Monday 31 January 2005

on a roll today

And finally, click here for some pictures of the nursery.

lisa only wobbles, but she don't fall down

Two more days until week 37:

For the first time in around 20 years, my boobs are no longer the first thing to enter a room.

lord of the dance

If you ever feel the need to do the inane kick count exercise (some books/midwives/doctors claim that after week 30 you should sit for 2 hours and count the number of movements you feel - ten movements is good, anything less is a reason to dial 999 and send yourself into a panic attack, even though there are several good reasons why you often don't feel movements for long periods of time - but I digress), put on the film "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". Pip kicked, squirmed, and wriggled nonstop. Literally, he didn't stop moving for more than three and a half hours, which is pretty impressive. Maybe it was the exciting music, battle sounds, or the big bowl of ice cream I consumed before the film started, but he was having a rip roarin' time in there.

This is my first day of maternity leave, and it's a bit strange. I feel like I'm taking a sick day, but I feel fine and I don't need to dial into work to check my email. I think it's difficult to suddenly switch gears from chaotic deadline mode to preparing for birth and trying to take it easy mode. Part of my brain still thinks it has a deadline to meet, another part thinks I should really be doing something much more productive than sit in my jammies and drink tea, and the remaining three brain cells are quite happy to sit on the sofa and catch up on all the DVDs I've been meaning to watch.

Decision made. Today, I shall be mostly sitting in comfy stretchy clothes and putting my feet up. Mmmmm.

Sunday 30 January 2005

take this job and...hold it for me, please

Friday was my last day of work for the next year, and it was slightly surreal to pack my things and say goodbye. I've never left a job to come back to it again at a later point, so I must be careful not to say things like "I've always wanted to tell you what an enormous prat I think you are" or leave rude words hidden somewhere in the online help files I've just completed (I didn't - don't bother looking). My teammates joked that I would be blamed for anything that went wrong simply because I would be absent (alternatively, we would also blame the contractor just for fun). Former teammates of mine will fondly remember the "Colin: He Didn't Give it His All" chapter in our lives that probably still goes on to this day. Poor Colin had the misfortune of quitting his job, thus being the scapegoat for every mishap that followed. Missing files? Tsk, that Colin. Typo in a manual? I bet it was Colin. The Greenhouse Effect? Damn that Colin. And so on.

I have to say, considering that I work in an office that is almost entirely populated by men (software engineers at that), I was surprised when I received numerous emails, comments in person, and phone calls from workmates who were genuinely excited about the upcoming birth and wanted reassurance that I would take this time off to relax. We got a very generous amount of gift vouchers for Babies R Us and an incredibly cute outfit for the baby (denim overalls and top). It was only just over four months ago that these same people chipped in for our wedding presents, and I was the third woman to go on maternity leave in the span of six weeks; I was expecting an envelope full of buttons, a few paperclips, and a couple of used Post-It notes at the very most. I was really touched at everyone's generosity and the kind parting words.

So the contents of my desk now sit in a box on the dining room floor. I am now officially a Domestic Engineer/Lady of Leisure. I am thrilled about being able to do whatever I want without having to schedule anything around my work week. I am relieved to have met all my deadlines and to not have to look at that fecking administrator's guide anymore. I can get caught up on all those books on my "to read" shelf, all the DVDs of films I meant to see in the cinema but never got around to, and finally go to our local farmer's market I've been meaning to check out for months (it only happens on alternate Fridays from 10am-2pm). Then I begin an entirely new life as a Mum.

And away we go.

Thursday 27 January 2005

that's so reassuring

The following update landed in my inbox today:

Hello from BabyCentre!

At the end of this week, you're going to reach an important pregnancy milestone -- your baby will be considered full-term. That means you could give birth any day now.

*hack cough splutter* Noooooooo! I haven't stretched any of my bits yet, we still haven't assembled that chest of drawers, and I want to relax for at least two weeks before Pip arrives!

I'd better go home right now and get into a bubble bath, just in case.

Wednesday 26 January 2005


I am tickled pink that Audrey Tautou has been selected to play Sophie in the film "The DaVinci Code". I fell in love with her when I saw "Amelie" and I'm pleased to see that she's been cast in this film, along with Jean Reno as Fache. I'm not too sure about Tom Hanks as Langdon, though. I imagined someone more "rough around the edges", but I don't know who I would have cast in this role instead. Suggestions?

I have very rarely enjoyed film versions of favourite books ("The Shining" is one of my exceptions), so I'm a bit concerned about how well "The DaVinci Code" will translate to the screen. I think it'll still retain the excitement from the plot twists and puzzle-solving, but will lack most of the background information such as the history of Opus Dei and the interpretations of DaVinci's works.

Who will play Silas? Or Teabing? Or Remy? Oooh the anticipation! Yes, I have no life.

probably better without all the screaming

We had our hospital tour yesterday evening, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much better I felt after having seen the facilities. I am not keen on hospitals and women who had been on the tour before us didn't have positive things to say about ours. Luckily, I didn't think it was that bad at all. When you ring them to say that you're in labour and will be coming in soon, they reserve a room for you that's yours for the entire labour and delivery. It isn't exactly the Ritz, but I like the idea of having our own space that we can sort of "move into" once we get there. There is only one birthing pool at the moment (they're renovating; they usually have two) but hopefully I'll be able to use it if it's not occupied. The only bit that I wasn't too thrilled about was the postnatal ward. It's very much what I always picture hospital wards to be like: uncomfortable-looking single beds lining the walls, surrounded by dingy floral curtains for "privacy". Paul rightly pointed out that I probably won't care too much about our surroundings at that point, so it's not really a big deal in the larger scheme of things.

Our experience was probably also improved by the fact that both the delivery suite and postnatal ward were absolutely empty. The atmosphere was calm and we were able to walk around and look at all of the rooms. Last night would have been an excellent night to give birth. I will try to organise mine to occur during a quiet moment, although I think my due date falls somewhere near a full moon so it will likely be chaotic. Arrrrooooooooo!

Our antenatal class on Monday was good (we learned all about breastfeeding), had the tour yesterday, and it's my antenatal yoga class tonight. My bon voyage work lunch is on Friday and my inlaws are coming up Friday night for the weekend. Monday, it's time to start relaxing...while I still can. We have one more class on Monday night and yoga continues right up until the week before my due date, but it will be so lovely to not have to be at work. I feel like there are a million other things I want to do right now, and writing a software manual ain't one of them.

2 1/2 more days!

Monday 24 January 2005

who replaced my feet with water balloons?

Oh yes, and one more thing I noticed over the past few days - my feet are very puffy and I now have cankles. My calves go straight into my puffy feet, they do not taper in at the ankle anymore. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

On the plus side, no sticky outy belly button yet and still no sign of stretch marks.

feathering my hair as i type this

Saw this elsewhere, it made me giggle, it's undoubtedly made the rounds a bazillion times, it probably won't make sense to those outside of North America, but I'll post it here anyway.


You wore a rainbow shirt that was half-sleeves, and the rainbow went up one sleeve, across your chest, and down the other.

You made baby chocolate cakes in your Easy Bake Oven and washed them down with snow cones from your Snoopy Snow Cone Machine.

You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

You had either a "bowl cut" or "pixie," not to mention the "Dorothy Hamil" because your Mom was sick of braiding your hair. People sometimes thought you were a boy.

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny

shredded outfits.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze.

The swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color.

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals. You also had a pair of salt-water sandals.

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder; you wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Olson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink.

Your hairstyle was described as having "wings" or "feathers" and you kept it "pretty" with the comb you kept in your back pocket.

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, BlueberryMuffin and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic.

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend.

Every now and then "It's a Hard Knock Life" from the movie, "Annie" will pop into your brain and you can't stop singing it the whole day. Damn you!

YOU had Star Wars action figures, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags!

You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: "Who will I marry. Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or Rick Springfield?"

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack record album.

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick

God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom.

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape

player up to the speaker.

You couldn't wait to get the free animal poster that came when you ordered books from the Weekly Reader book club. Double score if it was a teddy bear dressed in clothing.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books.

You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics.

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

You had a Big Wheel with a brake on the side, and a Sit-n-Spin.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat. You spent all your allowance on smurfs and stickers for your sticker album.

I suppose now would be a good time to admit that I had a Charlie's Angels lunch box, a Shaun Cassidy pillowcase, Smurf stickers on my rollerskates, and posters of Scott Baio and Ralph Macchio on my bedroom wall. Ooooh I feel all cleansed now.

final countdown

My due date is one month from yesterday, ohmygawd. I had another "Pip outside of the womb" dream on Saturday night; this time, it was just after the birth (getting closer to dreaming about the actual birth, perhaps?) and whatever drug they had given me was wearing off. I remember feeling intense pain and yelling out that the meds had worn off, and that's about it. No, I don't know what that means either.

I had some lovely long chats with my sister in law this weekend during their visit, and I found it enormously helpful to hear about her experiences with childbirth. We have very similar attitudes about the whole thing and her no-nonsense approach to labour is a welcome change from the alarmist information I keep coming across in books and on pregnancy boards.

Things the books don't tell you #112: although I heard this one from friends, why don't any of the books tell you that you'll be incredibly windy/farty in the third trimester? They'll discuss hemorrhoids, diarrhea, mucus plugs, leaky boobs, and all sorts of potty-related hilarity, but I have never seen a book mention excessive farting. Well ladies, I'm here to tell you that you may fart a lot during pregnancy and it'll amuse your partner to no end. Also, my inner thighs have started hurting lately and I'm not sure what that's about. That one's not in the books either, but I think it's got to do with how I sit and sleep these days. I wrap my legs around my body pillow at night and during the day, I sit with my legs open like a teenage boy hogging up all the space on the bus - and I walk like John Wayne. That's right, I'm a windy waddling cowboy. Pregnancy isn't all images of Demi on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, you know.

Four and a half more working days to go. I can hardly contain myself. Truly.

haul out the toboggan*

It's snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing! Okay, so it's not actually staying on the ground, but it's snowing! In this part of the country, we get our one "big snowstorm" every January. This usually involves around 2 inches of snow, roads coming to a standstill, people abandoning their cars at the side of the road, and me spending a lot of time giggling and saying "You call THIS a snowstorm?!" I miss the snow, I don't care how crazy you think I am for saying such a thing. I don't miss four months of winter and -35C temperatures, but I do miss the snow.

Um. Now it's stopped snowing. Never mind. Move along, nothing to see here.

*Interesting point, did you know that according to Merriam-Webster's that the origin of the word toboggan is from "Canadian French tobogan, of Algonquian origin; akin to Micmac tobagun drag made of skin"? Who knew!

Friday 21 January 2005

too busy

There are many things I cannot be arsed to make, two of which are bread and pasta. Although these are two of my very favourite foods, I can never bring myself to make my own. You can buy fresh pasta at any supermarket these days, and if you've got a decent bakery you can get your hands on a good loaf of bread quite easily. I just don't see the point in going to all the effort of mixing, kneading, and rolling. Go on, convince me - I'll soon have some free time on my hands. What is the advantage to making my own bread and pasta? (Pizza dough doesn't count; I do make my own.)

i want one too!

Tosha came by with little Indigo today, and what a cutie pie he is. It's been a little while since I've held a newborn (I think Rebecca was the last baby born in our circle of friends, and I had a visit just before Christmas with my workmate Mandy's son who was almost four months old at the time), and it was really lovely to cuddle him and listen to his little gurgly noises.

I had a dream last night that Pip had been born (I never seem to dream about the actual birth - strange, that) and I had him propped up in front of me. I was cuddling him and singing to him, while he giggled and waved his arms about. This is a vast improvement from my usual Pip dreams (so far, every dream I've had about him involved me losing him or forgetting him in the car etc.) and I'm sure it's an indication of how impatient I'm getting. I want to see my little boy. Now, please. Well, maybe not right now - I'm at work - but soon.

Now I know what women mean when they say they get fed up with being pregnant at the end. I think it has to do with the lack of milestones in the last two months. Nothing much changes, nothing new develops (not including the whole labour/birth thing, of course), and it's mostly just a lot of waiting. I still love feeling Pip move around and I had a good giggle last night watching his hiccups make my belly twitch, but I am so eager to get Pip to the outside world for a good, long cuddle.

And speaking of hiccups, the little pulses in my belly tell me that someone's trying out his lungs again.

Thursday 20 January 2005

pity party, table of one

I have another cold. This is the fourth cold I've had since September and I am so not amused. I've got so much work to do that I can't really take a day off to feel sorry for myself, and apparently there is not one single cold medication in this country that's safe during pregnancy. What, do they put crack in the decongestants here? Bah. Feh. Pleh.

Yoga class last night was really enjoyable, regardless of my stuffy head and sniffles. We stretched, relaxed, opened up our pelvises, did our pelvic floor exercises, did quick back rubs on each other, and had a fun time catching up with the girls from our antenatal class. One of the women is carrying twins and at 28ish weeks, was told by her doctor that she is at the equivalent to someone who is carrying a singleton at 35 weeks.

And here I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, yeesh.

road warrior

Here's my top tip for those of you who venture out of your houses on bicycles - learn the road rules and/or read the Highway Code. Last night, I followed a guy on a bicycle who made the following mistakes in a distance of roughly 1/4 mile: instead of using the overpass specifically built for pedestrians and cyclists, he followed the traffic over the ancient and narrow bridge that is barely a car width wide (any of you who crossed this bridge to get to our wedding venue will know which one I mean), he then decided to cycle in the middle of the right hand lane (the road goes into two lanes after the bridge), cut across to the left hand lane and turn without signalling, and to top it off, had no lights on his bicycle and was wearing black.

Don't get me wrong, I am not an angry motorist who loathes anything on two wheels. I used to cycle into work every day and absolutely loved it, but I was constantly amazed by how many people have no clue how to ride safely. I've seen people go the wrong way on roundabouts, cycle down pitch black paths at night with no lights, cycle 2 or 3 abreast down busy city roads, ride on sidewalks/pavements, and cycle on the shoulder of the A14 (a busy dual carriageway with a 70 mph speed limit).

When I was a cyclist, I almost got hit by cars and other cyclists numerous times. When I had my scooter, cars used to pull out in front of me because they didn't "see" me (regardless of the fluorescent yellow safety belts I wore over my jacket). As a motorist, I've almost been hit by other cars, vans, cyclists, motorcycles, and various less intelligent furry and winged creatures. It's obvious - everyone is a crap driver except for me and they should be forced to take a road test every six months. Hmph.

Wednesday 19 January 2005


I watch every episode I can of "Desperate Housewives", "Celebrity Big Brother", "ER", "Nip/Tuck", and "Battlestar Galactica". I don't read newspapers (unless you count The Sun online, but that's only so I can send amusing articles to PaulG), watch the news on TV, or listen to talk radio. I think exercise is bad for you; it causes injuries and forces us to witness sweaty people in Lycra. I don't eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. I have a subscription to Heat magazine. The books I've read over the past two years would never appear on anyone's academic reading list. The last film I saw in a cinema was "Shrek 2". I eat cheese singles (AKA Fake Plastic Cheese) at least twice a week. I don't own an iPOD. I don't mind if wine comes in a box (don't knock Banrock Station). I eat ice cream directly out of the carton. The only organic food I consume is produced by Green and Black's. I never floss. I usually can't answer any of the blue, yellow, or orange questions in Trivial Pursuit.

Does this make me uncouth, uncultured, and unhealthy? Probably. Does it make me feel guilty? Not one bit.

what a very good boy

Just got back from a midwife appointment (all is well with me), and I'm very pleased to say that our son is in the ideal birth position - head down and with his back slightly towards my left side. Of course his head isn't engaged yet so he could still end up elsewhere, but it makes me feel better to know that my couch slouching hasn't made him go into a back-to-back position. Recently, I have been using my exercise ball and making sure that I'm sitting up/forwards while I'm at work and watching TV, so maybe this has helped. For those not in the know, sometimes labour can be longer and more difficult if the baby has its back to yours.

I have been enjoying the book _The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth_ by Henci Goer (thank you, Lisa!). When it comes to labour and birth, I strongly believe that knowledge is power. Although I am trying to avoid "information overload" (and I've thrown most of my pregnancy books out of the window in frustration), I want to learn about the alternatives, procedures, and drugs that I might be given during labour. I want to be able to make informed decisions rather than just go along with whatever the doctor or midwife on duty tells me is best. For example, now I'm certain that I'd rather wait to go into labour naturally than have my waters broken or be given a drug like oxytocin - and why. I understand that sometimes intervention is unavoidable, but if the baby (or myself) isn't in distress, why force a natural, involuntary process? I am definitely not saying that I refuse to have a certain type of birth - I will go with whatever's best for the baby - but I think we do have the power to make choices and request alternatives.

Oh, lookit me getting all hippy like.

Monday 17 January 2005


Just got a call from the college and the antenatal yoga class is all set to go. Hurrah! What's even more fun is that four women from my NCT class have signed up for yoga, so there will be many familiar faces.

Excellent. Hopefully I'll be able to get up off the floor at the end of each class.


Yay!: The Rosie (the maternity ward of Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge) are doing another scan teaching session next week - you can volunteer to get scanned by a doctor who is training other doctors on ultrasounds.

Boo!: You can only participate if you're a maximum of 34 weeks pregnant.

Yay!: I put the bear Stikarounds up on the walls and they look very sweet.

Boo!: Still haven't put together that chest of drawers yet, so nursery pictures are still pending.

Yay!: Antenatal yoga classes are starting up again now.

Boo!: They need three more people to sign up, or else the course won't go ahead. This happened last October as well. Feh.

Yay!: We don't have to attend the half day parentcraft class to get the hospital tour; we can simply show up for the tour at the end of the class.

Boo!: There is no "boo" about this one - yippie, we don't have to sit through a lecture about stuff we already know for four hours!!

Yay!: I have discovered the joy and comfort of sitting on an exercise ball (get yours now at Argos - £6.99 for the 65cm Reebok exercise ball!). It really does force you to sit up straight and it's great for my back.

Boo!: I feel like a bit of a dork when I sit on it and it makes a lot of rude noises when I move around.

Yay!: My appetite has returned!

Boo!: But that doesn't mean that I can eat a small pepperoni pizza for supper after a dim sum lunch and not feel like shite at 1.30 in the morning.

Yay!: 9 1/2 more working days to go!

Boo!: 9 1/2 more working days to go.

Sunday 16 January 2005

eat drink man woman (and children)

Melanie suggested that we meet up for dim sum today, and I think I can speak for everyone at our table when I say thank you and "Again! Again!" We went to Charlie Chan's on Regent Street in Cambridge and sat around a large table with a lazy Susan (not referring to our friend Susan, who is most definitely not lazy). You are given a menu on which you put a quantity next to the items you want to order, the waiters whisk it away and then proceed to bring out dishes upon dishes of food. Steamers and plates and bowls filled with dumplings and rolls and buns, oh my. If you are still hungry, they will bring you another sheet for you to fill out and even more food will appear. We had several types of prawn and pork dumplings, pork buns, sticky rice with "assorted meat", spring rolls, veggie rolls, veggie dumplings, crab dumpling soup, beef dumplings, rice with chicken and Chinese sausage, and finished the meal with steamed and fried custard buns.

Damn, it was good.

I haven't had dim sum since I left Montreal. We had brunch at a fantastic place in Chinatown (the name escapes me, sadly) that looks like the lobby of a hotel. The staff wheel trolleys by you throughout the meal and you select what you want. I went with my friend Kitty (a Hong Kong native) and instructed her to make sure I didn't end up ordering anything involving chicken feet. It was absolutely delicious and I was a bit worried that today's lunch would pale in comparison. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoyed Charlie Chan's and would go back in a heartbeat.

I love being able to sample a variety of dishes during a meal, rather than consume one plateful of a particular item. Tapas and dim sum are brilliant for this (even a decent buffet makes me happy). When we have friends and family over for lunch, we tend to put out several different dishes on the table like cheese, salads, dips, meats, breads, and olives - and everyone always remarks that this is their favourite type of meal. Don't get me wrong, I could bury my face in a plateful of pasta and be perfectly happy with a dinner like that, but there is something about the sharing of food with a table of friends that's a wonderfully unique experience. Casually nibbling on bits of food, pausing to converse, instead of shovelling a plateful into your gob before it gets cold. Fantastic.

Of course now that it's two hours later, I'm hungry again.

Friday 14 January 2005

...and then there was one

Conchita, you lucky, lucky girl! It's Conchita's last day at work today and I am incredibly jealous. "Take me with you!" I begged her. It's going to be sad and lonely being the only pregnant lady in the office. *sigh*

What did we do before eBay? I saw some "Stikarounds" for the nursery in the JoJo Maman Bebe catalogue that I liked for £14.99. Well wouldn't you know it, I found the same decorations on eBay for £7.99! Lookee here:

I know, I know. They aren't very avant-garde, but I thought they were sweet (although I probably won't use the little flower stickers). I like that you can put them anywhere, so they don't need to march around the room in an orderly border; I am going to put them around the cot and on one other wall. All we need now is a shelf for books and knickknacks, and we're all set.

Lord help me, I am starting to sound like a demented new mother, aren't I?


On the way to work this morning, I witnessed a car accident for the first time. I've been in one myself, but of course that's entirely different. Two cars decided to overtake/pass a lorry/truck at the same time, causing the car in front to swerve back into her lane. Somehow she ended up being hit by the guy behind her and crash into the back of the lorry, and spun several times before getting wedged in a ditch at the side of the road. We were around four cars behind her, and everyone stopped and pulled over to call for help and make sure whoever was in the car was okay. She seemed to be okay; she had a cut on her head but she was conscious and alert. Paul had to stick around to give a statement to the police and I sat in the car and watched the firemen try to pry open her door (they went through the passenger side, in the end).

It was a strange event. Seeing something happen through a windscreen makes it feel like you're watching it on television, it's very surreal. I've seen the aftermath of a few crashes, but not as it happened. It's a horrible feeling not knowing if someone's been seriously hurt or killed and knowing that you saw the whole thing happen. Horrible.

Sorry, I don't mean to be such a downer on a Friday afternoon. To lighten the mood, I present to you a Concentration Game for Men, courtesy of Gary. Warning, contains boobies.

Thursday 13 January 2005

nursery bits

A few snaps of some of the nursery details. More pics to come when we finish decorating and assemble the chest of drawers that's still in a pile on the floor.

Here's one end of Pip's cot. The clown doll was made by Paul's Mum and the Tweety Bird was a present from her at Christmas, and Snoopy travelled back with us from California.

Here's where I can collapse after/during numerous late night feeds once Pip moves into this room.

I like Snoopy. That's the chimney sweep from our wedding that Paul's Mum made.

For Pip's first car ride home!

your questions, answered (part 4)

It's time again to answer the queries of the general public, who took the time to type their questions into a search engine. I like to help when I can; I'm generous like that.

For the month of January, here is a selection of the queries and search strings that have led to this site:

what is wrong with joaquin phoenix's shoulders? I was curious about this one too, so I Googled for it. Unfortunately, the only information I could find was that Joaquin Phoenix has a cleft lip scar. Which has nothing to do with his shoulder. Sorry.

did you know you went over your macaroni minutes yesterday? Oh my god, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

pringles made me ill My advice: don't eat them. No, thank you.

what happens don't take your decorations down by twelfth night? Horrible, awful things will happen. Things beyond your worst nightmares. Things involving elves and reindeer antlers. I've said too much already.

what does it mean if my boyfriend doesn't buy me a christmas present? Perhaps he is taking a stand against the commercialism of Christmas by refusing to purchase anything. Or maybe he's just a bit of a cheap wanker.

when to use a snowblower Um. When it snows? *shrug*

why is lisa in such a bad mood? I am not in a bad mood. Now feck off and bring me chocolate.

how heavy is the cn tower? VERY heavy. I strongly advise that you do not attempt to pick it up. If you do, please ensure that you lift with your legs and not your back.

i'm marge simpson and now i'm going to go snort some coke That's great, Marge. Thanks for letting us know.

da na na nut nut nut nut nut Okay Marge, that's enough now.

putting big red x's in my calendar

11 1/2 more working days to go...11 1/2 more working days to go...11 1/2 more working days to go...11 1/2 more working days to go...

As I sit here at my desk with my eyes half closed and feeling like I need another 8 hours of sleep, 11 1/2 more working days seems like an eternity. It's not just the fatigue, it's the inability to concentrate and the discomfort of sitting in front of a computer. Most women in my antenatal class have already stopped working, and all of them (but one) are a week or more behind me. Why did I decide to work until 36 1/2 weeks? Oh yes, I remember - I thought it wasn't going to be that bad and I didn't want to leave any work unfinished. I'm an eejit. There isn't really anything or anyone stopping me from leaving early, so I've no one to blame but myself. I'm not incapable of working, I'd just rather not right now, thanks. My last week at work should be relatively easy, which will help a bit, and I've opted to work from home the next two Mondays so I can work at my own pace...and take a nap at 3pm. Mmmm.

On an unrelated topic, I am having a really hard time finding nursery decorations (like borders or "stikarounds", curtain tiebacks, pictures, etc.) that don't make me cringe. I don't want Winnie the Pooh, Micky Mouse, Peter Rabbit, or any other television or book character trotting across the walls. I'm not big on "cartoony" decorations either, which seems to be the only other alternative. The problem is, we've gone for a fairly neutral colour for the bedding (click here to see the design we got) and the walls are a light blue/purple colour, so I don't think big bright decorations will go. The best designs I could find were from Mamas and Papas, but unfortunately we don't have a retail outlet in our county. Why not go with the matching border paper for your bedding range, you ask? Because I don't want a "theme" room (i.e. use one design for everything) either. I'm a picky cow, I know. Maybe I'll give eBay a go.

Wednesday 12 January 2005

delivery in 4-8 weeks

Criminy, I've hit the 34 week mark today. I fluctuate between feeling like I want to give birth NOW please, to I'd rather not think about it because it's making my tummy hurt. What's certain is that I am getting very impatient. Impatient with pregnancy discomforts, but mostly impatient about wanting to get Pip to the outside world and give him a good, long cuddle. Now if they could invent a way to do the latter without involving any pain on my part, that would be grand.

It does feel good to go into the nursery every day and see that it looks like a real baby's room now that we have added a few more decorative items. I love picking up and holding baby clothes knowing they will contain our little boy soon. It's still a bit surreal to make the mental leap from wriggling Pip inside me to our son ___ (what, you thought I'd reveal his name before the birth?) we can see, touch, and hear. It's odd to think that I'm going to be a mother - I am a mother already, really. I will be a mother on Mother's Day this year (Paul and I knew I was pregnant just before Father's Day last year, which was a nice touch), and I don't mind one bit that I will be sleep deprived and doing something low key for my birthday this year.

I will admit one thing, though. As soon as Pip is born, I'm gonna have an entire wheel of deep fried brie and I'm gonna sleep on my stomach.

Tuesday 11 January 2005

back to school, part 2

Last night's antenatal class was actually a lot more enjoyable than the first, thankfully. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that I got a lovely shoulder and back massage for part of the class from Paul. Mmmmm. Apparently we have more massage technique learning next week as well - yay! The people there are a lot of fun and more girly cackling and giggling ensued throughout. In a way, I don't think I fit in with the majority of the group, though. All the women were talking about how they didn't want their husbands at the "business end" of the birth and how squeamish the husbands will be. They joked about drawing a curtain around themselves from the neck down. One guy winced in horror when I explained to him what a "show" is, and was shocked to learn that he could cut the umbilical cord if he wanted to (I'm guessing he'll decline).

We talked about this when we got home and while Paul is not the squeamish type (he can watch those surgery programmes on Discovery Health without blinking), he said that he would find it difficult to see me in pain/distress. I'm grateful that Paul has never been the type to get grossed out by anything happening to me during pregnancy. It's weird enough to see the changes in your body yourself, let alone have your partner point them out with a loud "EWWWW!" He has never made me feel self conscious, and I have always taken comfort knowing that he will be my pillar of sanity during the birth. He wants to cut the cord. He will jump into the birthing pool with me if he can. Hell, he'd dive underwater and video the whole thing if he could. That is one of the many reasons why I love him so much. All together now - awwwww.

On a totally unrelated note, I apologise to the woman I interviewed today and probably frightened with my undulating belly. Throughout the interview, Pip decided to roll from one side to the other, making my belly contort into various interesting shapes. It's fun; it's sorta like a lava lamp.

Monday 10 January 2005

it's a sign of the apocalypse

It really does make my heart sink to see Germain Greer taking part in this year's Celebrity Big Brother. Although she has come up with some choice lines and snappy comebacks, I just have to wonder what would possibly compel her to do a programme like this. Is she that hard up for money and publicity? Is she desperate for attention? Is she looking for love? Such a sad state of affairs.

Sunday 9 January 2005

the baby made me do it

Pip said to me today, "Mummy, remember how you made me eat nothing but dry toast and a couple of hard boiled eggs on Friday? Well today, yer gettin' me a Whopper meal deal." So I did. And it was good. Really, really good. It's been such a strange day; I woke up at 11.15 this morning after ten hours of sleep, ate breakfast close to noon, and had my Whopper meal at 4. I suppose I won't want any supper until late tonight at this rate.

We have gone through a series of specific phases when it comes to buying baby things. The first phase was the initial buying bonanza after our detailed scan, and hooowheee was that fun! Then we went through a phase of "better not buy that in case someone else gets it for us" and we didn't buy anything else. Now we're going through the phase of "ohmygawd the baby's coming soon and there's stuff we need when we go to the hospital and as soon as we come home", and so we visited Babies R Us today. We bought some newborn-sized sleepsuits (we have tons of 3-6 month clothes, thankfully), a blanket to wrap Pip up in on the way home, a hat to keep his little noggin warm after he's born, a moses basket mattress and fitted sheets, and a completely unnecessary set of bedding that was only purchased because it was on sale and it was the pattern that I wanted. We still need quite a few things, but they can wait.

Man, I could go for another Whopper right now.

Saturday 8 January 2005

but then some days, it's not all that bad

So today I feel pretty good, and even had the energy to muster up dinner for my friend Chiara (with a little help from Paul). I had a short nap this afternoon, but otherwise, I actually felt human today.

Best not to dwell on it too much and simply enjoy the moment with a nice slice of homemade tiramisu (courtesy of Chiara). Mmm yes.

Friday 7 January 2005

some days, you don't glow

I'm tired. I've spent the afternoon and most of this evening desperately trying not to throw up. I've taken four Zantacs today and I still have heartburn. My bump hurts. My back hurts. My boobs hurt. I fell asleep for three hours this afternoon. I have three pairs of trousers that fit and they're all in the wash. I have three more weeks of work left.


Thursday 6 January 2005

back to school

We had our first NCT antenatal class last night, which was okay. Not great, but okay. The people there were really nice and some of them were downright hilarious, but the woman running the course isn't exactly the most dynamic person in the world. She has an incredibly annoying method of speech, that goes something along the lines of: "So if you have fear, then you have tension. Yeah? [5 second pause] And if you have tension, then you have pain. Yeah? [5 second pause] And then if you have pain, it creates more fear. Yeah? [5 second pause] Any questions?" It was slightly David Brent-esque, to be honest. Apparently she is a trainer by profession but Paul and I agreed that her people and presentation skills need improvement. She spoke to us like school children and seemed nervous and awkward.

Despite this, we did learn some interesting things and even the wanky "getting to know you" exercises forced upon us weren't too bad. What really interested me was the attitudes of the men - some of whom seemed to be there under duress. Most were quite happy to be in the course and eager to be fathers, but some seemed pessimistic about the concept. We were all asked what we were looking forward to as parents and one guy said "to know that it's not as terrifying as I think it will be". Which is fair enough, really. I can't claim that I'm entirely calm about being responsible for a little human life either. I think what surprised me was the surliness of some of the men. Some rather snide comments were made, which might have just been a blokey way of handling the discomfort of being in a room of pregnant women, but it took me aback. And made me appreciate the fact that I've got a fantastic husband.

One memorable moment was when the course leader pulled out a big bag containing items that represent all the "extras" pregnant women carry around with them. A sack of potatoes for the baby, a bag of pasta for the placenta, a two litre bottle of water for the extra blood and fluid, a litre bottle for the amniotic fluid, two bags of sugar for the uterus, and my personal favourite, the three litre bottle of cooking oil to represent the added fat stores. Mmmm nice. I liked the bloke who kept guessing that each item represented cream cakes.

It was really lovely to chat with a group of ladies who are all around the same stage as I am and who are all giving birth at my hospital. We compared notes about where to shop, swapped advice about maternity clothes and heartburn, and most conversations started with "do any of you ever experience this...?" I feel lucky because so many of my friends have given birth in the past year or two, and I think I've learned a lot of valuable lessons from them all. These women said that they didn't know anyone who was pregnant or had a child recently, and they were in the dark about most aspects of pregnancy and birth. Knowledge is power when it comes to pregnancy, if you ask me.

Hopefully this first session was an off night for our instructor and that we will learn something on this course. If anything, it's great to meet local people in our situation and get to know them better. And here's hoping one of the sessions involves learning (and specifically, being the recipient of) massage techniques.

it is 'cos i'm cool?

Via Steve, it's my first meme for 2005. Gosh!

Comment on this post and I'll post one reason here why I think you're cool. If, like me, you haven't been cool since the mid 80s, this is a great opportunity to feel less like a 30-something dork and more like that uberdeep artiste you were in high school. Or thought you were, anyway.

  • Adrian is cool because he's not afraid to jog in public wearing a Santa hat. Only someone secure in their own coolness would trot around Hyde Park like that.

  • Stroppycow H is cool because I think she's my long lost twin. My fantasy football/soccer team was always called "Stroppy Cows United", her curried chickpea recipe is almost identical to the one I know and love, and we can both say rude things in French.

  • Bimbler Abi is cool because she owns a Banana Guard. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pull one of these things out of your handbag without giggling, so well done Abi!

  • Lambic Mark is cool because he knows how to cook, does a lot of the cooking at home, and actually enjoys it. Any man who can cook and likes it is extra soopa doopa cool to me. But, has he ever cooked for me? Nooooo. Bah, I might have to remove Mark from this list.

  • Dina is cool because she and her husband Steve made the most gorgeous little boy in the world. Next to our son, of course.

  • Laputain is cool because she said on her blog that I looked gorgeous with my bump. Comments that make me feel less like a whale and more like a lovely lady is a Very Good Thing. Plus, she's Scottish and as we know, all Scottish people are cool.

  • Martine is cool because she's been on TV! And not on one of those Crimewatch type programmes, either.

  • Gordon is cool because he invented Hector the Latin Love Spider. Gordon, if you still have the pic, please send it to me - I can't find mine. :(

  • Heather is cool because even though she did her PhD at Cambridge, she can still find great joy in waving rubber ducks around at Lemon Jelly concerts. No pretentiousness here, folks.

  • Tilly is cool because she's got a dog called Jasper!

  • Jim is cool because he wrangled a night (and following morning) of heavy drinking completely paid for by some guy's travel expense account. Now that, my friends, is sticking it to the man.

  • PaulG is cool because he is the person who discovered the hilarity of pictures of people playing tennis. And it's been nonstop giggling about a billion other things since.

  • Melanie is cool because she drove all the way to our house to drop off a sample of her mother's amazing CHEESECAKE!! Dammit, I'm hungry now.

  • TonyF is cool because he's known me for 20 years (really!) and could undoubtedly reveal all sorts of embarrassing facts about me. So he's a cool and lovely person who would never do that sort of thing. *cough*

  • Ed is cool because he gave me my very first permanent tech writing job back in 1997. After several extremely disappointing and frustrating interviews with some truly crap companies, my heart soared when I learned I got the job with Ed...and it turned out to be a pretty cool place to work, to boot.

  • Jack is cool because he can write manuals whilst chair dancing, swearing, and snapping his fingers really loudly at the same time. He gets extra points for not having been maimed or slapped by any workmates.

  • Andre is cool because I have great admiration for anyone who can take a fantastic photograph. Although he got a bit confused about me sucking up to Ed, who hasn't been my boss since 1999 (but I do enjoy my window seat at my present job). ;)

  • Michel is cool because he has the tightest buttocks in Montreal.

  • Fi is cool because she was brave enough to return to uni at the age of *muffle mumble*. Plus, Commonwealthers who marry Brits are always cool in my book.

  • Wallace is cool because he suffered through the holidays stuck in the hospital and has been recovering from major heart surgery - which also coincided with his first anniversary with his lovely wife - and is, thankfully, on the mend.

  • Jen is cool because she was making blue food long before Bridget Jones. No, we still don't know how she managed to do it; at least Bridget's blue string was the explanation for hers.

  • Zed is cool because she has the rudest domain name for a non-porn site - and doesn't get banned by our smut filter at work.

  • Nina is so cool that she doesn't even have a blog. Considering that any idiot with an Internet connection has one these days, that makes her a true cyber rebel.

  • Trudge is cool because he probably doesn't have an annoying mobile ring tone that plays a tinny version of "Oops, I did it again" or something equally horrifying.
  • Wednesday 5 January 2005

    i wasn't even trying to be rude

    For those of you using MT, it seems that some of your anti-spam/blacklist thingies keep insisting that my comments are inappropriate and won't let me post. For example, I tried to tell Fi that I enjoyed The Return of the King (particularly the extras) and couldn't post a comment because it was deemed offensive. So I tried to shorten it to let her know that I couldn't post a comment, but that also got rejected. Same thing happened on Maggie's site regarding number 1 songs on the day of my birth. I never knew that "Heard it Through the Grapevine" was smutty, but apparently MT thinks it is. I didn't even swear once. Honest.

    another perspective

    Looking down at my belly at 33 weeks.

    On the plus side, the big belly makes my thighs look so much trimmer.

    you've got to give a little

    Please take a minute or two and donate what you can to the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal. UK residents can donate here. After all, it is still the season of giving - the twelfth night is tomorrow, isn't it?

    doin' the wave

    Here it is, my belly in all of its gyrating glory. Click here to view the mpeg (please select Save or right-click on this link and select Save Target As and download it to your PC to save my ever-dwindling bandwidth). It's definitely not the most dramatic Pip movement I've seen - there have been times it looks like he's batting a tennis ball around in there - but it's the only one I've caught with my digital camera. I'll try to get another clearer one at some point. Enjoy!

    red alert!

    I ran out of Zantac yesterday, which meant enduring a morning and afternoon of hideous heartburn. I stocked up on our grocery excursion last night and celebrated by popping two tablets when we got home. I know how to live, hooo yeah!

    One of my pet peeves during Christmas was all the remarks about how much I could eat because I'm pregnant, and how lucky I was that I could indulge. I didn't bother going into details (like how I now have a tendency to throw up if I eat more than a toddler-sized portion of food) but I did inform people that the baby takes up a lot of room and I can't actually eat that much. On the plus side, no one lets me do anything anymore because of my delicate condition, which means I get a lot of tea and sympathy. Which is nice. Some women get really irked when they are treated like china dolls during pregnancy, but it doesn't bother me in the least. I'm tired. I can't stand for more than a few minutes at a time. You're offering a helping hand? Oh, yes please. Gratefully accepted.

    I have just managed to drop a roasted nut down the front of my top. This wouldn't be such a bad thing normally, except I now have someone sitting across from me at work. Although he doesn't seem like an uptight kind of guy, I don't know if he'd appreciate it if I went diving down into my belly bra looking for a stray cashew. I'll fish it out in the car on the way home for lunch and freak out my husband instead.

    There is no such thing as grace and decorum during pregnancy, I don't care who you are.

    Tuesday 4 January 2005

    honk if you're hormonal

    I saw an interesting sign on a car the other day. Instead of the usual "baby on board" signs seen on every third car, I spotted a "mum to be on board" sign. It's brilliant because other drivers should be warned if they are driving close to a pregnant woman. The fine print below the "mum to be on board" bit should read "If you decide to do something stupid like cut off the driver of this car or drive too closely, she will drive up next to you, smash through your window, and beat the crap out of you with her handbag. And no court will convict her."

    We need more signs like this. It would be useful to know if the driver and/or passengers have PMS, anger management issues, or chronic fatigue syndrome. How useful would it be to be warned that there's a "student who's been awake for 72 hours cramming for exams on board"? Very.

    Mark my words, you will see more of this sort of thing in 2005.

    never on a sunday

    Every Sunday, without fail, Pip goes very quiet. He doesn't start shifting around until at least 11am and will barely give me a wiggle the entire day. Then, at around 11pm, he'll start tumbling and squirming, continuing right through the night. I was actually shaking my belly last Sunday just making sure all was well in there (he responded with a lethargic prod). So strange.

    I managed to get an mpeg of my belly doing the wave yesterday. I'll post it on here soon, but will try to get another clearer one at some point. I have discovered that it's really hard to take a picture of my belly looking down (i.e. from my usual perspective). I either need a lens that can zoom out more, or longer arms. Maybe I'll get Paul to stand behind me and take a shot.

    First day back at work after the holidays and I'm ready to take a nap. And it's not even lunchtime yet. *sigh*

    Monday 3 January 2005

    he must not be done baking yet

    I'm amazed that I'm still an innie. Seriously, I expected my belly button to pop out like a Butterball turkey timer weeks ago. While my belly button is undoubtedly smaller/flatter than before, I've still got an innie. Furthermore, it delights me to no end that I've not got any stretch marks. Okay, I've got some but they are white and hardly noticeable. In fact, I'm certain they are remnants from the bazillion times I've lost and gained weight over the years. Of course, I've still got at least 7 weeks to go so there's still time for belly button popping and angry red lines to appear. Here's hoping.

    Congratulations to Tosha and Nik on the birth of their little boy Indigo J. He was born on New Year's Day, which should guarantee that no one will forget his birthday in the future. Congratulations also go to Lucie and David on the birth of Gracie on Dec. 30. That means 50% of our Pregnant Ladies Lunch Club are now no longer pregnant...which means more food for Conchita and me, woohoo! Pffft, like I can fit any extra food in there. Anyway, very exciting news all round for the festive season and I am looking forward to meeting the wee ones.

    In other exciting news, I have discovered that I can sneeze comfortably if I lean to the right and bend my right leg up slightly. Additionally, if I take one Zantac in the morning and another before bed, I can go through the day heartburn-free. Really, it doesn't take much to make me happy these days. Speaking of things that make me happy and smiley, I have been loving the pictures of Rebecca on Heather's site lately. The falling asleep after lunch piccie from Jan. 2 is too cute for words. Go see.

    who you callin' auld?

    A very happy new year to you all, my 2005 friends. I would do one of those "year in review" things, but I can't be arsed to look up the events of 2004 and comment on them. All I know is it was an exciting and eventful year for us, which ended on a rather quiet note. My last great achievement of 2004 was managing to stay awake until 1.00 in the morning. Rock da howse!

    I don't do resolutions, especially when I've got no bad habits I can give up. I quit smoking in 2000, I can't really drink (I don't see the point of consuming my permitted 1 unit of alcohol per week - it's about as enjoyable as watching the first 5 minutes of a really great film then having to switch over to "Question Time"), and I don't think I'll join a gym quite yet. This year, I plan on giving birth at some point in the next two months, getting as much sleep as humanly possible, and promise to maintain the ability to converse about subjects other than babies. There, those are my resolutions.

    Whatever your resolutions, plans, or hopes for the upcoming year, have a fabulous 2005. It's the year of the rooster - go out there and be cocky! Har har.

    Saturday 1 January 2005

    it's a bit like alien, but lower

    I think Pip is trying to push his way out through my belly button today. Over the past couple of days, the kicks and thumps (and occasional squirms) I've been feeling have turned into strange undulations and some sort of foetal Cirque du Soliel. My belly moves in great waves and I feel little limbs stretching all over the place, looking for new spaces to stretch and poke. Yesterday I felt something wriggle below my right hip bone. I didn't even know the baby could reach down that far; I'm starting to think he's got a broom handle in there. He tosses and turns, stretches and shakes, and gets the hiccups at least twice a day. It doesn't hurt, but it's a downright weird sensation.

    I pulled a muscle or did something painful to a delicate tendon the other day after a good sneeze. Now I cannot sneeze without wincing in pain, but what's worse is that when Pip lies on my right side, every movement he makes sends sharp pains down my side. I've started lying on my left side while watching TV and was even leaning towards the left while walking around Tesco today. I am the Leaning Tower of Lisa, thank you very much. Must get the osteopath to work on that muscle for me on Tuesday.

    I am eager to give birth now. Partially to get it over with (I'm not scared per se, I'm just not really enjoying this waiting around for labour to start malarky) but mostly because I am so keen to see our little boy. Roll on February.