Wednesday, 14 January 2015

London First

It's been a long (and expensive!) road getting all of our new passports, visa's renewed and British citizenship for Sebastian. After it all we finally were able to go visit my husband's family in Portugal over the holiday's!

Sebastian got the chicken pox during the break, but I was surprised at well he actually did. He was pretty much his normal happy self. I was worried about how Sebastian would do with flying and being abroad. Sebastian has autism spectrum disorder and changes in his routine can upset him. I didn't know what to expect and I tried to plan for anything (just like any other parent). The last thing I wanted was a meltdown that would result in a situation that can quickly get out of control. But my worries were all for naught because Sebastian did amazing! He was so excited to get on the plane and he loved his tray table and getting to order an orange juice. He fell asleep on both flights and we really couldn't have asked for an easier time. He was a rock star!

Aberdeen is a small airport and only has a handful of direct flights into Europe. Porto, Portugal isn't one of them so we needed to fly into London first. We decided on a long layover (8 hrs) in London so we could take in some sights before we went on to Portugal. That proved to be a great decision!

We went downtown to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We grabbed some quick food (burritos!!) and walked all over downtown London. It was a quick run through but it was great! Everything was just a quick glimpse so I can't wait to go back for a proper visit.

 We had a great time and rushed back just in time to hop on our flight to Portugal!

Friday, 5 December 2014

How to Have a British Christmas

I found this video a few days ago and I've been laughing ever since. It's all true. And I love it!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Around here lately

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone is full of pumpkin pie. I personally have been enjoying all the pictures of food on instagram and facebook over the weekend. Saturday we got together with our American friends here in Scotland and had a proper Thanksgiving meal! It was amazing. To say the least. There was so much food and I'm still dreaming about it all. We all went around the room (all 40+ of us!) and said what we were thankful for. This year I'm grateful for my husband's job. He works so hard with a great company to make sure that I can stay home with Sebastian and take care of his many needs. We are very grateful for that.

Our new friends came to Aberdeen to spend Thanksgiving with us and it was so fun to meet them. Becki has been asking questions about moving to Scotland for over a year. She and her husband and their 3 girls moved to Edinburgh 3 months ago and they were able to come up to Aberdeen for the holiday. Sebastian was in heaven and upset to see them leave. It was so great to have them here and we're already making plans to get together soon.

Here's what we've been up to::

+ I decorated for Christmas early. Like, two weeks ago. I couldn't help it. Getting the decorations out and the tree up always lifts my spirits. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. Sebastian was more excited than I was to tell you the truth! He promptly broke 8 of the ornaments he took out but we just let him keep playing. He likes to play with them and set them up in different arrangements with the Nativity. Every day the ornaments are in a different spot. I love it!

Check out a recap of our first Christmas in Scotland!
(ps. we still have that tree. it now belongs to Sebastian!)

+ I finally got my hair trimmed up! I've been letting it grow for the last year and it desperately needed a good trim. While Sebastian was at school on Friday I went and had it done. She even gave me a head massage. This was basically as good as a trip to the Bahamas. I fell asleep while she was cutting it. It was amazing. I also got my eye brows threaded. They hadn't looked that bad since...6th grade. But, now I'm feeling much more put together! Christmas family photo shoot coming soon.

+ Sebastian's passport came! We are officially ready to get traveling again! Each one of us has a passport from a different country. Haha! We are one strange family.

+ Luis had the whole week off and we had a great time. We went out to eat, started our Christmas shopping, watched loads of movies and chilled by the Christmas tree. It was nice to have him home. Can't wait for a few more week until he'll be home again with us. Then off to Portugal!

+ I had two meetings this week at Sebastian's school. He's just doing awesome. I couldn't ask for a better school or better teachers. He's cruising right along. Of course we have bumps in the road and things we are working on but things are so much better than when he started. He's so happy and he's making friends. It makes me want to cry I'm so thankful for it all. Well, I actually did break into tears in one of the meetings. I'm a crier OK! I can't help it. I feel deeply. Sebastian is doing well and we are all very thankful.

+ I'm officially obsessed with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I'm halfway through book 2. They are slow but so good. They're all around 1,000 pgs. I'm listening to them on audiobook and whoa you guys! The narrator is bloody fantastic! I'm trying to find chores or places to walk to just so I can listen to more. I love the character's and the history alone has me hooked. I love that I live in Scotland! It's bringing these stories alive for me. I feel an Outlander tour coming on! What do you think?

+ I'm singing in a Christmas Carol Concert in a few weeks and had practice last night with my group. You guys, we sound so good! I don't want to boast, but we do! I will try and take a video for you next week so you can hear us. After practice we all just hung out and sang more Christmas songs and ate yummy food. I can't wait for practice this week.

+ We went to the Christmas kickoff parade last weekend down Union Street. It is basically just Santa coming down the street and a few weird floats like Star Wars storm troopers and a floating Nativity. When Santa passed Sebastian said, "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Wait!!"

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, 24 November 2014

St. Andrew's Day: the history and traditons

Every St. Patrick's Day I get a lot of questions asking if it the day big here in Scotland. The answer is a resounding, NO. Why? Because St. Patrick is the patron saint of IRELAND. Did you know Scotland has a patron saint too? His name is St. Andrew and we'll be celebrating on November 30th!

No one really knows how St. Andrew came to be Scotland's patron saint but there are a few theories. One states that relics belonging to St. Andrew were brought to Scotland in the fourth century. These relics were then kept at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Kinrymount, Fife. Another possible explanation is that in the 800s, Pictish king Angus MacFergus saw a saltire cross in the sky immediately before a battle, and took Saint Andrew as his patron from then on. 

St. Andrew was first made the official patron saint of Scotland  at the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. By 1390 he appeared on coinage for the first time. His relics were destroyed in the Scottish Reformation in the 1500s. 

St. Andrew was crucified on a diagonal cross by the Roman's apparently taking place on November 30th, hence the date we mark his life. 

St. Andrew's Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional Scottish food, music and dance. School's across Scotland will hold traditional St. Andrew's Day activities such as art shows,  Scottish dance shows, lunchtime ceilidhs, storytelling, reciting and writing poems, writing tall tales, cooking traditional Scottish meals and bagpipe playing. It is also seen as the start of the Winter Festival's in Scotland!

If you live here in Scotland you can find activities in your area right {HERE}

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

{Ask Mary} What is Council Tax?

After this post and the comments I realized that I should probably clarify exactly what is council tax and why you'll need to pay it when you move to Scotland.

What is council tax?

Council Tax is the system of local taxation used to part fund services provided by local authorities. The rate of tax payable is based on the value of residential property. Meaning, a 3 bedroom house would pay more council tax than a studio flat. The reason being the amount of services used. The amount that each household pays depends on their band (A-H).

Council tax goes partly to fund your water, sewage and rubbish pick up. It is essentially just your utility bill. But it just so happens that everyone in and around your area usually pay about the same amount. It's is paid each month. 

When searching for a property you can ask your letting/estate agent what council tax band the property is in.  You can often find the council tax band listed with the property description online (A-H). Then you can find the amount per band HERE. Council tax is paid by whomever lives in the property--either owner or renter. 

Council tax should be added to your expenses each month. Once you move to Scotland you need to go directly to the council building and get set up for council tax to avoid a fine.

ps. My Sausage Mini Fritatta recipe was on MSN! I was totally surprised to see it. I had completely forgotten it was going to be featured. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving/Christmas brunch. I hope you'll try it.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Soaking Wet

It's been raining a lot here lately (shocker). I was determined that Sebastian and I were going to get out and run a few errands before school yesterday to cut some of the droll mornings we've been having lately (I never knew I was so boring). We went to library, bank and all those usual places one does errands. It felt good to be out and all the electronics off. Sebastian even fell asleep when we got home. He woke just in time for a quick lunch before Nursery School. I was feeling pretty good.

When it was time to leave for school it was raining and for a brief moment I thought about keeping Sebastian home for the day. But then I quickly vetoed the plan because if I did it once I knew I'd do it all the time. I don't want to be a lazy person afraid of a little rain. So, we bundled up in our rain gear and stepped outside.

Apparently there was torrential downpour going on and gale force winds. It got cold real fast you guys. Half way to school I looked over at Sebastian and he was soaked. From head to toe. I had been trying to hold him umbrella up for him because he was more interested in jumping in puddles than holding it. But he was drenched. Every inch of his clothing was soaked to the bone. No wait, his feet were dry. Bless his new winter boots. His whole body was shivering from the cold and I immediately thought what a rubbish mother I am for taking my baby out in weather like this! His teacher pulled us into the bathroom and handed us a big box emergency clothes to choose from. How convenient. Sebastian got dressed in what looked like a weird pair of pyjamas and I set off to brave the perfect storm yet again.

The same thing happened today...

In other news::

+ I've been working on a little secret project that is turning into a BIG secret project. I was hoping to be done by now but well...I'm not. I'm hoping it will be done by the end of the year. It's for all you future or current expats out there! I'm hoping to help you even a little bit.

+  I'm having people over for Thanksgiving!! I'm already in planning mode and I just can't wait! It's been so long since I've had a proper Thanksgiving I hope I do it right.

+ All these people around me are getting sick lately, but we've been using dōTERRA’s essential oil blend OnGuard and haven't gotten sick (knock on wood). I feel like the oil fairy bringing some to our friends on the regular. It's really incredible! I'm obsessed. Every home needs it. Get it {here}

+  I'm making this soup tomorrow (and about 25 more times this winter). 

+ The sun will be out tomorrow and we are going to do something. I don't know what yet, but we're going somewhere! I'll make sure to report on Monday!

So, tell me what are you up to lately?