What Would the Wee Man Do?

When I found out Edinburgh schools go back on the 10th of January, I was tempted to call the council.

What on earth was I going to do with them? When would I ever get back to work?

When in doubt - balloons

When in doubt – balloons

Rod probably wouldn’t admit it, but he must have been glad to get back to work on the 3rd. No one pulling anyone’s hair, repeating his name over and over and over or undoing everything he did… Actually, he works in the car trade, maybe that’s exactly what he went back to.

Thank God the nursery reopened on the 4th – only the Wee Man to entertain for three out of the six extra days.

Two days in and I’m kind of astonished to realise I’ve loved it.

What? So we're at the park again...

What? So we’re at the park again – what’s your point?

If anyone is struggling to stick to their “Healthy January” resolution, may I suggest hanging out with my son? He makes every minute of the day count – and I love that about him. Some of my friends’ kids are content to watch movies, play with their Christmas presents and generally hang out at home. Not him.

Yesterday, after dropping KD at nursery, we went straight to soft play. We were the first ones there and he whooped with delight. One other family arrived, with two small kids, one of whom introduced herself to the Wee Man and off they went. She was adorable. I played football with them and cheered them coming down the slides. They got on so well that her mum and I swapped numbers and arranged a playdate.

After a couple of hours at home we were off again, to visit Auntie Kaka and play with all her daughter’s toys. Then it was the big one: his first swimming lesson. That half hour in the pool made me so proud I could burst. For once his general lack of fear played in his favour – he was leaping into the water, swimming valiantly as he sank lower and lower and laughing the whole time. I think his instructor fell in love with him a wee bit – I could see she was proud too.

Today we went back to the pool after the nursery drop off and practised. To say he was delighted was an understatement, I actually feel bad for keeping his arm bands on this long. There was an aqua aerobics class going on at the same time and he kept trying to join in, dancing even as he drowned a little bit. There’s a soft play at the gym so I managed a quick coffee as he played, but soon we were off again, home for lunch and a wee bit of telly before donning full waterproofs and heading to the park.

A dot in the distance

A dot in the distance

As he shot off across the field with his football in the sunshine I thought “He’s just a free spirit,” somewhat indulgently. With no KD to slow us down we must have covered the length and breadth of that huge field several times over. He only stopped to hang over the fence and chat to the woman poo-picking in the horses’ field. She’d heard the rumour JK Rowling owned the sprawling stables across the bypass too and we commiserated in our jealousy.

After an hour in the zero degree cold we headed back to the car and popped in to see his great pal and her brother who, in his mother’s words, is “mad on the Wee Man” (rather than mad with him)… His energy was undented. They tore around the house, laughing their heads off, as Allison and I drank tea and discussed whether boys or girls were more of a challenge to parent.

"You be Anna and I'll be Elsa"

“You be Anna and I’ll be Elsa”

In the end the only thing that stopped us was a clamp on the wheel. Yes, they may be saving paper by doing away with tax discs, but they have opened up a whole new cash generator. I had just loaded KD into the car seat and was going back for the Wee Man when I realised the junk mail on the windscreen was in fact a £100 fine.

Drinking through the pain...

Drinking through the pain…

We have a joke in our family. Whenever we’re stressing about something we think of Big B, my so-laid-back-he’s-horizontal brother in law, and say “What Would Brian Do?” I’m thinking of adapting it to “What Would the Wee Man Do”? He is joy personified. It’s exhausting, but when it’s all about him, it’s incredibly uplifting. And fat burning.

So whenever you’re fed up, go ahead and borrow my new catchphrase. At least it will get you through January.

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The gift of sleep

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God knows how Santa got it all down my non-existent chimney – but I was thoroughly spoiled this year.

Most of the best gifts were sleep related; A White Company dressing gown (thanks Mum <3), an electric blanket, PJs, a new mattress…

That last gift arrived on the 27th and had been a very hasty iPhone purchase. Rod has been moaning about the mattress ever since we moved down from Aberdeen and the removal company placed it directly under a leak. One of our children also peed on it recently so – repulsed, when I changed the sheets, by the yellow stain – I hastily Googled “mattress sale” and PayPaled one that had a memory foam layer and hefty discount.

It was delivered rolled tightly into a tube by an Indian guy in a beany hat.

“Look boys it’s Santa!” I cried, so delighted was I to be sleeping hygienically. They looked at him, puzzled, but were happy to share in mummy’s joy.

Unwrapping it was like opening an adult-sized jack-in-the-box. It boinged as I cut through the shrink wrap and then bounced upright, terrifying the smaller one and sending the bigger one into hysterics. It smelled like fish.

“So did my flower necklaces when we opened them for my party,” the Wee Man’s girlfriend informed me when she came to play an hour later.

“It goes away.”

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So I left it lying on the bed frame and dragged the old one into KD’s room where the three kids discovered it was the best toy in the post-Christmas household. For hours they bounced on it and dragged it around, making dens and slides. Donutters, Duplo and Doh of the Play variety all lay untouched. At least there was minimal mess I told myself as I strictly supervised the jumping, convinced one of them would break a bone.

Later, as I un-boxed the new electric blanket, and made up the bed with freshly laundered sheets, I had a moment.

How old was I?

When exactly did shit like this start to matter to me?

I sat down on the showhome bed and couldn’t help but notice it was now lower with the new (cheap) mattress, so the reach up to the tallboy bedside tables was even more of a stretch. Rod was going to kill me. He hates my tallboy bedside tables. “I can’t reach shit,” he frequently complains, oblivious to the aesthetic.

AFTER: Bedroom

I bounced up and down experimentally. Not bad. Lower to the ground definitely – and therefore closer to the 85 chargers. Aha! I realised Rod would be pleased. A Kindle Fire and Apple Watch had also been in the Christmas haul, so two more chargers were joining the cable party trip hazard. I looked fondly at the Apple Watch charger. I was the proud owner – but had actually trumped his gift by also giving him a watch. His surprise had been delicious – after all, I’ve spent most of 2016 telling him we can’t afford a Tag Heuer. We still can’t, but when you choose a classic and finance it, rather than falling for the top of the range and wanting to buy it outright, we almost can.

Maybe we’re not completely pathetic, I reasoned, swaggering around with our wrist candy, eye bags reduced by our posh sleeping attire and cosy pee-free bed.

I wonder if my Apple Watch has a sleep app?

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Playroom renovation COMPLETE!

A year ago today – exactly – we moved to Edinburgh. To mark this anniversary, we can FINALLY say our house is finished! The boys have a new playroom and we have a whole new room in our house.

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I am SO EXCITED about picking up the Wee Man from school – he’s going to burst. Then we’ll have the best job ever of filling it with toys!

It’s been a fun journey – here it is in pictures.

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So my top tips based on our renovation?

  • Get good tradesmen and pay them promptly – the plumber must have been back and forth five or six times, but he was always very obliging because I transferred the money for his bill the same day each time.
  • Take advice even though you had a pretty fixed idea in your head
  • Shop around online – I ordered the staircase myself and saved hundreds of pounds. Of course, I didn’t tell the joiner until after he’d put it all together. He actually said: “You’ve just risen in my estimations”
  • Make lots and lots of tea and coffee and always buy the good biscuits
  • Make “how could I save a bit of money on that?” your default phrase – even when you’re in CarpetRight and everyone’s listening and the assistant is getting more and more pissed off as their commission shrinks before their eyes
  • If you don’t understand what your tradesman’s on about, say you’ll get back to him and Google it. I had to tell the painter about PVA for sealing brickwork – he thought I’d have to buy a specialist substance at £50 per tub.
  • Use PVA for sealing brickwork
  • Make sure your plasterer wears safety goggles – mine didn’t, even though he was doing ceilings, and had to go to the eye hospital leaving shite all over the place for two extra days
  • Humour people. No matter who you have in, they should have been in before the last guy. Just agree and offer more biscuits.
  • Offer lots of praise and then swiftly remove it when they’re not up to scratch – I’ve found it makes them much more eager to please. Yes I know this is coldly calculating.
  • Order wallpaper online. Never buy it from a shop. Ever.
  • Be prepared to get involved if it keeps everything on schedule. I was painting skirtings the night before the carpets came.
  • Locks. Put locks on as many doors as you can, especially if you have young, curious trouble-making children.
  • Be super nice to your neighbours throughout.
  • Make sure there is a spare key with a neighbour at all times.
  • Save everyone’s mobile number into your phone. Seems simple, but honestly saves your sanity.
  • Don’t let your husband do a dump run in the middle of any renovation, ever.
  • Take photos of every stage
  • Have fun with it – it can be a huge pain in the arse but it’s so worth it!

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Halloween 2016

Man, Halloween has been fun this year!

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I dressed up as a cat to collect the Wee Man from school today. He shit himself, ran away and hid in a cupboard. Clearly I was more excited than he was.

His friend at school has an army major for a dad and the Wee Man thinks this is the coolest thing in the world. The major, having one daughter, has formed a lovely relationship with him and gave him an old army shirt and hat. The Wee Man has the salute down and marched around the neighbourhood showing off for sweets, while his little brother sang a sort of Baa Baa Black Sheep in his skeleton costume.

We were home for 6 and waited for the guisers, a ‘Welcome to the Haunted House’ mat at the foot of the stairs and our Shrek and crazy pumpkins on the steps.

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Well.

If ever we needed reminding we live in Edinburgh now, tonight we got the message.

Highlights included jokes in French, a stunning verse and chorus from Phantom of the Opera complete with falsetto, the response “Well, I’ll take the Aston Martin,” when I said we’d run out of sweets and, my personal favourite, a gorgeous impromptu rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by 12 ten year olds when the two year old forgot the words. In harmony.

So even though I’ve run out of sweets, crisps, packets of jelly, rice cakes and every pound coin in my wallet, I have been thoroughly entertained and made to feel even more at home here in the capital.

 

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Edinburgh Renovation part 4

We are in!

Mummykimmy rainbow

To say it’s a miracle is genuinely an understatement. Marc sent me a video at midnight of him papering the toilet. The Wee Man took unwell and we had a couple of nights in hospital (just for observation, he’s fine). Rod shifted everything in a 24 hour period ably assisted by our pal Andy using only a large van. I and my friend Alison were in the old house with our marigolds and bleach until nearly midnight.

Yet somehow here we are.

So what have we done since I last posted?

Well, the bit that made me happiest was the toilet.

Mummykimmy toilet ba

It turned out as fabulous as I had hoped, despite stripes and a small space being a fenickity f*cker of a combination. Certain commentators have called it camp. I take that as a compliment and accept the sparkles in the stripes are a tad OTT.

Mummykimmy sanded floors

The dining room floor was sanded and coated twice with varnish, the bargain rug and splendid lampshade installed – all I need to do now is hang the leafy curtains.

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My black handrails for the stairs went on to my white walls and look freaking awesome – just wait till I’ve got all my black and white photographs up on that landing wall.

Mummykimmy stairs ba

Marc created a frame for the hole in the wall, ready for the door which is coming this week. We’ve put up a temporary door to stop any small children from tumbling six feet onto a stone garage floor. I’m still searching out the best provider of stairs, so any recommendations, please send them my way!

On Saturday the carpets were installed. I’m not sure who was more delighted – me or Marc, who actually tipped the fitters. I wanted the same colour in all bedrooms, stairs and living room to help the energy flow and it bloody worked! The carpet looks different in each room, reflecting the light and the wall colours. It’s lush. It makes the house smell like a showhome.

Today my garage doors were changed for patio doors and the vintage side window was smashed in favour of uPVC. It’s made a huge difference to the look of the house –  and the guys who fitted it were lovely. My friend Karrie, who’d popped by with scones, took his card for her own patio doors.

Mummykimmy garage

As much as I’m desperate to keep up the momentum – I think we’re going to take a break on the renovations for a wee while. I want to paint the house, change the driveway, landscape the garden… But they can all wait. Meanwhile I’ll content myself furniture shopping on Gumtree…

 

 

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Edinburgh Renovation part 3

Day 11 in the Big Other house…

Many miracles have happened.

I got diamonds for my birthday on Saturday – they were just on the end of the saw that put a perfectly rectangular hole in my wall.

Mummykimmy diamond saw

Another miracle was the boiler getting reconnected and working! Well, apart from the pressure gauge and apparently that’s quite an important bit, so I’m happy to spend £12 on a new one. Other mannas from heaven included finding the exact missing part for the sander attachment hiding at the back of a shelf in B&Q and then, in CarpetRight, discovering an off-cut of black lino that precisely fits my toilet – reduced to a fiver.

Mummykimmy boiler

Mummykimmy fiver lino

Marc, despite breaking down on the bypass at 9.30pm and needing a tow to my house, is in remarkable spirits. He didn’t even mind ripping up the hall carpet which was glued to the underlay which, in turn, was glued to the floor (????)

Mummykimmy stairs before and after

I suspect Andy did most of the graft – he spent much of today pulling out staples from the floorboards so Marc could sand them. He also, incidentally, looked after my boys while Marc and I dashed to the carpet shop. They loved him and he was still smiling when I returned so I think he had fun.

We’re getting to the really good bit where rooms are starting to look finished. The wallpaper is up and I nearly cried when I saw it.

Mummykimmy car walls

Mummykimmy feather walls

He even managed to disconnect the big ugly handrail that ran right down the middle of the driveway.

Mummykimmy railing

I’ll be assisting all day tomorrow and Thursday so that the carpets can get fitted on Friday. I’m excited. I don’t even mind if I just paint skirting boards for eight hours.

Rod, who’s back at work, is shifting as much as he can by evening. Last night it was the contents of the kitchen and tonight it’s half the boxes in the attic. This is a lot of boxes. We’ve effectively been camping out in our present rented pad leaving the majority of our belongings packed from Aberdeen. The boys, of course, got into the one box that contained all their books and squealed with delight when they found Stickman. The poor deprived children who’ve had to make do with only 500 plastic toys instead of 5 million for the past nine months. Just wait boys. Your playroom is taking shape….

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Edinburgh Renovation Project part 2

Day seven in the Big Other House…

I think I might have repetitive strain injury. Today I painted the kitchen twice with specialist tile paint. It cost me £38 for a tub and saved me about £500 on retiling the kitchen. A third coat is required but Marc took pity on me and said he’d do it. So instead of this:

Mummykimmy kitchen orange

my kitchen looks like this:

Mummykimmy kitchen white

I thought I was pretty early to the house this morning. I turned up at 8.45 carrying Starbucks coffee. But no. Marc had been up since 6.30 and the plumber had been and gone. Take a look at this:

Mummykimmy pipes

Now look at this:

Mummykimmy no pipes

Spot the difference? I have never been so happy to see a hole in a wall.

Our plan to knock through into the garage playroom involves rerouting pipes and removing a radiator. There was a small moment of panic on day five when the plumber said he might not be able to reattach them to such an old boiler and we should really get a new one – at £1200. Luckily Marc stepped in and persuaded the plumber it was worth a try. If it doesn’t work I’ll be contacting Scottish Power and financing that particular cell in my spreadsheet.

Decision made, the plumber came back and cut everything off in time for the cute builder to return tomorrow and use his big tool. The only thing was, the plumber turned up at 7am, catching poor Marc in his pants (he’s staying in the house while we renovate). Luckily Marc is a pragmatist so he was content to throw on a T-shirt and shorts and supervise. Now the dusty messy knock-through job will be completed before we start painting downstairs. Score.

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Other achievements over the last few days include this discounted light fitting, picked up during a two and a half hour trip to B&Q.

Being with Marc in B&Q is a bit like being with a pig in shit. He bartered on my behalf in just about every aisle. We got a £60 rug for £22. He found curtains that exactly matched the idea I’d described that morning, then persuaded an assistant to mark them down by 15%. We both got very excited over black dimpled tiles for the toilet splashback. When the octogenarian who assisted us argued that they had no barcode and were not tester tiles, Marc charmed him into selling us the box for less than the cost of the two tiles we’d originally wanted. To finish with a flourish, he led me and our groaning trolley through the trades till.

So where are we now?

Today I chose carpets. The guy is coming to measure up on Monday and fit on Friday. Marc and his assistant Andy painted my bedroom dove grey and KD’s bedroom comfy jeans blue, including the radiators which now blend in to the walls. Every ceiling has now had a coat of white and the Wee Man’s room is no longer electric blue thanks to a couple of generous layers of white. Tomorrow the feature walls will be papered and on Sunday my harlequin toilet will come to life. I’m planning to film the wallpapering and speed it up – if that works, I’ll share it.

Blue and grey (with the old purple still on the door!)

Grey and blue (with the old purple still on the door!)

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Read part one here

 

 

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