Sunday 27 April 2014

Making a House a Home - The Master Bedroom Stage 1

Doing some DIY on Easter weekend? Living the cliché!

After the success of painting the "spare room" we turned out attention to the master bedroom.
We worked our way through a number of swatches, and finally settled on Farrow & Ball, Chappell Green.

The bedroom is north-facing, so we hoped this colour would bring some life to the room without making it feel dark.

Our blank canvas

This paint requires a base-coat and two top-coats - a daunting prospect, even without the four day weekend. Like with the first room the wallpaper here was very shiny, which meant that it took two base-coats before we were happy to continue.

All this work - just for a base-coat

We almost wondered why a base-coat was needed. Surely it would only make sense if we were painting over a strong original colour, but with this room originally being white it seemed a little unnecessary. I'm glad that we stuck with it - the base-coat covered up the shiny wallpaper and helped the top-coat to stick better.

The finished room

We're really happy with the final product. It took most of the weekend to get one top-coat on though, so we had to finish off a week later.

The toughest part was the edging. The plastering underneath isn't the smoothest, and the join between the wall and the ceiling / skirting board is bumpy. Every time we tried to get the brush or roller closer to the edge we ended up getting paint over the line. After a while of getting very frustrated we decided to leave a small gap in the painting.

Frustrating gap at the top!

The plan is to look into getting some coving, and hope that this covers the gap! Otherwise we'll break out the masking tape and work our way around slowly.

The finished product
We have a new bed arriving next week, and are looking forward to having the new room come together.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Notes on Growing a Small Thing - First Trimester

Having introduced our newest adventure in my last post, I thought I would write a post on our experience of pregnancy so far. Probably like many other musings on the subject, this post about the first trimester contains mostly nausea, a large selection of carbs and a few days of bone-aching tiredness. Being one for reading and research, I'd read plenty on the subject of early pregnancy and what to expect. Nothing really prepared me for the reality...

1. The textbook information you find is that nausea/sickness can kick in from around six weeks and tends to fade off at the start of the second trimester. Mine kicked in even before we knew I was pregnant - fleeting moments of nausea and lightheadedness at first (so, 3-4 weeks) and then developing into daily sickness from 5 weeks onwards, ramping up in intensity every week, with the odd day of respite. And although I was practically counting down to the start of the second trimester, the sickness is still going strong at nearly 16 weeks.

(On the flip side of this - neither my mother nor Alan's suffered from sickness at all - many women don't! *sulk*)

2. It's not morning sickness, it's just sickness - it can strike morning, noon or night. Definitely more of a morning thing for me, though, in an almost clockwork-like manner - 'Get up, shower, feel nauseous, get back to bedroom, be sick'. Yup, pleasant.And often followed by 'eat breakfast, leave house, be sick on pavement/in drain/ on train/ on station platform, buy second breakfast to eat at work'. Even better.

The sickness I've felt in the evenings has been completely different - nearly always attributable to something specifice I've eaten, or realising I've overeaten. And then there's the random moments, where you think of something, or you smell something and it sends you running for the nearest bathroom. Coffee? Eurgh. Assorted something in the fridge? Excuse me for a moment...

Pregnancy sickness is also different to other sickness. Often, if you get a sickness bug, you start feeling weak and being sick, it lasts for a day or two where you can't do anything other than lie in bed. With pregnancy sickness, you feel fine one minute, the next minute you have your head in a bucket, and then you feel better again (and repeat ad, erm, nauseum). Timing doesn't come into it.

3. Everyone gets different symptoms, and you don't get all of them. So far for me, the sickness has definitely been the low point - I haven't been exceptionally tired, apart from the odd days here and there, and although I've had a few other symptoms (noone ever tells you about the sore boobs and the sluggish bowels!) the nausea has definitely been the one that has had the most impact.

4. Your food preferences are apt to change from week to week and even day to day. And they won't necessarily be the same as anyone else's. For me, it was marmite on rice cakes and citrusy fruit juices at first (then I started being sick and haven't had any fruit juice since!). For one week only it was jacket potatoes. Then it was hot green vegetables and spicy foods. During the last weeks its been pasta, and tomato and vegetable based dishes - and at the moment I can add salads and cheese to that. (M&S cheese scones are my current 'food heaven' - so good!). Conversely I've gone off foods as well - mostly fruit and meat, but also cakes (I KNOW!) and other sweet foods, like hot cross buns and chutneys. Not chocolate chip cookies though, they're good.

Early on, I also went off tea (no, I don't recognise myself either) - along with the sickness, it was one of the first signs which made me suspect I was pregnant! Luckily that one has come back slowly, although I'm finding I do prefer decaffeinated tea at the moment.

5. Crisps. You will want all the crisps. Even at 9am. Salt and vinegar flavour if possible (later on, paprika). And you will feel guilty. But it will help (at least a bit) with the sickness, so don't feel too bad about it - however, do brush your teeth afterwards! And drink lots of water.

Thursday 3 April 2014

The First Three Months

At first you are there in the shadows - passing seconds of lightheadness; increasingly frequent, yet initially fleeting, moments of nausea. You are there in the cups of tea I make, and then leave on my desk for two hours because I haven't even noticed I didn't want them.

A week or so later, you show a little more of yourself; you are but a line - but at the same time, such a wanted and hoped-for line. Is this real - is that really you? It's a little early, so who can be sure?

You are there in what is not there the next day. Nor the next, nor even the day or week after that. And still, we daren't quite believe. It feels such a quiet way to announce yourself, when in our heads and our hearts there are fireworks. We smile, we jump up and down, we hug each other over and over. We... don't quite know what we're supposed to do next.

Finally, a week later, I pick up the phone. It feels so alien, announcing that I need to make an appointment to see a midwife. Surely, this is something other people do?

You start to make yourself more known. You do not like tea, most meat or sweet dishes. What you do like varies from week to week - marmite, potatatoes, broccoli, spices, pasta, tomatoes, salt and vinegar crisps. You do not seem to like my morning routine and tell me about it every morning somewhere between 6.30am and 7.30am - you will continue to do this, with increasing will and strength for the next 8 or 9 weeks (and possibly beyond).

Seeing the midwife makes it more real - questions, forms, due date predictions, blood tests. We head back to work afterwards, buzzing with so much excitement I expect everyone to be able to tell what is going on. We want to keep it a secret from the world for now, so the only person we tell is our personal trainer, just to make exercising a bit more realistic.

The next weeks pass slowly, in a haze of continuing nausea and sickness, tiredness and yet insomnia, lightheadedness and overall a slight disbelief that we could possibly be this lucky. Each day that ticks past is another day closer to the first scan - what if you are no longer there? What if it was all just a mistake?

Finally, the day arrives. We wake up nervous, and spend the morning working at home before heading to the hospital. Car parking is a nightmare, and we are so nervous at what we will find. Have I dreamed the whole thing?

And then - there you are. You cannot see us, but we see you, and how wonderful it is to catch a proper glimpse - you are surprisingly active for such a little person. There are hands, fingers, legs, feet - even your brain and a heartbeat. We stare, mystified, throughout the scan, barely daring to breathe.

For a little while at least, we can almost believe in magic.