Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My postal baby shower

A couple of Wednesdays ago, I received a baby gift from one of my good friends through the post. I love getting post addressed to me and even more so when it's presents! Seth always laughs at me as I never open the boring looking letters that could be bills or bank statements but as soon as it looks interesting, I'll open it straight away. I don't think I'm the only person in the world who does this though, surely?! So I was really happy to receive this lovely gift.
On Thursday, I got three more gifts through the post! Once again, it was such a lovely surprise. Although maybe I should have rephrased the last sentence, as technically the gifts were for the baby and not for me, but as the parcels were addressed to me and the baby can't open the presents for him / herself, I still think it counts. As lovely as it was to obviously receive the presents, I started to get a tiny little bit suspicious, especially as they had arrived at around the same time and the cards on two of them said "Happy Postal Baby Shower"! After a little investigation (which involved calling my Mum, so not that much investigation really!) I found out that my sister Lin had arranged a postal baby shower for me, being as though I wasn't there for her to throw me one. How lovely is that?! As one of my friends said, I got all of the benefits of a baby shower without having to play the games that involve eating baby food, etc, ha ha!

I had three days off work the week before last. I'm not ill or anything (although starting to feel pregnant and extremely tired! I don't know how people who already have children manage when they are pregnant again!) but I just have some holiday days to take before I go off on maternity leave, and given that I have been pretty tired of late, I thought it would be a good idea to take some days off each week so I don't have to work full weeks. So, aside for two weeks in June where I am working full weeks and my final week of work in July, that is what I am doing. On Friday of last week, I met up with Mum at Westfield in Stratford. We spent a lovely day together looking around the shops, eating banana filled crepes and drinking creamy coolers from Costa Coffee (okay, the creamy cooler was just me. I am slightly obsessed with them at the moment) and just enjoying our time together. On the way home I met Seth at the train station and we travelled home together. As we walked up the steps to our house, there was a massive pile of parcels on the doorstep! We could not believe it, our poor postman must have wondered what in the world was going on! It felt like Christmas as they were all addressed to me and they were all postal baby shower gifts! Obviously we had our priorities in order and before we did anything else, we set about opening them. Well I did, Seth dutifully took photos of me opening the lovely presents. Just so you know, I had been out  all day and I was eager to open the parcels, hence me not having time to brush my hair and looking a complete mess :). There aren't photos of me opening all of the presents we got as Seth wasn't home when I got the other ones to take pictures!
So, a big thank you to Lins for organising my postal baby shower, it's such a brilliant idea and something I never in a million years would have thought of, she's so kind for arranging it all. And another massive thank you to my lovely friends who participated in it, I was and am really quite touched to know that even though I may not live close by anymore, you would still be involved and send something for our baby. You are all WONDERFUL!

Baby update: we are both growing. More and more each day it would seem. Breathing is getting that little bit harder, as is everything really and my stomach feels like it's going to explode, which hopefully it won't, especially as I have 8 weeks left! Feeling the baby move around and kick is still a novelty for me, even though I have been feeling that since around 17 weeks. I think I annoy it quite a lot because I will have my arms folded and resting on my stomach and it feels like it's trying to kick my arms away, it's pretty funny. Watching my entire stomach change shapes as it moves around is quite fun as well. I think I am probably just going through the usual thing that every pregnant woman experiences right now - heartburn, not being able to do things quite as fast, struggling to put shoes on and even to roll over in bed at night, the general aches and pains. And I can still honestly say that I am enjoying pregnancy and all that comes with it!

Friday, 25 May 2012

"Can you kill my plants please?"

No one has ever actually asked me to do this, believe it or not. I was reading my friend Becky's blog a few days ago and she mentioned how she and gardening just do not go together at all. I was laughing to myself as I read it as I could completely relate to this and how people don't buy her flowers because they die. I love seeing flowers in the house, but alas, the same thing happens to me - I don't water them and then I wonder why it is that they don't still look pretty. Seth bought me an orchid a few months ago, as even I can't go wrong with that. Although having said that, Seth is the one who tends to look after it.

My boss has been signed off work for a couple of months having had surgery on her foot. Before she went away, she asked me if I could water the plants in her office. Not wanting to seem incompetent and like such a task was beyond me, I said yes. I put a reminder in my diary to water them every couple of days, which seemed like a fool-proof way of doing things. However, I have had a few days off work over this time. When I have been in, I have tried hard to remember, but there are a lot of reminders in my diary and sometimes this particular note gets a little lost in amongst everything else.

This morning (having had the day off yesterday and I can't actually remember if I had watered the plants earlier on this week), I thought I better go into her office to check on the state of the plants. Especially given that they line her windowsill and her office gets the sun most of the day. And also given the fact that is has been 27C the last couple of days. Hmmmm.  Much to my relief, they were pretty much alive. For the most part. She has those spider plant things (is that even what they're called?!) and some of the bits that hang down had completely died. To be honest, there were a fair few dead bits on the plants which definitely were not there before they were left in my not so tender loving care! I got hold of the scissors and cut off the dead bits and they're not looking too bad now. There is still some plant left too. Yay for me.

This took me back to a time a few years ago when I was still living at home. Mum had gone to Scotland to see her sister (again, in the summer, so it was warm. I know that our summers are a bit hit and miss, but it was warm at this particular time). Mum had asked me to water the garden. Mum is a huge gardener, she loves it. She has a lot of roses, each one of them named after members of the family (no, she doesn't name them - they come with the names!) and she really takes care of her garden and her plants. Passers-by have often commented on what a lovely garden it is. Mum's hanging baskets this particular year were beautiful and she explained to me that she had made up a bottle of water mixed with plant feed that we had to use to water the hanging basket. She told me where she would leave the bottle as well so everything seemed pretty safe. I felt quite proud of myself that I stepped up to the plate and watered the garden and especially the hanging baskets while Mum was away.

You're waiting for me to tell you that everything in the garden died, including the hanging baskets, aren't you? Well, everything stayed alive. Much to mine and Mum's surprise. Especially when Mum came back home and asked if I had watered the hanging baskets with the mixture she had told me to use. I told her that I had. It turns out that I hadn't - that bottle was still full. Instead I had watered her plants with a bottle of windscreen wash. Epic fail. In my defence, it was difficult to tell, it was in a blue plastic bottle so I didn't notice that I was watering the plants with blue liquid instead of plant solution coloured liquid, whatever colour that may be. It was also in the same type of bottle as Mum had made up the windscreen wash solution as well. And the plants in the hanging basket lived to tell the tale so it can't be all bad.

But, as you can see, whilst I don't necessarily kill plants completely, I am not the best person to look after your plants for you. So if you need anyone to look after them, just make sure you don't ask me!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Our date night

As tragic as it sounds, Seth and I haven't been out on a date in a while! He has been so busy with his exams and everything and I've been so busy being pregnant and tired so last Saturday night, we decided to go to the cinema. Seth had already been with his brother, Mark the night before to watch "Avengers Assemble". He wanted to see it again and wanted me to see it too (I think it was more to do with the fact that he just wanted to see it again!). I'd seen the Iron Man films, Captain America and Thor (my favourite of all of them for obvious reasons, if you are female and you have seen it!) and I quite liked them all so I was up for seeing it.
I booked the tickets online and thought it seemed a little bit expensive but then just assumed that because it's the Imax cinema in Greenwich, that was the reason why. So, off we went to the cinema.When we got there, we collected our pre-booked tickets and got some snacks, as you just have to do when going to the cinema. Seth got a hot dog, I got a Ben and Jerry's core sundae and we got a pack of giant milkybar buttons to share (yes, we are adults). We walked around the cinema for a few minutes, trying to find our screen, but to no avail. Seth asked where it was and we were told that we needed to take the lift, so up we went. When the doors opened at the top, a man was standing there in a smart shirt and tie to greet us. It looked like we had just entered a really nice bar. He then showed us to a table, brought us some nachos with salsa and cheese and some drinks and told us that he would let us know when the screen was ready. At around this point, it started to fall into place as to why the tickets had seemed quite expensive. I'd accidentally booked the gallery viewing area. We both laughed when we realised what had happened, although Seth maintains that I had done it deliberately! We're obviously both cheapskates because we commented on how glad we were that I'd bought those tickets by mistake as we wouldn't have done it otherwise and have just gone with the standard tickets. The man came with two boxes of popcorn for us both and showed us to our seats.

The film was pretty good, definitely more Seth's type of film than mine but I enjoyed it. But then to be honest,  I just quite enjoyed our whole, slightly extravagant cinema trip. We should have date nights like that all the time!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tell me why I don't like Mondays.....

Actually I do. Well, usually I don't, as I never like having to go back to work after the weekend, but this week, I liked Monday and that's obviously because it was a Bank Holiday. Who doesn't like getting a day off work??! Both Seth and I were quite pleased about just being able to play and do whatever we wanted. In usual Bank Holiday style, it rained for pretty much the entire day, but we managed to plan around that by planning things to do indoors. We went to the temple first of all, which is always lovely and we both really enjoy going. In case you're wondering what our temple looks like, here it is:

It's beautiful isn't it? Although this one is my favourite one, in San Diego:

We made it a goal that every time we went to the temple, we would go for a walk around the grounds as they are really beautiful and it's just nice to spend time there. However, it was raining pretty heavily and we didn't want to get wet so we gave that one a raincheck (no pun intended!).

Later on that afternoon, we went to Ikea! I love the layout of Ikea and how they set everything up to look like rooms in a house. I always want to buy everything that's there because they make it look so good. Now, in case you're wondering, Seth was completely fine with us going there. Fair enough, it may have been my suggestion, but he was more than happy to go along with it, although later on when I asked him, he said that he was just glad to be spending the day with me. One could possibly read into that that he didn't actually want to go to Ikea but I know that secretly he loves it as much as I do! I have to say, I was quite restrained, I could have happily spent a few hours looking around there but we weren't actually there for all that long. I don't know exactly how long that was but compated to how long it could have been it wasn't that long! We bought a cot, a cot mattress, cot sheets (all of which we'd planned to buy), and a DVD stand. It wasn't exactly on our list of things to get but it was still needed. Since we moved into our home in August we have put all of our DVDs in the alcove of what used to be a fireplace and we just kind of left them there, but we finally decided that we should probably actually put them somewhere. We don't watch our DVDs a huge amount but it's getting a little bit tedious only watching the DVDs on the first row because we can't be bothered to pull out all of the DVDs to see what's behind it. Lazy? Yes. But buying a DVD stand does solve the problem.

As we were heading for the checkout, Seth asked if we would be able to fit it all in the car. I responded quite confidently that we would and that it would be fine. I think I must have forgotten at that point that we drive a Renault Clio. After taking about 20 minutes (okay, maybe not that long) of manoeuvring the boxes to make them fit, we finally found a solution. Seth would just leave me at Ikea. We decided against that so after more shuffling around and moving of seats (the woman in the passenger seat of the car facing us wasn't even hiding the fact that she was watching and laughing at us!) we managed to make everything and everyone fit into the car. Success!

We then headed home and as neither of us could be bothered to cook, we ordered a Chinese. In the ten minutes it took for me to phone through the order and for us to go and get it, Seth had put up the DVD stand, he's very clever like that! Sadly I didn't take any pictures to show his handy skills. The rest of our evening consisted of filling the DVD stand, eating too much food and watching whatever Mission Impossible film is the newest one.

Hope you all had a good Bank Holiday Monday!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Music theory and baby brain

The two terms just don't go together brilliantly in my opinion. When we moved to London, I had mentioned casually to Seth that I would quite like to take up piano lessons again. I've played the piano since I was about 7 years old and had lessons until I was 11. Then I quit because I didn't enjoy the lessons anymore. I still continued to play and I still love playing the piano. I also really enjoy composing and arranging music and I have worked on many choral pieces with Sue Kureczko, who I got to know through our church when we lived in Lancaster (if you're interested in any choir music have a look at her website, www.sueleemusic.com/songs) But looking back, I really wish that I hadn't quit piano lessons and that I'd kept on going. If I had done that though, would I still enjoy playing as much as I do now? I don't know.

A couple of months ago, I decided that I would actually do something about wanting to play the piano again. The college where I work has an amazing music department, so I emailed one of the administrators there to see if they could recommend anyone who would be willing to give piano lessons. They recommended Coady Green, who lectures in piano performance at the college and who is also doing a PhD here too. I was really thrilled when he said that he would be willing to give me lessons. A couple of months on.....

I am making really good progress and Coady is an amazing teacher. I am aiming to take my grade 8 piano exam in December. The only problem with this is you can't take the grade 8 piano exam without taking the grade 5 theory exam first. While I love playing the piano, I hate the theory side of it. When I started to have lessons again, I barely even remembered the names of the notes such as crochets, minims, etc. and now I am having to learn much harder stuff. The exam is on 16th June so I really don't have that long to learn it all! Bearing in mind that when I stopped having lessons, I had only taken my grade 2 piano exam had practically no knowledge of music theory, this is a bit of a baptism by fire and there doesn't really seem to be enough time to do it all in! Then to add to all of that is of course, baby brain, or preghead, as I've also heard before. This occurs when you're pregnant and your brain basically turns to mush. An example of this is that Seth will respond to a question which I have obviously asked, but for the life of me I will not know what it was that I just said to him. It also takes me longer to process things, to do things correctly and to remember things. I'm sure it doesn't affect all pregnant women, just as morning sickness doesnt, but it definitely affects me! In fact, when it first started happening to me, I thought that I might be pregnant (even though it was just a passing thought and I didn't REALLY think I was pregnant until a took a test. Or two). Needless to say, I am finding it a big challenge to get my baby brain into gear and into learning mode. On some days I just want to give up because it seems like it's just too much effort and too difficult. Then at other times I think that I have a great opportunity to do this now and so I should take it. And so that's what I am doing, along with crossing my fingers that I will pass the exam. Wish me luck!

This is me playing the piano at Lyme Park (Pemberley, Mr Darcy's house in the BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice") a couple
of years ago)