Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stinky baby gets a bath.

Autumn was born on Sunday the 18th and it took us a whole week to work up the courage/be forced to bathe her. She started smelling a little sour and then took the opportunity to blow out of her nappy whilst being introduced to her uncle Scott over skype on Christmas morning.

The puj tub is a keeper.

Autumn's arrival.



Sunday, December 18th 2011.

Photos by Melinda

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Autumn: The Great Escape

On Thursday (December 16th) we went to our 38 week midwife appointment. During the appointment I expressed how I really didn't want to go over my due date (December 30th) because Stuart would be going back to school January 3rd etc. Plus, I felt like she would come early anyway. I'd been having regular contractions since the Sunday (December 11th) that were getting stronger. Treesa, my midwife asked if I'd like my membranes stripped to see if that would help get things moving along a little quicker. She said she'd only do it if my cervix felt like it was ready...

I had my cervix "massaged" and went on my way dilated to 1cm and 40% effaced with a nice squishy cervix. On Friday we decided to go out one more time to the cinema and see the new Sherlock Holmes film where I had contractions every 15 minutes throughout the film and was starting to get really uncomfortable.

Friday went and Saturday came. Contractions went and contractions came. My mucus plug started going and things were moving along. I was expecting to have her on Monday but through the night things picked up by 10pm I was 5cm dilated and by 2am contractions were about 2 minutes apart and the midwife and my good friend, Melinda were on their way.

I laboured through the night and got up after a quick rest at 7am to get things going. I did laps and squats around the back garden, sat in the birth tub and completely zoned out - eyes shut until she was born - in order to manage my pain.

When things were getting to be a bit much Treesa checked me on our pull out sofa bed and found I had a little lip of cervix that needed to thin before I could really push. I had to push a bit in order to help it thin and whilst doing that my waters exploded. Exploded with a bang. My eyes were closed throughout most of the labour and I can still hear everyone gasp after the sound of my waters breaking and spraying everywhere. It was one of the weirdest, funniest things I've experienced. There was also quite a bit of meconium in the fluids, not a good sign.

From there I pushed for 18 minutes and Autumn Olivia made her entrance (exit?) in true Ninja style. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, looped over her torso, and tied up one of her legs. Thankfully Treesa recognised something wasn't quite right and knew how to maneuver her out safely.

Stuart cut her cord and she was placed on my chest where she started rooting about for a food source...

And that's the quick, non gory version of how the ninja escaped!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

...and I feel fine.

A couple of nights ago I was telling Stuart that I think I have a better understanding of how I'd answer the question, "if you only had a week left to live, how would you spend your time?"

It's been on my mind the fact that Stuart and I have spent almost 8 years together just the two of us. We have our own way of living, communicating, organising, functioning together. We're maybe not exactly like a well oiled machine but we'd pass as oiled at least. We're excited to add a new little cog to our machine and for this part of our lives to change.

We're making the most of these last couple/few weeks by pretty much doing nothing... together. It feels like Saturday every day and we love it! Granted, part of why we're doing nothing, together is because we're trying not to get sick by doing nothing, with other people but still... together is together and that's our favourite. If you had a week left to live you'd spend it together with a loved one, I'm sure of it.

The closer we get to meeting our baby, it seems that the people who were most excited for us have turned into warning sirens. The "you're going to be amazing parents!" and "this couldn't have happened to two more deserving people!" comments have turned into "you have no idea how hard this is going to be" and "better get some sleep now because you're not going to get any for the next few years" etc. The excited ones are now posting articles about SIDS and discussing birth defects in front of us. It's like people can't help but feel some need to try and "prepare" us for things already looming in the back of our parental minds. It only adds to the already sleepless nights and moments of anxiety and loneliness - yes I know how difficult this is going to be without having the comfort of my own mother by my side! Constant reminders like these are really not helpful. It feels like we're being set up for I-told-you-so's at one of the most delicate times of our lives.

Nothing baby related has been in our control from the beginning, that's why it took us so long to get to this point. I have faith that whatever does happen with also be right for us, that there is a plan no matter what. We're here now for a reason, we're ready for it, we want it...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Carmel-by-the-sea

Today we took a spontaneous little day trip out to Carmel-by-the-sea. By the time we arrived and had collected our picnic ingredients we were a little behind on the schedule we never set for ourselves. We found a state park and decided to head in, park, eat, and explore. By the time we found parking and ate we had about an hour left before the park closed so we dawdled about on the shoreline and Stuart and Kirsten took a look in some tidal pools. We watched the sun set then drove 2 hours home.

Although it was a long drive both ways for the little exploration we did, we got to enjoy the sunshine and took in some sights we've never seen before. It was a pretty lovely day; a successful jaunt.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

26 pick up sticks, 27 feels like heaven...

Twenty five was a pretty excellent year for me. I ended 2010 the way I wanted to go on with 2011, aka Year 26.

At the start 26 Stuart and I cut the nonsense and decided to lose weight. Combined we lost about 50lbs by the end of January. Stuart lost a smidgen more than I did but I lost just over 10% of my body weight. We both did really well and I'm looking forward to our routines when we can start exercising together again.

In February of 26 we came to terms with our childlessness and decided to add our own addition to the family, Roxy our puppy. After one night we had to take her back to her family. We were heartbroken over the whole situation - she was too young to be separated. She didn't have a bark, couldn't chew food or drink from a bowl. It was a milestone for us to commit to raising a little critter though and it changed us on a few different levels.

In March we had our pictures taken professionally for the first time ever. That was huge for us. We never had a photographer at our wedding, we never had engagement pictures or holiday pictures, we've never had pictures taken together just the two of us. When Wendy and Tyler (Blue Lily photo) came to town right after our 7th wedding anniversary it worked out that we were able to meet up in San Francisco for a super quick session.

I graduated school in June AND also made a HUGE announcement on Fathers Day. We somehow managed to get pregnant. Miracle of  absolute miracles! I've not been private about the fertility struggle we went through, the emotions, lessons etc. I feel like the weight loss, the puppy, the professional pictures, and graduating from school were all things we were meant to do before having a child. Right at the moment of seeing that positive pregnancy test everything felt like it fell into place. This is exactly how it was meant to be. I remember the struggle and the yearning but the heartache and shame are fuzzy memories now. Looking ahead is much nicer than always looking backwards and focusing on negatives. Anyway, that would be the biggest part of the year/our lives right there and the biggest lesson I think I've ever learned and possibly ever will. I could talk about it a lot because it blows my mind!

July through September I was nothing but a blob of exhaustion, yuckies, and adjustments. In August we found out our little Ninja is a girl. Stuart also felt her kick for the first time after make us fajitas - another highlight of the year.

In October I decided to get my wiggle on and launch my website in order to start making some money and use my degree. I've had a pretty great time making and selling holiday cards this season and I'm excited to focus more on birth announcements and other fun things come the new year. By the end of October I was settled with myself and feeling fulfilled and on the right track. I've never felt like that before.

Now it's November and 26 has ended. 27 is going to be a lot different than 26, different but the same. That feeling of fulfillment is still here even though I can hardly stand up without a push, or put my shoes on myself. It's still right. My life is how it's supposed to be right now. There's a lot of different changes on our horizon.Surprisingly the biggest change is not the scariest.

Here's to 27!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making room for Ninja

Where have I been? I don't know. Sleeping, thinking, having braxton hicks, playing words with friends, working, bursting out of my clothes...

I've been trying to organise the babies room. It seems like we (Stuart) just keep putting our (his) rubbish (clothes from the day) in that room. Keeping on top of it has been a hassle but this morning I conquered most of it.

Here's how her room's looking so far... Pretty much done now that we have the crib!
We just need her bedding set, changing pad cover, book shelf and a couple of little other things to finish it off properly.

The countdown is officially on with around 6 1/2 weeks to go!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting down to business...

I've been working hard on stocking my online store with new holiday card/ baby shower/ announcement templates over the last few months - between naps and building baby furniture. It's come together really well and to launch the store I've set up a special coupon code for those who have had family pictures taken already and are searching for the perfect holiday photo card already to get ahead of the Christmas rush.

The coupon code is EARLYBIRD50 and can be used at checkout. You'll receive 50% off your purchase. 10% off is never enough to entice me, 25% is more attractive but 50 - 75% is my personal favourite so I'm giving it to you!

Click the image above to go to the shop and see. If there's nothing you fancy I'm open to custom work but you need to know what you want and fast - I've got 9 weeks left before this baby comes out and my brain is shutting down by the day ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fulfillment.


When we first moved to California Stuart strongly encouraged me to find fulfillment in my life since for the previous 5 years I'd been entirely dedicated to following him on his educational journey and supporting him wherever that took us. I'd expected along the way to become "with child" and so didn't engage myself in any commitments that would be affected by becoming pregnant.

Pregnancy was always the next goal, the next logical step and expectation of us. We never felt too much pressure within our own relationship to focus very hard on that next goal because we were ok with each other and the pattern our life was following ie. autumn and winter in Rexburg, Idaho and then summers working in Washington. The main thing that made not achieving it difficult was explaining to people how long we've been married and how many kids we don't have. Feeling judged and embarrassed or like everyone knew there was something wrong with me that I didn't know about; that's when it was the most difficult. Those feelings took root deep in my sense of who I was meant to be, the spirit of my womanhood. The more time that passed, the more hurtful and regular those looks and sometimes, comments became and the stronger the roots took hold. I felt like I was failing at something I was supposed to have been made for and also confusing because I felt like I didn't really want it when I should have. It was frustrating because I had no control and no answer for why our attempts were failing - now I know differently.

My story is no secret, I have shared it before. What is new is that a few weeks ago whilst watching the LDS General Conference I gained some understanding and true contentment like never before; perspective that's really rounded my character. I feel practically enlightened!

I feel like I've been extremely blessed the last couple of years since moving to California and working on fulfilling my potential: we moved into a little house, I got my degree in graphic design, lost a good chunk of weight, became pregnant... Lots of really great stuff all coming to pass through hard work, planning and faith.

That Sunday whilst watching conference a talk by Robert D Hales really left a huge impression. The little quote they use from the talk, on the website is this:

"The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences."

The quote that my mind keeps wandering back to is, "In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready. When He does answer, it is often “here a little and there a little” because that is all that I can bear or all I am willing to do."

Yes. That is why I'm where I am now. All those years of knowing what direction I was expected to go in wasn't the direction I honestly, truly wanted to go in. I needed to be prepared to do my "here a little and there a little" before receiving a blessing I was being prepared for. I did my part. I knocked and then received - a change of heart and eventually this wiggly baby.

Hard work, planning and faith. Here a little and there a little.

"Waiting upon the Lord gives us a priceless opportunity to discover that there are many who wait upon us. Our children wait upon us to show patience, love, and understanding toward them. Our parents wait upon us to show gratitude and compassion. Our brothers and sisters wait upon us to be tolerant, merciful, and forgiving. Our spouses wait upon us to love them as the Savior has loved each one of us." ---Robert D Hales

Read, listen to, or watch the talk here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30 weeks and getting prepared.

I should have started getting prepared a lot sooner than now but honestly, if I'm going to blame anything it's time - and not myself. Time is going so fast and pregnancy has made me extremely forgetful, and also tired. Time though just isn't stopping!

A few weeks ago I pulled myself together briefly and made Stuart help me pick out a crib. JCpenney was having a baby furniture sale and

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Timeline.

I was going back over my facebook statuses to update the Stuff Stuart Says section and decided that since I was way back in January that I'd put together a timeline of  pregnancy related events leading up to where we're at now. Then I remembered that the day we found out that we're pregnant I started a new private blog for us - have I already said this before? It feels like I have.

Anyway, here's the post about the reactions from my family members:

"We decided over the weekend that it might help the news seem more real if we told our families. Honestly, after seeing my mum and dad's reaction on Friday I just wanted to make more people cry! Ha!

I told my mum and dad over Skype of Friday towards the end of our chat because it seemed like they (my dad) already knew somehow. It's also harder talking face to face with someone and not sharing news like that! I try to get on skype a couple of times a week and have been missing for a couple of weeks due to my new sleep habits. It wouldn't be long they'd put it all together. I told them.

We wanted to just tell parents first, since we were only about 7 weeks into the pregnancy . On Saturday morning Stuart text his parents a picture of the pregnancy test and made sure to tell them to keep it to themselves, just the two of them. We got a voicemail from his mum and we could hear his youngest sister, Danielle in the background... We didn't want anyone to feel left out so we text his brother and other sister the pregnancy test pic too and enjoyed those reactions.

By  Saturday night I decided it was only fair to spread the joy a little further and to keep things fair I sent a private message on facebook to my own siblings:

"Barf's out of the bag - Stuart and I are expecting a baby in January!

I'm about 7 and a bit weeks along and really excited! We just found out on Thursday night and would really like to keep it quiet for a few more weeks until we find out everything's ok.

YAY!

Love to you all xx

PS. Can someone make sure Andrew gets this message? I don't know the best way to get a hold of him."

Wendy: "Awwww Porridge ... I love, love, love this news! big high five to u & Stu!!!"

Emma: "Oh wow!!


For some reason I can't see your message on FB but I can in my email notification on gmail!

So I should start to save up to visit you next year!?.. That's so so so exciting!! I have to tell Nora she is going to have a little cousin! (will be her first little cousin!)
SO exciting!!!.. Thinking it may have worked out best after all with little Roxy dog?! xxxxx"

Mum: "There is sunshine in my soul today, more glorious and bright  but i can't stop crying tears of extreme joy Xx."

Dad: "Oh, I am going to have another Skype Grand Child! God Bless the three of you ! I am so happy for you .... life will never be the same again, you only get what you deserve"


Andrew: "i thought dad would have informed you the best way to get a hold of me is round the neck, great news little Lau. im telling michele hope you dont mind. x"

Scott: "
that's brilliant news. i'm really happy for you and Stu (and mum and dad) i shall resist the urge that overtook mum and not write hymn lyrics, but there is a wee tear in my eye right now, but don't tell anyone. Love you x"



It's hard not telling EVERYONE because the reactions are just the BEST! It's for that very reason I'm avoiding facebook chat for the next couple of weeks."

There was no reply from Beki and when I asked her about it weeks later she said, "
Yeah I got it. Du everyone seems to be at it!"...
That's the only response I've got from her concerning the pregnancy... or rather, the only thing at all directed towards me since June.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An afternoon stroll.

On Sunday I freaked out. I freaked out good. I went to the babies room and I started writing down what we have for her and in what sizes, I also took a huge mental note that the corner for her crib is still not filled. My list of what we have was short: 3 full newborn outfits, 3 onesies in each size from newborn to 9 months, 4 pairs of socks, 4 blankets, a boppy... I then went to gerber.com to see what they suggest we have in each size and let me tell you it's a LOT more than 3 onesies in each size!

I sent out an APB on facebook (and if I'm being honest I don't even know what an APB is) to see if any friends have baby girl clothes they're looking to part with. Send em my way and I'll pay the shipping. I started worrying about all the clothes we need to get, the toiletries, diapers, bedding, crib, stroller, car seat, diaper bag etc. and where the money was meant to come from to pay for all that stuff. We're paying for this babies birth out of our own pockets and birth ain't cheap!

Lindsay came over with her month old baby girl and took a look at what we have. She assured me we aren't anywhere near being ready.

That night we purchased the crib.

Today at 3pm there what a knock at our front door and a thump on the doorstep, "YAY! A package!" I exclaimed expecting our usual sized box from amazon or maybe an Avon box from Stuart's gran. Stuart opened the door and brought in a HUGE box! I recognised what was in the box from the image on the side - the travel system from our registry and I instantly suspected who it was from but being sensible and cautious had to look into it first, just in case. You don't want to go accusing someone of something this great if it wasn't them. That'd be awkward.

The clues continued pointing towards the original suspects and a shipping label was found to confirm it. I'm still totally amazed by the whole turn of events. To go from worrying that we'd never be able to leave the house with the baby because we don't have a car seat to all of a sudden having it appear on our doorstep - the one huge expense I'd been afraid to face!

Thank you so much girls! I'm so excited and blessed to be a part of your "group" and to have you in my life ("life"? ;) You have no idea how much this means to us and how in tune with things you really are. I'll be saying an extra special prayer of thanks tonight for each of you.

Dolphin Ninja baby has the best (and most) aunts ever :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 27: weigh in.

I won't lie. I've been worried about my weight gain during this pregnancy and that I'd fall into the whole "eating for two" mindset which is dangerous since it's recommended you only eat 300 more calories a day during pregnancy and as Stuart explained (he explains a lot) that's only like eating an extra Snickers bar, not a full on meal. I do feel like I'm putting on a lot of weight (and eating all the time); I'm always scared to weigh in.

My starting weight was 204 lbs (14.5 stone). My lowest weight, thanks to morning sickness was 194 lbs (13 stone) and since then I've gained 7.1 lbs. So I'm still under my starting weight and the baby is still good and healthy, and enjoying the food storage I already have on my bones - and also the numerous egg salad sandwiches I each every week.

27 weeks pregnant and a weight gain of 7 lbs. Not bad! Let's hope I can keep things in check during my last trimester - which started today! 13 weeks left!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Busy business

I've been busy working trying to get a collection of holiday card templates put together to stock my etsy with this Christmas season. Along with finishing up www.sugargrenade.com, restarting the Sugar Grenade Designs page on facebook and decorating the baby's room I've been getting very creative and I love it!

If you feel like it you can help me out by liking the Sugar Grenade Designs facebook page and share it with your facebook friends. It'd be much appreciated :) I'll be sharing some free printables on my website and hopefully filling up my etsy really soon with lots of templates - keep me in mind when you're looking for holiday cards and keep your eyes peeled for lots more designs coming throughout the year.

Speaking of peeled eyes, have you see the Zombie family portraits I was commissioned to do this month?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The tale of one tooth.

This month I've experienced the wonder of gentle, efficient, prompt dental surgery and I marvel at the whole event.

Firstly, I've not had insurance for the whole time I've been here - almost 8 years.

Secondly, I had a root canal done in the wrong tooth 8 years ago in the UK.

Thirdly, when you have a root canal done in the wrong tooth and you don't have insurance for 8 years it means the original painful tooth is just going to rot and hurt more and more, year by year until one day you want to smash your own face in because it'll feel better than the constant aching and throbbing.

I contacted a man from church who's a dentist and didn't expect much to come of it. I was prepared to have to deal with my dental affliction for months longer before I either pulled the tooth out myself or we acquired dental insurance.

He phoned me on Saturday night and arranged to have me meet him at his office after church the next day. Whoa! An example of what we deal with back home is this:

Wendy, my oldest sister knocked her two front teeth out with her car door one day. She had to wait for two toothless months before getting to see a dentist...

I was astounded and excited by the turn of events of that Saturday night.

The next day I experienced some new fangled dental technology and listened to a dentist so passionate about what he was doing that Stuart ended up questioning his choice to be a Chiropractor. It was pretty amazing.

First he used a little topical anesthetic to the area he was going to inject with local anesthetic so it wouldn't hurt. Hullo! I have never had a dentist do that! They usually just go straight in with the jag and that's where the trauma begins.

Today I had the temporary filling replaced with my first ever, pretty, white filling. The last week and a half have been glorious - no ear ache AND I've been able to drink water without shooting pains in my tooth that made my eyes water.

I'm so thankful for people who are willing to help out people in need, people that they don't even know! That's compassion for you - and a blessing for me.

(This is absolutely worth blogging about for me. Have you seen my teeth?)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Womb with a view.

I'm excited with how the babies room is coming together. I've had energy these last few weeks to clean out the spare room and 7 years worth of accumulated rubbish we've been toting, storing, and adding to for a long time.

I didn't want to start on her projects too soon because we had no storage solutions and everything was messy. Stuart started picking up big plastic tubs from Target and we started sorting and filling them. Nice and organised. Clutterless. We went to Ikea and picked up another expedit unit, like the one in our living room and took it from there.
Things have come together quickly and I love it. We're using the colours from the quilt Stuart's mum bought for the baby. I'd been eyeing it for months and months - basically anything Sherbet Pip on etsy has my heart. I think I might need another one for the daybed in there...

Blue, red, yellow, grey, stripes, polka dots, pom poms... Yum. Yum. Yum.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

23!


Belly's popped out a lot in the last few days. It's weird how I never really notice it until I see it from the side like this. I have to admit, I don't look half as blubbery as I feel. I look surprisingly neat, in my own opinion.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pregnancy dreams: 23 weeks

My family were visiting me. I brought them to my house and was getting ready to entertain them when my older sister Emma cut in and told us that she was going clubbing instead. She hadn't been in a long time and so she had decided that that was what she was going to do - after an 18 hour flight and arriving in America to see me. I was confused. Then my dad told me he was heading out too. He had decided he was going to go to the cinema that night.

They left and apparently altered my mood so drastically that I became electric. Blue bolts of crazy started shooting out my hands and into my older brother, Andrew who was not loving my party trick.

After a while things got fuzzy and I found myself walking along a train track with Zooey Deschanel. We were fugitives... It felt like I was dreaming all night long and lots of what happened can't even be fathomed enough to be put into actual words. It's no wonder I spend so long confused these days.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We're having a...

We secretly had our ultrasound today and found out our baby has 2 legs, 2 arms, a healthy heart and kidneys, a good healthy brain and big noggin, a cute little nose, nice big lips and a big bum.


When baby first came up on the screen it was having a nice big yawn. We were tickled pink :)



Pink as in, it's a girl!

Monday, August 15, 2011

20 weeks

* It's been a few weeks since I've been sick
* I can stay awake all day without randomly falling asleep
* I can go out for longer than 15 minutes before being ready to come home
* I can eat food again... lots and lots of food ALL the time
* I can cook food without being sick
* I get hungry really fast nowadays
* The baby is kicking all the time and keeps me awake at night
* I've had a touch of heartburn which is under control thank to Lara and this
* My hair has stopped being crispy and falling out
* I don't have much to complain about anymore... those were a rough 18 weeks though!
* I'm half way done!

What I'm eating:
egg salad sandwich for breakfast and watermelon all day long.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dear baby,

Last night your dad made some suggestions for dinner. Nothing was sounding that good until he said "fajitas". You wanted them, I wanted them. It was the unity between fetus and mother that I dream about and all thanks to your dad. I knew right then that we're all made for each other and that those fajitas had to be made for us too - if your dad knew what was good for him!

I ate 3. I stuffed us full of orange pepper and onion goodness, with some chicken in there just for the protein. We do need the protein. Cheese, sour cream, a little hot sauce... heaven! If we hadn't run out of tortillas I'd probably have eaten more.

Then later I felt you partying extra hard in there. I could imagine you sucking the last of those fajitas through your umbilical cord, desperately hoping for more but knowing it's best not to over do it with such a good thing.

I called your dad over to see if he could feel anything because lately I've been feeling you prod against my hand but your dad hadn't been able to feel it yet. He'd been wondering if you were too shy or if he'd offended you but I kept telling him, "soon love, soon you'll feel it. Don't worry." He'd put his face to my belly and say, "please, just kick me on the face. Pleeeease!" but I don't think the food I'd been giving you had made you excited enough to perform. We have been enjoying a lot of watermelon these past few days though, right? I hope that's been as good for you as it has been for me.

Anyway, last night your dad put his hand on my stomach and continued with his studying - he has 2 exams today. I was thinking to you "kick him hard so he feels it when he's not paying attention to us!" He put his books down and I put his hand where it needed to be and you DID it! It was a big kick, or probably a high 5. It startled me and made him jump. The look on his face was priceless and we started laugh-crying. It was one of the best moments of my whole life! It made up for the months of sickness, and I promise if I'm sick again I won't blame you. I really think that was one of the happiest moments of your dad's and my 7 years of marriage.

Thank you, Fetus.
We love you.

Love and orange peppers,
   Your mum x

PS. I need to go and tidy up because your Aunty Kirsten's on a plane coming here right now and I thought that was happening next month... Do you think you can kick her too? I hope so.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Baby: 18 weeks

I had my 4 month prenatal checkup with our midwife today. It was all good news: no keytones in my wee, blood sugars at 100, I finally put on my first pound, blood pressure is 120/164 AKA "amazing" says Stu... We heard the thump-thump and it's nice and strong. It was a good visit! We're getting ready for the ultrasound and to find out the gender, hopefully in the next week or so.



Yesterday we went to Ikea - the furthest from home I've been in a LONG time, and I survived. We managed to get what we needed and not much else. I don't think we've ever spent as little as we did at Ikea. We (Stuart) started cleaning out the room for the baby and built the storage unit we picked up. I'm loving feeling things come together - the belly growing, the bedroom transforming...




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baby: Confession

I've been quite reluctant to really blog about how excited I am right now because I have a lot of friends struggling with infertility at the moment. I suppose I feel guilty that I have what they want - and worse yet, that I'm happy to have what they want whilst they sit broken hearted... I've been there myself and there was never anything anyone could ever say to me to make me feel like things would be alright or fair.

The wait to come to terms with never having children seemed to take forever for me. I'd say a good 6 years or so. I began accepting it and gave up the burden of desperation to The Big Man in charge and it didn't take long before I was spending my time living more freely and learning along the way - I started getting healthy and losing weight, I got my degree in graphic design etc.

With the defenses gone I could honestly smile and be happy when friends would announce their pregnancies - their first, second, third, fourth pregnancies. It felt nice to be genuine and not have the cloud of selfish gloom hanging over me at those times. Without the, "why not me? what have I done to deserve this?" and other personal attacks I felt like I could breath and enjoy their special moment with them - like a true friend.

Infertility is personal though. It cuts to the core of your womanhood, womanly worth and faith. For me it felt like a punishment. I felt forgotten and a bit like a joke. God's own joke - "I put women down there to help multiply and replenish the Earth but not you, Laura! Neener neener neener!"

At this moment in time the wait seems like nothing. I hardly remember the angst of feeling and seeing my "monthly visitor". I hardly remember the crying, frustration, or depression now. I know it's made me more sensitive and in tune with others but when I think about it I feel calm instead of bitter.

Anyone going through this struggle will have heard, "everything happens for a reason", "your turn will come" - all words of wisdom from people who have what we want, people who never struggled or waited to get it. The truth is though, that things really DO happen for a reason.

Wait, trust and be patient because your turn WILL come. It's not going to be how you expect it - or it would have happened a long time ago BUT it'll happen and it'll make sense. It'll make the most perfect sense...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

I love this guy.


Stuff I love about Stuart and being in love with Stuart:

1. After 7 years of marriage and we're better friends than we started out.

2. He hugs and kisses me goodbye every morning and then proceeds to send "I love you" texts from the minute he leaves until he gets home.

3. He does the grocery shopping by himself and always comes home with stuff he shouldn't. When I point out it wasn't on the list he says, "I... I thought you'd like it?"

4. He's a genuinely happy person and you can tell even when you can't see him ie. he hardly ever just walks down our hallway but he skips or gallops, happy sounds.

5. He listens and reacts when I tell him what's going on in the tv show I'm watching and gives me theories as to what's going to happen next.

6. He knows and accepts he wouldn't be in Gryffindor. (He'd be in Ravenclaw.)

7. He loves to make me laugh. Sometimes I see him doing something silly to get my attention but I pretend to ignore him to see if he'll do it again more exaggerated. He does, every time.

8. He's a really good cook and even does the dishes without being asked.

9. He's completely secure with his nerdiness.

10. He remembers intricate details of the books he reads but forgets where his keys are.

Happy birthday, Stuee. There's a hundred bajillion more things about you that I love. 
You're basically just the best!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pregnancy dreams: Gran

The week before we found out we were pregnant I had a very simple, stirring dream. I was home in Scotland and standing at the end of the front path with my mum. We turn around to face the house and my gran Barr is sitting on a chair on the grass.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pregnancy: Cravings

I've been trying my best to describe to Stuart what I've been experiencing through this pregnancy so he can understand why sometimes it seems like I'm going nuts.

Last night around 7pm I had a craving for chicken pakora from our favourite Indian restaurant. It was a desperate craving. Stuart asked, "are you sure you don't want some of the orange chicken I got for you that's in the fridge?" Big mistake. When a craving kicks in, don't question it. He learned that one fast! He left the room upset because I replied meanly and maybe louder than usual. He came back an hour later and asked if he should still go get the pakora. Yes.

I then tried to explain how a craving feels with a little analogy.

For me, these cravings feel almost the same as when I'm trying to recall a memory and it's almost there, on the verge of being remembered ie. on the tip of your tongue. It's close enough to remember how I felt but it's too foggy to remember the details...

Cravings are like that for me. The frustration that comes when you're desperately trying to remember a memory (or where you put your keys when you're running late) is what it feels like when I'm waiting for that food to get in my belly.

What do you think? Do you have an analogy for it?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pregnancy dreams: Haiti

I can't even pretend that I know where this one came from. It's so crazy that I feel like I'm not going to be able to describe it without drawing a picture!

I'm walking through a lush green forest with a guide who's telling me that Haiti is not what everyone says it is. The government is trying to make it sound worse than it is so nobody will visit and find out the secret. I'm fascinated and confused. He says I have to promise not to tell anyone what I see and that it's going to be hard for me to understand that the Haitians are extremely technologically advanced but he'll try to explain it to me as I see it all.

We emerge from the forest and I'm faced with something I could never have imagined.

In front of me is a vast wasteland. The ground is cracked and dusty. The sun is bright and really big. It sounds like a busy marketplace. The sounds of hustle and bustle aren't on the ground though. For as far as I can see the sky is filled with layers upon layers of junk yard metal (think huge Vegas signs etc.) welded together in little patched big enough for a little hut to live in and/or sell things from. The layers are chained to the ground and floating in the air. There's a clockwork feel about what I'm looking at.

There's ladders and flying plates to get from layer to layer...

But don't tell. It's Haiti's secret.

Pregnancy dreams: Baby daddy

I've had a couple of bleeding episodes over the last couple of weeks. They're nothing to be worried about but, well I do worry. This dream is proof.

I'm sitting in a doctor's office with Stuart. The doctor, dressed in his surgery outfit tells me that since I've been losing too much weight and having these bleeding issues that I'm not taking good enough care of the baby. I try to explain that I'm doing my best but it's really hard and I don't have control over either of those things. The doctor tells me that since I feel I have no control over it then the only thing they can do is take the fetus out of me and put it in Stuart. He'll carry it, feed it, not bleed etc.

I look to Stuart expecting him to say something like, "let's give it another week before doing anything like that" but no, he's smiling and nodding his head in agreement.

They take the fetus out of me and put it in Stuart. He has a big preggo belly and is having a little trouble with his daily tasks. I ask if I can help him put his shoes on and he says, "no, remember I'm carrying the baby for a reason. You can't help!"

He doesn't let me help with anything ever and delivers a healthy baby... somehow.

Pregnancy dreams: Zombie attack

Pregnancy has gifted me with the most amazingly vivid and bizarre dreams - maybe the main thing I'm really enjoying about being pregnant right now!

This is the first dream I had before knowing I'm pregnant and has been my favourite to remember because it was so clear and weird.

Where: our house in Hayward.

I'm sitting next to Andrew, my older brother on the couch watching him watch tv. I'm excited because I have a surprise for him. I look at him and then to the front door, waiting anxiously for the surprise to arrive. Loud air raid sirens sound and giddily I tell Andrew there's a surprise for him at the door and he'd best answer it. At this point I'm standing, getting ready to run out the back door.

Andrew stays sitting and tells me he's not in the mood for a surprise. He just wants to watch tv. I start getting anxious as something starts thumping at the front door. I tell Andrew that he HAS to answer the door and that I ordered a zombie attack for him. If he doesn't answer the door they'll break it down and kill us all. Andrew doesn't care. He can't be bothered. He asks me to reschedule it and I start shouting at him that I can't, they're already here!

My mum comes through and starts complaining about all the noise. I tell her that Andrew isn't going to kill the zombies and we're all going to die. She's not happy about this.

The zombies break in and I do a runner...

I presume Andrew at least died.

It's his own fault.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wanna hear a story?


I'm pregnant. 12 weeks today.

Wanna know when we found found? At almost 8 weeks.

Wanna know how silly I am? Course you do!

Well, I mentioned previously about how my Flash Animation class was REALLY difficult. It was so difficult that when I started feeling nauseous all the time I thought it was because of the stress of the class. When I started napping during the day I thought it was because I really wanted to avoid the class - the crazy, vivid dreams were worth all the naps. Stuart would come home from school and I'd start crying because I'd missed him so much and because my class was really upsetting me.

One day I had been feeling so sick and all I wanted was won ton soup. Nothing else. That was the day of the fortune cookie.


My class ended and the last before graduation began. For the next 2 weeks I kept losing my appetite but the need to snack all day long got stronger. I'd have to eat as soon as I woke up when usually I could wait until at least 9am.

All of these things added up in Stuart's mind and he pointed me towards the preggo tests at Safeway. It hadn't even crossed my mind. The missed period didn't even clue me in...

I got home, took the test just to rule it out. Within the last year I'd come to terms with being a family of 2 and can honestly say I loved the idea. Life just the 2 of us is good, comfortable and convenient.


Being a family of 3 is going to be great too :))

Miracles happen. Don't forget.

We've been married for 7 years - plenty of time to have a couple of "oopsies" never mind a few planned pregnancies. It took a long time to come but it finally did.

At the exact right time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Officials.

It's official. I've finished school. It's also official that my womb is being occupied until January.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Week 6!

What a week! Actually, what a 6 weeks! This morning I took my Flash Animation final and submitted my final project - a functional portfolio website I made for myself. It looks like this:


This was my hardest class yet. I think it was so difficult because I was learning from scratch. Having experience in photoshop and illustrator has really helped me get through my art classes. This was like learning a whole new language in 5 weeks in order to present a fully functional website at the end of it - and a lot goes into website building, I'll have you know!

Also, my friend Kristy just listed her sugar scrubs for sale (coming soon to etsy) that I designed the labels for a while ago and they look fab!

I feel like things are coming together! I've got 6 weeks - I have designs on tshirts (whole new summer line coming this month - designed by moi!) and products and the world is my oyster!

6 more weeks to go!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Forward.

Today I start week 5 of 6 of my second to last block. Next block I only have one class and it's my portfolio class which I'm really looking forward to - the Flash animation class I'm doing right now has been a struggle for me and plus, it is going to be my last class, what's not to look forward to? With Sunday to Sunday school weeks I've not had much time to think about anything other than what's going on right now with the umpteen deadlines that are always in my face.

I had some time on Friday afternoon and Sunday night to think a little for fun - rather than forced thinking which is less enjoyable. For fun I was thinking about all the things I can do - all the things that are going to help pay off my loans - when I'm done with school. Then I was thinking about how I want to do SO much... too much really.

I need to narrow it down. What should I do? I feel like I want a break, like a few weeks of nothing but cleaning my house and organising everything that's been put on hold for the last 18 months. Should I restart my etsy right away? What should I sell? Custom invitations, announcements and cards, prints or things I make? Should I combine the two? Should I seek clients or just do my own thing?

Goodness. I need to make some lists.

It is exciting though and I'm sure this anxiety is pretty normal... right?

WHOWANTSTOHIREME? Excuse me. I have tourettes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"And the sky was all violet..."

It's no secret that I'm a dreamer, always have been, always will be. It's one of my favourite things to do. Another of my absolute favourite things to do is encourage others to make their dreams come true. When they've made one dream come true I like to encourage them harder to make MORE come true! Why stop at having one dream come true? To me, it almost seems like waste to only stop at one dream.

I grew up hearing, "You can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it." I really believe it because I have parents who believe it and taught me that. I've also put it to practice and know it's true.

This morning my new friend Camilla presented her dream in the form of online magazine The Violet. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but I had that feeling of pure excitement tumbling about inside my tummy this morning when I clicked on the link to view the first issue. Before even seeing it I was bursting with happy for her - it didn't even matter what it looked like because Camilla made her dream come true and that is amazing on it's own! Then I clicked the page to open it and was sucked right in - even from a graphic design stand-point.

I read it, cover to cover and ended so inspired and uplifted! There's a serious lack of this is in todays world, and Camilla's rounded up the best of the best in regards to writers (engaging and honest), images (clean and beautiful), subjects (inspiring and zesty) and given it to us. I love it!

I feel like it's such a treat that I can't not share it with all my lovies! Head over The Violet and take a gander. Don't stop there - be a part of making someone elses dream come true and share it, like it on facebook, make goals, try the recipes (I made her hummus recipe yesterday and it's all I plan on eating today), email her your experiences.

I have a dream of helping other peoples dreams come true. Have you ever had a goal that you just wished someone would appear out of nowhere and help you achieve it? We have opportunities to be that someone...


Speaking of goals and dreams are you making a summer list this year?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A spin on breakfast - for Rachel

Rachel,
 I don't make breakfast for dinner - except sometimes when we have cereal :S I fairly enjoy it when other people feed me breakfast for dinner though. However, I do have a new default recipe for when we're in the mood for breakfast and I don't want to make something huge/we leave it too late in the day/I don't want to dirty too many dishes (so I don't have to clean them).

Here's the recipe:

Frozen tater tots OR crinkle cut fries - basically any potato thing you have in your freezer. I like crinkle cut best)
1 can of cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
Sour cream - sometimes I use a big dollop, sometimes I use the whole tub
Grated cheese - any kind you like and basically as much as you like
Fillers ie. cubed ham, diced onion, sweetcorn, cooked sausage, crumbled bacon, diced peppers...
A shake of hot sauce if you'd like

Preheat your oven to 350'f
Grease your dish - we use a 9 x 9 because we could eat the whole 9 x 13 which isn't good.
Cover the bottom of your dish with frozen tots/fries in a single layer
In a bowl combine soup, sour cream, and shake of hot sauce if you'd like
Add a handful (or 2) of cheese
Mix in your fillers - I like ham, sweetcorn and onion
Pour soupy mixture over tots/fries and spread to the edges as well as possible
Top with a little more cheese

Bake for 45 minutes until cheese is melty and sauce is bubbly.

It's not healthy in the slightest but it's easy to make, easy to customise, hot, filling, can be as cheap as you like,  and I dare say it is comfort food too.

This is what we call Breakfast Casserole.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Time saver; brain saver.

Last week Stuart and I decided (again) to plan our meals out for the next couple of weeks in order to save dinner time frustration and brain power that's needed elsewhere. Stuart very kindly spent a morning flipping through a few recipe books and wrote down the name of 13 (10 of which are completely new to us) dishes, the page number and book it came from, and made a shopping list with all the ingredients we'd need to make them all.

This is our list. (x marks the ones we've had so far):
Gnocchi with ricotta and tomato basil sauce x
Fettuccine with creamy tomato sauce
Mexican potato frittata
Lemon-ginger chicken x
Chili x
Creamy tomato-basil soup x
Meatballs
Enchiladas
Lasagna x
Chicken tetrazzini
Sweet and sour meatballs x
French onion soup
Breakfast casserole x

As soon as I got home from grocery shopping I put together a big batch of meatballs, split them and froze them for throwing in the crockpot when I don't have time to cook. I made the lasagna and cooked it the night before we were going to eat it- it could then be frozen if we'd wanted or heated whenever - another time saver. Soup also saves well. Heaven!

I love being able to pick something off the list (we keep it on the fridge) in the morning and prepare for it through the day, and then have it ready for when Stuart gets home. It cuts out the whole "what are we having for dinner?" "what do you want for dinner?" "I don't know" "well I don't know either. Tell me when you know" conversation we'd have every single evening that always ended with us hungry and irritated at 8pm. I hate choosing what we're having for dinner.

I posted a few of the recipes on our recipe blog tonight. Let me know if you try any of them or if you have any I should try.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April.

I've put everything, absolutely every-thing on hold these past 16 months. I know I've mentioned it before but I don't know if I can really express the extent of the "everything". I've taken very few photo's, blogged almost never, read very few books, slept in past 6:30am hardly ever, done absolutely no crafts, bakes very little... I haven't been myself. Waah waaaah!

Anyway, with almost just 8 weeks left until graduation I'm dreaming of the things I'm going to get up to, the goals I'm looking forward to accomplishing, the life I'm going to start living again. I can't wait!

Friends, I'm going to stop neglecting you verrrry soon!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Get me right.

We celebrated our 7th Lover-versary at the start of March and righted something we both have regretted for a while now. We never had a photographer at our wedding, in fact we'd never had our picture taken together professionally at all. I've been desperately wanting to replace the very few pictures we have on our walls for years and years but have never really had anything perfect to put in their place - getting pictures taken takes time and money which we don't have much of either.

It just so happens that one of my best friendies, Wendy (Blue Lily Photo) is taking over the world with her photography right now and was in town just after our anniversary. We headed over to San Francisco in the rain for a quick photo sesh. It was so rainy and dull that I didn't get to wear my fabby skirt that my friend, Chiemi made for me but I have plans for that soon too, don't worry.

It feels so good to have put something right - don't ever think that you don't need a photographer at the most special events of your life. You do!


Stuart was nervous and talked through the whole session. It's a miracle Wendy was able to capture anything good between his talking and my constant shushing him. I love them though and they'll be taking pride of place on our walls for a long time!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Roxy.

What a weekend. Wow.

Stuart and I have been talking for over a year about expanding our family in a way more under our control than the "natural" way ie. babies. For whatever reason babies just haven't happened for us and after this amount of time we've learned a lot of lessons about being ok with ourselves, the route our lives take etc. We are mostly ok with the idea of not having children although would absolutely welcome the opportunity.

I've gone through bouts of "lets-get-a-puppy!" and Stuart has been very excited that I finally came around the idea, as I am the anti-puppy. Last week I started to get really sad and the idea of the puppy came up again. Stuart felt the same way and unlike the other times the idea stuck. It stuck hard and seemed to be deeper rooted than the previous times the idea came up. It stuck all week and we decided we'd look about and follow the prompting we felt. We decided to look but wait a couple of months before choosing a puppy.

We worked out every aspect of raising and training and also the choosing of the puppy. We both had to fall in love with it and made a deal not to try and sway the other if they didn't click. We both recognise my ability to be more rational and felt this would play a serious part in our journey in choosing a pup.

On Friday we went to the animal shelter in town to see what they had and to check out the adoption process and vaccine options. We looked about and found little String Bean. I was taken with him, Stuart kind of was too but had a hard time connecting at the shelter at all. We left and he was sad because of the experience - he wanted to take them all home and felt guilty "judging" them with the other looking.


I left thinking Stuart didn't want to look any more which made me sad since on some mothering level I was looking for a little vessel to focus my nurturing, loving instincts on.

On Saturday morning I got up and Stuart was looking for local puppies being sold by owners. I was surprised and super excited. I had felt all along that we'd have a puppy by Monday. We found a selection of breeds, narrowed it down looking at temperament, health issues etc. and both decided on the chihuahua. Perfect. Small, happy, friendly.

We found three sellers. The first one was looking to rehome her puppy for free because of some new rules set by her landlord. Miss Cuddles was a tiny, 5 month old, house broken, vaccinated, black chihuahua who would come with all her supplies and was clearly adored. Stuart called the owner and left a message.

The next seller had a litter with some gorgeous little pups. I text and found out the info we needed. It didn't sit as well as Miss Cuddles so we moved on whilst waiting to see if the call would be returned.

We said a prayer to make sure we were doing the right thing. It felt completely right and meant to be. We asked to be guided in our decision making and to have the strength to make the right choice. We felt calm and like this was the answer - so cheesy and weird but that our family would expand and this would be how, for now.

The last litter had Stuart's heart from the first picture. He was smitten. We waited for the call from Miss Cuddles but it never came so Stuart called this seller. She still had two boys and two girls and we could go over and see them if we wanted. We wanted and we went, we choose and we left with the little bundle snuggled up in Stuart's hoodie in my lap.

We brought little Roxy home and everything was perfect. She was a little shivery to start with but she settled down and started playing and eating. We started with the potty training right away and found a little success - more than we expected. We were totally taken with the little rascal.

Another part of the deal was that Stuart would be responsible for taking her for her vaccines - through the shelter these are cheap. So I pulled out the calendar to start plotting when this would happen. That was when we realised she was much younger than we though. 6 weeks old. I started feeling sick right away knowing that she was too too too young to be away from the other pups. The first months are full of learning from the mumma pup especially. We couldn't provide her the warmth and comfort I felt she needed. She also wasn't drinking from her little bowl and could only manage soft food. She's still a baby.

I did some research and found that puppies that size shouldn't leave the litter until 8-13 weeks. 13 weeks is highly recommended so the puppy can adjust properly and in turn grow up to be better behaved and have less issues when it's grown, such as separation anxiety and some health problems.

Reluctant to bring it up with Stuart I started getting some anxiety myself. Our prayer was answered. I felt complete. This was our little family; Stuart and his girls.

I brought it up and Stuart agreed. She was too young and he was worried too. Selfishly we considered just keeping her but because of how young she is we knew we wouldn't be able to give her what she needed to grow up stable.

He made the call and left a message explaining that we couldn't keep the puppy and it would be best if they could take her back.

I went to bed, sick to my stomach. Stuart stayed up with Roxy and played with her, showed her to the potty pad and made sure she was warm. We had started putting her in her kennel when she was asleep so she could get used to that.

The night was long but it was ok. Stuart was amazing and got up with her when she started crying - every 2 - 3 hours. He'd take her out, take her to her potty pad, to her food, then play with her and snuggle her back to sleep and put her back in her kennel and come to bed.

He got up at 7 and stayed up. I could hear the little mite whining with him so I got up to relieve him. As soon as I was there and we were all together she fell asleep on my lap, and so did Stuart. It was perfect but then the realisation that she needed us both set in. I'm home all day, every day by myself. Stuart's gone from 7am until 6 and then he's studying hard for exams and tests. We don't get that much time together. He wouldn't get time with the puppy at all. Because of this I knew we were making the absolute right choice in sending her home.

I posted about it on facebook and received a lot of advice and suggestions. All were read and appreciated. I know some people would think that she'd be fine after a few nights. She probably would have but she would be even better after a few more weeks with her family. I didn't want her to just get used to me. It wouldn't be fair to keep her. Again that feeling of calm.

Stuart called again and left another message. An hour later the girl called back. With tears in his eyes and shaky voice he arranged to take her back.

And now she's home.

They're still selling the puppies and I don't suspect she'll still be there in 7 weeks when she'll be 13 weeks old. If she is it'll be because they're keeping her. They had named her Floppy and were pretty attached to her.

This weekend has been pretty exciting. It's been the worst and also the best, in the sense that Stuart and I were able to reconnect and bond over a brand new situation. We made two huge choices together and comforted one another over the last one which was to take her back. That experience made it into the top three hardest things we've ever done in our 7 years of marriage.

I turned into a sappy puppy person this weekend, a miracle! I miss her little face, her sticky kisses, and puppy breath. I miss being the three of us.

When I told my dad we were getting a puppy I knew he'd be against it. My family isn't a pet family. The only way I could explain how I felt was to ask how many kids do couples usually have within the first 7 years of marriage? Stuart and I don't have that, we never will because time is always ticking.

We'll get a puppy again and we'll do it right.

We did the right thing and like Stuart pointed out, the right thing seems to be the hardest thing, and this was one of the hardest things we've ever done.


She left a bigger void than the one she filled.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cupid's birthday.

Time has been completely getting away from me this year and I'm ok with it because on Friday I finished one more block of school leaving me with 3 more until graduation. In June I'll have time to blog, to find and do things worth blogging about, take pictures, sleep, tidy my house... June is going to be really great. I expect to have more control over my life in June and I won't have to take out my frustrations on my hair. My poor, poor hair.

As it is the day of love I took some time out and did something I love... got dressed up for no real reason other than to feel smashing. Here's my All Dressed Up attire, Valentines edition.




I was clearly letting my inner pin up girl out for a while and ended up with a lot of pictures I can't share with you without embarrassing myself or my family. So there you have it!

Dress and shoes: Target
Belt: H&M
Necklace: gift
Hair flower: gift

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

I want to see your Valentines Day outfits, join in the dressing up here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January

January is what feels like the longest month of the year but if you're Scottish you have January 25th to look forward to and the food and dancing that come with it. Today is Robert Burns' 252nd birthday... how old is America? Kidding.

Most American's I've spoken to are unaware that they "know" who Robert Burns is. He wrote "Auld Lang Syne" and many other poems and many many songs in his Scottish dialect. In fact the title of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men", is taken from Burns' "To a mouse" ("The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley")

He's so celebrated that in school we have Burns competitions where we all memorise and recite Scottish poems prizes are given to the kids whose parents coached them the best - probably the Scottish equivalent of the American "science project" or "Rube Goldberg", or "Pinewood derby".



With his birthday being a national holiday and having statues of him all over Scotland it's probably not surprising The Bard's birthday is celebrated with a traditional meal. Haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) will be served all over Scotland tonight.

It's days like today I get hungry for home.



You can see pictures of his home from when I visited here.
And here's a video too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Caitlin Grace

I mentioned it on Facebook already but today would have been my youngest sister, Caitlin's 18th birthday. Every year is difficult but with milestone birthdays it's different, harder. I remember being 18, how could it be my youngest sister's 18th birthday? I try not to imagine too hard what it would be like if she was still alive but I can't help but wonder. I wonder if she was still alive if my family relations would be better...

I don't know.

Food for thought... or maybe not.

Hm.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All Dressed Up: Blowing off some steam.

I'm a comfy dresser but today (for about 30 minutes) I decided to dress up just for All Dressed Up over at No Model Lady because I needed to take a little break from this hard, tough and difficult week.


This purple blouse is one of the reasons I decided to slim down. My mum sent it to me for my birthday but it was horribly tight over my chest and I struggled... ok, I had to have Stuart pull it off over my head in order to escape it. Don't pretend you've never got stuck in a blouse before! Today I managed to put it on and breath and I also managed to take it off without breaking a sweat!



Tshirt and jeans back on, water bottle filled, now back to work!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goals: Weight loss

Remember when Stuart and I went vegetarian for 3 weeks? 3 weeks turned into two months because we lost track of time and it was surprisingly a lot easier than we expected. It was the perfect kick start to our diet and weight loss plan.

Yesterday I reached my 20lbs weight loss marker - the first of a few 20's I think - and it feels SO good. Combined, Stuart and I have lost 46.4lbs. He's getting close to 30lbs off. We're pretty proud of ourselves.

I posted about it on facebook last night and everyone has been really encouraging. I thought I'd tell you some of the things we've been doing to help us reach our goals.

1. We did it together. I need someone there with me to encourage me. We lean on each other for support. We exercise together, talk about the goals, meals, future etc. It's made "getting fit" so much more enjoyable doing it together. We cheer for each other during weigh in. If we put on a little unexpected weight we give a pep talk and encouragement. When we reach our goals it's high fives all around. I love it. If you can't find that support at home you can try weight watchers or exercising with friends - Zumba anyone?

2. Make a menu plan with good healthy recipes found online. We then go shopping for the ingredients and bypass the "snacks" that were our weakness (Doritos). Just walk by them. Don't think about them, don't pick them up, just walk away. You don't need them, even if they are on sale.

The benefit of the menu plan is that you don't have to think about what's for dinner. You can write each meal on a calendar, know you have the ingredients on hand and that's it.

3. Make it a routine. In order to create a good habit you need to put yourself into a routine. Morning or evening is the best time to work out. Morning because it boosts your metabolism for the day and gives you those endorphins to keep you peppy. Evening you have energy to burn off and all the calories you've consumed through the day. We have dinner at 5 and exercise at 7 or 8, giving us enough time to wind down before bed at 10:30. If you can only manage to run for 10 minutes it's still exercise and it's a really great start - especially if you haven't been exercising for a long time.

Maybe in order to create a routine and to keep the pressure off yourself you can go swimming every Saturday with your kids? Keeping it fun is what keeps me going. I'm a fan of the Bollywood dance dvd's. Skipping (with a skipping rope) and hula hooping are two really good ways to burn calories. Even better you can put some music on get going skipping/hooping to the beat.

4. Start off slowly and take your body into account. There's no point pushing yourself further than you're physically able. Because of my back injury I often can't do more than 10 minutes a day. 10 minutes a day combined with healthy meals can make a difference. Be sensible.

5. Invest in exercise material that you love. Treat yourself to a sports bra, work out dvd, water bottle etc. as incentive to keep going. I know I've raved about it before but we invested in Wii Fit. We use it to track our weight and for the exercise routines. Stuart utilised this more than I did because I have to do low impact exercises for my back but Wii Fit gives you options for a whole range of different level impact exercises.

6. Set goals. The other thing we love about Wii Fit is that along with tracking weight we use it to set our weight loss goals. I always set mine for 2lbs in 2 weeks and have never missed a goal. Stuart sets his as 1lb in 2 weeks because he's scared of missing the goal - he always loses more. Underachiever. 2lbs in 2 weeks is an reachable goal. Sometimes it's REALLY close, like yesterday I hit it right on the nose down to the decimal but it works for me.

2lbs in 2 weeks is 15lbs (rounding)/ just over 1 stone in 2 months. Which is 6 stone in a year. Break it down so it feels like you can reach it and you'll feel less swamped by it.

7. Keep a journal. This one is optional but helps me. I have Stuart take pictures of my in my sports bra and pants every few weeks. I post it on a private blog along with my stats (week #, date, weight, BMI, complete amount lost). The results are not going to be visible within the first 10lbs lost except in your face but it's encouraging to have a small group of cheerleaders who point out how much thinner your face is looking or how your ribs are looking less padded. People want to support you and we all know that weight loss is a big, personal goal that is easier with encouragement.

These are all things that have helped us. I still have a good long journey ahead of me but I'm driven and I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm healthier now, my back is still painful every day but I feel like I can handle it better now and I imagine once I shed more of my meat that it'll feel better.

Be sensible and eat properly. If you struggle in the beginning it won't last long if you have the motivation you need. It didn't take long for us to stop over eating. Your body wants to be healthy so it makes changes on its own once you stop packing it full of giant meals and junk food. I've heard people who drink fizzy drinks regularly and quit can lose a good deal of weight by doing just that. If you're drinking caffeinated drinks regularly your body will thank you for replacing those with water.

If you've been thinking about losing weight but haven't found the motivation I hope this has helped you. If I can do it, you can. Seriously. And if you are on a weight loss regime let me know how you're doing so I can be your cheerleader.