Wednesday 29 December 2004

just don't measure the circumference

The midwife appointment went well today, and we even got to see a different midwife as mine was away. She was a very nice lady who made the appropriate sympathetic noises when I whined about my endless heartburn (she informed us that they give Ranitidine to women during labour - never found out why, though) and fatigue. She checked my blood test results and I am borderline anaemic. This means more roast beef dinners and greens for me, woohooooooo! At least this explains why I've been so tired lately and she also told us that babies have growth spurts at around 31 weeks, which would also account for my fatigue. It also explains why I've suddenly developed strong cravings for beef and peanut butter (not at the same time, mind you). She said that women usually find that their energy returns at 34-36 weeks, which would be just in time for my maternity leave. I'm thinking that work may be somewhat of a chore this month. Grand.

I was measured with a measuring tape for the first time (my regular midwife must just be an expert at judging by eye) and I am measuring exactly 32cm; perfect for being 32 weeks pregnant. When she first had a feel, Pip was head down with his back to my side and then he squirmed around a bit and his back was to mine. I didn't realise that he still had quite a bit of room to maneuver, which also explains the mystery of why I feel like there's an octopus in there sometimes. I thought he would be settled into one position, but couldn't figure out why I would feel pokes and prods all over my belly, often times concurrently. They won't really pay much attention to his position until around 36 weeks, so he's still got some time to dance about in there.

I have taken a Zantac and am currently enjoying a heartburn-free evening, even after a delicious supper (made with my husband's fair hands) of beef stroganoff, horseradish mash, and peas. Eight weeks doesn't seem so unbearable now.

no. more. turkey.

Oh what a relief to have finished up work for 2004. Hellish deadlines (which seems to happen every December at every company I've ever worked for as a tech author) but at least we didn't have to worry about hosting the festive feast this year. We drove down to Kent on remarkably quiet roads and motorways on Friday morning and opened our stocking stuffers later that night. I got a Labrador puppies calendar (awwwwwwwww), two cookbooks, and three of the most exciting presents ever: Peanut Butter Cups and Goldfish crackers (Paul managed to find a shop that sells these in Milton Keynes - although for the price, you are better off getting a friend to send them to you from North America and pay for the postage), and a year's subscription to Heat magazine. Being hugely pregnant and then housebound with a newborn won't keep me from my celebrity gossip, no siree.

Christmas Day started off with more present getting and giving, including the armload of pressies from my Mom and Dad shipped to us about a month ago. From the inlaws, I got the new Nigella book (I love that woman - this book includes recipes for Sloppy Joes, Shirley Temples, and chocolate cheesecake), the latest Harry Potter DVD, a handmade clown doll for the baby (yes PaulG, I did make a little eeeek noise when I opened it), a set of Winnie the Pooh books for the baby as well, very comfy slippers, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (loved the DaVinci Code). Mom and Dad got me a few Roots maternity tops (who knew they did preggie clothes?), slippers, a beautiful lacquered Japanese bowl, a calendar, and an envelope of cash. Saving the best for last, my husband got me a gorgeous necklace with a little diamond star-shaped pendant, more of my favourite perfume (Ralph Lauren), and a very fancy milk frother. We got addicted to Chai tea lattes in the States (Starbucks must put crack in each cup, I'm sure) and have been trying to reproduce them at home. I managed to find a place that carried the Tazo tea in bags, so I got some for Paul along with...a milk frother. Doh. We are now a two milk frother household. I also got him a DVD rewriter (made a bit less of a surprise when he opened the package of blank DVDs from his Mum and Dad first), a kitchen blow torch (it's a macho kitchen implement - open flames! Man make creme brulee! Arrrrrr!), and a set of fancypants cheese knives.

Christmas lunch was fantastic, but sadly, I could not stuff my face because I haven't the stomach room anymore. Although I tend to love all food British, I don't get bread sauce. Really, I don't understand it. You boil a clove-studded onion, a bay leaf, and peppercorns in milk, strain the milk, and then add fresh breadcrumbs and a bit of butter. It's always served with poultry and I just don't get it. Perhaps you need to be raised on it to have a liking for it, but to me, it's rather odd and tasteless. The uncouth North American in me prefers to drown everything on my plate with gravy, thanks. My mother in law made her famous brandy butter for the Christmas pud, and I made a heavenly chocolate trifle. The leftovers made a reappearance with some yummy hors d'oeuvres on Boxing Day, as more family came over for lunch. Poor Jasper had torn a back claw right in two on his walk on Christmas Day, so he was hobbling around with a bandaged paw feeling very sorry for himself. On Monday, we ventured out to Bluewater shopping centre...which apparently the rest of the free world decided to do that day as well. We discovered that Bluewater now has a Krispy Kreme doughnuts shop (still have yet to try one). Indeed. We returned home on more delightfully quiet roads and motorways, with a tin foil-wrapped bundle of leftover turkey and ham.

Russ and Debs came by yesterday with more gifts for all of us (even Jasper who got the biggest rawhide chew in the world), and I made a very un-Chistmassy lunch of minestrone soup and homemade pizza. Today is a day of rest; just a midwife appointment and a visit to the vet to fix Jasper's poorly paw. Tomorrow we're off to see Gary, Ruth, and little Naomi. New Year's Eve will be spent at home, and I'll undoubtedly fall asleep on the sofa by 9. On Sunday, my brother in law, sister in law, and our two nieces are coming over to begin a month of "let's visit Paul and Lisa before she gets too huge to move" family get togethers. Then it's back to work on the 4th. Ugh. Bleah. Ick.

Please - no more turkey. Oh, but I will finish that box of chocolates.

Tuesday 28 December 2004

gonna be a long two months

I've entered the phase of pregnancy most commonly referred to as "Okay, I've Had Enough Now". While I still maintain that I love my bump and feeling all the squirms and prods, great discomfort is now my constant companion. Backache, shoulder/neck/rib ache, pulled belly muscles when I sneeze, heartburn (back like a motherfecker), fatigue, shortness of breath, leg cramps, nausea, and endless other aches and pains plague me throughout the day and night. Most of it doesn't bother me too much, but I absolutely hate being this fatigued. It feels like I'm always on the brink of a flu and I have no energy at all. I can do a few tasks, but then I've got to sit and catch my breath. Even in my smoking days, I wasn't this feeble. Thankfully I can manage to get a relatively decent night's sleep (I can go to the loo a few times a night without actually waking up, I think) but I still need to take a nap during the day.

I had a dream the other night in which I had given birth. I remember thinking to myself that it really wasn't all that bad, but the best part is, I now don't have any pregnancy discomforts. Hurrah! Then I suddenly realised that I was at home but didn't have the baby with me, and that I must have left him at the hospital. Oopsie.

Pip got a couple of Christmas presents already, lucky little guy. His Nanna (Paul's Mum) knit him a colourful clown doll, got him a Tweety bird toy, and a collection of Winnie the Pooh books. His Uncle Russell and Auntie Debbie gave him a kit to make a plaster cast of his tiny toes. Lots of our Christmas cards were written out to me, Paul, and Pip. Everyone has advised us to enjoy our last quiet Christmas, but to be honest, I cannot wait until Pip gets old enough to really enjoy it. I am so looking forwards to leaving out snacks for Santa and seeing his face when he tears into his presents on Christmas morning. I know we have at least two more Christmases to go before he gets to that stage, but I'm already eagerly anticipating it.

Eight more weeks to go, give or take. We have another midwife visit tomorrow and our NTC antenatal classes start a week tomorrow. Three and a half more weeks of work when we return in January, then we wait for the big day. Just please don't make me endure eight more weeks of heartburn.

Thursday 23 December 2004

deck them halls

From Lisa, Paul, Pip, and Jasper, have a fantastic holiday, everyone! Now get outta here and drown yourself in eggnog and Christmas puds. xxx

Tuesday 21 December 2004

now i've just got to resist the urge to stuff my face

I had a thoroughly mundane day yesterday working from home, eating toast, cheese, a hard boiled egg, chicken soup (x2), more toast, and drinking tea. I made an appointment with a GP to get this heartburn thing settled once and for all because 12 weeks is too long for one girl to suffer. He said I could take Zantac (or any renitidine tablet), which I did with glee that evening. I don't want to take a pill every time the heartburn bothers me, but there are some days when it's very painful and keeps me up at night. After suffering with acid reflux all day yesterday (not to mention the hilarity from the night before) I took a tablet at bedtime and even now, the following afternoon, I feel pretty darn good. Great joy!

I assume that Pip remains oblivious to any discomfort I experience, because he tumbles and kicks away as usual. I love how his movements have changed as the weeks have gone by - from the first little flutters to actually feeling him shift around and squirm when I press on my belly. I think I'm going to try and take an mpeg of my belly moving, just because I find it so very cool. I sit and watch my tummy warp and contort in the evenings (and during meetings), fascinated by all the activity happening. It's partially freaky (especially when I press down and can feel baby bits wriggling around), but it's mostly wonderful. And it makes me feel that much closer to the time when I will be able to feel him outside of my belly. Cannot wait.


It's the last of Ed and Martine's 12 Monkeys for 2004. This month's theme:

"give me a year": What would you do if you had a free year, all to yourself, to dedicate to whatever you wanted? Assume money was not a problem -- you've just received a $60,000 Monkey Grant.

(I'll amend this slightly to £60,000 because $60K Canadian is like a tenner.)

Strangely enough, I do have a year off work starting in February, although it's not exactly a free year to do whatever I want. Still, it's going to be a strange experience and I can only take a guess at what it'll be like. I imagine the first three months will involve a lot of crying and sleepless nights (for all), nappy changing, feeding, and generally being awestruck by this new life in our house. The rest of it is a complete mystery to me. It's going to be a cool but slightly strange trip, I think.

So let's say we weren't expecting a baby and we were taking a year off, full stop. I would travel, as boring as that sounds. I only started travelling a few years ago, so I've got a lot of ground still to cover. Maybe we would do that self build we've been dreaming about, which would likely be easier if we're not working and could live elsewhere during the construction. I would lock myself away in a cottage in the Lake District or the Highlands and write one of the many books I keep threatening to put together. I'd take a class in painting, because it's been far too long since I've done any art. I would go back home for a couple of weeks. I'd stay at a spa and get pampered for at least a long weekend - and take all my girl friends with me. I'd learn another language; I'm leaning towards Italian. I would dust off my bicycle and go on long rides. I'd try to get a job as a travel writer or food critic. Or both.

A year? I think I need a decade.

Monday 20 December 2004

i'm finally in fashion

According to this article on the BBC web site, more women are waiting until after 35 to have children. That's right, us old broads are squeezing out puppies at an increased rate than you young things these days. It's been nice knowing friends having baby #1 at 30 or later; it takes the edge off those days when I think about things like how I'll be almost 57 when our son celebrates his 21st birthday. At least I'm not going to be the only parent over 40 when we attend Pip's first Christmas pageant.

It's all circumstantial, really. I didn't exactly make a conscious choice to wait until after 35 to get pregnant, things just worked out that way. When I was in my 20s, I was with someone who didn't want kids and I certainly wasn't ready to be a Mum anyway. I hadn't the money nor the job stability, or the maturity for that matter. It wasn't until I got together with Paul that I realised the time had come - I was ready for motherhood and wanted it baaaaad. So here we are. Older and wiser and hot damn, am I ready for maternity leave.

fun while it lasted

So much for my heave-free pregnancy record. At 1.30 this morning, after a couple of hours attempting to get to sleep and trying to find a comfortable position, I finally succumbed to the Vom Monster. It's unlikely to be food poisoning or a stomach bug (thankfully) because it didn't last all night, so Paul and I think it's simply down to overeating that evening. Paul made one of his famous roast dinners, which I scarfed down greedily. Being a bit too enthusiastic about my recently acquired ability to get more food in my stomach, I had that fateful second helping. Paul did remind me that when I ate a full plate last Sunday of his roast lamb dinner, I wasn't feeling too stellar afterwards, but I was certain I'd be fine now that the bump seems to have dropped a bit and I'd been feeling much hungrier lately. That's the last time I listen to my stomach, I tell you.

So this is the second time I've scared myself and Paul at 1.30 in the morning, which leads me to believe that I'll probably go into labour at 1.30 in the morning. Although I realise that getting sick to your stomach is nothing to get alarmed about, it was the fact that I suddenly disappeared and Paul heard strange noises coming from the loo. I was worried because the horrible cramps and general feeling of ickyness before I got sick had me partially convinced that I was going into labour. I know, I know - I never claimed to be sane at 1.30 in the morning. I wonder if all pregnant women go through this phase in the last trimester? Am I going to keep thinking that I'm going into labour for the next 9 weeks? It doesn't help that I bought things for my maternity bag yesterday, so the superstitious side of me thinks that will induce labour. Oh and maternity bag, my arse. Who can fit everything they and the baby will need into a bag? I'll need a suitcase just for the nappies, maternity pads, cotton wool, and Pip's sleepsuits.

Anyway, so here I sit with my mug of tea and dry toast. We came to the conclusion that small meals often is the way to go, which means goodbye gigantic Christmas lunch, hello grazing over the course of a day. Moo.

Friday 17 December 2004

ding dong merrily on high

It's Christmas Day one week from tomorrow! Whee! I'd do a jaunty little dance, but I'm sure nobody wants to see that. Last night, our doorbell rang and as Paul opened the door, I could hear Christmas music blaring from tinny speakers. Some people from something called the round table (Paul assures me they are like a Rotary Club, and not some weird cult) were collecting for charity, while a truck pulled a festively lit sleigh slowly down our street containing a rather slimline Santa. Our neighbours stood in their driveways, bemusedly watching Santa's driver try to negotiate the end of our cul de sac, while Santa waved at us and wished us a happy Christmas. He stopped and spent a bit of extra time chatting with the little blonde girl from across the road (she the adorable kid who came to our house a day early this Halloween), and Jasper ran around in circles wagging like a lunatic. It was really quite nice and I hope they do this again next year - although I suppose our son will be too young to know what's going on, it'll still be fun for me.

The neighbourhood and the village down the road are well into the Christmas spirit this year, in terms of decorations. We spotted a giant inflatable Homer Simpson dressed up as Santa over the porch of one house, but he's mysteriously gone missing. I did notice that he was looking a little bit deflated the other day (and to be honest, it was rather unsettling to see him gradually slump down the side of the wall), so maybe he had to be taken down for repairs. There are houses in one neighbouring village that look like they were decorated by some crazed designer from Vegas. On crack. The entire village's lights must dim when these people switch on their Christmas lights; I really must remember to get a picture.

One more week! One more week! Yippie!

i didn't drop him, honest

Before I get on with today's post, I must get this off my chest. YOU ATE ONE RUM BALL. GET OVER IT. YOU DIDN'T HURT YOUR UNBORN CHILD AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO RESPONDED BY SAYING EVEN MINISCULE AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL IN COOKED FOOD WILL CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS, SHADDUP. This rant has been brought to you by another post from the pregnancy Web boards. Thank you.

Anyway, back to today's post. I think Pip has shifted down slightly over the past couple of days. I can actually eat full meals again, and (please, please, please don't let me jinx myself) I had absolutely no heartburn yesterday. I'll hold back on the full celebration because I had a bit of heartburn today, but it's certainly nice to be able to eat without feeling stuffed to the gills. I have one pair of maternity jeans that have a large panel of cotton/jersey that goes over the bump (mmm sexy), and the denim bit used to sit under my bump comfortably. Now, the denim portion is cutting into my belly slightly so I think my bump is migrating south. I know that it's far too early for the baby's head to be engaged, but I wonder if babies drop a bit as we head into the final weeks? Curious.

I'm also dying to know how Pip is positioned because I can't, for the life of me, figure it out by his movements. I envision him facing outwards because I constantly feel little limbs moving about quite low down in my tummy. It seems that if he was facing my back, I wouldn't feel as much movement. I guess I'll find out when I see the midwife at the end of this month. Really, I would love to know what he gets up to in there all day long.

Thursday 16 December 2004

in my thirties

Good lord, I've just passed the 30 week mark. Woohoo! Although the first months seemed to last forever, the last remaining weeks are flying by - which is a good thing. While cuddling a workmate's wee baby earlier this week (he's now almost four months old) I really wanted to be able to hold our baby in my arms. On the other hand, I'll really miss my bump. I've truly enjoyed being pregnant and I love feeling Pip bounce around inside me. It's a remarkable, special experience.

I'm not even that freaked out about giving birth anymore. Despite the horror stories that people have conveyed in great detail to me over the months, I have come up with a few ideas that I find comforting. First, I think that the more you work yourself up about the pain, the worse it'll be. On a very small scale, think of it like when you got shots as a kid and you'd scream "OW!!" before the needle was within 6 inches of your skin - and it really did seem to hurt at that point. If I know something is going to hurt (or while something hurts), I try to divert my attention and focus on something else because the more I think about how awful it is, the worse I feel. Second, I keep reading how water births can be more relaxing and a bit less painful than giving birth lying down, especially if you've been induced (apparently that makes the contractions much stronger and more painful). Although I'm not kidding myself and thinking that I will definitely have a water birth (I only know of one friend who's been able to do so), I take comfort in the idea that our child might be born in the water. That seems like a much calmer, nicer way to come into the world. Third, it's all going to be worth it in the end. That's what's most important.

Don't get me wrong, I am scared about it all. Not just labour and birth, but being a parent. Nothing prepares you for either, and there's no way to know how it'll all go. Luckily, I married a sane man who is excited about being a father and who is much calmer and rational than me. Knowing that he will be there through everything is enormously comforting.

Of course ask me about all of this in another 6-8 weeks, and I'll probably be back to freaking out again.

i didn't see poutine on this list

Last night, BBC 2 had a programme on called "50 Things to Eat Before You Die". A few things struck me about this list: 1) some of these foods seemed a bit "tame" (come on, sandwiches?) and 2) for all the "oh, aren't those Americans such horrible awful people who eat like cretins" sentiments I hear so often, a lot of American food items made it to this list. To save you from having to click on the link above to see the list, I've included it here:

1. Fresh fish

2. Lobster

3. Steak

4. Thai food

5. Chinese food

6. Ice cream

7. Pizza

8. Crab

9. Curry

10. Prawns

11. Moreton Bay Bugs

12. Clam chowder

13. Barbecues

14. Pancakes

15. Pasta

16. Mussels

17. Cheesecake

18. Lamb

19. Cream tea

20. Alligator

21. Oysters

22. Kangaroo

23. Chocolate

24. Sandwiches

25. Greek food

26. Burgers

27. Mexican food

28. Squid

29. American diner breakfast

30. Salmon

31. Venison

32. Guinea pig

33. Shark

34. Sushi

35. Paella

36. Barramundi

37. Reindeer

38. Kebab

39. Scallops

40. Australian meat pie

41. Mango

42. Durian fruit

43. Octopus

44. Ribs

45. Roast beef

46. Tapas

47. Jerk chicken/pork

48. Haggis

49. Caviar

50. Cornish pasty

I did find myself nodding in agreement with most of these choices, but some of them surprised me. I had the impression that a "must have" food would either be something truly adventurous or exotic, or special; something you wouldn't normally eat. Pasta? Pizza? Chinese food? Would this be your choice of a last meal? (Okay, I admit, pasta might be mine.) I liked the American choices, probably because they are familiar to me. Every time I go back to North America, I make it a point to get a big breakfast, real cheesecake, and a decent burger. Not all in the same meal, mind you.

I would add dim sum to this list. Sometimes I think food should be an experience, and to me, there's nothing better than sampling a vast array of dishes at one meal. Tapas, dim sum, sushi (especially the kind that trundles by you on a conveyor belt), and similar types of cuisine are really good fun.

I'll pass on the guinea pig, thanks.

Monday 13 December 2004

it's beginning to taste a lot like christmas

This weekend, I did a ton of Christmas baking. I made millionaire bars (shortbread base, ooey gooey caramel layer, topped with melted chocolate), Nanaimo bars, and gingerbread cake. Good news: if you work at my office, I will be bringing in said Christmas goodies later this week or early next week. Bad news: they are currently sitting in my fridge and I have been scoffing them down every time I visit the kitchen - I may have to lock some away to ensure I've got some to share at a later date. Next weekend, I will be making peanut butter cookies (not very Christmassy, but my father in law loves them) and something called "snickerdoodles", which Nigella assures me taste like baked cinnamon doughnuts in cookie form.

I usually overindulge in Christmas treats every holiday season. Sadly, this year, I physically cannot stuff myself because the baby is using all of my stomach real estate. I am hungry - eating for two is a delightful concept - but I cannot eat more than an average plateful of not terribly rich food. Gone are the days of dunking Christmas pudding in my egg nog, whilst shoving turkey legs in my mouth (and chucking the bones over one shoulder). No more teetering mountains of tin foil balls from the 305 chocolate santas I've ingested in front of the TV. Candy canes go undunked in my hot chocolate, second helpings go to my husband, and all you can eat buffets are wasted on me unless I bring Tupperware to take food home with me. I might have a glass of port on Christmas Day, wacky gal that I am.

Not only do I lack the stomach room, I seem to be developing t-rex arms as the weeks go by. Last night during our roast lamb dinner (half a leg, it was marvellous, plus we have leftovers), I pulled my chair up to the table as far as I could. Sitting a good two feet away from my plate, I tried to get slices of gravy-covered lamb into my mouth without dribbling on myself. My short arms couldn't compensate for the belly bump, and even though I was leaning as far forward as I could, gravy spilled down the front of my shirt. There's just no graceful way to recover from something like that, especially when the dog takes an interest in cleaning your shirt for you.

It'll still be like other Christmas holidays, come to think of it. I'll be falling asleep on the sofa shortly after lunch with my trousers unbuttoned. I just won't wake up with a hideous hangover this time.

Friday 10 December 2004

on the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

...three ladies gestating...

...two ladies working ('cos one just went on maternity leave),

and sleep deprivation arriving in the new yeaaaaaar!

That's me, Tosha, and Conchita in our office three bumps photo. Must be the water cooler on our floor!

storytime would be nice, too

I was just thinking about small children and their aversion to both eating and sleeping. Ever tried getting a toddler to sit and eat their meal or take a nap? Impossible. Now think about this in the context of the present, at whatever age you're at. Someone says to you, "Come and eat this meal I made for you. Not only is it your favourite, I've already cut everything up for you to save you any extra manual labour." I would never, in a million years, respond by saying "Nah, I'd rather run around in circles screaming and perhaps later shoving some Lego up my nose to see what happens." But that's kids for you. Same goes for nap time, I couldn't possibly imagine not wanting to take a short rest during the day.

So really, nap time and having food custom made for you should be a privilege we enjoy as adults. Children obviously don't appreciate it; this luxury is wasted on them. Let them shove Play Dough in the DVD player, draw pictures on the walls in condiments, and empty the contents of the pantry on the living room carpet. I'll take their snacks and naps any day.

lisa needs a little lamb

I decided that I would really enjoy a roast lamb dinner for our Sunday roast this weekend. I can do that sort of thing because no sane man would argue with me at this time in my life, and I can get away with being demanding for the time being. So anyway, roast lamb. We've never done a roast lamb before and although I'm sure it's not that difficult to prepare, I think it's a bit of a problem when you're cooking for only 2 (and a half) people. A leg of lamb will surely be too big. What's the alternative? Can you get a small leg of lamb?

Thursday 9 December 2004

maybe we should call him "pat"

Ever since we found out that we're having a boy, part of me is slightly sceptical that the woman doing the scan got it right. Although she very confidently pointed out his boy bits, neither one of us could see them and we both said to her, "Okay, if you say so!" Even looking at the scan several times at home on DVD (ah, bless Fetal Fotos and the low American dollar), I still can't discern the gender. I read a post from a woman who was devastated because Fetal Fotos told her she was having a girl, but a hospital scan a few weeks later confirmed that it's a boy. Our hospital won't tell us the gender unless we pay for a specific gender scan, and really, I am not worried about it and wouldn't bother with another scan at this point.

Still, part of my brain is preparing itself to greet a new daughter in February. The clothes we have are generally gender neutral and I decided to go with a nursery colour scheme that's also gender neutral, so it wouldn't be a problem if Pip ends up being a girl. I never had a preference anyway, and as an added bonus, we have a girl name at the ready.

It reminds me of The Simpsons:

Homer: "It's a boy! And WHAT A BOY!"

Dr. Hibbert: "That's the umbilical cord. It's a girl."

Homer: "WOOHOO!"

"i've come to fix the fridge"

Nigella Lawson's cookery programmes are known for their softcore porn-like quality: soft focus, close ups of Nigella licking a spoon, lots of "mmmmmmmmm" noises, that sort of thing. What I never noticed is that Nigel Slater's "Real Food" programme is remarkably similar. He actually described melted chocolate as "soft and sexy" while jazzy instrumental music played in the background. While it's all fine and good when Nigella does this (in my opinion, she's attractive and sultry in her own domestic goddess kind of way), it's largely unsettling when Nigel attempts to smoulder on the TV screen. Nigel Slater, it must be said, looks a bit like a diminutive person who has recently been sent on a quest to destroy a very naughty ring. I always imagine that just below the camera's view, you can see him standing on a small footstool.

On the other hand, I understand how people can get passionate about food. Cynics claim that spoon-licking in food programmes is merely to get ratings, but I think there is a sincerity to some people's deep love of food. Mine tends to be more of the Homer variety rather than 9 1/2 Weeks. When I'm eating something I'm enjoying immensely and my tablemate tries to converse with me, my instinct is to bury my head deeper into my plate and say "Can't talk. Eating."

Jasper represents my inner food child remarkably well. When it's suppertime, without the aid of a clock (or the ability to tell time), he sits and stares at us, jumping every time we make a move that might be related to retrieving his food. All I need to say is, "Jasper - are you hungry?" and all you will see is a cloud of fur accompanied by the sound of doggy toenails skittering across the laminate floor as he dashes madly into the kitchen. While I'm filling his food bowl, he jumps up and down on the spot, making the occasional "rrrrowr" noise. Once the bowl hits the floor, he dives into it, not emerging until the very last speck of food is gone. Even then, he will go back to his bowl seconds later to see if it has magically refilled. If I wasn't conscious of appearing socially adept (or sane), this is exactly how I would eat my meals.

This is why I think that it's a load of bullocks when people claim that we eat too much because we have "emotional issues". I eat too much because I enjoy good food, which is actually a happy event in my life. Although you won't find me standing in the kitchen caressing cutlery with my tongue, it is highly likely that you'll find me standing at the fridge eating something directly out of its container. Rrrrrrrowr.

Wednesday 8 December 2004


I will not moan about the maternity benefits we receive here ever again. Coming from Canada, you tend to assume that the Americans have it better when it comes to things like benefits and holidays. At the last company I worked for in Montreal, you had a year off for maternity leave, for which you got paid (something like 80% of your pay at first, sliding down to 40-50% over the following months). Here, I get 6 weeks at 90% pay, then 6 months at statutory maternity pay (just over £100/week), then 6 months unpaid. I ranted and raved, and made noise about how unfair that was and how on earth do single mothers/low income families do it?

Then I learned what the Americans get.

On one of the pregnancy boards I read, someone asked about maternity leave in the States. Most women get around 2-4 weeks paid, take some time off using their yearly vacation (which is generally 2-3 weeks) and that's about it. Some got paid a little bit longer, some were not paid but their jobs were held for them for at least a couple of months. A manager at our office in Ft. Lauderdale is due in late March and she is returning to work at the beginning of July.

It's mind-boggling. I'll shut up now and just appreciate what I've got.

break out the dreidl

In honour of my lovely Jewish friends, here's a festive Hanukah song courtesy of Adam Sandler. (and I'm not just doing this 'cos I want cheesecake) Everybody sing!

Put on your yalmulkah,

here comes Hanukah,

so much fun-ukah to celebrate Hanukah,

Hanukah is the feastival of lights,

instead of one day of presents we have eight crazy nights!

When you feel like the only kid in town,

without a Christmas tree,

Here's a list of people who are Jewish,

just like you and me!

David Lee Roth,

lights the Menorrah,

so do James Caan, Kirk Dougalas, and the late Diana Shore-ah,

Guess who eats together at the Carnagie Deli,

Bowser from Sha-na-na and Arthur Fonzerelli!

Paul Newman's half Jewish,

Goldie Hawn's half too,

put them together - what a FINE lookin' Jew!

You don't need Deck the Halls or The Jingle Bell Rock,

cause you can spin a dreidl with Captian Kirk and Mr. Spock!

(both Jewish!)

Put on you yalmulka,

it's time for Hanukah,

the owners of the Seattle Supersonic-ahs,

celebrate Hanukah!

OJ Simpson,

not a Jew!

But guess who is?

Hall of Famer Rod Carew (he converted!)

We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby,

Harrison Ford's a quarter Jewish,

Not too shabby!

Some people think,

Ebeneezer Scrooge is,

well he's not but guess who is?

All three Stooges!!!

So many Jews are in show biz,

Tom Cruise isn't,

but I heard his agent is!

Tell your friend Veronica,

its time you celebrate Hanukah!,

I hope I get a harmonica,

on this lovely, lovely Hanukah!

So drink your gin and tonic-ah,

and smoke your marajuanica,

if you really really wanna-kah,

have a happy happy happy,


Tuesday 7 December 2004

yay, Libby!

Congratulations to Libby and Dan on the birth of their gorgeous little boy yesterday! We'll just have to make another trip to San Francisco one day to say hello and introduce our boys. Much happiness (and sleep!) to you all.

Friday 3 December 2004

i've got 12 more weeks of THIS?

I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore back, which isn't unusual. I often lie in one position for too long and I wake up with an aching lower back that usually subsides when I roll over to the other side. I rolled over, and the pain got worse. I stood up, thinking that maybe stretching my back out would help. I felt my lower back muscles seize up, cramping and hurting like hell. I put both hands on the bed and bent over, crying and saying "ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!!" trying to figure out why I was in so much pain. Am I in labour?

Paul jumped out of bed and rubbed my back, and my fantastic, loving, very worried husband did everything he could think of while both of us had no idea of what to do. A cold compress made it hurt worse. I couldn't describe the pain to him - it wasn't sharp, so all I could say was "It HURTS!!" A hot water bottle finally did the trick and the pain subsided. I felt Pip tumble around so I knew he was fine (and probably oblivious to the whole thing except for that rush of adrenaline which might have woken him up), and I attempted to go back to sleep. Paranoid that I would wake up in great pain again, I kept waking up and rolling over as soon as I started to feel uncomfortable...which was every 15 minutes or so. Even now, my back is very sore and as an added bonus, my shoulders and neck are in pain as well. Well, this is good fun.

I don't know if it was a pinched nerve or something to do with the sciatic nerve (the pain started on the right hand side of my lower back and went down to the top of my thigh), but I certainly hope this isn't going to be a nightly ritual. My fort of pillows and our gigantic bed should be enough to keep me comfy; I'm not sure what else I can do. Hire a home massage therapist and acupuncturist, maybe?

Thursday 2 December 2004

i need a womb cam

As I am sitting here attempting to do some work, I can feel what can only be described as intermittent rumbling or intense vibration. Really, I'm at a loss to figure out what Pip could possibly be doing in there. Is he putting his hands against the uterine wall and giving it a good shake? Does he possess a very soft jackhammer? Is he strumming his umbilical cord against my abdomen like a giant guitar string? The mind boggles. It must also boggle the mind of our midwife because she looked at me like I was slightly insane (pot/kettle, lady) when I asked her about it. I explained to her that one night, I woke up because it felt like my entire stomach was vibrating. It wasn't just the little flutters I used to feel weeks ago, this was enough belly shaking to wake me up.

Perhaps the enormous mugs of chai latte tea and hot chocolate I'm consuming at night is making my son a tad jittery.

home stretch

Yesterday marked yet another milestone - I am now in the third trimester. Whee! Of course, depending on which book you read, this may have started 1-2 weeks ago but I'll go with 28 weeks marking this point. It's still quite a long way to go until B-Day, but it's nice to have reached these final weeks. I can divide my pregnancy up into the following stages:

-the first few weeks: still not quite believing that I'm pregnant. Very nervous, super aware of every twinge and ache, and bursting to tell the world.

-after you spill the beans: worried that I've jinxed it. Feel slightly panicky until the first scan date, which takes flippin' forever.

-after the first scan: on cloud nine, still not entirely convinced that there's a baby in there, and feeling less panicky. Wait until the next scan, which takes flippin' forever.

-after the second scan: big relief, and joy at knowing the gender and letting the shopping commence. Once the baby's movements get stronger and I get an impressive bump, it's all so much more real. My brain finally gets round the concept that a little baby will be in our house in a few months. Cannot stop thinking about it, and have not stopped thinking about it since day one. Super duper mega excited.

-waiting for the delivery: in progress. So far, it's a relief to get to this point and have just started to read about labour and birth without cringing. Will let you know how the rest of this stage goes.

Had a midwife appointment yesterday, and all is well. Pip co-operated this time and we got to hear his little heart go thuda thuda thuda thuda, much to our delight. He is lying with his head pointing downwards, which is good but he's still got room to move around and change positions before the birth. I requested some sort of powerful magical pill that will make my heartburn go away. The midwife said they usually prescribe liquid Gaviscon, at which point I said pshaw, that stuff does nothing for me. I pick up my prescription today, so we'll see how that goes. Otherwise, I'm doing well and everything is going normally. Amazingly, even my blood pressure is normal - given my work deadlines at the moment, I thought it would be through the roof.

I have discovered nose strips, little plaster-like things you stick to the bridge of your nose that help you breathe. They're actually quite good if, like me, you're prone to a lot of snuffling and sniffling throughout the night. Have also discovered that they are painful to remove if you decide to rip them off quickly in one go.

Mmm nose waxing.

Wednesday 1 December 2004


I have a cold. If you need me, I'll be hiding under my desk, holding my head, and sobbing uncontrollably. This not being able to take cold medication malarky is a bucket of poo.