No more baby days 

I’m on the sofa this morning, after dropping my biggest girl at nursery. The smallest one is fast asleep on me after a rough night of wide awake snuggles and sore teeth. I’m suddenly overwhelmed by how big and clever and grown up the two of them are now. And it hurts. 
I don’t have a baby anymore. The days of having two under two are long behind me, and Iris is very nearly three. She starts nursery class at a school this September, with a tiny school uniform and everything. She’s excited. I’m excited too, because I know she’s going to have such a fabulous time, but I’m also sad and a tiny bit terrified. Astrid is 16 months old now, and like a tiny wrecking ball. She is sturdy and speedy, and charges through life at 100 miles per hour. She climbs and runs and has no fear of hurting herself. I can’t leave her alone in a room for even a minute. Not even if I can’t see a single hazard. She will find one. It’s not unusual to catch her dancing on tables or scaling window sills. 
They are not babies. 
The first year after Astrid was born I went to bed every single night feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. Seriously. While they pleasantly surprised me often and it wasn’t always as hard as I’d imagined, it was exhausting. Iris needed constant interactions at the time, too young yet to create games and play alone while I fed Astrid. Little one was a screamer, and a complete mystery to me a lot of the time. I didn’t instinctively know what she was crying for like I had with Iris. I had PND (I can see now in hindsight) and was having a huge identity crisis when I should have been focussing on my babies. 
I really feel like it’s over now. The hard bit. Obviously I know there are many many many hard bits to come. I’m not daft. But I can’t imagine it being that consistently hard again for such a long period of time. I can’t imagine slipping back into the black cloud I lived in for a long time either. I’ve been making sure I look after myself too, and I plan to keep it up. 
Besides some health issues (for another day) life is really very good at the moment, but I can’t help but feel some sadness at the baby days being behind us.

#Veganuary – the end is not the end 

I can’t believe January is over already. It’s usually a month that stretches far into the future and never seems to end. I think because I had focus and started new things it didn’t feel like that this year. 

I’m starting to become obsessed with my weight and body shape again, and it’s really hard to take my mind from that and onto the important stuff. Like eating for nutrition, and eating things that actually make my body feel good. I’ve lost weight in January, but not loads. That wasn’t my main aim. In fact it wasn’t one of my aims at all. 

Eating vegan food has been pretty life changing for me. I never really cooked before. When I had to I really didn’t enjoy it. Now I’m cooking all kinds of different meals from scratch, using ingredients I have never ever used. And what’s really stunned me is that I absolutely love it. I enjoy my time in the kitchen before dinner every night, even if Astrid hates me cooking and has to be nearby eating breadsticks or I won’t get away with it. 

I’ve made pasta sauces and curries and sweet potato fries and casseroles. I’ve loved eating without feeling any guilt, and I really love knowing exactly what is in my food. I know what’s there because I put it there. 

I tried to make a pros and cons to vegan eating list the other day and I just couldn’t. There are so many pros, and the only con I can think of is that lots of restaurants and cafes make it very difficult to eat out. I rarely eat out so it’s no biggie, and I think it’s something that is slowly changing anyway. There’s also the people who insist on commenting, but as most of their comments are either dumb (like “mmm, bacon” as if that’s going to upset me) or are from people concerned about my calcium or iron intake, I can handle it. With the amount of spinach I’ve been eating I’ve got no worries! 

I barely ate any dairy or eggs anyway. I’d been veggie for years and years and years with just the odd hiccup, and I didn’t like dairy and eggs. They just taste slimy to me. I only had them as ingredients in things, like cakes and biscuits, and I’ve discovered that I can find alternatives easily for all of those things. 

With so little left to actually give up, I wasn’t expecting to feel major benefits. So I’ve been surprised to find there are so many. It has had an impact on literallly everything. 

My skin has been dry and flaky whilst also spotty for a while, and I was regularly getting great big horrible boils. Gross. My skin is clearing up rapidly, and while it’s still not brilliant it is getting there. My stomach doesn’t bloat and feel uncomfortable after eating anymore. I have totally over eaten a few times in January, but it hasn’t been as uncomfortable and horrible as it used to be. Once I’d got past the excess wind (soz -tmi!) of the first few days my digestive system seems to be working so much better. I’m not reaching for the peppermint tea to relieve tummy ache every evening. My energy levels have increased greatly. I still get very little sleep thanks to a combination of babies waking up and my own insomnia, but I’m coping with it so much better now. I think I’m less moody, although you’d have to ask Trevor to be totally sure on that one. I definitely feel less moody, and less anxious too. My mental health has definely improved and that was the biggest surprise. I guess there’s some doubt that it’s definitely eating well that has changed it, as it could also be because I quit my medication over Christmas. A friend told me today that she’d been quite concerned about me last year, and that I seem to be in a better place now. That’s good to hear. I’m glad I seem better on the outside too. 

There’s no way I’m going back. 

In fact, I think I’m going to take this further. I think my sugar addiction (I reckon most of us are addicted) is holding me back. Instead of feeling pretty good, I could be feeling amazing! I don’t think I’m ready to quit it all together, but I do plan to be more ‘sugar-aware’. When I eat sugary stuff I don’t notice when I’ve had enough and end up binging. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve had the odd bar of vegan chocolate recently, and I’ve been making myself eat it slowly and stop when I’m satisfied. I’ve found that I can leave a half eaten bar in a kitchen cupboard for days and days now. Previously I couldn’t know it was there and not eat it. 

I’m really proud of myself for completing Veganuary, and for sticking with it too. I’ve saved animals, contributed less to global warming, spent far less on food every week, learnt to cook, provided my family with healthier meals than before, lost some weight, improved my health, made big steps in improving my mental health, encouraged a friend to change her ways, and learnt to like myself a bit more. That’s not small stuff. 

Decluttering with Marie Kondo – part one 

Tuesday 3rd January 

Before Christmas, I read the Konmari book and started on the big clear out of our house. And I was really enjoying it. I think that’s what inspires people, because, lets face it, the book is mostly silly waffle. But for the first time, sorting through the mountains and mountains of junk we’ve hoarded is enjoyable. I’m focussing on what we’re keeping instead of what we’re discarding. I’m keeping things that ‘spark joy’. Things that genuinely make us happy. So far my focus has mainly been on downstairs, but this morning I took a look at my bedroom. It looked like this. Iris was at nursery for a couple of hours, and Astrid had a nap so I made a start. I’m nowhere near finished but I’m so pleased with how my bed looks this evening. It’s all clean and brand new and made, with no laundry piles and no heaps of scrunched up bedding. The clear surface at the bottom of the bed brings me more joy than it probably should, and I’m just madly in love with my new bedding. The only thing I’d change is the Twirlywoos pillow and duvet that I keep on my bed, but that has to stay because Iris sleeps with me and she likes her own covers. I can live with that because just look at how cool my new bedding is! I’ve had my eye on it on the Asda website for a while, so when I saw that they’d put it in the January sale I had to have it. It’s the best £9 I’ve ever spent, and it doesn’t mean I’ve failed my ‘no shopping’ resolution because things that genuinely make me really happy don’t count! 

Thursday 5th January 

Ta-da!! It’s slow progress, but it’s progress. There’s a very small window on Tuesday and Thursday morning while Iris is at nursery and Astrid has a nap, but then she wakes up and it’s game over. This’ll do for now. 

Saturday 7th January 

Trevor took the girls out for most of today, and I’ve done some serious decluttering. The only trouble is that although I’ve got loads of stuff bagged up ready to leave the house (to be donated or passed on or given back to whoever I borrowed it from) it still has to stay in my house in the meantime. So I’ve finished my bedroom (apart from under the bed and the tops of the wardrobes, which is mostly Trevor’s stuff so I need his help) but I’ve still got one big pile of stuff in the corner. All of it will be leaving here gradually in the next week or so, but in the meantime it’s just going to have to sit there. I’m really pleased with my progress in this room. We don’t have a bathroom upstairs so visitors never really go up there. This has become our excuse for just taking things up and dumping them so they’ll be out of sight. In reality, we just have far too much stuff. I can’t wait to reach a point where everything we own has a place and returns to its place. I hate moving piles of junk around the house.  The worst corner of the bedroom has gone from this……to this….…which doesn’t look like a great change on the surface. But that whole pile is leaving, very soon. The best part is that I can now use my gorgeous reading chair for actual reading. I’m never letting it become a dumping chair ever again. 

Dick Whittington! A night out at the panto. 

This time last year, Rhondda Cynon Taff council invited us along to see Cinderella, a pantomime at Aberdare’s Coliseum Theatre and we had an absolute ball. So obviously we were absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity again this year, and last night me and Iris went along. As we live just over the mountain from the village used as the set for Sky One comedy series ‘Stella’ we’re big fans, and a member of the cast has joined the panto again. This year it’s Di Botcher, or ‘Auntie Brenda’, playing Fairy Auntie Bobells. Frank Vickery returns as Sarah the cook, and Maxwell James is yet again the heart throb of the show as Dick Whittington. Johnny Tudor (also in Stella, as well as 3 episodes of Gavin and Stacey) plays Alderman Fitzwarren. For me though, the real star of the show is Ryan Owen as Tommy the cat who has the best costume, the funniest lines and great songs including Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’. 

The costumes are really incredible. Tommy the cat is clad in tight Lycra with fur, heavy make up and pointy ears. Dick Whittington looks great in his stripy leggings, and King Rat has very sinister glowing red eyes! The wildest costumes, as always, are reserved for the pantomime dame. Sarah the Cook has some really impressive costume changes that made me and the rest of the audience laugh out loud! Iris gave me a look after one costume change that clearly said ‘what on earth is she wearing?’. The crew of dancers changed often too, with my personal favourite being the super sparkly rat costumes with long bumpy tails. The scenery was beautifully painted, and the set looked great. There were many location changes and they were done so well. 

The best bits of any pantomime are the songs, and there were some really great ones. Iris’s favourite was a slightly altered version of the Paw Patrol theme tune, and mine was a hilariously chaotic version of ’12 Days of Christmas’ that left me exhausted just watching. The actors must be so tired from doing that every night! The story finishes with a happy ending, of course, and a song from Hairspray that really got us up and dancing. A strange coincidence as we’d watched Hairspray on TV earlier in the day. 

As an English person in Wales, I still find the accent and the way people speak really fascinating. The panto is extra amusing because most of the characters have a Welsh accent, even though it wasn’t set in Wales, and there were lots of references to local places that got everybody laughing. Even me, with my limited knowledge of the area. 

I think the crew of dancers were mostly the same ones as last year, and some of them look really very young. Being part of the panto must be such an incredible thing to do as a child! The routines were wonderful, and Iris spent as much of the evening as I would let her dancing in the aisle trying to copy the dance moves. She’s pretty groovy, my curly haired girl. Audience participation is such a big part of the show. Lots of booing and hissing was done, as well as plenty of “Oh no we didn’t”s. 

Having ice cream from our favourite place, Sub Zero, available in the interval was an extra bit of magic that we didn’t expect. We had an absolute blast, and it’s started the Christmas season of nicely. Pantomime is such a big Christmas tradition, and being able to share it with Iris is great. She’s been talking about last night’s ‘Christmas Show’ all day today so it’s obviously stick with her even though the story and jokes mostly went over her head. 

There are only a couple of shows left at the Coliseum before it moves to the Park and Dare in Treorchy. If you’re looking for a really Christmassy thing to do with your family in the local area then this is it. It really gets you in the mood for the celebrations! Tickets are available here, from the RCT Arts website, but hurry up because they are selling out fast! 

*We were invited along free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own. Picture credit to RCT Council*

Embracing Christmas in November 

Around this time last year I wrote this old post about Christmas in November. It’s grumpy. I’m my defence I was very very very pregnant. 

Actually, I still agree with some of it. I hate that it’s just a big push to get us to spend more and more money. Toy adverts are the worst! And don’t even get me started on Black Friday. Bleaugh! 

I do feel quite differently this year though. Maybe because I’m not pregnant and uncomfortable, but also because Iris is really getting into to. For the first time, she’s old enough to have an understanding of it all. We’ve not talked much about presents, but she’s been chatting about Christmas trees and sparkly lights and Santa for a couple of weeks now. She’s even got a part in her nursery show. She’s going to be a star! 

Astrid will turn one just after Christmas, so she’s not a teeny baby anymore either. She obviously has no idea what Christmas is, but she’s definitely old enough to really enjoy it. She’s much more sociable than Iris was as a baby, and loves being surrounded by people. I’m a bit scared she’s going to pull the Christmas tree over, but I think Christmas with her around is going to be a lot of fun! 

I’m not even slightly miffed by the two houses in our street that already have decorations up, and I’ve already bought some presents! I might even let the kids put the tree up early! This picture is from last Christmas, and that is water in Iris’s glass! 

Staying in hospital with a toddler

photo-11-11-2016-11-09-22It was obvious when I picked Iris up from nursery on the Tuesday morning that she was ill. She came out after her 2 and a half hour session looking absolutely wrecked. I put it down to her getting up at 4:30 that morning and the beginnings of a cold. We hadn’t been out anywhere since the weekend and I was desperate to get out of the house and get some fresh air, but that didn’t seem fair on Iris so we stayed at home, and she slept. On Wednesday she seemed to have a full blown cold so we didn’t do very much. We watched movies under blankets and I got a bit of housework done. On Thursday she was worse again. My nap-avoiding toddler had a huge nap in the morning, and another one in the afternoon then asked to go to bed at 6:30. In between times she wanted to watch films, which was great but she was feeling very sensitive and kept getting very upset at the sad bits. I was even beginning to miss Peppa Pig, because nobody ever gets their heart frozen by their sister in Peppa Pig.

I took her up to bed. She was asleep quickly, but I noticed that she seemed to be struggling to breathe. She hadn’t eaten a thing or drank much all day, and she’d slept so much. I decided to try to wake her only to find that I couldn’t. She would briefly open her eyes and glance at me before closing them again. She was all limp. Her chest looked weird, like it was caving in every time she took a breath. I remembered her asking for the living room lights to be turned down earlier in the evening, and suddenly I panicked.

What if she has meningitis? A friend of Iris’s contracted meningitis at the beginning of this year. He was in hospital for about 4 months, most of which was spent clinging on to life and only just. He survived, but it was touch and go for a long time. Now he’s learning to walk again on a prosthetic leg. He’s not even 2. Him and Iris missed out on the new vaccine by just months, and I keep feeling guilty that we haven’t managed to find the money to have it done privately.

I text Trevor, who was downstairs with Astrid asleep on his lap, and he came up. We called the NHS advice number, but waiting for an answer I nearly gave in and got Trevor to just drive us to A&E. They answered, asked questions, and tried to get me to wake her while I was on the line. I couldn’t. So they sent an ambulance.

Iris loves ambulances. Fire engines and bin lorries and tractors too. Had she been awake she’d have loved the ambulance, but she missed the whole thing. She slept on my lap and we were strapped onto a bed. The blue lights were flashing. I was terrified, but couldn’t stop thinking about how strange it feels to be in a moving vehicle and not be able to see where you are going.

In A&E, Trevor and Astrid (who had stayed asleep, thankfully) found us. We waited on a chair in the corridor as there were no beds free. A doctor called us into a room and checked her over. They gave her more Calpol and she came around a little bit. The doctor suspected pneumonia, and sent us off to X-ray. Trevor took her in because Astrid woke and wanted to be fed, and he said she just cooperated. She’s not one for cooperating usually, so she was definitely not right! Thankfully the X-ray looked pretty clear and she definitely didn’t have pneumonia. What a relief! She still wasn’t really with it, and was red hot, so I was quite worried when the doctor said we could leave. A lovely nurse wasn’t happy with how she looked and did her obs one last time before we could leave, and thank goodness she did. 

She wasn’t happy, and requested a second opinion. I wish I’d caught her name because I’d love to thank her. I dread to think how much worse Iris could have got if we’d just gone home. 

On the children’s ward, Iris was immediately admitted. After examination she was given an inhaler and put on a course of nebulisers, one every 20 minutes. The first one was easy, because Iris was so drowsy. She fought the second one and cried quite a lot. She was clearly terrified. However, she perked up immediately afterwards and even said she was hungry. She wolfed down half a sandwich, more than she’s eaten in 2 days. The doctor said that she was barely aware of her surroundings previously because it was taking all of her effort to just breathe, and the nebulisers  and inhalers had opened her up and made it easier. They weren’t happy with her oxygen levels though, so she’d have to spend the night on oxygen. My poor little darling fought the tubes so hard. The nurse took a long time to get the tubes taped to her little cheeks and it broke my heart to see her so scared. 

She fell asleep not long after, but wasn’t allowed to just sleep. She had nebulisers hourly through the night, and for every one I had to hold her still with all my strength while gently trying to convince her that she was safe and the mask was making her better. I’m not sure she believed me! In between nebulisers she kept waking up and crying, while trying to pull the tubes from her nose. She gave herself a nosebleed in the process. 

It all worked though. Although she was shattered the next morning, she had improved loads. So much so that they decided to stop the nebulisers all together and see how she got on without. They decided it was probably a severe chest infection and gave her antibiotics. One dose a day for three days. It was a huge relief to here chest infection instead of pneumonia or meningitis or any of the other really scary things. Not that chest infections aren’t scary. I was certainly scared, and so was Iris. 

She still wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t drink without lots of persuasion. She hadn’t done a wee all night so dehydration was a worry. Because she was wired up to oxygen and a monitor she couldn’t use the loo, so I’d put her in a nappy. I think that was the problem, because at 1pm when they decided to try her without oxygen for a bit and I could take her to the loo, she did the biggest wee ever. I was as relieved as she was. 

A nurse told us that if she could keep the oxygen number on the screen above 92 for 24 hours she could probably go home. It was only at that point that I realised we were definitely in for another night. The monitor was attached to Iris’s toe (that she later started referring to as her ‘magic toe’) but as the day went on they let her take it off in between having her obs done. She could go and play! 

Parents of patients don’t get fed, and no hot drinks are allowed on the ward. I was so tired, and had a pretty bad caffeine withdrawal headache. Trevor and Astrid needed lunch so fetched me some of those cold coffees in cans. They saved the day for me, and kept me going. Well, combined with lots of biscuits they did anyway. 

I was feeling incredibly guilty (I still am actually) for being away from 10 month old Astrid for two whole nights. I knew she was fine with Trevor, and thankfully we had enough expressed milk in the freezer. She breastfeeds all through the night usually, so I knew she’d find it hard. After not leaving the hospital with Trevor until around midnight she had slept pretty well and taken some milk from a cup. Little monster still won’t take a bottle. I’ve only ever left Iris for one night (when I was in labour!) so knowing I’d be leaving Astrid for a second night was getting to me. 

Iris slept a lot through the day on the Friday, but her stats stayed up and she continued to improve. I watched the monitor really closely, and although her heart rate was still quite high she maintained a great oxygen level without the tubes. By the evening she was running around and playing with the other children. Trevor and Astrid left as Iris’s dinner arrived (that she didn’t eat) and I attempted to get a shattered Iris to sleep. 

I failed. She kept getting into bed, demanding the curtains be closed, and closing her eyes. A few minutes later she’d leap up and ask to go and play. She was tired. So tired. But wanted to make up for days of not being able to play, and I could understand that! I was fed up with being stuck indoors doing nothing too. She eventually nodded off 20 minutes before the nurse had said she’d be round to check her stats, which obviously meant they’d wake her again! 

The ward was really noisy until after 11, but when it went quiet it was a quieter night. The snoring parent that had annoyed me so much the first night wasn’t there, and there were only toddlers. No babies. Apart from being woken often when they took Iris’s stats, we slept. Squeezing into a tiny single hospital bed with Iris, who sleeps in starfish position, wasn’t great. She wouldn’t let me sleep on the parent chair bed thingy, and I really wanted to hold her anyway. 

You can imagine how annoyed I was when at 8:30 the next morning, they turned the big lights on and opened our curtain all the way around. It wasn’t the nicest wake up and Iris was quite upset! 

She didn’t touch breakfast again, but nibbled on a couple of cookies and had started to drink a bit more. She was still coughing and breathing heavily, but was clearly itching to get home. Thankfully the doctor immediately discharged her. A dad of a little boy on the ward started up a game of ‘where is Postman Pat?’ and all four children on the ward got involved while we waited for Iris prescription to arrive so that we could go home.  

By lunchtime, we were in the van on our way home. 

The whole experience left Iris tired and tearful for days afterwards. She’s only just getting her appetite and her energy back now, two weeks later. 

What’s new in the mouse house

photo-23-10-2016-14-41-28

Actually, not much really.

I’ve just renewed my domain thingy which costs actual real money, and it made me think that maybe I should try a bit harder with this blog thing. I’ve been saying that for months actually, but I can’t quite find enough balance in our busy life. There’s just not much room for this, but I wish there was. I’ve always found writing about my life very therapeutic, and I still do. I really love having things written down to look back on too. I quite often read my old posts when they pop up on Timehop.

On the whole, life is really good right now. Apart from the usual money worries (how is Christmas so soon??) we’re doing really well. My mental health was worrying me for a while, but I feel like I’ve really got a grip of things at the moment. I’ve been feeling quite a bit better physically too, with migraines now a very rare occurrence and they’re mild even when they do appear. A combination of amitryptaline and sertraline seems to really work for me. I’ve had no aura, no flashing lights in my vision, and much less neurological pain. I’m tired though, and I haven’t been looking after myself. I still eat too much junk food. I really don’t need a big bar of chocolate every evening, but somehow I feel like I do. I’ve put weight on, I’m sure. Which isn’t great because I want to lose quite a bit, but it’s not the end of the world.

The big kids are doing great, with the eldest being made house captain at her school. Their days with us have been full of fun, with lots of train trips and boat trips and days spent in Techniquest doing science. Second kid made a gorgeous crown for a school project, and biggest kid has got really into photography. She turns 11 next week and has asked for a fancy camera.

Iris is still going to the local nursery two mornings a week and absolutely loves it. It’s a bilingual setting, and she keeps singing Welsh songs at home! She’s starting praising me in Welsh when I’ve done something ‘clever’ like using the toilet. Da iawn Mummy! I have no idea what she’s been getting up to there, but there’s a coffee morning coming up where I can talk to her key worker about how she’s doing. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s half term now, and I know she’s really going to miss it. She does have a Halloween disco to go to on Friday though! She’s got a witch costume but keeps telling me she doesn’t want to wear it, so she’ll probably go in her usual clothes.

We’ve not been letting the colder weather keep us indoors, which is lucky really as Iris now knows there’s a whole tv channel that just shows Peppa Pig all day every day and if we stayed at home she’d insist on watching it constantly. Because it’s been colder, we often get the big park in Pontypridd all to ourselves. If we go towards the end of the day there’s a tannoy announcement about the park closing, and Iris takes it much better from the tannoy than from me. This has reduced the amount of public tantrums by quite a few!

Astrid is doing really well. I planned to use the time Iris spends at nursery to spend some time with just Astrid, but she’s decided to sleep all morning nearly every time. It means I get some time to myself, but also means I have no excuse to ignore the dishes and laundry!

After struggling to dye my roots I decided that bleachy blonde hair was way too much hard work, and this week I went brunette. The plan is that it’s similar to my natural colour and so I can just stop dying my hair now. It’s just too much work and I can’t be bothered. I’ll probably change my mind. I have trouble committing to one colour!

With Astrid going to sleep pretty early in the evenings with Iris not far behind, I feel like we’ve got a little bit of time for us again. It’s nice. We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again. It’s weirdly nostalgic for me. Even though I was very late to it as a series, I watched it all when Iris was a tiny newborn. She never slept so I gave up going to bed. It’s such a good series and it kept me from getting really down during the worst days of sleep deprivation. Trevor caught the odd episode here and there, and he’s now enjoying filling in the gaps. I feel a bit bad about all the hours we’re spending watching tv because I really want to read some of my pile of unread books. I guess they can wait. One benefit to tv over books is that I can do something else at the same time. I’ve been crocheting loads, and finally finished Astrid’s star blanket that I started before she was born. Iris has one I made two years ago, and it’s nice that they’ve got one each now. I also made Iris a doll, which she has named ‘Jo with the bow’, but she refuses to play with it and says she doesn’t like it. I’m trying not to let that upset me!

My sister had a new baby when we were away camping in August, and we’ve been trying to get together as often as possible so we can all get to know my new baby niece. It’s great to get all the kids together anyway, as our little two and my sister’s three are all similar ages. I think cousins should be your first friends if possible, and I didn’t spend much time with mine as a kid. Now we’re not in contact at all, and I’d love for my kids and my sister’s kids to be there for each other even when they’re all grown up.

There’s been talk of getting a new kitchen here, even though we’re a long way from having the cash for it. I’m trying to convince Trevor that we need a dishwasher, but I don’t think he’s persuaded yet. We have a fairly good size kitchen, but it’s poorly designed and laid out in such a way that we actually don’t have much surface or storage space. If it was shuffled around we could easily fit a dishwasher plus more cupboards and more worktop space. Our bathroom needs doing too, plus we have a small hallway with a bare concrete floor that needs carpet or something. Our daft dog Seb has a thing for eating underlay and will happily rip up carpet to get to it. Thankfully that tiny hall was the only bit of carpet downstairs. Perhaps it might be better to put laminate in there.

I’ve started to think about what I want to do when it’s time for me to go back to work. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything anytime soon because childcare for two is too expensive. I’m thinking about not going anywhere to work at all, but childminding from home. I have a couple of friends who do it, and although hard work it does look like a good way to make some cash. I’ve worked with small children most of my adult life and have the relevant qualifications already, so it makes sense. I don’t plan on doing anything at least until next September when Iris will start nursery class at school. We applied for her place last week, which felt like a parenting milestone I was not ready for. She’s only 2!

It’s getting colder and the heating has been on a little bit for the first time this season. It feels like winter is finally on it’s way and I’m relieved for a change. Halloween has been spoilt a little bit this year by those stupid idiots dressing as clowns that we keep seeing on the news. The big kids have said they don’t want to go outside on Halloween, and I don’t feel much like it either. There have been quite a few clowns reported to police around here. Hopefully bonfire night will be better! We went to the display in Ynysangharad Park last year, and it was great. We’ll probably do the same this year. I love the big organised displays, but seeing fireworks for sale in supermarkets makes me nervous. How can it be right that anybody can pick up explosives when they’re just popping in for some bread?

We’ve started thinking about Christmas here, and like every year we’ve decided not to buy as much, even though we never manage to stick to any kind of budget. I want to buy Iris a balance bike and perhaps a Lottie doll but other than that I have no idea. Astrid has all of the old toys belonging to three big sisters to play with, so she really doesn’t need anything. Plus she’ll turn 1 just a couple of weeks later, meaning she’ll get even more presents she doesn’t need! I think we’re going to need a serious sort out before we do any shopping.

I don’t have any more news I want to record, so I’m signing off here. I’ll probably think of something else in a minute!