Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Busy, busy, busy

I have been super busy the past few weeks. My appointments at work have really started to fill up so I feel like I get in and rush all day until home time! On top of that I have started doing my permanent Wednesday's too so that's four days a week at work.

As part of the training scheme I'm on at work, I've had to apply for a postgraduate course at Birmingham University and that has taken me countless hours to put together. I even had to write a personal statement, I haven't done that since I was 17! It seemed harder this time around, the honest reasons for applying for a course such as 'it's necessary for me to keep my job and I really need that to pay the mortgage and feed the kids' don't seem as glamorous as 'I want to save the world and everyone in it', which I probably intended as a teen! Still, I really have always wanted this training and to have it paid for is amazing.
The application required so much work; finding references, getting out old uni documents and worst of all waiting for colleagues to fill in parts of the form. All that, added to the fact that our area was very late applying as the course that was intended for us isn't running has added to the stress.

Last week I also went for a chat about doing some locum work in another local GP practice. I don't have the hours in the day, but then I also don't have the money to make the house habitable. They were very flexible and said I could do Fridays around school pickup and Saturday mornings. I'm hoping to  alternate so I can still have a day off with baby girl occasionally. Before I've even started I feel the guilt of being a full time working mother, it's not something I ever wanted to do.

I've spent the last few evenings trying to catch up on form filling, emails, reading documentation for work and today having done a lot of it I am feeling more positive and less stressed. I may even get to read some blogs tonight.

The house hasn't come on much, I have run out of time and James is running out of materials. He is ploughing on with plaster boarding and fitted another internal door frame this week.

Last Friday I went out with my girlfriends and we made Christmas pudding ready for the big day. On Saturday I steamed it on the woodburner, it was on anyway so it saved the hob being on.

Sorry no pictures this week but things should settle down into some semblance of a routine soon!!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Let there be light!!

No I have not found God, James has wired the upstairs lights in and we no longer need a torch to use the bathroom!!

Yesterday James cut the skirting and architrave for baby girl's room and this morning caulked the gaps ready for me to paint. He wired the plug sockets in there too, so once it's connected to the fuse board we're in business. I did the final coat of white paint on baby girl's room and the window sill.

Friday night I took the wee man to ASDA to pick some bits for his operation Christmas child box. It was so sweet to see him pick things for another little boy, we got a bath toy, some toy cars, a little lego set, a calcliator (calculator to you and me), soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, pens, pad and pencils and a wooly hat. It really made me think about kids who have nothing and it does our children good to appreciate how lucky they are.

On Saturday night we visited the local schools fireworks for bonfire night and they even had a traditional Guy for the bonfire, I haven't seen that in years, there's nothing like burning an effigy! It was two hours from the gates opening to the fireworks lit though and the kids were up past bedtime and starting to get cranky and tearful, next year I think we'll arrive a bit later.

My sister and her fiancé came to stay Saturday night so we saw the fireworks as a family, had a few drinks and a chat and James and I were up a good three hours before they appeared this morning, the joys of being child free!

Today we had a change of pace and watched a film this afternoon together and I had a nap throughout and it was delightful.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

First new room plastered

This weekend just gone James and his friend started plastering baby girl's room, all very exciting. We went on Saturday evening to a halloween pumpkin walk and so they had to leave off around mid-afternoon. Sunday morning and James got back to it to, finishing the last walls. Unfortunately the little man was sick all night Saturday night and Sunday morning so I spent the day on the sofa with him cuddled up under the blanket and watching Disney films. If I'm honest it was nice to have a long cuddle when he wasn't in a rush to get to the next game. 

The pumpkin walk was so much fun, the kids enjoyed it no end, as did we. Our friends and their children came so it was even better. I hadn't had a party for the little man and he was asking when it was his turn, so I asked my friends to play along and say it was his party. I brought cakes and doughnuts and one friend's mum even brought him a balloon, which made his day. The kids squealed round the walk, they got to roast marshmallows, listen to stories and got a lolly at the end. 

Monday was my birthday and James and I started Christmas shopping in Birmingham, it's much nicer when you go mid-week before the rush starts. I got a fab book from James about the origin of phrases, which is my favourite, I've read hundreds of them and he managed to find me a book with a collection of them. For example the phrase 'pull your finger out' has a naval origin. The firing hole of a cannon would be filled with gunpowder and a wooden bung put in to keep it in place. In the heat of battle a finger was used to do the same job and an artilleryman would yell 'pull your finger out' to enable the gun to fire, lots of people lost fingers this way. So I have a whole book of these to enjoy!

On Wednesday I didn't have any locum work so the baby girl and I started painting what's to be her room. She borrowed one of her dads working tops and splattered the walls and her mum with paint. We were finishing the pot so the room isn't finished, but at least it's started.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Our weekend in Woolacombe

Last weekend we all went away for a long weekend courtesy of The Sun (a newspaper for those not in the UK). By the time we booked there was a very limited selection and so we booked to go back to North Devon, having only been there relatively recently. We went down late on Friday night as we had to wait for school to finish and as google maps predicted the journey time would be at least an hour longer if we went directly after school we took the little man to his swimming lesson first then had a McDonalds and  left around 5. It took about 4 hours as the traffic was horrendous near Bristol.

The caravan we stayed in was clean and had everything we would need for a weekend, although it had a distinctively early 90's feel, I've never seen so much peach or fake pine and the gas fire was as I remember friends having in their houses when we were kids. The kids loved it mind and the little man called it a camper van all weekend. The site was immaculate and not at all dated.

The first day we went to Woolacombe beach, which is beautiful, clean and had a little cove two minutes away that was packed full of shells. I spent ages gathering them but the kids got bored before me and we had to move on, shameful, they need to learn the joy of shell collecting!

In the afternoon we made the most of our National Trust membership and went to Arlington court, which has the national carriage collection. Now I've read more romance novels than is healthy for an adult female and I just loved seeing all the different types of carriage I've read about; James and the kids not so much. The house however was lovely, really homely and the NT have once again removed all the ropes to allow you to wonder the rooms and get a real feel for the place. In the former nursery old toys are on display and the kids are encouraged to play with them all. In the evening we went to the local chip shop and had some local fish and chips, they were tasty as always.

Sunday was spent looking around some small coastal villages and towns and we finished the day in Ilfracombe harbour buying fudge and having the cobwebs blown away.

Monday was very wet and windy but we left after breakfast stopping at another National trust property, Tyntesfield near Bristol to break up the journey. That was another great day out, it had a great shop, and NT do a good shop! It also had beautiful walled vegetable gardens, the pumpkin display was awesome, I found some varieties I want to grow next year and so many apple trees, there was a display of heritage apple varieties to taste and some men on hand from a charity that promotes them. Again the house was beautiful, very grand and had an art display that lots of people enjoyed, though it's not my thing.

So it was a relaxing weekend away from the house and work and I would definitely book another Sun weekend.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The water-tight milestone!!

Today we achieved a major milestone, the extension is water-tight. Over the last fortnight we have managed to get the bay window roof finished. A very kind carpenter and his brother (James' friend) stepped in to get the roof on after the builder who did the house and the one after that didn't turn up to do it. We decided to put a fibreglass roof on, I love the look of a lead roof with mop rolls, but after our luck with contractors recently we just wanted it water-tight and decided to cover it ourselves until we decided what we want done. We're pretty pleased with it now so it may well stay.

James spent hours routering the wood so that the fibreglass corner pieces would fit flush to the roof. Then came the fibreglass bandage and then fibreglass matting with a resin covering. We sanded the covering once it had hardened, painted the next layer of coloured resin, sanded and painted again over  the course of a few days. Yesterday James fitted the lead flashings, pointed it all in (covering the end of the concrete lintel with lime mortar) and today painted them with patination oil to stop white lines running onto the roof over time.

Today we also fitted the oak plugs into the stable door and used a piece of oak to plug the gap above the door. It means that there are no longer any holes in the structure and we are weather-tight. 

Little man has been at school for 6 weeks now and I cannot believe how well he has been getting on with learning his letters. Today we did a spelling game together and he managed to sound out lots of simple three and four letter words. His writing is coming on beautifully too, it's unbelievable how fast he's gone from only knowing the letters in his name to the foundations of reading. 

James and I have been trying hard to spend a bit more time engaging with the kids in some one-on-one time. It's very easy when you're so busy with work and building to overlook the children and let them entertain themselves. We're lucky that they join in for most building and gardening related activities but we wanted to try and play a few more games with them. I'll be honest at times and say that sometimes it's  a bit repetitive playing holidays or ice cream shop with them but they love it.


Saturday, 1 October 2016

We have grass!!

This photo is nearly a week old and it's even better now, but the point is... the grass seed has actually sprouted. I am so thankful, I will not have to spend another weekend with the rake, the roller and a spade (and subsequent blisters).

I've had a pretty uneventful week, James has continued to plasterboard the upstairs extension. 

I managed to get the rock wool insulation in the loft space on Thursday night. First it was rolled between the joists and then on top at a 90 degree angle. We thought that the hardest part would be putting the insulation between the joists but the final layer was way harder to do. It's hard to roll it out and not go through the ceiling once you can't see the joists and not back yourself into a corner. Plus the face mask to protect your lungs from the fibreglass makes it unbearably hot and did I mention itchy?! Fibreglass is the devils material, looks soft but hurts like hell. Anyway once the heating is up and running it should be toasty warm in there.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

My week of relaxation and last weekends mammoth grass seeding

I have spent this week on a residential course for work. About a month ago I changed jobs again! I am doing a few days a week in a local GP surgery as a practice pharmacist, with the other days spent locuming in community pharmacy. There is a fantastic training program at the moment that is sponsored by NHS England to help increase the number of pharmacists working in practice to improve patient safety and increase the number of appointments available. So I spent four days brushing up on my communication and diagnostic skills using medical actors. The hotel was near Reading and was set in beautiful grounds. The people were fun too and I managed early nights reading my book in bed and having a lie in to 8 every morning; poor James had to manage the kids at home.

My very pretty hotel

Last weekend was spent in levelling the garden out as best we could using a roller and rake, followed by sowing grass seed, re-raking and watering. It's not that huge an area but it didn't half take forever and I got blisters on my hands from the rake. Still no sign of grass but I live in hope that I won't have to do that job again!

The back garden after levelling and sowing

Whilst I was enjoying a restful break my hard working husband (as well as keeping the kids alive) managed to get the bath tap plumbed and mounted to the wall, so upon my return I tested the facilities and it was amazing to have a bath inside my own house. It wasn't quite the peaceful scene you'd imagine, James was putting some plasterboard on the ceiling and there's no electricity so it was a bit dark.

The hole in the wall is where the bathroom cabinet will sink into the wall, but for now it acts as a good window to let in some light. We are thinking that next year we'll put in a Velux window so that there is some natural light, but as with all things it will wait for some money.

James has continued to put up more plasterboard on the ceilings in preparation for me to be able to unroll the loft insulation.

This morning I did some locum work and when I got home we had a family session making blackberry and apple jam using fruit which James and the kids had picked from the common. The house is coming along great guns now, we're on a roll.