Friday, January 30, 2015

That Friday post... {5}


This is getting more and more shabby - this week the stripey bump has been bumped right into the Friday post. That's volume 1.35 in case you've lost track. Just think of it as two for the price of one!
Maybe after next week when I'm on maternity level we'll be able to show the blog some more loving. Maybe. Did you hear that though - WE'RE NEARLY ON MATERNITY LEAVE!! WOOHOO.
For someone that loves their job as much as I do, I didn't think I would feel this way but I am so ready to be done with work.

In the week gone by though -

I have struggled:

..with our as yet unfinished room. I am so grateful to the best hardworking efforts of the master decorators around here (not me) but it must be that cocktail of hormones swimming round my body making me desperate to just sort and tidy and clean and move and I'm not enjoying not being able to do that. I'm learning all sorts of lessons in patience and trust though which must be good for me! And Steve has promised that it will be done and all the junk in our room and downstairs and everywhere else will be gone in two weeks. I can do two weeks people!!! 

On the foodie front:

We're eating fruit like it's going out of fashion around here. But that's kind of standard. That was our fruit bowl at the start of this week - it's all gone now so it must at some point be making up for the vast amounts of cake also being consumed.
Much more exciting when one is craving productivity however, are the eight meals that have gone in the freezer for after baby arrives. Now I only need to make twelve more!

This weekend:

We're having a family weekend in Cornwall with the Paterson side of our family which should be lovely! I'm much better at forgetting the jobs when I'm away from the house so this will be good. Plus we get to hang out with these cuties all weekend. Fun!

More later! Including a double installment of weekend away photos. Have a great weekend whatever you're doing! x

Friday, January 23, 2015

That Friday post...{4}

This week has been we're going to jump on the old thanksgiving train. I know from experience it's the best thing to make it all better.

So, I am very thankful for:

1. A lovely restful weekend in Pembrokeshire and kind friends who mainly let me sleep (Photos will follow at some point obvs.)

2. That rainbow, over St. David's cathedral. Rainbows do always make things more beautiful and hopeful, don't they?

3. A good midwife appointment on Monday - baby is measuring right on track and his heartbeat is always delicious to listen to.


4. A warm bubble bath with music and candles and everything, to soothe aching hips. Thank you hubs. I'm a shower person and that was the first bath I've had since moving into our house 3.5 years ago - but I might even be tempted to have another soon, that's how good it was.

5. Being able to work at home more than half the week because it really is very painful going up and down to my third floor office.

6. Marvellous mother-in-law decorating skills and help with sanding and painting our baby room. And making our kitchen all shiny and clean. Helps keep the stress levels down for this preggo lady who is choosing not to think about the fact that we're five weeks away from D-day and still living in utter chaos. Oops - fail. Try harder next time Arps!

7. Tacos for tea - they really are a fun, happy meal. One can't be grumpy around tacos. And this amazing dessert which I shamelessly ate for breakfast two days in a row. So indulgent, and so totally allowed when you're heavily pregnant! 

And the current view from the moon:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Volume 1.34 of the super stripey bump series

Sorry - we've been far too laid back this week and important stripey efforts have been neglected! But despair not, here's your fix for week 34. We are growing! This week the midwife asked if my partner was very tall. And to my slightly worried, instant 'NO' she sort of went 'oh right...ahh....oh...don't worry, I'm sure your baby will be ermm..very average sized.' Really Ms. Midwife?! I'm not sure that's what your voice said :P Ah well....we shall see!

Ignore my dead/dying plants in the corner :P Why oh why can't we have inherited half a green thumb between us - especially when we have wonderfully-talented-in-the-horticultural-department mothers.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My mum's amazing chocolate cake recipe

 I miss my mum at the moment. More than I usually do. I absolutely know without a doubt she’s in the right place because we want more than anything for her to beat this cancer, and so, chemo sooner rather than later is good. But part of me wishes she was around – just to be here for part of this pregnancy, just so she can tell me about her pregnancies, tell me what she loved and hated, and what helped. And in a few weeks, tell me what her life was like with a newborn.

But she can’t be here and that’s OK. We will try and go see her as soon as we can once the little squish arrives. And in the meantime I am so grateful for Whatsapp and Facetime and Skype and Facebook and the rest.

These are a variety of birthday cakes I made last year. The magic is on the inside – they’re all the same moist, rich, dark chocolate cake and it’s so good. It’s a simple recipe and reminds me of my mum because it is her go-to recipe and I grew up on this baby. 

For posterity and safe keeping - here's the recipe!


 2 cups plain flour
2 cups castor sugar
2 tsp bicarb of sod
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup baking cocoa + 1-2 tbsp
2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 3/4 cup water
1 cup milk
3/4 cup cooking oil
1.5 tsp vanilla essence

Sieve all powders together - flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb of soda. Add the sugar.
Beat eggs in separate bowl, add milk and then coffee mixture
Pour the liquid mix gradually into the powders - beating as you go.
Add oil and vanilla essence to the batter and beat for 2-3 mins.
Pour into one round greased tins (or two or more like I do because I'm no good at slicing cakes in half)  and bake for 35-40 min @ 180 deg C, or until cocktail stick comes out clean...

And boom! Fantastic chocolate cake. And lots of very happy customers.

Friday, January 16, 2015

That Friday post..

This weekend:

..we are going to Pembrokeshire for a little mini-break. It's one of a couple of weekends away we're hoping to have before baby arrives.

Last time we did this:
p.s.I can't find a picture with horses but I promise we rode actual horses and did not just play dress up
p.p.s. How short am I??!! Like seriously? Or are all my family and friends just very tall?!

And we did this.. a very beautiful part of the Wales!

Wales will still be very beautiful I'm sure but it will also be beautiful when we go back post baby. For now I doubt I will be doing much prancing round the countryside in wellies (or on a horse). However, I might take a good book and then the others are free to go on adventures whilst I eat cake in a coffee shop somewhere. The weather forecast isn't so great, so we might end up spending lots of time playing board games in front of the fire. I am quite happy for the weekend to look something like this:

This week we've had:

Our last NCT class and the first of the six babies arrived early so her parents popped in with her. She is tiny and scrummy and it felt so surreal that they're all going to be here in the next few weeks!

And to leave you with:

This made me laugh this week, so I'll share. Tis true - ALL OF IT!!! 

And this is the view I'm mainly enjoying these days!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Mind over bladder' and other mantras from the back alleys of pregnancy

Oh yes, I'm going there - and only because it's tried and tested. You can definitely train your mind to play control games with your bladder to enable a full nights sleep.  In three easy steps.

1. You re-inforce (to your bladder obvs) that you have in fact not had a drink for a few hours before bed.
2. You go one last time before you settle in.
3. And then you just ignore it. It works - it really does.

Until the unborn one delivers an almighty punch to your bladder whilst practicing his superman pose, just as you think you've made it through the night. But if that's at 6:43 am just before the alarm goes, as far as I'm concerned, I'm still winning.
I suspect my winning trajectory might start going downhill in the next few weeks but I'll keep you posted.

'I can do this if I try'

..because this is only problem #642 to overcome when one is pregnant. And I can still fit in any gap I want, IF I THINK I CAN. It's basically along the same 'strong mind' lines as the last mantra. Seriously though, is it really necessary to back a fat lady quite so far into the corner??

(In case you're  wondering I did successfully slide in and out of the car on this occasion.)

'Baby is going to arrive on...'

I regularly swing between thinking a few extra weeks of 'holiday' would be fun - no baby, lots of date nights, coffees with friends and general frivolity - and just really wanting to meet him (and be pain-free again).

My control freak nature likes to think I can decide though and so I have acquired raspberry leaf tea, dates, clary sage oil, and a ball to bounce on. You think I'm kidding but I'm 100% serious and will be trying all these and other tactics (did you know there is an accupressure point that will induce labour, plus I know where my local women and birth acupuncturist lives) to make sure we don't get induced at 40 weeks + 12 days. And in fact ensure labour starts at the very minute I want it to.

Such a fool am I. Good thing our good heavenly father has this sorted and baby will arrive when he wants and nothing I do will change that.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Volume 1.33 of the super stripey bump series

Oh yes, there's plenty more comedy where this came from. I'm sure I can find seven more striped delights for you! And pose  outside our house, much to the ever growing embarrassment of my husband.

Friday, January 9, 2015

That Friday post..

This week:

We have been maniacally busy! It's been back to crazy-workplaces-that-are-all-go-go-go at the moment for both of us. Steve has been working till after 7pm most nights and I have waddled up and down the stairs to my third floor office too many times for which my SPD inflamed hips are not thanking me. Again. I do find they're singing the same song a lot at the moment. It will calm down soon though I hope. I'm just sending off a Rick Stein shoot to Australia - my last one before maternity leave so it's bittersweet. (Did you like my little bit of name dropping there?)

I watched:

Swan Lake which was performed by the Russian State Ballet at the Hippodrome, for a friend's birthday. It was a very last minute decision so we were practically sitting in the rafters but it was beautiful. The music, the ballet, the costumes.

I don't want to be a parent that lives vicariously through their  children (ok only maybe, occasionally, sometimes, just for a few things)  but if we ever have a little daughter I would love her to try ballet. And maybe she will be able to pirouette round and round like I never EVER will. 
In the meantime though, baby boy is getting plenty of cultural exposure. We went to Handel's Messiah over Christmas, the ballet this week and we're going to see Wicked at the theatre in a few weeks! 

We have eaten:

Sainsburys deli pizza for dinner two nights this week. I know, i know - SO BAD but what can I do, the baby demanded it! Not really, we had lots of 7pm evening engagements and it's just the simplest thing to do when we get home at 6:30 and I haven't cooked earlier in the week! And also, Thin and crispy meat feast is kind of the best!

And I am thankful for:

* NCT classes - for useful information and new friends in the area!

* Cheese in bed, late at night
* Plastering work getting done in our house - so the baby isn't born in a building site in case he comes early :)

Have a happy weekend! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Volume 1.32 of the super stripey bump series

I've had seven months of dressing this growing bump and I've realised that probably five out of seven days in the week I will leave the house with some variety of stripe over it. So here's the 32 week edition for your amusement. I won't be offended if you laugh because I agree that pregnant women and this one particularly just look like big roundey, waddley things and you may have been tempted to push me off the wall if you were walking past. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Home and comfort

We're suckers for it, aren't we. We romanticise the idea of home - cosy and warm and lovely. And so when autumn comes round we settle down for a few months and we love the idea of scented candles, and blankets, a stew that's been cooking in the slow cooker all day and a glass of wine in front of the fire whilst we cuddle up in front of House of Cards or Suits or Breaking Bad or whatever other delights Netflix has to offer. 

I do it as much as the next person. 

Home is all those things and so much more. 

It's Steve waiting in the house when I get in or coming in on his bike shortly after, every weeknight. Yes, even that pesky bike that insists on living in our front room or dining room, represents home. 

Home is hot showers, coffee in bed and our sheets that smell of our detergent. Where we eat what we like, we do what we want, we only have people that we want round - most of the time.

Home is where my emotions can be expressed in their raw-est form (yea, you don't really want to see me ugly cry), joy can be more squealy than anywhere else, I can silly dance in my kitchen or sing made-up lyrics as loud as I want. 
You get my drift.

And that's home for me now, where Steve is, and where we currently live. And I love it so much.

But then there's home home. That place I haven't lived in for six years, and isn't technically home but I can't stop calling home because, well...I just can't. It's where my mum and dad are and my oldest friends are and I grew up. And I've been pining for that home this Christmas because I've wanted to be there to celebrate, to walk through the dark cancer valley with my mum, to just feel at ease straight away in a way I can't anywhere else. And maybe the call of that home has been stronger because I can't get to it at the moment. 

I wonder what you call home - is it a person, or a place, or an address or even a feeling? Maybe all of those things at different times?

A couple of weeks ago a friend posted some of this on their Facebook wall, and so I read this help devotion by Alicia Bruxvoort. Here's an extract..

"You see, home isn’t a place, it’s a Person.
Home isn’t a refuge from the storm. It’s a Perfect Love that storms our hearts.
Home isn’t the light at the end of the road. It’s an unquenchable Hope that lights our way.
And right before Jesus went to Heaven to prepare a forever place for you and me, He reminded us of that simple truth.
We don’t find home by following a yellow brick road. Home finds us when we follow Christ’s commands and choose to live as His beloved.
Our zip code may change and the familiar may fade, but when we build our lives on the cornerstone of Christ, we are never far from home."

It's a hard hitting truth isn't it? One I know somewhere deep down but I could do with reminding myself of all.the.time. And I hope whatever sort of home you are loving at the moment, or whatever kind of home you dream you will one day have, that you realise that you can have the best kind of home, right now.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

That Friday post..

This week:

We have been winter cleaning! Like spring cleaning but earlier. I am on a nesting mission but somewhat restricted in how much I can manage physically so I give very detailed instructions and my trusty sidekick aka husband executes them wonderfully. 

We celebrated:

New Years eve with some of our best friends at a fun house party. There was pulled pork and mulled wine, we played human cluedo and Celebrities, had sparklers and champagne at midnight and did some kitchen dancing. It was such fun at the time but my dodgy pelvis was not thanking me on the 1st of January. Good thing it was a day off hey! 

I've just finished reading: 

On becoming Baby wise

It's the only baby book I have read. I've already told you I have baby sleep (and Arpi lack-of-sleep) anxiety issues so we plan on trying things the babywise way.  I will keep you posted. In the meantime I will be sleeping with the book under my pregnancy pillow in the hope that baby might 'absorb' some of its most noble ideals. Please baby.

We've just finished watching: 

Homeland season 4. It's been so intense and so good but that end felt like a little bit of an anti-climax. Anyone else think so?

With the end of this week - Christmas is properly over and 2015 is slowly permeating the air around us. Do you ever feel like a year starts off little and small and sort of shares space and time with the outgoing year. That phase when you're still writing the date wrong, when you feel more at home with what's happened than what might come. And then the new year grows into the space around you (like the smell of something delicious cooking in the oven, that slowly fills the house over several hours)until the last year feels a bit of a memory, the current year is growing into its skin a bit more and you feel like you're past the stage of tip-toeing round each other (you and 'the year' that is).  

Obviously I understand if you'd never think anything like that and you now think I'm a weirdo. Forgive my rambling.  

Going back to Christmas-being-over though. We stripped our tree today and it shed all its needles all over our front room in protest. The picture above was my husband's creative venture for the evening.

So from our living room to yours - a little soppiness. Happy New year and have a lovely weekend! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A motto for 2015

Our church has a motto verse each year and it's a really helpful thing to go back to over the course of the year - just to help guide, and remind, and renew and inspire afresh. 

It's such a privilege to have some time off at the end of a year to take the chance to reflect on what the last twelve months have been and look ahead to the next 12.
God has been kind beyond measure, faithful as only he can be, and has provided and sustained more than we could even have imagined we needed. I think 2015 is going to be so much bigger and better and harder and more challenging than any other year so far and I really feel like I need something, something I've written down, something others can remind me of, something to turn to through wherever this next part of the journey takes us, as a family. A motto, if you will.

In a word I want to spend 2015 being thirsty. I want God to keep me thirsty when I feel quenched and I want so much for the Holy spirit to quench that thirst when I feel parched. 

I've been meditating on Psalm 143 and the psalmist says in verse 4 'So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.'
And then in v.6 - I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. And he asks in v.10 - 'Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit, lead me on level ground.'

And I pray that would be my story this next year.

So that, when we, God-willing meet our new baby boy, and feel overwhelmed with joy, we would still be thirsty for God. And if that doesn't turn out how we are expecting that our thirst will not die.
That when cancer treatments turn out as they will, we would still be thirsty for God.
That when I need to finish work and feel unsure about my identity changing and giving up the source of so much of my (wrongly sourced) self worth, I would still thirst for God more than that.
That when marriage feels hard and we don't have the time to do whatever we want, when we want, and I am selfish in how I love Steve, that I would thirst for the holy spirit to change all that in my life. 
That when the sleepless nights and constant crying and tiredness and hard work feel like it might tip me over the edge - I would ask desperately in those moments to be filled at the well that never runs dry. 
That when the future seems uncertain - where we might live, what jobs we might do, how our finances will or won't stretch - that we would thirst for the Holy Spirit more than answers to our questions.
That when the ache of being away from my family hurts deep and bad, and I just wish my mum and dad were around, that I would thirst to know the Father's love more than to be with them.
That in the delights and joys and celebrations  as well as the tears and suffering of next year we wouldn't ever be too full of good stuff to stop thirsting for the better stuff. 
That when I'm so full of myself and my pride, that there is no room to thirst, that I would thirst then more desperately than at any other time. This one should be right at the top hey?!

This sounds very idealistic, I know - but that's why it's here - so I can remind myself and you can remind me - when I'm failing before I even start. 

Help me thirst, that I may know the gush of life and hope and fulfillment that can only come from You.