Unfinished business


So in June 2012 we moved to the money pit, work started in earnest in January 2013 (…at 5 months pregnant) and the loft extension was completed on my due date, excellent.

Work progressed, with external walls going up, interior walls coming down, kitchen and bathrooms were fitted, curtains went up and there was some painting done…that should really have been the end of it.

However the trouble is it still isn’t finished.  When I went back to work after 14 months of maternity leave it hadn’t occurred to us that the work still wouldn’t have been done, but naturally whatever wasn’t finished then still isn’t finished as being a SAHD doesn’t really lend itself to house renovating at the same time!

I don’t want to moan, but my view is that the real issue why it’s not finished is that the Turk has an aversion to completing a project.  The Turk is of the view that it is my fault because I insisted on doing irritating things like using rooms (ie rather than confining the 3 of us to a 10 meter square area of loft I insisted that we used two of the bedrooms downstairs, kitchen and living room.

Whichever one of us is right, the bottom line is it’s all a bit….well…unfinished.

Yes we have a living room, but there’s a patch of plain plaster on the ceiling which hasn’t been painted, no coving, the whole room needs painting and other than our sofa all furniture is cordoned off one half of the room which we don’t use because it’s too unfinished and therefore unsafe for the boy.

Yes we have a kitchen but it only has around half it’s work surface and a huge damp patch with no sign of either being completed in the near future.

The hallways and stairs are in a complete state of disrepair whilst we argue over floorboards v carpets so I frequently loose items helpfully posted by Jem between gaps and trip over the loose floorboard at the top of the stairs…

The main bathroom and guest en suite both leak, have cracked tiles and need work on the ceilings.

The spare room would be ok if it wasn’t for the tools dumped in there.

The loft has become a dumping ground for everything that can’t be put in the unfinished rooms…

It’s all getting a bit frustrating.  The Turk has suggested that a second maternity leave would be an excellent opportunity for him to complete the work…I’m not enthused about the prospect of another 12 months of looking after a new baby almost completely alone whilst he rennovated…

Spiderly issues

I don’t really like spiders, I never have and if you ask me I can’t explain to you why.
I notice that when most people write about these horrid arachnids or post about them on facebook they frequently put pictures of the little horrors.  I have opted not to do this.  Primarily because I detest those pictures and find myself immediately unfriending anyone who conducts such an act of cyber terrorism.
My cat disagrees, he likes spiders, in fact they are his favourite prey.  When we first moved to the money pit we found mouse traps all over and the cats were a real bonus as we didn’t spot a mouse at al during the building work.  Recently we found a couple of mice but our cats seem to spend most of their time simply looking at said mouse and waiting for me to move it.  That’s fine, I can cope with mice.   I can’t cope with spiders.
It always happens at the end of summer that for some reason there are literally* thousands of spiders.  As I have aged I have come to terms with even the massive spindly ones, but these are substantial “real” spiders, with big bodies and they bleed*, they cannot be squashed and they move so fast they can escape my Dyson.
I hate these spiders, I really hate them.  The Turk can’t understand why, but it’s not really been an issue for a while, we never seemed to get spiders until last autumn.  We were living in the loft of our house at the time and I couldn’t work out where these blooming massive spiders were coming from, and why they were up on the third story of our house.  I would get up in the night, bring the boy into the living room for a feed and there would be one, lurking, in the middle of the room (usually dead).  Luckily because I am a grown up and the need to not freak out the baby became my highest priority I managed not to scream blue murder, but to place a container over the dead spider so it was out of my sight while I nursed.
One night a live one ran out from under the fridge….that wasn’t a good night.
I worked it out one day many months later, when I caught the skinny cat bringing a large one in and dropping it on the kitchen floor, the two cats then pranced around looking at it for a bit and tapping at it when it stood still….before romping off outside and leaving we and spider to it.  This year after I flipped out at the ginormous creature brought into (and then lost in) the kitchen my cat tried to appease me by bringing the next one up to my bedroom…and the one after that as well.  During the spider month I no longer go to the loft (where the cats sleep) alone.
The Turk has real issues about killing spiders, and I have real issues about not killing them.  This started when on a couple of many many many occasions he would attempt to pick them up in a tissue, drop them, find them, pick them up then drop them but walk over to the window and pretend to throw them out.  I’m not stupid, I know they’re still there.  I now have to be satisfied (from a reasonable distance) that they are well and truly squashed before I am happy.
*not literally, but definitely inside my own mind

There’s a mouse in this house…


We once had a mouse in our first flat, we realised because when I pulled out my bag of flour it was empty…

The next night we could hear the little blighter scrabbling around behind the kitchen cupboards, we sorted it out pretty easily by blocking up the air vent and ensuring that all edible food was in mouse proof containers, we didn’t have any problems after that.

When we moved to the money pit we were convinced there would be mice, on occasions we have suspected that it is their scuttling sending bits careering down the chimney, but this time we were not afraid…we have cats!

Now one of our cats are hunters!  I know this because the little one has a tendency for bringing in spiders, moths and daddy-long-legs in for us (he used to leave them at the top of the stairs and miaow until we came to admire…)  They loved the new house, so many rooms and nooks to scratch and sniff…so many mouse holes!  Paws were thrust down them, floorboards were pulled up and explored behind, we knew there had been mice as one of our first tasks before the kits arrived was to remove the numerous traps lying around (we don’t want paws to get caught in them), but we saw no sign of mice.

For a while…

Then one day I looked at my two cats sat in the hall, nose to nose, looking at a leaf….

…looking at me…

…looking back at the leaf…

…looking imploringly at me….

….back to leaf…

…I came closer.

It was not a leaf.

It was a mouse.

A tiny little triangular thing.

I hadn’t seen them touch it, to be fair they were both effectively asking me in cat to take the scary thing away.

I went back to the kitchen to try and find something to pick it up with, I was newly pregnant so didn’t fancy using my fingers.

The mouse didn’t move.

A journey down the road to the high street in my dustpan and brush still didn’t disturb it and I released it into the wild.

That was two years ago, and this weekend I found my cats playing with a teeny tiny mouse in the garden.  They were much braver this time, little mouse moved so slowly and they would occasionally paw at it trying to tempt him into moving.

Part of me thinks I should have left them to it, it’s good for them to play and catch fresh food.  But I couldn’t do it, I have a fondness for small furry things and yet again trusty dustpan and brush came out and mouse went far away.  The cats were fairly miffed, but wet food helped them get over it!



The dehumidifier rumbles on…

drowning out voices saying “damp be gone”

Rising, dripping, seeping through…

We stare in wonder “what shall we do”

pipes and leaks, they have all been tested…

But still the water comes, never arrested

Love your house, love your home…

With all this damp we’re never alone.

Spending too much time together


Looking back on my maternity leave, my husband and I were very fortunate, although technically allegedly the Turk was rennovating the house, we were both at home throughout my 14 months.  For the first six months I found this frustrating, we never saw him.  I felt so alone.  We would hear him a lot, he would shout up the stairs “why is the baby crying so much, have you fed him?” and I would throw something at him…it wasn’t great…

He worked so hard that at 10pm in the evening I would have to go and find him and beg him to stop work and come to spend some time with us.  Aside from missing out on valuable time with his baby I really needed some support and company.

After Christmas 2013 the momentum on the money pit lessened.  Our builders had disappeared with our money leaving us in an incomplete house so it was just the Turk working on the rennovation, he had lost a lot of motivation and so spent more time with us “preparing to do work on the house” and less time “actually doing work on the house”.  This meant that we spent a lot more time together as a family, admittedly mainly traipsing around DIY stores or in front of the computer trying to work out how to fix the toilet.

This is a good thing…or is it?

I have to say for us it really wasn’t.  I think we spent too much time together, we started to bicker, and pick at each other.  Of course I think every couple does this when you have a new baby and not enough sleep, but to do this more and more as the baby was settled and slept more is a bit strange.  Suddenly my tactics for enforcing naps were questioned, someone else had a view and wanted to try putting Jem down for a nap.  There were two of us there at every mealtime – great – you might think, but actually that’s two people arguing about how much the baby eats, how much is thrown on the floor, whose turn it is to get the water and who left the bib in the living room.

Since going back to work it’s hard to hand over control, but I’ve had to let go.  We still try and have our evening meal all together and we have our weekends, but actually there’s a lot to be said for spending a little less time together.  It means we seem to bicker less, and we actually each have something different to talk about during mealtimes as we haven’t spent all day doing the same thing.  Yes we argue about how many nights out I really need, and why the housework isn’t progressing quite as well as I’d like, but I think we each now have a better understanding of the role of the person at home and give each other a little more slack than we might have done before.

The Journey to “Having it all” part 1, background & preparation


The background

I’m going to try and keep a mini-diary of my return to work.  I am attempting what many see as “having it all”…although I think the truer description is perhaps “not really having anything properly”.  In short after 14 months maternity leave I am returning to work, full time.  I will compress hours so attempt to work only 8 hours a day (which involves being out of the house between 7.30am and 6pm) for 9 days and have the 10th day off.

This fortnightly day off has arisen as a result of my initial application for flexible working being refused.  I am not allowed to work from home on a regular basis, and if I wanted to compress even further and have one day a week off I would face not seeing the boy at all for four days a week.

This has not been a difficult decision.  I was more than ready to return to work.  Truth be told the final few months have led to me feeling rather depressed.  I enjoy working, part of me thrives on the stress and the whinging about it.  Whilst I have been on mat leave I have socialised little and really struggled with the lack of interaction with my friends.  Whilst I have met other friends with babies regularly, I started to shun this as what I really craved was baby free time.  In the whole 14 months I can count the instances I have been baby free on 2 hands, and the majority of these occasions were for voluntary work for a couple of hours in the evening.

We are in the fortunate position that the Turk hasn’t had a “proper job” since being made redundant over 2 years ago.  Whilst he wasn’t the most hands on Dad over the past year (particularly the first 6 months when we barely saw him as he was working over 12 hours a day on the house).  Jobs that he could apply for seem to pay significantly less than they used to and certainly it would mean that he was working effectively just to pay for nursery.  Given he hates doing what he used to do it seemed an obvious decision.

The plan

I am a domestic goddess…

I am a supermum…

I can handle ANYTHING….

This is my plan:

6.30 I will wake, shower, dress (in clothes and jewellery I sorted out the night before)

7.00 The boy and Turk will wake, dress and meet me downstairs for…

7.15 joint breakfast before I head out to work

lunch for me I sort out the night before but the Turk sorts out the boy and himself (unless there are leftovers)

6.00 I come home to dinner on the table (prepared by me the night before with minimal work for the Turk, although Wednesdays the Turk will make a simple dinner so I can have an evening off) and we all eat together

7.00 bathtime

7.30 bed

8.00 I cook and prepare the meal for tomorrow night, my lunch, plan my outfit, drink tea, Tweet…blog…crochet…sew….erm yeah, maybe a tad optimistic!

I have a big spreadsheet for planning meals (close observers of Silent Sunday saw this in progress) so I can plan meals 6 weeks in advance and the Turk will look at this to do the weekly shop.


Once a fortnight we will have “fortnightly family fun day” usually on a Friday…which will be extra exciting because it will be 4 Fs!  So far we have rarely done anything interesting as a family.  Interesting things cost money which has been tight, and time, which has been guilt ridden as the Turk has to spend the majority of our days “working” on the house.  One of the problems with us both being off “normal” working hours is the lack of fun time.  It sounds like we would have more time together but in reality without a weekend each day just merges into the next.  There is nothing to look forward to and nothing to make an effort for, I am hoping that work will change this.

In addition to this I have grand plans for a beauty regime, I am determined to wear every single item in my wardrobe (and if not I am getting rid of it) as I make the most of all the clothes I have gazed longingly at whilst pregnant or recovering.  I am looking forward to having a reason to leave the house and justification for nail varnish and make up.

There are some things which aren’t quite so organised, we have the following questions (among others) still up for discussion:

  • Cleaning and other housework – seems that this will all be down to the Turk but this seems a bit unfair.  It might work if he can manage to do it whilst looking after the boy.
  • Decorating and other remaining building work – other than doing this in 45 minutes a day whilst the boy naps it seems we might need to set some money aside each month to get someone in to help with this.  Whilst there is no longer anything super urgent there are still quite a few irritating things, for example it would be nice to have work surfaces in the kitchen and to be able to use the shower in the main bathroom…#justsaying
  • Tidying – the Turk doesn’t tend to tidy and I’m not sure I will be much inclined to in an evening.
  • Routine – I have said the Turk can set Jem’s routine, but he doesn’t really do routine himself, or timekeeping, so this could effect night sleeping…so who will then be the one to get up in the night?
  • Playgroups – I have prepared a list of activities the Turk can do with the boy, but he’s not really into organising things and I am slightly worried they might just spend all day sat at home…

Whilst I still think “having it all” is a myth I’m going to have a jolly good go at having all that our family wants!


Pick a Positive or Two – discovering things


Inspired by the lovely Life on Planet T blog I am again joining in the Pick a Positive or Two linky. This week I am focusing on our home:

  1. We have a wonderful new bedroom suite…ok so it doesn’t quite fit as well as we hoped but it’s going to be fab once we’re settled into it.  It’s the first furniture we’ve had that isn’t flat pack, and having lived with second hand furniture and a glued together bed for a number of years it’s a huge achievement;
  2. All our walls are built – this has actually been the case for over six months, but I’m still pleased about it;
  3. Our house appears to be watertight (from the outside in…not yet from the inside in…);
  4. We are finally starting to see things coming together and now I’m back at work we’ve been able to buy nice new things to go in our house (see point 1, above);
  5. There is a good chance that the electricians may come and finish our electrics in the next week or so;
  6. Ditto plasterer;
  7. We’re very very lucky, we live in a 5 bedroom house, and our belongings fill it;
  8. Whatever you think about the grey and dismal area I live in our home is less than 5 minutes walk from the tube and less than 45 minutes directly to work;
  9. I love being able to pop out to the 3 local market stalls and buy our fruit and veg every day;
  10. We live near 2 of the best Turkish restaurants in London (important when you’re married to the Turk).

Counting our many blessings, particularly knowing how many are living in appalling conditions both at home and abroad.