Loft Conversion – Day 0

Here is our house as it will never look again (and no, I’m not talking about the snow on the roof – in October!)


From the back
From the back


From the front
From the front


Inside the loft
Inside the loft


My latest obsession, now that the loft’s pretty much under control, and the car is too big a deal for me to even start thinking about, is pushchairs.

We are already in possession of enough wheeled transport for 5 children. Yet we will certainly be buying at least one more double buggy. The double buggy we bought when Max was born (Jacob was only just 2 at the time so we wanted a way to get them both around without requiring two adults) was frankly a bit crap and not really suitable for newborn twins. Indeed it was one of few things I threw out when emptying the loft at the weekend. The remaining pushchairs we own are all single seaters, so we have no choice but to add to the tally.

I’m sure the most sensible solution is just to get a double Maclaren, since this is undoubtedly what they’ll end up in anyway. Maclarens really are the only option for any babies once they get beyond about 6 months because they relatively lightweight, they fold down very small and very easily, they’re easy for the kids to get in and out of by themselves once they can walk, etc etc. But we have of course fallen into the standard parenthood trap of thinking that it would be nice to have a bells-and-whistles, nice-looking pushchair. You’d have thought we’d learned our lesson, having been through this twice before.

The Jané Powertwin Pro (don’t you just love the naming?) looks really cool, and comfortable for the babies, plus it has the advantage of being a tandem rather than a side-by-side, so it might actually fit through doorways. It’s also very expensive, and suffers from the ridiculous design flaw that the front seat is not suitable from birth, despite it being called the PowerTWIN. That means that if you want to use it for newborns, you have to get the compatible car seats, which clip on to the chassis and are suitable from birth, but push up the price of the whole package to astronomical levels. There are some bargains to be had on the Internet if you go for last year’s colours (as if that makes any difference!) but then you can’t get the most up-to-date and safety-conscious car seats. 

Speaking of which, we already have at our disposal two baby car seats. But they are old (the first one was bought for Jacob five years ago) and have been used for four babies between them (including my two nephews). Furthermore they are bulky, very heavy, and don’t use the latest safety technology. So we are sorely tempted to upgrade to two new car seats, whether opt for the Maclaren or the Powertwin. Which means the whole lot is going to cost north of £500, whichever way we go.

I’m sure this has been the most boring blog post ever for anyone other than prospective parents, but I was hoping that by writing it all down, I would be able to clarify my thoughts and actually make a decision. But I’m just as confused as I was when I started…

Lofty heights

So I spent all of last week panicking about the job required of me – emptying all our old crap out of the loft so that the builders can start work on the official start date, which is November 3rd. Once I actually got down to it on Sunday morning – with a little help from my dad, it only took about 2 hours. It was bloody hard work, not helped by the fact that it was pissing with rain, making it tricky getting all the stuff out into the garage. And the garage, which was previously Ursula’s office, is now rammed to the gills with boxes, bags, suitcases, old furniture, and the rest. A lot of it is old baby stuff which will come in very useful, but we won’t have anywhere to put it until the loft is done so we can set up the babies’ nursery.

I got a call from the builders yesterday to say they’re coming on Thursday to put up the scaffolding. That’s the day after tomorrow. I can’t believe how quickly this is all happening.

Disney on Ice

The O2
The O2

Today was one of our big family days out – Disney on Ice presents Finding Nemo at the O2, otherwise known as the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. This was partly a joint birthday present for the boys (Max’s was last week, Jacob’s is next week) and partly because we’re terribly indulgent parents. At over £40 a ticket, there is no way in hell we will ever be able to afford to do this with four children.

Ignoring the obscene amounts of money spent (which is very hard to do if you’re me) it was actually a very fun day out. We were debating whether to go on the Thames Clipper, which we did last year and was a lot of fun, but Jacob’s feeling a bit under the weather, and it was supposed to rain, so we decided to drive. I spent 29 minutes on hold trying to get through to the parking booking line yesterday, which turned out to be a complete waste of time because there were plenty of spaces in the car park even if you just turned up without booking.

The timings all worked out very well. We got into the 02 at about 12:45, which was perfect timing to get into one of the many restaurants there. 15 minutes later and we’d have spent half an hour in a queue trying to get something to eat. After lunch at Zizzi, we had just enough time to go and buy the boys each an obscenely overpriced lighting up Nemo toy before finding our seats. Thanks to my wife’s ridiculously organised nature – she signed up for the pre-booking scheme after last year’s show, and booked the tickets on the day pre-booking opened – we were in the front row, seated right beside the ice.

Rinkside seats
Rinkside seats

The show was really well done – great costumes and props, very spectacular – and it was really special to see the huge smiles on the boys’ faces all the way through, and how excited they were when they got to high-five a turtle.

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse

Skating fishes
Skating fishes

I do hope we get to do stuff like this with the twins, but I fear we may have to win the lottery first. Speaking of which, I found a tenner lying on the ground in Homebase car park last week (a good omen?) so I have 10 tickets for tonight’s lotto draw. With any luck, my next entry on this blog will be posted from a Caribbean beach…

On a separate note – we got confirmation from the loft people yesterday that they are starting on 3rd November, i.e. in 9 days time, so it is now total panic stations trying to get everything organised. Tomorrow is the last day I have for emptying the vast amounts of crap out of the loft, because next weekend is Jacob’s birthday party. And we also realised we had to order our bathroom pretty sharpish, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything for them to plumb in. Turns out the Bathstore’s sale ends tomorrow, so in a case of serendipitous timing, Ursula went shopping yesterday and ordered a shower, a loo and lots of exciting accessories.


I felt the babies (well, at least one of them) kick for the first time the other day. It’s weird – we’ve been through this whole pregnancy thing twice before, but even third time round, it’s quite an emotional experience. Feeling them move makes the whole thing so much more real. It makes you realise there really are real people in there, not just some blurry shapes on a computer screen in the clinic.

Ursula’s been feeling the movement for a few weeks now, but it’s getting more and more pronouced, to the point where they’ve actually been keeping her awake at night. Far from ideal, when you consider how tired the pregnancy is making her anyway. She put it very succinctly today: the babies are sapping all her energy, and using it to kick her. Nice.

The whole concept of having a living thing moving around inside your belly still completely freaks me out. I’m sure this is why nature made sure it’s not men who get pregnant. We wouldn’t be able to cope with the weirdness of the whole thing.

Speaking of movement, things are seriously moving along on the loft front. They’re due to start work in either the first or second week of November. Given that we’ve got Jacob’s birthday party on the first weekend of the month, and we’re going away the weekend after, that means I only have this weekend to get all our old rubbish down from the loft. This is absolutely terrifying to me – there’s a lot of crap up there and this is a big job which I was anticipating splitting over a few weekends to make it more manageable. We’re taking the kids to Disney on Ice on Saturday – for what is surely the last time as there’s no way we’ll ever be able to afford 6 tickets for a show like that –  so that effectively means I have one day to sort out the whole thing. Oh bollocks.

A quick aside – I absolutely love WordPress, this blogging service. For reasons unknown, my browser just crashed and I thought I’d lost this entire entry. But I logged back in and it had saved everything except the last few words. Brilliant.

The name game

Something we said after Max was born, that I hadn’t thought about since, was that we’d better never have any more boys as all the good names are gone. Jacob and Max are obviously the best boys’ names in the world. And we very foolishly used two of the other names on our top five list for their middle names – William and Oliver. What is the point of middle names anyway? I never use mine, they will most likely never use theirs. They seem completely pointless and now we have two fewer choices available for the twins. And we don’t just have to come up with one name, which would have been hard enough, but two. I think we’re going to have a hard time agreeing on anything, so we might just have to stick with Thing 3 and Thing 4 after all.

When you’re having twin boys, you’re inclined to think of the names in pairs – like famous double acts.

Bert & Ernie
Wallace & Gromit
Woody & Buzz
Luke & Han
Rhubarb & Custard
Statler & Waldorf
Stan & Ollie
Derek & Clive
Jake & Elwood
Lou & Andy
Wayne & Garth
Bill & Ted
Chip & Dale
Ren & Stimpy
Fred & Barney
Asterix & Obelix
Nathan & Peter

I don’t suppose any of these will go down too well with the missus. But I might seriously work on her regarding a pair of names whch would result in the nicknames Izzy & Ozzy. How cool would that be? 

Suggestions welcome…