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The Agony and the Ecstasy of Dogs

27 Mar

Oh how we chuckled last night. Meg was lying peacefully next to me on the sofa, when suddenly she farted loudly, gave me a horrified look and went to lie on the floor instead. Disgusting mummy! How could you do such a thing? Um…

Hilarity ensued as a few minutes later, she did it again, still unwilling to believe that the sound could be coming from her. She ran away from the offensive noise, and, as it followed her, she ran faster, giving the impression that she was somehow jet-propelled.

We put her to bed after her normal night-time toilet trip, and thought nothing more of it.

Patrick had a really restless night owing to having been taken off the rugby pitch after a few minutes when a large man hit the side of his (Patrick’s) shin with his (large man’s) shoulder. Early, he announced that he was going to take himself to hospital, but that I should stay and have a lie in. He would let Meg out to pee and put her back in her cage until I got up.

Just settling back to snooze, I heard “Oh God! No!! Oh my God!!!!”

My heart sank. I leapt out of bed and came down to that breakfast table scene in Trainspotting. Meg had been unwell in the night and slept in it. In a rush of joy to be let out of the stink that her bed had become, she charged through the house, wagging and shaking with all her might. It looked like the shit had literally hit the fan.

I took the job of hosing her down outside, while Patrick started on the footprints on the cream carpet. I then took her for a walk to burn off some energy. I took the things that just couldn’t be saved to the dump while he started on the walls. The curtains are bagged up to be dry-cleaned and the washing machine has been going all morning.

All the while, Meg gave us her usual “what on earth are you up to? You humans do some odd things!” look. We haven’t been to the hospital yet, church has gone out the window and lunch for his brother-in-law’s birthday just wasn’t going to happen!

This one definitely goes on the “stuff we’ve dealt with and the baby can’t put us through” list. I hope…




3 Feb

Inspired by the lovely Livy, I have decided to complete this little quiz for 2010!

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Got married; bought a puppy; visited California. An eventful year!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I can’t remember making any! I think we were just so smug at not having to pledge to quit smoking, because we had done so in 2009. I am definitely making them for 2011. There’s much to do!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My neighbour, who has become a good friend, gave birth just before Christmas. Mostly people just fell pregnant, so 2011 will be the year of the baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully. There have been too many in recent years.

5. What countries did you visit?

UK and US. We weren’t travelling due to wedding and honeymoon saving, so that was 11 months without a break! Painful…

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Job satisfaction. A well-behaved puppy.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

7 August, our wedding day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Bringing home the perfect puppy. Signing off the practising certificate and enabling job freedom. Ack, it’s hard to count getting married and falling pregnant as an achievement. We make such a huge thing of it, and most people do it, so it’s relatively mundane!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Lack of pre-wedding weight loss. Lack of post-conception weight gain. My body is fighting me!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope! I had plenty in 2009.

11. What was the best thing you bought?


12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Amazing friends who made me feel so loved – Ciara, Elly, Manuela, and baby sister Ellie. My husband, who never fails to surprise me with his awesomeness.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and anyone else who encourages hatred or seeks to restrict the rights of others. Parents who laugh when their children bully others. People who twist their religion to use it as a weapon of hate and judgement. Anyone who will burn a book they have never read.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Honeymoon, then wedding.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Getting married. Getting Meg. Getting pregnant.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

One Night in Bangkok.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

(a) happier or sadder? happier

(b) thinner or fatter? same

(c) richer or poorer? poorer

Whoa. That was a life lesson, wasn’t it?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Working, travelling

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing, spending, drinking

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At Dad’s with the family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

Yes, with my beautiful pup.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I couldn’t pick one. Buffy will always remain my desert island DVD!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. Hating people is far too tiring.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Taylor Swift. I joined the party very late.

25. What did you want and get?

A lovely wedding, and a fun honeymoon. Meg.

26. What did you want and not get?

People to put aside their differences and share in the excitement.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I have actually seen so few films this year. Alice in Wonderland was a bitter disappointment due to the unspeakably weak story, Alice’s complete lack of character, and their bizarre idea to completely ignore the Opium Wars in her amazing plans. I’ll have to go with Toy Story 3, because it was funny and sweet and made me cry.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I went to work, then drove to Milton Keynes for my hen weekend. I was 28.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Exercising financial restraint.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

I’m sorry, what? I gave up magazines for Lent a few years back. Life is significantly better without them.

31. What kept you sane?

My boy.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I know I’ll never have a chance with  him, but NPH gives me butterflies. Charlie Hunnam, until I realised that he was the annoying one in Green Street.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Welfare dependency. Nobody should be undernourished, homeless, in danger, idle or without adequate healthcare. I believe that is the responsibility of the taxpayer. Anything beyond that is 100% the responsibility of the individual or charities.

34. Who did you miss?

Grandad. He would have been so excited to add “Great” to his title officially.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

Little yellow dogs are good luck charms.

Please feel free to post again and let me know so I can come and read!

How Do You Make A Hormone?

10 Nov

Please excuse the title. It’s a really bad joke, and I can’t even remember the correct punchline. If you can think of a good one, let me know!

I’m on a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment. Suddenly work has picked up through the roof – you’d think that was good but it’s a bit of a minimum-wage pity effort from my dear old Dad. Going from working part-time and with complete flexibility, to having to juggle clients is really quite overwhelming. Taking the financial weight off is a wonderful gift, though.

I don’t know if it’s pregnancy hormone stuff, but I’ve been really easily upset by things. Bloggers who giggle as their commenters gloat and shriek; pretty much anything I learn about Christine O’Donnell; the new McDonalds advert where all those people seek respite from their horrible journeys; the way some people have never used punctuation in their lives until they hyphenate their child’s name, Mollee-Faiye-Boo.

I’m at – as they say in the online pregnancy world – 5+1, five weeks and one day. Last time, the trouble began at 5+3. I know that once I pass that imaginary hurdle, there are still another 40 days or so until I’m out of the high-risk zone. I envy mothers-to-be who don’t even let this cross their minds and spend these first few months in giddiness, but don’t begrudge it remotely. Staying positive, cuddling beautiful Meg a lot and just taking good care of myself!

I’ve embarked on a pregnancy-friendly weight loss regime, inspired by the great success of Claire at Cakes and Bunting. Slimming World works on the principle of eating foods that are low in calorie density until you are full, ensuring that you eat nutrient-rich foods every day, and allowing room for treats. I don’t know why I’ve been ignoring it this long – I know several people who have been seriously successful with the diet, and I’m not talking about the “OMG! My size 6 jeans are a little tight!” types, but people who have actually improved their health and their life through weight loss.

I’m questioning whether or not the denial may be attributable to the same-old self-sabotage, but the navel-gaziness of it all seems a little pointless when considering the real goal – to start dejiggling.

For accountability’s sake, this is what I’ve been tucking into the past few days –

Tuesday: Lentil-rice casserole with Mulligatawny cup-soup for flavour; brussels sprouts with a whole roasted butternut squash stuffed with rice, parmesan, tomato sauce, olive oil and fat-free fromage frais.

Wednesday: Mushroom omelette; grapes; borlotti beans stir-fried with asparagus; salmon with lentil-rice casserole and roasted broccoli; fried bananas with sugar.

I’ve been delighted to eat such tasty stuff, and I’ve been inspired to eat more veggies. My big flaw when it comes to calorie counting is not being bothered to eat vegetables. I become so focussed upon calories and hunger that everything else goes out the window.

You may have noticed my new-found love of this lentil-rice casserole. I discovered the recipe via Frugal n Fit, and have become addicted – it’s just so creamy and filling and comforting. Essential in this godforsaken weather. The original recipe is here, a fantastic resource for recipes, but I’ve generally been going with (by volume) one part lentils, one part arborio risotto rice, six parts water, and whatever herbs or spices I think will be suitable with whatever it’s accompanying.

Questions –

Do you recognise habitual hurdles in your efforts to keep healthy?

Is there a dish that you could just cook day in and day out and never tire of?


23 Oct

I love it when I can feel winter approaching! First sign – Mop in town. The High Street closes down completely from Friday night to Sunday morning, and the funfair takes over. I was terribly deprived as a child – my Dad has always been a bit sceptical over the safety of fairground rides; hates goldfish and would never let me have one of those giant sugar dummies. Because of this, I absolutely adore the fair. Throughout my teens, it was the social event of the year – a number of pubs in town would turn a complete blind eye to underage drinking, and you would spin in the Cage until either it, or the Smirnoff Ice, made you sick. What can I say? Rural life is exciting!

Nowadays, things are slightly different. Bizarrely enough, I still go to the same pub, but I don’t have to lurk in the shadows while my more developed friend goes to buy the drinks. I have also got over my “ugh, only laddy girls drink pints” phase. Unfortunately, grown-ups who like to be turned upside-down and shaken, both literally and metaphorically, are getting fewer and further between. Thank heavens, therefore, for my brilliant husband, who is just as much of a child as I am – and that includes enjoying a cheeky trip to One Stop for a pocket-sized bottle of nasty brandy to keep the cold at bay.

Meg seems to love the weather as well. She’s constantly sniffing at the air, trying to figure out why it seems different. Or, with the amount of time I’m spending with her, I’m assigning far too much of a personality. At the moment, she seems pissed off with me. After weeks of her biting my hair, I decided to borrow Mum’s air-in-a-can. Two squirts into the air, and she’s eyeing me with suspicion, but the fact that I can cuddle her without her trying to gnaw off my nose is a great blessing… Unless she’s saving it up for when I least expect it. Those big brown puppy dog eyes can be deceiving.

Picture using Hipstamatic iPhone app. Because I’m such a hipsta.

Back to Earth

15 Oct

I had always been a bit concerned about the so-called post-nuptial depression. The wedding day is a big high, especially when you’ve been gearing up for it for so long. I’m particularly prone to the blues upon returning from holiday, and with the honeymoon (report coming soon!) being such a biggie, I knew that I had to be careful to keep my spirits high when I got home.

A few weeks before the wedding, my full-time contract with an accountancy firm came to an end, with only a few weeks notice. It was a scary position to be in, as between us we have more debt to repay that either of us had really faced up to. The return from honeymoon was going to present us with a number of new lifestyle resolutions.

As it turned out, we got back to reality with the promise of a bump. I had felt a little strange at times on honeymoon, but had just put it down to jet lag and too much rich food, but a pregnancy test confirmed it. We were heading to London that same day for Patrick’s mum’s birthday, so we excitedly shared the news with our respective families.

Despite my determination, I gave in to the pee-on-a-stick obsession, just to be sure that I hadn’t been mistaken. All sources I discovered stated that it’s virtually impossible to get a false positive, but still, I tested again, and got a negative. I felt so silly – we’d rushed to tell everybody and now we were going to have to go “um… sorry.” Consultation with my motherliest of friends told me to ditch the Tesco Value tests (don’t judge me – I’m broke) and splurge on one of the special ones that tells you how many weeks. Since then I have learnt that it’s not really a quality or reliability thing, but simply the sensitivity of the test. If you were to use a cheap one while at basketball-under-jumper stage, you’d definitely get a clear positive, but in the early stages, it’s a bit hit-or-miss.

After forking out for the test, and deciding to actually follow the directions and only test first pee of the morning, I got a positive result, but it said 1-2 weeks, when by my calculations, it should have been much later. This was my first clue that things weren’t going well. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and over the course of the next week, the pregnancy was no more.

It’s a strange position to be in – to lose an unplanned pregnancy. We were so excited – the second we got a positive, we were delighted about our future – but from our perspective, it wasn’t the tragedy that miscarriage so often means. For one thing, it helped us to realise that now is absolutely the right time for us. It confirmed that should we choose to try again, neither of us faced any of the fertility issues that can be so trying for some couples.

I’m not saying that the experience hasn’t been difficult – I feel like everyone I know, from friends and neighbours to the writers of the wedding blogs I used to read, is pregnant. I’m working hard not to feel envious, but it’s not easy. Then there’s the blame game – at the early stage I was, they insist that it’s “one of those things”, but when you think of rollercoasters, margaritas and all the fun-yet-forbidden things you did before you were aware that you were pregnant, it’s difficult not to question. We’ve resolved to pick up, dust off and try again.

Think the week couldn’t get much worse? Well, I don’t know if it was down to the week we were having already, but somehow we managed to oversleep and miss our flights to Romania for my dear friend’s wedding, and – financial situation raising its ugly head once again – there was no way we could afford to take another flight. I was so gutted – she means the world to me and I hate that I missed it.

We decided that it was time to lift ourselves out from under the raincloud. Patrick’s dad and step-mum had very kindly agreed to buy us a puppy as a wedding present. As I would now be working from home, it was the perfect time to go and find our new furbaby.

I’d like to introduce you all to the newest addition to our family – Meg. She is a 12-and-a-half-week old yellow labrador-cum-foot-warmer, and both the highlight and bane of my existence! We picked her up five weeks ago from a lovely family in Corsham, and she has turned our household upside down.

I have become one of those people – the ones who talk about their pets as if they are children. Don’t write me off as the crazy cat lady just yet, but this really does feel like a practice run for when we manage to fall pregnant again. Don’t believe me?

1. Our lives revolve around the whims of her teeny tiny bladder. The rule of thumb we’ve been given is that up to 6 months of age, they can go one hour per month, plus an additional hour. We’re increasing intervals by fifteen minutes a week, but it means that even now, we take one shift each during the night!

2. We haven’t had a night out since we got her. We’ve met with friends briefly, but she can only spend a few hours in her cage, and with the cold weather setting in, we don’t want to leave her outside. The internet is full of shouty, angry people who will tear your head off if you ask any questions on the subject. Be warned.

3. We post about her on Facebook incessantly. Actually, it’s Patrick more than me, but that’s because I’m so aware of not being the incessant Facebook posting person!

4. Sometimes, we just sit and look at her, and that’s enough.

5. It’s impossible to go to the loo alone any more.

There’s a difference; I know. But just having her here definitely makes us feel like more than just a couple: a family.

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