Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas Festivities

Happy christmas!!
Christmas has been very different for us this year! I love our usual 'big' family christmasses (as Luke and I are both from big families, christmas tends to be the annual 'get-together'). However, this year, with little Eden only 3 and a half weeks old, we thought it would be best if we didn't travel, especially on christmas day, so it was just the 3 of us christmas morning.

On christmas day, after unintentionally waking up late, we managed to be dressed and ready to go to church within an hour or so, and I'm really glad we made the effort. There were only about 8 of us there, but we all picked carols to sing, and Gerri had prepared some thoughts on the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus. Eden was very good throughout, she loves the singing at church and always quietens down and listens intently.

After a quick feed at home, we walked down the road to Paul and Katty's for christmas dinner. As well as the 'traditional' turkey and trimmings, Katty had prepared a Peruvian traditional christmas rice, made with olives and the special ingredient of a little coca cola, eaten with peaches. We had so much to eat for the first course that it was a couple of hours before we could face christmas pudding, and we didn't even get around to cheese and biscuits!

By Christmas day evening the combination of Eden's unsettled night, and a big meal caught up with me, and I was asleep soon after 9pm (missing most of the Royle family christmas special).

On boxing day we decided to go for a walk round the Common. Last year we'd been visiting my family and had a trip to Droitwich and a family pub lunch on boxing day.

Yesterday we drove up to Reading to see Luke's side of the family, as we'd missed them on christmas day. Luke's aunt was hosting a lunch, and there was lots of extended family there. Eden got to meet her cousins Oscar, Erik, Poppy and Willow. Jasmin, Pip and Imogen couldn't make it unfortunately.

This evening we've had the cheese and biscuits that we couldn't manage on christmas day with Paul and Katty and Simon, coupled with mulled wine.

So christmas has been really different for us, alot quieter than usual, but it's been a lovely experience sharing the festivities with our new baby girl, and not only seeing family, but also having friends play more of a part in our celebrations this year.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

Today we watched christmas films - Eden and I watched Santa Claus 3 in the morning, then we watched the Nativity this afternoon. We wanted to go to a carol service this evening, but we couldn't find a local one, so watched Carols from Kings on TV instead.

Monday, 21 December 2009

3 weeks old!

Our little girl is 3 weeks old today! Everyday she changes and develops a little. This week she's looking like her Daddy, and is more alert - she studies our faces, turns her head to sound and even seems aware that Flo's nearby. So far Eden's been sleeping pretty well for a newborn - she nods off properly at about midnight, and will wake for a feed at 3:30ish, although has slept through until 6 a couple of times. She's definately had a growth spurt this week too - and is already too long for some of her sleepsuits!

The 3 of us had fun yesterday doing festive things. There was no church in the morning, so we took the rare opportunity to have a 'lie-in' until after 9am (that's late for us) and then took a nice drive around dropping off christmas cards. We walked upto the shops in the sunshine and treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast for lunch and a read of the Sunday papers in the sainsburys cafe. Yesterday evening was the christingle service at church - Eden was awake for half of it and then slept the other half.

We're looking forward to spending our first family christmas together as a 3, later this week...

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Yesterday was the first proper 'playtime' that I had with Eden. Months ago, the first baby item we bought when we found out I was preggers was an Ikea playmat, and yesterday I took it out of it's packaging for the first time. Eden and I had a happy half hour after a feed playing on there - she was more interested in my face over anything else, so I lay by her side and pulled funny faces. She stared intently, and tried to copy sticking her tongue out a couple of times when I did. I've also been introducing her to the sense of touch, by rubbing different materials along her arm.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Eden goes to church

Today was Eden's second visit to church. Last week she was wide awake but peaceful, I think she was enjoying the music, and I had to take her out half way through for a feed. Today she slept through the whole service! She looked very cute in her new pink dress, which Grandma and Grandad had given her. Everyone at church thinks she's beautiful, we do too, but we're biased!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Our beautiful daughter

Eden's one week old today! Part of me still can't believe she's here, and yet I can't imagine life without her. She's gradually starting to become more alert, opening her eyes more, and today has lay happily in her pram with her eyes open, I think she like's the bold pattern on the hood!

We took her out shopping in town today. We went to Asda, Mamas and Papas, Tesco Home, Borders (which is sadly closing down) and finished with a free cup of tea in the Ikea restaurant, uaing our family card. Eden slept soundly through the whole trip!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Eden meets the family

Yesterday Granny and Grandpa Strickland came to visit Eden. She was very peaceful and slept through the whole visit, I think the huge feed just before helped! Eden is number 8 of the grandchildren on the Strickland side!

Today, Grandma and Grandad Weaver visited, with Aunty Jo and Aunty Jess. Eden was very good again and slept through the morning. We popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. After lunch I gave her a quick feed, and I think she was abit over excited after that as she didn't really sleep in the afternoon.

Everyone was really excited to meet Eden!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Eden's first trip out

Today we took Eden out in her pram for the first time. Just a short walk up to the shops - Luke had to take a library book back. We had a cup of tea in Sainsburys before coming home. Unfortunately, it started to rain and we hadnt thought to pack the rain cover! It's all just part of the learning curve though and Eden didn't get wet.

A development today is that Eden has started sleeping in her moses basket and pram, rather than only in our arms. We're hoping we'll be able to settle her in the moses basket tonight, which will mean a better night's sleep for all of us.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Eden Rose Strickland is born!

Our beautiful little baby girl has arrived!
She was born at home on Monday 30th November 2009, at 5:52am.

My contractions started at 11pm on Sunday night. Prior to this, I'd had severe backache all day Saturday, then no other signs that Eden was on her way until the contractions started Sunday night, so it caught me abit by surprise when it all started.

We'd settled into bed Sunday evening at 10pm, then just before 11pm, I felt a 'pop', got up to go to the loo and my waters had broken. The contractions were coming regularly every 10 minutes from the first one. At first, I was in denial that labour had started, so we left it an hour before caling the hospital to let them know what had happened and that I had a planned homebirth. The midwife asked me to call back in an hour (1am) to let her know how everything was progressing.

After getting off the phone to her, Luke pottered around downstairs, tidying up and getting the living room ready. I'd made a list in advance of things we needed to get ready. We put Friends on in the background to pass the time, and I just sat and practised my breathing, timing contractions. About half an hour later, contractions were coming every 2-5 minutes and were getting more intense, so Luke called the hospital back and they said they'd send a midwife round straight away, although she'd be driving over from the other side of town so may take a little while.

I continued to breathe through contractions and Luke helped me put the TENs machine on. I could only cope with it on a really low setting, higher settings were much too tingly and uncomfortable, so I didnt find the TENS all that helpful for pain relief, but kept it on anyway. Luke started preparing the birth pool. The midewife, Anne, arrived about 45 minutes later (1:15am?). I was getting to the point where I was really having to focus on my breathing to see me through each contraction. She did all her initial checks and then examined me - I was 3cm. I was in quite alot of pain, but it was too early to use gas and air, and the pool wasnt filled yet. Luke did a fantastic job filling up the birth pool - using the boiler, kettle and pans on the hob! He had to keep this up pretty much constantly from this point onwards.

An hour later, I couldnt cope anymore with the pain. I couldnt get comfortable, my contractions were pretty much constant, giving me very little time to rest and relax between each one. I'd estimate they were coming every 1-2 minutes, as Anne couldnt always finish her check on the baby's heartbeat, which takes 1 minute. I started pleading to be taken up to the hospital and given an epidural and/or caesarian - anything to make the pain stop! Anne didn't quite know what to do, as only an hour ago I'd only been 3cm, so she thought another examination might help in the decision. Surprisingly, I'd gone from 3cm to 7cm in an hour (usually it's 1cm an hour). The birthpool was ready (just about) so I got in. The relief!! It was amazing.

I was able to relax in the pool. I had my own space. The comfiest position was on my knees, with my body draped over the side of the pool, and my head resting on the top. I kept my eyes closed for most of the time, and was able to just focus and almost drift into semi-consciousness this way. My contractions slowed a little, which gave me time to relax inbetween. I started to become quite vocal through each contraction, but found focussing on the noise helped ease the pain abit.

About an hour and a half later, I asked for gas and air, I was starting to feel really uncomfortable and was finding it really hard to resist pushing. Anne suggested another examination, and I was found to be 10cm and could start pushing! I got back in the pool and again stayed on my knees leaning over the side. Being able to push gave me a boost in itself that I was nearly there, and able to focus my energies on something positive - getting the baby out! The second midwife, Alison arrived. I could feel the head coming down, but then it would slide back up again. Then I started to feel stinging, and knew I was nearly there. I just kept listening to my body, having confidence that it knew what to do. I asked again for gas and air, but Anne said it was too late really, and better to just see it through and focus all my concentration on pushing. The head eventually stopped sliding back up, and Anne used a mirror and torch to show Luke the head crowning. Their exclamations spurred me on. With the next couple of contractions and pushes, the head was out, and I had a weird sensation of the baby turning. My eyes were still closed and I was abit disorientated, and started shouting for help, as it all felt so strange and I felt out of control. Within seconds though, Anne had turned me over onto my back and with the next push the baby's body slid out from under me. I reached down, and with Anne's help we lifted her head out of the water. I checked and exclaimed 'It's a girl!' to Luke, who had been watching from the other side of the pool. I was so happy I went into smiley 'chuckly' mode, and the baby and I had a lovely cuddle in the pool. Luke said 'Hello Eden' and Alison took some family photographs for us.

After afew minutes, Eden was wrapped in a towel and handed to Luke, and Anne and Alison helped me out of the pool. I had a small second degree tear, that they thought was best to stitch up. While Anne sorted out the equipment for this, Alison helped me put Eden to the breast and she fed straight away for 10 minutes or so. While Anne stitched up, Alison wrote up the notes and cleaned and dressed Eden. She weighed 8lb 8 1/2 oz's! We were all surprised how big she was!

Then Alison left, and Luke helped me have a bath, and I had some porridge. Anne saw us up to bed and made sure we were well before leaving.

From start to finish, labour was jut under 7 hours. Both midwives said it was a surprisingly smooth and quick labour for a first birth, and were impressed with how well I coped with the pain - managing without any drugs or gas and air. For me, I had confidence in my body and am so pleased I gave the birth at home a go, it's an amazing feeling to know I did it!

Our beautiful little girl is here, and we are both overjoyed! We spent the rest of yesterday relaxing in bed. It was so lovely to all be in our own home from the start. This is only the beginning of a fantastic new adventure into parenthood for us!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Snippets of news

Nelson has been rehomed! I called the RSPCA on Tuesday last week for an update on how he was doing, and was told the good news. I got off the phone to an odd feeling of being happy and sad at the same time! Happy that he now has a new family and it didn't take nearly as long as what they thought (christmas time at the earliest was what they told us due to the huge number of cats and kittens they had for rehoming at the moment). Still, sad feelings that he's 'moved on' and we won't see him again.

On Tuesday I also called Taprobar in London, a tea shop that sells our favourite tea - Mackwoods. It's the only place in the UK that sells it. We first tasted the tea on our honeymoon in Sri Lanka, when we visited the Labookelie Tea Estate. We've been fans ever since, and ordering our tea is one of our little indulgences in life! The order arrived the next day, and included was a complimentary pretty wooden gift box for storing our tea bags in. A nice surprise.

We actually had lots of parcels arrive last week, as we've done most our christmas shopping online now to get it out of the way before the baby arrives. Much as it's always exciting to have a parcel arrive, the other particularly exciting parcel (well.. exciting for me, not sure Luke shares my enthusiasm!) was the arrival of the custom-made cloth nappy that I ordered from Weenotions. It's a beautiful design and I cant wait to try it out on the baby!

I think beautiful cloth nappies may become another one of our little indulgences in time....

Mat leave update

Can't believe I finished work 4 weeks ago tomorrow! The time has just flown by so quickly! I know I've been busy, and haven't had a single bored moment, but even so, I'm not sure where the weeks have gone!

I guess most days there's something specifically planned that I have to do, and then the rest of the time is spent pottering, walking, cooking, reading, sleeping etc. For example, last week;
Monday was a quiet day, but Sally popped over for a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Tuesday was a busy day; it was my birthday, after dropping Luke at the train station, I popped into town, got home and postie arrived with more birthday cards and lots of exciting parcels, then I did a big shop in Tesco, then Katty came over as she'd locked herself out, then I picked Luke up from the station and we went out for a meal. Then I got home and went straight to bed!
Wednesday I went out for a meal in the evening with folks from work.
Thursday we had to collect my home birth box from the hospital, and had a worship evening at church.
Friday I went over to Rosie's in the afternoon and popped to the shops and bought some new boots.

Today I'm 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Really hoping this baby is ready to arrive soon!! Any day now would be nice...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Baby Shower

On Saturday, Joy and Ann organised a Baby Shower for Luke and I. About 35-40 people came along, and we felt very loved and blessed. We had a ploughmans supper and mini cakes, and they had organised some games to play. I really enjoyed the 'guess the baby' game (matching who was who as a baby, the easiest was Ian Browse, who still has the same mouth!) We also played guess my waist circumference, taste the baby food (which I really couldn't face doing), guess the number of sweets in the baby bottle and afew others. We gave Joy and Ann a list of A-Z of names for boys and girls, one of which we'd already picked, so everyone guessed the name, which'll be announced when the baby's born.

We had a huge pile of presents to open, and just opened one each at the baby shower. Graham, Di and Mandy really wanted us to open theirs. It was a giant baby bottle money box filled with feeding teats that they got from Uganda. Funny thing was though, that both Luke and I initially thought that the bottle was filled with something else, that look very similiar to teats and would be useful for birth control.... I didn't quite know what to think when Di exclaimed: 'They're from Africa, so might not fit' !!

In some ways, this week feels like my first 'proper' week of maternity leave as up until now I haven't been at home on my own. So I'm trying to get into a routine of a leisurely wake up in the morning, followed by a walk and general 'nesting' chores. Then in the afternoon relaxing, having a quiet time and practising my breathing and relaxation.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

36 weeks pregnant today

Well I'm 36 weeks pregnant today and have been on maternity leave for a week now. The week has just flown by! My colleagues gave me a lovely send-off at work with a surprise picnic lunch in the office last Tuesday, and some beautiful pink Roses (still doing well at home) and some little bits and pieces for the baby.

Last Wednesday I drove up to Halesowen to spend a couple of days with the family. Jo, Jess and I went for a dress fitting, which is a little complicated for me at the moment not knowing if the wedding will be before or after I've given birth! But the style of the dress should mean not too much alteration is required. Jess and I popped over to Grandad's for a cup of tea and chat to Murray the budgie on Wednesday afternoon. Then on Thursday I did abit of shopping in Merry Hill (for nursing bras), went for a walk up Clent (see previous blog) and went to Pizza Hut with Dad, Ste and Jo. I got back Friday lunch time, but by Friday evening was starting to feel really ill with a sore throat and general tiredness, so gave the half night of prayer at church a miss.

I'm still fighting the cold off now, and really miss not being able to take Echinacea at the moment, which I've found is fantastic for preventing colds developing when you first get symptoms!

Luke's off work this week and it's been really nice relaxing at home. We went to Ikea on Monday and enjoyed a free drink with our family card. My general plan for maternity leave is to get a walk or swim in everyday and to spend the rest of the time relaxing and doing all the things I want to do before the little one arrives.

On Monday we had another antenatal class - this time the topic was relaxation and breathing. Picked up some really useful tips, although the actual class turned into a bit of a comedy!

So far this week, I've been for a brisk walk everyday, and we've done quite a lot of washing. I've pre-washed all the nappies 3 times to optimise the absorbancy. When we start using them I'm going to switch to soap flakes and white vinegar (with maybe a drop of tea tree) for washing and conditioning, which according to the forums makes the nappies lovely and soft, removes stains, and smell lovely.

The baby is kicking away nicely, and regularly gets hiccups.

Just waiting in for my birth pool to arrive today....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Hills are alive...

Just got back from a walk up Clent Hills. It's one of my most favourite places to be in the world, and I've been going there since before I can remember. It's a 5 minute drive from my parent's house, or a 20-25 minute (hard) up-hill run to the car park and a further 5 minute (easier) uphill run to the top. Needless to say I didn't run it today in my present condition! Growing up, I was blessed to have a fantastic view of the hills from my bedroom window, and placed my desk in front of the window so I could look out regularly when doing homework and study.

Walking up today, the clouds were low, so rather than the usual amazing views looking out past field upon field towards the Malvern Hills in the distance, there was an atmospheric, quiet bleakness, but stunning all the same. The leaves on the trees are all changing colour, and it's extremely mild T-shirt weather despite being nearly November. The only noise you can hear is the wind rustling through the trees, and the occasional chatter of walkers that you pass. 2 dogs have just been let off their leads and are playfully chasing each other, round and round the benches.

There's a bench at the top of the easy-access path that I always stop to sit on, and in my opinion has the best views although it's not quite at the highest point of the hills. I've spent many a time sitting alone on this bench contemplating life. The peak is behind you, and there's 180 degree views of countryside. It's here that I feel particularly close to God, as I admire his creation and can hear him whispering love through the wind in the trees. Today up there I'm reminded of the Delirious song 'My Soul Sings':

Open my eyes and see
The wonderful mystery of love
Falling in to you
I'm drawn to the gravity of love, love, love

We're standing still
In a moment of eternity
Where worlds collide
And I feel the breath of heaven over me

My soul sings, my soul sings
My soul sings, how I love you
My soul sings, my soul sings
My soul sings, how I love you

I have many memories of being up Clent. As a child, I played tree-tig in a little copse, with siblings and friends; and used to climb an old tree stump which is now completely gone; Matt and I played tracking. I helped dedicate a shelter with the Brownies. I've done Duke of Edinburgh walks. I've had picnics, I've laughed, I've made decisions about my future, I've walked, I've taken the mountain bike up there, I've run... I've run alot! I've seen season upon season come and go up there. I've seen the New Year in many a time from the top, including the Millenium, and Luke and I had our wedding reception there 3 years ago.

Walking up there today, 35 weeks pregnant it occurred to me that probably the next time I'm up there will be a new chapter for me and the family. Next time I'm up there, I'll probably have a little baby in tow too!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Last day at work tomorrow

Last day at work tomorrow. Mixed feelings, will miss the social side of work, but looking forward to doing lots of 'me time' things before the little one arrives. I've made a list. Doubt I'll get bored (as some people say I will). I never get bored. As my Grandma says: 'Only boring people get bored'. Arrival of little one is all feeling very real and close, not long to wait now...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Antenatal classes

This week I've had 3 antenatal classes to attend! It's handy that it's just a 10 minute walk up to Princess Anne Hospital.

Monday evening was our first parentcraft class, where we met 13 other couples who are all due around the same time as us. In the 2 hours we were there, we learnt all about the normal process of labour. At the start, the midwife asked if anyone was planning a homebirth, and I was the only one who put my hand up. The midwife was abit disappointed and said she hoped to convert a few more by the end. She did advise that we make up a hospital bag beforehand just in case (well - 3 actually, one for the actual labour, one for the recovery, and one for the baby), and said some people find its helpful having these bags at a homebirth anyway because everything is then all in one place. The midwives apparently love going to homebirths, where they can take their shoes off and drink lots of cups of tea. Throughout the class, the midwife played with a doll, prodding and poking it, doubt we'll be doing that with baby Strickland when it arrives.

Wednesday was the breast feeding class, which took place in the daytime and so I was abit apprehensive at having to go along on my own. But there were 5 women there and only one had come along with her other half. It was actually really informative and good to meet the breast feeding counsellor, who offered to do a homevisit if I have any problems as I'm hopefully having a homebirth and so wont have the postnatal support in hospital with breastfeeding. We practised the techniques of breastfeeding techniques with fake babies, that were surprisingly heavy (probably made to be the weight of a newborn), and fake wool boobs, that somebody must've kindly knitted up especially!

Finally, Thursday evening was the waterbirth workshop that Luke and I went to. Again, we learnt alot there. We watched a video, which was a little squeemish but not too bad, and had a visit to the birth pools on the labour ward. They were much smaller than what I was expecting, just big bath tubs really. Just being on the labour ward put me off even more of having a hospital birth. It confirmed our ideas of having a home waterbirth, and I dont think the logistics of it should be too difficult. It helps that we have laminate flooring downstairs that we can cover with lots of cheap showercurtains, and also that our loo and bathroom our downstairs too (one of the only perks of them being downstairs! - its a real hassle needing the loo so often in the night at the moment) We'll need these for filling and emptying the pool. When I'm in labour I shouldnt need to go upstairs at all.

So, this week I've pretty much finished packing my hospital bags, just in case, as advised by the midwife. Hoping Baby Strickland stays happy and healthy, and stays put for another 3.5 weeks, at which point I'll be 'full-term' and allowed to have a homebirth. When the time comes, we can set the pool up, dim the lights, light some candles and the wood burner in the living room, play some relaxing music, and watch endless Friends episodes. The kitchen will be right to hand and we'll have everything we'll need around us. In my opinion, a much pleasanter idea than a hospital birth, although as the saying goes: 'Hope for the best, prepare for the worst...'

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ste comes to visit

This weekend Ste came to visit us. He arrived Friday evening, and after a pizza/garlic bread/ chips feast (carb overload) we watched Cloverfield, which Luke had borrowed from a colleague. It was ok, but a little pointless and not much storyline.

Saturday morning Luke and Ste went on a bike ride in the New Forest. I was sad to miss it, and would've loved to have joined them. I really miss both cycling and running at the moment, as I've said in a previous post. While they were gone I walked upto Sainsburys to buy some Cream of Tartar and yellow food colouring. You may be wondering why - both vital ingredients to making yellow play dough that I needed for sunday kids club this morning. So I got back and made a couple of batches of it.

Luke and Ste got back at lunch time and we made bacon sandwiches, then drove into Ocean Village Marina for coffee and cake at Harbour Lights cafe. We took a stroll around the marina and admired all the expensive boats.

When we got back, I prepared a roast dinner and we sat down for a game of Settlers of Catan ( we played the extended edition - Seafarers of Catan) and watched X factor.

This morning at church the play dough went down well - we made lions for the story of Daniel and the Lions. The kids were really attentive and it was a good session. Then we went for a quick hot chocolate in Borders before lunch at home. Just enough time for another game of Seafarers of Catan (the game is SO addictive!) before Ste left to drive back home.

Had a great weekend hanging out with Ste, and it took my mind off all-things-baby for a bit, which was quite nice really.

Friday, 9 October 2009

First week without dear Nelson

So last Friday was a sad day, we took Nelson back to the RSPCA to be re-homed. He hadn't been in the house for a good few months (apart from when we locked him in by special request from the neighbours one evening, which didn't go down well with Nelson). With winter on the way we couldn't have him living outside in the cold, as he usually gets a bit sniffley anyway let alone when he's living outside. Number 33 had said the other day that he had started sleeping in their shed. The last few days that he was with us he was still coming back once or twice a day for his food (eating on the front door step), and his fur felt really cold from being outside all night. So we know we've done the right thing, but we will both miss him very much.

Nelson was a cat who just loved our company. Whenever he saw us outside, he would come running over as fast as he could (with his long fur blowing behind him in the wind). Sometimes he'd be right up at the top of the road and as soon as he heard his name being called, the front door closing, or saw me or Luke he would come bounding down the road.

He also had a habit of appearing outside at inconvenient times, often just as I was about to walk up to work. Sometimes I wouldnt even notice until I heard a little 'Meow' at my ankle, when I was round the corner and half way down the next street and I would realise he'd followed me again. This would then involve me having to pick him up and carry him back to the house, and distract him with some food, before quickly running back up the road and round the corner before he saw me again. Sometimes I had to do this 3 times before I'd actually 'lose' him.

Nelson also liked to take a stroll to the shops with us - usually the 'living room' shop at the bottom of our road. He'd wait patiently outside for us and then walk back with us. Once he followed me all the way up to Co-Op (a 10 minute walk). He waited outside for me, but then was too tired to walk back, so I had to carry him home.

Nelson was never a lap cat, but would sit next to us, and always want to be in the same room as us. He loved a stroke on his head and back, and right from the first day we got him he would love to rub his cheeks on our hands or face and pick up the 'family' smell. He didn't have a loud purr, but he would purr quietly, and only really started meowing when we got Flo (probably for attention, which we always gave him whilst ignoring Flo because he was just so jealous). Nelson would 'paw' the tops of our sofa chairs when he was really happy - a kitten-like response.

Being a long-haired cat, Nelson left big clumps of his fur everywhere! He hated to be groomed, but did a really good job of keeping his fur matt-free himself. Apart from the time he got a slug stuck under his chin, which Luke had to deal with.

I'll always miss our dear Nelly, he was my favourite pet ever, and I'm absolutely devastated to have had to give him up. I just hope he finds a new owner who loves him as dearly as we did, and gives him the happy home he deserves.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Autumn has arrived

Autumn is most definately here! As I write this, I've just finished blanching and freezing the produce I've just picked from the allotment this afternoon - 5 cabbages and 35 sweetcorn (mostly baby corn that I'll use for stir frys). Luke dug up some more potatoes. This year we have LOADS of potatoes and 3 times as many onions, but our other crops dont seem to have done as well as last year. I think this is partly because we haven't devoted as much time to weeding, partly the weather, and partly the soil needing abit of nourishment.

At church this morning we had a harvest thanksgiving service. Mandy's beetroot and butternut squash are fantastic.

Other signs that autumn is here:
  • Chilly mornings before work
  • Beautiful shades of leaves on the trees
  • X factor and Strictly Come Dancing have begun
  • The nights are drawing in and it's dark by around 7pm

Last year one of my favourite things about autumn was going for a run on a saturday evening. I'd leave just as the sun was setting and do a 7km loop around the roads nearby. I love running in the dark. I'd get back in time to catch the end of 'Hole in the Wall', a really pointless programme and typical saturday night trashy tv, which I'd listen to in the background whilst cooking a roast. Then Luke and I would sit down with our big roast dinners, a glass of wine and watch strictly and x factor. I really miss my running! If I wasn't preggers I'd have started up this little ritual on Saturday evening already by now. But I have a few more weeks to wait yet...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Jo's bridal shower and hen night

Cowgirl Jessie, Pocahontas Kate and Pageant Queen Jo
All dressed up

Enjoying the Champers

Everyone at the bridal shower

Last weekend I went upto Birmingham for Jo's hen do.
We started with a bridal shower on Saturday afternoon, playing a few games, having lunch together and opening a couple of bottles of champagne.
In the evening we went out in Birmingham, up Broad Street. Have to say I felt a little uncomfortable being preggers, as it is quite noisy and rough, but it was fine in the restaurant that we went to, and I left afterwards rather than going on to a bar.
We all dressed up in fancy dress with an 'American' theme, as Jo is moving to America.

Another Freecycle Bargain

We've already found some pretty good free stuff for the baby on Freecycle (cot/baby chair/ v pillow) and on Thursday evening I just thought I'd check to see if there were any reusable nappies available. Funnily enough, some had been posted up just an hour before (they very rarely appear on freecycle as they hold their value quite well on ebay).
So I emailed the lady who was offering them, and asked if they were still available. She lived nearby and so on Friday night Luke went to pick them up, as I was on my way to Birmingham. I got a text from him, saying it was a birth-to-potty kit, there were LOADS of nappies, plus extras and all branded, worth about £300! Most of the nappies are still in their packaging, as it's a birth to potty kit and she hadn't got on well with them with her baby. It's a real blessing and I'm very thankful.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

29 weeks

Well time is flying! So far I've put on 10kg. I'm now receiving daily comments that my bump is getting bigger, I have to say I don't get bored of hearing it though - it is. My belly button innie is nearly an outie. This morning I had my first kick in the ribs, twice, from the baby. He or she is wriggling around alot more, and it's quite comical watching my whole belly move as a result, particularly when I'm sitting still. I've also felt some body parts when the baby comes near to the surface - is that a head or a bottom? A hand or a foot? Most nights I find it hard to get comfortable, and then have to get up for nature calls at least 2 or 3 times in the night, I think the record is 5, so all in all not sleeping well. But I'm having nice dreams so I think that's a good sign that subconsciously I'm feeling good about the pregnancy and life in general at the moment. Last week I bought a book called 'Bonding with your bump' by Miriam Stoppard. It talks quite a lot about how beginning the bonding process before the baby is born can really help calm a newborn baby.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A trip to the Isle of Wight

Luke and I have had a week off work, and so used the opportunity to take a trip across the Solent, on what will probably be our last break away together before the baby arrives.
We stayed at a small hotel/B&B called Sandown Manor, which was actually in Yaverland rather than Sandown. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather (leftover gales/rain from hurricane Danny) we weren't able to use their outdoor pool, or spend much time on the beach. We still enjoyed ourselves with lots of trips out, relaxing afternoon naps in our hotel room, and reminising over the 'round the island' cycle route that we did 2 years ago.
Highlights included a visit to a Vineyard, with complementary wine tasting, a trip to a garlic farm with complementary garlic tasting (!), the Isle of Wight zoo, strolling along Shanklin promenade, visiting Shanklin chine at sunset and dining at The Steamer Inn, where the food was lovely and the atmosphere great. Oh and the breakfasts at the hotel were pretty good too!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

26 weeks

This week baby Strickers has been very active, and doesn't appear to like me resting anything on my bump (tea/book/arms). I get a big kick if I do rest anything on there. Luke's been talking to the baby, and gets a welcome kick in return!

On Wednesday we went to Craig's birthday bbq. There was lots of yummy food, I started with crisps and dip (my fave), then 2 plates of general party food and burgers, then finished off with 2 slices of cheesecake. Unfortunately, I paid for it Wednesday night with a terrible nights sleep thanks to being full to busting, and forgetting I have slower digestion now I'm pregnant.

Luke's had a bad cold the last couple of days, and I've been trying really hard to avoid catching it too. I can't rely on my trusted Echinacea to fend off colds at the moment, so good hygiene is really being pushed. He's on the mend now I think.

This morning we went down to Ocean Village Marina for an advertised Free Bus Tour of the docks. There are 9 cruise ships in over the next 2 days. I don't think the organisers of the bus tour realised quite how popular it would be and when we arrived there (45 mins early) the queue was already much longer than the number who would fit on a double decker bus! By the time the bus actually arrived there must've been at least 300-400 in the queue! (And we discovered only one bus running). After the first bus left, we were about 30 people from the front of the queue so decided to wait the 90 mins and get on the next bus. An hour later, the organisers had done a deal with the local boat cruise, and we were offered a free boat tour of the docks instead (by far a better deal than being on the bus!). So we had a lovely tour of the docks, and saw the 5 cruise ships in at the time, from a much closer (and clearer) position than we would've got on the bus. It was worth the wait, and a nice surprise. We took lots of pictures. Here's afew...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Uni friends meet-up

On Saturday, bump and I took the train to London (£10 return special offer) to meet-up with my uni friends. I can't believe they graduated 5 years ago, time flies! (I graduated 4 - mine was a 4 year course). We had a lovely lunch in Covent Garden and did abit of shopping. It was good to catch up with everyone's news - Krust is back from completing her Masters in Oz, Joey's off on a safari this week with her family, Kelly's settled in her job but considering moving back to Essex at some point, Vix is doing well in her job. Unfortunately Helen and Gemma couldn't make it. It was like old times and we all had loads to talk about, it had been nearly 2 years since we last all met up. Hopefully, we wont leave it as long before the next meet-up!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Strickland Camping weekend

Mountain biking Kite flying

Last weekend was the annual Strickland camping weekend. Unfortunately Luke and I couldnt get any time off work, so I wasnt looking forward to the long drive up to North Wales from Southampton on Friday evening. But as it happened, the roads were clear all the way and we made it in 3 hours and 40 mins, with a 10minute stop at Frankley services. It was a real blessing that the roads were pretty much traffic-free.

We arrived at the campsite and had sent our tent on ahead with Luke's folks last weekend as we werent sure how long the drive was going to take us, so it was lovely to not have to be putting the tent up at 9:30pm at night. After a quick chat to everyone we got an early night as it had been a really long day! I used my campbed again (I bought it for Taize), which coupled with my pregnancy V pillow underneath it for extra support, is surprisingly comfortable.

Saturday morning Luke, Alex, Mash, Jas and Pip went off to the local mountain biking trails, I was abit jealous watching them go, but had a lovely morning talking babies with Tasha and Helen and reading my murder mystery book: Choc Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanna Fluke.

In the afternoon we went into Llangollen for some supplies for the bbq and had an icecream. The weather was warm most of the time but overcast. Just as the bbq was lit it started to pour with rain, but we were prepared and had put the gazebo up, which was great for cooking under.

Saturday evening we played Settlers of Catan, our favourite game. I won! (I have kind of stopped trying, as I have quite a good win record at the moment and am starting to feel guilty about it). It occurred to me that no one ever loses graciously at Settlers of Catan - there's no 'Well done, well played', its more of a grumble, and a 'I was only one move away from winning' etc type comment.

Sunday morning was freezing! After packing the tents up and having lunch we started our drive back. About half an hour into the drive the sun came out and it warmed up, so I think we must have been on the edge of a weather front. We stopped by Nine Acres for tea and cake and got back home about 6pm, in time to watch the 100m sprint final at the World Championships! Tash and Patrick's Teepee