Tuesday 28 July 2015

My Dream Bathroom

When we bought our first house, it's safe to say we made the entire purchase based solely on the bathroom. The house was on a crap street, had what the estate agent described as a 'feature fireplace' (fake plastic log effect gas fire) and didn't have any garden fences (hello, neighbours). But the bathroom was really nice. It was huge. Bedroom sized. With a huge double-ended bath (where I happily sobbed my way through nine months of pregnancy), a separate shower (so fancy) and loads of floor space. Now, admittedly, when we bought the house we did not consider the floor space in the bathroom. And then we had Ebony, and all of a sudden the giant bathroom came into its own.

And then we moved house. Into a beautiful house with garden fences, on a better street, but still with crappy fireplaces (you can't have everything). And the bathroom is tiny. Seriously, tiny. When we looked round the house, I thought it was just small in comparison to the bathroom in our first house. Then we moved in and I realised that what I'd taken for a bath was in fact no bigger than a thimble. And that to get into it, you have to replicate the laser scene from Entrapment because of the way the bathroom has been designed.

I'm always trying to think of ways to improve the room, even though realistically it will be quite a while before we get round to sorting the bathroom out. It definitely needs a bigger bath, and I think the layout needs some reworking. I asked Ebony what her dream bathroom would look like, you can watch the video to see what she said: 

As part of the Dream Bathroom competition by Tile Mountain and Big Bathroom Shop, I've been having a look through some bathroom inspiration.  I have fallen in love with these blue and white skyros tiles, I think they would look amazing for the floor. I also love these simple white metro tiles (these white tiles came a close second). I'm a big fan of white in the home, but think the blue tiles would be a great way of prettying up a small bathroom without it looking too much. I really love this vintage looking bathroom suite, Imagine having such a dreamy bath! I'm not sure how it would all fit in my tiny bathroom, but I love it all the same. And whilst I'm swooning after freestanding baths, how about this pretty double sided bath? I guess realistically, something like this square shower bath suite would work best in a small bathroom, but there's no harm in dreaming of freestanding baths, right? 

  Follow Fiona's board Bathroom remodel on Pinterest.

This is a competition entry. 

Sunday 26 July 2015

Our First Family Camping Trip

Laurie turned 30 a few days ago. His parents bought him an impressive amount of camping gear for his birthday, so we decided to take a family camping trip. We are no strangers to camping. I first camped when I was about six weeks old, my parents being far too outdoorsy to sit in and play at being new parents. Laurie and I used to go camping together when we were more youthful, until around the time our tent started letting in water. So it's been quite a few years since we've camped, and we'd never taken Ebony. We did take her to Brighton in my parents' motor home a couple of years ago, but it's not really the same when you have luxuries like a bed, shower and solid walls. 

We knew Ebony would love camping, she's a big fan of anything to do with getting muddy, staying up all night and eating crap. We were initially hoping to go for four nights, but in the end I realised that I just had too much work on to skip a weekend's work and so we decided to go for just two. We filled our car with all of our camping gears, a million toys and plenty of wine, and drove down to North Wales. 

We stayed at Llwyn Onn, a guesthouse with camping facilities. The site itself was nice, there were free range chickens wandering about, plenty of space and I didn't see one spider in the toilets the whole time we were there. I don't think we'd go back though, because it's in a bit of a weird place. It's by a main road and so you have to keep walking down busy roads whenever you want to go anywhere. It's not really what I want from a campsite, I just want to escape somewhere beautiful for a few days and not have to think about cars. 

We got the Buckingham Elite 8 Man Tent which is ridiculously huge, though I can't say I regretted the decision once. I'm more used to camping in two man tents, so the amount of space we had was a real luxury. It was really easy to put up, even with Ebony's 'help'. There are two to four bedroom compartments depending on how you choose to set up the tent. We just put one of the bedroom compartments up but then used the optional room separator so that Ebony had her own bedroom. She was more than a little bit thrilled with the prospect of having her own airbed. The tent is big enough to stand up in so seems even bigger than it really is. When it rained, we had plenty of space for playing or eating inside. 

It was quite dark on the campsite at night, and the sight of Ebony walking to the toilets carrying a tiny lantern is probably one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Brantano very kindly sent her some new shoes a few weeks ago (thanks, Brantano), and these came into their own on the camping trip. We chose a pair of Skechers because I know they are vegan friendly (as long as they're not made from leather), and I've had Skechers in the past that have always lasted a while. The pair I choose (these Skechers Shuffles Critter Buds Canvas Shoes) looked bright, colourful pink and so Ebony was guaranteed to love them. When they arrived, I found out they also light up when she walks. Ebony loves them, of course. They were useful for helping her find her way to the campsite toilets at night, and Ebony better for being easy to find in a dark tent. You simply cannot miss a glittery pair of fox eyes sparkling at you from across the tent. 

The chickens wandering around the campsite was pretty awesome. One morning, Laurie woke up in a fright because a chicken had just pecked his face through the mesh inner of our tent. It turned out Ebony had unzipped the tent, clearly chicken for 'please, come into my tent and make yourself at home'. The chicken had then decided to explore the perimeter and gotten hungry somewhere around Laurie's head. 

The weather was pretty terrible on Friday, and we'd discovered that, being two fully fledged adults, we'd managed to go camping without our bankcards or enough money to last the weekend. So we decided to head up to Llandudno for the day. Laurie spent all of his holidays near LLandudno as a child and is pretty much incapable of holidaying anywhere else. So we spent a few hours playing on the beach, ignoring the odd rain shower. Ebony watched (and loved) her first traditional puppet show, and has been putting on 'puppet shows' ever since (her first one was two minutes long and contained no words or movement. At the end she simply said 'that's the end of the puppet show'). 

Then we drove up the Great Orme and Ebony spent a couple of hours making friends on the park. We went for an explore along the pier, and Ebony insisted that she went on a few rides. She looks bored in the pictures but I promise you she was having the time of her life. After that, we had chips on the beach (surrounded by terrifyingly militant looking seagulls) before jumping in the car and driving back to our campsite. We're already planning out next trip, though next time I'm going to try my absolute hardest to get Laurie to visit somewhere other than Llandudno. 

Tuesday 7 July 2015

10 Reasons Why I Won't be Awarded Mum of the Year

Over the past few weeks, it has come to my attention that I will almost certainly not be winning Mum of the Year 2015. In fact, I don’t even think I’ll get nominated. I thought I was a pretty good parent when Ebony was a baby, I felt like I’d found my calling in life. In the past three and a half years, I’ve probably had about two weeks worth of sleep, and it’s starting to take its toll. My parenting skills are not what they were. I don’t know if it’s because parenting gets harder as your kids grow, or whether I’m just suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, but I’m definitely lacking in the parenting credentials.

Here are just 10 of the reasons why I won’t be taking home the Mum of the Year award this year:

1. I forgot Pirate Day
I’m sure that there was a time in my life where I was organised. Though to be honest, it could have just been that I was living at home and had my dad to remind me of everything I needed to do. These days, I’m struggling to keep track of All The Things. Preschool exploit this by sending home a letter six weeks about something in advance, and then never mentioning it again. Thanks to this, I tried to drop Ebony off at the polling station on election day, almost sent her in with unbrushed hair on picture day, and, most recently, forgot about Pirate Day. It was a hot day, and me and Ebony were up early (still late, but not as late as usual). We were both dressed in our summer outfits, slathered in sun cream and wearing sunglasses. We were almost on time. Just as we were stepping out of the door, Ebony said, “It’s Pirates Day. That’s why I’m dressed as a pirate.” Obviously, she was not dressed as a pirate because whose summer best features an eye patch? Shit shit shit. We had to run back inside and desperately try to scrape together a pirate outfit. Shorts? Check. Long sleeve winter striped top on the hottest day of the year? Check. Pirate hat? Not so much. Eye patch? Lost in the hellhole that is our playroom. We were fifteen minutes late for Pirate Day. I had to pay in coppers because I didn’t have any socially acceptable coins on me. And, when I picked her up, I discovered they’d redressed her in a better pirate outfit.

2. I don’t put the hose pipe away properly
Our hose pipe is free-range. I don’t like to hold inanimate objects captive, so I leave it free to snake around the garden as it wishes. This is probably a health hazard. After witnessing a couple of falls, my parents decided they would have to step in to protect their only grandchild. They brought us one of those wheels to wind it on. Which is great, and everything, but hose pipes are actually very dirty, and I kept getting covered in crap. So sometimes (all the time), I forget to wind it back up properly. One day, Ebony summoned me as she was playing in the garden. “Mummy, erm, Papa brought this so that the hose pipe would be safer. It’s dangerous. I fell over. So, erm, can you please try to put it away properly next time so I can play without getting hurt? Look at my knee!”

3. She calls me Fiona Boner
My three year old has developed an unfortunate rhyming habit. She says cock a lot because it rhymes with other words. She also calls me Fiona Boner. A lot. Obviously I know this is simply an unfortunate coincidence. But the cashier in Sainsbury’s does not know this. In fact, she probably thinks it’s a nickname I created myself and forced Ebony to call me.

4. I didn’t take a raincoat
Last week, we met up with Ebony’s friend, George, for a bike ride. It was very warm. Most importantly, Ebony’s balance bike is actually insanely heavy. I knew I would end up carrying it for miles, so decided to pack light. No coats. After two hours of balance biking away from the train station, monsoon season started. It rained solidly for the 30 minutes it took us to get back to the train. Ebony was wearing a thin, cotton summer dress. Very cute, but not great for a half hour extreme version of the ice bucket challenge. She cried. She shivered. Her hands went blue. George was fine, his mum brought a raincoat.

5. I cannot get up in the mornings
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am the tiredest person ever. If there’s an award for that, I’ll win it. I am almost always awake, and almost always moaning about exhaustion. There just isn’t enough sleep. I have never been a morning person. Even back in the days when sleep was plentiful, I struggled with the transition between night and day. Now, it’s even worse. I just do not want to get up. Ever. To handle this as a parent, I put a dollhouse in Ebony’s room. She plays with it by herself most mornings as I beg her for just five more minutes. Then she looks at her books. Then she gets herself a snack. Then, usually, she is able to rouse me from my sleep and insist I wake up. But sometimes, on very tired days, I send her off again with Sesame Street to watch on my phone.

6. I go out too much
This is a new thing. For the first two years of Ebony’s life, I was pretty much a hermit. I usually did bedtime, and I preferred staying in so I could be there if she woke up and needed me. Then I went to Amsterdam for my best friend’s hen do and remember how nice it is to have a social life. And since then I’ve been going out more. Everytime I go out, Ebony shouts, “It’s too many weeks, Mummy! You go out too many weeks! Stay with meeee!” Or at least I think that’s what she says, it’s hard to hear over the sound of me slamming the door and skipping down the street (just kidding… sort of).

7. The playroom is too messy
Our playroom is not on Pinterest. You have more chance of seeing it on an episode of Kim & Aggie. It’s just so messy. Even when it’s tidy, it’s still messy. Nothing has a place, there is no tidy storage, there is just crap. Crap everywhere. It tumbles out across the floor, so walking through the room is a bit like one of the tyre jump exercises army cadets do. But worse, because if you misjudge your step, you stand on playmobil.

8. I sometimes ignore her
I don’t spend my evenings looking up craft ideas on Pinterest, and I’ve never done anything suggested by Imagination Tree. There just always seems to be so much to do. I think I’ve spent the last few months gardening, painting and organising the house. And while I’ve been doing all of that, Ebony has been keeping herself entertained. Independent play is one of her strengths, through neglect.

9. I am rubbish at playing
The truth of the matter is that I’m just not as fun as daddy. I can make butterflies from pipe cleaners and beads, I can read stories until we are out of books, and I can soothe just about any upset she has. But I’m not daddy. I don’t pretend the sofa is a pirate ship and spend two hours on an elaborate treasure hunt. I don’t pretend the living room is littered in pirate-hungry sharks. I don’t spends hours on end playing doctors, taking on the roles of doctor, nurse and receptionist all at once. Her excitement each Saturday morning when she discovers it is the weekend simply reminds me that I am not as fun as Laurie.

10. My kid eats a lot of pasta
I always think Ebony is quite good with food. She eats her vegetables, empties the fruitbowl almost daily, and never cries for sweets in the supermarket. She has a big appetite, and eats a good variety of food. She eats swirly pasta, straight pasta, long pasta and little pasta. She will eat other foods, but if given a choice, it’s usually pasta. And I just go along with that because, well, pasta is easy, isn’t it?

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