Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Boy meets girl - the very beginning

I love to read stories of how other couples met. When I was going through the old photo albums looking for photos for my dad's birthday recently I came across some early ones of me and my husband together, and it reminded me of our story.


To start it we need to go back to the summer of 1995. Which was longer ago than I always think it was!


I was just finished school and hoping to go to Glasgow University to study for an MA, a general arts degree, and hoping to choose Music and Gaelic as my two main subjects. I was going to follow in my dad's footsteps as he had an MA from Galsgow Uni and Gaelic had been one of his subjects. On top of this, all of my school friends were heading to Glasgow as well.


(Photo from google)



When our exam results came through I was a grade short of what I needed to get to Glasgow.


It wasn't my only option though. I also had the offer of a place to study for a Bachelor of Music.


But it was in Edinburgh.


(Photo from google)


And I knew absolutely nobody in Edinburgh or heading to Edinburgh to study.


To some people that might not be the biggest deal, but for me it was. I'm not a naturally outgoing person. Well I am a lot more so now, but when I had just turned 18 I certainly wasn't!


I also had the valid excuse that having left things so late to accept a place in Edinburgh, I had nowhere to live.


My dad suggested that he phone a fellow minister in Edinburgh to ask if he knew of anywhere I could stay. If he could find me somewhere to stay then that was one of my major excuses out of the window!


As it happened, the minister's son was also home that day. He had just finished at University in Aberdeen and was home for a few days as he had a job interview in Edinburgh. It was he who knew that one of the girls in his dad's church was looking for a new flatmate and got her number for us.


There went my excuse.


The girl not only became my flatmate and one of my best friends, but she would also be the chief bridesmaid at my wedding.


Not just that, but the minister that my dad had phoned would become my father in law and his son who was there that day my dad phoned would become my husband.


It's a good thing I didn't get that grade after all!


To be continued.......




Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A blood test, a food challenge and a loooong day.

On Friday we had a double appointment in Children's Ward at the hospital.


Fraser was to get blood taken so that they can test him for allergies before he starts to wean properly and Calum (11) was to have a wheat challenge.


The letter we were sent with the appointment times said that we should expect to be in for about 3 hours so I decided it was probably best to leave David (8) and Alasdair (4) with their Aunty for the morning. James (14) had left with dad earlier in the morning, as they were heading away to a Youth Conference for the weekend.


So, at about 9.45 we arrived in Children's Ward.


It was the first time any of the boys has ever been for a food challenge. Usually the skin prick tests (or blood tests when they are younger) have shown a severe enough allergy to not need any double checking with a food challenge. When Calum had his skin prick tests a few months ago he still reacted to wheat but the doctor thought that the size of the lump that came up was slightly smaller than when he was previously tested. I wasn't quite so sure! She also said that sometimes wheat can show a false positive and suggested we try a wheat challenge, which would be a more accurate gauge.


So, there we were, settling in for a few hours at the hospital.


The nurse got Calum all weighed up in case he would need any medication and then checked all his vitals - blood pressure, heart rate, temperature. Then the test began with a tiny drop of Weetabix on his lips. She then took myself and Fraser to another room to take some blood from him.


Poor little man. He wasn't too impressed by the ordeal, but at least she got enough blood from him on the first attempt.


We returned to Calum, who was happily reading the Guiness Book of Records and showing no signs of reaction to the first stage of the test.


A food challenge is made up by gradually increasing the amounts of food given by tiny amounts, every 15 minutes or so, with vitals checked before each next stage is given. So Calum went from a drop on his lip to having the spoon dipped in Weetabix then placed on his tongue, to a quarter teaspoonful , to a half teaspoonful , to a teaspoonful, to two teaspoonful.....
It was all going quite well.
Just after he had been given the two teaspoonsful, I looked over at him and saw a blotch on his cheek. Then another couple on his forehead. Then he began to itch his head and feel some more in his hair. Just then the nurse came in and he had erupted in hives. There were some on his chest and back too. He still felt fine though, his airways hadn't been affected the way that they do when he has dairy. He was just very itchy and blotchy!
Still, it was definitely time to stop the challenge and get some antihistamine into him!
He was checked over by one of the paediatricians, who said he would need to stay in for 4 hours observation since he had had an allergic reaction. That would bring us to 4pm. I texted my brother's wife who said the other boys were fine. Then I went to the hospital to buy Calum a football magazine. There is only so much of the Guiness Book of Records you can read in one sitting.
By now Fraser was having a wee snooze and so I got to catch up on my crochet memory blanket for a while.


At about 3.45 a different doctor came to check on Calum. He was holding Fraser, who had been awake for a while, and when she looked at him she asked was he getting treatment for his eczema! I replied that yes he was, and that this was it much, much better. He did get a bit red and itchy with the heat in the hospital but really he didn't look bad at all!


Anyway, she said that Calum needed to stay in for 6 hours observation and not 4, which would take us to 6pm! Poor Calum. He has such a patient nature but I could see him crumble a little when she said this. We thought we were only 15 minutes from freedom and now we had another 2 hours to wait! He had felt absolutely fine since about an hour after the antihistamine was taken and he really had run out of things to do.


I'm not complaining about it though, as they were keeping a good eye on him. The allergen was still in his system and it's not unknown for an allergic reaction to return. I'd rather that happen in hospital than at home.


Playing with Fraser and chatting about football (amongst other things) passed the next two hours. Thankfully I actually enjoy watching football too so didn't need to feign interest in it!


Finally at 6.15 we were allowed out!


We went to get the other boys from my brother's house and my sister in law had also asked us to stay for dinner, which was great as it's surprisingly exhausting spending 8 1/2 hours in hospital!


So, Calum will just continue on the same diet as before - wheat free, dairy free & egg free.


I'm thankful for the care the medical staff took of him and that he was OK.

I'm thankful that both he and Fraser have the same patient nature.

And I'm thankful for close family nearby to help out and look after my slightly less patient boys.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

6 months old

It's hard to believe, but it's been six months since this little man made his appearance.



Right from the beginning his lovely nature was apparent.

At 2 months old his battle with eczema began. Exactly the same age that Calum (11) and Alasdair (4) were when theirs began.



I actually made up two photos for two months as I couldn't decide which I preferred!




But despite how sore his skin was, he still continued to charm us all with his smiles.





Then at 5 months old we made the breakthrough on the repeated skin infections with Milton in his bath.




At 6 months his skin remains the same. His eczema is under control with regular Milton baths, his steroid creams and Icthamol paste & 50/50 ointment mix. It's a daily chore but so worth the results.


He doesn't try and sit on his own yet but sits quite nicely on your knee.


He hasn't tried rolling over - there is always someone around to entertain him without him trying too hard!


He's still exclusively breastfed. I haven't started him on solids yet as I'm holding off until we get the results of tests to see if he has any of the allergies that his brothers have. (The tests are tomorrow!)


He weighs a nice healthy 17.5lbs.


He has no teeth yet but has been dribbling since he was about 2 months old.


He likes to chew on his thumb or his fingers.


He loves to watch his brothers entertain him, no matter what they are up to!


He doesn't sleep all night yet but I really don't mind the chance for those extra cuddles.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Online colic clinic

One of the hardest parts of having a new baby has to be trying to work out why your little one is crying. Not just for first time parents either. Those of us with more than one child still need to work out what those tears mean as each baby is so very different.


I am thankful that none of our boys have really been the type of baby who cries endlessly. A friend of mine had a baby around the same time as one of my boys who would cry for hours on end.


One of the most common reasons for such crying is Colic, with as many as 1 in 4 babies suffering from it.


Only one of our boys suffered from colic, our 3rd boy, David (8), although he didn't suffer too badly from it. I think his was partly down to how greedily he would guzzle down his feeds! By using Infacol his colic was soon sorted out quite simply.


Infacol is apparently the UK's biggest selling colic remedy, and they have just launched a very helpful web app to help parents find answers at


I was sent a wee box of goodies as a thank you for trying out the website and helping to spread the word.




The website has a list of the most commonly asked questions about colic that parents can work through to get answers or there is also the option of typing in your own questions. It has the advantage of being available to parents 24/7 and parents can get advice in the evening, when colic is usually at its worst and the doctors surgery is closed.


It's a great idea to help reassure parents and to help give answers and advice at all hours. They don't pretend that the app is a substitute for medical advice, rather that it is used to give parents the information they need about colic and how to help their baby get some relief.


I also liked that in the section on tips for parents they didn't suggest giving Infacol as the number one thing to do, but give helpful links for baby massage as well as listing foods that breast feeding mums should perhaps try avoiding first.


I would be happy to point new parents to the website before the need for it arises. Then if they do need some advice for a baby who fusses a lot they would know where to go to for a little advice.




Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter weekend fun, some makings and another birthday!

Last week the weather played ball for once and was perfect school holiday weather!
The boys were able to spend all day, every day outdoors - which I think is a boy's natural habitat!
They decorated the driveway with chalk drawings.


Alasdair (4) was delighted to have the stabilisers put on a 'big boy' bike.


See. Delighted.


And I even coaxed the teenager in the house outdoors too.
I told James (14) that I was about to do some woodwork and he was out like a flash!
I found scraps of wood lying around the shed from when we had the fence fixed last year and decided they would be perfect for the raised beds I had planned to add to the garden this year.


James said he wanted to build them for me, I just needed to draw him a plan. He was soon sawing and hammering away, while I got on with the task of digging away some turf to make space for the new beds.




It took us a couple of days to get these three done, in between baby naps and other tasks but don't they look good?! I still need to fill them with earth/compost but the weather has turned today!


On Saturday, while I got on with some heavy weeding and building a wee rockery round the front of the house, my hubs gave the barbecue it's annual spring scrub and so that evening we had our first of the season. Hopefully the first of many!
Incidentally, my hubs rarely cooks (although he can if needed to), which doesn't bother me at all as I see cooking the meals as one of my responsibilities, but when the barbecue is out it's his domain!
Last week was my husband's sister's birthday and so we went to help her celebrate on Sunday.


Everyone who knows her knows how much she loves purple. She asked us to buy her a new kettle as a present and so when we saw a purple one, well, we just had to buy it!


And of course the cake I made her was purple too!


Even on the inside!


The final day of our Easter weekend was spent at a nearby Country Park. It was a beautiful day for a walk in the forrest.


Some pine cone grenade throwing and ambushes!




And some fun in the park.






All that fresh air makes for some happy but sleepy boys - some with coordinating onesies too!


How did everyone else spend the Easter weekend? Anyone do anything exciting?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Things I'm loving...

While we were in Lewis last week the older three boys and one of their cousins spent a couple of days shinty training with Lewis Camanachd. The team had organised for some of their players to do some coaching for children, calling it their Shinty Camp.


David (8) came out on the second day with this huge Easter egg, his prize for being 'player of the camp'. He was very kind and shared his egg with all of us!




We loved the chance for the boys to spend time with their 90 year old great granny. Fraser is starting to get a little bit shy with people and so cried the first couple of days we tried sitting him on my granny's knee. She was delighted though, when after a few days he would sit happily on her knee - although he couldn't sit on her for long as he's a heavy wee thing!


We loved the - mostly - great weather while we were away (and since we've been back), and getting back into the outdoors life after the winter.














Calum (11) still wants nothing more than to be a crofter.




The day we left the island was beautiful sailing weather. Somewhere across that horizon is mainland Scotland.


The boys entertained themselves nicely on the ferry. So much so that an older man came across to me at one point and said, 'I don't know what you paid for those boys but whatever it was it was a bargain! They are delightful!' Well, that was really lovely to hear as I always think people must see us coming along with five boys and think, 'please don't sit next to us!' Especially on a nearly three hour ferry crossing!






When the boat was closer to the mainland we went outside to get some photos.










Those two bits of land are the mainland, Lewis is out of sight across the horizon.




Since returning back David has been playing more shinty. This time with a French rugby team. Yes Rugby team. A junior team were coming over to Scotland and wanted to know about shinty so they got in touch with our shinty team to ask if they could give them a day of coaching. My hubs is one of the coaches so he and David spent a sunny day trying to teach the French that shinty involves less bodily contact than rugby!
David handed them all a little momento from the shinty team at the end of the day.
The following day the same rugby team were involved in matches against Calum & David's rugby team. It was the first time either boy had played in a competitive match.
I have to admit that the French boys outclassed the Scots in every age group but it was great experience for everyone.


And David continued to show that he is an all round sportsman by scoring three tries! That's him hitting the ground in the photo below.