Category Archives: home

On the move again

I’ll need to change the blog tag to: Mummykimmy – a Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh blog.

On Monday we get the keys to our temporary new home in the capital and I am very nearly excited.

See, I thought we were doing it the right way this time, with Rod taking some time off between jobs and our Little Orange Book of Lists keeping us right. But life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

We haven’t sold the house yet, we only sorted the lease on the rented house today and my youngest child swallowed a glass pebble yesterday so we had an unscheduled overnight at the children’s hospital in Glasgow. We’ve also spent rather more time planning our social engagements than our packing schedule – do you think I could ask the babysitter to empty a few cupboards once the boys are asleep?

IMG_4792

Bright as a button after the glass pebble was removed under general anaesthetic

Basically it’s all on Rod. In a dramatic role reversal, I will be in the office tomorrow while he stays at home organising. He loves a trip to the dump so I’m prepared for some of our stuff to disappear forever. He also thinks packing just means chucking everything in boxes so I’m prepared for some of our stuff to get crushed and destroyed. Other than that, I’m delighted he’s doing all the heavy lifting while I have a farewell office lunch and get my nails done.

I feel I deserve this day – I did all the groundwork after all. I found the rental, the nursery and the gym, our top three priorities and only descending slightly in difficulty. The rental had to be in the catchment for the right school, be on the right side of the city, have three bedrooms, not cost the earth and be available this month on a 6 month lease. Tick – we’ve got a lovely, tiny, semi-detached in Colinton. The nursery had to be excellent, nearby and with availability for two children before Christmas. Tick  – we’ve enrolled the boys in a super friendly nursery a fifteen minute walk away. And the gym, well, it has to be David Lloyd, which has a creche.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 20.27.54

I’ll have this one please – it’s only £2m

Driving around Colinton last time I was down made me so happy. I still can’t really believe it’s going to be our home. Our plan is to buy a place in the area (if we ever sell up here) and I got quite carried away driving along Spylaw spending Monopoly money on a mansion overlooking the river. Just being in the capital, with its ridiculously located castle, its impenetrable traffic system and its boutique businesses in abundance, made me convinced the hassle is worth it.

Five days to go.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Aberdeen, Edinburgh, home, travel, Uncategorized

They grow up so fast…

Until recently I could have happily throttled anyone who dared say that cliche to my face.

The wee man turned four last month and I was like “Only four? Shouldn’t he be about 12 by now?”

Six month old KD, on the other hand, has been quietly morphing into a giant in the background. He’s bursting out of his 9-12 month clothes, he’s rolling so far and fast that I’ve sold the cot top changer and he no longer fits into the beautiful pram. I picked up a brand new City Mini today and was Christmas-Day-excited –  until I realised he’d be facing the other way. Why did this break my heart? I mean, I didn’t even cry on his first day at nursery.

IMG_5886

Maybe it’s finally dawning on me that this isn’t actually forever, no matter how much like Groundhog Day it can sometimes feel. These days in sole charge of my two boys may be draining, but they’re also enriching. With every minute that passes they are learning and growing. Every small battle actually moulds them into future adults, so that one day they can fly the nest and make their own mark on the world. It’s the most intensive learning experience there is – like getting a law degree inside a month.

IMG_6640

I had never understood friends who wailed “but one day they’ll grow up and leave me!” I mean, do you want them to live with you forever? Because that’s a thing now. I certainly wouldn’t want two stinky boys hanging around my house too late into their twenties. But who knows? That’s a long way away. Right now I struggle to think past tomorrow, and I only do that because I need to be a few steps ahead with clean trousers for the mud-loving big one and clean bottles for the milk-guzzling small one.

We’re also pretty sure we’re stopping at two. The joy of donating, selling or simply chucking out things as KD expands has started to become kind of poignant. I am literally binning a huge part of my life. Time has become tangible. I’m finding this odd as I’m always moaning about time – either not having enough of it to accomplish my endless list of tasks, or having far too much of it as a rainy afternoon with two crabbit children gapes in front of me.

IMG_6622

The one thing I can say with confidence is I’m getting better at it. I’m getting pretty good at pre-empting dangerous situations. I am stricter about discipline with the big one and routine with the small one as it’s the only way to have any kind of control. I’m coping pretty well with the sleep deprivation. I’m less precious about the soft furnishings. I’m less guilty about the time the wee man spends in nursery. I hope I’m more chilled out with Rod – though he may disagree.

I suppose the boys aren’t the only ones growing and learning. I am definitely more compassionate and more patient. I judge people less – in fact – I don’t judge people at all. I take every chance to say “God, I’ve been there, do you need a hand?” I wave at my elderly neighbours and chat to that annoying woman with the dog because these things take a few minutes but make a difference. They make me feel good.

I’m also aware how lucky I am. I may spend a lot of my day repeating myself, cleaning up poo, cooking while singing while confiscating knives while sterilising bottles while rocking the bouncer chair with my foot while not tripping on the toy cars, lifting, tidying, washing and repeating myself – but I have two beautiful boys who make my heart burst when they kiss and cuddle me. Ahhhh, they grow up so fast.

IMG_6305

Leave a comment

Filed under Aberdeen, home, play

New room for the baby

Our spare room has always annoyed me.

It was originally designed as a garage, although the first owners 25 years ago had no car so it was built as a reception room. They had it as a dining room three steps down from the living room, then the guy we bought the house from put up a partition wall and made it a bedroom. The only thing is, he left the steps and just stuck up some shelves. It always felt a bit unfinished, but was a perfectly usable spare room after a coat of paint.

As a baby’s room though, we knew it needed some TLC.

Finding a joiner in Aberdeen was my first challenge – the first guy came round, spent half an hour advising me – and then never even sent through a quote! Two others scared the beejesus out of me with their figures – and then I found Zsolt. He was recommended by my accountant, who told me he submitted the tidiest books she’d ever seen, so that was a good omen. His quote was very reasonable, he was pleasant, he called and arrived when he said he would, so we were happy to give him the job – and what a gem he turned out to be! Reliable, tidy, and a real perfectionist – I am absolutely delighted with the work he and his assistant carried out.

They pulled back two walls where, as we suspected, we found the insulation was completely inadequate and showing signs of mould. An unexpected concrete column didn’t allow any space for insulation, hence the draft and condensation we always found in that corner. Zsolt built the wall out two inches to allow him to insulate around it, then put up new plasterboard and taped and filled it – no need for plaster and the three-day-drying-out period.

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

Insulation around the window was also woeful - I'm so glad we fixed it!

Insulation around the window was also woeful – I’m so glad we fixed it!

It was the solution to the weird steps-and-shelves arrangement that made me happiest. Turns out Zsolt is a master craftsman and a carpenter to trade – his real passion is building furniture. The wardrobe he fashioned out of the space is just beautiful. He also suggested a hanging rail which could be pulled down for easier access, and gave me lots of options for shelving in the other half. So we went from this:

mummykimmy refurb3

to this:

mummykimmy refurb5

then this:

mummykimmy refurb6

and this:

mummykimmyrefurb8

How gorgeous is that?

To finish off a great job, they painted the whole room white, including all the woodwork around the window and the skirtings and then, because he had half an hour before he had to leave, Zsolt went round all the doors in my house adjusting hinges and shaving bases so that they all now close silently.

Did I hit the jackpot or what? It was the least I could do to hand him a cheque before he left. As a self-employed person myself I reckon prompt payment is the best way to show your appreciation for a job well done. I am also going to keep in touch so that in the new year, when he finishes a big restoration project, I can get him some press coverage and redesign his website. Rod and I are also now seriously considering building an extension rather than moving – if Zsolt is in charge, it will be a work of art.

The carpet arrived yesterday, the new single bed is coming tomorrow and a blackout blind is being fitted next week. We’ll build the cot and put up some pictures, fill the wardrobe with all the freshly washed and folded baby clothes and see if we can even fit the rocking chair in.

I’m due in three weeks – and I’m more excited than ever to spend lots of time in my beautiful new room.

Complete with new carpet - just some furniture and a blind to come and we're ready for you, baby!

Complete with new carpet – just some furniture and a blind to come and we’re ready for you, baby!

Leave a comment

Filed under Aberdeen, baby kit, home

Why didn’t I think of this before?

I don’t know if it’s typical of three year old boys, or just mine, but concentration span is an issue.

I do remember mum frequently asking me, when I was wee, whether I had ants in my pants, so maybe it’s typical of small children full stop.

The wee man is a ball of energy. “Full of beans” is the standard nursery report.

“He’s been into everything,” the creche supervisor told me today.

“He’s non-stop,” my mum frequently agrees when I phone her in weary triumph, having finally packed him off to bed.

But today at 5.30am I made a break through – and now I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t think of this before.

It’s called Play-Doh.

mummykimmy playdoh

He’d received a four-pot-pack for his birthday two months ago and I’d thrown it into the bag when I was packing toys to amuse him while we were at Mum and Dad’s holiday house. (If only I’d thought to pack the black-out curtains we wouldn’t have been sitting waiting for the cartoons to begin at half five in the morning, but I digress.)

I’d pulled it out in the ambitious hope it would keep him  quiet until the magical hour of 6am.

It absolutely did – and the best bit was I enjoyed playing with it as much as he did!

The smell when I peeled back the first lid immediately awakened a very old, childish excitement and the sight of the perfect, untouched block was ridiculously tempting. We rolled and squidged and pressed and pulled and smacked and stuck the shapes together, laughing and passing the lumps back and forth, using the pots and lids and various bits of cutlery to make shapes. He copied my movements as I shaped the dough and gleefully destroyed all the little animals I built for him.

As it began to dawn on me what a long time had passed without a complaint, I remembered a client telling me about her new product, Jumping Clay. She was using it to hold classes for children with additional support needs and had some interesting observations about the power of clay. The senses it appealed to and the concentration it inspired, the skills it helped to teach and the calmness it promoted were just some of the reasons she said it was so effective with this particular group. I was seeing first hand how universal these qualities were – we were both engrossed and happy. I kicked myself for not connecting the dots before.

He did lose interest eventually and wander off to watch cartoons, but he came back to the table looking for the Play-Doh on three other occasions throughout the day. I need to watch he stays at the table and the wee bits don’t stray to the carpet or any other soft furnishings – and I pretty much have to sit there playing alongside him, but I’m still delighted we’ve discovered such an absorbing activity.

I have now put a pot into his wee rucksack and will consider it as essential as the iPad when it comes to keeping him entertained in public places.

playdoh bear

My Play-Doh bear in the three seconds it survived before being gleefully squashed

Leave a comment

Filed under education, home, play

Lucky number three

I have somehow become the mother of a three year old.

IMG_1067

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been finding things tough and anything I tried to write just came off like a huge moan. Who wants to read that? It wasn’t even anything serious, just a bout of illness, a crazy work schedule for both parents and the trials and tribulations of switching from a cot to a bed.

Now, though, the Terrible Twos are Officially Over.

Every since he turned three on Friday, the wee man has been on sparkling form. He didn’t even scream when I got him dressed this morning (usually an epic battle). We had some wonderful, quality, family time for three days, first with Daddy being off work, then with both sets of grandparents and an auntie visiting from Glasgow for the weekend. He just loved it. He adored having his daddy wind him up, his auntie dance around with him and his grandparents spoil him – and no doubt a relaxed and happy mummy had an effect too.

We spent Friday at Edinburgh zoo – an absolute five star hit for a small child obsessed with animals. My slight trepidation, based on an upsetting experience at Barcelona zoo last year, was quickly allayed by the focus on conservation and the wonderful design of many of the enclosures. The new chimpanzee house was a particular highlight, the wee man pressed his face against the glass, waving and mimicking the noisy chimps – though he did just about sh*t himself when they got rowdy and started banging on the glass. He stood in awe in the bird enclosure as they flew around him and squawked at him from nearby branches and tried to catch one as it hopped by his feet. The penguins were a big hit, especially when they paraded past, and he roared at the tiger and lions, even though they were sleeping and couldn’t care less.

IMG_0959

IMG_0982

IMG_0976

We met my friend Karrie and her gorgeous wee girl at a local Italian for dinner afterwards – both kids were very well-behaved and totally fascinated with each other. The wee man only thew one thing at her, and it was a cuddly panda he’d chosen for her at the gift shop, so she didn’t really mind.

The rest of the weekend was spent just hanging out with our family and anticipating his birthday party on the Sunday afternoon. We went for an early dinner on the Saturday at a Thai restaurant and a lovely Mother’s Day lunch on Sunday. Both times he sat at the table for more than an hour and a half without protest, playing with his sticker book or colouring-in or watching Toy Story on the iPad. We were very pleasantly surprised by his good behaviour. Was it the fact he was surrounded by parents and grandparents? Was it the fact his mum and dad were more relaxed? Or is he just growing up?…

The party on Sunday was a triumph, even if I do say so myself! We’d arranged to rent the local community centre, a lovely new building with a huge hall and a nice cafe for the birthday tea. We hired a bouncy castle and ball pool, borrowed all the cars, scooters, soft play blocks, slides and climbing frames from the toddler group and just let the kids run free. 15 of them played beautifully, no fights or tantrums, and sat very nicely for the pizza we ordered from across the road and sandwiches we’d bought in M&S. Mum had made a couple of dozen cupcakes and we stuck in the candles and sang Happy Birthday as the wee man blew them out one by one. I didn’t even cry –  I was just so happy that everything had gone according to plan, everyone was having a good time and the wee man was content.

I really think this is a bit of a turning point – even if only in my own head. He’s growing up and becoming more of his own person every day. This morning he woke up, trotted through with some sticklebricks and a huge grin and climbed into bed beside me, giving me a huge cuddle and lying happily in the crook of my arm as he pulled the bricks apart and reassembled them for five minutes. I think it was one of the nicest ways to start my day. I hope we can have lots more moments like this and the battles will become less and less frequent…

IMG_1055

Happy Birthday Boy

Leave a comment

Filed under Aberdeen, celebrations, holidays, home

Testing, testing, count to 3

I was just telling my mum, when she visited last week, that I thought we were getting over the Terrible Twos and making real progress…

Then yesterday happened.

super-strength or just grim determination?

super-strength or just grim determination?

I think a devil must have temporarily possessed the wee man , because he has never behaved so badly for such a sustained period as he did on Thursday 28 November. He pulled the curtain off the wall for God’s sake! All I had done was put him down for a nap, at the usual time, after a busy, energetic morning. He should have been tired. Instead, he cried angry tears for half an hour, so I went in thinking he’d maybe thrown his favourite toy out. Instead I was confronted with a tear-stained toddler, his trousers round his ankles and the curtain hanging by a thread.

I had really needed him to nap. We’d spent the morning at the beach and play park – a treat I had thought. But no, he had moaned and cried and ripped off his gloves and hat and refused to walk beside me. He hadn’t even wanted to pick up shells and throw them in the waves for long. In fact, he was only happy when I gave him crisps.

all smiles now...

all smiles now…

So after the non-nap I decided there was no point taking him to the park (he’d be cold) or soft play (he’d misbehave) and bundled him into the car to go to the shopping centre. At least there he’d be warm and strapped into a buggy. He sat beautifully, I got lots of Christmas shopping done and I thought we were over it.

I made him cottage pie for dinner and we sat at the table. He pushed it away. He wanted juice. He tried a mouthful. He spat it out. He wanted more juice. He threw a carrot on the floor. He screamed for juice. He threw his fork on the floor. I tried the aeroplane trick – he swiped the spoon and sent it flying. I refused to refill the juice. He screamed. I tried to cajole him. He pressed his mouth tight shut. I turned away to get the juice. He picked up the bowl and hurled it against the wall. It smashed. Cottage pie splattered. I lost it.

“THAT WAS VERY NAUGHTY” I yelled. He burst into noisy tears. I lifted him up and placed him very gently (so as to prove to myself I was still in control, when I didn’t feel like it) on the naughty spot and told him through clenched teeth why he was there. I then walked to the sink and stood taking deep breaths and counting to ten, while he screamed blue murder. For the next fifteen minutes I avoided all eye contact and just replaced him, time and again, on the naughty spot. I cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher. I wiped down the counter and tidied. Eventually, in our own ways, we calmed down, he sat for the two minutes and I went over to him.

“Mummy put you here because… look at mummy” He did. “Mummy put you here because you threw your plate at the wall. That was very naughty. You don’t throw your dinner. You eat nicely at the table. Do you understand?” He nodded. “Now say sorry”

He leaped into my arms, squeezing me tight and wiping snot all over my shoulder. I hugged him back and kissed his head.

Then I put the cartoons on and opened a bottle of wine.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Aberdeen, food, home

In praise of the Whirligig

The bane of my life, as a working mum

Is laundry. It’s such a pain in the bum.

Yet something exists whose effects are quite big

The wonderful, functional Whirligig

 

My granny had one, but my mum never did

A clothes line is what I would see as a kid

“The garden’s for flowers” she’d say and she’d dig

So blind to the glorious Whirligig

 

My friend bought a house with one in the front

As builders began the poor thing got the shunt

But oblivious Sarah did not give a fig:

“I’m not 80, I don’t need a Whirligig”

 

I moved to a house as a wife and a mother

Adjusted to life lived on top of each other

When chores finally ended, I’d do a wee jig

While still unaware of the Whirligig

 

My son got more mobile, the pile of mess grew

The washing and ironing was all I would do

With clothes drying all over, I lived like a pig

If only I’d known of the Whirligig

 

We moved to the north and searched high and low

For somewhere to live where our family would grow

On moving day, opened the wine, took a swig

Gasped :“What’s that – out back – it’s a Whirligig!”

 

My life is transformed and my time is my own

On laundry day never again will I moan

I hang out the washing, run round playing ‘tig’,

As it spins, flutters, dries on the Whirligig

 

My house is so tidy, the heaters are bare

There’s no smell of damp or dead flowers in the air

I’ve time to blow dry! Hair sits good as a wig

All thanks to my fabulous Whirligig

 

If you’re reading and thinking this woman’s gone mad

Don’t diss me, dismiss me as really quite sad.

Who wants to do chores? Feel light as a twig!

Go get yourself one – praise the Whirligig!

whirligig

2 Comments

Filed under home