Friday, 29 June 2012

At last! A new Bathroom!

The bathroom as it was when we moved in.
At last we have a bathroom fitted and working.  I am totally thrilled with it.  When we moved in, the bathroom was fairly scruffy, the bath needed re-enamelling, and there was an enormous cupboard taking up a lot of space that had previously house the boiler.  Although it was old and scruffy, it was usable and so we kept it as it was, with plans to change it around sometime in the future.

That all changed when we were on holiday in April - the shower, which the previous occupants had seen fit to locate NOT over the bath (as it would have been sensible to do), but directly over the floor, exploded and flooded the bathroom and the utility.  It did a lot of damage.  Fortunately for me, my amazing cleaner came in to feed the animals whilst we were away and discovered it.  There was water an inch or so deep in both the bathroom and the utility and it was pouring through the ceiling.  The electrics were off (meaning my fish were freezing and my fridge and freezer defrosting) and it was general devastation and chaos.  She managed to locate the (cunningly concealed) mains water and turned it off.  She then restored enough power to keep the fish warm and the fridge/freezer cold, before mopping up as much of the mess as she possibly could and then taking delivery of a dehumidifier.  When we returned from holiday it was to a house that was usable.

We took stock of the damage and it became obvious that the bathroom floor was going to need replacing as the tiles were buckled and coming ff.  We decided to change the rest of the bathroom whilst it was in uproar.  My Mother and Stepfather did most of the work and got to it whilst we went away to the InLaws for half term.  This is how we left it!

Looking from the door.
Looking back towards the door
- the old cupboard had been ripped out.
We wanted the bath moved to under the window and the lavatory and sink moved along the wall to where the bath had been.  We also ripped out the old cupboard and installed a walk in shower in it's place.  The soil pipe was a bit of a problem and in the end we dropped it through the ceiling into the utility.  As it is a Victorian house, we wanted the bathroom to look fairly Victorian.  We chose metro crackle glaze tiles and a free standing tub.

And this is the result! I'm pretty pleased with it!

The bathroom looking towards the window.
Looking back towards where the cupboard used to be.

The heated towel rail and a cupboard.
The baby's fold up bath fits quite neatly behind the heated towel rail!

Thank goodness it is all completed now, just in time for guests!  I do not do living in a mess very well and neither does The Husband.  The Children were all very excited about it and had showers instead of a bath yesterday, even The Feral One who Does Not Like Showers.  So thank you as well to my Mother and Stepfather who have put in a lot of hard work to it both paid and unpaid.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Spots, Spots, Glorious Spots!

As well as a new found love for chalk board paint, I have a long standing obsession with Spots that I didn't even notice until a friend pointed out how much spotty stuff I have... 
Spotty Curtains in the Baby's room, along with a spotty throw for her bed and a spotty dog.  The fabric for this was picked up at Mason's in Abingdon.

Spotty blinds on the landing, the fabric was from Dunelm Mill.
Spotty blinds in the kitchen - expensive Cath Kidston stuff, I hadn't realised how much cheaper you could pick similar stuff up from elsewhere.

A spotty table cloth on the dining table (Dunelm Mill have PVC fabric you can get cut to length).

Spotty covers for the dining room chairs - again Dunelm Mill PVC stapled onto the WHITE cushion covers using a staple gun, to protect them from 4 children.

Spotty oven gloves and tea towel (Emma Bridgewater).

Corkboard covered in pink spotty fabric from Dunelm Mill (again, using a staple gun).

Spotty accessories for me from Emma Bridgewater!

More spots in the kitchen.

I will continue with my mission to turn the house spotty :)

Monday, 25 June 2012

A love affair with chalkboard paint...

Chalk board painted onto the wall with magnetic chalkboard paint.
I have discovered a new love - chalkboard paint.  I love the stuff and I find that I am putting it on more and more surfaces - it's becoming a bit of an obsession...  We bought it at B&Q, although it is fairly easy stuff to find.

So far I have (inspired by Pinterest) painted a portion of the hall wall with it.  This stuff is also magnetic, so it doubles as a board to put our large collection of magnetic letters on (the numbers are still on the fridge).

"Ruler" for measuring the children's heights
I have also made this "ruler" that goes in our hallway and that I can mark the children's heights on.  It has the added advantage that I can take it with me if/when we move house.

Finally, I have put some adhesive chalk board foil (from Amazon) in the utility so that I can do extremely sad things like write my laundry schedule on them (underneath a repurposed pinboard that I covered in spotty fabric - I have a thing about spots).

I'm debating what else I can put it on that might be fun, but the most likely candidate is the inside of a kitchen cupboard so that I can write my grocery list on it (again, inspired by Pinterest).

Chalk board foil in the Utility.

Friday, 22 June 2012


What is it about stripping off?  I took my eye off the ball for 2 minutes earlier to print out some instructions for fitting a lavatory flush (I had managed, in my cack handed way, to break the brand new one already) and turned round to find that all 3 older ones had stripped off and were running round the garden with no clothes on, jumping in the paddling pool that still had water in it from their impromptu outside bath yesterday evening (with the baby having a somewhat warmer bath in the kitchen sink).

The stripping off happens almost every evening and isn't normally a problem at all except that this evening I had wanted to write some Social Stories with The Eldest, so had to drag them all back in wailing and then spend time redressing them (The Boy claimed to not be able to get himself dressed at all and to only be able to lie weakly on the floor whimpering and The Feral One had secreted her clothes somewhere requiring us to play "hunt the knickers") and by the time we sat down at the table for the Social Stories, none of us really felt like doing them.

The Feral One has also decided that she needs to strip off to dress up as a "Fair-ee" or "pie-rat".  On Wednesday night I put the dressing up clothes onto a hanging rail to stop the children dragging them all out of the toy box every time they wanted to find something for the dolls.  Come Thursday morning I was peacefully (for once) eating my breakfast and I heard the words "Ooo, all the dressing up stuff is out" (uttered by The Eldest) and I was not fast enough off the mark to prevent mass nakedness and the need to redress them all before school.  Whilst there is something immeasurably cute about a toddler wearing nothing except a tutu and a pair of fairy wings, mornings are busy enough normally without a second set of wrestling them into clothes.

On the other hand, however inconvenient and frustrating I may find it when they chose to strip off when I need them to remain dressed, how lovely it is to be so carefree and unconstrained about yourself that stripping off is so natural.  I know that there will come a time when they become self conscious about themselves and that this will undoubtedly come as they grow up, so for now, long live childhood and the joy of running round clothed only in the air.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Father's Day.

The Husband is pretty ace.  He is a great father to the children and a huge support to me.  Whenever he is at home, he is on the go - looking after children, or clearing up after us all.  I think he goes to work for a break...

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not good at birthdays or anniversaries.  In fact I managed to almost forget The Husband's birthday this year (I had it in my head that it was after Father's Day when it was before, oops).  This year I wanted to make a bit more of a fuss over Father's Day to let him know how much we appreciate him.  I came across a sweet photo idea on Pinterest from Tatertots and Jello and decided to do our own version.  The idea was that each child should tell me why they love their Daddy and then I would write it on a chalkboard and take a photo of them holding it.  I then arranged the photos in a photo cube. I think they came out rather well.

The finished cube.

All four children together.  
The Baby
The Feral One
The Boy

The Eldest.

We also made him a card which was each child's handprint cut out.  I had intended on "nesting" them inside each other, but it turns out that I have had the children too close together to do that and that The Boy's hands are actually larger than The Eldest's and The Feral One's hand is not much smaller than that... 

I think he was pretty pleased with it all and wasn't too bothered at being piled on in the morning.  Especially as we brought pain au chocolat and tea with us :)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Not "doing" it.

"I don't know how you do it!"

I get this a lot.  When people find out that I have 4 children under 6, one of whom is still feeding and not sleeping through the night, two dogs who require walking, two cats who invariably vomit a mouse up just where I want to put the baby down and then guinea pigs and fish who, although they are very little hassle, still need feeding, watering and cleaning out - a sort of horror dawns on their face and then they say, "I don't know how you do it".

The thing is, that unless you count "it" as existing in a perpetual state of near chaos, desperately trying to hold onto my sanity whilst trying (and mainly failing) to keep spinning plates in the air (who all have a mind of their own and a tendency to take off in different directions), then I don't think that I do "do it".

I certainly don't parent to the standard that I would like to.  I shout more that I'd like to admit, I lose my temper more frequently than I am proud of (the school run is a particular flash point).
I don't do enough messy play.  I don't take the children on as many outings as I would like to. I don't play "dogs" as frequently as I am begged to by The Eldest.

I don't spend enough time training my dogs (and hence now have a pair of semi-professional deer hunters) and walking them is often falls to The Husband to do in the evenings. I don't spend enough time handling the (feral) guinea pigs and I don't clean them out as frequently as I should.  I don't clean out the fish as often as I should and I sometimes forget to feed them.  I don't spend enough time cuddling the cats, although I DO spend copious amounts of time clearing up their vomit. I don't have enough time to look after my horse and so my sister is looking after him for me.

I don't do as much exercise or eat as healthily as I should (and hence am nowhere near losing the weight that I put on whilst pregnant with The Baby).  I don't spend enough time looking after myself and so normally look haggard and a mess.

All in all, I would say that this adds up to NOT "doing it".

On the other hand, I do make sure that the children are clean, tidy and on time to school. I do feed them a (mostly) healthy and varied diet.  I do read with them every day and I try to make sure that I sit down with them to play something, be it dolls, puzzles, trains or bouncing on the trampoline. Our messy dog walks are legendary.

Most importantly, I tell them how much I love them and that I love them even when I am angry, or when they are angry with me or when things haven't gone right.  

I cuddle them and kiss them and hold them tight and count my blessings.