Sunday 29 August 2004


For some strange reason, my bump seems to have elevated itself recently. I present to you exhibit A:

At my age, nothing ever migrates north, so this is a welcome change.

Friday 27 August 2004

rawk on

Oh yes oh yes, it's a long weekend here! It'll rain, hail, flood, and a plague of something will descend upon us and ruin any chances for a BBQ, but who cares? I don't have to work on Monday! Oh happy day.

It's Ed and Martine's monkey time, and this month's theme is:

"Something Weird: The Musical! In other words, tell us something weird about yourself that involves music."

The first thing that came to mind is my odd, but incredibly useless ability to think of obscure songs and then hear them on the radio or television. For example, for no reason, the song "Photograph" by Flock of Seagulls might suddenly pop into my head. This isn't something that would get played on the radio station I listen to, nor would it be a song I've heard recently elsewhere. Within the same day (usually within an hour or so), that song will pop up in an ad, article, or someone will mention it to me. Now, this doesn't work for any type of music. For some strange reason, I've had old commercial jingles running through my head ("My bologna has a first name...", and "Honeycomb's big - yeah yeah yeah! It's not small - no no no!") but none of these jingles have cropped up anywhere else in the world outside of my own head. Sadly, I can only do this with songs and not winning lottery numbers.

Have a lovely long weekend, everyone. For you North Americans, have a lovely long weekend in a week.

busy bee

I can feel the little fluttery rumbly movement in my tummy again right now, and I'm sitting in the same position as yesterday when I felt the same thing. I don't care if it might be gas, I'm going to cherish this moment. I have a feeling that Pip is ricocheting around my womb after that bag of Kit Kat Kubes I just ate. Whee!

Pip must be going through a growth spurt right now because all sorts of symptoms and pregnancy hormone-related things have just started up again very recently. It started with a zit (how retro - very 80s), and now I'm revisiting the stressed/anxious/irritable/weepy phase I experienced in the early weeks. My stomach hurts when I sneeze, which doesn't sound too bad, but keep in mind that it's allergy season right now. I cannot sleep (and not just because I need the loo every hour) and I oscillate between wanting to hug people to wanting to slap them with a wet carp. I cannot imagine how much fun I must be right now.

Oooh still fluttering! Hope you're having fun in there, my little jumping bean.

Thursday 26 August 2004


I keep feeling these odd fluttering sensations lately (always during the day when I'm sitting up). It's almost like there are little tiny earthquakes happening in my tummy or Pip's got a little drum in there.

Is it just gas? I bet it's just gas. Damn.

so what language do i speak?

Canadians, of course, spend half their time explaining they're not from the United States, and much of the rest being polite, spelling words with a "z" instead of an "s" and purchasing two-fours - or cases - of beer. [source]

Actually, I've always spelled words with an s, but that's not really the point. The point of this article is this:

Do they speak English in Australia?

"Well of course they do - like millions of other members of the big happy Commonwealth family. But new rules asking natives of those countries to prove they can speak English before getting UK citizenship has left some 'colonials' feeling a little insulted - and that's the same in any accent."

I'd laugh, but I am not yet a UK citizen and will have to actually prove that I can speak English - even though I have a work permit for a technical writing job. In English, thank you. Now before you Americans start giggling and making fun of the way we pronounce our "ou" words, this applies to you too. Anyone applying for UK citizenship will have to prove they can speak English.

Good thing I know how to make Yorkshire puddings, have all the Blackadder episodes on DVD, can sing the national anthem, and can name all of the winners of Big Brother UK. You never know what they're going to ask on that citizenship test. Cor blimey, guv'nor.

breathe. relax. breathe.

[This is a post about a wedding-related incident, but I felt the need to post it here instead of the wedding blog. So sue me.]

I met up with the string quartet lady today to go over some details and she wanted to check out the hotel facilities for various things. One of the things she needed to check was to time my entrance from the doors where I enter to the front of the terrace where the registrar (and my husband to be, if he doesn't change his mind) will be. We're getting married in the terrace, which is a restaurant open to the public during lunch and dinner hours. It was 1pm, and I had to casually stroll through a terrace full of diners - not once, but twice. Apparently I didn't do the rehearsal walk quite right and the quartet lady asked me to do it again. As the restaurant staff looked at me with great amusement, I said "I am rehearsing for my wedding. I'm not going insane. Honest." and kept my gaze fixed on the floor as I walked by the tables verrrryy sloowwwwwly, pausing twice (as per the quartet lady's request). I felt like such an enormous dork. A dorky pregnant stressed out waddly dork.

I am now at the point where I don't want to meet with anyone, make appointments, make phone calls, or make any more decisions related to this wedding. I really don't give a flying spork how many roses I need for each centrepiece, where the photographer is going to take our pictures between the ceremony and lunch, or whether or not we can figure out a song for our first dance. There are still so many little stupid details left to sort out, and no matter how simple you think you're keeping things, there is always something left to do. All I really want to do is marry my lovely, very patient and understanding fiance, have a great lunch, and disco the night away with my family and friends. Pointe finale.

I'm sure I'll look back on all of this one day and laugh. (Hysterically, from a nicely padded room.) In the meantime, I will be hiding under my desk eating chocolate peanut butter squares.

Wednesday 25 August 2004


My lovely friend Julie Dubya pointed out this page to me today, saying it reminded her of me. I love pregnant bellies; I always have. Although I'm never going to look like this woman, I am looking forward to having a big round belly.

Of course ask me about this again at around 39 weeks, and I bet I won't be quite as excited about having an igloo-sized tummy.

it's the most wonderful time of the year

What joy, what fun! It's holiday planning time! I love browsing through sites and books before we go on holiday. I got a wonderfully detailed email from a workmate at our Ft. Lauderdale office about the Russian River region we want to visit in California, which has helped enormously. I also got some valuable information and tips from the lovely Martine of Montreal, which has helped us decide where we'd like to eat and stay for part of the journey.

It's funny how my priorities have changed; now my main source of excitement comes from picking out places to eat, shop, and visiting the Charles M. Schulz museum. Why does a 35 year old woman want to visit the Snoopy museum? It's a childhood favourite - promise I won't turn into one of those Mums who wears stretchy leggings and oversized Micky Mouse sweatshirts. Every night before bed, my Dad used to read to me from his old Peanuts comic books. When I got a bit older, I read them all myself, making my way through volumes and volumes of old, yellowing paperback books. It's not Christmas without "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Paul very kindly bought me a copy on DVD as they will never show it on television here during the holidays), and happiness really is a warm puppy, it's true. Fans of "Calvin and Hobbes" recognise echoes of Peanuts in Watterson's strip (which he acknowledges). It ran for 50 years, becoming a fond childhood memory for me as well as my Dad. And well you know, it's about a dog, so what's not to like? ("Marmaduke" excepted.)

So along with the Snoopy museum, I've got several outlet mall web sites bookmarked (just for the San Diego/La Jolla portion of the trip, you see) and have downloaded menus from some very yummy looking places in Sonoma and Napa Valley. We've planned a day or two in San Francisco, a drive down to Monterey and a ferry ride over to Sausalito, a tour of the Napa Valley again to restock, scenic drives and walks around the coast, a visit to the Redwoods State Reserve, and a trip to Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed "The Birds"). I think we're all set for a fabulous honeymoon.

Ready to go. Now.

vive le waist stretchy!

God, I love maternity trousers. I only have one pair of stretchy jeans courtesy of Susan via Heather (the "over the bump" panel jeans are way too big for my bump at this point) and they are fab. I can eat whatever I want and not have the need to undo my trousers afterwards! How excellent is that? Although I complained about feeling fat recently (I really do hate looking fat vs. pregnant), it's been lovely to have a reason for my waist expansion other than eating too many chocolate bars. For the first time in ages, I'm not depressed when clothes don't fit me. Maybe I'm in denial and this really is just a big wodge of fat and not baby bump, but I don't really care. This is the one time in a woman's life when she is praised for getting big. I am going to enjoy it.

You are 14 weeks old today, little Pip. In just over 5 weeks, we will find out if you're a Pip or a Pipette. More importantly, we get to have another peek at you! Please remember, this is no time for modesty - don't be shy of the lady with the big machiney thing trying to get a look at your nether regions.

To be totally honest, I will be thrilled with a boy or a girl. I truly have no preference, and neither does Paul. I do tend to get all weepy/broody when I see little girl things, but I think it's not really instinct telling me that I'm carrying a girl - I think it's just because girly things are so darn cute. Some people seem puzzled that I want to know the gender of our baby (I say "I want to know" because Paul was happy either way), but I just never really felt the need to be surprised. I would rather refer to our baby as a she or a he rather than an "it" if I can. I'm also the most impatient person in the world, so there was no getting around this, really.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and think happy labour-encouraging thoughts for Mandy who is now officially overdue. Her little one must be very comfy in there!

Tuesday 24 August 2004

listy things

Spotted at and stolen from J Dave's blog.

Last Cigarette: March 30, 2000

Last Alcoholic Drink: August 4, and don't look at me like that - it was one sip of three different glasses of wine to pick out bottles for the wedding. Before that, I think the last drink I had was in the beginning of June.

Last Car Ride: About 15 minutes ago

Last Kiss: About 30 minutes ago

Last Good Cry: Are you kidding me? I cry over everything now, sad or not.

Last Library Book checked out: Must have been something for a course at Concordia in the 90s.

Last movie Seen in Theatres: "Bourne Supremacy"

Last Book Read: _The Rough Guide to Pregnancy_

Last Movie Rented: Ummm can't remember the last time we rented anything.

Last Cuss Word Uttered: I don't think I've actually said anything rude today. I must do something about that.

Last Beverage Drank: A fizzy fruity drink of some sort

Last Food Consumed: Veggie hot dogs

Last Crush: Paul, Jasper, and Pip, in that order.

Last Phone Call: Old Bridge Hotel to confirm a booking with the wedding lady

Last TV Show Watched: "Location, Location, Location" rerun/Olympics during lunch

Last Time Showered: This morning

Last Shoes Worn: My Reebok mules

Last CD Played: An assorted CD of various MP3s in the car

Last Item Bought: Lots of food from Tesco

Last Download: Not a clue

Last Annoyance: That guy who was driving 10mph in front of me for about 3 miles today

Last Disappointment: Ummm I dunno. Running out of corn last night?

Last Soda Drank: Don't drink "soda"

Last Thing Written: This blog entry. Duh.

Last Sleep: That would have been last night. Except for the hour and a half stroppy miss across the road kept me awake yakking to her boyfriend outside of her house really loudly.

Last Weird Encounter: I work in IT. I have weird encounters almost hourly.

Last Ice Cream Eaten: Haagen Dazs vanilla

Last Time Amused: I am amused all the time

Last Time Hugged: This morning

Last Time Scolded: No one dares to scold a pregnant woman. I mean, come on.

Last Time Resentful: I am never resentful.

Last Chair Sat In: The one at my desk that I've got my arse parked on right now.

Last Underwear Worn: Something black and big enough to fit me.

Last Bra Worn: Something black and big enough to fit me.

Last Shirt Worn: Something black get the idea.

Last Webpage Visited: to post this entry.

what's next, mud wrestling?

Now don't get me wrong, I understand that volleyball is a legitimate sport and simply moving it to another venue (say, a beach) doesn't make it any less legitimate, but do we really need bikini-clad "cheerleaders" and snippits of music between points - and a minimum clothing restriction for the female competitors? Maybe I wouldn't be as bothered by this if it was showing on some sports channel but I'm surprised to see it at the Olympics. The music is bad enough (really, I was hoping the last time I would ever hear that "Hands Up" song was in Club Med ads in the early 90s), but the intermittent bikini dancing is cringeworthy. For a sporting event that prides itself on being the epitome of athletics, for which participants train for four years, it seems a bit odd to have one sport that features buttcheeks and bad wedding music.

Besides, it makes me feel fat.

pass the porkies

So when do you stop looking like you ate all the pies and start looking like you're pregnant and have a reason to be fat and waddly? Seriously, this in-between stage is really starting to depress me. I'm very tempted to get into maternity wear and shove a pillow down my pants. Feh.

Monday 23 August 2004

but i'm still avoiding ladders and black cats

Even though I'm quite superstitious about buying baby things this early on (i.e. I will not buy baby things this early on), I have actually bought my very first baby-related thing: a photo album. I wanted somewhere to put my scan pictures and any other pregnancy bits and bobs like my antenatal notes, so I purchased an album the other day. So it's just one item and it's only a photo album, right? Well yes, but now I'm finding myself cutting out little shapes from colourful paper and using funky markers to make notes - and it's only got the scan images in it so far.

Heaven help me when I actually start buying baby things and doing up the nursery. I'll probably end up hand painting a rendition of the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling featuring Teletubbies.

poor poor pitiful me

I'm at home with a cold today, sniffling and snorfling like that kid at the back of the classroom who always had a runny nose and got picked last for sports teams. Not like that was me as a kid - I only had a runny nose during allergy season and I usually got picked second or third last. Jasper and I have been watching the Olympics bundled up under a blanket and sipping tea. It's been very confusing for him because I think he's not sure who to root for: Canada or Great Britain. At least I assume it's been confusing for him and that's why he couldn't bear to watch the rowing on Saturday morning. He spent the morning despondently chewing on his toys and sighing wistfully. He seems to interpret any cheering for an invitation to please jump on me and place all 36kg. of your body weight on any part of my anatomy that might really hurt when you do that. Needless to say, my cheering tends to go something like "Yaaaay! No no no, down! DOWN!!!"

The wedding blog has been updated; probably for the last time before The Big Day.

Friday 20 August 2004

i am a bad mutha

So I was working from home this afternoon, typing away in my office. I half heard the sound of the back door being thumped, but assumed it was Jasper leaning up against it in the kitchen. As he does. About an hour later, I heard a small whimpery squeak and realised that I hadn't seen my dog in a very long time. I called him, no answer, so I headed downstairs. Jumping up and down outside the back door was my poor, neglected doggy. Apparently he wandered out back at some point, but the door blew shut on him. Luckily, I did manage to notice his absence before the massive thunder and lightening storm. I am a bad mother. In a non-Shaft kind of way.

Speaking of motherly things, a belly picture has been posted to the baby blog. No actual bare bellies were used in the filming of this entry - don't panic.

Have a loverly weekend, everyone.

bumpity bump bump

Presenting the first official photo of Pip and me at 13 weeks, 2 days:

Amazingly, I cannot fit into maternity clothes yet (hurrah) and I can still get away with regular clothes, one size up. For now.

Thursday 19 August 2004

sneak preview

After we found out that our hospital won't tell us the gender of our baby, I joked about getting a scan done in the States while we're on honeymoon. I didn't actually think I could wander into a hospital and get a scan done on the spot, but then it also didn't occur to me that I could get a 3D scan at one of the many imaging centres around the US. I am the first to admit, 3D scans are rather strange looking (I often equate it with dipping your child in bronze), but it would allow us to know the gender earlier (than the 24 week scan we would have to order and pay for ourselves here) and get a few funky 3D images at the same time. I came across this place yesterday, and I am seriously thinking of booking a scan here when we're near San Diego in late September. It would cost around £80, and considering 3D scans go for around £200-300 here, it's quite the bargain.

I know that I'm just being impatient, but I think I'm being practical, too. We wanted to do some baby-related shopping in the States, and it would be handy to know the sex of our baby while we're out there (and at the beginning of our trip, which is jolly handy). I really don't like yellow and don't care to inflict it on our child. Come to think of it, I don't like pink either - our little girl would probably wear red.

I know, I'm so difficult.

oh, be-have

The lovely and talented Caroline at work made this origami beaver today:

I don't know why people giggle when they hear about beavers. They are cuddly, hard working, noble animals. I am proud to have a beaver on top of my monitor at work. I smile at the sight of a beaver on a shiny new Canadian penny.

Stop giggling!!

Wednesday 18 August 2004

warning: do not operate heavy machinery

According to my weekly email from

"No one is sure why, but many women feel scatterbrained when they're pregnant. So don't be surprised if you find yourself losing your keys or stashing the mail in the freezer."

Don't I know it. So far, I've: showered with my glasses on (long enough to have lathered and rinsed my hair before I noticed), fallen asleep with my contacts in (I never did this even when very, very drunk), and our cupboards are full of duplicates and triplicates of things I bought but forgot we already had. I cannot remember anything without writing a list, and then I forget where I put the list.

Yes, I know this will only get worse after the baby arrives. I will probably tie one end of a string to Pip and the other to my wrist so I know where s/he is at all times.

Tuesday 17 August 2004

shaking a virtual fist at the world

So I made banana bread on the weekend and I brought some into work yesterday. And it was good. Today, I slathered some Nutella on a slice of banana bread with the intention of bringing it into work as an afternoon snack. Where is it right now? Sitting in my fridge at home. Fiddlefaddle, I say.

By the way, Nutella counts as a nutritious food (look, the words "Nutella" and "nutritious" even share many of the same letters) as it contains both dairy and legumes. Combined with the fruit and fibre in the banana bread, it's extremely good for you.


Monday 16 August 2004

kibbles n' bits

We went to see the film "Bourne Supremacy" yesterday, which wasn't too shabby at all. Not having read the book, I can't complain about any inaccuracies or missing plotlines. It was good fun for a Sunday afternoon - but I must protest about some of the camera work. Chase/fight scenes shot entirely by handheld camera gets really irritating after three minutes, and may induce nausea in children and the elderly.

In the "It Still Won't Make the Food Taste Better" department, here's a story about the new look for the Little Chef. It makes as much sense as getting rid of the Pillsbury Doughboy's jolly tummy, but who said that marketing is ever based on logic. According to Little Chef's chief executive (Big Chef?), "We have had a lot of customer feedback about the Little Chef's tummy. A lot of people have also written in to say they assumed it was a small child carrying hot food." A lot of people have way, way too much time on their hands, and are likely incarcerated.

And finally, I must admit that I've got Olympic fever. It's not just pregnancy hormones, I really am hooked on the Olympics. Spot the sad Canadian: the USA team marched in during the opening ceremony and I shouted "Hey! They're wearing Roots gear!!". I did this two more times when the British and Canadian teams appeared (after being with me for over two years, Paul can also spots Roots athletic wear from a mile away). In every event containing a Canadian, I cheer like a lunatic. When we come in something like 8th out of 9, I like to chant "We're not the worst! We're not the worst!"

Okay, maybe it is the pregnancy hormones.

Sunday 15 August 2004

not going by the book

The further along in pregnancy you get, the more you realise that a lot of what you read in pregnancy books is an enormous bucket of caca. To be fair, no one could write a book that would accurately describe your pregnancy, but I would like to see less of the "Welcome to week x! By now, you should be going through a, b, and c!" sort of thing. In real life, by week x, you might be going through c, but a and b never happen and good lord, what is this e, f, and g that's going on?? Please, pregnancy book/web site authors, never tell women that they "should" be experiencing any particular symptoms. It's annoying and in the early weeks, frightening if you're going through something completely different.

I'm now in the "honeymoon phase" of pregnancy, which has indeed been more enjoyable than the first few weeks. Mind you, the first few weeks weren't exactly horrible, but the really uncomfortable stuff seems to have faded away. I still need to wear a bra at all times (honestly, bigger boobs was not something I needed), but I'm not as tired and don't get nauseous anymore. Our little Pip is 70mm long (that's almost 3 inches), which is a long way from the apple seed size s/he was when the nickname was first born.

It took a couple of days to sink in, but after the scan, I am now truly enjoying being pregnant. I cannot stop rubbing my belly and I'm not that bothered that my clothes are getting tight again. My tummy seems to have exploded overnight and I suddenly have a big round bump where before there was simply a roll of fat (not sure if it's an improvement or not; I'll get back to you on that one). I said to Paul, it's almost like when a bloke is trying to impress a girl and holds his stomach in, then lets out a huge breath once they're better acquainted and releases his beer belly. Now that everyone knows that I'm pregnant, I've stopped sucking in and my bump is now hanging over the top of my trousers. Nice image, that.

Here's hoping the bump doesn't expand too much in the next six weeks, or else I'll be wearing a toga to our wedding.

Saturday 14 August 2004

aw, you guys

Thank you so much for all of your congratulatory messages, comments, and good wishes in person. It's really nice to finally be "out of the closet" about the baby, and has stopped me worrying if everyone is thinking that I'm just getting fat. (And don't you try to tell me that I shouldn't be showing yet. It is so NOT extra chocolate and ice cream. Is not. Shaddup.) I am eternally grateful for all the fantastic women around me who are Mums and Mums to be - I will never be short of friends who can appreciate stories about sore boobs and who will get emotional about our scan pictures. So, thanks. Truly.

Blog from a bride has been updated, for the curious or very bored. Gosh, this place is getting really girly lately. I must try to blog about beer, boobs (not sore pregnant ones), and curry more often.

Friday 13 August 2004

our little star of the screen

Presenting, Pip!

I promise you, that is actually a baby (a second scan pic is on my main blog site). Pip was very quiet for the entire scan, moving only when I was asked to cough (I thought only men did that in exams). The baby was snuggled into a little space in my womb, and taking after its mother, really couldn't bother to be entertaining at 8.20 in the morning. The lovely ultrasound lady first told us that there was only one baby in there, and then pointed out the heartbeat. That's when I burst into tears that didn't stop flowing for the duration of the scan. Pip has two arms and two legs, is measuring 13 weeks and 1 day (I should be 12 weeks and 2 days, so I'm building one big kid), and was kind enough to give us a bit of a wave. Lovely ultrasound lady gave us two scan images (we only asked for one) and spent a lot more time making sure all was well than I think most do at the first scan.

We're so relieved and it's really nice to finally be able to go "public". Now I think I can just enjoy being pregnant. Well done, little Pip.

told you so

A man and a woman had a little baby,

Yes, they did.

They had three in the family,

And that's a magic number.

Baby arriving Feb. 23, 2005 (or thereabouts). Blog from a baby now available in the links on the left. Have a splendid weekend. :) xx

Thursday 12 August 2004

oooooh aaaahhhh

And just to make sure that you'll come back tomorrow to read my blog (I'm desperate for any attention, really), I would like to inform you that tomorrow's entry will contain something exciting, shocking, and downright scintillating. Or not, if you're not into that sort of thing.

It won't involve food, my work (although it does involve a workmate), trashy television, wine, Heat magazine, dogs, weddings, or DIY. It may involve pictures. Whee!

i thought we were supposed to avoid rollercoasters

I'm going through so many emotional ups and downs lately. The scan is tomorrow, which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I'm overjoyed at the thought of seeing the baby, but worried that something will go horribly wrong. What if they don't find a heartbeat? (I really, really, really wish I hadn't read anything about missed miscarriages.) What if there's something very wrong with the baby?

This is supposed to be an exciting, magical time for us. I hate that it's marred by this anxiety. It sucks that I can't just look forward to it and eagerly anticipate emailing scan pictures to our friends and family. At least I've got an early morning appointment and the suspense will be over sooner rather than later. My brain knows that I've had no indication that anything's wrong so far, but my heart (which is generally ten times larger than my brain most days) won't allow me to sleep tonight and is giving me indigestion and nausea.

I'd like to just enjoy being pregnant now, please.

i like nature, but get it the hell out of our house

This morning we discovered a very large spider dangling from our living room ceiling, a jumpy insecty thing that looked like a bright green leaf sitting on Jasper's tail, and a wasp tried to kill me (or maybe it was just flying around the house, I couldn't tell). Paul's been swatting at mosquitoes in the evenings, and that plague of hoverflies is still taking up residence in our kitchen and dining room windows. I keep spotting spiders the size of my head (roughly) crawling around the ceiling. At least the ants stayed outside this year. I like the creatures that live in our garden like the dragonflies that swoop down collecting mosquitoes, and the frogs, tadpoles, and goldfish in our pond. Even the fat ginger cat from next door can be quite entertaining when he sits perfectly still on our fence whenever Jasper notices him. I'm just not keen on our house turning into an insectarium.

Perhaps we need to invest in some carnivorous plants.

Wednesday 11 August 2004

spaced out

Our new bed is fantastic. It's so roomy and comfortable, and I woke up in the morning feeling slightly surprised that there was another person next to me. Oh yes, you sleep here too - hello! I'll meet you in the middle. Bring tea.

Cheeky little doggy Jasper decided to leap up on to the new bed this morning (we wondered if it was too high compared to our old bed - mystery solved). Although there is plenty of room for Jasper and all of his fully grown 6 brothers and sisters, it could really do without the dog hair.

Not much else to say, really. I'll leave you with this culinary thought: if you want to make a creamy pasta sauce without all the fat and calories of cream (mmmmmm cream), use light soft cheese/cream cheese instead. I've been doing this for ages, but some Italian guy ripped off my idea and demonstrated it on a cooking show yesterday. Bah. Egg yolks also work well to thicken sauces, like for macaroni and cheese (add grated cheese, a bit of milk, and an egg yolk to drained macaroni and heat through). Thank you, have a splendid day.

to Pip

I realised today that this blog is filled with nothing but how I'm feeling about my pregnancy and various ranty posts about pregnancy-related things. I haven't really discussed how I'm feeling about the little one inside me, and I think it's high time I did.

I've reached week 12 today (wooohoooo!), and as the weeks go by, I feel more relaxed about being pregnant and more comfortable making future plans. I'm sure this will increase tenfold if all goes well at Friday's scan. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was completely over the moon but it all seemed very surreal. My first words to Pip were "Stay in there!! Stay!", half joking but half worried that this would be one of the 25% of pregnancies that ends in early miscarriage. The weeks went by, more pregnancy symptoms began to show, and I actually started feeling pregnant. The baby became "Pip" and Paul started patting my belly and talking into it. I began to rub and hold my belly almost constantly, unconsciously, and felt an immense sense of joy when I read that Pip is now around two inches long. Two inches! Pip is becoming less of a tadpole and more of a tiny human baby. Pip is now more real to people other than just us; in fact, many refer to the baby as Pip as well. I have already started feeling that maternal instinct to throw myself in front of a moving train to protect my child and to beat the crap out of anyone who may cause harm. I cannot wait to see Pip on the ultrasound, and I truly cannot wait to see our baby in person.

You are already so sincerely loved. What a nice way to come into the world.

Tuesday 10 August 2004

super king size me

Our super king-sized bed arrived today - it's 6 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet long. Oh yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. No more elbows and knees in the ribs! No more falling off of the bed because your partner has rolled over onto your side! No more being woken up when your partner gets up to pee five times a night! Paul will be so happy. Me, I sleep through anything anyway, but it's still going to be very nice to have a new comfy mattress.

Can't wait to go to bed tonight. Oh get your mind out of the gutter, you people.

nuts to you

I keep coming across messages on pregnancy web boards from women wondering what they can and can't eat (American and UK), and I am constantly amazed by the answers/advice these women are getting. I've seen several women advise others to avoid all fish completely, don't have any caffeine whatsoever (ditto alcohol), avoid all cheese, and for god's sake, don't even come within 20 feet of a peanut. Obviously, what you choose to eat and avoid is a personal decision. Some women simply don't feel comfortable eating certain foods or drinking (I am still too chicken to drink any alcohol at this point), and I can respect that. What's starting to hack me off is the conflicting and/or vague information that's out there; it's no wonder so many women are confused. I am avoiding the obvious culprits: soft cheeses, raw/undercooked eggs, precooked meats (that aren't reheated), liver (um...not like I actually ate that before pregnancy), and undercooked meats and fish. I would probably eat rare tuna and scallops if I had a decent source of seafood, but I am not going to trust the stuff that's sitting at the fish counter at Tesco. I try to limit the amount of fizzy drinks or juice made with sweeteners, and I have cut down on the caffeine simply because I feel hyper and sleepless enough without it, thanks.

Now, about nuts. I know every book and web site I've read said to avoid it if you or your partner has allergies. The thing is, I'm just not convinced that this is more than a theory. I have allergies, and my kids will likely get them too because allergies can be hereditary - regardless of whether or not I enjoyed some peanut butter on toast whilst pregnant. Has anyone been able to link peanut eating to an increase in peanut allergies, or is it just that allergic Mums have allergic kids and this might include a peanut allergy?

I understand that we need to be as safe and cautious as possible during pregnancy, but it seems like the more we know, the more paranoid we become. I have seen too many messages from women convinced that they are bad mothers (not in a "bad muthas" Samuel L. Jackson kind of way) because they have unintentionally broken one of the gazillion food sins. We've got enough stress as it is, what with all the worrying about every ache and pain and wondering if that day we were really stressed out at work will affect our unborn children somehow. I would still like to enjoy my food without wondering if it'll make our child sprout an extra head.

Monday 9 August 2004


I have three things to blog about today. That's right - three! And on a Monday, even!

blame canada

Roots has designed the British Olympic team's gear, and Canada's too, I would imagine. You may be familiar with Roots if you have Canadian friends and/or family members, as you will often receive items of clothing with "Roots Canada" stamped all over it as gifts. I read an article in the Daily Mail, expressing outrage at the hideously designed athletic gear made by some Foreign Company when there are perfectly good British designers wandering about with no work, for goodness sake. Meanwhile, they failed to realise that Roots designed the gear for the British Commonwealth Games teams a few years ago, so they're a tad late with their complaint. Silly rabbits.

don't judge a restaurant by its beaded curtains

I came across an ad in our local paper for an Italian restaurant, and thought we should give it a go. Unfortunately, all I could remember was that it started with M and it may or may not have been in St Ives (one of our neighbouring villages). I looked through the yellow pages and there was indeed an Italian restaurant in St Ives starting with an M, so we booked a table for Saturday night. As we approached the restaurant, I could tell that it wasn't the one I saw in the ad. The picture in the ad showed a sleek, modern, trendy bistro, and this place had beaded curtains at the front door. Two different kinds of floral wallpaper adorned the walls and ceiling, and it was furnished with dark wooden tables and chairs only seen in 80s kitchens. My heart sank and I apologised in advance to our friends, explaining that this was not the restaurant I saw in the paper. Things started looking up when we realised that everyone serving was Italian and we leafed through the extensive (and authentic looking) menu. We were served by a friendly, but slightly insane man and were waited upon by several others throughout the meal. The food was simply brilliant. I had a perfectly cooked spaghetti alla arrabiatta (spaghetti with a spicy tomato sauce), and Paul had a filet steak in gorgonzola sauce that was beautifully grilled. I haven't enjoyed pasta this good since Rome. We will definitely return, although I'm still curious about that other place I saw in the ad.

wasps! UNGH! what are they good for? absolutely nothing

Not only are we plagued by swarms of hoverflies, apparently there is an increase in the wasp population this year as well. According to the papers, this is due to the decrease in pesticides used recently and the warm winter and spring weather. Now I'm all for mother nature's creatures being able to defend themselves, but wasps will sting you for looking at them funny. I am convinced that they perch themselves on our fence and wait for me to bring food or beverages outside of the house, then swoop towards us like kamikaze pilots with low blood sugar levels. There were no wasps in the area when we were sitting in the garden reading the paper, but as soon as I brought out a glass of orange juice, twenty of them buzzed straight towards my glass. You can't tell me that they can sense food and drink and be able to fly over to our table that quickly from afar. If you can light citronella candles to deter mosquitoes, what can you do to deter wasps? Please enlighten me.

Friday 6 August 2004

all the news you need to know

Dog and bride blogs have been updated - visit via the links on the left. Or not. Totally up to you, really.

wipe that smile off of your face

For all you British people who sent me umpteen articles about Canada's ban on passport grins, all I have to say is:


You can look miserable too, just like your Commonwealth cousins! Mind you, at least you're still allowed a demure, closed-mouth smile. I look like I'm ready to beat the crap out of someone in my photo, which is really not the look you're going for when trying to convince passport control that you're not a deranged lunatic.

Thursday 5 August 2004


I've just entered the "Ohmygawd, what STINKS?" phase of pregnancy. It's not that scents that never used to bother me are suddenly offensive, I just seem to have developed an incredibly keen sense of smell. I'm not sure what benefit this has during pregnancy (perhaps I can now smell danger coming from miles away and can move myself and my unborn child to safety?), but it's not very nice. Especially when it gets to the point that I have to run away from Jasper whenever he's wet. Pleh, wet dog.

I have also just entered the "must pee every 20 minutes" phase, which has been a bucket of laughs. On the plus side, it doesn't happen much at night and it must show that I'm drinking enough water throughout the day. Go me!

I just passed the 11 week mark, which is great news. I am thisclose to completing the first trimester and I will oh so relieved once that's behind me. Until I start thinking about giving birth. Gah.

forget your troubles, c'mon get happy

I am going to share an important life lesson I have learned in the 35+ years I've been on this planet. It's a simple truth, and yet it seems to elude many people.

The fact is, sometimes people aren't going to like you. These people might be family members, friends, flat or housemates, or work colleagues. They might not like you for legitimate reasons (e.g. you flushed their cat down the toilet and never did apologise properly) or for nonsensical reasons (e.g. you wear far too much Polo cologne), but the truth is that you're not always going to be everyone's cup of tea. Following me so far? Excellent.

Although it's not very nice to discover that you're not on everyone's top ten list of people they enjoy spending large amounts of time with, it's not the end of the world. Far from it. It's how you deal with it that makes you come out looking and smelling like a daisy. Regarding the people who dislike you for no good reason, just let it go. These people have what we call "issues" or "Mylifesuckssoimtakingitoutonyou-itis", and they are not worth your precious time nor your energy. If people don't like you for a legitimate reason, take a close look at that reason and try to be objective about it. Was flushing the cat without saying anything really the best way to deal with the situation? Or could you have conducted a simple, honest chat with the kitty's owner explaining what happened? Maybe you had a good reason for flushing Mr. Mittens; it could have been an accident, perhaps. Addressing the issue directly not only shows your maturity, it demonstrates your ability to take responsibility for your actions and shows you are willing to make an effort to amend things. Slamming the lid down quickly, spraying an Airwick, and quietly closing the bathroom door does not. Nor does it help if you subsequently make out like Mr. Mittens had been bullying you for months and you had to flush in self defense. Even worse if you get someone else to defend you on your behalf.

With me still? Sorry, I truly don't dislike cats; it was the first analogy that came to mind. I do apologise.

So here's what I have learned: when you are dealing with people you have to see almost every day of your waking life, you learn to get on with things. If there is a problem, talk to the person about it. Most people are reasonable and don't expect much anyway. It takes mere seconds to show others that you are being productive and to acknowledge an issue someone may have. People like that. It also takes far more time to ignore people or to raise a stink about a situation. People don't like that. To summarise: being open and communicative is good. Being mean and petty is bad.

Tomorrow's lesson - how to make a joke without offending anyone. (This will be extremely brief.)

Wednesday 4 August 2004

just for laughs

Whilst flipping through the paper this weekend, I noticed that Billy Connolly is doing a tour this Autumn. I have been dying to see him live since we watched all the "World Tour" series, which is probably some of the funniest stuff I've ever seen. Prior to this, I always thought of Billy Connolly as that Scottish guy who swore a lot in the "Secret Policeman's Ball" film and took over for Johnny Fever in that godawful sitcom "Head of the Class". He is, put quite simply, brilliant. Although we could only manage to get seats up in the stalls, it'll be great to see him perform.

Now if only Kate Bush would go on tour...

Tuesday 3 August 2004

a plague of insects and nigella's sin

So first of all, what is up with all these hoverflies? I know that they don't sting or bite and they eat aphids, which is all well and good, but do we need a kajillion of them in our back garden? They make me nervous because they look a bit like wasps (what with all that stripey yellow and black happening), and I hate wasps. Why do wasps exist? They don't produce honey or spread pollen, and they will sting you for no good reason - repeatedly, without dropping dead. They are angry little buggers and they are only after your beer and Coke. Anyway, about these hoverflies. They keep coming into the house, our dog keeps trying to eat them, and they annoy us when we eat outdoors. I've never noticed so many of them before; what is the reason for this year's infestation?

[Update: An explanation regarding The Swarm!]

On a totally unrelated subject, I was watching "Nigella Bites" this morning and she was making something resembling a risotto. It was all going merrily along; she fried some onions and garlic, added the rice, ladlefuls of stock, and so on. Then, at the very end, she dumped in an egg yolk mixed with a 1/2 pint of cream and parmesan. It turned into a very yellow, runny, savoury rice pudding. It wasn't pretty. To me, the secret to a great risotto is adding as few extra ingredients as possible. Mine usually involves the obligatory onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, arborio rice, white wine, stock, seasoning, and another main flavour or two. I tend to favour porcini mushrooms and basil, with a healthy handful of parmesan thrown in at the end. It's a bit like pasta, I think people tend to add so much sauce that it goes completely overboard. One of my favourite pasta dishes is so simple: sautee garlic in some olive oil, add a chilli or two, a splash of white wine, seasoning, chopped fresh tomatoes (peeled and deseeded), and fresh basil. I also add some seafood (grilled prawns and scallops are lovely) and a squeeze of lemon. Chuck in some spaghetti or linguine and grate some parmesan on top. Fantastico.

Damn. Hungry now. I'd venture out for some food, but the hoverflies will get me.

Monday 2 August 2004

baby's first portrait

I got a letter in the post today from the hospital confirming my first scan appointment. It's on Friday the 13th, which hopefully isn't a bad sign. It would be rather startling to see the baby wearing a hockey mask and wielding a chainsaw during the ultrasound. I'm actually pretty excited (understatement) and very relieved to finally have a scan date. The pamphlet that came with my letter explained that "time is restricted" during scans and they cannot identify the sex of the baby because they "prefer to use the time to scan for physical abnormalities". I suppose that sounds more diplomatic than "we won't check the sex of your baby because you might be some weird religious fanatic and terminate the pregnancy if it's not a boy".

I am hoping that the Rosie has another ultrasound teaching session soon, because they do a very thorough (1 hour) scan and point out several important details to the medical students in attendance. Tosha at work had this done, and not only did they check the nuchal fold (this is something I would have to pay extra for), they took a guess at the sex of her baby and did a thorough check of things like the baby's brain and internal organs. As an added bonus, you get paid for your time (just a fiver, but what the heck) and it allows you a one hour look into your womb rather than the quickie scans you normally get. I think I may have missed my chance as they probably only do these sessions a couple of times a year, but I'll keep an eye peeled.

Things are going swimmingly (touch wood) and my only complaint is that I get very tired easily (touch wood again). I seem to have regained my taste for meat, but my sweet tooth is still there with a vengeance. This is supposed to indicate that I'm carrying a girl, but then I have headaches and no morning sickness which is supposed to indicate a boy. So going by this, I think I have a 50% chance of having a girl, and a 50% chance of having a boy. Give or take.

I hope my kid doesn't inherit my smartarse gene.

bless me

Apologies to my workmates who sit close to me. My allergies have gone cuckoo caca today and I can't stop sneezing, sniffling, and blowing my nose. What's worse, the only tissues I have are adorned with a teddy bear, which are a) far too small and b) really inappropriate for a 35 year old broad.


one bbq, hold the ribs

Tim the Butcher did not have any ribs (in his shop, that is. I'm sure Tim himself had ribs, otherwise he probably wouldn't be standing upright. Or breathing.), so we went with chicken instead. Oh. My. God. It was good. Really, really good. I had to alter the recipe somewhat (mostly because we don't tend to have five varieties of chilli peppers in English supermarkets), and reduce the cooking time. Next time, I will make the sauce in advance. Here's the altered recipe I used:

New Orleans Style BBQ Beer Chicken

Spice Rub Mix:

2 tablespoons kosher salt (I used sea salt)

1 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon toasted and ground cumin

1 tablespoon toasted and ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated lime zest


6 chicken breasts (with skin and on the bone)

1/2 pint chicken stock

2 cans beer (any lager will do)

2 bay leaves


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 jalapeno chilies, chopped

1 medium onion, roughly cut

4 cloves minced garlic

2 carrots, roughly chopped

tabasco sauce to taste (we bought some chipotle tabasco sauce last time we were in the States and used this - mmmmmmmmmmmmm)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

3/4 cups molasses (if you're in the UK, use about 1/2 cup dark muscavado sugar instead)

1/2 cup honey

1 orange, peeled with pith removed and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup lime juice

Spice Rub Mix: Mix together all ingredients.

Chicken: Preheat gas grill on low for 1/2 hour. If using charcoal, let the coals burn to embers, also about 1/2 hour after lighting.

Season the chicken with a 1/2 of the spice rub mix. In a large roasting pan, add chicken stock, beer, and the bay leaves. Lower the chicken into the liquid. Bring up to a simmer and poach for 15 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the liquid and season with the other 1/2 of the spice rub on both sides. Bring the poaching liquid up to a boil over low heat to reduce.

Add the olive oil to a large, preheated saute pan. Add the chillis and onions, and saute for 5 or 6 minutes, until carmelized. Add the garlic and carrots, and saute another 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let it simmer 20 minutes. Add the molasses/muscavado sugar, honey, and tabasco. Add the orange, then salt and pepper. When the initial braising liquid has reduced by half, add this to the sauce mixture. Let everything simmer for 20 minutes, or pop in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 20 minutes.

Blend sauce mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in red wine vinegar and lime juice. Strain through a fine sieve if you want the sauce to have a very smooth texture.

The coals should be at the ember stage. Gas grills stay on low. Place chicken on the grill and grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Brush the sauce on the chicken for the last few minutes of grilling.

It was so, so good and we will definitely try this on ribs one day. I made this one relatively tame in terms of chilli heat (Paul's Dad isn't a fan of spicy food), so quite a bit more can be added. By the way, don't get in a snit because I use cup measurements - you UK people can still follow the recipe. I got my measuring cup (with American cup measurements) at Tesco, and they also carry them at Lakeland. You can always use a standard tea cup as a guide (not a mug) as it has roughly the same volume as one US measuring cup.

Mmmmmmmmm. Hungry now.