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The Trouble With Renting…

This post was written in collaboration with CarpetRight
dirty carpet

One of the problems with living in a rented house is that we’re very much at the mercy of our landlord when things need fixing. Largely, he’s pretty good and he’ll send a tradesman over to sort things out, or attend to it himself if he’s in the country. However, there are certain things which aren’t seen to in such a timely fashion, such as our truly, completely grim living room carpet.

When we moved in, the landlord had refurbished the house, removing the old laminate and replacing it with new carpet. Now, this might seem like a nice thing, having brand new carpet in a rented  house, but in our case it was a curse. You see, our landlord chose a beige patterned carpet, knowing at the time that we had a toddler and a dog, and that the patio doors in our living room were the only way to get in an out of the garden. Skip forward three and a half years and our carpet is looking less beige and more ‘interesting collection of stains’.

If Husband and I owned the house, we’d replace the carpet with cheap laminate flooring, which would solve so many problems – it would be easy to keep clean, it would look SO much nicer than what we have now, and it would save our nerves from jangling every time Chuck comes in from the garden in the winter and we have to quickly try and clean the mud off of his feet before he steps on the carpet!

I’m by no means innocent myself. I’m terrible for leaving drinks on the floor and then inevitably kicking them over as I weave my way through the house like a bull in a china shop, which means several of the stains can be attributed to me. Luckily, I’m not a big drinker, or else red wines stains could have made the situation a whole lot worse!

We’ve asked our landlord if he could think about replacing the carpet with laminate, as we’ve lived here for a while now and aren’t planning on moving any time soon, so hopefully he’ll see sense and sort it out for us, but I can understand why he’d be reluctant to do so, this close to Christmas. All I know is, between my drinks, Chuck’s muddy feet, Sausage’s melted crayons and Husband’s…well, actually, no, Husband is the one innocent party on all of this; something needs to change, because the thought of a baby crawling on our carpet (despite the fact that we’ve had it professionally cleaned TWICE!) is not one that appeals to any of us.

Family · Parenting · Personal · Pregnancy

“Before 24 Weeks”

I’ve blogged before about being pregnant with diabetes and one of the implications of this is that I need to travel to London to have a foetal cardiology scan, to check that the baby’s heart is developing properly. Various scheduling issues have come up, mostly to do with the fact that St. Thomas’ appointment plan means I have to be in London either at the crack of dawn or just before the afternoon rush hour, making travel tricky. We had an appointment planned for the Thursday in half term, but decided to postpone it as the idea of dragging Sausage to London during half term, on Halloween no less, then trying to get her home on the tube during work-kicking-out time just didn’t appeal, especially as she’s not a huge fan of stairs, having lived in a bungalow her whole life.

When I called St. Thomas’ to change the appointment the lady on the other end of the phone started to make the appointment she stopped and said “Oh, wait, how far gone are you? How far gone will you be on the 18th?”. We worked out that I’d be 23+6 on the day of the scan, but the lady at the end seemed unsatisfied with my answer. She said “We like to have these things done, you know, before 24 weeks”. At first, her subtext didn’t penetrate my thick skull, but after I put the phone down, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Before 24 weeks” was her way of telling me that I needed to have the scan done in time to be within the legal limit for abortion, should there me any major issues with the cardiac scan.

I was told about the scan weeks ago and until now, I’d viewed it as a bit of an embuggerance because of the London factor, not something that would be a deciding factor in whether the pregnancy should be allowed to continue. It had never occurred to me that this could be a life or death situation.

Husband and I are pragmatic enough to have had discussions in the past about ‘worst case scenario’ situations, agreeing that we wouldn’t feel right about bringing a child into the world if we knew they’d have a severe disability which would leave them ill or in pain for the rest of their lives. It would be selfish of us to put our sadness at losing a child above the quality of life of another human being and I strongly feel that it’s our responsibility as parents to bear the brunt of this decision.

Having said that, the thought of getting this far in a pregnancy and having to terminate made me feel sick with anxiety. We already knew that our child is a little girl, we’d discussed names and even bought her her first item of clothing. She’s a person to us, not just a blob on a screen and we were seriously struggling with the idea that we may have to end her life.

I’m a strong believer in choice, not just for women but for humans in general, and I believe strongly also in a woman’s right to abortion, so I’m not objecting to termination on any sort of moral level, but this is a life that we intentionally created, a life that we already love.

Last Saturday, we had a nice lazy morning, spent lounging around the house, and the three of us (plus Chuck) sat on the bed for about an hour, playing music to my bump, waiting to see what sounds the baby would react to. As it turns out, she’s a huge fan of Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys, as well as her big sister’s voice, and Sausage felt her move for the first time. It was amazing but almost added to the anxiety and sadness that I was feeling ahead of my appointment.

Yesterday, I travelled to London to have the foetal cardiology scan done, and I’m delighted to say that, in the words of the consultant who scanned me, “the baby’s heart is perfect”. Today, I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I finally feel like I can start to enjoy the pregnancy, knowing that we’ve had all of the major tests completed and everything is hunky dory at this point, but it’s been a tough few weeks up until now. I don’t know what I would have done without my Husband, who’s been a rock during this time, soothing my anxiety and wiping my tears when I needed him to, as well as my group of EPIC online friends (they know who they are) who’ve provided me with support from all over the globe.

Today, at 24 weeks pregnant, I feel very blessed.

Christmas

Letters to Santa

Post Commissioned by Vertbaudet

Letters to Santa

The lovely people at Vertbaudet are helping little ones get well and truly into the Christmas spirit by offering a series of templates on their site which you can print off and give to them to help them let Santa know exactly what they want for Christmas this year. There are three to choose from, with gorgeous illustrations ranging from a snowman to a beautifully bedecked tree, or even a pile of presents which are just asking to be coloured in by your little Christmas artistes! Also, if you share your lists on any of Vertbaudet’s social media channels, you might just get a little treat…

I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I wasn’t so much when I was a kid, as I remember a lot of stress and angst in the lead up, with inevitable drama on the day, be it over burnt birds or soggy Brussels Sprouts, but now that I’m a Mum I really enjoy injecting the magic into the festive period for Sausage. She’s still young enough to buy into the magic of Christmas and will excitedly leave mince pies and brandy out for Santa, plus a carrot for the Reindeer (although how Ol’ Beardy manages to fly the sleigh straight after 3 million snifters of the strong stuff, I’ll never know!).

Sausage has been keeping a list of what she wants for Christmas for some time now, in a two-fold effort – a) for my sanity because when it gets to around September-time and the inevitable “Mum, I really want…” starts, I can say “Well, add it to your list for Santa!” and b) because when it gets to the time that relatives start asking what she wants, I can give them definite answers, rather than plucking ideas out at random!

This year, all of the grown-ups in our family are doing a Secret Santa, which means that we’ll all have one present to open on Christmas day (and our shopping this year should be a whole lot easier too!) and we can focus on the kids, who will no doubt have mountainous piles of their own to conquer.

Being pregnant means I won’t be the one polishing off Santa’s brandy on Christmas Eve, after Sausage goes to bed, but I’ll definitely be getting my chops around a mince pie or two…not too many though, I’ll still be on my low GI diet, even on the big day, so no Quality Street for me this year! I’m considering keeping a few Christmas treats back and indulging once the baby is born – two Christmases might be a little bit excessive though, don’t you think?!

Listography

Listography – Top 5 80’s and 90’s Game Shows

I’m feeling very honoured to be hosting Listography for Kate this week and I’ve chosen a topic which is very close to my heart. It’s no secret that I’m a massive nerd, but my geekery has been present even since my earliest days and as a child, I was never happier than when I was watching some sort of quiz show on the TV, testing my mental boundaries and picking up plenty of useless general knowledge along the way. So, in honour of a lifetime of game show watching, I give you my Top 5 80’s and 90’s Game Shows:

BlockBusters

Blockbusters

Watching BlockBusters is one of my earliest ever memories – I was definitely under the age of 5 when I used to watch this as I still lived with my Dad at the time, and I remember sitting in the kitchen, watching it on my Mum’s little portable TV. It used to frustrate the hell out of me if people chose illogical ways to get across the board and I remember thinking that if I ever got to go on BlockBusters when I was older, that I’d be really good on The Hot Spot. Bob Holness was my hero when I was little, like a kindly Grandad who fed me knowledge and I still miss that show, to this day.

Krypton Factor

Krypton FactorAh, Krypton Factor – the ultimate combination of brains and brawn! When I was little, my ambition was to join The Royal Air Force and become a pilot, and I genuinely think it stemmed from watching people use the flight simulator on The Krypton Factor. I loves the assault course round of the show too, it was always so exciting watching them swing across muddy pools on ropes – I vaguely remember feeling a real sense of peril watching them do that, although looking back now it was probably all very safe!

The Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze was always on TV around the time that I was supposed to be going to bed, so I used to put it on the TV in my bedroom as quietly as I could, and then sit with my hand on the button so that I could turn it off if I heard my parents coming. I was absolutely blown away by the set designs, which seemed so sophisticated to me when I was a kid (even though I’ve seen it again as an adult and they don’t look anywhere near as slick as I remembered) – my favourite ‘zone’ was either Aztec or Futuristic and I used to get SO cross that no-one seemed to do very well in the dome at the end. I also spent many years coveting one of those uniforms (obviously, I’d get the pink one…) and I far preferred it when Richard O’Brien presented it – Ed Tudor Pole just never did it for me.

Whose Line is it Anyway?

Whose Line is it Anyway? started as a radio programme before it came to British TV in 1988 and I think it’s where my love of comedy started – to this day, I adore so many of the comedians who starred on the show – Greg Proops, Stephen Fry, Tony Slattery, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie – they’re all geniuses as far as I’m concerned. I also loved Josie Lawrence and found it so refreshing to see a woman on a show like this (see, I was a feminist at the age of 5!) – I was far too young to have been watching it, but I was allowed to watch TV late on a Friday night, which is when this was usually on. I was absolutely in awe  of their ability to ad-lib and be funny on-demand, and although it’s not a ‘points win prizes’ traditional quiz, it’s still one of my faves and has firmly paved the way for shows like 8 out of 10 cats that are so popular today.

Bullseye

Bullseye Jim Bowen

Bullseye ran from 1981 to 1995 and I remember watching it like it was yesterday. Jim Bowen was an awesome host, low-key but always there with a sarky comment when it was needed, and the premise of the game was so simple that it used to amaze me how people could be so crap at it! The prizes seemed out of this world to me (I caught a repeat on Challenge a few weeks ago and they gave away a caravan!), althought what I always coveted was a Bully statue and set of personalised Bullseye darts. It baffles me that someone managed to make a gameshow out of a game of darts, but it obviously worked as it ran for 14 years, and I bloody loved it!

There are so many more shows I could have mentioned (Catchphrase, anyone?) but I have to stop somewhere, so now it’s your turn. What game shows from the past do you love? Do you wish Bob would give you a ‘P’? Was Michael Barrymore more your cup of tea? Did Family Fortunes float your boat? Write your list and link up below.

Thanks again to Kate for allowing me to host Listography this week.

Family · Personal · Pets

It’s a Dog’s Life

This post was kindly contributed by my dog, Chuck.

I don’t remember much about my life before I was 2. I know it wasn’t very nice as I have scars on my feet to prove it, but then I went to the kennels where my ‘people’ came and found me. When they talk to me, they call themselves Mum and Dad, but I don’t think they’re my real parents – they poop indoors into a giant water bowl and I’ve never seen them lick their own butts…

Sometimes, Mum and Dad have to take me to the big shiny white house – I don’t like it there. It smells like other animals and fear and whenever I go there I end up having to have sharp things stuck in me. My humans hug me and tell me it’ll all be okay, but I still hate it, even if they do feed me nice things when I get home. I’ve heard them talking about ‘dog insurance‘ to the person with no legs (at least, I don’t think she has any legs, I can only see her from the waist up) at the shiny white place about it and everyone says things like “thank goodness we have it” – especially when I do things like pulling my claws out by jumping up the back fence because the dog in the garden behind us keeps calling me stupid.

The day that they came to find me, I knew I had to make sure that they took me home with them, away from the draughty kennel where I’d got worms and fleas, so I pee’d up Dad’s leg – that let him know that he belonged to me. That night, Mum and Dad tried to get me to sleep in the spare room, but I didn’t want to be away from them, so I made as much noise as I could to get them to let me into where they were sleeping and I’ve slept with them ever since.

I’d been with Mum and Dad for a few years when Mum’s belly started to get big and one day they came home with a new, tiny pink Human. I think she’s my favourite person in the whole world. She sneaks me treats, gives me hugs and smells fantastic – plus, she leaves her toys all over the place and when no-one is looking, I sneak onto the couch to snuggle with them! But all this is great, exercising with your canine friend will not only encourage you to be more active but it will help you save money on a gym membership.

Mum’s belly has been getting bigger again recently, so I know there will probably be another small pink thing coming to live with us again soon. I might be getting old now and my knees sometimes give me jip, but if this new human is anywhere near as awesome as my sister, I’ll be one seriously lucky old pooch.

Argos is linked here as just one example of pet insurance providers I highly recommended that you shop around for a quote from different providers and choose the one best for you and your family.