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Happy Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day to all of you romantically inclined folks out there!
Personally, I have never much been into the commercial hype that surrounds it but I do love the significance of a special day to celebrate the romantic side of the bond shared that is love. To that end, I've always liked to do something a little special for my hubby and the above is a photo of what I gave to him today.
Usually, I start planning what I will do several weeks in advance and spend time looking for ideas and gathering materials. But, to be honest, I was caught on the hop a bit this year. With the impending arrival of our first child in just two weeks, can one be forgiven for one's thoughts being focussed elsewhere? So, yes, the date kind of snuck up on me suddenly. I found myself thinking yesterday morning... what am I going to do... what can I do with my existing resources and without having to go out shopping?
I decided that some home baking was my best option and hubby loves chocolate, so, chocolate fudge it was! While he was at work I secretly made a batch yesterday afternoon and cleaned up all the evidence of my efforts before he got home. The presentation was a bit tricky, though. For two reasons: 1. I ran out of time before hubby arrived home from work, and 2. after a recent cleanout of saved special paper and bits & bobs I had a lack of materials to work with. Fortunately, after a fossick around, I found a piece of wrap that had missed the through-out and was the perfect colours for Valentines, and some red pipecleaners. This morning, with the pipecleaners, I whipped up a heart shape. The wrap, cut into two squares and placed at opposite angles and opposite sides up, provided a red and black background upon which I arranged the chocolate fudge. The pipecleaner heart was then placed over the top and topped off with a miniature red rose (the only one in my whole garden that the recent weather hadn't ravaged).
Okay, I know some of you are wondering... why bother with the presentation?... the menfolk don't really appreciate it, anyway. I guess I do it for me. I can bake chocolate fudge any time of the year but it will just be served out of a boring plastic container. By taking the effort to present it, it means I made a special effort for a special reason and even if the fancy doo-dahring is lost on the recipient, I like to think that the meaning of it is not.
Baby Guessing Game
Due to much demand from the CCL's over at stuffonmycat.com I have set up a game at the website below so you all can have a go at guessing my baby's gender, weight, etc.
Go on, have a go...
Scenery from Around Here
This is a photo I took about about three years ago at Akitio beach on the east coast of the North Island.
The original photo was very good but I always felt that it could be more. So, this afternoon I decided to pull it out of the dusty corners of my hard drive and give it a few tweaks to give it a more dramatic appearance. A bit of dodging and burning here and there, a slight adjustment of the curves, some colourisation, and this is the result.
I'm quite pleased with this amateur's efforts. What do you think?
Loose Nut Needs Tightening
It just occurred to me the other day, when somebody mentioned it, that I haven't written anything about Pippa for a while.
She's a dag of a cat but I haven't really grown all that fonder of her in the time since we adopted her. I think it is because I like affectionate, cuddly, and talkative cats but she tends to be aloof and definitely doesn't like to be cuddled. I will concede that she does talk a little bit. But, really, it is probably too soon to tell. Given time, like Roman, she may become quite a cuddly cat. I have to admit that when Roman first arrived here, he too was aloof and didn't like being picked up much. But look at him now; I couldn't ask for a more gorgeous smoochy and affectionate cat!
However, Pippa does love to play, which is something I haven't had much of since Isabella. Roman does play, in a way (we often play "chase me, chase you" up and down the hallway), but he's never been one for cat toys. Pippa, on the other hand, loves her toys so much that when playing with them she is so focussed on the toy she often forgets her surroundings and regularly collides, sometimes awkwardly, with them. It never seems to phase her, though! Yesterday, she followed me up the hallway and was so focussed on what I had in my hand that she walked smack into hubby's toolbox, which was sitting by the wall.
Just recently I finally managed to get an answer to a question I have long wondered about – can cats get dizzy? You know how as kids you would turn yourself around and around on the spot until you were so dizzy you could not stand up? Logic would dictate that the same would apply to cats but there is that element about cats that puts them outside the normal parameters of the universe (cat lovers, you know what I mean) and therefore casts a shadow of doubt on such philosophy. Anyhow, I was playing with Pippa with her new wand toy (that I got her for Christmas) and managed to get her chasing it in such a tight circle that she was pirouetting on the spot and at quite a velocity! I was curious to see how determined she was to catch the toy and kept it going around and around. I tell ya, she's a loose nut! Where most cats would give up, and get the huff in typical feline style, she just kept on going ... until she fell, splat, on her side! I stopped the motion of the toy at that point and she had just enough facaulty left to catch it but lay there, on her side, with the toy in her mouth looking completely dazed. I couldn't help but laugh hysterically! And, you know what cats think about that – which, of course, just makes you laugh even more (it's a human failing – ha ha).
Anyway, on a more mundane note, she seems to be growing at the moment. I swear she is getting longer and skinnier. Her legs seem to go for miles! It kind of reminds me of those stick-thin models you see in magazines whose legs seem unbelievably long. I feed her plenty but despite this she does not appear to put on any more weight. I'm just putting it down to being young and active, and still growing!
The last time I mentioned Pippa I'd just had a breakthrough with getting her to come to bed but that breakthrough was kinda spoiled by an ill-timed gripey tummy. I am happy to report that it did not completely put her off and a few nights later she came back again and is now a regular fixture at nights on the end of our bed. Although, if you pick her up and place her on the bed she does still have the tendency to spring straight back off it. Some habits die hard, I guess.
Another Baby Photo
As I mentioned in the update I posted yesterday, I was to have an ultrasound at 33 weeks (well, actually, it was supposed to be at 32 weeks but that coincided with the break between Christmas and New Year when everything shuts down). Well, I had the appointment last week and, I'm pleased to say, it was a good report.
The main reason for the scan this time was to check the placenta as my last scan at 20 weeks had shown it to be low. Happily, it appears to have done what it's meant to. It has moved away from the cervix and is now up where it should be.
Bubs got a good report, too. Size and everything appear to be normal, although, the radiologist did mention that the head was small. I'm hoping that just means that bubs has jumped to my side of the family and has inherited mine, and my mum's, small head. In a way, I am pleased that it didn't jump hubby's way as I don't particularly relish the idea of having to push a large head out!
So, anyway, after a bit of fiddling I managed to extract the above image off the DVD we got of the ultrasound. When you know how, it is fairly simple but it involves playing with your computer's hardware settings - namely that you have to turn off the hardware acceleration for it to work. Actually, I'm lucky to have the DVD to extract an image off. I almost forgot to ask for it and it wasn't until just after the ultrasound had begun that I suddenly remembered. Once again, as with last time, it was an option we weren't asked before beginning if we wanted to take it. We then also found out that we could still get prints from my previous scan, too, if we wanted. I had thought that we would not be able to get them because we didn't ask for them at the time.  I eagerly said, "Yes, please" to that and was told that they would be ready the following week to pick up. So, hopefully, I might also be able to post a pic later this week of baby at 20 weeks.
Gosh, I can't believe how the last couple of months has flown by! I guess we all find that over Christmas - especially so here in New Zealand where Christmas coincides with the summer holidays. In the weeks leading up to Christmas you are busy shopping and making preparations, and then in the weeks following you are busy doing all those odd jobs around the place that you've put off during the year due to lack of time and/or good weather.
Over the past month a number of things have happened on the baby front that I haven't told you about yet, or I've neglected to report back on.
The results of the follow-up glucose tolerance test I had done came back as normal – much to my relief. The first blood sample, taken just before I was given the "flat lemonade", was 3.8 mmol/L (the maximum recommended during pregnancy being 5.5), and the second sample, taken two hours later, was 8.7 (within the recommended tolerance of 9.0). I can only surmise that the high reading from the week before was due to my consumption of marshmallows. Although, I had not actually consumed any since the previous day. Whatever the reason, I was given a warning to watch what I eat and handed a booklet for diabetics about what can and cannot be eaten. I did make an attempt in that first week to follow those guidelines but found that it just made me feel ... blagh! So, I went back to the way I normally eat but avoiding all the extra little treats (no mean feat in the lead-up to Christmas!). Where I did indulge in a little christmas fare I made sure it was only a tiny portion. I'm not sure which was worse, actually; not having any at all, or having a portion so small as to be a mere taste that left you with the feeling that it wasn't adequate enough to have really enjoyed the full benefit of consuming such fare.
At that same time I had reached the point (28 weeks) at which my doctor had told me, right at the beginning, that I would referred to the doctors at at the Antenatal Clinic of the hospital in the neighbouring city, and I had my first appointment over there on 30 December. Because of the results from my first glucose test, and due to a typo in the referral letter which put my age at 11 years older than what I am, I was put on the high risk maternity patients list. The result of this was that I got an appointment far quicker than I probably would have under normal circumstances. The confusement on the doctor's face when he walked into the room was rather amsusing when one realised he was expecting a patient far older than me who was sitting there waiting for him! By the end of the appointment it was established that I was not really a high risk patient and that the reasons for my referral to them (because they were not exactly clear to him, or me for that matter) were mainly because my doctor considers that I am old for a first pregnancy and because he is no longer a primary caregiver and only took on my case temporarily due to the current lack of midwives. He did all the routine checks plus measured the size of my bump, which I was informed was just the size it should be, and then told me that, if I wanted to, I could have my next appointment in my home town at the local community hospital as they regularly send a doctor over there. I was informed that they would next want to see me after I had my ultrasound scan at 33 weeks. Now I'm just waiting for them to inform me when the appointment will be.
Many of you said you wanted to see a photo of my baby bump and so I finally decided to bite the bullet and take one.
I'm not a photogenic person so I usually tend to avoid having my photo taken. But, I've been thinking about it and ... <read more>
A "Julian" Fractal
Scenery from Around Here
The above photo was taken by my husband. I also took pictures at the same time from a similar angle but I ... um ... forgot to change the settings on my camera from the last time I used it and ... um ... my photos turned out overexposed, which I didn't notice until after I downloaded them from the camrea. I'm blaming it on baby-brain.
The photo was taken on the way home from our vacation over Christmas in New Plymouth. This was the first clear view we'd got of the mountain during our whole trip away.
Scenery from Around Here
For those who don't already know, hubby and I decided to spend this Christmas alone together as it would be our last chance to do so for a long while with the advent of our first little one due in February.
So, we took ourselves to the Taranaki region on the west coast of the North Island, where we had booked three nights accommodation at a motel in New Plymouth - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
We didn't plan anything special except to relax and just generally go with the flow – do whatever took our fancy – go out for a meal on Christmas Day, go shopping on Boxing Day to grab some bargains. What we didn't anticipate was that New Plymouth would almost completely shut down on those two days. Yes, we expected that most eating establishments would be closed on Christmas day, but there are usually a few that open up especially for a Christmas meal. Not so in New Plymouth. We found one place that was open and, unfortunately, you had to be booked to get a table.
It was just as well that we'd decided to go to the supermarket, after our arrival in New Plymouth on Christmas Eve, and get something for a small meal to have on Christmas Day if we felt like we needed something extra later on. It was also just as well I'd decided at the last minute that morning to pack the leftover steak & tomatoe pie I'd cooked the night before and a punnet of strawberries I had in the fridge. It would turn out to be our main Christmas fare!
So, what did our Christmas meal consist of? A piece of homemade steak & tomatoe pie served with a burger (made with Turkish rolls (all that was left on the cleaned-out xmas eve shelves of the supermarket) and our own specially made beef patties) and an egg. This was followed by strawberries served with a Cadbury Dream icecream "deboned" (i.e. carefully manipulated off it's stick). The icecreams were bought fresh from the only place nearby open at the time – the service station down on the corner.
Other than the laughable drama of our dinner, our Christmas Day included a short walk along the waterfront walkway as far as New Plymouth's famous wind-wand (a kinetic sculpture). I would liked to have done more of the walk but that was about all my feet could handle of their pregnant burden! In the afternoon we went for a drive to the lower reaches of Mt Taranaki (or Mt Egmont as it was referred to in the past) where I snapped the above photo (the mountain was shrouded in cloud for most of our stay and so I never did get any clear shots of it). And, in the evening, we went and viewed the Lights Festival at Pukekura Park. Although I enjoyed the lighting display, I was a little disappointed as I expected something a bit more spectacular (from the pictures I'd seen advertising the event) than just trees lit up with different coloured uplights at intervals all along the paths throughout the gardens. But it was still enjoyable as it is not something we see back home.
Don't Push it
I'm having a grumpy day today.
I'm still feeling somewhat tired from a big day out on Sunday and coupled with that, I had another glucose test for gestational diabetes, at the lab this morning. The results from the last test came back at 8.7 (normal is about 6, I think) and so my doctor wanted me to go for another one. I had to fast for it this time.
The waiting room was full when I arrived, so it was about half an hour before I was seen. The routine involved taking a blood sample from me before I drank the "flat lemonade", and then I had to sit around for two hours this time. At least I didn't end up feeling a bit light-headed like last time around – which I'm hoping was a good thing. Maybe it was something to do with the marshmallows I had eaten during last week. Anyway, whatever. The effect this week was that I was left feeling just a little more drained than when I arrived. At the end of the two hours they took another vial of blood from me. And, then I was free to go AND GET FOOD!
The rest of the day might have gone alright if one particular manager hadn't created extra work, which I don't need right now as I'm going on leave for Christmas at the end of this week and have got enough on my plate as it is. Add to that the fact that when I get back from leave I will only be there for another three weeks before I'm off for 12 months on maternity leave. It did not help the stress levels and, needless to say, I'm feeling more than a tad irritable.
It's Not Fair
This is thoroughly the wrong time of year to be six months pregnant! I'm not just talking about it being summer. It's Christmas! And, with Christmas there comes all the various social get-togethers and all that delectable food, and it's traditionally a time for habitually overeating. Right?
Unfortunately, being six months pregnant means there is not as much room for my stomach to expand as there would be normally therefore limiting the amount I can consume. In fact, if anything, it has shrunk. I can't even eat a meal of normal proportions let alone enjoy the delights of gorging on Christmas fare.
Yesterday, I made the mistake of eating a meal for tea that, before now, would've been a normal sized portion and then a bit later in evening followed it with some pudding. Even though it was a very tiny portion of pudding I had, I totally regretted it with a painful gripey belly right through the night.
And then I had a small breakthrough with Pippa during the night. Inevitably, I had to get up to visit a particular room – as you do with a gripey tummy. Pippa, who was probably sleeping in the lounge at the time, heard me get up and she got up, too, and she followed me back to bed!
"Yeah, so, big deal," I hear you say. Well, the big deal is that Pippa won't normally get on a bed. If you pick her up and place her on one she jumps straight off again like she has been burned. Before now, the closest I could get her to willingly get up there herself was onto the pillows or along the headboard but she would not go near the duvet/bedspread area.
So, I was most surprised last night, when I tucked myself back into bed, to feel her walk along my pillow and then very slowly and tentatively – like she was walking on glass – walk down between my husband and I, then very carefully walk over me to the other side and curled up in the small of my back.
And then, no sooner had that happened, guess what happened next ... I had to make another urgent visitation. Can you believe it? She was contentedly settled and purring away and I had no choice but to disturb her. Suppressing the urgency of which I needed to go, I gently picked her up and placed her on the other side of me, beside my husband, and was careful not to rush out of bed so as not to startle her but, unfortunately, she did not stay. And she did not come back again afterwards.
So twice curse the limitations of a pregnant stomach! It is just not fair.
Worst Lemonade Ever!
Well, I reached the 28th week of my pregnancy on Wednesday and, with that milestone, had to go and visit the lab for a "polycose screening" (the test for pregnancy diabetes), which I did first thing yesterday morning. This entailed drinking a cup of some liquid that tasted a bit like half flat lemonade and then sitting around for an hour while it ran its course. I wasn't even warned about the affect it might have until I'd been sitting there for about 30-40 minutes and the nurse stuck her head around the corner and said, "If you're feeling a bit woozy or nauseas we've got a bed you can come and lie down on." At that stage I'd already been feeling a bit light-headed for about 10 minutes but not that bad that I needed to lie down. Although, the mention of a bed did sound very inviting at that moment – having not slept that well during the night, and with the added light-headedness, I was quite ready to curl up and go to sleep right then! Eventually, the hour was up and I was taken through into another room where they took three little vials of blood off me. And that was it. I then waddled my way back to work feeling slightly peculiar.
Today, I rang my doctor to make my next appointment as they wanted to me come back after having the test done. I told them I'd had the test done yesterday and they said to me, "Ah yes, about that, we've got the test results and we need to talk to you about them." Uh oh. I'm picking that does not bode good as my doctor never mentions test results unless you specifically ask about them.
They made me an appointment for Monday morning and, in the meantime, I am not going to stress about. I think if it was particularly dire, they would have got me in straight away.
Worst lemonade indeed.
Silverslippers are not Magic
To give you an update on the "Pipsqueak", she has indeed been given a permanent home in our household and has been adorned with a more appropriate name of "Pippa Silverslippers".
I took Pippa to the vet a few weeks ago to have her checked out and she was wormed and vaccinated, and given a clean bill of health. I also wanted her checked to see if she been spayed and, much to my surprise, when the vet investigated she found the scars which were evidence that she had been. It only deepened the mystery as to how she ended up in our backyard. The vet ran a microchip scanner all over Pippa on the off chance that she may have been chipped but nothing came up.
Pippa obviously always knew that this was going to be her home and has settled herself in quite well. I am trying to teach her to use the catflap but this is proving to be a very slow process. She is the first cat I've had that has not "got it" after showing her almost every day for several weeks. All my other cats have never needed to be shown more than twice (at least one figured it out all by themself). She did go through it once, last weekend, without any help other than lots and lots of verbal encouragement but, since that day, has not repeated the achievement. She can push the flap open with her nose but she doesn't seem to have the confidence to push her whole head past and jump through. Consequently, when she pulls back the magnet snaps the flap back shut and it gives her a fright. Unlike Dorothy's famed ruby slippers, Pippa is having to learn that her silver slippers won't magically transport her inside.
So much has been happening lately that I haven't given you an update on what's been happening on the baby front for a while.
Things have been ticking along quite well – at least, I think they have been. Okay, maybe that is not being entirely honest. There is one thing that has my feathers slightly ruffled. It's my breasts again. No, they haven't gone up another size (thank ceiling cat) – actually, they seem to have stabilised at a size D. No, now they have started leaking! From what I can gather this usually doesn't start happening until much closer to one's due date. But no, not me. Mine had to go and start at 21 weeks! Why me? Is it because everything has been going so well that fate had to throw in a curve ball somewhere? Is there an unseen rule book somewhere that says no-one is allowed to have a perfect trouble-free pregnancy? I haven't even been moody except for the odd occasional grumpy session – which has been short-lived, I might add. So, what's the big deal, you ask – just buy some breast pads! I guess what I'm most annoyed about is having to wear a bra 24/7. As if sleeping at night isn't already uncomfortable, I have to sleep in a bra as well! I find myself envying my car. At least when she's got a leak it's merely a matter of tightening something up or throwing in new set of seals. Maybe I should tell hubby to pop down to the local automotive parts store and order me some new nipples!
Last week I had my usual four-weekly check-up at the doctor at 25 weeks (it should have been at 24 weeks but by the time I got around to booking the appointment a week had gone). It was mostly the usual stuff – weight, blood pressure, baby's heartbeat – except this time they told me I have to go back for another ultrasound scan at 32 weeks. Apparently, the last scan at 20 weeks showed that my placenta was too low. Apparently, what this means is that, if it doesn't move up to where it should be between now and my due date, there is great risk that the placenta will tear away from the uterus wall during birth and cause bleeding. I am told that this doesn't happen very often and that, in most cases, the placenta usually moves up to where it should be before birth. So, to check its progess, I need another scan at 32 weeks. If it remains low, they won't let you go into labour and you have to have a caesarean. Keeping fingers crossed that placenta does what it should. I don't particularly relish the idea of having a caesarean.
I was also told that, before my next check-up, I have to go for another blood test and "polycose screening" at 28 weeks. This is the test which checks for pregnancy diabetes. And then, to top it all off, I was given one of those little jars and told to bring a sample to my next check-up. Do you know how much I hate having to pee in the jar?
Has Grey Kitty Found a Home?
Well, I put up a sign during Second-Hand Sunday today to see if I could find a home for the "Pipsqueak" who has been guesting with us for the past few weeks. There have been no equiries, though, so it's looking likely that she might become a permanent member of our household.
The above photo was taken while I was trying to photograph the rhodohypoxis (see below). She decided to investigate and got herself right in the middle of the shot! It turned out surprisingly well, actually, if a smidgeon out of focus.
My favourite website, stuffonmycat.com, has recently undergone a fantastic new transformation! Unfortunately, as a result, some of the links here on my own website are broken (ie. in the Storybook section).
The transformation at stuffonmycat.com is not fully complete, yet. One of the parts they are still working on is the Archives, which, basically, is the old version of the website. Until such times as this has been completed and I can renew the links on my pages with the updated URLs, I apologise that they will remain broken.