Extra: Ordinary Moments

Pile of toddler books

Note The Autumn Book In That Pile?
I know Twitter's currently aghast at people talking about autumn in August - I might be, too, if I had any concept of what the date is. But: there are brown leaves all over the pavement, some of the rowan trees are glowing red with berries and, on Tuesday, we had such a massive, noisy hailstorm the drains overflowed and Matilda glanced up from her toys. It feels like a good time to be hunkering down and growing my autumn baby; I'm finding the cold weather quite exciting.

Meteors
I saw one! I was very pleased.

Toddler feet

These things:

Twitter updates

Also On Twitter:
Remind me never to mention maternity clothes again. So many "adult babies" to block; so little interest in their compliments.

Toddler painting

Speaking Of Maternity Clothes
I finally got my boobs remeasured. 36GG. 36GG! I am so far past the stage when I thought my worth as a woman could be gauged in cup sizes; now that I'm in my late thirties, all enormous boobs mean is discomfort. HOWEVER, bodily irritation aside, I want to give a big shout out to the lovely, lovely team at Bravissimo in Aberdeen - it was my first time shopping with them (because I had previously refused to accept they were relevant to me), but it was one of the most pleasant shopping experiences I've had in a long time.

What's been going on this week with you?

Rooftops Second Baby FAQs - 27 Weeks Pregnant

Rooftops Second Baby: Start of Third Trimester FAQs
I was going to get Steve to take a lovely, posed bump photo of me but it turns out thunderstorms are not that great for lighting. So here's an arguably more accurate shot: me, clutching a hot water bottle and the random toy (yes, it's Santa) Matilda gave me to help me nap, whilst yawning my head off. Flattering, no?

So, here I am: 27 weeks pregnant - the start of the third trimester.

It still feels ridiculous that I could have another fifteen weeks - FIFTEEN WEEKS! - to wait until meeting this baby but, at the same time, the end is in sight (I must just remember to buy some nappies...).

Last time around, I did my second set of FAQs at thirty weeks because I liked the nice round number. Or something. But this time the start of the third trimester feels like a better choice. So here goes:

How are you feeling now?

Definitely pregnant. There are nights of insomnia. There's occasional heartburn (which I'm pretty sure is because I need to get these enormous boobs remeasured but... ugh... I just can't face blowing another £100 on maternity bras). I've got low blood pressure which makes functioning on hot days a bit of a challenge (but is, at least, better than high blood pressure). There's... um... a slowing down of my bodily functions. But, most pressingly, there are aches in my pelvis if I: walk too much; sit too long; or play on the floor with my toddler for more than about twenty minutes. You can imagine how that's going down with the toddler, right?

Can you feel the baby kicking?

Yes, though not in any sort of predictable pattern. I can see my bump jumping about, though, which is pretty entertaining.

Have you got everything you need?

Other than those nappies I mentioned and some sanitary towels, yes, I think so.

Have you written your birth plan?

No, not in full. Throughout the second trimester, it felt completely irrelevant - I mean, I was aware that I was growing a baby and that, at some point, I would need to go through some sort of birth, but it felt a long way away and not entirely real. In the last week or so, it's suddenly come into focus again - I know more or less what my ideal plan is (I'll tell you more about it nearer the time) and I know I'm okay with veering off that ideal plan in order to have a healthy baby, but I haven't actually talked about it with my midwife yet. I have confirmed that a friend of ours will be available for overnight babysitting throughout the "delivery window", though, which was my biggest concern.

Have you chosen a name yet?

No. We do have a shortlist, but we haven't made a definite decision. Most of the thinking has been outsourced to my book group, who have been coming up with... uh... some interesting suggestions... along with some really lovely options.

How is Steve?

All good.

And Matilda?

She asks most days if "my baby" will be arriving soon and expresses frustration when I tell her "no". She sometimes hugs the bump - although never when I've got my camera to hand, gaaaaaaaaah! And she asks me to draw a lot of pictures of the four of us (see below). But, mostly, it's old news to her now; life carries on as usual.

Rooftops Family Portrait



More FAQs
This time: 20 weeks.
Last time: 20 weeks; 30 weeks; full term; due date.

What's Your Favourite Question To Ask A Small Child?

Why I Don't Like Asking Toddlers To Pick Their Favourite Things

"What's your favourite colour?"

"What's your favourite animal?"

"What's your favourite book?"

All of a sudden, people seem obsessed with what my toddler likes best.

But every time they ask her to name her favourite... anything... they're greeted with the same response: a confused silence, followed by a sudden breaking of eye contact and a request to play with her toys.

She doesn't have favourites. Why would she? Everything is interesting at the moment; everything is new.

Colours? Wow! There are such a lot of them! How many can you fit on one T-shirt? Because the more you're wearing, the better!

Animals? Amazing! Did you know there are lots of animals? Did you know some of them sleep at night and some of them sleep during the day and some of them fly and some of them swim and some of them eat each other? Did you?! Because she's just learning all of this and she's interested in every new piece of information equally.

Books? Well, yes, she'll read a new book over and over and over again until she's memorised all the words and can explain the plot in detail, but it doesn't mean it's her favourite - it means it's new; it means it's something else to absorb. She has a frankly ridiculous amount of books on her shelves, plus a maxed out library card, and every single one gets a look in now and then; sometimes she likes old familiar picture books and sometimes she likes brand new stories, but she hasn't met a book she wouldn't read.

I don't get the fixation with asking small children to pick favourites.

Yes, obviously, they will like some things better than others - biscuits or broccoli? No contest.

And, yes, at about this age they start to realise that some of the shiny, new things are of less interest to them than others - in out house, for example, Andy's Dinosaur Adventures gets switched off the moment the theme tune starts.

And, yes, little kids have fixations - anyone who has ever made the mistake of letting their child know that (in our case) the dance sequences from Singin' In The Rain are available on YouTube or (our friends' case) Sarah and Duck is available on iPlayer, will know just how many times a toddler can watch the same three minutes of programming over and over and over again.

But I don't like small children being asked to pick one thing which is better than all others. I don't like them being encouraged to grade things from best to worst, to get into the habit of dividing the world into good and bad and best of all.

And I bristle against my child being pigeonholed as "the kid who likes green" or "the kid who likes Teletubbies"; it makes for a very boring Christmas when every single gift relates to Dipsy.

I want her to have the freedom to explore every new, exciting, interesting thing without people being surprised that she's acting out of what they believe to be her character. I want her to have the freedom to have fleeting passions and to drop them without warning. I want her to be able to career wildly through the world, long before she has to narrow her focus down to careers.

Oh, I get it, really. I get that it's just small talk. It's a standard thing to ask; it pops out of people's mouths, without thought. I'm sure I've asked it myself.

But who here hasn't felt put on the spot when asked what our favourite song was? When expected to choose from so many good tunes? When you have five songs you favour when you're feeling tired, ten when you're feeling bouncy, twenty when your heart is hurt?

Isn't it human nature to like lots of things, more or less equally?

So here's my suggestion: instead of phrasing the question "what's your favourite animal?" open it up a bit; ask "which animals do you like?"

Because a seven year old might give you a forty-five treatise on why tigers are The Best Animal EVER, but the best a two year old is going to give you is five words; the more animals you give them the chance to list, the more chatter you stand a chance of getting.

Or, in the case of my two year old, the more chance you stand of getting any chatter at all.

I Bought Maternity Dungarees

I Bought Maternity Dungarees

I bought maternity dungarees.

I wasn't going to. I don't care that they're trendy (or were trendy? Perhaps that was last year? I can tell you what's big in toddler fashion these days - outer space; Peppa Pig; the usual - but I don't keep track of the grown up stuff); I just had an aversion to them. Dungarees? A bit too I-spent-my-teens-living-near-farms. A bit too Rachel from Friends. A bit too... I don't know... copious?

But standard trousers just aren't working for me any more.

One pair of my trusty super-comfy jeans from last time around feels like cheese wire being pulled across my bladder; the other keeps falling down; and my smart-ish black trousers seem to be laddering all down the seams.

I have some girlfriend jeans I would happily live in, but only if the weather could be relied upon to be warm all through November. In Aberdeen. The same goes for leggings. And I'm told (by my toddler) that it's "inappropriate" (where did she learn that word?!) to wear pyjamas to the park.

So: dungarees it is.

I'm not 100% sold on the look of them. I suspect I chose the wrong pair. It seems like a mistake that they're quite neat around my ankles.

And Steve raised one eyebrow at them. But, as he owns - and still wears - T-shirts so old they're held together by nothing but a stubborn belief that the weak tea joke* on the front is funny enough to need preserving, he's in no position to comment.

But Matilda loves them. "Mummy!" she gasped, when I first tried them on. "Your trousers! They're all up your tummy!" Then she ran to her wardrobe and selected a denim pinafore dress for herself which she had always previously turned her nose up at - it was the closest thing she could find to indigo dungarees and I'm fully encouraging this wonderful [taking photos with which to embarrass her in the future] stage when she thinks that twinning with her mother is A Good Thing.

So: back to the dungarees.

They're very comfortable; I've figured out how to go to the toilet without dangling anything into the bowl (thanks very much, CBeebies, for showing THAT episode of Bing the same day the dungarees arrived); and I haven't yet noticed anybody pointing at me and laughing. Or a trail of pigs following me around. Although there was that one day when Matilda insisted on dressing as a sheep...

On the downside, Matilda keeps asking me to wear a straw sunhat with them (nooooooooooo!) and the thought of having to take my winter-staples cardigan off every time I go to the toilet (spot the theme?) is already tiring me out.

But, whatever - my real priority at the moment is not style; it's stretchy waists and clothing which doesn't make me need to pee. And if it's dark enough to hide most of the toddler-sized foodie hand prints, so much the better.

The dungarees can stay.


*none of the tea jokes are as good as that one

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Paint Chips

Nesting
A friend offered to drive me to B&Q this weekend to pick up colour charts (and nothing else; I didn't even manage to impulse buy a plant although I did try very hard to fall in love with one). She ended up also driving me to one of those furniture-cum-gift-shop-cum-cafe places (think: garden centre without all the fertiliser) and to TK Maxx (where I did manage to impulse buy one small bowl and some biscuits shaped like houses).

I'm having to remind myself - all the time - that the kids won't be moving into their shared bedroom for a long, long, long time yet and that there will be lots and lots of sales before then and that I therefore DO NOT need to buy all the pretty, decorative, overpriced items which Facebook insists on advertising to me. It seems that all my nesting instincts are focused on creating the perfect room for my kids at the moment and nesting instincts do not like to wait.

Cake
Steve and Matilda made cake with some speckled brown bananas. It also involved sultanas; we have a huge bag of sultanas in our kitchen, which is my token "I'll try to buy less non-recyclable bags of toddler snacks" effort. The cake was delicious. Even Matilda - who, given the choice, would live on nothing but yoghurt, raspberries and cheese - agreed.

Terror
We have wasps. Not intentionally. They're uninvited wasps, chewing up anything wooden they can find in the garden and vanishing into an invisible hole under the eaves. I spent a couple of hours in the middle of the night trying to convince myself that they might be bees (lovely old bees, pollinating the garden), but then we opened the dining room window and a bunch of wasps (horrible old wasps, eating the caterpillars) flew in, so... yeah... I'll be calling the exterminator at some point this week. In the mean time, the dining room can overheat.

Foolishness
Steve went out three evenings this week. This is inadvisable behaviour when you have a toddler. He got very little sympathy from me when he was struggling to stay awake on Sunday morning; Matilda, however, piled "sleepy Daddy" with cuddly toys and blankets. THIS IS NOT THE TREATMENT *I* RECEIVE WHEN *I* WANT TO HAVE A NAP.

And In Pregnancy News...
Steve felt the baby move! He looked as blown away by this as he did the last time around. And I was just as excited to share.

Improving Our Toddler's Bedtime

How We Got Our Toddler To Fall Asleep On Her Own

A few weeks ago - while Steve was on holiday - we did something that we've been avoiding for months: we started leaving our toddler to fall asleep on her own.

I hesitated to write about this because it sounds a bit too much like sleep training. We didn't do sleep training; it's not for us. And the impression that I get is that most of the parents who stop by here are the same - most of you decided against controlled crying, cry it out or anything of their ilk.

But this isn't sleep training. Not that sort of sleep training, anyway. There were no tears involved.

We were just getting tired of having to sit in her bedroom every evening until she fell asleep.

Long gone are the baby days when we had to rock her or bounce her or give her a dummy until she nodded off. Long gone are the days when she could fall asleep lying down, but only if she was holding our fingers. And the days when she could sleep without holding our fingers, but needed us to be sitting on her bed.

A long time ago now, we progressed to being able to pop her into bed, sit on a chair at the other side of her room, and read by the glow of our Kindles.

And then we just sort of... stalled.

Bedtimes were easy. As soon as she dropped her last nap (at about eighteen months - which has pluses and minuses, but is what it is), bedtimes became fast and simple. We would do dinner, twenty minutes of getting her into her pyjamas and messing about, teeth, two bedtime stories, potty, hug and within ten minutes she would have conked out.

It was no big deal to spend ten minutes sitting in her room, reading, while she drifted off. In fact, most of the time, it was a lovely, calm way to end the active parenting/working part of the day.

We were in no rush to change things.

But recently the twenty minutes of getting her into her pyjamas and messing about had become a bit more of a battle. She insisted that didn't need to put her pyjamas on because she was NOT sleepy; she didn't need to lie down because she was NOT tired; she wanted to bounce on her bed, not close her eyes. We nodded; we knew; she didn't have to go to sleep, if she didn't need to; she just needed to rest so she would have some energy for [insert the next day's fun plans].

Once she was in bed, she would spring back out every thirty seconds or so, choosing new soft toys, insisting she needed another pee, trying to climb on our laps for extra cuddles. We knew that she was ready to sleep because, as soon as she stopped moving, she would pass out cold. But it was becoming increasingly clear that, as long as she had an audience, she was going to drag out the interactions.

Bedtimes went from being a relaxing break to a source of irritation. Stern voices sometimes had to be used.

We experimented a little - if we waited until she was lying down in bed, we could leave the room for a few minutes "to pee" or "to quickly do something" and come back to find her asleep. Our constant presence was clearly not essential to her losing consciousness.

So we talked to her. We told her we believed she was ready to go to sleep on her own; she agreed that that might be the case.

And then we did it.

We would tuck her in, give her a kiss and a promise to check on her a few minutes later.

For the first few nights, we didn't have a chance to prove that our promises were good - she was up and out of her room every few minutes, chattering away about her absolute lack of exhaustion *yawn* *eye rub*.

For the first few days, we spent A LOT of time role playing bedtime with her teddy bears. Daddy Bear (always Daddy Bear) would tuck Little Bear into bed, then go to wash the dishes, returning every few minutes until Little Bear fell asleep.

And, slowly, she started to believe what we were telling her. She started staying in bed and waiting to see if we would return. She started staying in bed, knowing that we would return. She started drifting off before the fourth check, then the third check, then the second check and - now, sometimes - even before we've checked on her at all.

As with so many things, we don't know why we left it quite so long.

But we are glad we waited until she was old enough to understand, to discuss it with us and to find ways of processing it for herself. We didn't want it to be a source of distress; we wanted it to be an active step forward which she could feel proud of taking.

Three weeks on, bedtimes are easy again.

Oh, she's still NOT tired, NOT sleepy, doesn't need her pyjamas on etc etc etc. But, once she's had her hug and her kiss and been tucked in, things are calm.

They may well fall into chaos again once Baby Number Two is here (how unfair is it that she has to go to bed at a set time and her little sibling doesn't?!), but at least the foundations of a calm bedtime are there. Or that's the theory, anyway...

How did you tackle toddler sleep?

THEATRE: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Theatre Production

I mentioned yesterday that I had been to see The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time at His Majesty's Theatre, but I wanted to write a little more about it - partly, let's be honest, because I was given the tickets by the venue and want to say thanks, but also, largely, because I loved the show so much.

Now, let's get this out of the way from the start: I have NO IDEA how to review a play in proper theatrical terms; if the mise-en-scène (check that, eh? That's first year Film Studies coming into use at long, long last) was particularly avant-garde (all the French!) my description of it will be "the stuff on the stage looked good".

But I know whether or not I have an emotional reaction to something and that's what all the clever, technical, arty, talented stuff is all about, right?

And I had emotional reactions to this.

Confession number two: I hadn't read the book that the play is based on. I had heard of it and I had a vague idea that it was something to do with asperger's syndrome but that was all. It seemed like a good idea to head along to the theatre with that level of knowledge; I wanted to know if the play would make sense without a synopsis.

And it did.

The friend who came with me had read the book, however, and had absolutely loved it. She was the voice of "how on earth are they going to translate all those diagrams to the stage?" and she made lots of impressed noises when she got her answer.

So: that's thumbs up from both parties.

(Is this still making sense? I've got ten minutes until my dinner's ready and I'm hammering it out in a hungry daze)

It turns out that the premise of the book/play is that a fifteen year old boy with asperger's syndrome decides to find out who murdered his neighbour's dog. In the course of his investigation, he both uncovers some enormous secrets which have been kept hidden from him and faces up to a number of situations which might seem everyday to you and me (think: navigating a train station) but which are overwhelming to him.

And it was incredible. The panic and confusion which he feels so many times throughout the play was absolutely tangible; the anger and frustration, too; the sense of helplessness experienced by the adults in his life came across loud and clear.

And yet, despite all of those overwhelming, unpleasant emotions, it was love and courage and ambition and hope which I felt most strongly. I wanted him to succeed; I wanted him to cope; I wanted to get up on the stage and help him through things (but hoped that he wouldn't need me to).

It was beautiful.

(Eh, somebody insert the appropriate final review paragraph here, could you?)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is only in Aberdeen until Saturday so, locals, you'll need to be super quick to catch it (it's heading to Glasgow, Norwich and Milton Keynes next), but the National Theatre will be back in town twice more this year - first, with Jane Eyre, which runs from 28th August-2nd September, and then Hedda Gabler, which runs from 21st-25th November. I'd be keen to check either of them out (but guess I'll be giving the late November one a miss!).

(Aaaaaaaaah, my dinner's ready! *hits publish without proofreading and runs*)

On Sleep, Theatre And NOT Blogging Every Day in August

A Random Picture of a Tree Because You Can't NOT Have An Image In A Blog Post, Right?

It's early afternoon; my morning has vanished. 

My morning vanished into bed. I dropped Matilda at our neighbour's house at 10am, decided to have a quick lie down before I got on with reading/blogging/shopping online for maternity leggings, and woke up at 1pm. Part of me is panicking about all that missed relaxation time but most of me knows I was needing the sleep.

I'm not sleeping well at night at the moment. It's frustrating - Matilda (finally!) sleeps straight through the majority of the time; newborn night feeds are a few months away; and I'm managing to get comfortable, despite being twenty-five weeks pregnant; and yet, there I am, lying awake all night, unable to switch off until about 5am when Steve's alarm clock goes off and I fall into vivid dreams about people I haven't spoken to in over a decade. This seems hugely unfair.

And yesterday was a great day - really, one of the best we've had in ages - with a third birthday party which stretched from 11am to 4:30pm, with the kids playing happily together and the adults eating cake in a sunny garden, followed by a trip to see the wonderful The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the theatre (GO AND SEE IT). 

But yesterday also involved a lot more walking than my body's really up to at the moment and a later evening than I'm currently used to.

So I was tired.

So: sleep.

And now here I sit, tapping away at my keyboard, blogging about it.

The blogging every weekday in August thing fell apart pretty quickly, didn't it? I managed a week. I've made a conscious decision not to continue.

It would have been easy enough to churn out filler blog posts - I'm not short of ideas right now - but... but... filler blog posts aren't much fun to write.

And clearly they're not much fun to read, either. The week I succeeded in blogging every day, my stats plummeted and my engagement was pitiful. You lot are clearly not into daily blog posts with structure and whatnot. Fair enough.

But, more than that: I don't like replacing large chunks of my free time with an obligation to be productive.

One of my favourite things to do with my free time is to sit down and write. Case in point *waves hand at keyboard and screen*. But only when I'm in the mood. Only when Steve isn't hovering around, wanting to want The Handmaid's Tale (the revelation that feminist literature can be more chillingly dystopian than Pop Culture Aimed At Men Like Him has been quite something). Only when I wouldn't rather be reading. Only when I've had a calm (or, possibly, particularly tricky) day of parenting and don't mind giving my brain over to actual thoughts. 

I don't like feeling that I have to write. And I don't like feeling that I have to write far enough in advance that I can spare an evening to go to the theatre.

So, I've stopped.

Instead, I'm back to battering away at my keyboard for twenty minutes, here and there, when I've got something - or nothing much - to say. 

Twenty minutes - that's how long I've been typing this post. 

Now to go off and relax.

Seven Bedtime Books For Two Year Olds

It's the parental holy grail: a book which will send your toddler to sleep, every night, no fuss, guaranteed.

These books are probably not that (I doubt there is such a thing).

But they are rather lovely books to read at bedtime when everybody - not just the two year old - could do with a nice calm cuddle, a soothing story and a little bit of time to unwind.

Bedtime Stories For Two Year Olds

Land of Nod: Tiger's Toothbrush
Probably Matilda's favourite of the bunch. Steve and I are quite fond of it, too (it's short). We originally got this from the library but Matilda was so taken with it - every word memorised; key paragraphs recited throughout the day - that we asked a relative to get her a copy for Christmas. It's a rhyming book in which a little girl and her teddy bear help a tiger to find his stripy toothbrush. That's it. Sweet and soothing.

Shhh! This Book Is Sleeping!
Lots of fun when your kid isn't quite ready to sit still. It's an interactive book - you read the book a story; give it a kiss and a cuddle; switch off the light; generally get it ready to go to bed (and, unlike your two year old, it does fall asleep at the end). It makes a nice change for your kid to be in charge of somebody else's bedtime. We read this one A LOT.

Bedtime Stories For Two Year Olds

Goodnight Sleepy Babies
One of my favourites, this is such a lovely book. It's a gentle rhyme all about different baby animals drifting off to sleep. Lots of the babies are cuddled to sleep by their parents (mums and dads get a mention) so it's a very soothing, reassuring read. Gorgeous.

Goodnight Already!
Much less soothing but very entertaining. Bear is trying very hard to get to sleep; his next door neighbour, Duck, is very keen to keep him awake. The irony goes right over Matilda's head as she bounces around, stringing out bedtime with demands for extra toys/cuddles/stories/whatever, but it amuses Steve and me, and she finds the pictures (particularly those of the increasingly exasperated Bear) hilarious.

Bedtime Stories For Two Year Olds

Sleepy Little Yoga
Okay, so the point of this book is to take your toddler through a series of relaxing yoga poses which will help them drift off to sleep. That's not how it goes in our house. In our house, Steve does the poses while Matilda bounces around, demonstrating that she does know how to flop down like a tired bunny but that she prefers to tickle her father. It's lots and lots of fun (as long as you're the parent reading it aloud, not the one clambering around on the floor!) and does seem to help her burn off the last of her energy.

How To Catch A Star
If you've read any Oliver Jeffers before you'll know to expect weirdness and sweetness. And that's what you'll get. A little boy tries to reach high enough to catch a star, then low enough to fish one out of the water. It's surreal and rather lovely.

Bedtime Stories For Two Year Olds

Sleep Like A Tiger
My other favourite - this is just gorgeous. A little girl insists that she isn't sleepy; her parents tell her she can stay awake all night, if she wants to; they chat about all the different ways in which animals sleep; and (after her parents leave the room) she mimics the animals' movements and drifts off herself. It's beautifully written with stunning illustrations - I bought this about a year ago and I'm so happy that Matilda's finally old enough to love it, too.

Do you have any recommendations of your own? 

Choosing the Best Feathers For Our Nest

When the pregnancy nesting instinct kicks in

It pleases me greatly that Matilda's current favourite words are comfy, cosy and snug.

She likes to tuck people up under blankets, share round her snacks and switch on the cat-shaped lamp in the corner of her bedroom. I don't know if we've all stopped talking about hygge because it's (sort of) summertime or if it's last year's cool foreign concept, but I feel like I'm raising a kid who embodies the hygge mindset.

Though it's no wonder that so much of her conversation is about home comforts at the moment; she has a mother who is full on nesting.

Steve and I had a great long to do list for his two weeks off work which - thanks to all the poorly car shenanigans - has now become a great long before the baby is born to do list instead. There are obvious newborn-related tasks on there like washing the muslins and chipping the car seat free from the layers of dust, dead bugs, suitcases and sedimentary rock in the attic. There's general household maintenance like replacing the dripping tap in the kitchen (we bought the replacement six months ago) and re-potting all our droopy peace lilies. There are a handful of tasks meant to make the place prettier - choosing which pictures to frame and buying a mirror for the hall. And there's "dump run" and "charity shop drop off" - when is there not?!

I did not include the big, prohibitively expensive dream projects like replacing the ugly, filthy carpet on the stairs or the misted attic windows or just generally the bathroom, but they're all still there in my head.

And I didn't include our grand(ish) schemes for the garden because they're not happening until the bump has gone and the baby has grown a bit bigger. Though there's every chance the lawn will get mown again this summer. We might even trim the straggly edges.

And we did manage to get the hall painted (covering up post-rewiring plaster patches and miscellaneous scuff marks), thanks to our decorator neighbour giving us some very generous mates' rates. Usually we make do with our own wonky paint jobs but I'm not supposed to climb ladders or inhale paint fumes at the moment and Steve... well... let's just say there's a lot of humphing and sighing when he's cutting in around a ceiling. It was money well spent.

But I'm getting impatient for one other big project: swapping the bedrooms around. When I talked about painting Steve's and my bedroom forest green, I wasn't talking about our current room; I knew I was pregnant at that point and I knew that we would be swapping bedrooms with the kids (they need more space; we do not) - it was our new, smaller bedroom I was daydreaming about.

I'm planning ahead for the kids' new room, too. I keep asking Matilda what colour she would like it to be ("purple or green or yellow or purple or yellow"). I've measured walls and furniture and I've figured out how it's all going to fit.

I'm trying to come up with an excuse to visit B&Q just so we can pick up paint charts; I could lose whole evenings to browsing through assorted shades of blue.

But we won't be swapping rooms around for a long time yet; the new baby will be in with us for the first wee while and we would struggle to fit all three of us into the small room. That, and we think it might be easier for Matilda if the siblings both make the move together.

So, in the meantime, I'm spending a lot of time on Pinterest, flicking through home decor books and typing "kids room" into Etsy.

That, and teaching my toddler such important words as "cushion".