22 December, 2011

Christmassy tidings.

Another year, another sisterly visit. *grin*

Sister Three declared last year that any Christmas we're not in Texas, she'll come here. She's making good on her word. All I can say is "thank goodness". *lol* I was beginning to have a hard time with Madam, trying to get ready to have a houseful of people on Christmas morning with one arm permanently occupied was wearing on my nerves a bit. After all, I have to start putting all those pins on Pinterest to good use... ; ) Three's arrival was very timely for this purpose.

I have now made cinnamon roll pancakes and two ingredient pumpkin cake, I've made/decorated/filled eight Christmas stockings (in fact, several are decorated with homemade pom poms I pinned months ago) and hung them on a board I aged with steel wool and vinegar, and even made cheese toast in the toaster turned on its side. We also put up the Christmas tree, decorated with years of accrued randomness. It's now playing host to a number of interestingly wrapped presents sent from Texas, several of which have my name on them. Score.

This week has been fun as well as productive. We've had an outing a day, as per Madam's requirements. We've done all the food shopping for eight people for Christmas, we finished last minute Christmas purchases, went into Hammersmith and central London for random wanderings, and have mooched around the house just enough to keep us from complete exhaustion. The single most bizarre happening, outside of Three momentarily mistaking a very shaggy white dog on a leash for a sheep being walked by its owner, occurred on Wednesday in Hammersmith.

We'd been poking around in one of my favourite shops, Three was wearing Madam in the Moby wrap, and when we were ready to leave I went first to part the crowd for her. As she wended her way through to the exit, she got caught up, so I beat her out. When she finally made it to the pavement, she looked visibly worked up, and when she finally managed to explain to me what had just happened, I was a bit dumbfounded myself. Apparently a little old lady had leaned over to get a better look at Madam, or so Three thought... in fact, she was going in for a kiss. A stranger kissed my daughter. On the face. Without asking. The first thing out of Three's mouth after the story was recounted? "Do you have any wipes?" Luckily I did, and the assaulted cheek was cleansed thoroughly standing there on the side of the road.

Himself managed to come home earlier tonight, and all three of his offices are closed between Christmas and New Year's, so he's got a significant amount of time on the immediate horizon in which to hang out with Madam, which is nice. We've only got a few things left to prepare for the arrival of his family for Christmas, so the next few days can be as relaxing as we'd like them to be. We're going to make sausage balls for Christmas morning, maybe do some baking, try out the Olive Garden breadsticks recipe on Pinterest... *grin* Hope you all have a fab festive season. x

17 November, 2011

Delayed post from 17th November.

"Here I sit, on the couch downstairs with Madam asleep next to me. Here I've been since around quarter past five this morning, after half an hour of attempting to make her realise that it wasn't quite time to be awake just yet. Of course, ten minutes after our relocation, she relinquished her claim on consciousness and left me to gaze upon her peaceful visage while I blog.

This week has been fun so far. I took Herself to the tattoo parlour on Monday. *grin* We're good friends with the guy who runs the place (and that was before I had most of my body covered in pretty pictures) so I took Madam for her first hangout session."

That's as far as I got. Things got a little nuts. After the tattoo parlour on Monday, we also took our first tube journey into town to see Himself at his various offices (or rather to showcase Madam to his coworkers) on the Wednesday. She was ridiculously well received and we went home satisfied that she is, in fact, the most beautiful baby on the planet. *grin* Auntie Godmother (previously known as Sister One) was here for a week after that, which thoroughly spoiled Madam to having constant stimulation. If she wasn't asleep, she was being entertained... this might have made things a little difficult for me when AG went home. We're making it through, I'm just getting really good at living life with one free arm.

I still can't go anywhere without hordes of old ladies, pregnant women and teenage girls trailing after me to get a better look at Herself. Yesterday was particularly amusing, we were accosted by a teenage boy desperately trying to get his mother's attention focused on my girl. *lol* What can I say, the world seems to agree with me on the topic of her perfection...

Perfection notwithstanding, she's managed to contract thrush on her tongue, so yesterday morning saw us at the GP... again. We got a prescription for drops to sort it out, collected them from Boots and headed home to medicate the Madam. Let me preface this next part by saying that she's no stranger to drops... her affinity for colic saw us regularly forcing Infacol into her face. So she knows how to swallow medicine.

Unfortunately, she's also managed to work out how not to swallow it.

Think firmly pursed lips, tiny pink tongue forcing this incredibly sticky, virulently yellow medicine back out onto her clothes, my hand, whatever's handy. Yeah, it's great. I can only hope that the momentary contact the meds make with the inside of her mouth is enough to clear it up.

Her development is staggering. Last week while AG was here, she leapt forward yet again. She's begun to smile in reaction to outside stimuli, huge goofy smiles where you can see her gums all the way around. She's also begun to yell. Not cry, just yell. When she's mad, or annoyed, or hungry, or bored... you get my gist. The funniest part of the yelling (other than the yelling itself, which is frankly hilarious) is that if you tell her to stop it, she does. And then looks slightly bemused.

So, I think I've taken just about as much time as I can justify to post this update. Herself is currently napping (and wiggling) on the couch, but she's begun to stir, so I'm going to quickly move clothes from washer to dryer and start another load before she demands my undivided attention. Lucky for her that I'd rather play with her than do anything else, eh? *grin*

06 November, 2011

Firsts.

I had all these ideas of blogging every couple of days to keep everyone updated with Madam's progress. Turns out having a newborn isn't all sitting around with your hair perfectly coiffed, holding a sleeping angel. *grin* That said, I've never been happier.

This has been a week of firsts, to be documented below.

1. Madam had her first shower with yours truly on Friday, swiftly followed by her second shower with her daddy on Sunday. That should give you some idea of how successful the first was. I've never seen a child so content in my life. *lol*

2. Madam had her first cloth nappy experience, as proven below.


Cutest bum ever.

3. We were invited to a bonfire night fireworks party by our next door neighbours. Mimi was more than happy to attend, fireworks and chili dogs are two of her favourite things so we all popped over with Madam, but when the proper fireworks started Mimi went back to our house with her to watch from the upstairs window in warmth and comfort. This was the first time we'd left her anywhere (yes, I know next door isn't really leaving her, but it felt very weird, so shut up) and it was pretty cool that it was with her great-grandmother.

4. This is a sad one for me. Madam has outgrown her first clothes. *sniffle* She's so different than she was three weeks ago, it's freaking me out a little, so I'm going to leave this point immediately.

There are of course the little firsts, like the first time she farted while crosseyed, but I reckon she'll thank me in the future to stick to the big (less embarrassing) firsts in my documentations. She's changing so quickly, I expect her to be reciting Shakespeare by the end of next week. I'll keep you posted.

24 October, 2011

Adjustments all around.

So, we had our first full-body poo this morning. *grin*

I ate something in the last day or two (I'm suspecting onion in the pasta sauce) that really screwed with Madam's insides. She's been fussy and clingy for the last 24 hours or so, which saw us downstairs on the couch at 2am this morning so as to allow Himself some sleep. We migrated back upstairs when he left for work around 6am, and only regained consciousness when Herself began to stir around eight. I rolled over to give her a cuddle, only to find that in her nocturnal travels she'd managed to cover her entire front side in poo. We're talking, soaked through two layers of clothing and into the sheet. *lol*

This of course led to stripping the baby and the bed, putting the baby in the sink for a bath and the sheets in the wash along with her clothes and a fair amount of stain remover. She was massively unimpressed with the bath, even though I thoughtfully lined it with a towel so her little cheeks wouldn't catch a chill from the porcelain. She refused to voice an opinion about the washing of the sheets.

We also had our second chiropractor appointment this afternoon. The first appointment saw her left shoulder a little stiff, a few spots in her spine that weren't as "bouncy" as they should have been, and along with those bits she had her cranium adjusted. This visit, her shoulder is MUCH more mobile, her back is doing marvellously, she had her second cranial adjustment, and her epicanthic fold (the horizontal crease across the bridge of her nose) has completely smoothed out. Basically, she's perfect. *grin* She'll have one more appointment in ten days, after which she'll be discharged until she hits a growth spurt or exhibits symptoms of needing an adjustment (the chiropractor will give us a list of things to look for).

She's currently snoozing on my chest, apparently it's much more comfortable than the Boppy or the couch. I'm figuring out this one-armed life pretty rapidly... I've done laundry, cooked lunch, and been to the ladies' multiple times with a baby attached to my front and not dropped her even once. Bonus points. *grin*

She stirs. We have our first health visitor coming tomorrow, I'll update after that.

19 October, 2011

Welcome, tiny overlord.

Madam has landed. You'll forgive my lack of posts in the last week, we've been a little preoccupied around Chez Gabs.

Things didn't go quite as planned. We had hoped for a tranquil water birth, no pain relief except the soothing warmth of the pool... that was before my waters broke and 24 hours passed without major happening. After 24 hours, for those of you not in the know, the risk of infection precludes water birth and I wasn't allowed in. Fair enough, we're flexible, so we adjusted and moved on mentally to a natural non-pool birth, with the addition of a cannula in the back of my left hand to push IV antibiotics (which took three tries and eventually a doctor to insert, but we won't go into detail on that one).

That was, of course, until they decided things weren't moving as quickly as they would like, and took advantage of said cannula to drip syntocin into my unsuspecting body. Apparently I'm ridiculously sensitive to syntocin, because not only did things kick off, they kicked off a little too hard. Think six contractions in ten minutes. We won't go into detail there either, we'll just say that after an hour of fighting it, Himself finally managed to talk me into having an epidural.

Let's take advantage of the moment to take a little side trip down "How awesome is Himself" Lane, shall we? I honestly don't know what I would have done if he hadn't been there. "Rock" doesn't quite cover it. He was there to literally and figuratively hold my hand (and at one point, my feet) for every single second of the entire process, and toward the end when I was quite simply falling apart from the combination of not having slept in three days and a not quite effective epidural, he kept me sane. Join me in a round of applause for the greatness of Himself.

Did you clap? Yeah, I meant it literally. Thanks for humouring me.

We also ended up with a ventouse delivery and an episiotomy, but the less said about that the better. Suffice it to say, she's here and she's absolutely perfect. I'm assured it's not just my natural predilection for my own offspring that leads me to feel this way, apparently she's an uncommonly attractive and pleasant child. Don't believe me? See below.


How could you not bask in the glory of such adorable features? Go on, take a second to bask, I'll wait.

I find myself just staring at her. The TV has barely been on in the last week, she has reduced a houseful of adults into cooing idiots, and I do mean a houseful. *lol* My mother arrived on Saturday, and Himself's mother and her husband came up for the day, then on Sunday we had Himself's sister and her husband, then on Monday we had an old friend of mine who was over from Australia with his wife and son and... well, you get my drift. We've had a busy time of it. Unfortunately the madre could only stay a week and has to go home today, but the grandmadre is on her way over sometime midweek so we'll have another Texan presence in the house for a little while (lucky, lucky Himself). *grin*

Anyway, it's all true. You don't realise you can love a tiny person so immediately and in such an all consuming way until you've physically forced one out of your body. Yeah, it hurt, and yeah, pregnancy totally sucked for me, but look what I got out of it! She's simply... well, perfect.

09 October, 2011

Rumblings and ramblings.

This morning at twenty past three, Himself and I were awoken by a gurgling "hurk, hurk" noise from the foot of the bed. His cat had chosen that opportune moment to sick up in the floor in front of my chest of drawers. Both of us rocketed up out of bed, more out of sheer reflex than a belief that swift movement would change the situation in any way, shape or form. Himself cleaned up the mess (because he loves me, you see), I went to the toilet... again... and we went back to bed.

Twenty minutes later, I was suddenly awake, and not quite sure why. Something was weird, and JB was kicking up a storm (like, making a break for it kind of kicking). I stayed there, taking silent and still stock of my surroundings, and then it hit me. I leapt up out of bed as my waters broke, miraculously leaving the bed dry, and simultaneously scaring seven hells out of Himself. I blurted out "my waters have broken", he tossed me a towel, and I got straight on the phone as previously commanded by Sister One to let her know things were kicking off. She was understandably excited, this is HER baby, after all...

I then rang the midwife triage unit at the hospital to find out the appropriate course of action, and after a barrage of questions (have you had any contractions? what colour are the waters? are you certain it was your waters breaking? is it your first baby?) I was told to come in to be examined. This of course meant I had to... ahem... *mumbling* finish packing my hospital bag... *sheepish grin* Himself was, shall we say, unimpressed with my lack of preparation, especially given the amount of nagging he'd done over the last few weeks to make sure everything was ready should things kick off. We tossed the few bits I hadn't packed yet into the suitcase and headed to the hospital, still making calls to let people know that Madam was on her way.

When we turned up at the triage unit, the nurse took my blood pressure (good, as always) and hooked me up to the foetal monitor. Well, I say hooked me up, she actually tucked the two electrodes into the waistband of my jeans and went to deal with a lady who'd just arrived in what turned out to be a very advanced stage of labour (she had the baby not ten minutes later). When the other nurse came to check on me, she began to use what I can only assume was fairly foul language (I believe it was Chinese) under her breath due to the inexpertly applied electrodes, and swiftly got things sorted out properly to monitor Madam's heart rate (strong, as always) and my contractions. She then took the swab to check for infection and examined me to see how far along things were (not very, just one centimetre dilated) and commented that JB's head is still quite high.

She gave us a sheet of information (signs to look for that would require us to return to the hospital, actions to take during the day) and told us to call around eight pm tonight when we'll likely be asked to come back if things haven't progressed by then. I, of course, am hoping that JB will take the hint and get going on her own as I'd rather not need chemical assistance. So, I'll leave you there and update as the situation warrants. Wish me luck!

02 October, 2011

Call me bass-ackwards.

It's funny. I've always been backwards. Awkward. Abnormal. Whatever you want to call it. I didn't expect that to extend to pregnancy.

All my friends/colleagues/family members have said pretty much the same thing about when they were pregnant. The first few months (at least) were normally ridden with nausea, then things evened out and became... well, pleasant... until the last few weeks. In the last few weeks, the waiting game played havoc with their nerves/patience/fortitude to the point that misery ensued. The swollen hands and ankles, the endless bathroom trips, the constant indigestion, but mostly the incessant wondering as to WHEN THIS TINY HUMAN WILL VACATE MY BODY.

I've been the exact opposite. The first four months were definitely rocky with nausea until I figured out it was the dairy making me feel awful, but rather than things settling down I began to deal with the complications brought on by hypermobility. Constant pain isn't really conducive to enjoying pregnancy... and don't get me wrong, I have the swollen appendages, have to pee every five minutes, and I'm keeping Zantac in business. That said, the last week or two have been almost pleasant. Yeah, I'm enormous, and if I stand/walk for too long at a stretch my back hurts, but that's pretty easy to get around (sit down, right?). I've got more energy in the last week as well, which goes a long way toward feeling a little more like myself rather than the boneless slug I've become over the last nine months.

Of course, I'm excited about getting her on the outside (if mostly so I can hand her to Himself and say "hold this"), but I'm also not in the depths of despair. I'm aware that at most it'll be three weeks before they'll induce her out of me, and three weeks feeling like I do right now won't be that bad. I've actually managed to get a few bits done in the last week, several loads of laundry and a few of dishes, some cooking, even some clearing out of a few of my infamous "bags of bits"... you know, those bags that you shove the random receipts, pens, nail files, bits of post, and other various sundries into when you're tidying up. Yes, everyone does it. No, really, they do. Shut up.

Anyway, things are good. We've had a lazy weekend here at Chez Gabs, with the notable exception of a trip to the vet with El Gato de Himself... (Kit) She came downstairs on Friday night sporting a wicked limp, Himself and I both had a look and couldn't see anything wrong with her, but as we didn't fancy sharing the house with a three-legged cat we decided to take her to the vet on Saturday morning. We managed to make it all the way there without her having forcibly ejected anything from either end (a serious victory, in case you don't recall Kit's Car Adventures of previous posts) and got seen by the vet straight away. Turns out she had a puncture wound right at the edge of her little toe pad on her front right paw, and the vet reckons it was possibly from a set-to with a neighbourhood moggie, so he gave her a shot of antibiotic and a shot of painkiller as well as some painkillers to have for the next few days.

I don't know if you've ever seen a stoned cat, but let me tell you, it's pretty funny. She spent most of Saturday sprawled out on the bed looking dazed and making odd not-quite-meowing noises, and had a relapse this morning after we gave her today's dose. Rather than get up and jump off the bed, she sort of bonelessly slid off the edge and happened to land on her feet by what appeared to be a grand stroke of luck. Oh well, at least she's back on all four legs. Please see below for photographic evidence of her altered state...




Stoner cat. *snigger* Does it make me totally evil that I'm looking forward to tomorrow's dose? Oh well, so what if it does. I takes my amusement where I finds it. Speaking of amusement, Goonies is on TV, and I'm not paying it proper homage by multi-tasking during the screening. So, off to find the rich stuff.

19 September, 2011

Updates all around.

So, we've had our UK baby shower. Saturday just gone we had a houseful of people, same setup as our normal Thanksgiving arrangements, just different food. Rather than mash and mac'n'cheese, I did finger foods and pink desserts. If you need a seriously decadent and delicious lemon bar recipe, let me know, I found one on Pinterest a few weeks ago for Strawberry Lemonade Bars that I used for the party, and they are truly droolworthy.

We were gifted a truly random assortment of bits. Some people used the list we registered for, some people went with gifts that meant something to them personally (like a replica of a childhood bunny from one particular friend), and some went with "pamper the mother-to-be" options. Then, of course, there was Darth Bunny. That's right, Darth Bunny. See below.

video

It was a good day. Himself's best mate from childhood came up from Essex with his new wife to stay the weekend, there was at least one representative from every office job I've ever had in this country, and even our driving instructor made an appearance. We ate, we chatted, we ate a bit more, people came and went, and I think a good time was had by all. I know Himself must have eaten his weight in food on sticks, so at least he was happy. *grin* That said, he fully deserved every bite he took, the man singlehandedly cleaned the house and rearranged the conservatory while also dealing with Demanding Preggo Gabs with aplomb. Will everyone please join me in a standing O for Himself... thanks.

Of course, I did manage to completely fail in one specific sense. Yours truly didn't take a single picture. I still can't really believe I let that slide so shamefully, and can only blame it on the preggo brains. By the time all the food was ready and people started arriving, I was so tired that I just settled in to chat rather than shoving my camera in people's faces as I normally do. *lol* I have been thoroughly castigated by Sister One and The Mimi, and have learned my lesson accordingly.

I had to get a flu shot the morning of the party. Apparently preggos are high on the list of priorities for said shots, so I dutifully trundled my way to the surgery to be voluntarily stuck. I took the car, as having spent the evening before standing in the kitchen getting food ready for the party I wasn't in the mood for a mile and a half round trip walk, but I might have made it there faster if I'd sucked it up and perambulated rather than driven. That's right, folks, I got lost on the way to the doctor. The doctor that I've seen every two weeks for the last several months. In my defense, when one walks to the surgery, one takes a pedestrianised route, and to drive it is a little less straightforward, but still... egg on my face doesn't quite cover it. I made it to the doctor about five minutes late, and luckily they still saw me in good time, so it all worked out. Unfortunately, I now feel completely out of it and my eyes are hot, so I'm thinking that's the expected flu shot side effects rearing their ugly heads.

Anyway, tomorrow is my last day at work, which is a bittersweet deal for me at the moment. I've enjoyed working with the girls at Coca Cola, it's been fun, and I won't lie and say the money didn't come in handy. That said, I'm completely exhausted. *lol* I could use a week or two to just be in the house, maybe take the occasional nap, I don't know, do laundry? That said, with my luck, Madam will decide that tomorrow night is The Opportune Moment to arrive in all her glory, but a girl can hope. So think "stay put" thoughts for me, at least for the next few days.

14 September, 2011

Big daddy.

I've been thinking about fathers a lot lately. In a specific to my life sense, that is.

In a specific sense, because it sucks that I didn't have a "daddy" the way little girls do in the movies. I mean, I had The Granddaddy, and he more than made up for any crappiness on the part of my actual father or stepfather, but it still wasn't... well, he wasn't my father. My father was too busy perfecting his lying and thievery, oh, and making my stepmother's life as miserable as humanly possible, to be the kind of daddy I needed. I couldn't depend on him for anything, and learned at an early age to take anything he promised with a hefty grain of salt. And the less said about my childhood relationship with my stepfather, the better.

In a specific sense, because Himself didn't have a "daddy" the way little boys do in the movies. He only had his father around for the first eight years of his life, and when questioned he says that they didn't really play or spend time together even when he was there. The rest of the details aren't mine to share, suffice it to say that Himself was just as fatherless as I was growing up.

In a specific sense, because Himself is going to be an awesome dad. Madam is going to have the father I always wanted for myself, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't envy her the tiniest bit. He'll be there for the first steps, first words, first day of school. He'll be there to teach her how to ride a bike, to help her with homework, and to help her be silly. He'll be there to support her at whichever lessons she decides to take, be they dance or gymnastics or karate, simply because he loves her just as she is.

She's a lucky little girl. I intend to help her understand just how lucky she is when she finally deigns to make an appearance. Not sure yet how I'm going to explain why she doesn't have grandfathers, but she'll have plenty of grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts and great aunts to make up for the lack, same as I made up for fatherlessness with a grandfather and grandmother, mother, stepmother, aunts and greataunts. And hey, I turned out all right, right? *grin* Right.

07 September, 2011

I only scare the people that love me.

Namely, The Mimi. And Himself, of course.

On Sunday, I woke up in the middle of the night. I assumed it was because I needed to pee (which is usually the case). I handled that, then got back into bed thinking I'd go back to sleep as usual, only to find that the reason I was awake was actually because my stomach was twice as hard as it usually is and hurt like bejeezus. Madam was flipping out in there as well, more frantic movements than I've ever felt, and constant ones as well. I knew it wasn't Braxton Hicks, it was more a constant pressure from just under my boobs to my bellybutton, nothing lower down, but BOY it hurt. The only thing that seemed to make it a little better was sitting up, so I would sit up for five or ten minutes then try to lie down, which made it hurt all over again. I finally ended up propping up with all my pillows and half sleeping sitting up... not the most restful state.

I managed not to disturb himself too badly, which is a bonus in itself because the man sleeps lighter than The Mimi does (which for those of you that know The Mimi, you know is a big deal) and finally fell asleep again around half six in the morning. On Monday night I flopped into bed, completely exhausted from my lack of sleep the night before heaped on top of a fairly busy day at work, only to find that my stomach still hurt too badly to get comfortable. It was a patchy night's sleep yet again, so on Tuesday morning when I got up I called the doctor to try and get an appointment to find out what's going on in there. True to form, there were no available appointments, but the lady at the surgery's reception told me I should call my midwife rather than just let it go. The midwife suggested I come out to the hospital after work to be checked out just to be safe, so I toodled home, collected the car and my medical notes and headed off to Hillingdon.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a fairly hectic scene. Apparently every single preggo in the borough had decided yesterday was the opportune day to go into labour. No joke. Triage was full, there was a girl (and I say girl for a reason, she couldn't have been twenty years old) in the examining room because there were no available beds upstairs in the ward who got to five centimeters dilation before they finally found a place to put her, and there were no doctors to be had. The poor triage nurses, all two of them, were rushed off their feet doing all they could (namely checking urine, blood pressure and fetal heartbeats) and trying to explain to a number of angry husbands why their wives couldn't be whisked off to a private room somewhere. Having waited for three hours, I finally decided that if there were no doctors to be had, I'd be better off waiting at home, and as my urine/blood pressure/Madam's heartbeat were all totally fine (and in the case of her heartbeat, very strong and regular) I was allowed to leave based on my promise to get a doctor's appointment today.

So this morning I called the surgery again, explained what had happened last night, and was given an "emergency" appointment. I got a different doctor than the one I normally see, which was actually sort of reassuring because I'm never sure if my regular doctor is just telling me what I want to hear (he's got a permanently amused face). This doctor heard my tale of midnight awakenings and had a quick examination of The Bump (which Madam did NOT appreciate, and proceeded to kick him at every poke, to which he exclaimed "she doesn't like to be fiddled with!"... ya think? *lol*) and took my blood pressure again. He declared her heartbeat to be strong and regular, mentioned that my heartbeat and blood pressure were remarkably steady given the weirdness my body's putting me through at the moment, and said that everything feels fine. His verdict? My hypermobility is rearing its ugly head in new and different ways. *sigh* He says that my muscles are overcompensating for the fact that my ligaments are letting go, so they tighten up randomly in an attempt to hold my body together. Like at four in the morning. Which means the pain I'm feeling now, post-episode, is simply a strained muscle. He also mentioned that he wouldn't be a bit surprised if Madam made an early appearance, and made me promise I wouldn't undertake any major exercise or shopping trips. Lucky the nursery's pretty much done, eh?

So, forgive me if I frightened you, Mims. I will do my best not to do it again, and I will make Madam apologise to you as soon as she gains the power of speech. *grin* So back to work with me, to answer phone calls with my feet up. Happy days.

04 September, 2011

Pre-motherhood trips of the guilty variety.

I've been an excellent pregnant person. Well, from the side of being responsible, anyway, Himself might have a different opinion about how excellent I've been... *grin* I eschewed my beloved blue cheese, my constant companion sushi, and given up booze and caffeine. I started eating things like kale and flax seed. I drink two litres of water a day, and take my pregnancy vitamins like a good girl. All of this I have done for the love of the wee one I'm incubating.

That said, I'm just about ready for her to be OUT OF ME.

Her hiccups are annoying. I don't care how many women tell me that they loved the feeling of their unborn lovelies when they got the hiccups, you're not going to shame me into lying about it. It's bloody hard to go to sleep when Madam decides it's time for uterine gymnastics, which normally occur around about the third bathroom trip (3am ish). My stomach is so tight it feels like I'm about to burst like an overripe melon, which my midwife attributes to the fact that I haven't gained any fat during the pregnancy and also to my apparently strong abdomen muscles (wasn't aware I had any). I'm out of breath all the time, my hips hurt, and I'm only comfortable if I'm sitting upright and crosslegged (which my chiropractor has expressly forbidden) or lying on my left side.

(I'm now having to regather my thoughts, as Himself's cat has just left her perch on his lap to walk directly across my abdomen and settle on the arm of the couch near me.)

I know that when she comes out of me, it will all fade. I'm not promising that I'll forget it enough to embark upon this insanity again, but I'm sure I won't take it out on her. Much. *grin* And please don't mistake this mini-rant as "everyone tell me how sorry they are that I'm not enjoying being pregnant", it's more "my memory is terrible so I've captured this particular time in my life on the blog so I can't forget it later".

In other news, the mural in the nursery is finished. Himself has truly risen to the occasion, and I'll admit I've been put to shame by his artistic abilities. He can look at a picture and copy it, and I mean, copy it exactly. So, JB will come home to a nursery which hosts the Cat in the Hat, Calvin and Hobbes, Simon's Cat, Stewie from Family Guy, and (my personal favourite) an enormous Totoro. We're waiting for a replacement piece for Madam's bed, but it's meant to come tomorrow, and I'll post pictures when it's less "bomb site" and more "baby's room". As it stands, I don't think I've every seen a nursery I liked more. It's turned out to be everything I hoped for but on a grander scale. I heart it majorly.

While I've been less productive in the house lately (lack of breath tends to do that to me), I've gotten a little done today. All Madam's clothes and blankets have to be washed with sensitive skin products before they can be used, so I've begun rotating everything through the wash. I'm on the third load for today, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little soppy pairing all the tiny socks. I'm still having a hard time believing she'll be so small when she finally deigns to relinquish her hold on my insides.

I'm still temping at Coca Cola through the 16th of this month, and the baby shower is on the 17th, so the next little while will be a little frenetic with work and preparations. I'm genuinely looking forward to getting everyone together for one last shindig before Madam takes over our lives, and as The Mimi knows (because she got to me young), I do love to throw a party. I've been driving himself batty with talk of decorations and food. Ask me whether he cares one way or another? The only opinion he's offered is that he'd like cheese and pineapple on sticks and little sausages... it's times like these that I'm reminded of how much I adore that man. *grin*

So that's life as we know it for the mo. I'm going to go fold some more tiny clothes. And I won't be getting weepy over them. Not even a little. So there.

25 August, 2011

Playing catch up.

It's been a while. Save your castigation for later, because for now, I have good news.

Sister One's visit went smashingly (and a little crashingly, with a no-harm-incurred tumble down the stairs on her part). We chatted, took a mini road trip, did some baking, it was lovely. That said, she also got to accompany me on a two hour magical mystery tour of the Hillingdon Hospital maternity ward waiting room while I underwent a fairly obnoxious blood test. The last bloods they drew showed that my blood sugar was a bit high, so they wanted me to take a glucose tolerance test. This involved fasting, giving blood, drinking a copious quantity of Lucozade (vile stuff), waiting two hours and then giving blood again to see how my body dealt with the influx of sugar from the drink. One took pictures, as she always does, got visual proof of needles and nasty Lucozade faces that are now posted in her albums on facebook for your enjoyment, and we went on our merry way.

I was meant to get the results from the test in three or four days. The test was last Wednesday, so I had expected to hear something on Monday or Tuesday of this week. Today's Thursday. I finally called the surgery, paranoia rearing its ugly head due to bad experiences with lost blood work toward the beginning of my pregnancy, only to be told that not only were my test results in, they were totally normal and marked "no further action". Hooray! No gestational diabetes to deal with, no more worries about unhealthy Madam or unhealthy me, I'm clean.

In other news, as of today Himself and I have been married for four years. It's an odd one, four years. The first three felt like real milestones, and maybe it's the impending homunculus that's shifting things around in my head, but four years just seems to be a gentle reminder of the fact that we're still hanging in there. I honestly can't picture my life without him, he's become a permanent fixture in my mental future, it's just us. Given that had there been a poll in my past, I would have been voted "least likely to marry or procreate", I think we're doing pretty well. *grin*

Pregnancy wise, I'm huge, she kicks a lot, I pee a lot, the usual. Still no real cravings, anything I think I'm craving can usually be ignored in favour of something I already have in the kitchen. That said, I ate absolute rubbish the entire time One was here, so my ankles have morphed into joints more suited to an elephant, but I'm sure they'll go back to normal soon. I'm temping in the city centre for an indiscriminate amount of time (fairly hilarious job offer, the agency started the conversation with "when are you actually due?") so I'm occupied and gainfully employed all in one.

Himself and I are going to have to crack on with the nursery, he started putting things together and got the dresser all sorted out, but the bed has a mis-drilled end piece which we now have to get replaced. In the interest of total honesty, I should admit that One and I dragged home the dresser from Ikea without checking whether it would impede the sliding doors to the wardrobe (which it did) so Himself had to take the doors down. *grin* I've decided it actually looks better without them, so no harm done... right?

We're not celebrating the anniversary tonight, going to wait until the weeekend so we can cook and chill at a leisurely pace. Himself has decided he'd like jerk chicken and rice and peas for his meal, so I'll be attempting that for the first time ever (with plantain replacing the chicken for yours truly, regarding which I'm a little too excited if I'm honest). I might even go totally off the charts and make fried okra! *drool* Can you tell it's coming on for lunchtime? Yeah, I'm pregnant, deal with it.

All right, back to work. You've been caught up, I'll do my best to update more frequently, blah blah blah. Have a good day!

06 August, 2011

Himself.

I don't brag that often about Himself. It only gives him a big head. *grin* KIDDING... mostly. But today, let the bragging commence.

Today began as usual, I made toast and tea and brought it upstairs for a light breakfast in bed while we read and messed with various felines as they appeared. I had a chiropractor appointment at eleven, so we had showers and Himself walked me up to see what I'm subjected to once a week (will get more into that in a later post). We stopped for a couple of sandwiches (and he bought a sausage roll which he proceeded to inhale before we made it home) and came back to the house for lunch. We were just sitting around, me reading Girl of the Limberlost and him watching football highlights on tv, when out he came with "I want to take you somewhere."

Hmmm... okay.

"Don't worry, we're not walking anywhere."

So we're taking the car. Curiouser and curiouser.

So off we toodled in the Focus to this unknown destination. We headed down the Oxford Road, and not ten minutes later he turned into the car park for the local nursery. Where he'd taken me to buy an apple tree for our anniversary. *sniffle* I managed not to cry (well done me) and we had a little wander around in the fruit tree section looking at varieties. When we buy apples, it's normally braeburn or cox, so when we happened upon the solitary specimen of sunset variety we snapped it up (apparently it's similar in taste to cox but less susceptible to disease). Watching himself stuff it in the boot of the car was definitely an experience, but nothing compared to watching him hack a hole out of the rock hard soil with a pitchfork and a hand trowel... we MIGHT need to invest in a shovel. Or a pickaxe.

Anyway, it's planted at the foot of the garden, one tiny apple clinging to a lower branch. I, of course, took pictures (blame The Mimi, she got to me early in life) and will post some here for your perusal/amusement.










Looks good, hey? It's the first permanent thing we've done to this house, and planting a tree somehow makes it really feel like home. Can't wait for that first crop of apples! JB will have homemade apple sauce and pies aplenty, lucky little girl. Anyway, I'm sure you'll all join me in raising an imaginary glass to Himself's grand romantic gesture. *clink*

27 July, 2011

A tale of two mixers.

Whose kitchen currently holds two Kitchenaid mixers? That would be mine. *grin* Let me explain.

Almost a month ago, I received a mysterious package addressed to Himself. As he hadn't told me he'd ordered anything, I rang him and queried its contents. He was equally clueless and told me to open it. That's when I noticed that the name on the return address label belonged to the male half of my adopted grandparents, the couple who spent years travelling with The Mimi and Granddaddy and still take her to breakfast (and us when we're in town) every Saturday morning. I sliced the packing tape with a growing sense of excitement, removed a layer of brown packing paper, and froze in absolute shock. There was a box inside the box. The inner packaging was emblazoned with a very familiar logo... namely, Kitchenaid. Not only that, it wasn't a case of an old box being used for new contents. There was a genuine Kitchenaid mixer lovingly cradled in its styrofoam nest. Shiny and black, it had the balloon whisk, the mixing paddle, and the piece de resistance, A BREAD HOOK. I die.

I can tell you it didn't take me long to get it divested of its packaging. I promptly hauled it into the kitchen, read the manual, dug out the power converter, and washed the bowl and the mixing paddles. We had some friends coming around at the weekend, so I decided that would be the appropriate maiden voyage for such a serious piece of kitchen equipment. Sunday morning rolled around, so I went downstairs and loaded its gloriousness with the makings for oatmeal raisin cookies. I got it all plugged in via the converters and breathlessly flipped the switch. Nada. Yeah, that's right, nothing happened. I called for Himself (and may have cried just a little bit, but we'll blame that on the hormones), who did a bit of research and promptly hied himself up to the electronics store to pick up a heavy duty converter. Unfortunately they didn't have the appropriate one in stock, so he came back home empty handed. I ordered one online and transferred the mixings to a regular bowl and proceeded with cookie making the old fashioned way. You know, with a hand mixer. *grin*

The new converter came fairly quickly. It's the size of a brick and weighs a little more by my guess, but who cares if it makes the mixer work, right? Unfortunately, it didn't make the mixer work. *sigh* All plugged in and ready to go (this time to make sweet potato bread), it blew all three fuses (including the one in the plug) and popped the breaker for the kitchen lights. *lol* Himself and I did yet more research, and it turns out that appliances of that caliber simply don't work in other countries, no matter what the transformer manufacturers say.

At this point, I was in bits. My fairy godparents had sent me such an insanely awesome (not to mention extravagant) gift, and due to my naivete we'd already thrown out the styrofoam packaging it came with so I couldn't even simply ship it back to them. I finally had to accept defeat and told The Mimi what had happened. She told me she'd find out what to do with it, and I tried to put it out of my mind.

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from The Mimi. She told me that I should plan to stick around the house for today because I should be receiving a package. Lo and behold, this morning a delivery van pulled up outside our house, and what came out of its hold you ask? A UK wired Kitchenaid mixer. Shiny and black, it has the balloon whisk, the mixing paddle, and the piece de resistance, A BREAD HOOK. I die. Again. And the best part? It works. *grin* I've been instructed to hang on to the US model, so for right now our kitchen plays host to two of the most beautiful kitchen appliances ever created. Smug, thy name is Gabs. Bring on the bread recipes.

14 July, 2011

JB on the inside.

That's right, folks, we have seen the face of the future, and it is cute.


At least, I think it is. Isn't it?

Himself booked the 3D scan a couple of weeks ago, which impressed me no end as we hadn't really talked about it in a while, so yesterday afternoon saw us trundling along to Harley Street to meet JB. That sounds so effortless... let me just say, she's definitely related to her father. Remember the trifold attempts to get all the medical stuff ticked off the list with the scan we had a month ago? Yesterday was a repeat performance. *lol* She simply refuses to pose for pictures. Her hands were in her face for most of the session, which led to the sonogram tech moving me from back to side to back to side to... well, you get my drift. And I had to get up once and drink some Coke, in the hopes that the carbonation/caffeine combo would shift her. Ask me how effective that was. *grin* I finally resorted to child abuse and had a good poke around, and we got a few good pictures and about a minute of good video footage. I swear she was laughing at me.

It's a very surreal feeling, seeing the face of that which I have incubated for the last six months. It's been likened to opening a Christmas present early, but that's mostly by people who didn't want to know the sex of their babies before they were born. Himself and I were both immediately aware that we wanted to know as much about this tiny human as we could find out before she wreaks havoc on our previously calm and serene lives... *snort* Now see, I almost got that out with a straight face. Those of you who know us at all are more than aware that we've almost killed each other more than once. All the more reason to enter this new experience armed with as much knowledge as we can get our hands on, right?

Unfortunately, one particular piece of that knowledge fills me with, I'll admit it, stark raving terror. She's huge. I mean, enormous. We're talking 90th percentile for size. She weighs 2lb15oz, and we've still got three months to go. On a more serious note, the tech told me I should have my blood sugar checked for gestational diabetes, and luckily I've already got a midwife appointment set for next Wednesday where she'll draw blood and all that good stuff. I find it a little hard to wrap my head around the possibility, given how healthily I've been eating during the preggo times, but if my blood sugar is high I can only blame the constant cravings for fruit Madam has been sending me.

Himself was impressive on several fronts yesterday, actually. Not only did he book that appointment, he voluntarily took me to Ikea. That's not so impressive unless you understand the depths of his hatred for Swedish megastores. I needed fabric to make bumper pads and curtains for JB's room, and also some semblance of craft storage so I can get my piles of fabric under control, and Ikea was simply the place to be for such findings. That said, I was remarkably restrained, and only looked at two things we didn't need. That's a serious accomplishment for me, and I demand that brownie points be awarded forthwith. We were in and out in an hour and a half and back home in time for Himself to declare that "The Glee Project" is boring and not worth watching. The only issue is that now that the fabric is in-house, I have no further excuses not to get her room ready... *grin* I'm going to be a busy girl.

Now if only I could get Himself's cat to stop rampaging across my inert form at twenty to five in the morning, I'd have the energy to get it all done...

01 July, 2011

Kale crazy.

I've heard so much about the health and vitamin properties of kale in the last few months, I finally caved in and bought some. Having brought it home, I immediately started trawling the internet for ideas on how to use it. The two below, funnily enough, I made up, but they were both delicious. The first was a weeknight dinner, the second was to pack and take to the Paul Simon concert tonight along with a huge pot of fruit salad (because I'm a total pig). *grin*

Gnocchi with kale and red bell pepper

1. Mince two cloves of garlic and fry in a splash of hot olive oil (I used a wok, as the later stages are easier in a high bottomed pan)
2. Tear the stems from two or three healthy handsful of kale and tear the leaves into roughly bitesized pieces, add to the garlic in oil and stir thoroughly, cook for about three minutes to allow the leaves to wilt
3. Cut a red bell pepper into small chunks and toss in with the kale
4. Add about a cup of vegetable stock, simmer everything together until it's almost reduced completely
5. Cook the gnocchi in a separate pan with boiling water (it's done when they float), then drain and add to kale and pepper mixture, toss to coat in the veggie stock sauce
6. Stuff your face


Kale, sweetcorn and new potato salad

1. Wash then cut a heaping double handful of new potatoes into quarters or more, depending on the size of the spuds, toss into boiling water until tender, drain and set aside
2. Boil two ears of corn until tender, drain, cover with cold water and set aside
3. Thinly slice a red onion and sautee in olive oil
4. Tear the stems from two handsful of kale and tear the leaves into pieces, add to the oil and stir, cook for about three minutes to allow the leaves to wilt
5. Slice the kernels from the ears of now cooled corn, add with the new potatoes to the kale and stir thoroughly, heat through stirring occasionally
6. When removed from the heat, add several grinds of pepper, a couple of tablespoons of mayo/vegannaise and a few squirts of mustard (basically season/sauce to taste)
7. Eat warm if you fancy it, or stick it in the fridge for later use


I'm going to be dedicating the next blog to the amazing surprise package that arrived at our door yesterday afternoon, so be ready for a slew of baking posts!

27 June, 2011

Sometimes I just get mad.

I am not a happy bunny today.

I had a doctor's appointment last week to have some moles checked (pregnancy makes all sorts of stuff go wonky, moles being one of them). The doctor mentioned that it was time to have my 25 week checkup and had me book an appointment for today. I asked him what the appointment would cover, and he replied that it was just a general checkup.

I got there this morning, he checked my blood pressure and asked if the baby was very active, all normal stuff, but then he asked me to hop up on the examining table. As this was a first, I asked what for. He said "to hear the heartbeat of the baby".

!!!

Had he told me last week that this would be the first appointment at which we would hear the baby's heartbeat, Himself would have taken the morning off work. That way, he could have been there for this milestone. Pardon me if I'm sounding a little overdramatic about it, but Himself has been there for all the firsts. He was there for the first scan, he felt her move before anyone else, he was there when we found out the sex... he should have been there when we heard her heartbeat.

I managed not to cry, but it was a close run thing. It's a shame all around, Himself not being there sort of ruined it for me. I mean, it was still incredible to hear her little heart going a mile a minute, but all I could think of was the Himselflessness of the moment.

I have another appointment in three weeks, and the doctor said that from now until she's on the outside we'll hear the heartbeat at every appointment, so Himself is going to try to get that day off. It still won't make up for it, but he's still excited to hear her. I just wish he could have today.

16 June, 2011

Clean curtains and vegetable soup.

I've been pretty industrious since my return to the UK. I mean, yeah, I've spent an inordinate amount of time watching Gilmore Girls and napping with the cats (who are loving it, by the way), but I've also made two batches of soup, done laundry, run errands, and taken down the curtains to wash out the fifteen tons of cat hair that accumulated in the two months I was gone. Because yes, I washed them right before I went to Texas.

People are always inordinately impressed that I make soup from scratch, which I never fail to find a little crazy. It's just so easy! Plus, this way I control the amount of sodium I'm putting into my body. I never used to give a toss about sodium, it's funny what being pregnant does to your interest in food... *lol* So, I thought I'd post exactly what I did to this batch of soup in the hopes that one of you out there will give it a go and be converted.

For this batch, I went to the veg stall and bought just about everything they had, and below is what actually made it in:

Three carrots, chopped
Two red onions, diced
Half a small white cabbage, chopped
One can of kidney beans in water, rinsed
One small can of sweetcorn, rinsed
One large courgette/zucchini, chopped
One large handful of new potatoes (skin left on), chopped
Three stalks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
One punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
One green bell pepper, diced
Boiling water to cover
Two tablespoons of vegetable stock powder/bouillon

Heat a glug of olive oil in the bottom of a large lidded saucepan, and toss everything in. Sautee for about fifteen or twenty minutes, until it smells gorgeous, then pour over the boiling water and add the stock powder/bouillon and cover with the lid. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for about half an hour. Eat like a pig.

Super easy, very healthy, and if you fancied it you could add chicken or pasta or rice. Go make soup!

14 June, 2011

First class and girl babies.

Brace yourselves, folks, this could be a long one.

After four days at the airport, I finally made it on a flight. I was on the phone with Sister 3 when I glanced up and saw my name on the cleared list. I raced over to the desk to ask if I'd imagined it, but before I could get a word out the desk attendant ceremoniously handed me a ticket with my name on it. I might have kissed her on the cheek and then burst into tears from the relief. And, it wasn't just any old ticket... that's right, I got a seat in FIRST CLASS. It deserves the capitals. I was greeted at my seat with a flute of orange juice and a menu from which to choose my dinner selections...! I was given a real pillow, a real quilt, and noise cancelling headphones. Dinner was five courses. I managed to sleep for four full hours, and when i woke up I was greeted with a warm croissant and a plate of fresh fruit. I was given a fast pass through passport control. My hands, feet and ankles were not swollen. Basically, it was awesome.

The bonus was the fact that by making the flight on Saturday, I didn't miss the scan we booked before my exodus to Texas (the only reason I was so stressed about getting back to the UK by Monday morning). Himself managed to keep me awake for the whole day after I got off the plane, a personal first (I always say I'm going to stay up, and then I fall asleep, and when Himself tries to wake me up I get a little violent) so I actually managed a full night's sleep on Sunday night.

We made our way to the hospital on Monday morning, rested and ready to find out the story about Baby Brown. Then, of course, we made it to the maternity ward car park. Where it was one in, one out. With seven cars in front of us. With fifteen minutes to our appointment. So, Himself went to park the car at the university while I went in to let them know I was there. Having fully expected, especially from the state of the car park, to have a significant wait ahead of me, consider my shock when I was informed I'd be seen exactly at my appointment time and if Himself didn't make it back from parking in time that he'd be shown back to the scan room when he eventually made it in. I immediately called to find out how far away the car had ended up, which led to Himself sprinting back out of fear that he'd miss the scan. This, from the man who doesn't even run for a bus. *lol* He arrived, breathless and sweaty, just as the lady was calling my name.

We headed back to the exam room, I got gooed up with the gel they use, and the lady started checking the normal health stuff. She got clear shots of the feet, ankles, legs, arms, brain, and one kidney. The child had its legs crossed, and refused to give up the goods on the rest of the health stuff too, so the scan tech told me to go take a walk and drink a coke and come back. Half a coke and a dance around the waiting room later, I was re-gelled and flat on my back for the second round. The tech got the other kidney, the heart, the bladder, the stomach and the lips (they check for cleft palate here)... and still no junk, as this time the baby had its feet up in the crotch like it was doing yoga. The tech said we could give it one more shot and sent me out for the rest of that coke and another walk. Himself had to run (again, literally) back to the car and put more money on the meter, and made it back to the waiting room just in time for us to get called back again. Thrice gelled and on my back, we waited breathlessly (Himself a little more breathless than yours truly due to his extensive cardio workout) to see if the little monster would finally give up the goods...

Three little lines. Thus came crashing down the hopes of having a boy. *lol* There was a clear, distinct lack of penis on that screen, and no matter how we poked and prodded Baby Brown, she truculently refused to grow one. So, a daughter we shall have. We've been discussing names, and without even trading blows or raising voices, but no decisions made yet so you'll all have to hold your horses.

Speaking of Herself (I'm seeing this becoming a thing), I woke up at 1:14am this morning needing the ladies', and got back in bed assuming I'd drop right back off like I did the night before. Madam had other ideas. Methinks she figures she's Texan, because her days and nights are COMPLETELY transposed. She took the time after 1:14 to practice barrel rolls and sparring with the walls of my insides. I managed to stick it out until 3:48am, at which point I gave up entirely and went downstairs to watch TV. Well, I partly watched TV and partly watched my stomach lurch from side to side. Because she never calmed down. Himself woke up and had a shower around half six, so I went back upstairs to lounge in the bed and watch him get ready. Kit joined me, of course, which made it all the more cozy when I dropped off shortly after Himself left for work. I managed to sleep through the first of his phone calls around ten to ten, but the one at quarter to eleven pierced my determined doze and I decided I should maybe wake up. The rest of the day, you ask? I've done NOTHING. I've watched Gilmore Girls, I've faffed around online, I've messed with the cats. It's been heaven.

I will eventually have to leave the house, I'm aware of this fact. Just not today. Hope you're all having as good a day as I've had, minus the abdominal gymnastics.

10 June, 2011

Home again, home again.

Well, not exactly. That's right, folks, I'm still in Texas.

I've flown non-rev loads of times in the past. It's always been a little frustrating not to get on the plane with everybody else, to have that uncertainty about whether you'll be proceeding with your plans as scheduled, but it's always worked out in the end. I've only been bumped once, and that was just from first class to coach during the trip Himself and I had to take to LA for my spousal visa. I've never actually not made it onto a flight. This is a wholly new experience for me.

I started trying to leave Wednesday (was that only yesterday?!)... There were only two flights that day, so I was there in plenty of time before the first one and checked my bags and waited patiently like a good little girl. I wasn't even perturbed when I didn't get on and got rolled over to the second flight. It wasn't even that big of a deal when I didn't make it onto the second flight and had to get a ride back to The Mimi's house for an unscheduled extension of my stay in Texas. That made it all the more exciting when her friend (on whose passes I'm attempting to fly) called and said she wanted to list me as her "companion" so that my flying privileges would be upgraded and I'd have a better chance of getting home. How great is that? I'll tell you how great, it's off the charts nice of her. So I came home and listed myself as a higher grade of traveller and went to bed with high hopes of getting on a flight today.

So this morning; I took donuts over to the siblings who still live in Arlington, I had lunch with Mi Madre at Fuzzy's tacos (which does a mean grilled veggie sandwich, btw) and I took a leisurely shower in preparation for another day at the airport. I turned up expecting to slide my passport through the little automated machine and get my security pass like I'd done the day before... to no avail. The little machine refused to acknowledge that I'd been listed for a flight and issued me with a scrap of paper advising me to seek human assistance. So I went to the line for the international check-in. Where the staff repeatedly only served people in the first class queue or people who had successfully utilised the check-in machines that had so rudely rebuffed me. For an hour. By the time I made it to the front desk, I was in tears brought on by the concern that something had gone wrong in the system and the frustration at having been so thoroughly ignored while others got the help they needed. The lady was very nice about it, but I still felt like a tit.

Anyway, I finally made it through security and got to the gate, where I missed getting on the first flight simply because the gentleman who was meant to turn up and leave one seat on the plane free for yours truly didn't make it in time, so a couple got our seats instead. The close shave, rather than disappointing me too thoroughly, only gave me hope that I'd make it on a later flight. That was, until they started offering people $900 to change their travel plans and fly tomorrow. So, needless to say, I did not make it on either remaining flight. That was complemented nicely by the (rude word) "gentleman" working the desk who refused to tell me if I'd been rolled over to the flight tomorrow (because I wasn't walking away without assurance that it had been taken care of) until I said something to the effect of "look, you have to understand that I'm six months pregnant, I've been waiting in the airport for two days, I have to call someone to collect me, and all I need to know is whether I've been rolled over" with what I'm sure was a slightly hysterical/homicidal gleam in my eyes. He then grudgingly hit the few keys to send my info in the system to the right place, to which I said "thanks, that's all I needed to know" with what I KNOW was a sarcastic tone. I don't care that I'm supposed to be nice to these people because I'm flying non-rev, he deserved a smack in the head for speaking to me the way he did, he's lucky only my sarcasm reared its ugly head.

So, I'm home, tucked up in bed having just demolished a bowl of leftover vegan macaroni salad from the baby shower, blogging about flight frustrations. JB is kicking his little head off in there, same as he was this morning. He's always a little frantic in the mornings, which I attribute to my full bladder crowding him, and normally when I get up to relieve myself he calms down. This morning, not so much. He kicked the entire time I was in the ladies', and seemed to fully enjoy himself. You try peeing when there's an homunculus boxing with your bladder... *sigh* I just want to make it home for the scan on Monday, I'll be fine even if I have to sit in the airport for two more days as long as I'm home by Monday morning. Send happy thoughts into the universe on my behalf, won't you?

26 May, 2011

Funerals suck.

Immature choice of words, accurate sentiment.

Norma died. I know those of you Brit-side have no idea who I'm on about, but Norma was... well, she was awesome. She was officially a cousin several times removed, but I grew up thinking of her as sort of an honorary grandmother/aunt/person who spoiled me rotten. She kept me while I was a baby, and taught me to swear (when I was two, I said "well hell, I thought we were going to the damn store" to my mother... NOT AMUSED) and to play king-in-the-corner and solitaire while my great grandmother thought we were sleeping. She sang like an angel and whistled like a bird, baked the most sinful cakes (chocolate cake with white between layers and fudge icing, anyone?) and laughed like a loon. She's also the reason I can't eat fudge... *lol* When I was wee, she handed me a plate and let me go to town, which led to several days of sugar induced yuk. Haven't been able to touch the stuff since, which to my way of thinking was a pretty big favour she did me. And she didn't let me die from choking on a french fry at Wendy's when I was a baby, even though she'd given me the fries in the first place and the guy at the next table had to give me the Heimlich. Twice. Because I liked the fries, why would she take them from me?

Anyway, the funeral was today. I hate funerals. I'm not pretty when I cry. And Norma's plot is right next to Granddaddy's, and I've managed thus far not to visit his grave. I had to pretend it wasn't there. However, I managed. Plus, there was a load of family there that I probably haven't seen (and thus haven't seen me, old and pregnant or otherwise) in about fifteen years. So it was really more of a mini family reunion, if a slightly subdued one. And I got two fab presents... My great uncle does a lot of carving, and brought me a hand carved wooden cross with the most gorgeous natural grain to it. The Mimi has one, and I sit and stim on it while we watch TV, it feels so good, so it's great to get one of my own to take home with me. Then my great aunt and I were chatting, and in the course of the conversation she asked me if I ever wear scarves. I said of course I do, to which she took off the most fantastic (and obviously vintage, I'd scoped it while we were chatting) number from around her neck and said it was her mother's (my great grandmother's) and that she'd brought it to give to me, but that she'd wanted to find out if I'd wear it before she handed it over. *grin* Result! It's red with a cream wicker pattern and greyish blue roses, doesn't get much better than that. I put it straight on and just managed not to do the happy dance in the graveyard. See how mature I'm getting?

Himself gets here on Friday. In the past, I will not tell a lie, my visits to Texas sans-hubby have been a bit of an escape from an occasionally turbulent relationship. Plus, I don't think a little time apart can hurt any relationship, it makes you appreciate each other more (or realise you had more fun without them and break it off, but that obviously didn't happen here... *lol*). Anyway, I realised today that this trip is probably the first that I've wished he was here just about every day. Just for silly things, like seeing my mother's cat asleep in the fruit basket or to watch Monster Brother completely misbehave at Sister Four's orchestra concert. I think we might be hitting our stride, people, you might want to watch out. God knows what would happen if we truly aligned our wills against an obstacle... shrapnel comes to mind. I just hope he's not COMPLETELY put off by the huge lump of baby I'm currently hauling at waist level. It's one thing to see it on skype... it's another to try to hug me.

Speaking of huge lump of baby, I should get some sleep. JB has taken it upon himself to become my tiny human alarm clock and has begun waking me at unholy hours of the morning by turning flips in my abdominal bastille. Or maybe he's doing yoga? Bloody hippie baby... must be part of the veganism thing. So, to bed with me. G'night.

21 May, 2011

Spaghetti and bookishness.

So, it's eleven at night. I should be asleep. This, of course, means I'm blogging instead.

Sleep and I aren't the fast friends we used to be. We're in a bit of a dry spell. Where I used to rush headlong into the waiting arms of Hypnos, now he and I hesitantly circle each other like junior high kids at a school dance.

I am referring, of course, to the necessary evil of sleeping on my side. It hurts. My hips hate me. If I were physically able to ignore the severe discomfort of sleeping on my stomach as I used to so enjoy, I'd be constantly aware that I was squishing the baby. On occasion, I wake up with a start in the night lying flat on my back. This leads to the panic of "I've cut off my superior vena cava and JB will be born retarded!!!"... Hey, you can laugh, but my darker imagination is taking over these days. I'm certain that every little twinge down below means that something's terribly wrong, and today while standing on a chair changing a lightbulb, I couldn't help but ask The Mimi, "What would you do if I fainted and fell?" She looked up at me with a start and said she'd call an ambulance, then asked me what I'd do if she fainted. *lol* We make good housemates.

Speaking of today's chair climbing activities, that was a momentary break in the hours of cooking and baking I embarked upon this afternoon. One of The Mimi's friends had a sad thing happen this week, so she decided to send over a home cooked meal (cue Gabs to Apron Patrol). I called my mother to ask her for her recipe for chicken spaghetti, and after possibly the third wistful sigh and comment about how much she'd like to eat said spaghetti, I offered to do enough for her house too. The offer was jumped upon with slightly appalling speed... *grin* So, I made enough for two families plus leftovers, to be accompanied by a french loaf and salad.

Before I could start on the pasta, I had to make inroads into the famous chocolate cake recipe our family only trots out for seriously special occasions (because it's a pain in the ass to make). Tomorrow being the Mater's birthday, I figured that was special enough and rolled up my sleeves. You know, it's remarkable how much easier baking is with a Kitchenaid mixer. That's right, folks, The Mimi has a Kitchenaid. What's more, it's vintage. And avocado green. *sigh* I die. Anyway, it's fab, and made the pain in the derriere cake more of a flirtatious pinch. This attempt turned out much better than my last go, attempted for a friend's birthday, probably because all our legacy recipes are in American measurements and brands, and can be difficult to reproduce at home. Let's hope she appreciates my devotion and love (because, you see, I love her more than the rest of her kids, that's why I'm her favourite). *grin*

After I'd cleaned up most of the detritus from three hours in the kitchen, I had a very nice bath, some dinner, and then realised that I hadn't sorted out JB's baby book yet. Now, while I realise this might sound odd as he's got some time yet to bake (we don't want a runny baby, that skewer has to come out clean) I needed it sorted for tomorrow's festivities. Not only are we having the final wedding shower for my cousin, the family decided to add a baby shower for yours truly, PLUS it's the Madre's birthday. Big day. I need the book ready to take signatures of everybody in attendance, because JB might be offended in later life if I don't record every single thing leading up to his arrival... right? Okay, maybe it's more for me and my atrocious memory, but I'm blaming it on JB. Sorry, little dude. So, I cut, arranged and glued to my heart's content, and I think I've got a pretty decent start on my first foray into scrapbooking. Let's hope Himself agrees, as we've discussed it over the phone but he hasn't actually seen the papers I chose to back the memories...

Okay, I see Hypnos edging toward my group of friends, trying to pretend he's only looking at the posters on the wall. Let's see if they play any BoyzIIMen.

11 May, 2011

Clean sheets and dirty thoughts.

Here I sit, tucked up in bed (which by the way, has clean sheets due to my fit of productivity on my way out the door for work this morning) resting against a mound of pillows, watching my heart beat through my belly. Pregnancy is super weird, it's doing odd things to my body (my right ankle is swollen just at the front, not my toes, not both feet, just the front of my right ankle) and I'm having seriously dirty thoughts about Himself randomly throughout the day. Bloody hormones. He seems to be an even mixture of embarrassed and gratified by the trend my thoughts are taking, which is pretty cute.

Things have been crazier than I intended them to be over the last few weeks. The job with OM has been super flexible, but damned if it doesn't make it hard to walk out the office door when leaving means cutting down on the paycheque for that week! *lol* That said, my earnings this week meant that I didn't have to put my new glasses on my credit card as I'd previously thought I'd have to do, so methinks the decision to work was a good one.

New glasses. *sigh* I do love finding funky frames. Unfortunately, yours truly is so picky, finding ones I'm willing to commit to is harder than it sounds... just ask Himself about the several months we spent searching for the current pair. *grin* Then, when we did find them, they were in a very eclectic (read: pricey) boutique in Portobello, and were handmade in Japan... I won't share the price tag, it embarrasses me even now. I have never loved frames more in my life.

So, I finally managed to find the right frames (Ray-Bans, same frames as my sunglasses but black and silver instead of shiny red) and progressed on to having my eyes tested. I was a little worried about that, the ocular migraine symptoms still haven't gone completely, I continue to get the electric lines in my sight once or twice a week, even though the headaches seem to be leaving me be for the time being. I was pleasantly surprised, though, my vision has actually improved a little, in the form of my right and left eye having the same prescription as each other for the first time in years. The bonus was that in addition to the seriously awesome Groupon that Other Mother bought for me (spend $50 to get $225 to spend at this one particular eyewear shop), my natural chattiness paid off in the form of a discount on not only the eye exam but also the frames themselves because I'd made friends with the girl who worked there. *grin* She actually called their Ray-Ban rep to see if they could get me a deal, and it just so happened they could, which I accepted gratefully and went on my merry way. Score one for Gabs!

I ate an unholy amount of salad for lunch today. I know that seems completely out of left field, but it all ties in with watching my heart beat through my belly (because it all comes back to the belly these days). I came home and made vegan pizza for dinner, but my lunchtime salad was the main event for today. Sweet Tomatoes does take away containers, so I popped over during a pretty busy workday to grab a vegan-friendly bite. I loaded so many veggies on top of my salad that when it came time to eat it I had a hard time finding the lettuce. It was so pretty, a veritable rainbow of edible loveliness. Turns out that my eyes were bigger than my (prodigious) stomach, though, I couldn't eat the bread or the mixed bean salad I'd picked out to accompany my meal. I'll have to be more conservative next time.

On an even more random note, as I exited the truck this morning to head into the office, I looked up and saw a spookily familiar face. Lo and behold, the maintenance guy in the Highlands turned out to be an ex from high school... a particular memory/mistake (interchangeable words in this circumstance) that I never thought I'd cross paths with again. I'd literally just hung up the phone from talking to Himself (catching up on the latest antics of the moglets, they headbutted through the cat flap and he had to block it up by screwing wooden barricades on both sides of the door, as apparently the web of electrical tape just wasn't enough to deter them from their quest to escape) and was caught completely off guard. I was forcibly reminded of why we parted ways not moments after we greeted one another, as even with my burgeoning bump I caught him trying to look down my top. His attempt to reminisce about our relationship and pointed comments about how he was shocked I'd managed to stay with a guy long enough to get married and procreate made it very easy to say goodbye and get to work. Of course, he continued to walk past the office door, singing loudly so I'd know he was there, three or four times before I finally shut the door and was left to work in peace. Some chapters of my life are better left un-revisited. *shudder*

So, I'm off to Austin this weekend to see Sisters 1 & 3. I'm going to spend a night each with them, then we're all together going to float the river on Saturday. I'll be covered in SPF100, as my natural tendency to tan has only been multiplied by the hormones making my skin even more susceptible to the great golden orb. Should be fun, Sister 3 has taken a job as a nanny down there, so I'll get to hang out with her kiddo, and Sister 1 has three cats from whom I can get my feline fix. So, I'll work in the office, and hopefully in The Mimi's garage, until Thursday night, then toddle down for a family and feline filled weekend. And hopefully eat some more salad. Yum.

04 May, 2011

Vegan gluttony.

Here I sit, in Granddaddy's chair with my feet up, laptop precariously balanced on what's left of my lap.

I've eaten Chipotle at least six times since I got to Texas. For those of you not in the know, Chipotle does burritos. Heavenly, droolworthy burritos. I get mine with cilantro rice, black beans, sauteed onions and bell peppers, pico de gallo, corn salsa, lettuce and guacamole. When it's filled and rolled up, it's a little larger than the size of a can of Coke. Massive. Deee-licious. JB is a big fan. I will point out however, that Chipotle habit aside, I've actually lost weight in the last month. Going vegan cut out most of my caloric intake, and my body is thanking me. Himself was concerned about the health ramifications, but I had actually checked with my doctor before I left the UK and he assured me that I had plenty of weight to spare. *grin*

I've lucked into a great job for while I'm home, OtherMother called me about a week after I got into town and asked if I wanted an afternoon's work doing some data entry for her at the office. I, of course, jumped at the chance. Paid work, sitting comfortably at a desk, with OtherMother's company while I enter invoices. Bliss. Then OM's boss, being the force of nature that he is, decided that I should stay on until I go back to London. He even asked if I'd consider staying longer than June... *grin* Unfortunately, I sort of have a pressing matter to attend to in the UK or I might actually consider it. It's great work, well paid, about ten minutes' drive from The Mimi's house, and it's giving me the chance to chat intermittently with OM. Works for me.

In other news, the family has decided to take the wedding shower they're throwing for my cousin and make it a joint shower for her nuptials and for my impending motherhood. Unfortunately, Himself won't be in town for the festivities, which makes me a little uncomfortable (seeing as how I didn't get knocked up all by myself, I sort of think he should be involved in anything baby related) but it's a lovely thought on their part and Himself swears he doesn't mind, so I'm going along with it. It will be nice to see the family all together, there are people that will be there I haven't seen in years.

Himself has been a busy bee in my absence. He bought the aforementioned car, he's been cleaning out the house and putting boxes in the loft, and then came the piece de resistance. We skyped yesterday, and while we were on the webcam he walked the laptop up into the ex-sewing-room/future-baby's-room. The last time I saw it, it was painted beige with a wallpaper border of fairly hideous teddy bears left over from the previous occupants' decorative taste. Yesterday, my eyes beheld a completely blank slate, stripped of wallpaper, sanded, and painted with two coats of stark white. Himself's comment, "now it's ready for you to decorate when you get back." Cut to me in tears. *lol* It's the biggest gesture he's ever made, and I just fell apart. (I'll admit to still getting a little weepy when I think about it.) He just grinned, obviously having anticipated the waterworks.

Other than eating and working, I'm mostly just hanging out with family and friends. I've managed to spend a little time with pretty much everybody important in the last couple of weeks. I've spent a night with my aunt, hung out talking (probably too late into the night) with both my mother and The Mimi, spent a couple of afternoons with the smartest nineteen month old on the planet, taken Monster Brother around town, and spent the occasional stolen moment wandering around Target with Sister Four (who still can't keep her hands off the bump, it's pretty cute). I'm not getting enough sleep, though, chatting with The Mimi is too much of a draw to just go to bed... however, that's exactly what I'm going to do right now. I'm tarred, so to bed with me. Let's hope for no more bizarro pregnancy dreams where Himself dies in increasingly horrible ways. *sigh* Sweet dreams, all.

22 April, 2011

Don't mess with Texas.

Coming out of arrivals was amusing. I was SICK, turbulence doesn't exactly agree with Jelly Bean. Airplane food either, for that matter, so we were not happy campers. However, my mother was there waiting when I drearily rolled my suitcases through the final set of doors, and she ran down the aisle to hug me and (of course) rub my belly. Monster Brother was there with her, but his attention span for waiting in airports is not huge, so he was lounging on a couch grumpily and refused to greet me until I informed him of the presence of airplane cookies in my bag with his name on them. I got a hug at that point.

Walking out the doors into Texas weather was a bit of a shock, the turbulence on landing had been caused by a weather system moving into the DFW area, and the humidity had me not only feeling like I was swimming through the air, but also had me sporting a giant afro, which let me tell you was VERY attractive. My first real surprise came at the car, though. Monster Bro has a new trick... he went to the passenger side of the car, opened it, waited for me to get in, then gently shut the door after me. Such a gentleman. *snort*

In the few days I've been here, I've cooked dinner and had dinner cooked for me, I've taken lunch to my mom at her school and visited with her teacher cronies, I've eaten an inordinate amount of salad (one of JB's faves), I've tried vegan cheese and vegan sour cream, I've been to the Highlands and the mall and Whole Foods Market, I've been to the grocery store every day, I've bullied the insurance company of the kid who hit my grandmother's car into giving her a replacement faster than they wanted to, and I've hung out with all my siblings at one point or another (even though to see Brother 1 it had to be at his new workplace because if he's at home, he's holed up in his room like a hibernating bear). I've been a busy gal. The Mimi keeps trying to get me to sit down and put my feet up... *grin*

I've had a few preggo moments as well... I've had a funny time of it with the jet lag this time, mostly because I have to get up to pee five times a night, but the first morning I was in town I found myself awake and unable to reclaim sleep at quarter to four in the morning. Gabs was a grumpy girl. Anyway, I always call Himself first thing, I try to make him the first person I talk to every day (speaking of which, just managed to get him on the phone and he's only gone and bought a car, more to follow), and that day I read for a while, got up and made my bed, faffed around with a bowl of cereal and waited for The Mimi to wake up. I was meeting Sister 2 and Other Mother (my stepmother, 2's mom) at half two, just to see them and because 2 had a spare phone I could use while I'm in town. Now, 2 is notoriously late everywhere she goes, and my pregnant brain conveniently forgot this fact and turned up on time. Half an hour later, she's still not there, and me without a phone. Luckily, Texas is ridiculously accommodating and the restaurant where we were meeting let me use their phone to call and find out where she was. She got "caught up" at her mother's office, and in response to this, Preggo Gabs reared her ugly head... "Okay, fair enough, but you know I don't have a phone, and I'm sitting here waiting for you, and I'M TIRED." Yeah. Not a good look.

That, and the other day U2 came on the radio in the truck and I was happily singing along until it hit me that they're Himself's favourite band and I burst into tears. *sigh*

Sister 4 has been hysterically funny about the whole pregnancy thing. She keeps squealing out of nowhere "I can't believe you're going to be a mom!" and she can't keep her hands off my belly (in direct contrast to Sister 2, who ran away when I suggested she feel the top of my uterus... *lol*). She keeps looking at me and saying "you're SO pregnant". She also almost burst into tears when Sister 1 made me sit in her lap and then triumphantly crowed "I held the baby first!!!"... Family. *grin* That said, I'm realising that I'm no longer me. I mean, I'm me, but "me" is now a walking incubator for Jelly Bean, who is MUCH more important than I ever was. When I went for dinner at my aunt's house, her daughter ran to the door and dropped to belly height with a war cry of "BABY!!!"...

All told, it's been a pretty good visit so far. I'm not making serious plans for the time I'm here. There are a few little bits I'm going to do, but mostly I just want to spend some time with family and friends (and eat LOADS, which is coming along nicely). I'm off today to Prairiefest with my college roommate and her fam, her husband is wildly talented and his band is playing, which is not to be missed. Plus, it means I get to hang out with her insanely cool son. Bonus. I'm dragging whichever sisters fancy the outing along with me, and hopefully my mom will make it as well. I'll post on that one tomorrow when I wake up at my usual time of 6AM. Until then, folks.

18 April, 2011

I'm a seasoned traveller.

I'm packing. And crying a little, but that's only because I'm pregnant and hormonal.

That's right, folks, I'm leaving our 'appy 'ome for a little hiatus in Texas. I'm off tomorrow and will be back in mid-June.

Most of me is excited. Most of me can't wait to see my family and spend the longest amount of concentrated time with them that I've had since I left in 2003. I'm looking forward to spending time in Austin with Sisters One and Three, and throwing an English tea party with Sister Two in her apartment in Denton. I'm looking forward to staying with The Mimi, and watching her taste the stuff I cook that she's never even heard of. I'm looking forward to hanging out with The Terror that is my youngest brother, we've made plans to go swimming (and eat nachos, of course). Speaking of nachos, I'm looking forward to Texan food.

Then there's the part of me that's cringing a little at the prospect of almost two months without Himself. But I'm sure I'll be fine. Fine. Perfectly fine. Peachy, in fact. *sniffle*

On a less pathetic note, this week JB's ears develop to the point that he hears actual noises, rather than just feeling vibrations. I foresee rather a lot of being spoken to at navel-height while I'm stateside... and I *might* have made Himself tell JB good morning and to have a good day before he left for work this morning...

Anyway, I have more packing and sniffling to do, so I'm going to get on with that. The next you hear from me, I'll be stuffing my face stateside. Matter of fact, that might be a good blog feature, "Texan Food Tuesdays" or something. I'll have a think about that.

17 April, 2011

Cheesecake saves lives.

That's right. I made our family's slightly infamous cheesecake for a friend's birthday, and made sure to send the uneaten portion home with anyone who would take it. Those take-home portions apparently caused some threatened violence unless the recipe was attained, and as I can't have blood shed over cheesecake, here's the recipe:

1 cup crushed graham crackers (I used oaty biscuits due to lack of graham crackers in the UK, but ginger is nice too)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (I omitted this step due to some people not liking nuts, just added an extra 1/4 cup biscuits)
1 1/2 (plus 1/3 cup for sour cream layer) cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted margarine
three 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened) which is 680g, just less than three 200g packages
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
1 pint sour cream (this is an American liquid measurement, it's 473 ml in the UK)

Preheat oven to 375F (190C)

Mix the crushed biscuits, pecans, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and margarine

Press into spring-form pan

Mix cream cheese, eggs, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour onto crust and bake for 30-35 minutes (if your oven is fan assisted, check after about 25, if it's beginning to colour, take it out)

Increase the oven temperature to 475F (246C)

Let the cheesecake stand to cool for 15 minutes

Mix sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour the sour cream mixture onto the cream cheese layer and bake for 10 more minutes

Refrigerate overnight

NOW NO MORE BLOODSHED, PLEASE. *grin*