Friday 29 July 2005

the verdict

The cheesecake is...pretty good! Of course, it's not nearly as scrumptious as the original but for something that's "diet", I'm impressed.

Here's the modified recipe that I used. The only thing I would say is use graham crackers or digestive biscuits if you're not doing a low GI type diet. The crust I came up with wasn't bad, but there's nothing like the real thing when it comes to cheesecake bases.

1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp Splenda
1/4-1/3 cup margarine
dash of cinnamon

3 250g tubs of quark
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Splenda
3 large eggs

284 ml smatana (or low fat sour cream)
2 tsp Splenda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C/350F.

Combine crust ingredients either in a food processor or in a bowl until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Press into a 9" springform pan.

In a large bowl, add the quark, vanilla, and Splenda. Beat in one egg at a time until well blended. Pour into the springform pan and spread evenly. Bake for 35 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the cheesecake cool completely inside the oven.

For the topping, combine the smatana, Splenda, and vanilla, and pour over the top of the cheesecake. Bake at 190C/375F for 5 minutes, remove the cake and cool. I find it improves greatly if you leave it in the fridge for a while (8 hours is probably best). I had mine plain, but Paul's having his with fresh berries on top. Yum.

livin' on the edge

My friend Melanie very kindly gave me her mother's delicious cheesecake recipe. It's my belief that the best cheesecake is made by Jewish mothers - unfortunately, I can only fufill half of these requirements. Does going to a predominantly Jewish university and working in a Kosher restaurant count? At any rate, not only am I attempting this coveted recipe, I am doing something completely diabolical: I'm trying to make a low fat version. In place of the curd cheese and cream cheese, I'm using Quark (not the dude with the big ears from Deep Space 9, thank you very much). In place of the sugar, I'm using Splenda. In place of the graham cracker/digestive biscuit crust, I made up my own concoction of oats, wholemeal flour, margarine, almonds, cinnamon, and Splenda.

I will be truly amazed if it cooks properly. I will be even more amazed if it tastes good. I shall keep you posted.

100 ways to be a bad mother

I must be a bad mother. Every time I speak to another mum, I discover that I'm doing something that I probably shouldn't. For example, Jack's been sleeping in his own room since he was around 6 weeks old. We don't live in a huge house; it's not like he's in another wing that requires a golf cart to get there. We can hear him quite well, but we're not waking up at every little sniffle, snort, and faux-choking noise anymore. It was getting to the point where both of us couldn't get more than a few minutes of sleep at a time, and that wasn't a good thing. He's been sleeping happily in his cot ever since; however, I seem to be the only mother who's been cruel enough to stick her firstborn in another room before the age of 6 months. I am a bad mother.

Then there's the creche (daycare) dilemma. I mentioned the fact that I leave Jack in a day nursery at my gym for about an hour, three times a week. With widened, horrified eyes, the Other Mums gasped. "Oh, I couldn't leave my baby in a day nursery." I feebly replied, "But it's OFSTED inspected and registered, and it's only for a short period of time." Bad mother.

Then there's the working dilemma. I am going back in January after a year off, which some of the Other Mums are also doing, but most are not. Although I'm sure I will miss Jack and find it extremely difficult to leave him with a relative stranger for most of the week, I'm still fairly enthusiastic about returning to work. I really enjoy my job and for various reason that I won't go into here, I feel that it's better for Jack to be with other children and adults instead of hanging out with me 24/7. I am a bad mother because I should be spending his waking hours showing him flashcards and teaching him to play the viola, while speaking to him in three languages.

Finally, there's the appearance dilemma. Jack has just discovered that he really likes being upside down - while screaming very loudly. Often times when I hold him, he flings himself backwards and lets out an enormous shriek. Passersby probably think that I'm doing some sort of chiropractic torture on my child. "No, honestly, he's enjoying himself. I know that he's screaming and the back of his head is practically touching his bum. He likes it."

Bad mother.

Wednesday 27 July 2005

we're all going on an autumn holiday

For our first wedding anniversary, we're heading down (and over) to Devon for a 4 day weekend in September. Since we're bringing Jasper with us, I researched our accommodation options in the AA's (that's the Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous) guide to "pet friendly" places to stay. It's full of useful information, including details like whether or not pets are permitted to stay in the room with you. I initially made a booking with a hotel that looked quite stylish and upmarket, and the AA guide said that you could leave pets unattended in the rooms (useful for when you go out for dinner, for example). When I asked the owner about leaving Jasper in the room, he snorted and said "Only if you want to pay for all the soft furnishings!" I later sent him an email letting him know that they are listed in the AA guide as allowing unattended pets in rooms and perhaps they wanted to correct it with the publishers, but he never responded. Ultimately, I cancelled our booking because all of this was rather offputting.

It just happens that the hotel that won "Pet Friendly Hotel of the Year 2004" is located at the edge of Dartmoor Park in the area we wanted. It's a lovely looking country hotel that's received several positive reviews in various newspapers and travel guides, and most importantly, they were friendlier than all get out when I rang them. Not only do they cater well to their 2-legged guests, there are many perks for the 4-legged variety as well including king-sized doggy beds, special food, and for the Paris Hilton-esque pet owners, doggy pampering treatments. Our room leads directly to the woods behind the house, and has its own entrance so that muddy paws won't leave a trail through their lovely hotel. The woman I spoke to was very helpful and wins extra points for asking about Jack and making the appropriate "awwww" noises. The web site says "We will also gladly cater for any special dietary requirements, although prior notice would be appreciated. If on the other hand you would just prefer something simple or plain grilled, you only have to ask." This is relatively rare in this country - ordinarily you would be considered annoying, rude, and American if you asked for your meal to be prepared a certain way. I like that they don't seem to think this is a bad thing.

I'm hoping to get a booking at the New Angel restaurant, owned and run by John Burton Race. You may remember him from such television programmes as "French Leave" and "Return of the Chef" on channel 4, and yes, I am a sucker for "celebrity" chefs. He was an accomplished (i.e. Michelin star) chef before he made any of the television series, and is passionate about good quality, local food. Although I learned his name from television, I am inclined to eat in his restaurant based on his philosophies and ability rather than his celebrity status. I've emailed a booking for a meal on the day of our anniversary, so here's hoping they have a table for us.

I'm really excited about this little getaway. I love planning holidays and staying in hotels. I am looking forward to seeing Dartmoor because the last time I visited Devon, it was during the foot and mouth crises and walks through the park were out of the question. The West Country is gorgeous; I cannot wait to go back. And this time, dammit, I am getting my cream tea!

Tuesday 26 July 2005

mummy's homemade applesauce

I think the jury's still out on this one.

Monday 25 July 2005

gym dandy

Things I have learned from today's gym session:
  • Gwen Stefani is very inspirational when you're working out. Not only is "Hollaback Girl" suitable for setting a good pace on the elliptical machine, it's also helpful to visualise your head on Gwen's body as an incentive to keep going.
  • The afternoon tv version of the Eminem video "Ass Like That" includes the lyrics "it makes my slinky go be-doing-doing-doing" instead of "it makes my pee pee go..." I never knew that the word "pee pee" would be considered too rude for daytime tv.

What can I say - it was either the music video channel or daytime chat shows. I opted for the former because it didn't make me feel queasy, as Denise van Outen is wont to do.

new tricks

On Saturday, Jack tasted his first "real" (i.e. something other than baby rice) food: sweet potatoes. It's an understatement to say they were a hit.

He ate a baby food-sized bowl of the stuff and barely spilled a drop. When I first put a spoonful into his mouth, he pulled his head back and flinched. I thought I must have burned him by not checking the temperature of his food properly, but it felt lukewarm to me. I realised that the reaction was simply shock to something other than wallpaper pastey baby rice. After mouthful #2, he was eagerly opening up for each spoonful.

Yesterday, Jack supported himself on his hands while sitting up! Up until this point, he would keep rolling forward and landing face first on the floor (comical, but probably not very comfy). He sat like this, looking very pleased with himself, and played with his toys for ages.

Coming up later today: Jack tries stewed apples. Ooooh! Aaaaah!

Saturday 23 July 2005

i'm mellltiiinnng

Following my own "Eat Less, Move More" weight loss philosophy (©2003 Broad Enterprises Ltd.), Paul and I have been very healthy lately in an attempt to shed the pounds. We are 1) eating less (and eating better food) and 2) moving more (we joined a gym). Paul's lost more weight than I have, which is part of some sort of conspiracy to piss dieting women off. Regardless, I am really pleased with my progress. My first milestone has been reached - I can now fit into my early pregnancy (non-maternity) clothes. I've lost 2 inches off my waist and almost 10 lbs. in around 4 weeks, and I'm feeling like a million bucks.

We've been eating pretty much what we normally do, but in smaller portions. We've traded starchy white things for brown grainy things, stopped drowning food in olive oil and drizzling instead, and I've stopped eating entire cartons of Green & Black's ice cream by myself. (It was effective heartburn treatment during pregnancy, you know.) We never were ones for convenience food or fast food, so cooking from scratch is not a problem for us. Just to give you an idea of a typical "diet" meal for us, last night we had big bowls of moules marinieres to start, then we had turkey breasts stuffed with a yoghurt/garlic/dijon mustard/spinach mixture, crushed new potatoes mixed with grain mustard, and peas. Now that's good eatin'.

This is the longest I've stuck to a diet for quite a while. I've got a whole cupboard full of clothes that I want to get back in to, but I'll settle for the "not so alarmingly huge" clothes for now.

hand me downs bring me down

This morning, I went through all of my maternity clothes and put aside a large pile for Paul's cousin. She's due February 26, a mere 3 days after my due date this year, so my various sizes of seasonal maternity wear should work for her. There were several items that, sadly, I was still wearing up until very recently. Others I hadn't looked at for months, and it made me rather sad and nostalgic. I bought most of my clothes while we were on honeymoon in California, so that got me thinking about our time there. I found the support bras I had to wear to bed almost from the moment I got pregnant, which got me thinking about my early pregnancy days. There was the red and gold filmy blouse I wore at Christmas, the tops and jeans emergency purchase we made at Sears when American Airlines lost my luggage in San Francisco, the hundreds of breast pads I didn't get around to using up because I was unsuccessful at breastfeeding, and my top with the boy symbol on it that made people smile when they "got" it.

At least, unlike my wedding gown, I know that I can wear these clothes again one day - it just feels a bit weird to pass them along. I'm not really sure why this is making me get so sentimental and soppy. I really, really (really) don't want to be pregnant again at the moment, but I truly miss it. I wonder, is this Mother Nature's way of compelling us to go through the whole thing again one day?

Tuesday 19 July 2005

beach baby

On Sunday, we went to Tankerton beach, just outside of Whitstable in Kent. It was Jack's first trip to the seaside, and he was a bit nonchalant about the whole thing.

Once he woke up, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. He entertained himself for hours by giggling at the parasol flapping in the wind.

Paul helped him dip his toes into the sea for the very first time. It was so cold, his poor little feet turned blue just from that quick dip!

It was a beautiful day. We had a picnic on the beach and sat in the glorious sunshine for hours. I love this country - you're never that far from the coast. I don't think that novelty will ever wear off with me.


Spotted chez elle:

10 years ago
I was 9 years old, and I got a pink bicycle for my birthday! Okay, I was 26 and I was working at the McGill University bookstore. It was the first salaried job I had, and it was the first and last time I was a member of a union (and a really crappy one, at that). I thought I was making shedloads of money and finally felt like I had a grown up job. Sadly, that year McGill had several job cuts and as a contractor, I was sent to the chopping block. It took me almost a year of diligent job hunting to find another job, and the best I could do was a receptionist job through a temp agency. That same year, I got my first job as a technical writer, doing a contract for a flight simulator company. The first time I ran the simulator, I managed to crash the plane on the runway. Oops.

5 years ago
It was an incredibly eventful year. I quit smoking on my 31st birthday, I had a blast in a dragon boat race that summer (we beat Bell Telephone and the casino! Woooooo!!), and most significantly, I moved to the UK.

1 year ago
I was 9 weeks pregnant, planning a wedding, and we had just come out of the pregnancy closet to our family the week before. I didn't have heartburn yet.

I worked out at the gym, went shopping in the afternoon and bought Jack a new stroller, and made a yummy supper of grilled scallops and prawns with a tomato/basil sauce on wholemeal spaghetti, served with braised fennel. That's right: gym, shopping, and cooking. I am a domestic goddess.

Thursday 14 July 2005

more milestones

I've been wondering if Jack's ready for solids. I think the answer is yes:

Jack had his first solid meal today, and it went down a treat. He's been guzzling his milk down and crying for more, so I thought it was time to introduce Jack to the exciting world of baby rice. It's the second time he's tasted it, but this was the first time he ate a substantial amount. The books said that babies may only take half a teaspoon to a teaspoon at first, and not to force the food into his mouth. Fair enough, I thought. Jack had a taste, and like the first time, it sat on his tongue. The second spoon got a bigger reaction with lots of lip smacking and a huge grin. By the third or fourth spoonful, he opened his mouth eagerly as soon as he saw the spoon coming and moved his head forward to get to it more quickly. Eventually, he grabbed the spoon out of my hand and shoved it into his mouth himself. Half a teaspoon to a teaspoon? Try over a tablespoon, plus a 7oz bottle of formula.

I always said that I would take cues from Jack to see when he was ready to wean. Grabbing food out of my hand and getting really grumpy when the bowl was empty are fairly clear signs, I'd say. Considering his genes, I'm expecting to find him in the fridge at midnight eating leftovers directly out of their containers.

Second milestone this week: Jack found his toes!

gonna make me sweat

I had my gym induction (I really hate that word now) this morning, and I was pleasantly surprised. Normally I dread this; they do sadistic things to the unfit like make them stand on scales and pinch their back fat with plastic salad tongs. Post-pregnant women do not need to a) know their current weight or b) have their floppy after-baby belly measured. I know that I'm fat - I don't need it confirmed by a stranger. A very nice lady (who is keen on cycling and has a Lance Armstrong yellow wristband - it could have been Big Jack in drag, but a lot less hairy) went through everything with me, sensibly and sympathetically. They have a superduper high tech system that involves a plastic key (perhaps this bit isn't terribly high tech). A routine is programmed in for you during your induction and loaded on to your key. When you go to use a machine, it greets you in flashy Vegas scrolling marquee letters and the options are automatically set for you. So, all I need to do is hop on the treadmill, stick in my key, and plod merrily along. At the end, you stick your key in a computer and you can review your workout and your overall progress. If you use the bike, for example, it charts how far along you would have made it through the Tour de France. Me like.

Sadly, not only have I lost any ability to exercise for more than 30 minutes, I am as weak as a kitten with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I accept that my first workout after a long time tends to be filled with lots of huffing and puffing, but there were some things I simply didn't have the strength to do. One sweaty, out of breath step at a time, eh.

Tuesday 12 July 2005

bouncing baby boy

Baby purchase du jour: a door frame bouncer. Jack loves standing up - if you try to get him to sit up, he'll lift himself up to a standing position - and when he stands he stomps his right foot like he's a fiddle player. I figured that this standing/foot stomping combo could best be accomplished with the aid of a bouncer. He absolutely loves it.

Action shot!

Monday 11 July 2005

open letters

Dear Makers of Various Products That I Buy,
Could you please stop putting really, really sticky labels on your products? The kind that don't come off with soaking in volcanic-temperature water, scrubbing, or by drowning in nail polish remover?
Thank you.

Dear Makers of the Tanita Scale,
Could you please fix my scale so that it tells me that I lost 10 lbs. last week?
Thank you.

Dear Wasp Outside My Window,
I see you banging your little evil head against the patio doors trying to come in. Go away.
Thank you.

feed me, seymour

At 20 weeks, Jack reached another milestone today - his first taste of baby rice. He's been showing an interest in eating lately (or what I interpret to be an interest) and I was curious to see if he's ready for solids yet. As per all the NHS literature my health visitor brought for me, I put a tiny amount of complementary organic baby rice (also courtesy of my health visitor) thinned out with formula on the tip of my finger and let Jack have a taste. It sat on his tongue while he grinned at me and waved his arms around. "Are you actually going to eat that?" I asked, as he continued to smile and wave at me. After a minute or two the rice disappeared, but I wasn't entirely convinced that he was even aware that it was in his mouth. He's had toys, blankets, and dog hairs in there before; a miniscule amount of watery baby rice probably didn't seem out of the ordinary. I took a bit more rice and fed it to him, and a tiny frown creased his brow. Then a massive grin, lots of tongue-clucking, and hand-slapping on the table. I think he liked it.

I don't know if I'll continue to wean at this point or wait and see if he'll be happy to continue with bottle only. I'm leaning more towards the latter because he's not really showing the "classic" signs of wanting solids yet. Although he's been very interested in watching me eat and stuffing everything he can into his mouth, he actually seems less hungry lately. He gets through about half of his bottle, then he turns his head away to look around and just chews on the teat. He usually has five 7oz bottles in 24 hours, but lately every other feed has only been half a bottle. Maybe he's getting bored of the same menu, day in day out. Jumbalya probably looks a heck of a lot more interesting than white fluid out of a plastic bottle.

In other news, all my blood tests came back fine so I'm just an overtired, bloated mama. I've started taking dandelion root capsules for the fluid retention and evening primrose oil to sort out my wonky cycles. And I've decided that our scale is a lying sack of meconium and I'm not speaking to it at the moment.

Sunday 10 July 2005

work it out

During pregnancy, I decided that I wouldn't watch what I ate. If I wanted a roast dinner, then we'd have one. If I wanted Nutella on homemade banana bread, then I'd snarf down a slice with tea. I'm not really a huge fan of junk food (although I did go through my Burger King phase), but I am a fan of good food...and lots of it. So, like the hungry caterpillar, I ate my way through pregnancy and beyond. Recently, I got to the point where I knew the fun had to end. It's a bit like when you visit the States and you eat those big American portions of everything with extreme glee (and with a side of fries), but after about five days, you just really want a salad. These are my salad days.

Paul and I have been eating healthily for the past two weeks, and we both feel so much better for it. We're joining our local leisure centre, which is not only a billion times nicer than my former gym, it's staffed by far friendlier people - and it's cheaper! For £57 a month, both of us can use all the facilities and attend any of the classes, plus the creche (daycare) is included. I really like the idea of working out during the day when it's not as busy and I can get some Lisa time while Jack gets looked after by the day nursery. I finally feel ready to start exercising again. I felt very fragile after the c-section and even after most of the pain subsided, I still wasn't confident about working out. Doing the Race for Life walk built up my confidence, and I'm not as afraid of splitting in two if I try to lift a dumbbell.

And on a totally unrelated tangent, here are some pictures. Jack as Mother Teresa:

It's a baby eat dog world:

Saturday 9 July 2005

deep thoughts

I know you were all wondering what happened at today's optician appointment, so here's the scoop. Mr. Rudeman only has a BSc so he is not a doctor, but Miss F from today has a PhD and was far nicer. Not that having a PhD makes you nicer as a rule (although I do know some lovely people who have a PhD), she was simply much more personable and thorough than Mr. Leave Your Baby At The Door. I am getting some fancypants contact lenses that sound incredibly expensive, but they are exactly the same price as the Specsavers brand contacts I've been wearing. Apparently these new lenses slowly release moisturizers to keep your eyes lubricated, allow more oxygen to flow to the eye, and make you look 15lbs. thinner. Fantastic.

After being fitted for my contacts, I did a bit of grocery shopping at Sainsburys. As I only had a few items in my basket, I used the self serve checkout. I scanned in my yoghurt and an electronic voice said something to the effect of "unknown item in bagging area" and wouldn't let me proceed. There is always an employee in the self serve checkout area to help in cases like this, so I indicated to her that I needed help. She stomped over to me in a huff and said, "What did you do?!" As I tried to explain what happened, she furiously poked some code on the screen and stormed off again. "Thank you, you miserable cow" I said (not too quietly, I might add.) Then a dear old lady on another till said "Could you help me please?", to which the nasty Sainsburys lady snapped "I've already helped you!" and went off in a flurry. I started to head out the door in a "cripes, that pissed me off but I won't say anything" Canadian kind of way, but I thought sod it. Everyone thinks I'm American anyway, so I might as well act like one and complain for once. I told the manager that this woman was being incredibly rude, and the manager was very kind and sympathetic. Whether or not anything was actually done about it will remain a mystery, but I felt much better for having said something. Hear me roar.

Now I'm going to make a curry. No one can accuse me of having no life, oh no.

Friday 8 July 2005

flippin' heck

Almost three weeks ago, Jack discovered that he can roll on to his tummy. It was a very exciting moment for all of us, and we were very pleased indeed. Ever since that day, Jack likes to demonstrate this new ability to me throughout the day - while I try to feed him, bathe him, and change his nappy.

Flipping over all day long is tiring work!

back to your regularly scheduled programme

I am so pleased with this year's series of Big Brother. The people behind it have gotten very clever this time round; despite hating every single housemate at first, I'm hooked. I've had several requests to give my views on Big Brother again after my initial post about it at the beginning of the series. Well, maybe not several. It was closer to one. And it wasn't really a request to write about it again, it was more like an observation that I hadn't done so. Where was I? Oh yes, introducing my much-requested Big Brother ponderings.

Anthony - Hon, you're gay, admit it. It's okay; we'll still find you just as boring as we did when we thought you were straight. There's something rather Gollum-esque about the way he always refers to himself as "us", which is both funny and disturbing at the same time.
Craig - There's bitchy funny and there's bitchy pathetic, and Craig is the latter, sadly. You've got to do it in a *snap snap snap* your fingers in a Z-pattern kinda way. When it's bitching followed by sobbing and "nobody understands me" tirades, it's not pretty.
Derek - Sometimes I think he's really funny (e.g. saying to Kemal "You are the most annoying boy in England!") and other times I think he relishes being gossipy and nasty a bit too much. There is something rather endearing about a guy who wears an ascot every day.
Eugene - He's no Jon Tickle, but he's sort of growing on me - except when he speaks. Then I want to reach through the television and stuff several tube socks in his mouth.
Kemal - He really is the most annoying boy in England.
Makosi - Okay, here's the deal. If you're supposed to be a trained nurse, you should probably know that a) if you sprain an ankle, amputation of the entire leg is not too likely and b) you cannot take a pregnancy test the day after you have unprotected sex. I initially thought that she was very clever and played the game well, but this appearance may have just been a fluke. Her actions lately (telling others that she's "90% sure" she's pregnant two days after the deed and completely ruining Eugene's secret task) have shown her to be a nurse of little brain.
Maxwell - Enough. With. The. Catchphrases.
Orlaith - There are way too many letters in her name that don't get pronounced, but that's beside the point. She's Sam revisited, and has nothing much to offer.
Science - Most times he's unwatchable (and completely incomprehensible), but he's come out with some of the best lines. We never knew that you had to remove the chicken's "butt" before cooking it before we met Science. He's verrrry strange.
Vanessa - Words cannot do her justice. You must find an audio file of her to believe it. Often seen with her mouth half open and seldom blinks. Please vote her out next week. Please.

So who will go tonight? Science, without a doubt. The public likes Maxwell again after the "end of" Saskia. I forsee an incomprehensible exit interview - poor Davina.

Thursday 7 July 2005

think i'll stay indoors today

More than 30 die in London blasts
A series of bomb attacks on London's transport network has killed more than 30 people and injured about 350 others. Three explosions on the Underground left 33 dead and an unknown number died in a blast on a double-decker bus. [source]

What the hell has gone wrong with humankind?

Wednesday 6 July 2005

we are the champions

The Olympics are coming! The Olympics are coming! I'm all agog, even though it's 7 years away. How fantastic - I cannot wait. One of the great things about living in a small (geographically speaking) country is that when the Olympics are held in your country, you can actually get to it without flying for hours. London is a mere 45 minute train ride away; we can attend events without worrying about booking travel and accommodation.

I'm already planning which events I'd like to see. Gay diving is near the top of my list, or as it's better known, pairs diving (sorry but two blokes in nothing but Speedos bouncing and pointing their toes in unison just looks a bit gay to me. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Rowing might be a good one, especially if the Canadians have a decent team again. This brings up a dilemma: who do I root for? Do I wave my little maple leaf flag and risk being ridiculed? Or do I wave the Union Jack and risk being accused of Madonna-itis*?

*(Madonna-itis: the condition in which you are American and move to or visit the UK and develop an annoyingly awful mock English accent, and pretend to be British.)

Tuesday 5 July 2005

the eyes have it

I went for an eye exam today for the first time in three years, and decided to avoid the big chain stores and go to an independent optometrist instead. One thing I learned in the past few months is that surgeons and specialists here are called "Mr." here instead of "Dr." (what's the female equivalent, by the way? Mrs? Miss?) To my North American self, it sounds like I got some guy who hasn't made it through med school yet, or due to staff shortages, one of the janitors had to fill in for the morning.

Mr. S did my eye test today and I was not terribly impressed. I had to bring Jack with me, and I thought he was treated a bit like a small suitcase rather than a human baby. Mr. S told me that I could leave Jack by the door and never even glanced at him the entire time. When Jack started crying, he said "You might want to pick him up and wind [burp] him." Thank you for your sage advice. Mr. S scolded me slightly for waiting three years between exams, even after I explained that I didn't go last year because I found out I was pregnant around the time I would have gone in (pregnancy can alter your vision, so it's not usually advisable to get an eye test done). I've got to go back and get a contact lens fitting done on Saturday, however the appointment is with a Miss F. Perhaps she'll be a bit more personable.

The whole reason why I didn't go to the major chain store - oh sod it, it was Specsavers - was because I thought they were slightly rude and standoffish. I've dealt with the shops in Cambridge and Huntingdon, and the customer service was fairly poor at both locations. I thought I would have better service at an independent optometrists, but so far, it's not been the case. Friends have complained to me about bad service at various opticians; perhaps it's the norm for the profession. Huntingdon has four opticians on the high street so I have other alternatives. Mind you at the rate I'm going now, it'll take me 12 years before I can give a verdict on all of them.

I'll have to get back to you on this one.

Monday 4 July 2005

busy beaver

We've had a very busy, but very fun weekend. On Friday night, we looked after baby Lucy (one of our NCT friends is her mummy, and part of our babysitting circle) who is about a week older than Jack. Every time she sees him, she tries to eat his hand:

It was lovely having her here, but man, we have a whole new respect for the parents of twins. Everything went very smoothly until Jack made a noise and woke Lucy up (they were both upstairs sleeping in Jack's room). Lucy started crying her little eyes out, which of course got Jack going too. One would quiet down, then the other would start up again, prompting the Screaming Baby Chorus once again. I walked around with Lucy and gave her a bottle while Paul calmed Jack down. How on earth do single mums of twins do it?!

On Saturday, we had our Canada Day BBQ which was huge amounts of fun. My aunt and uncle come here almost every year to their timeshare in the Lake District, and they were able to come down to see us at the end of their holiday. On Sunday, I did the Race for Life in Cambridge, but for some strange reason, prams/strollers were not allowed so Jack had to stay on the sidelines with Paul. You could carry your baby on the walk, but I think my back would have snapped in two if I carried Jack in the Active Carrier for 5k.

Jack has been blowing raspberries throughout the day and night lately, he's been stuffing everything into his mouth, drooling, and being slightly cranky - could teething be on its way? I went to the doctor's today to get an inhaler (my allergies have gone completely nuts this year and my asthma has returned) and I need to go back to get some blood tests. He's checking my thyroid (some women get thyroid problems after pregnancy), liver and kidneys, and doing a blood count to check for anemia. I've been very tired and pregnancy puffiness is still plaguing me, so he's trying to rule some things out (an underactive thyroid might explain this and my wonky periods). In the end, I could just be a sleep-deprived mother with fat hands and ankles, but it's nice to know for sure either way.

And finally, apparently this is a comfortable position in which to watch television:

a good d'eh was had by all

Although grey skies loomed overhead, the Canada Day +1 BBQ went off without a hitch. We had way too much food (how does that happen?), dogs and kids mingled without (m)any tears, the Canadian beer was met with approval, but sadly, Jack couldn't find his "Tabarnacle!" t-shirt in time for the party. Pictures can be seen here. I didn't take nearly enough pictures and I didn't manage to get photos of everyone. Sorry!

Sunday 3 July 2005

for grandma

Caroline, her daughter Phoebe and I did the Race for Life today, as shown by this photographic evidence:

Although I thought we were going at a decent pace, we almost managed to come in last. Go us!

Most importantly, I raised £588.42 for Cancer Research UK (including the money matched by my employers). Thank you so much for donating; you're all amazing and I am grateful for your generosity. My goal for next year is to run (or jog, or something resembling a trot of some sort) the 5k. This year however, I am more than pleased to have managed this walk, even at our slow pace. After feeling very physically fragile for the past 4 1/2 months, it's very satisfying to have completed this race unscathed.

I'm pretty sure I burned off last night's tiramisu and maple syrup cheesecake.

Friday 1 July 2005

poutine for everyone!

Happy Canada Day!

"How do I get into this thing?"