Tuesday 30 November 2004

i'm going to start selling common sense on eBay

On the most part, pregnancy Web boards make you feel incredibly sane and reasonable in comparison. When I first started frequenting various pregnancy boards, I would smile and sometimes chuckle at the occasional post about pregnancy worries. Some of them I could relate to, and some you know are down to the understandable worry that comes with being pregnant. In recent weeks, it seems like the pregnant world has gone mad. I saw a post from a woman who was terrified because she had a stick of gum containing Aspratame (I wish I was exaggerating, but the post was literally about one stick of gum), that was only heightened by countless replies from other women insisting that any artificial sweetener in any dose will cause terrible harm. Not only that, you shouldn't even go near the stuff when you're not pregnant. Another woman said she was "beating myself up" for having eaten a tuna steak. Another was panicking about a green potato she ate - one month ago. I saw a post warning us of the perils of drinking herbal tea, even the Celestial Seasonings variety, and how we should avoid herbs like rosemary and basil because they'll cause miscarriages (this was a slight misunderstanding about the harm of using these herbs as essential oils, rather than ingesting them in cooking quantities). There was panic in California because a woman ate a piece of rum cake, drama in Colorado when a woman ate a piece of smoked salmon, and peril in Ohio from the inadvertent ingestion of cottage cheese (a bit of confusion over the whole avoid soft cheese thing, I would guess). My good lord, it's amazing babies ever make it to nine months without sprouting extra heads, what with all this bad mothering going on.

I don't know what this all comes down to. Maybe it's just a lack of common sense during pregnancy and we panic about everything. That's feasible, because a lot of other things go out the window during pregnancy like hand/eye co-ordination, short term memory, and the ability to stop ourselves from slapping annoying people. I also think it's due to a phenomenon called Too Much Information. Books contradict each other, even doctors differ in opinions about what's safe. We rely on the Internet to diagnose our ailments and provide answers. We don't trust our own instincts anymore because "studies" keep proving that the things we thought were harmless are actually lethal. We follow these factoids blindly and rely on the advice of others - no matter how irrational it is.

I will admit that I have worried about things that make me laugh now (e.g. just before my first scan, I suddenly had the thought that maybe there was no baby in there and I was experiencing some sort of phantom pregnancy). What saddens me is this constant stream of women who are devastated because they may have harmed their babies, when in fact, they've not. I'm always banging on about the myriad of ways we're made to feel like Bad Mothers, but I think it's even worse when we do it to ourselves.

have a holly jolly...um...whatever

My ex-neighbour man Mark brought up an interesting point about Christmas and how to refer to it if you're not Christian. I'm sure I'm going about the whole thing all wrong from both ends of the spectrum - not only am I not a follower of any particular faith (Christian or otherwise), I also don't find Christmas to be an over-commercialised atrocity. So, I suppose that puts me somewhere in the middle.

I've always loved Christmas, and I'll admit, I never considered the religious aspect of it. Maybe it sounds ridiculous considering the origin of the holiday, but the 25th of December didn't make me think about mangers, wise men, and swaddling clothes. As a child, I only thought about being well behaved for Santa Claus, opening presents, and going to my Grandparent's house for our big turkey dinner. The first Christmas ad on television was an exciting milestone, and I eagerly anticipated the onslaught of animated TV specials. I would wake up at 3am, desperately willing the time away until a more reasonable hour, usually bounding down the stairs before 6. I would check to see what Santa had eaten (my Dad always just took a few bites out of the peanut butter sandwiches and cookies I'd leave out, so that Santa could leave his "mark"), and if the reindeer had nibbled on the carrots and sipped from the basin of water I'd left out as well. If we were living in a house that had no chimney at the time, my Dad would make a point of leaving the patio doors unlocked for Santa. It was the best day of the year, even better than my birthday.

As an adult, I still get excited when the first Christmas ad comes on (although they seem to start up earlier each year, and yes, that's annoying) and I absolutely adore the holidays. I love putting up the tree, the house filling with the smell of fresh pine that didn't come from a bottle of floor cleaner. I cannot help but ooh and aaah when the outdoor lights go up and get switched on for the first time. I like buying boxes of Christmas cards; I even like writing them. I love the feeling of finding a good gift for someone, and I'm more interested in watching others open their gifts than what's under the tree for me. I look forward to getting together with friends, plying them with baked goods and having a cuddle with their kids. I cannot wait until next year when our son will experience his first Christmas, and later years when we can leave out snacks for Santa and the reindeer together. Christmas has a distinct feel to me, that can only be described as a general feeling of excitement that's only just slightly less extreme than the excitement I felt as a kid. Very slightly.

So at the risk of offending the Christians and the people who feel that Dec. 25th is an over-hyped abomination, I will stand up and say that I am agnostic, and I love Christmas. It's supposed to be a celebration, a spirit of giving and appreciation. Religious or not, it has always been a significant holiday to me and I think that's the whole point. Christmas is whatever you want it to be, whether it involves prayer and hymns, or dressing the dog up in reindeer antlers and consuming mass quantities of brandy butter.

'Tis the season.

Monday 29 November 2004

it's a sign

First we had the Virgin Mary on toast (sold on eBay for an astounding $28k), and as Ed pointed out on his blog, now we've got Christ on a fish stick. I've been checking my food items for signs of divine intervention, but sadly, the best I could come up with was two peanut rice crackers that had stuck together and sort of looked like buttocks.

These mysterious images on cooked foods stories reminded me of a friend of mine who got hold of a Goofy toast imprinter and thoroughly confused his father with it. He found a plastic implement that when pressed into a slice of bread, left an indentation of Goofy's face on it. It wasn't entirely visible when the bread was untoasted, which is how he managed to stamp an entire loaf of bread and put it back in the breadbox without his father noticing. Every morning when his Dad made toast, the image of Goofy would appear on each slice. He was convinced that Disney must be running some sort of promotion, and found it irritating that they had infringed on his usual commercial-free breakfasts.

So keep an eye peeled for any unusual patterns in your baked goods, images on patterns of mould growing on leftovers, and oddly-shaped vegetables. It could be your key to financial independence!

night owl

Pip has been extremely kicky and tumbly for the past few days, so it was a bit worrying when he being very quiet yesterday. He tends to follow the same pattern: kick Mummy at 9am and continue periodically throughout the morning, have a quick rest for lunch, start prodding Mummy again in the middle of the afternoon, have another rest during dinner, make popcorn in Mummy's tummy for the duration of the evening, and give her a few jabs just before bed. Yesterday, I didn't feel anything when I woke up, and nothing after breakfast. I wiggled my belly (while Jasper looked on with great curiosity) and got a light kick, and that was it until lunchtime. During lunch, I got one more kick, and that was it until the evening when I got a few more pokes.

I know that there's no point in doing those inane "kick counts" recommended by some (mostly American) books and resources because every baby has periods of rest. For those of you not in the know, books like "What to Expect When You're Expecting" claim that you should start counting kicks after 28 weeks. You should be able to count ten movements (kicks, swishes, etc.) in ten minutes, and if not, you should call your doctor immediately. No really, I'm not making this up.

I wasn't panicking, but it was unusual for Pip to be this quiet. I finished reading my book (Patricia Cornwell's "The Last Precinct", if you're curious - a very good read), switched off the light, and settled into my fort of pillows to sleep.

Then Pip woke up.

Kick kick kick kick kick kick flutter kick poke prod tumble kick kick kick kick flutter swoosh kick. Repeat for the entire night, into the morning, and up until the very moment that I'm typing this. Oh please let this not be his waking pattern after he's born. Please.

Thursday 25 November 2004

oh, THERE you are!

Speaking of milestones, yet another exciting one occurred last night - Paul felt Pip squirm and kick for the very first time! Yay! Pip was being particularly active yesterday evening (I think I've got my kid addicted to chai tea) and was giving me enthusiastic kicks. It reminded me of Jiffy Pop; it was like watching popcorn pop underneath the tin foil surface on the stove top. Paul put his hand on my tummy, and even though Pip did his usual "Ooh there's Daddy, I'm going to hide now" trick for a few seconds, he couldn't resist giving us a good wriggle that Paul could actually feel. He described it as feeling like muscle twitches, which is exactly how it felt to me at the time. I'm sure he'll feel the big kicks soon and will catch a glimpse of my tummy making popcorn.

A round of applause for you, my kicky boy.

i don't think i want fries with that

We were watching an American home makeover type program the other day, and the host was extolling the virtues of a particular smoker/BBQ. In addition to the fact that it was the size of a Mini Cooper, apparently it could deep fry two turkeys at a time.

Deep fried turkeys?

Paul was on a telephone conference yesterday with our Ft. Lauderdale office, and someone mentioned that he was planning on deep frying a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tonight. When did this trend start, and does a deep fried turkey actually taste good? Do you coat it in a crispy batter with seven secret herbs and spices? How on earth do you deep fry a 20 lb. turkey at home without the aid of an industrial fryer?

Truly, I'm perplexed by this concept. Someone please explain.

Wednesday 24 November 2004

but on the other hand...

Okay, I know that I've been moaning/whining a lot lately about pregnancy. To be totally honest, I do love being pregnant. I mean, how cool is it to feel a little baby wriggling around inside of you, knowing that you provide its lifeline? I've been fascinated by my growing belly, and not a day goes by that I don't notice something new (good or bad). I suppose some find the idea of having no control over your own body to be rather terrifying, I find it incredibly interesting. It's rather exciting to not know what'll happen next. Each little milestone is a great event; I cannot wait for the next one.

I do admit that I am very eager for the baby to be born. I am so curious to see what he will look like and more importantly, I cannot wait to hold him in my own two hands. I am an extremely tactile person (as my poor overcuddled dog will attest to), and rubbing my belly isn't really comparable to the kind of contact we will have in a few months.

Heather very kindly gave us two huge bagfuls of clothes, little shoes, dummies, a baby bath, and a toy for the car seat/buggy. I couldn't suppress the involuntary "awwwwwwww" noise that came out of me as I folded up each item and put it in the cupboard. It's hard to believe that these little tiny clothes will contain a real baby in three months. At the moment, my perception of him is the blurry skeletal figure we've seen in scans, that wriggles around inside of me and gives me a good kick every now and then. How I wish we could take another peek inside with a surgical camera or something similar - if only to figure out what on earth he's doing when it feels like there's an earthquake going on in there.

kiwis can fly

My favourite Kiwis Jack and Heather are planning on moving back home next October. Part of me is very sad about this. They are the first friends I made in Cambridge, and I will miss them terribly. Part of me is quite pleased about this. Now we really have a great excuse to visit New Zealand and woohoo free B&B accommodation! (Or at least they can recommend a good place to stay.)

Over the past four years I've discovered that us ex-pat Commonwealthers have a lot in common. The English think we pronounce things funny, we cannot understand why people carpet their bathrooms and kitchens here, we can sympathise with each other's pathetic dollar, we are often confused with another nationality starting with "A", and we love the fact that we can vote and there's squat all the British can do about it. It's been great to not only have these things in common, but to be friends with someone here who knows and loves Montreal. Plus, there's nothing funnier than hearing a Kiwi bloke yell out "tabarnacle!!" at the office.

Through the miracle of modern technology, I know that we'll keep in touch. Still, I've never had close friends live that far away from me before, and that's going to be a bit weird. The next 11 months are going to be busy for all of us, but here's hoping we make the most of it. Oh, and we expect a large BBQ of some sort before you go - you guys are really good at grilling things.

Tuesday 23 November 2004

i need to hibernate

I have been feeling positively icky lately. I'm tired, achey, nauseous, and my arse goes numb if I don't get up and move every hour. Heartburn continues to plague me, and enjoys waking me up late at night, forcing me to fumble around in the dark for a Tums. I cannot get comfortable, no matter where I am. I want to go home and wrap myself in my duvet, and sip hot chocolate with my dog by my side.

Shame about this chaotic work deadline and the fact that my maternity leave doesn't start for over two months. Help.

travelling vicariously through others

I never used to enjoy hearing about other people's travels or looking at their photos after a holiday. I'd nod and smile, and think to myself why on earth would you want to get on a plane for 10 hours and end up somewhere you don't speak the language and the drinking water is dodgy? When I started travelling myself, I finally understood what people meant by "being bitten by the travel bug". I started reading travel guides and books by Bill Bryson, and was actually interested in hearing about other people's holidays (on the most part - stories about two weeks in Ibizia aren't quite as fascinating to me). So when unique travel programmes pop up on television, I get hooked. Recently added to my viewing list is "Long Way Round" and "Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand" (sadly, Michael Palin's "Himalayas" series has just ended).

"Long Way Round" follows Ewan McGregor (eeee!!) and his mate Charlie as they make their way east from England to New York on motorcycles. It's not really one of those shows that makes you want to head to the shop, buy a bike, and head out yourself; it's nail-biting and fascinating and makes you think "better them than me, and oooh isn't this sofa comfy?" The Billy Connolly programme follows the same format as his other world tour series; it's a travelogue interspersed with clips from his live shows. This programme really makes me want to spend an ungodly amount of time on an airplane to visit New Zealand, rather that let Billy enjoy it for us. Plus, I bet the drinking water in New Zealand isn't dodgy.

If I could go anywhere in the world (no expense spared and let's pretend that I'm not semi-heavy with child), I would go to Japan. It's partly a getting back to my roots thing, an interest cultivated by the brief glimpses into the culture via my family. Where would you go?

Monday 22 November 2004

this n' that

Clothes that I pushed to the "pfffft, I can only wear this when I'm 9 months pregnant" section of my closet actually fit me. Clothes that were in my "this ought to fit me right up until the birth" section now don't fit me very well. I figure by February, I'll be wearing a duvet cover. Don't even get me started about the twelve different bra sizes I've got in my underwear drawer.

If I ever get any free time, I'm going to write a book entitled "A Guide to Pregnancy That Isn't Full of Cack". Chapters will include: "Yes, that's normal: Why your pregnancy isn't exactly like What to Expect When You're Expecting tells you it should be", "Not having morning sickness is a blessing, not a bad omen", "That one cup of coffee/sip of wine/slice of smoked salmon will not kill you or your unborn child", and "You're pregnant. You'll gain weight. Get over it." Of course, it's probably a better idea to write a book like this when I'm not irritable and easily annoyed.

I've just been enlightened about the concept of attachment parenting; I'd never heard of it before. As I understand it, this involves wearing the baby in a sling whenever possible, "co-sleeping" with the baby, avoiding frequent separations from your child, and letting the child decide when it's time to wean from breastfeeding. I don't get it. Is this another way to make working mothers and those who cannot/do not want to breastfeed feel like Bad Mothers? Although I'm all for bonding with your baby and believe that physical contact is very important, I cannot imagine having the baby tethered to me at all times and would be terrified of rolling over and crushing him if he was in bed with us. Truly, I do not get this concept at all.

And finally, my laugh of the day (from a pregnancy magazine): "By week 27, you may have gained up to 2kg by now!" I think I gained 2kg approximately 10 minutes after finding out I was pregnant, thanks.

what a bunch of turkeys

Do all Americans get two days off work for Thanksgiving, or is it up to the company you work for? I got an email last week stating that our Ft. Lauderdale office will be closed on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. Two days off! A four day weekend! Why, when I was a child, we only got one day off for Canadian Thanksgiving. After we walked 23 miles through the snow in our bare feet, fighting off polar bears and irate baby seals (and you can't blame them for being annoyed, really), we'd get the Monday off to eat our frozen turkey dinner. The next day, we'd be back in the snow again, throwing leftovers at the polar bears and running as fast as we could to school where we'd be forced to learn French and play ice hockey. You Americans have it so good, you have no idea.

Friday 19 November 2004

hello in there!

Pip tends to get quite active when I'm stuck in meetings, and today was no exception. He was rolling around and kicking about, having a grand old time (I assume). I looked down at my belly during one of his more acrobatic moments, and I saw a kick from the outside! For the very first time, I saw a little protrusion that lasted only a second. It was amazing. And a bit strange, to be honest. You go months without really knowing that there's a baby in there (except when it's confirmed by scans and midwife appointments), then you start feeling movements and it becomes a lot more real, and then you can make out limbs poking your abdomen from the inside. Okay, there's definitely someone in there! I cannot stop looking down at my belly, hoping to catch another visible kick.

I keep reading about baby hiccups (I get a few "your baby this week" updates from various sites), but I'm not sure if I've felt this yet. I did feel a rhythmic "twinge" at one point today, that felt a bit like a muscle twitching for a few minutes. Maybe that was hiccups. Or gas.

My poor old esophagus is still being plagued by heartburn/acid reflux, which I have now accepted as normal for at least the next 14 weeks of my life. At least it's nice knowing that I get it no matter what I eat, so I can go ahead and eat my spicy food favourites with the same consequences. Ooh and chocolate too.

Damn, hungry now.

honey, i blew up the toaster

It was like Guy Fawkes all over again in the kitchen this morning. I put my bagel into the toaster and after a couple of minutes, sparks started flying. Flaming embers burst out of the top of the toaster (oooooh! aaaaah!), a loud "BANG" followed, and then the smell of burning electrical goods. The kettle socket on the other side of the kitchen went out in sympathy. Gathering my smouldering bagel, I crept over to Tosha's desk and asked her to let the office know about the exploding toaster, and headed downstairs to use the other kitchen. So for those of you who were inconvenienced by the whole affair this morning, I do apologise.

Hmm. My bagel tastes a bit funny.

Thursday 18 November 2004


I have discovered that it's really difficult to conduct an interview when you've got a baby clog dancing inside you and you have the worst heartburn ever*. Concentration was impossible and the poor guy probably thought I needed to pee because I couldn't sit in one position for more than two minutes. Luckily, most of our interviewing will take place in the next few weeks. Interviews in January might have been a bit challenging, especially if my water broke in the middle of it, for example. There's just no graceful way to get around that, really.

*(I knew that Mexican meal would come back to haunt me, but it was worth it. And I'd do it again.)

Tuesday 16 November 2004

bore the world

So at 8:00 this morning, my clock radio goes off and I wake up to the opening notes of the new version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" on Radio One. Maybe it's because I had only just woken up. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember the original from 20 years ago. Maybe it's because I'm a cranky broad. I just didn't like it.

I think it pales in comparison for a couple of reasons: it lacks the big name factor that the original had (Will Young vs. Spandau Ballet, for example), you can't really tell who's singing each line, and oh my good god, the rap in the middle of the song. Words fail me. The 1984 version was so exciting because wow, it was Duran Duran, Boy George, Sting, Bananarama, and a bunch of other people we all knew singing together on one track! (Okay, I admit I had no idea who Status Quo were until I moved here and didn't realise they were the two old geezers in the video until I watched a documentary about it a few weeks ago.) It was Christmassy, catchy, and it was a unique concept. I think a lot of us old timers expected that same jolly feeling we got listening to the chorus of "feeeeed the worrrrrld!", but instead got a couple of overmixed refrains with a wailing electric guitar in the foreground. And does anyone outside of the UK know who the Sugababes are? Or Busted?

Yes, it's nice to see celebs raise money for a worthy cause, especially if they're not doing it to revive flagging careers. It's better they put together something like this rather than take part in cringeworthy television antics such as "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" or "Celebrity Big Brother" (Jack Dee excepted). Does it provide an excuse to put out a mediocre bordering on dire song?

Well, at least Mr. Blobby probably won't get the Christmas number one again this year.

Monday 15 November 2004

i've always wanted tight abs, but this is ridiculous

All weekend long, I felt as if my non-existent abdominal muscles kept flexing. It's not exactly painful, just uncomfortable. I have no idea if these are the "practice" Braxton Hicks contractions I've read about, but I think I'll chalk it up to doing too much hoovering and laundry.

I think that in a small way, the nesting instinct has kicked in early. I haven't got to the stage where I've decided to alphabetise our pantry or hose down the loft with Pine Sol, but my tolerance for mess seems to be lowering daily. I found myself wiping down surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes yesterday, thinking that I should rid the patio doors of unhygienic doggy nose-prints because they're not good for the baby. The baby that's not due for over three months, that is. Yerrrs.

I also have the urge to bake. Not sure what this has to do with having a baby, but it does make me pretty damn happy. The eating more than the baking, mind you.

happiness is...

...having leftover roast beef from last night's dinner for today's lunchtime sandwiches. Extra super duper happiness is having a husband who made the roast beef dinner for you. Mega extra ultra happiness is having leftover gravy (that your husband also made) for tonight's sausage and mash dinner. Indescribable happiness is knowing that there are homemade brownies in the fridge waiting for dessert.

I am a simple gal. Forget diamonds, bring me roasties.

Sunday 14 November 2004

oh, how i love one stop shopping

We went to Kiddicare in Peterborough yesterday, and oh my, but it was good. Talk about a shop that has (almost) everything! I am very pleased to say that our little Pip now has: a travel system (which was much cheaper in the shop than listed on the site, because it's last season's colours), a nappy wrapper that seals up dirty nappies like a sausage, a Baby Bjorn Active carrier, a cot, and a changing mat. I am now the proud owner of: a baby bag, a breast pump, a nursing pillow, and a microwave steriliser. Paul's credit card is still fizzling and smoldering away in his wallet.

It's a huge relief and it's really exciting to see the nursery filling up with baby things. We still need quite a few bits and bobs (nappies, most importantly) but all of the big stuff has now been taken care of. I thought it would be much better to get it all done now while I still have the energy and inclination to shop, rather than fight through the Christmas crowds next month or wait until January when I'll be the size of a large sea mammal. Plus, it's been fun to get all giddy and say to each other "We're having a baby!" whilst playing with our new purchases.

We have booked our Parentcraft half day class and hospital tour for late January. I figured the later the better - if I try to absorb information about labour and delivery now, it'll all be gone by next month. We start our NCT classes on January 5th. It's not that long to go, really. Erk.

At least Pip doesn't have to sleep in a drawer, though.

another reason to go visit Scotland

Smoking is going to be banned in enclosed public places in Scotland, which I think is going a bit overboard (places that are only used for the consumption of drinks don't need a smoking ban, in my opinion) but definitely a step in the right direction. So that leaves the English and the Welsh with a decision to make, and hopefully it'll result in a ban in restaurant smoking here at the very least. Now again, let me stress (for you new readers or those of you who Googled for something totally unrelated and ended up here - hello, by the way) that I am not a rabid anti-smoker. I smoked with great joy for over 15 years and only quit because it was affecting my health; not because I didn't enjoy it. What I never agreed with, even when I was a smoker, was inconsiderate smoking - something I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

On Friday night, we went to our favourite curry house which is supposedly entirely non-smoking. What we didn't realise is that while the restaurant itself is non-smoking, the bar area where people sit and wait for their takeaways isn't. Guess where our table was located? Yes, it's me again, the smoke magnet. Shortly after our waiter took our order, I wondered aloud why I could smell smoke. Paul pointed out that someone was having a cig whilst waiting for his takeaway, and we noticed the ashtrays sitting on the bar, about ten feet from our table. Well that's a bit silly, we remarked, and got back to another conversation. The smell got a lot stronger, I looked over and spotted two men sitting by the bar smoking and waiting for their food. After they finished their cigarettes, in unison, they both lit another. Now the restaurant was filling up with smoke, to the point that it lingered in my hair and clothing the next day. Getting a headache and trying to enjoy (and taste) our starters, they finally got their food and left - only to be replaced by another smoker waiting for his takeaway. What is the point of having a non-smoking restaurant if you allow people to puff away to their heart's content right next to the tables? This is what I mean by inconsiderate smoking, or the lack of considerate smoking rules. I know for a fact that it's a hell of a lot easier to go without a smoke for a meal or go outside a couple of times to sneak a cig, rather than sit through an entire meal breathing in someone else's smoke. Get smoking out of restaurants. Full stop.

If you elect me for Prime Minister, I promise smoke-free restaurants and chocolate for all. I thank you.

Friday 12 November 2004

how to use pregnancy to your advantage

This week, I've had three different people on three different occasions ask if I'm going to go into labour. How is this an advantage, you might ask? For all three situations, it was said in fear. For example, "You're not about to go into labour, are you?" after presenting a slightly stressful dilemma to me. I have decided that whenever a situation may get a bit harrowing or I am about to have more work dumped on me, I will clutch my belly and start making "hoo hoo hoo hoo!" breathing noises until my colleagues flee in terror. I am also going to try this in long queues and see if it gets me to the front more quickly. Will keep you all posted.

Thursday 11 November 2004

heave ho

I think Pip's gained about 20 lbs. and he's filled my belly with cement. Everything aches and I feel like I'm carrying five bowling balls around with me, and I'm not just referring to the alarmingly large breasts I seem to be developing all of a sudden. When I sit down, I can feel whatever I've just eaten sitting in my stomach, which is now located approximately an inch below the bottom of my bra. I'm not sure if my belly is growing up, or my chest is sinking lower. I suspect a bit of both.

I think that babies must go through growth spurts, because it always feels like I get bombarded by various ills and woes all at once after days of feeling pretty darn good. Then one day I wake up and I can't roll over in bed without making an old lady noise. Actually, I can't move at all without making some sort of noise, and it's really disconcerting. I stand up from sitting down and it's "oooooof!", I sit down after standing up and it's "aaaaach", and I cannot get in and out of the car without making a huffy puffy breathy noise. And yes, I know I've got 15 more weeks to go and it'll just get a lot noisier.

On the plus side, I love that I can feel Pip all the time now and his kicks and jabs are getting stronger. Paul still hasn't been able to experience this for himself yet (Pip does have a knack for going quiet as soon as Paul gets within a foot of me), but I'm sure it'll be soon. Oh and big shopping this weekend - we're off to Kiddicare to get lots of stuff. Woooooooo!

better now, thank you

I'm not quite as tetchy today, and I owe it all to owning a pet. Seriously, you cannot be miserable when you have a pet at home who will love you no matter what kind of stinky mood you're in. There is nothing more therapeutic than giving your pet a hug (except if you happen to own a tropical fish or tarantula, perhaps) and watching how incredibly goofy they can be. Take Jasper, for example. You can give that dog a rolled up envelope from a piece of junk mail, and he will march around the house wagging his little doggy ass off as if you've just given him a million bucks. What lesson can we learn from this? Take joy in the little things and incidentally, junk mail envelopes are pretty tasty.

It's also hard to stay in a bad mood when you've got an overexcited developer standing next to you, shifting back and forth excitedly remarking, "I'm being annoying, aren't I?" Yes you are, but bless you, you're just so cute I don't actually feel like beating you with my stapler. I am sure this is some sort of chemical reaction to impending motherhood; small, irritating people* are somehow much more tolerable and even slightly endearing.

And it's Friday tomorrow. The week is looking up.

*(Disclaimer: the particular developer I was referring to isn't actually irritating. Don't get all huffy.)

Wednesday 10 November 2004

especially for you

Sharon Osbourne once said that she put dog poo in Tiffany boxes and posted them to people she wasn't particularly fond of. Given the annoying situations I've had to deal with at work lately, I am very tempted to follow Jasper around with a little plastic bag and create some gifts for those who irk me. Tiffany boxes probably won't interest people who work in IT, so I think I may have to use alternative packaging such as XBox game cases and boxes from Amazon.com or play.com.

No court would convict me. It's the hormones, you see.

Tuesday 9 November 2004


Of all the pregnancy weirdness I've read about, I've not come across this one: has anyone heard of allergies suddenly getting much worse or suddenly developing an allergy to something new? We went to visit our friends Russ and Debs this weekend, and they have a lovely little cocker spaniel called Jake. Jake's been to our house and vice versa numerous times over the past 2 1/2 years, and I've spent plenty of time with him. As far as I know, I've never been allergic to dogs - proven by the fact that Jasper has never bothered my allergies. My worst allergy is to cats, which not only makes me sneeze like a lunatic and rub my eyes out, I cannot breathe properly and my chest tightens to the point I start wheezing. So for no apparent reason, my allergies went ballistic this weekend. Unless Jake has been replaced by a cat donning a cocker spaniel suit, I am at a loss to explain this sudden reaction. We thought I might have been reacting to Deb's lovely bouquet of lilies she had on her windowsill, but then I noticed that the patch on my arm Jake had been lovingly slurping turned red and bumpy. When we left the house, I was fine after a few minutes. As soon as we returned, angry allergies came back.

I spent the night sitting up and coughing, trying to catch my breath (and cursing the fact that I can't take any allergy tablets). I'm fine now, and Jasper hasn't even made my nose itch so I assume I haven't suddenly developed a dog allergy. Strange.

clear as mud

Most of the time, I love my job. No really, I do. Then there are days like today when a CPR (an internal request to fix a problem) arrives in my inbox to the effect of, "I don't like the words in this dialogue box. Change them." Right. So I email this guy and ask him to please be more specific, and the response I get amounts to "I dunno, it's just yucky." Oh, alrighty then.

Let me elaborate on this further by pointing out that the person who raised this CPR is a test engineer* - it's his job to test the software and provide useful, detailed information when he finds something wrong. I like test engineers; I married one. I don't like people who can't be bothered to do their jobs properly. It vexes me greatly.

And here I am with no chocolate within reach.

*(not from our office, don't get all huffy.)

Thursday 4 November 2004

i'm eating for two (large truck drivers)

Had a lovely fun lunch with the Pregnant Ladies Club today, wherein I almost completely devoured a very large plate of fish and chips. The frightening thing is that right now, I'm still kind of hungry. Seeing as there is supposed to be less room as the baby grows, I'm not entirely sure where the fish and chips went. Perhaps I've grown a second stomach to accommodate the extra food intake.

Today's lunchtime discussion made me realise that we have lots of shopping left to do. So far, Pip has a jaunty outfit, a half dozen sleeping gowns, muslins (or rather, heavier duty cloths from Gerber we found in the States), two Snoopy dummies, a Snoopy pillow, two stuffed dogs, and a baby monitor. If he were to arrive today, he'd have to sleep in a drawer. Or in one of Jasper's beds. Hmmm. Not good. I know that there are several things that we don't need to get right away like a crib/cot (we're borrowing a moses basket from Gary and Ruth for the first few months), and anything related to solid food feeding, but we really do need to sort out a car seat and some sort of buggy/pram/travel system type thing...and nappies, wipes, bath/cleaning things, breastfeeding things, and items for my hospital bag. And a bag, for that matter. I felt like we have tons of time left but then talk about delivering early made me think that we might have less time than we think. Still, we have at least three months to get organised and we only really need to worry about the things that might have to be backordered like travel systems.

Oh yeah, and at some point, we've got to do some Christmas shopping. Gah.

i do get there eventually

Honeymoon pictures can now be seen here. Sorry that the pictures are a bit small; I'm running out of disk space and I had to reduce the images.

Trip diary coming soon...ish.

Wednesday 3 November 2004

mind the bump

I keep forgetting to take pictures of my bump, so I threw the camera at Paul this morning (hence my wet head) and asked him to snap a pic for me. Here I am at 24 weeks today:

And now you can see why shaving my legs and painting my toes are no longer an easy feat. Last night while watching "Little Angels" on BBC3 (better to learn all about raising children now, you see), Pip gave me an almighty kick that I could most definitely feel from the outside. I rushed over next to Paul and placed his hand on my belly, waiting for the next kick. For the next several minutes, I could feel a few flutters and could feel him shifting around a bit, but nothing powerful enough for Paul to feel. Paul said not to worry because it won't be long now before he'll be able to feel the kicks for himself. Although I've enjoyed this secret method of communication between Pip and myself for the past couple of months, I am really eager for Paul to get in on it now too.

Tuesday 2 November 2004

the sun salutation might be a bit challenging

I have my first antenatal yoga class tomorrow evening, and I'm all agog. I absolutely love yoga but haven't done it in ages; I cannot wait to get back into it. I imagine that yoga for pregnancy involves a lot of deep breathing, gentle stretching, and something to do with the pelvic floor. What I always loved best about yoga was the meditation and relaxation aspects of it. Seeing as I've got this newfound tranquility happening lately, along with the yoga, I should slip nicely into deep relaxation. Or I'll fall asleep after the first 20 minutes, which is entirely possible these days.

Paul sorted through our finances and worked out how much we need to shell out to other people every month. I was really pleased and relieved to hear that we could live on one salary for as long as we need to. This is great news - up until this point, I just assumed that I could only afford to take six months off at the most. While I can't imagine never working again, I also can't imagine handing our baby over to someone 5 days a week. At least this way, I can choose to return to work later (i.e. after one year), return part time, become a contractor, or not return to work at all. That last option has a lot of appeal at the moment, I can tell you. This takes a huge load off my mind and I will be eternally grateful that I have a husband who is much, much better with money than I am. It's going to be very strange living off of someone else's salary. I've never done it before and I find the whole concept odd, but I suppose it's going to be a necessity. Paul said that I will still be working full time (and then some), just not at my desk at the office. So in this respect, I'm still earning a living, really.

It's funny, it's hard to think outside of the stereotypes sometimes. For example, while I was saying to Paul that I would hate to have our son in daycare during the months when he'll be changing the most and that I wouldn't want to miss out on anything, he rightly pointed out that only one of us won't be missing out. He'll be at work while I'll be at home for all of the "firsts", which I completely took for granted. Of course there's nothing saying that Pip won't take his first step in the evening or on the weekend when Paul's around, but I never really thought about how most fathers miss out on the important stuff. I think that's going to be hard on him.

I really admire my friend Tony who has begun working from home now that his wife has gone back to teaching (their son is now around 16 months old). How many Dads do that? How many Dads can do that? I think it's very cool. This isn't really an option for Paul because he's a manager and needs to be onsite at least part of the week, but I know he would take the opportunity if he could. So hurray to Tony who I know is thoroughly enjoying this special time with his son.

oh, pluck it

"Is that a grey hair?" Paul asked as he looked at the back of my head. "A what?!" "I think you have a grey hair." "Pull it out! Pull it out!!" And with one tug, Paul laid the colourless strand of hair in my hand as I stared at it in disbelief. I've never had a grey hair before. Ever. When I go to the hairdresser's, they often ask if I dye my hair (it's very dark) and I proudly tell them that it is all natural. I have no need to dye my hair, for no grey hairs have I. Hah! I laugh at you, Miss Clairol! But what will become of me now that I've sprouted this old lady strand of hair? Is this a sign of things to come? Or can we chalk it up to pregnancy weirdness? Let's opt for the latter.

To be honest, I've never really cared that much about aging. When I was 25, a friend's girlfriend used to warn me of the perils of becoming her age - the ripe old age of 30. "When you get to be my age," she'd always warn, then she'd go on about having to slather yourself with lotion and sit under large floppy hats when you're out in the sun. So 30 came and went, and really, it wasn't terribly eventful. My face didn't fall off, my skin didn't turn to scales, and in fact, life got a hell of a lot better. I never understood people who described themselves as "approaching" a certain age, with a distinct tone of dread. When you're 35, I don't think you can really say that you're approaching 40. Even a 5 year old is approaching 40; they'll get there one day. To me, approaching an age means you're about to celebrate that particular birthday in the coming year. So, I'm approaching 36 and I'm not that bothered about it.

Except if that grey hair comes back with more of its friends, then I'll be annoyed.

Monday 1 November 2004


I've noticed something quite pleasant in the last couple of weeks - a sense of calmness. During quiet moments when I have time to think about how I feel, I've been surprised at how remarkably serene I've felt. Considering I'm in the midst of a big deadline at work (that will continue right up until I go on maternity leave), I'm amazed at how calm I am. Maybe this is the "glowing" part of pregnancy, and I'll feel at one with the world. Until I throw myself into a panic when I go into labour.

After a few days of thinking that Pip had gone very quiet on me, he's now back in full force. I feel kicks, prods, and tumbles from the time I wake up until I lie in bed reading at night. I cannot tell if he can be felt from the outside because whenever I put my hand on my tummy to check, he stops moving. Paul had his hand on my tummy for ages in bed last night, and as soon as he took his hand away, Pip started line dancing again. Little trickster.

As we inch our way towards kitting out the nursery, we bought a baby monitor on Saturday. Now we just need to buy a crib, car seat, buggy, nappy-related things, bedding, feeding-related things, nappies, and a bazillion other things. What was I saying about feeling calm and tranquil?

it'll catch on, one day

We got around 6 or 8 trick or treaters last year, so I thought I'd pick up some miniature chocolate bars just in case we got some again this year. As I was sampling a few on Saturday, Paul pointed out that they are supposed to be for the kids. I pointed out that this was our son's first Halloween and he has dressed up as a football, and ate five more chunky miniature Kit Kats. I attempted to carve a more intricate pumpkin this year with a Finding Nemo theme, however my clumsy hands and inferior carving equipment led to the untimely collapse of poor Nemo's face. "We can stick a candle on the windowsill instead," Paul suggested.

So on Saturday, the doorbell rang. "Trick or treat!" shouted the little blonde girl who lives across the road and her two friends. "Um. You do realise that Halloween is tomorrow night?" I was answered by perplexed smiles and hopeful hands holding plastic bags. I threw a large handful of chocolate in each bag and said they could come back again on Sunday night if they liked. They shouted their thanks and scampered away.

On Halloween night, our first trick or treaters rang the bell at around 5pm. A father pushing a stroller stood there with two small children, as they held out bags and mumbled "trick or treat". "You're my very first trick or treaters of the night!" I told them with great enthusiasm. Blank looks, father continues to stand there saying nothing. "Erm. Here you go then," I said as I handed them some candy. One kid said something to me, but I couldn't understand a word through his oversized mask - which didn't seem to matter as the father was already halfway down our driveway trying to escape the crazy foreign lady who dares to speak to strangers. "How odd", I said to Paul. "The father didn't even say hello or smile. You'd think he would have been a bit friendly to someone giving his kids free chocolate". "We're English", Paul explained. Which really did sum it up.

I think I mentioned this last year, but it seems like most of the kids who come round aren't actually enjoying themselves. Trick or treating is a relatively new concept to the British, and as it's not a tradition yet, I think that children are rather confused about the whole thing. They know if they go to enough houses they might get some candy, but they're not entirely sure why - or if it should be fun. It's a great shame; I feel like they're missing out on the excitement of Halloween. Some might argue that going door to door and demanding candy is all part of that American "give us something for nothing" mentality, but to me, the candy was secondary to the fun of trick or treating. I remember some parents would make us do something like tell a joke or sing a song before we'd get our candy, some would put up elaborate decorations with spooky sound effects and jump out of their bushes at kids as they approached the house. We'd dress up at school for the day and have costume contests and stuff ourselves with candy apples. It really wasn't just a matter of ringing bells and getting little packets of squashed crisps, it was an entire day and evening of excitement.

We got around a dozen kids this year (compare that to the 133 kids my Mom and Dad got last night in Toronto), all of them actually dressed up this time, and no surly teens rang the bell at 9pm demanding candy without bothering to put on a costume. I think it's getting better, but as I said to our friends Micky and Susan last night, I might have Halloween parties and invite kids over when our son is old enough to get into it, rather than take him out trick or treating. At least that way, it might actually be fun for him.

Before I forget, I must have a question answered that's been bothering me for years. What do Francophone children say in Quebec when they go trick or treating? No one ever could tell me what the French (Canadian - I realise they don't do Halloween in France) equivalent of "trick or treat" was. Someone please enlighten me.