
We even spent an additional day with them at the Titanic Museum in Belfast:
We will be covering just before the world wars in January so this was the perfect field trip to take 🙂
I will be writing a post all about this sometime, but suffice it to say, it was an enjoyable albeit expensive excursion:
While the girls shopped, the boys visited a bridge that Thomas had learnt about in his engineering course (Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge):
One of Gary’s brothers, Jason, knew the team who make the Carrick-a-Rede bridges and was able to get Thomas a visit to see the new rope bridge being made. He also got him a video which showed the intricacy of the skill required. This was a fabulous experience for his! Thank you Jason!
On the ferry on the way home the younger girls entered a competition to be captain of the ferry for a day, and A8 won!! She donned a captains uniform and hat and was able to see the workings of the boat:
Keeping an eye out on their destination:
And even steering it for a time:
I think this just about made her day, if not her holiday!
We arrived home in the early hours of Saturday morning (think half past midnight) and had to prepare the house for the girls’ second birthday party to be held Saturday afternoon. Nik would be bringing the food, thankfully, so I just needed to de-smell the house of dog (Oscar stays in the house with mum taking him out numerous times a day for company, but the house stinks every time we arrive home from holiday). We do the same activities each year, the first of which is to go for a long walk:
We were out for about twenty minutes when C11 climbed a tree and was subsequently stunk at least twice by bees (we are not sure if he disrupted a nest) and had an enormous allergic reaction which led to a trip to A and E to sort it out….so we kind of cancelled the party 🙁
The next day, Gary and I were heading up to Kidzania with friends of ours for their daughter’s birthday. They have two girls almost the same age as ours and they all get on so well:
Again, I will be doing a separate post, but it was brilliant and definitely something we may do again!
Whilst we were away in London for the day, we left the house in charge of ten teens (the girls’ third and final birthday gathering!). I was a little nervous, but I needn’t have worried. The house we came back to was tidier than the house we left, they had done such a great job of tidying up after themselves. And the girls had a lovely time with their friends 🙂
This week we have done a little bit of school:
but to be honest we have mainly been looking after our two girls who have been fairly ill with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease:
And finally, I just wanted to show the artist streak in my eldest daughter never ceases to amaze me:
She is wearing a top which she made out of a pair of track bottoms! See the waist band of the trousers is upside down on her waist in the forth picture? And the zips of the legs are now part of the arms? She basically cut out the crotch of the jogging bottoms for her head!! Cool, no?
I have come back from holiday incredibly excited about the next few years. Time away has helped me to get our goals as a family into perspective. I feel like I had lost my way for a while, but having time to reflect and pray I can now feel everything lining up as it has before. I know where we are going and what we need to get there. And I am confident there will be a lot of fun being had by our older three as they follow their dreams and our younger ones as we snuggle together and enjoy the beauty of homeschooling.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend with lots of fun with the people you love 🙂
Linking up with Kris