Progress report

Oh dear, is it really nearly two weeks since I last posted? How useless I am. I keep giving myself the excuse that I’m too tired to post, so I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ve obviously done that now for the last 13 days in a row.

The loft is now entirely finished except for one last thing – the carpet. As it happens, the carpet has been the only real stumbling block in this entire process. We ordered it through Carpetright – through force of habit as they have carpeted our last three houses – on the basis that they could guarantee a pre-Christmas fitting. But as Christmas crept closer and closer, they kept making different excuses until we reached the point where had absolutely no faith whatsoever that we would actually have carpet this year. So eventually we cancelled and re-ordered through Allied Carpets, who have confirmed a fitting date of next Thursday. That will be the very last stage of the build, so next weekend we will actually be able to start moving upstairs.

The last couple of weeks have been a triumph of Ursula-esque organisation, with all the painting, plumbing, electrics, tiling, connecting the TV points to the aerial, window cleaning and a thousand other little things all completed within an amazingly short space of time.

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned the big falling out I had with the boss of the loft conversion company. I’m glad I didn’t post anything on the day that happened, as I’m sure I would have said things I wasn’t proud of. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now as the job is officially finished, although that’s just reminded me that we still have sent back the sign-off papers that were the basis for the falling out in the first place. Oops. My computer is currently off at the Apple Store being repaired, but as soon as I get it back, I’ll post some more up-to-date pictures of the loft.

We did the first bit of nursery preparation the other day. The electrician moved the light fitting from our bedroom up into our new room in the loft, so we had to put something up to replace it in our current room which is soon to become the nursery. It looks a bit silly having an ABC light shade over our bed, but it’s quite nice that things are finally progressing. 

It feels like we’ve left things very much until the last minute in terms of actually preparing for the arrival of two new babies. With both previous babies, we’ve been buying up the entire stock of Mothercare from pretty much the second the blue line appeared on the little stick. But this time, because the main thing we had to do was make the house big enough for a family of six, we haven’t really had a chance to think about anything else. When we finally vacate our bedroom in the next week or two, we will at last be able to start preparing properly. And that’s when we’ll realise how hideously unprepared we are. We’ve got boxes and boxes of old baby stuff to sort through, but I’m sure we’ll find we’ve thrown most of the useful stuff out – we reached a point about two years ago when we said we definitely weren’t going to have any more children so there was no point in keeping anything. So I fear there is much shopping to be done in the coming weeks. Anyway, we only ever had one of anything before, and of course now we need two of everything. Oh god!

We have our first cot, very kindly donated by our lovely friends the Pearls, who most irritatingly moved to Cambridge last year. Our other cot (which actually belongs to us) is currently in use by my nephew, so I’m rather hoping his new bed turns up before the twins do, or somebody’s going to be sleeping on the floor.

Ursula is looking like she’s ready to pop. People keep asking her if she’s due before Christmas – her belly is at least as big as a full term belly for a single pregnancy, and there’s still two months to go. In fact if you believe the official measurements, there’s still 11 weeks to go, but I think they’re a week out anyway. Besides, twins very rarely go to term, and according to the midwife, twins can be born at anything from 34 weeks. Which is in about 5 weeks time. Oh my f•••••g god! Ignoring the fact that she is finding it increasingly difficult to move, she also gets extremely tired, and has to contend with regular internal beatings from not one but two babies. The next few weeks are going to be so much fun…

Disappointed

I am slightly disappointed because I will no longer be able to obsess about choosing the right double buggy. A friend of one of the mums from Jacob’s class had a nearly new Maclaren Techno Twin that she wanted to get rid of for the princely sum of £80. A brand new one costs around £210, and they no longer make them in red, which this one is. So we are now the proud owners of said double buggy, so I no longer have to worry about whether we ought to be splashing out 400-odd quid on a PowerTwin Pro. I ought to be grateful really, as we’ve got so much other stuff to be thinking about at the moment, that one fewer thing on the list is quite welcome. 

A friend asked me the other day if I’m freaked out yet (I presume she meant by the prospect of more babies, rather than just life in general). The truthful answer is that I’ve been so wrapped up in loft conversions and car buying that I really haven’t had the chance to give much thought to the actual reason we’re doing all this. In about 2-3 weeks time, the loft will be finished, at which point we’ll be able to move our bedroom upstairs, and start turning our old room into a nursery. At that point, when I’ve got a bedroom in my house with two cots in it, that’s when it will really start to hit home. And I think I probably will be totally freaked out.

Going back to the disappointment theme, I’m disappointed in myself for having done such a bad job of documenting the progress in the loft. It’s all happened so quickly, and we’ve been so busy spending every spare minute of the day organising everything, that I haven’t taken any pictures for ages, and I haven’t got anywhere close to keeping this blog up to date with the daily progress that I intended to when it started.

The main part of the building work finished early last week, just 3 and a half weeks after they started. The rest of the week was taken up with the fiddly work of the plumber and electrician, neither of whom have quite finished yet, but the bulk of their work is done. This morning, the decorators and the tilers arrived, and again the progress has been astonishingly fast. The bathroom is almost done, although we didn’t buy enough tiles so we’ve had to order more and hope they arrive tomorrow or the tiler will have to go off onto another job. The decorating, which is a very big job because in addition to the two bedrooms and a bathroom in the loft, they also have to do the both staircases, the landing and re-do the downstairs hall which has been completely trashed, is due to be finished by the middle of next week. Then it’s just the wardrobes and the carpet to go and the whole thing will be done. Oh yes, and the scaffolding’s coming down tomorrow. I’m never around during daylight hours to take any decent pictures, but I will definitely post some more next weekend.

On the car front, I have spent much more time on the phone in the last couple of weeks to car dealers and finance providers than is healthy. We were just about to go for an ex-showroom model from the Renault dealership, when I got a call telling me the ordering system has re-opened and we can now order the specification we want for delivery in February/March. So I have spent much of today trying to negotiate Renault down to the online price and failing. If all goes well I will finally order the car tomorrow, and I can cross another big thing off the to-do list. 

Also on the disappointment theme, Ursula’s gestational diabetes has returned. No great surprise as she had it with both previous pregnancies, and she’s lucky it didn’t get diagnosed until so late this time. But it means she’s got to keep pricking her fingers to monitor her blood sugar, and worse still she has to be very watchful of what she eats from now on, which is far from ideal when pregnant.

She’s still coping surprisingly well despite her increasingly enormous bump (I really ought to be documenting the progress of that in pictures too) although she gets tired very easily, and who could blame her? It didn’t help her buggering off to Lisbon for the weekend, ostensibly for research for a travel piece she’s writing, but in reality to get plenty of good food and spa treatments in a luxury hotel. All this left me on single-parent duty for the whole weekend, which went surprisingly well. The boys were unusually well behaved, even as I dragged them around B&Q picking up paint samples. I took them to the cinema on Saturday afternoon (Madagascar 2 – totally underwhelming) which strikes me as the perfect way to cope with multiple children with minimal effort. I hope the twins are as into their films as their brothers are. But even so, the thought of ever having to be on single-parent duty when I’ve got four is utterly terrifying. OK, Louise, now I’m freaked out.

In trouble

I’m in trouble with my boss for not updating this blog frequently enough. If I’m honest everything’s starting to get a bit overwhelming and I’ve been having trouble gathering my thoughts clearly enough to write anything, but that’s a bit of a cop out excuse, as that’s the stuff that I started this blog to write about.

The loft is still making good progress. It’s only been just over three weeks since they started, but they reckon they’ll be finished within the next couple of days. I’ll believe it when I see it, but anyway, the whole thing’s been going incredibly fast. But now comes the tricky part, coordinating the plumber and the electrician, making sure all the fixtures and fittings are delivered on the right day, getting a quote for the wardrobes, getting the wardrobe surveyor round, setting up a date for the fitting of the wardrobes, realising the wardrobes can’t be fitted until the walls are painted, failing to get a quote from the regular decorator, finding a new decorator who can do the job quickly, realising this new decorator can’t do tiling, finding a tiler, trying to work everything out so the carpet, which has to be the last thing to go in, can be fitted before Christmas. It never ends.

To be fair, it has been poor Ursula who’s been at the sharp end of most of this, as she’s around in the day more than me. Juggling working with bringing up children is hard enough. But throw in project managing a loft conversion and being heavily pregnant with twins, and you have to be both an organisational genius (which she is) and a saint (less convinced 😉 ).

Well it will all be over soon, and then we’ll only have to deal with bringing up two new babies.

On top of this, we’re also deep into the thick of new car dramas. We finally realised we had to pull our collective finger out and get moving on the car front this week, as I think we could have trouble fitting a family of six into my surprisingly petite on the inside Audi A4. So an afternoon of tedious test driving on Saturday narrowed us down to our final choice of a Renault Grand Espace. It’s really quite depressing the choice of cars available to you when you have 4 children. But joy of joys, Renault have closed their Espace factory for the rest of the year, and in typical French fashion, have decided not to give out any information about when their ordering system will reopen. So we’re left with the choice of going for a car that doesn’t match our requirements, or waiting until next year and then probably not having a car in time for when the babies are born.

Life had just settled down into a quite calm and peaceful routine before this pregnancy. What on earth were we thinking?

Loft progress

So it looks like we chose the worst week to go away. While we were in Barbados, work on the loft proceeded at an unbelievable rate. The gable end was built, the rear dormer was built, all the windows were fitted, all the internal walls were insulated and plastered. On the day we got back, the inside of the house still looked completely normal. But they chose the day we got back, with our horrendous jetlag, to break through the ceiling from the loft to the landing, and build the new stairs. Again, amazing speed of work – I couldn’t believe they could do all that in one day – but it didn’t make the house the most pleasant of places to be.

 

New staircase
New staircase

This week has ben total mayhem. The plasterers are in, and it’s incredible the mess they make. They’re doing very good work, but the entire house is full of dust, muck and general unpleasantness. We’ve also got the plumber, the electrician and the roofers in, in addition to the regular carpenters. We also had the painter come to measure up this morning, so all in all we had about 10 workmen in the house. I can’t wait until this bit’s over. I hope you appreciate what your parents are going through for you, babies (but I know you don’t!)

 

The new gable end
The new gable end
Rear dormer
Rear dormer

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.