Archive for On the move

Here Comes The Sun

When we were house hunting, we had a fairly exhaustive list of wants and needs. One of these was a decent garden. We wanted a space that would be low maintenance, but enough room for our children to run around and play football in.

When we found our house we knew the garden was as close to perfect as you can get (there is a rather annoying concrete step on the patio near the house that we will need to watch very carefully once the twins are running around): it had a patio, a lawn, a shed…and not much else. My parents bought us a lawn mower as a housewarming gift and we were good to go.

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We dreamed of summer evenings on the patio enjoying dinner outside and parties and barbecues that weren’t anything like the sweaty gatherings we used to have in our flat because we couldn’t open the windows wider than a crack in case the cats made a suicide bid. Of course, having tiny babies pretty much puts paid to any of that, so last year, having moved in mid-June and managing a barbecue to celebrate L’s birthday 5 days before the girls were born, we didn’t see a lot of the garden. We were even a bit cautious of sitting out there as the girls were so tiny and we were worried about them being too hot or too cold or not shaded enough.

This year, though. Oh this year will be so different. We have an assortment of inherited garden furniture (L’s parents moving to London and consequently downsizing was a massive blessing for us!) which includes a gazebo for shade. I can’t wait to slather some heavy duty sun cream on the girls and let them run around half-dressed and splash in the paddling pool. Because I’m not returning to work until mid-June (and then only for six four-day weeks) I should have the whole Spring and Summer – give or take – to enjoy the garden with the girls.

So imagine my delight a couple of weeks ago when the sun came out and I realised the air temperature outside was really quite mild. I immediately relocated us outside and we spent a good half hour or so playing in the garden.

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I was even able to take my iPad and keyboard outside and get some writing done sitting on the grass beside the girls. I went to Bluewater the next day and bought a new picnic blanket from John Lewis as our one has seen better days and I needed something that wasn’t frayed around the edges and a temptation for a small girl to pull at/chew on.

Of course, this meant that within days the temperature dropped and the snow returned. My wife would say that my purchasing the picnic blanket was directly responsible for the inclement weather (I would call it an unfortunate coincidence).

However, the sun seems to be returning. The world is slowly warming up and today is the Spring Equinox. I have just under three months left at home with my girls before I go back to work (oh I SO don’t want to think about that), so in addition to a new picnic blanket, L and I need to start thinking about how to make the garden the best it can be – particularly bearing in mind that I am planning on having THE BIGGEST garden party ever for the girls’ birthday in July and basically inviting everyone we know. (Let’s hope it doesn’t rain!!)

It was pretty good timing then, that a marketing agency representing John Lewis should approach me, asking me to write a featured post for their online garden department.

I love lights, and the only lighting we had for the garden last year was a couple of tea light holders from Ikea. I love these solar string lanterns – they are so bright and funky. We will probably also invest in some solar stakes and these are great at 10 for £40.

Although we have a dining set for the garden, we definitely need something a bit more comfy to sit on for when we just want to kick back and relax in the sun. (Don’t worry, I know I’m just kidding myself that I’ll be able to do that with two toddlers running around!) Something like these deckchairs would be great.

Neither of us are particularly green-fingered (hence our need for a low-maintenance garden), but L is hoping to grow some herbs in a wooden planter that I bought her for Christmas and it would be nice to have a couple of pot plants on the patio. And on my totally-aspirational-and-in-no-way-realistic list of things I would like for the garden goes something like this patio swing. The couple we bought the house off had one and it looked fab and great for curling up in the sun with a book. (Again – I know; never gonna happen!) We also need to invest in a second barbecue at some point as my parents bought L one for her birthday last year, but in order to feed more than about four of us, we’ll need another one.

But I promise not to buy anything new for the garden just yet. Because even though I don’t believe in jinxes, I’d hate for the sun to do another disappearing act on us just yet!

Disclosure: This is a featured post for a marketing agency representing John Lewis Online and I have been compensated for my time.

Where the heart is

It’s been a year since I married my best friend.  And what a year it’s been.

We got pregnant, found out it was twins, moved house and then had our two babies.  In theory life should slow down now but, well, we have two babies to look after.

I got up this morning and Imogen had kept L up half the night, so I took both babies downstairs and let her have a lie in.  Not only did she really appreciate this, but it made me confident that I might actually be able to cope when L goes back to work in only 3 weeks!

Life is pretty busy, which is why my blog posts have been fairly few and far between.  In actual fact I have several aborted drafts on my WordPress dashboard that may well never get published, either through lack of time or because they just stopped being relevant weeks ago.

So, in that vein, here are some pictures of our house once we were all moved in and unpacked.  These photos were (obviously) taken before the babies arrived.  Our house will NEVER look like this again until at least 2030! And by then we’ll probably have moved.

Anyway, without further ado…

Living-dining room (this was just before L’s birthday party if you were wondering about the bottle of Pimms on the table!)

Living-dining room, reverse view

Living-dining room including our wedding canvas (photo by theotherday.co.uk, canvas printed at Transform Your Image, Bluewater). The bookshelf is going and we are getting a dresser/display unit to go there instead. (Ignore the birthing ball!)

Kitchen

Front room. This will be a second living room/play room, but currently we have no sofa!

Bathroom

Master bedroom. Wedding photo and canvas as above.

Nursery (although the babies won’t be sleeping in here for quite a while).

Changing table complete with reusable nappies and cheeky wipes.

The babies’ bookshelf with their Olympic mascots. If you’re wondering about the book on the far right of the shelf, I did explain to my wife that it isn’t *actually* a children’s book!

Home Sweet Home

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Last Monday we FINALLY moved into our new home. As you can see from the photo, I am now massive and very close to actually having these babies. We’re expecting them within the next two weeks. Wow!

The house is getting there in terms of us being unpacked and organised. Despite moving from a flat to a house, we’ve actually had to down-size in a number of ways – not least because what was our spare room in our flat is now the babies’ room in the new house, so we can’t just pile all our junk in there (although, shh, don’t tell anyone, that’s exactly what it looks like right now!).

Because we’re not quite totally unpacked yet, I don’t have any “after” photos to show yet, but here are some “before” shots I took when we were still waiting for the removal men.

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Living/dining room with fab view of the garden.

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Kitchen with door out to the garden (cats were locked in the bathroom at this point, bless them!).

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Garden (at a bit of a funny angle – not sure quite what happened there).

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Front living room

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The babies’ room

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Our bedroom (I realise these last two are exceptionally rubbish pictures, hopefully all will become clear when I am able to take the “after” shots!).

We need a couple more bits of furniture, most of which will hopefully be provided by the in-laws as my father-in-law has just got a job in London, meaning they’ll be moving down from Birmingham permanently and, consequently, down-sizing. Unfortunately the compromise with free furniture is that we may well have to go a few weeks or even months without.

Still, I am starting to feel like we might be ready for these babies soon. The cats, who were imprisoned in the back room for just over a week, have now started exploring the garden. Although Hercules is proving a bit of a scaredy cat and doesn’t often venture outside, Rocky and Barney are loving it!

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I am tired pretty much ALL THE TIME and even starting to get bored of maternity leave – not that I want to be at work you understand, but with the constraints of money and energy levels there is only so much I can do to keep myself entertained! Thankfully L only has one more week left at work after this one, as the head has agreed to let her start her paternity leave on the 9th July, whether or not the babies have come yet.

(God I hope they have!)

We’ve had a bit of a sweepstake amongst the family based on the birth date and combined birth weight and tomorrow marks the earliest date anyone has bet on. Which means we really are entering the realms of imminent arrival!

I have a final scan on Tuesday, which will dictate our next steps (Caesarian, induction, spicy food lol) and then it really will be just a matter of days until the twins arrive!

I am so excited but equally terrified, although I am looking forward to no longer being kicked in the ribs by two pairs of feet – at least from the inside anyway.

No I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth…

Our broadband router is broken.  We don’t know what’s wrong with it, but it is definitely broken.  Sky want to charge us for a new one, which is not going to happen because we are leaving Sky when we move and will actually live in a Virgin Media area.  So yah boo sucks to Sky.  Except this of course means we have no broadband at home, and the phone reception isn’t great, so I’ve been clinging onto the bare minimum of internet access by the skin of my teeth for the last couple of weeks.  So frustrating!

I have about 3 half written blog posts saved in my drafts folder, and wanted to blog about our weekend in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, but it’s taken this long to get somewhere I can actually get online.  We’ve managed to do the odd bits and pieces at work, but to be honest we have too much work to do at work to have time to use the internet for much else.  Today, however, I am round at my mum and step-dad’s (they are away in their caravan) and using their super fast Virgin fibre optic broadband.  Whoop whoop!

So makes yourselves comfy, because this post may well end up being somewhat on the lengthy side.

We had a great time at the Baby Show in Birmingham on the 19th May.  It was great to be in a position to be able to actually buy stuff for the babies as by this point I was 30 weeks and my wife, with all her superstitions, couldn’t deny that it was in fact starting to get a bit desperate that we buy the essentials.  We were able to buy the buggy we wanted at a fantastic price and I’m ridiculously excited because it’s coming on Thursday, along with a cup holder and changing bag.

Bugaboo Donkey Twin in black and stone

We also ordered two cots from Mamas and Papas at a very good discount and I then went a little crazy in the Mamas and Papas nursery section as all their nursery accessories were 30% off, so we bought cot bumpers, some bedding, mobiles, changing mats and a lampshade, all from their Gingerbread range, which is mostly green and yellow and therefore very unisex as well as being ridiculously cute!

We also bought a bottle starter kit and some breastfeeding essentials, all at fabulous discounts.  There were lots of gimmicks that we ummed and ahhed over before deciding they were unnecessary and some great bouncy chairs that we really wanted, but missed out on because we prioritised getting the buggy and cots ordered and they were sold out by the time we went back.  All in all though, a great day.  I can’t believe how many hours we managed to spend there without getting bored!

The next day was great as well – although we couldn’t stay in Birmingham long as we had to head back to make sure our cats were okay and hadn’t destroyed the flat in our absence – as we got to meet Lauren and Sarah from 2 Brides to 2 Mummies!  Our first blogger meet up.  My wife gets very anxious about meeting new people, which was good in a way as it meant that I couldn’t afford to be anxious about it because I had to be upbeat and chipper and encouraging and tell her that she’d have a lovely time, which of course she did!  We met the girls at Starbucks in the Bullring and although we were only able to stay for an hour, due to needing to get back to London, we easily could have stayed and chatted for so long!  It was really great to meet them in person and find out that they really are as lovely as they seem on Twitter and their blog.  Hopefully, we’ll get to repeat the experience soon, whether that’s avec bump or avec babies!!

In the meantime, we have STILL been waiting to exchange contracts on our sale and purchase so we can actually move house.  The solicitors have been dragging their feet a little and L has had to ring them almost daily, but finally it looks as though we really will be in a position to exchange next week (after about 50 million Bank Holidays of course, what fabulous timing!).  This week is half term, which is a very welcome break, and our removals company delivered our boxes on Friday evening so, amongst getting a bit of school work done, we can start packing up the flat.  Or, at least, L can start packing up the flat and I can direct from the sofa.  Actually, I should be able to be slightly more helpful than that, but only because the temperature has dropped.  Last week I looked like I had elephantitus of the feet and ankles, which thankfully was only due to the heat and not a sign of pre-eclampsia as the midwife I saw on Friday said my blood pressure was still nice and low.

We’re hoping to enjoy this week off together as much as possible as, or course, it’ll be the last school holiday we have without the twins actually being here!  We’re planning to go to the cinema and maybe  hit the crazy golf if the weather picks up a bit.  It’s weird to think that I only have one week left at work when we go back after the break.  It’s been a long time coming, but now that it’s imminent, it’s a little scary as well as a little sad that I won’t get to see the year out with my class.  I know I’m leaving them in good hands though, which is reassuring.

This week we also have our 32-week scan, which should give a clear indication of how I am likely to deliver these babies.  The midwife I saw on Friday thinks that one twin has turned out of the breech position, but if she’s right, it’s the wrong twin.  In order for me to attempt a natural birth, Twin 1 needs to be in the correct position, as this is the lower twin and therefore the one that will come out first.  It’ll be interesting to see on Wednesday what position both the babies are in, although it’s also a bit scary to think that as a result of this scan, I may be booked in for a caesarian in a  few weeks’ time!  It really isn’t long now until the babies arrive – it could almost be any time now! – and aside from not even being moved into our new place yet, I feel there are tons of other things we need to do to get properly ready for their arrival.

One thing we have done though, is buy a car.  We need to be a two-car family as L will still need to drive to work, plus we currently have a Toyota Aygo, which although it is a great little car, has the boot space of one of those Little Tykes red and yellow toddler cars.

Come to think of it, the Cosy Coupe may have more boot space than we have in the Aygo…

So, in order that we have a car that can actually fit our babies and their giant buggy, we needed to find something a little bigger.  However, it couldn’t be too big, as our new driveway is slightly on the small side.  In fact, it’s not even that the driveway is narrow, it’s that the turning space on the road in order to get onto our driveway is narrow.  Regardless, we had very specific requirements when it came to size that thankfully ruled out the Nissan Qashqai my wife was desperate to get.  We looked at quite a few cars that fall into the “bigger-small-car” range and settled on the Ford Fiesta, which these days has a very spacious boot (I know because I measured it myself!).  We managed to find a 3-year-old Fiesta Titanium, which is the top of the range model, for a reasonable price that we could get finance for.  And yesterday I put a deposit down on it.

Because it’s the Titanium, it has loads of mod-cons including climate control, Bluetooth and various other gimmicks and gadgets.  We are also getting them to Diamond Brite it, which is kind of like scotch-guarding and will hopefully protect the upholstery from the worst of the babies’ messes, as well as getting them to throw in a parking sensor for free, which will really help with manoeuvring it on and off the drive.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pick it up the weekend I start maternity leave, so I won’t be stuck at home relying on buses when L goes off to work.

Did I mention it’s pink? Well, “hot magenta” if I’m being totally accurate. Love it!!

About time for a little update

Ah, my poor neglected blog.

It’s not that I haven’t had topics in mind to blog about – I have – it’s that, during the holidays I had plenty of time to blog, but also needed to plan a lesson observation for the first Thursday back at work.  I tried to get all my work done at the beginning of the holidays, but after a fruitless hour spent on the computer, I put it aside for another day.  I eventually finished all my work over the last weekend of the holidays.  This meant that, during the holidays, although I was technically procrastinating the whole time, I couldn’t really justify sitting down and blogging because then I would be actively avoiding doing my work and…I don’t know…does anyone else have that kind of mind set when it comes to procrastination?  If you’re not really doing anything, you can’t possibly be procrastinating.

Anyhow, then we were back at work and I had my observation and that meant that week was totally hectic.  Plus, over the weekend my amazing wife ran the London Marathon (SO! PROUD!) and between seeing relatives who had come down to support her and actually traipsing around London to catch a glimpse of her on the course, we didn’t have a lot of weekend left.

The babies are wriggling like crazy these days, which is so exciting!  I am even starting to identify different body parts – at least in a vague “that must be a limb, that must be a head” sort of way.  Rightbaby is breech (and still very obstinate as evidenced by the scan pictures below) and his or her head is constantly trying to make its way under my ribs.

Leftbaby, 25 weeks 1 day

Rightbaby, 25 weeks 1 day

We had a scan at 25 weeks and the babies had grown, although they still seem to be on the small side of average.  The doctor we saw this time wasn’t at all concerned (there’s a whole other post in that) and we’re back again at 28 weeks for our regular twin scan and appointment.  Maternity leave is growing closer (only 6 more working weeks after this one) but still seems ages away – particularly as our friend at work, who is 8 weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, is finishing next Friday.  Jealous doesn’t even begin to cover it, even though I know I’ll only have a few more weeks to wait and that after SATs in 3 weeks’ time, my working day will become a hell of a lot easier.  Work has definitely become less of a priority since I’ve been pregnant.  I really did want my observation lesson to go well – particularly as I knew it would be my last before having a year off – but I’ve found it hard to put as much effort into work as I would usually.  If I could have my way, I think I’d have sat at home for the last few weeks just watching my bump ripple and talking to the babies.

We’re getting closer to exchange of contracts on our sale and purchase but still aren’t quite there yet.  I am so desperate to have a moving date and can’t wait until we can seriously start thinking about nursery furniture.  Once we’ve bought our buggy (which will hopefully be from The Baby Show, this time in Birmingham near the end of May) we also need to look into a second car.

So whilst I am eager and anxious for the time to come around when the babies arrive, we still have a great deal to do before they make an appearance!  Hopefully things will fall into place and we’ll be well and truly settled by the time these babies are out in the real world.  If not, I know we will muddle through, whatever happens.

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