4 months later…

*this was written 3 weeks ago

Holy guacamole Batman. After my fifteenth blog post request, I thought, “I better get on this. My fans are waiting.” No time like the present to embrace my guilt and get on with it.

I think all people really want to hear about is Keira and our house, so I might as well please the masses and start there. Phil and I are fine too – thanks for asking!

Little K is now 15 months old. Her vocabulary has changed so much. I think she understands everything, which makes me VERY nervous. Her favourite word at the moment is bubble. Her favourite food is banana. And her favourite objects are boots, books and balls. So pretty much anything that starts with the letter B is her favourite. I’m not sure how many teeth we have now. At least 10, but I’m not allowed to inspect very closely. 2 are very angry molars. Keira is a real trooper though. She very rarely wakes up in the night even when she’s sick. In fact, sometimes she really should notify us that she’s been sick, so that she doesn’t spend all night in her cot surrounded by last night’s dinner.

She’s got a little posse at nursery. There’s 3 of them – Poppy, Lorelei and Keira. They have there own language. They fall asleep holding hands. They wave “buh-bye” to each other. They also seem to steal, smack and cause each other much grief. So basically they are true friends. Keira changes rooms on Monday though, so all that is about to change. Keira will go from being the head cheese to being one of the youngest and possibly the only non-walker.

We bought bikes and today was my first attempt at cycling to nursery. It was tough and I’m glad we all made it out alive. It wasn’t the actual cycling – although the arctic-like temperatures didn’t help – that was difficult. It was the getting on and off and through the nursery gates and out of the house when you have a little person who thinks it’s a great time to bounce up and down on the child seat.

We’ve pretty much all been ill since November, but there’s no real point on dwelling on that. If I seem nonchalant about that fact, I promise you I’m not. I’m actually extremely paranoid and worry so much. So far I have no solution though.

The 2 weeks we were in BC we were all healthy and had the most amazing time. I still can’t believe how everything worked out. It was such an amazing Christmas. We didn’t push it this time by trying to do too much. We got lots of time with family. Of course, it’s never enough and the time flies by and I’m still glad we came. And I hope you all enjoyed seeing us, because we’re never flying again! We are still recovering from flying with a 1-year-old. She decided sleeping was highly over-rated on the way to Vancouver. We did meet the nicest people on the flight though and found comfort with the other parents across the hall who had a son slightly older than Keira.

Is that a good enough Keira update? There’s so much more, but where to stop and start. I’ll probably just need to blog more regularly (hah! no promises!).

When we got back from Canada. Our house was covered in a layer of dust. This was actually amazing news. Our friendly builder, David, had pulled out a chimney, removed two ceilings and re-plastered the whole lot. He managed to do it all in a week, which was actually ahead of schedule. What do you do when you find a good builder? You keep him busy and at your house!

So he moved on to decorating our living room. That’s what they say in England – “decorating.” It just means painting basically. We had plaster cornicing (crown moulding) put up, a new light fixture, radiator and painted the walls and ceiling a dark, dark green-almost-black. I love it!! I couldn’t be happier.

It all sounds very lovely; however, Phil says we’re basically “glamping.” We have exposed floorboards, which are permanently dusty. A radiator leaked on Keira’s carpet. Her carpet is already dingy, so this hasn’t helped. We have our sofa in the kitchen (our new, lovely sofa is at risk everyday of spaghetti stains and plaster dust). Everything is still in boxes. And I see no end to this state of living in the near future. We have 1 room finished (less floors and skirting boards (translate: baseboards), so I have a feeling we will be spending a lot of time in there. Our bedroom is next on the list. And we’re still debating what to do with extending the house and whether to go back into the garden or up into the loft. And how to live through all of that!

In other news, Phil just passed his probationary period at work. Yeah!! Celebrate! Keep those cheques rolling in because we need them! Okay – I need them, so I can do exactly what I want to the house.

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So we moved, I started work, Keira started nursery

We have officially moved. I feel like we’ve lived here for months already. It is 3 weeks today. It was not quite smooth sailing. The night before we moved, Phil had a stack of boxes fall on his head in the middle of the night. He seems pretty okay. Then Keira got sick, then Phil got sick. And not just normal sick, but foot, mouth & hand disease. Basically it kicks off with a fever and then your mouth swells inside with soars making it impossible to eat and you develop a rash on your hands and feet. Are you feeling itchy yet?

The first days in the new house we thought, “Oh man, we’ve made a horrible mistake.” The stress of getting the keys (which only happened the day after we exchanged contracts, which was 4 days away from us being homeless, and in this country, that happens) overtook any thoughts we had about actually living in the house. And it needs quite a bit of work. The biggest concern is the damp, so we’re trying to get that dealt with right away.

However, WE OWN A HOUSE IN LONDON! That fact can not be overshadowed. We’re on the ladder in one of the most difficult places to buy a home. After just 2 years in the UK, we made one of our biggest dreams – home ownership – a reality. And it is going to be FUN designing our space. We’ve already spent hours thinking through the floorplan, and, if you’re interested, I’ll share the details on the blog.

Less than a week after moving, I had my first day of work in 9.5 months. And Phil had his first day with Keira all to himself, which unfortunately coincided with her first day of fever. I’m not going to lie – going to work was awesome. Thinking things through, chatting with people in the office, having a coffee by myself while it was still warm. I will be 3 days a week until middle of October and I think the transition is healthy for all of us. Keira loves going to nursery, which has made this whole change so much easier. The people at nursery say she is a joy to have. She doesn’t have a panic attack when Phil drops her off. She’s always happily playing when I pick her up. There’s a few minor tweaks that we’re trying to make at nursery, so that it’s in line with our parenting and what’s important to us: 1) her diet – vegetarian & organic when possible, 2) using nappies and wipes that aren’t full of chemicals and 3) getting time outside. We’re lucky that nursery provides food. I just wish it was of a bit higher standard, which I understand that they have budgets, so the onus is on us to provide food we believe to be nutritious.

Also, I did pretty well in a client presentation, which has boosted my confidence. I’ve really been thrown in. There’s no, “Oh, let’s ease in the woman whose been on mat leave.” I could have handled a day or 2 of that. But I love where I work and it’s great to be in the office.

Keira is an awesome little person. I can’t help but gush. She is changing so rapidly these days. This week the crawling has really started. She has been a mattress and soft landings crawler until now. Can’t blame her. And she still prefers to walk while we hold her hands, which has made my legs feel like seizing up at any moment. She chats up a storm. At nursery, they say she is quite happy to sit and play and chat. She does a really strange, deep grumble that is a bit disconcerting. She claps when you say “Clap.” Good monkey! And waves at people. When we’re on public transit, she’ll actually lean over to get people’s attention and then beam at them. She even connected with a late teens/early 20’s guy that was doing his best to ignore her, but eventually she won him over. And I’m not just saying that as one of those annoying mother types who just thinks her daughter is the cutest. Or wait, maybe that’s exactly what I am. Every tiny morsel she attempts to put in her mouth. So far she’s eaten a wide variety of things that live on the floor.

The biggest thing that’s happening right now, I’m not sure I’m allowed to discuss. And I can’t not mention anything because it has literally consumed us. There was a major health scare and it’s made being so far away really crappy. It’s made everything else that we worry about seem so irrelevant. Sorry for the mysteriousness. I hope it gives some context as to why updating the blog over the last while has been at the bottom of my to-do list. I do think it’s super important though. I love looking back at the old stories and what was happening.

And lastly, it’s my mumsy’s birthday tomorrow, so I will give a big, squishy virtual hug!!! Love you!!

Happy birthday Nanny!!

Happy birthday Nanny!!

We got another date night while Gaby was here! It was so great!

We got another date night while Gaby was here! It was so great!

Right before the sand went directly into her mouth

Right before the sand went directly into her mouth

Swings are awesome

Swings are awesome

Ahhh... watch out for the walking ones.

Ahhh… watch out for the walking ones.

Highbury Fields - we'll miss you

Highbury Fields – we’ll miss you

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But we will not miss you transit. Actually we will. The overground has A/C

The day we got keys! Keira on the overground

The day we got keys!

Move day - breakfast at Ottolenghi

Move day – breakfast at Ottolenghi

Our new kitchen Keira doesn't seem to mind that it's a disaster.

Our new kitchen Keira doesn’t seem to mind that it’s a disaster.

We still spend lots of time out for coffee or a pint.

We still spend lots of time out for coffee or a pint.

Favourite toy - the iPad

Favourite toy – the iPad

First day of work

First day of work

At the office selfie

At the office selfie

New pub and it was quite good

New pub and it was quite good

These 2 are the cutest

These 2 are the cutest

Congrats Keira on your first week at nursery!!

Congrats Keira on your first week at nursery!!

The park by our house on a beautiful day.

The park by our house on a beautiful day.

Those chubby legs kill me. I just want to eat them. That would be a very bad vegetarian.

Those chubby legs kill me. I just want to eat them. That would be a very bad vegetarian.

Weekly Housing Update

It’s ours! Somewhat officially – as of this morning – we own a house. Nothing like biting your finger nails until the last minute. It has been a rather stressful week of uncertainty, which is why I haven’t done any updates. I’m rather offended that I still have not received any flowers and no one messaged to ensure I was at home and not in hospital suffering from a mental break.

Top this week off with Keira’s second cold in 2 weeks that was lovingly passed along to me, as well as Keira deciding 5am is an acceptable time to wake up, and you have a perfect storm for short tempers and flairs of anger and frustration.

We have exchanged contracts this morning and will get keys on Wednesday. At this point, it is impossible to get out of the contract without severe penalties. Don’t ask me what those penalties are. I couldn’t tell you. But I can assure you, we will not be the ones asking to get out of this purchase.

Now, I can get packing. We have movers scheduled for next Friday, so we’ve got 1 week to pull everything together.

In the meantime, it has been horrible weather in London. Is this really summer? So Gaby, Keira and I took the opportunity to check out the Tate Modern, drink copious amounts of coffee and count the number of people we take out with our umbrellas while puching the pushchair, while avoiding all responsibility to pack, cook or deal with moving details.

Phil and I got a date night last night too. It’s honestly the best feeling to be out just the 2 of us. I don’t think we had really said more than 4 sentences to each other this week. TGIF!

The finger pointing has gone to a whole new level. We basically follow the finger wherever it wants to go.

The finger pointing has gone to a whole new level. We basically follow the finger wherever it wants to go. I imagine Keira with her Oprah voice saying, “And you get a Salvador Dali, and you get a Dali and you get a Dali…”

She discovered the endless fun of ripping napkins and eating lime wedges

She discovered the endless fun of ripping napkins and eating lime wedges

The most delicious brownies from Borough Market

The most delicious brownies from Borough Market

The robot was definitely her favourite installation at Tate Mdern

The robot was definitely her favourite installation at Tate Modern

She now likes to walk, which is doing wonders for my back. *sarcasm* Mom - I can hear you from here saying "Payback is a b%#&$." Apparently I didn't have any interest in crawling and either does Keira. Unless if she's on the sofa or bed where she can scare the living crap out of us.

She now likes to walk, which is doing wonders for my back. *sarcasm* Mom – I can hear you from here saying “Payback is a b%#&$.” Apparently I didn’t have any interest in crawling and either does Keira. Unless if she’s on the sofa or bed where she can scare the living crap out of us.

Photobombed by a Picasso

Photobombed by a Picasso

Not sure what the weird glow is in behind Gaby & Keira. I'm hoping it's Keira's museum fairy godmother that prevents her from having temper tantrums in public places.

Not sure what the weird glow is in behind Gaby & Keira. I’m hoping it’s Keira’s museum fairy godmother that prevents her from having temper tantrums in public places. It also reminds me of those Crime Stoppers photos where the person doing something illegal is highlighted for emphasis. As far as I know, this guy wasn’t doing anything criminal (other than walking around with a rucksack in London).

Last Saturday we did IKEA - all day. I can think of nothing humorous to say about that situation.

Last Saturday we did IKEA – all day. I can think of nothing humorous to say about that situation. You can see our lovely table purchase from the “As Is” section, which Phil spent the better part of an hour trying to wrap.

Ending with babies!

Ending with babies!

So we *may have* bought a house

Well, a month after I posted about how we were putting it out there that we wanted to own a home, it looks like we might just get there. I’m trying not to get too excited, because in the UK, an accepted offer is not contractual – meaning the seller can basically back out at any point. So until we have keys in our hands, I’ll continue to be skeptical – excited, but skeptical.

You know when things are easy they just feel right. This place has been incredibly easy. We went to see the house 2 weeks ago and put in an offer. So did 7 other people though. The seller requested that we all go back to the drawing board and give them our best and final offer. We ended up being the 3rd highest, but the mortgage broker put us forward as the best people to buy the house. The most likely explanation is that we are chain free (which means we don’t have a house to sell). In London, having a chain of properties that need to be sold can easily lead to the breakdown of any sale. It’s an absolute nightmare, so not having a chain put us in a really good position. The only variable now is that the seller has to find a property to move to. The system here is so backwards. Apparently it works though, so I’m just going to have to trust that it will all come together.

Yesterday, we met with the mortgage broker and finalised the details of our mortgage and now we wait up to 2 weeks to ensure we are approved. As of yesterday though, the house is off the market.

About the house: it’s a 2 bedroom, Victorian terraced home in a part of East London called Leytonstone. It’s definitely a bit of a fixer upper, but not so bad that we can’t live in it as it currently exists. If you’ve visited London as a tourist, most likely you have come nowhere near this part of town. It’s “up-and-coming.” Leytonstone is on the Central Line of the Underground, which means it’s about 30 minutes to both our work places. And to get to central London is really easy. There are trendy cafes popping up and a couple of good pubs. What else could we possibly need?

The coincidences that surround this property make it feel right. This week, I found out that a friend of mine who has a daughter born within days of Keira is moving literally across the street. One of my friend’s from work lives in Leytonstone with her partner. And the fact that we beat out 7 other offers on the first property we put an offer in on is unheard of in London. Yesterday, when we were wandering the area, the guy next door was taking out his rubbish, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to harass our future neighbour. He ended up giving me a tour of his house, which is identical to ours. What a difference a little decorating can do. And already I feel like we have another friend in the neighbourhood. It all feels meant to be.

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