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Locked Inside The Car

October 23, 2015

This is the kind of story you read in the newspaper and think “How stupid, How could that happen?” but this really happened to me this week. My child was locked inside the car with the key and I was on the outside.

There’s nothing you can say that I haven’t already beat myself up about but by telling this story I want to warn parents so they can try to avoid making the same mistake.

I’ll start start from the start;

It was the usual wrestle and bribery with my toddler (almost 2 years old) to force him into his car seat. I sat in the drivers side and remembered that I didn’t pack the wet wipes – you don’t take a little boy anywhere without wet wipes!

I get back out of the car and by reflex closed the door behind me and take a step towards the house – CLICK – what was that? Did the doors just lock?! Yes. Oh f*ck.
Spencer is strapped into his car seat, the key is in the ignition with the engine running, my phone is in my handbag which is also inside the car and my husband is out of the country. This is a BIG problem.

I frantically try every single door handle again and again but the car is definitely locked. Again, Oh f*ck.

We only have one key for this car. I had always planned to order another one but every month it just seemed like there are other things to pay for. Major error!

For the first ten minutes locked inside Spencer is fine, The AC is running and he has water and raisins to keep him busy. But that doesn’t solve the problem – I have no phone to call anyone and no one around me to help. I dash into the house to Google ways to break into my own car but my iPad only works on WIFI inside the house and the signal won’t reach to the car outside. Every time I have to leave the car to go inside Spencer is getting more upset as he wants me to stay with him. There are plenty of videos and forums but I don’t have the time or rational thinking to trawl the internet.

As a mother it’s horribly painful to see your child sobbing and calling for you just centimetres away but there is nothing you can do to reach them. After 35 horrible minutes there was only one thing for it… Mummy Bear mode kicks in. I grab the biggest hammer I could find from the tool box. Believe me, This is not a decision I took lightly.

001 Glass on the ground

I have never deliberately smashed my own car window so I’m not familiar with the best techniques – I’m now told to use a hammer and a nail – His car seat was in the front passenger side so my only logic was to chose the rear opposite window side to where he was sitting, smash it an try not to send glass showering over him. It’s not easy to think clearly when he is sobbing his heart out.

I swung the hammer back and with all my might hit it into the glass, there was a massive THUD but not even a single crack on the window. Dammit. These windows are incredibly hard to break!! I had expected it just to shatter but the window film was holding it all together. 3 more big swings until it even cracked.

Luckily no glass had reached Spencer in his seat but the sharp shards came outwards on to me, I had to run back into the house to get a towel and oven mitt to wrap round my hand and arm to get my arm through the hole in the window and unlock the doors to reach him.

001 Window smash

Thankfully Spencer came out of the car completely unharmed from the experience which was around 45 minutes start to finish. There were plenty of tears and cuddles but not a scratch on him.

My poor car…. It turns out I chose to smash the worst window that no one stocks, typical, so I am waiting on a new pane of glass to be delivered. The car isn’t set to lock itself when the door closes so I did not expect that to happen but for some reason this day it did, later that day it did it again so there is a fault somewhere. Technology can be a blessing and a curse.

So the point of the story, sometimes these things happen that we don’t expect. Take precautions with a spare key and don’t close door with your kids/pets in the car. Try not to make the same error as me – It wasn’t ideal but in some ways I was lucky that we were still at home with the engine running so the AC was cooling the car and I had access to a hammer.

This was a lesson learnt – A spare key for the car is cheaper than a new window. Sigh.

Heather x

Expat Life, Family Life

A Day In Luxury – Al Bustan Palace

October 15, 2015

Exploring Wadi’s, picnics on deserted beaches, hiking cliff top trails – Every time my brother, Graham, comes to town I bombard him with crazy adventure plans. He’s seen some of the most amazing sights in Oman so for his fourth trip to the Sultanate I wanted to arrange something special, and a little different, for him.

With luxury in mind it really doesn’t get better than the Al Bustan Palace. They don’t call it a ‘Palace’ for nothing! From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave you are treated like royalty – This is exactly what I had in mind.

With little Spencer joining us too we booked the “Palatial Day Experience” which would be perfect for us as we can use the facilites for the whole day and also have a hotel room to nap, relax and freshen up.

The day rooms have a balcony that open directly onto the Lagoon pool, this was the view from our room. At this point Graham looks pretty delighted, I think I’m earning some awesome sister points right here!

001 Room with a view

My little water baby, Spencer, wastes no time in getting into his swimming gear and jumping into the pool.
This is such a convinent set up when you have the kids, you can relax on your balcony lounger whilst they swim and know that they are safe and happy. Well, that’s the general idea but Spencer has his own ideas which involved plastic boats, crocodiles, elephants, a football. Soon we had that swanky pool looking like his personal play area.

001 Poolside Room

We spent a wonderful morning playing in the lagoon pool and had no intentions of moving until our tummies told us that it was time for food.

For lunch we relaxed in the shade of the pool side restaurant, Blu. Spencer ordered from the kids menu and as you can see he very much enjoyed his Fish (Hammour) fingers.

001 Spencer Lunch

With a belly full of good food Graham retired to the room for an afternoon siesta – always the sign of a good day in my book – whilst me and Spencer headed off to explore the grounds.

I was wishing that Spencer might drift peacefully off to sleep in the stroller but he was too excited as he chatted away to every single bird we passed and pointed at boats on the beach.

001 Al Bustan grounds

001 Al Bustan beach

Not one wink of sleep for this cheeky boy so we head back to wake up Uncle Graham and show him the way to the infinity pool.

001 Spencer Hat

Standing next to the infinity pool it looks like a scene from a glossy holiday brochure. This is paradise!

001 Infinity pool

After a morning in the intense Oman sun we were very grateful for the shade of palm trees as we played in the pool for the final hours of day light.

001 Pool with Mum

The best Uncle!

001 Pool with Gee

001 Spencer pool day

Making memories together is so important, especially when we live so far apart. It was a fantastic and memorable day at the Al Bustan and a lovely way to treat my brother for coming so far to see us.

Now I have raised the bar, how can I out-do this for his next visit to Oman?!

Heather x

Family Life

Spencer In Pictures

September 7, 2015

Spencer Duncan is a busy boy. Always full of energy and testing the limits he is a hilarious little dude who loves to entertain.

With Daddy away on business and travelling over weekends it is upto me to entertain this little wild child, not always easy on my own with no help or nursery to tire him out.

I try to keep the weekends as busy and entertaining as possible – mostly so they pass quicker and he sleeps, well like a baby.

This is Spencer’s weekend in pictures.

Day One;

Toddler life is obviously very hard going – The day starts by relaxing with some milk whilst watching cartoons.

001 Spencer jammas

Not long to lounge about, we have things to do!

One of the best ways to tire out a busy toddler – the swimming pool!

001 Spencer in Pictures collage

A quick snack in the shade before more splashing and jumping.

001 Spencer towel pool

Mission accomplished! He is sound asleep as soon as we head for home. He looks so innocent when he is asleep.

001 Sleeping Spencer

After he has a nice snooze I get him changed into some fresh clothes for the afternoon.

I leave him sitting on his bed reading a book whilst I pop to the next room for a minute. I assume the silence is because he is REALLY enjoying reading his book about puppies. Nope. I’m not sure where the connection between puppies and his next action came from – He has climbed into the sink and covered himself with hand soap.

Time for the 5th change of clothes.

001 Spencer in the sink

The rest of the afternoon is spent naked – him, not me – jumping in puddles as a surprise rain storm rolls into town.
Yep, that means the 5th set of clothes is indeed off again. What is the point in clothes anyway?

001 Spencer in the rain

Then it’s time for pizza, a movie and bed time – We are both exhausted!

001 Bed Time Spencer

Day Two;

Spencer shovels down a hearty breakfast of egg, toast, yoghurt with ketchup on everything. Including the dog.

001 Spencer yoghurt

001 Spencer crazy face

The morning is spent playing at home until the weather cools down enough for us to go to the beach. The storm the previous day has helped to clear the air and bring the temperatures down.

Spencer loves to run free and spend time outdoors where he can spot some of his favourite things in life – planes, trucks and tractors. The beach is under the airport flight path AND has a construction site next to it. A perfect afternoon out for Spencer.

001 Always Moving

After a couple of hours of sea air, football and chasing waves he is rubbing his weary eyes and making all the signs of a tired little boy.

001 Baby Beach Bum

It is impressive how much sand one toddler can bring back from the beach. He is straight into the bath to wash off it all off. “Bubble, Bubble, Bubble” he chirps so I don’t forget to add the bubbles to the bath. How could I forget the bubbles?!

After dinner it’s Pjamas and story time, it doesn’t take long until he has snuggled down and is sound asleep. I look at his peaceful little face and can’t help but smile.

001 Spencer Sleeping

After every weekend on our own I feel a sense of achievement that I have managed all of this on my own, I’m in control of raising an awesome little human and I’m not doing too badly.

Heather x

Expat Life, Family Life

Three Years

September 3, 2015

Three years ago to this date I landed in a foreign land to begin a new life.

It was sink or swim.

I’m not sure if I am celebrating three years in Oman itself or three years of surviving away from the home nest. Either way, today feels like a reason to celebrate. I didn’t sink, I swam and I’m still swimming.

For those who have never made the daunting leap from “home” and everything you have ever known then it probably doesn’t sound that exciting to you, in the grand scheme of life what is three years anyway?
But for those who have made such a drastic life change they may be able to relate, every month and year that goes by is a success – You haven’t failed and you haven’t run home crying. You’ve got this.

01 Sur heart hands

The past three years have been so crazy, weird, wonderful and given us so many oppertunites we would never have had otherwise.

I would love to know what the next step is for us but only time will tell. All I can hope is that for every year that passes we can embrace it and make the most of these crazy adventures in life.

Heather x

Family Life

Since you’ve been gone…

August 6, 2015

Our home is affectionately called the ‘mad house’, there is never a dull day in the Duncan House with people coming and going, animals chasing each other and a wild child running the halls to avoid nap time. It’s funny, loud, exhausting but never boring.

Usually I have some say into what is going on in the house. Not this time. All was well when I waved Colin goodbye and headed off for my summer vacation in the UK (read about that here) Maybe I’m too trusting, I never suspected that he had a master plan whilst I was gone.

Well, meet our new dog. This is Luna. She is a 6 month old husky puppy.

01 Meet Luna

I hadn’t written about her before now as I wanted to make sure that she was the right fit for the family first, not that that I have any choice in the matter now, thankfully things are great with her and she has settled in really well.
Luna is still young and excitable and needs more training but the biggest test for her would be how she got on with Spencer. I shouldn’t have worried at all, they have struck up a very firm friendship and she is now his favourite animal by far. Penny is delighted to have a break from his attention for a while.

Colin didn’t just stop at a puppy though, Whilst I wasn’t there to protest my little fluffy fat cat, Ricky Bobby, was scooped up and sent to the groomer.

01 RB photo collage haircut

He is a Turkish Angora breed so his fur is naturally long and fluffy but he is loving his new, shorter hair style! Being cooler gives him so much more energy to run and play. The little poof tail is hilarious!

01 Where is RB

At present head count that is 1 toddler, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 1 turtle – I’m hoping that we don’t acquire anything else to care for in the near future.

Expat Life, Family Life

Flying Alone With A Toddler

July 31, 2015

When I think back to my previous post ‘Flying alone with a baby’ I laugh at just how easy it was travelling with a baby in comparison to a toddler. Travelling is now a whole different game.

Babies might scream and need extra cuddles and soothing but at least they can’t run away from you at the gate or slap you in the face during a security brisk.
Toddlers are tricky little creatures. Their lives are completely ruled by their emotions ranging from sweet and kissy to full scale meltdown because Mummy wouldn’t let him eat a dog poop. Yep, that one really happened.

Travelling with a small child is never easy, especially when you are doing it alone. With some planning and preparation you can make things so much easier for yourself. If you are facing the same anxiety here are my top 5 tips on surviving a flight with a toddler;

1- Pack Light
What do you really need to take with you? Pack as light as possible. Well, as light as you can with that tantrum time bomb who may need their favourite comfort teddy, possibly some toy cars or, like my child, a vast buffet of finger foods and nibbles to keep him occupied and full. A hungry, tired and angry kid is a bad combo. I packed tubs with Cheerios, Croissant, Grapes, Cheese cubes, Bread sticks but the real winner for us was a juicy apple. He loved chomping on it and it amused for at least 45 minutes.

Outward I travelled through the airport with a stroller which was a waste of time as he wouldn’t sit in it at all, it’s only use was to hold my hand bag as I chased him. In the end I had to put on his reigns so he could walk himself and in the other hand I pushed the burden of a stroller. The stroller was quickly sold in the UK and we travelled back without it, so much easier. Moral of the story – don’t take it if you won’t need it.

Remember that anything you pack then YOU will have to carry. Don’t load yourself down like a pack horse. Keep it to light essentials.

001 Spence plane apple

2- Clothes and Spares
In preparation for the night flight I dressed Spencer in some super cute Pjamas, it’s harder for people to be mad at a cute looking kid, right? I also wanted him to be comfortable and feel like it was bed time. Bring a change of spare clothes, nappies and extra wipes just incase of any blow outs and spit ups as travelling can do funny things to their little bodies.

It can be handy to have an extra tshirt or scarf for yourself incase of spilt milk, drinks, smeared chocolate, vomit etc.

001 Spence jammas

3- Do anything to keep them busy
My kid isn’t the kind to sit still and watch a movie so that rules out my ideas from pre-baby days of read a book then watch a movie and before I know it we have arrived. Distant memories.
In the airport and on the runway we spotted planes, helicopters, trucks and Nee-Naw’s (fire engines) which was like a little boys dream!
After we had sampled everything from our snacks packed we then we put Cheerios from one tub into the neck of a water bottle so he had to concentrate and had to stay still. We also read books, the inflight magazine and played with a mini drawing set.
Friends had suggested to take lots of small toys wrapped in paper to unwrap them at different points of the journey. This was too fussy for me and I ran out of time but for some kids it’s a great idea.
Try singing songs, drawing sets, getting some baby friendly apps for your phone and taking a new book full of fun pictures.

IMG_3151

4- In the airport, Let them run
Away from the main busy areas airports have plenty of space to let the little rascals loose and burn off some of that pent up energy. After being confined for so long on the plane they are unlikely to want to go in a stroller. Unless your child is an angel, then lucky you! Hopefully in the end they will tire themselves out enough to be calm before you board your connecting flight.

001 Spence airport connection

5- Keep calm, Breathe and Smile
Your kid might make this hard for you but as long as you are doing your best to soothe and control them then you have every right to give the other passengers the stares right back. Kids are kids after all. I kept telling myself that this is only a few hours of my life to get through, once I arrive my family will be waiting for us. Deep breaths always help.

You will survive this (Shhh, it also helps to have a small wine from the drinks trolley) and you will feel a great sense of achievement once you have landed at the other end.

IMG_3148

Good Luck! Let me know if you have any suggestions of how to keep toddlers busy.

Family Life

Summer Holidays 2015

July 24, 2015

With the summer heat in Oman currently around 45 degrees I recently took the opportunity to travel back to Scotland and escape the heat for a few weeks. Unfortunately Colin couldn’t join us due to work so it was just little Spencer and myself making the journey to the Motherland.

There are many things I look forward to when I go ‘home’ but this year I especially loved being able to walk outdoors and take Spencer to the play park without worrying about heat stroke or burns. It really is the simple things in life.

For this post I’ll share our vacation with you in pictures rather than words. I hope you enjoy seeing our vacation through my eyes.

001 Fence pole

001 Boys by the river

001 Pebble beach

001 Twins

001 Glasgow skyline

001 Woodland walks

001 Play park

1 Dunottar Thistle

001 Siblings

001 Lobster pots

01 Family pic 2

001 Clouds

001 Spence and Nathan

001 Banff family

001 Poppy

Wherever you are in the world this summer I hope you are having a fantastic time and making memories to treasure.

Heather x

Family Life, Food & Entertainment

Eat, Lift, Sleep, Repeat – Part One

July 19, 2015

If your ‘better half’ came to you and told you that they have signed you up for a gym membership AND you will have your ass kicked by a personal trainer you might be a bit insulted? Well I was pretty livid. How dare he!

My initial reaction was to call my husband every swear word I could muster whilst crying about how fat I was and how he obviously doesn’t love me anymore. I probably burnt a few calories just jumping to all these conclusions but If I had listened to the rest of his speech I would have understood his motives better. He explained again that he wanted to help as I had been spending so much money on a gym membership that didn’t motivate me. Being a practical man he found me a new gym and trainer that would give me the best chance of getting the results I wanted so I would be a happier wife. He is a clever man really but a voucher for liposuction would have been nice also…

I wouldn’t describe myself as unfit or hugely overweight by any means, I eat good food and I lead an active life but I just didn’t have the knowledge or the push on my own to ever achieve what I dreamed of especially in a dull, uninspiring gym. Joining Elite gym has been the first step to something life changing for me. After just 10 days of a proper, clean diet and training hard my body shape was already starting to change for the better.

The first offenders to be kicked out of my crappy diet were croissants and sugary coffee, an addiction from too many Mum & Baby coffee mornings. I still REALLY miss my weekend pizza delivery but I much prefer that the roll of fat over my jeans is slowly reducing and that tastes better than any Dominos!

001 Clean Eating collage

Many of you have asked me to share details of work outs and how I keep myself fit, so here is the secret – Eat, Lift, Sleep, Repeat. It’s bloody hard work, meal planning, a lot of weights and an inhumane amount of sweat but this is what is working for my body. I will use this blog to show my progress along the way to the end result, partly because if I share with the world then I can’t quit because you will all know that I failed.

But I’ll warn you now, The pictures might not be pleasant – I will be sweaty, no make-up and with lifting weights I probably will look like I am giving birth but this is going to be a hard, honest journey.

These are some pictures of today’s workout where we focused on the chest, bicep and abs.

001 Bicep curl

001 Chest push

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes but if you are not happy in the shape you are in then do something to change it. If your excuse is “I just don’t have the time” Then think of it this way – Working out 4 times a week for 1 hour at a time leaves you another 164 hours left in the week to do what you want. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?

001 Abs push

001 Fly Wires

Part of the journey is taking the dreaded “before” pictures and admitting to all your flaws and wobbly bits but I’m determined that in a few months time I will have some great “after” pictures of a fitter, stronger body to show as a comparison. Until then the before pictures are far too embarrassing to share.

If you want to know more about Coach Yoka and Elite gym you can find them on Facebook and Instagram. And no, he didn’t pay me to write this 🙂

Family Life

Sixteen Months Old

May 30, 2015

My little guy has just turned 16 months old, time is flying by and he is growing before my very eyes. He isn’t a baby anymore, he is a proper little rough and tumble lad with a cheeky smile and a real personality. It has been a while since I updated the blog with a Spencer update so this one goes out to all his fans.

If you don’t like the “baby spam” then I would advise you to keep scrolling to the next post, this is about to get all cute and might just melt your icy heart.

01 16 months cutie

Spencer is a little entertainer, he charms everyone he meets with those big blue eyes, a funny dance and a cheeky grin. When we are out and about he will deliberately hold eye contact with strangers and shout “Haiiiiiiiiiii” so they will come and interact with him. Great fun for him but horrible for the socially anxious mother waiting for him to finish his conversation, haha.

Weighing in at 12kgs he is a pretty solid little unit, although he always has been, there isn’t a pick of fat on him, this is pure baby muscle built up from hours of running away from his Mum, ha ha! Already he has 16 teeth and now wearing a size 5.5 shoes. Big feet and long legs help him with his favourite activity – climbing! He loves to climb anything he can from stairs to cupboards, chairs, drawers and clambering onto the dining table to tap dance – usually naked with a biscuit in one hand and singing a song.

Three mornings a week he goes to nursery school which he loves. At nursery he can be social and play with other kids, get messy with sensory play and burn off his energy in a safe and understanding environment. I felt horrendously guilty sending him to nursery, that’s a blog post for another day, but I see how much he enjoys it and how much he has progressed and I know for a kid like Spencer with endless energy it is all worth while.

01 16 month collage 2

Getting out the house with a toddler is not an easy task anymore, he won’t sit in a stroller and cant stand to be confined in a high chair. This makes life tricky as we can’t go places where he is likely to break anything or get into trouble. I’m hoping this part is just a phase of being a toddler or we may never eat out in a restaurant again.

01 16 month whinge

Learning new words is always fun! He can say the usual baby words like Mama, Dada, Car and Miaow but recently is starting to grasp a few more words and repeat things we say like Shoe, Chair, Burger and Stick which amuses us greatly. This weeks favourite word is “Hotttttttttttt”.

Right now the weather here in Oman is just too hot to spend much time in the garden during the day, it makes me so sad to see Spencer trying to get outside and knowing that he can’t go because he will burn himself on pretty much everything. We try to let him have an hour in the garden in the evening as the sun is going down to play with the hose and help to water the plants and chase the animals.

16 month collage

Kids like to trick you. Just when you think you have cracked something they change it all up again. Spencer used to be a great eater but lately meal times have been tricky as he started getting really fussy with his food. At one point the main things he would eat would be carbs like buttered bread, toast, rice and plain pasta. Gradually I am starting to introduce a few more bits to make his diet more varied and get him to try new tastes again. Thankfully now he will eat things with more protein like a fried egg for breakfast or a grilled beef burger at dinner. He used to LOVE strawberries and kiwis but now won’t even look at them, for now he loves grapes and blueberries so I will keep going with them until he changes his mind again. Slowly we are getting there…

We have a trip back to Scotland planned for this summer, I am so excited to take him “home”. We haven’t been back since this time last year when he was just 4 months old so there are a lot of people eager to see him. I am most excited to be able to take him to play in the park and be able to spend more time outdoors. I am so excited!!

01 16 months with Mum

As an ending note, People ask me at least 3 or 4 times a week when we are having another baby. Sorry to diasappoint you but right now we are perfectly happy with our little family unit and have no plans to expand that for at least another couple of years. But thank you for your continued interest in our family and my vacant womb 😛

16 months family shot

So that’s it, you are up to date with the little hooligan. I hope that you enjoyed it!

How do you keep your toddlers entertained in the summer heat?!

Expat Life, Family Life

The Dogs Day Out

April 19, 2015

This weekend was the biggest date in the Oman doggy calendar as we headed along to the ‘Canines for a Cause’ charity event.

The event was in aid of two very important charities, the Oman Cancer Awareness Association and the Oman Diabetes Asoociation. and a very rare occurnence in Oman because we were allowed to bring our four legged friends along for the fun.

When I heard about this event I knew that this was something that my German Shepherd, Penny, would enjoy so we headed along to join in on the fun. I’m really glad that we did, it was probably one of the best days in Penny’s life. Ever.

01 Canine car selfie

The event was held in the grounds of the very swanky Al Bustan Palace hotel. In all honesty I never thought I would see the day when I would be allowed to take my dog to the Al Bustan so that in itself was quite a novelty.

01 Bustan entrance

01 Al Bustan trial

As soon as we were parked and out the car Penny was straight on the grass sniffing like crazy and ready to find all her new play mates.

The main event was held in a large air conditioned tent, just aswell as the temperature outside was hitting a scorching 40 degrees. Too hot for the pooches and their owners to be outdoors for too long. Thankfully the tent kept us out of the intense sun so the dogs didn’t struggle too much.

There were serious games and events for the dogs to take part in like agility courses and there were also some more light hearted competitions like the ‘waggiest tail’ and ‘best name’. I didn’t hear who won ‘best name’ but so far my favourite dog name I heard at the vets was a dog called ‘Crazy Face’ 😛

01 event tent trial

The tent was packed with all different breeds and sizes of dogs from Dalmatians and Huskies right down to the tiny Terriers and Chihuahuas. Thankfully all the dogs were very well behaved on the day!

After a lot of playing, posing for pictures and sniffing butts (the dogs, not me) we headed outside where Penny was adamant that she was jumping in the ocean to cool off. This was the icing on the cake for her, she loves to swim and splash. I don’t exactly love driving a wet dog home in the car though but it made her happy.

01 Penn at the beach trial 2

01 Penn swimming trial

Penny had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I can confirm that as soon as we were home she had a looooooong drink of water she then slept VERY soundly. Perfect.

Thank you to the organisers for giving us something different to do where we could include our four legged friends. Hopefully this could be the start of many more family & dog events to come!

PS- Hello to all the lovely people who recognised me and Penny and came to say hi 🙂 You were all really sweet