Tuesday, 26 March 2013

we have officially become middle-aged

So I've been finding myself spending a lot of time looking at kitchen designs and pictures of living rooms for inspiration. This is a sure sign that I am no longer "young and hip", although I think that description died a death the day I got really excited about getting a bread machine as a gift.

We've had plans drawn up which are about to go to the council for planning permission, and Nationwide has been positive about re-mortgaging the house. The house, she will be getting bigger - not to fill it with more children, I hasten to add. We just need more space, especially when the kids get older. The new room at the back of the house will be a family den sort of thing, and the current living room at the front of the house will be my TV-free haven. We're also renovating the kitchen, which is something we've talked about since we moved in ten years ago. That melamine paint was supposed to be a temporary measure to cover the ugly 80s cabinets, but there they remain. So long, retro cupboards and lack of counter space! If budget permits, we're also hoping to add a utility room in the garage.

As with all things in my life, I am a little bit worried. The thought of living on a building site with three kids fills me with dread, especially when we will be without a kitchen for a little while. I feel overwhelmed by all the choices out there, and what's the best decision. Do we go for a dark worktop, or will that be impossible to keep clean? Wood flooring through all the rooms downstairs, or ceramic tile in the kitchen? Dark or light cabinets? What kind of cabinets? What colours will we use for the new room and the living room? Gah!

Thanks to bureaucracy, we will have a lot of time to think about all of this. It'll take quite a few weeks to get planning permission and another few weeks for the builders to get started, depending on how busy they are at the moment. I can't imagine anything will get started before August, which is fine. I think that because we're still in the very early stages and we have no idea what we're doing, it's all a bit overwhelming. Exciting, but kind of scary.

Being a grown-up is hard work sometimes.

Monday, 18 March 2013

missing


We went to see old friends of ours on Sunday, whose dog Jake is a couple of years older than Jasper. Although he's a cocker spaniel, he's got a very similar face - black with those big brown soulful eyes, and even has the same grey muzzle. He's always reminded me of Jasper, which is something I'd forgotten about until we went to visit.

He does that head butting thing that Jasper did when he wanted attention; if you stop petting him, he pushes his head under your arm. It was nice - really nice - to stroke a dog again and hold a little furry face in my hands, but god it was hard. It was only as I was saying things to Jake that I realised they were the doggyisms I said to Jasper. The way I scratched behind his ears and rubbed the top of his nose was the same. It made the absence of our dog more apparent, and that was very difficult to cope with.

Our friend asked if we would get another dog. Paul is certain that he wants another, but I'm just not sure. I hate not having a dog in the house. Hate it. It's unbearably, painfully quiet when I'm here working on my own. I miss the tapping of his nails on the floors, the thudding of his massive tail on the walls and radiator (or whatever he was standing next to at the moment), his bark when the doorbell goes. Having a pet is very therapeutic - I just can't feel shitty when I'm stroking a dog.

On the other hand, I never want to go through the loss of a pet again. Jasper was my first pet and although I always knew that day would come, it's been horrible. It's only been just over a month and everything is still so raw, and I know that it's not the right time to decide about doing this all again. I think, as my lovely friend Kari said, I will simply know when the time is right. Right now, I wouldn't be able to look at a new dog without comparing him to Jasper and perhaps having unfair expectations of how he should behave.

One day, maybe. Probably. One day.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

a mother of a day

I'm not sure why a lot of my friends and family back home get confused or are surprised that Mother's Day is much earlier here. I've been posting about it on Facebook every year since 2007, so obviously they are just not paying attention! The nerve.

So last Sunday was Mother's Day in the UK, which is related to Lent and Easter and is never on the same Sunday each year. Confusing, but it keeps you on your toes. It's always at some point in March; a bonus for me as my birthday's the 31st. Not that I demand much of anything or expect to be spoiled, I just love knowing I'll get at least two meals cooked for me one month out of the year.

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All three made cards for me, which is something I absolutely love. Give me handmade any day over Hallmark. Mia's class did their Mother's Day-themed assembly on Friday, and she did so well. I love her painting of me - I look surprised and/or like I've had some work done. All the paintings were brilliant and met with tears of laughter. The school needs to update their Mother's Day song, though. It was something along the lines of, "You may not have any education, but you can cook well and that's good enough for me."

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After the assembly, I went into work where a project manager greeted me with a bottle of fizz as thanks for my work on our latest release. What an excellent end to the week and start to the weekend! Our nieces came for a visit on Saturday for the night, which was a lovely treat - we don't see them very often. On Sunday, Paul cooked us an amazing roast dinner and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers arrived at the door.

Each year when I talk about the lovely things that happen to me on Mother's Day, it invariably and unintentionally makes someone feel like crap. I know I'm lucky to be with someone who's thoughtful and loving, and I don't take that for granted. Life is not perfect by any means and we've been through a lot of sad, tough times together. I am very blessed to have three great kids, who make me laugh and smile every day, and who force me to take time out to enjoy life. Being a mum is something I didn't even know I wanted until I was in my 30s and I don't think I'm particularly good at it (I don't even iron anything, for god's sake), but I am a much better person for it.

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

weekly roundup

So can we all agree that the photo a day thing is a great idea but it's never, ever gonna happen? Let's do a photo a week. Okay? Okay.

Here's this week's photo - Mia at her karate grading today:

Mia's karate grading

She is so little and cute when she does her grading, but she can hold her own. We find out Thursday if she gets her next belt (purple.) I think she did brilliantly, but I'm a bit biased.

I finished my first full week of work and I'm exhausted, which sounds pathetic, but I'm very much out of practice. Being full time at my day job and carrying on with all the errands, tasks, and other hilarity that being a family of five brings is goddamn tiring. I am feeling a bit smug about it all, though. I didn't forget anything hugely important, all children were fed and had clean clothes for the week, and I didn't lose any of them.

Truth be told, it's been stressful and I feel like I'm struggling to keep my head above the water but weirdly, this has been a good thing. Because my time is even more limited, I'm much more conscious about what I'm doing and getting better at prioritising. I'm putting aside the tasks that aren't really important and making time for those that are. Normally I would plough through menial crap like doing the dishes or tidying up when I could be sitting with the kids and doing something with them. I find myself asking myself, "Do I really need to do this?" and usually the answer is nah. Go cuddle a toddler instead. Laundry can wait.

Tomorrow, an architect is coming over to advise us about whether or not we can extend the house at the back and what our options might be. I can't even begin to tell you how exciting this is. This could mean a souped-up kitchen and extra space we can use as a family room. We could end up with a civilised living room for grown ups if the kids have another room they can use. I might get a sofa with a little loungey bit on the end where I can put my feet up and knit. I don't care that this is a middle-aged thing to get giddy about; I have no shame about my love for quiet spaces and nice kitchens.

And that's the week that was, plus a bit about this coming week. We're living on the edge!