LIFE WATCHING.

Life watching, or people watching, it’s a little creepy, however I think most of us at some stage would say they have ‘people watched’ – just me… oh!

I don’t get as much time to people watch now-a-days, not that I would purposely go out and do it, I really am starting to sound creepy. With a toddler I spend most of my time watching where he is, especially when out and about and he rushes off or suddenly stops to check out something super interesting like a snail on the pavement. I’m surprised I haven’t actually walked into other people or walls or something as I’m looking where he is.

However, there is a certain amount of ‘fun’ to be had in life watching. When I was a teenager, my friend and I used to go to Meadowhall Shopping Centre. This was a time before every child had a smart phone (Nokia’s were King in those days) – but we both didn’t have a phone. We would go with some other friends or parents and would ultimately split up and shop separately. My friend and I would go around together looking in shops that we would never buy anything in, we were both slightly addicted to the Gadget Shops with lava lamps, water bubble lamps (can’t remember their official name) and those rectangular spike shape things… (bear with me while I search what the heck they are called…) Google doesn’t know – Pin Impression Kits? I’m going with that – Disclaimer: Other search engines available – But anyway, I digress. These were some of the things we would actually buy from the gadget shop.

After a while of walking around the malls we would inevitably get bored and find an appropriate bench to sit at. One particular time after we’d sat down we noticed a Smartie in the middle of the walk way right in front of us. Once we’d clocked it, we then watched the unsuspecting participants walking passed to see if they would kick it or stand on it. We must have looked like right idiots, “ooow-ing” and “ahh-ing” every time there was a near mess. Needless to say we didn’t have girlfriends at the time. No idea why. Life is much busier now and I’m probably one of the people who is watched rather than a watcher…

life-watching

HOW I BUILT A TOY CAR RAMP.

This is a DIY project for the fathers out there who have 2 boys, if you only have 1 boy, you can count yourself as the other to make up the numbers in order to convince your other halves.

To say that Nathanael loves trains, planes and automobiles would be an understatement; once you’ve been out and about hunting for Jeremy’s and Harold’s (Thomas and Friends reference) it’s safe to say that a toy car ramp is the obvious natural progression from a small parking tower.

Kiri saw this idea on a popular pinning website and brought it to my attention. I said YES instantly to the idea… but didn’t know when in the timeline it was going to fit. At that time Kiri was about 6/7 months pregnant with #2 and I had a number of other projects on the go which I wanted to get finished before baby arrived.

Anyway when doing one of the DIY Projects, building a Bathroom Mirror Cupboard I bought 2 long blanks of wood, however only needed one in the end. The DIYer in me thought I’m not going to take that back I’m surely going to need it in future for something… and as it happens, I did!

This is what I came up with.

toy-car-ramp-finished

I used a piece of wood that was 1.5 metres long and about 10cm wide and bought two pieces of thin edging to go down each side to keep the cars on the ramp as they went down. Here is some of the ‘under construction’ shots.

toy-car-ramp-duringI used some left over black spray paint that I used when I built a bay window desk and I made a template out of some cardboard for the white lines down the middle.

toy-car-ramp

CREATING OFFICE STORAGE.

In a recent post I spoke of my Bay Window Desk which was in a way, an IKEA Hack. As you may have guessed my home office is a small space, which it is, and I have spent the whole time we’ve been in this house trying to make the most of the space to be both functional, and a place I want to work and do leisure time (i.e. evening web design or playing my guitar etc.) I bought 2 IKEA storage cubes (KALLAX) as I saw a guitar amp storage solution on a popular pinning website and I thought to myself. Perfect. However this isn’t how it has now turned out.

Since creating a space to work from home in the forms off a customised desk I also created a space for a very over-sized shredder, however it’s really good and toddler proof. Not the sort of person to throw something away if it’s not broken, allowances were made to fit it in its own place…

office-storage-afterThis is what I came up with. One of the cubes looks pretty much as you’d buy it from the Swedish Manufacturer, but I have made cable holes in the side so I can place extension cables and guitar leads through the ‘cubes’ to make things tidy. The musicians among you will notice I have no amp. That is true, my nice valve amp had to be sacrificed upon fatherhood as: 1. It was too big and 2. I can only play at night when the kids are asleep and I don’t think he would appreciate me thrashing out some distortion when he’s asleep, and neither would Kiri! I also put little hooks at the top so that the top two baskets don’t fall off when you pull them out. A function that IKEA hadn’t thought of.

The other cube is a fusion of KALLAX outer frame with the MICKE inside drawers fitted to the middle separator from KALLAX – All highly complex. Not really, but it not being ‘real wood’ did mean there was a lot of huffing and puffing while fixing it all together and a lot of getting into positions that my body was just not made for.

However I was victorious and I now have a great space for storing office and leisure items — well until I have another idea and change it… Most likely!

office-storage

 

THE IMPACT OF DOUBLE FATHERHOOD.

So double fatherhood has happened. The end of September Judah James graced us with his presence via C Section. Kiri has written her birth story which if you want the detail go there.

Being second time parents we felt we were much more prepared for another child. We had the hospital bag ready, the house ready as much as possible… new born clothes washed etc, I had even saved pound coins for the parking at the hospital as last time I got a parking ticket, which wasn’t the best welcome to parenthood – £25 fine.

Kiri’s sister and her husband offered to take Nathanael for the couple of days which we knew we were going to be in hospital, which Kiri and I were and are so so so grateful for. Having so little family there for us it was a weight off our mind that we knew Nathanael would be having a great time.

The morning came when we needed to go to the hospital and we were there early and ready to go, however the consultant and anesthetist were arguing (probably a bit much) about who was going first… fortunately / unfortunately for us I have Malignant Hyperthermia which means in short I am allergic to certain ingredients in anaesthetic which when you’re in an operating theatre, it could be quite interesting – anyway the eneathetist won the argument and Kiri was set to go first, originally we were told she was going second. 

Everything went well. I was sat there like some sort of medical marvel talking about MH as some of the doctors have never actually seen it – it’s fairly rare or the knowledge of it is rare.

The one Oh my gosh moment was when they got the baby out as it were, the midwife said “he’s a small baby”. Kiri and looked at each other in shock as throughout the pregnancy we were told he would weigh something around 8lb 5oz and he came out at 6lb 6oz, however we can’t really complain he was fine just a little on the small size.

Once back on the ward it was a room of 3 women and after a few hours it was visiting time. Nathanael’s Auntie and Uncle brought him to see his new baby brother, and of course, in parenting, the new baby buys their older brother (or sister) a toy… and we – I mean Judah – bought Nathanael some Paw Patrol trucks: Chase, Ryder and Zooma. If you don’t know what Paw Patrol is you can consider yourself very lucky. Anyway after getting over the initial excitement of CHASE. RYDER. ZUMA. came Nathanael ‘brumming’ them around the bed. However after a few ‘brums’ it started to spiral out of control; the trucks started to go further and further in this tiny ward separated by curtains when one extremely fast push saw Chase go under the bed Kiri was on, under the curtain and under the bed next door while the doctor was with another couple. Then Nathanael goes, “I find him”, “I get Chase” — I was like “No” and had to do the walk and ask of shame to get Chase back.

Here’s to Double Fatherhood! Drooly Shoulder Gaurenteed!

impact-of-double-fatherhood

HOW I BUILT A GUITAR CASE RACK.

Kiri sometimes says I’m slightly obsessed with DIY as my answer to most problems is “I’ll build something” – I would admit to knowing my limits but I do like to try and do new things to see how hard they actually are, sometimes, very.

My latest project was to build a guitar stand that is safer for Nathanael (and his nosey little fingers) and of course SAFER FOR MY GUITARS!

guitar-case-rack-before

This is what I had before, an online purchased generic guitar stand that holds up to 5 guitars. I have 4; maybe I need to buy another to complete the stand, however I did have 6 at one point to which Kiri said: “you can only play one at once” and to my horror, she was right!

This is what I came up with.

guitar-case-rack-afterInstead of my guitar being out they will now stand secure in their cases (away from little fingers) and I have the additional storage for guitar pedal underneath.

This has also made extra space in other areas of the house where I had kept my cases – this space has now been commandeered by Kiri as space for shoes and other miscellaneous female things that men have no idea about.

It still needs to be painted but fatherhood calls…

guitar-case-rack

HOW I BUILT A BATHROOM MIRROR CUPBOARD.

The Bathroom Mirror, you know the one. The one that you can’t use when you get out of the shower as it’s steamed up and takes an age to de-mist. The mirror that has numerous finger prints on it, some of which probably aren’t even your own and the mirror that when you clean it, looks dirtier than before you cleaned it.

Our bathroom mirror is a square ‘flowery edged’ one (my wife choice – obviously) and has served us well for the sole purpose of looking in to. Not anymore! Kiri was having a reshuffle in the bathroom and discussed the possibility of a bathroom mirror cupboard, and by “discuss the possibility” she means – we need to get one…

But, there was a problem. Kiri really likes this mirror and proceeded to tell me this fact; this left me with a conundrum. However as my mantra with so many of these ‘problems’ that appear in marriage and owning a house, I declared; I CAN MAKE ONE USING THAT MIRROR AS THE DOOR!

After this declaration, I sat on it for a few weeks, i.e. I forgot, until Kiri ‘gently’ reminded me of my commitment to this DIY extravaganza.

This was the original mirror in our bathroom.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard-before

I got my trusty tape measure out and set about drawing up designs and concepts (probably a bit much) to how this cupboard would look. I brought the designs to the committee for sign off (Kiri) and got to work.

This is what I came up with.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard-after

I hope that this cupboard cost less than would cost to just buy one, probably not, however there is deep satisfaction knowing that I have made something that no one else has, to the specifications that Kiri would want. I say this cupboard is just for Kiri, but there is plenty of stuff stored in there that’s mine.

N.B. Taking photos of the mirror before and after, trying not to be in the reflection was quite a challenge.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard

 

PREPARING FOR DOUBLE FATHERHOOD.

Double Fatherhood, well that’s what I’m calling it – you may require some context. My wife and I are about to have our second child. You get a lot of ‘advice’ when you’re about to have another baby and they vary from both ends of the spectrum. From “It’s already crazy with 1 so it’s not that much harder with 2” to “it’s probably 4 times as hard with 2” to “your life is over”.

As I am ever the optimist!!? errr… As Toby Ziegler said on ‘The West Wing’ (what a show) “Happiness is my default position”. He was so sarcastic in the show – I relate to that quite well.

Any way back to my context for double fatherhood. I’m going to predict that having 2 children will be somewhere in-between all of the above advice. It will be a big change for the Smith camp and Kiri and I are trying to be as prepared as possible. DIY projects will be paused for a good 3 months, so I have (sort of) been given free rein to get as many completed as possible now.  Kiri has been working hard to get the meals planned in, as when Nathanael was first-born, eating meals went out the window so with 2 we know that’s going to be even more difficult.

As I prepare for double fatherhood here are a few optimistic guidelines I’m going to give myself:

1. An increase in grey hair and wrinkles – well I’ve got to blame something…

2. No time to myself for the next 18 years – maybe a slight over exaggeration

3. A chorus of “Daddy do it!” – one of Nathanael’s current favourite phrases which I’m sure my unborn child will come out saying.

4. “Daddy! Look! I did a wee wee” “Daddy! Look! baby did a wee wee!” Another phrase repeated at high volume at the moment.

5. Protecting my extremities from being attacked from all angles only this time their will be two attacking me and I only have one pair of hands.

Joking aside, I am looking forward to the challenge of 2. Kiri and I always knew when we had children it would be up to us and us alone to do the bringing up as family options are very limited, so the count down is on and I ask myself – how hard can it be!!

BRING ON THE CRAZY!

double-fatherhood

 

BANK HOLIDAY JOUSTING.

The summer Bank Holiday. In the UK that normally means rain – and it did! But the Monday came and the weather was kind and it was a glorious day in which we took the opportunity to go to a Medieval Joust at a local Castle in Bolsover – Predictably called Bolster Castle… However saying that there is a Castle call Leeds Castle in Kent which is quite some miles away from Leeds, Yorkshire – about 200 miles.

Anyway, we packed ourselves a picnic (which is one of Nathanael’s favourite things to eat) and headed off to Bolsover for the Joust.

Here are some snaps of our day.

bank-holiday-joust-01
bank-holiday-joust-02
bank-holiday-joust-03
Nathanael enjoyed watching the horses, after eating his picnic! He has his priorities. It was a great day, however I am feeling the effects of the sun… Toasty with a slight red hue!

bank-holiday-jousting

ATTIC STORAGE SOLUTIONS.

When we moved into our new house a couple of years ago the attic was a blank, un-boarded space, with only an access door. After a few months I installed a ladder and after about a year of living here I had a good day (or two) at boarding it out. I haven’t boarded it out completely; a) because there wasn’t much point as some of it is inaccessible, and b) because I don’t want it to become a place that becomes the dumping ground.

So I boarded out a middle section and in-between the eaves. This has been great for storing all Nathanael’s Baby things, Christmas Decorations and other items that are of occasional use – such as air beds.

Since Kiri and I have started to get the baby things down again in preparation for Mini Smith #2, I look at the attic going, I could do so much more to make it more usable so here are my top 3 things I’d like to do to the attic.

1. Install lighting
An obvious choice, at the moment there’s an uplighter in the attic and an extension lead for lengthy period up there while the phone touch is used most other times.

2. Shelving and Clothes Rails in the eaves
I’ve seen this on a popular pinning website where there is shelving attached to ‘V’ shaped eaves and that is what I want to aim for, to keep boxes off the floor or make things easier to get to/store away.

3. Carpet the floor
In a way, this is a good dust catcher but does also double up as additional insulation, albeit a thin layer.

attic-storage-solutions