18 weeks in…

April 26, 2008 at 2:42 pm (Baby) (, , , , , , )

Foetus at 18 weeks

It’s been a busy week – I’ve been running round like a headless chicken (well, not really, but I’ve been doing a lot of to-ing and fro-ing) at work as the office has been going crazy, and Tadpole has been turning somersaults and doing a whole lot more growing too! And now that I’m 18 weeks pregnant (almost half way there!), I’m officially entering my fifth month of pregnancy, which is hard to believe, as it feels like we only found out about our little Lone Ranger five minutes ago!

Some interesting fact about being 18 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole is now about 6 inches long from crown to rump and weighs about 7oz (so I guess all the extra weight I’m carrying is due to a massive placenta and an ocean of amniotic fluid!)
  • Whether Tadpole is a girl or a boy, all the “girlie-bits” or “boy-bits” are there now (so if the hospital didn’t have a “don’t ask because we won’t tell” policy, they’d likely be able to tell us the sex already.)
  • Tadpole can now feel and hear (although (s)he won’t hear much but my heartbeat and my grumbling tummy when I’m starving – which I am all the time these days)

Things that have happened this week:

  • I’ve discovered an inconsistency in the general public – people are  more than willing to give up their seat on a bus to a pregnant woman, but not their place on the bench at the bus stop. How strange!
  • Little old ladies have started smiling and nodding at me in a very knowing way (which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, as if they’re saying, “I know what you did to get pregnant, you dirty minx!”)
  • According to a friend at work, I now always look like I’m smiling on the inside, even when I’m not smiling on the outside. When I asked what that meant, they replied, “It’s like you know a special secret, even though it’s obvious nowadays what your ‘secret’ is – you’ve got a twinkle in your eyes.” I guess that’s a pretty lovely thing to say, really.
  • Tadpole seems to have quite a regular little routine – a fair old bit of activity off anf on throughout the day, but mostly quite quiet at night. According to my colleague who recently returned from maternity leave, if they do that in the womb, they’re more likely to have a similar routine once they’ve come out, which is nice to know!
  • Pregnant women are public property. Complete strangers will ask for  details of your pregnancy whilst you queue for a changing room or the toilet. They all want to know your due date, whether or not you had morning sickness, and if you can feel the baby moving yet. People who would usually never dream of talking to you, or even noticing your existance, suddenly find you the most interesting person ni the vicinity! It’s very strange.
  • You can never have too much Indian food.

I put in that last comment because although I find it very easy to get “Chinesed out” if I have Chinese food several times over a short period, I could quite happily eat Indian food every night of the week and never get sick of it! I actually had Indian food the last three nights running (balti, dahl, madras, laal, rogan josh – you name it, I’ll eat it!) and would quite happily have it again tonight, but we’re going out to a Chinese restaurant tonight with family. Not that I won’t eat the food – it’s particularly good – but a couple of weeks back, I had Chinese three nights on the trot, and was heartily sickened of the stuff, so I’d much rather go somewhere else, really – perhaps for a nice streak with pepper sauce, or perhaps a curry…). I’ve not had proper craving for any one food, but I guess the closest ones would be that I like cheese a lot and love the spiciest Indian food I can get in my hungry little mouth. And yes, I’m always hungry now.

Fortunately, I’ll be able to combat putting on too much weight, as my new DVDs arrived today – Pilates in Pregnancy and Yoga for Pregnancy. Yes, I know they’re not exactly fat-burning  cardio-vascular workouts, but they’ll help me keep (OK, get) toned and maintain (oh alright, kick-start and improve) my flexibility, both of which have got to be good, not only to help keep me healthy through my pregnancy, but also to help me get through the birth. Apparently both of these can improve your stamina too, which can only be a good thing when you hear of a normal labour lasting anywhere between six and thirty-six hours – that’s a marathon and a half! And best still, they both appear to include workouts for after birth too, which will help me get back into shape – preferably a better shape than I was to begin with!

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Make a difference – we are what we do

April 23, 2008 at 7:17 pm (Life gets in the way...) (, , , )

I was wandering around the internet and perusing a few blogs, which led to me reading other blogs, and still others (isn’t it funny how you end up somewhere you’ve never been before, reading something that inspires you?). I wish I could remember which blog led me to it so I could thank them and leave a link, but in clicking on something on that last blog, I was taken to a wonderful site that gives you prompts to do little things that can make a big change in your life – and the lives of those around you…

So I ended up registering and making a list of things I would pledge to do. From the 100 actions given, I chose 28 for myself and here they are:

  1. Decline plastic bags wherever possible
  2. Read a story with a child
  3. Fit at least one energy-saving lighbulb
  4. Smile and smile back
  5. Take public transport when you can
  6. Plant a tree
  7. Have a bath with someone you love
  8. Turn your thermostat down by 1º
  9. Get fitter, feel better
  10. Register on-line as an organ donor
  11. Learn to be friendly in another language
  12. Turn off unnecessary lights
  13. Use a mug, not a plastic cup
  14. Turn off the tap whilst you brush your teeth
  15. Recycle your books
  16. Buy fairly traded products
  17. Shop locally
  18. Grow something with a child
  19. Recycle waste paper
  20. Enjoy a Fairtrade brew
  21. Practice good manners
  22. Shut down your computer properly
  23. Practice good mobile phone manners
  24. Lose the plastic cup
  25. Leave work on time at least once a week
  26. Smile when you answer the phone
  27. Take the stairs
  28. Say thanks

The theory is that each time I complete these tasks, I tick them off at the website which tracks them all. When everyone ticks off their actions, you can see what a huge difference is being made each and every day. The simplest action can have the biggest impact – just a smile to someone as you pass them can help lift their mood and then they do the same to someone else – it’s a knock-on effect.

Now I challenge all of you to do the same thing. Go on, nip along to the website for We Are What We Do and make your own list. Make a difference yourself!

And if you’re interested in keeping up with how I get on, you can see my own check list HERE.

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Earth Day

April 22, 2008 at 6:08 am (Life gets in the way..., Shameless Plugs) (, , , , )

The wheel of the year has turned once more and it’s Earth Day again – a world-wide day celebrating Mother Earth when we can (and should) all consider the little differences we can each make to live greener lives.

Whether you decide to ditch the car and use public transport today; choose to walk or cycle to work for a change; take a trip to your nearest recycling centre with all your waste paper, glass and plastic; plant a tree or some garden plants; buy organic produce when you do your shopping today; or countless other little changes that can easily be made, do it TODAY!

There are Earth Day events planned all over the place, but you don’t have to attend one of those to do your bit. Just use your noggin and think about that small but significant contribution you can make. After all, if everyone in the world did one thing, imagine the huge difference that would make! Start it off yourself.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

You can find out more about the history of Earth Day HERE.
If you’d like some handy hints on how to live a greener life, have a look HERE.

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All in a good cause…

April 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm (Shameless Plugs) (, , , )

A couple of years back, I took part in Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life in Aberdeen. I ran in memory of my Great Grandad who died of cancer when I was just six months old – I never had the chance to know him. I had planned to follow it up with a repeat run last year, but was unable due to the timing conflicting with other arrangements, which was rather disheartening.

I now have even more of a reason for continuing to support this worthy cause, as my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Fortunately, it was caught very early and they were able to operate and remove the tumour entirely. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and will also have a course of radiotherapy later in the year. We’re very lucky – my Aunt is now doing very well and should have a full recovery.

Others are not so lucky.

Cancer Research UK makes a real difference – pouring money, time and resources into the never-ending search for a cure for all cancers. They largely rely on contributions from generous people like you and me and spend over £22 million each year on that research. There has been great progress made in recent years, but they still need more help – that’s why I’m making a shameless plug right here on my blog.

This year, I’ll be heavily pregnant come Race Day, so I’m having to miss out again. However, my very good friend, Kerry Elder, has entered and I have willingly sponsored her some well-deserved cash. If you would like to sponsor Kerry, you can do so on-line HERE.

Or, if you would like to take part in Race For Life yourself, you can find a race near you HERE.

Thank you.

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17 weeks in…

April 19, 2008 at 9:55 am (Baby) (, , , , )

Foetus at 17 weeks

The weeks just seem to be flying past nowadays! Here we are, almost half-way through pregnancy when it seems like we only found out about Tadpole a few minutes ago – it’s been ten weeks already – can you believe it?

My belly is now definitely more noticeable than ever before, although I still feel that I just look a bit tubby rather than properly pregnant – not everything has fully rounded out just yet (although, hopefully that will happen over the course of the next few weeks!). I saw several people this week who I hadn’t seen in quite a while, so they most certainly noticed the difference and commented on it – mostly along the lines of “You look so much brighter – more yourself again!”, or “You’ve got that glow about you.”, or “Wow! Look at your belly!” It was nice catching up with them too.

Some interesting facts about being 17 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole is now about 5.5 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 5oz (which, on the size side of things, explains why I’m  feeling a little bit “stretched” already!)
  • Using a special instrument, you can now hear the foetal heartbeat (which we heard last week at my 16-week appointment, and it was wonderful)
  • If this is a first pregnancy, the mother should now begin to feel the first fluttering movements (so Tadpole is a fast learner and quick to pick up on a good thing, as I’ve been feeling those flutters for a little while and got a good proper kick the other night – albeit a very small one!)

Things that have happened this week:

  • We felt a small kick from the outside for the first time. It was a very small one, but Dale definitely felt it. The kid must have lanky legs, but then I thought that at the 12-week  that turned out to be 13-week scan, and both Dale and I have long legs, so Tad is probably inheriting those.
  • I’ve realised that Indian food really is my absolute favourite and would probably eat it almost every night given the chance. I’m not sure if it counts as a proper craving, as i don’t need it right away in the middle of the night or anything like that, but anything spicy is good.
  • I’ve started really missing pepperoni. I was told by my midwife to avoid deli meats – including pepperoni – even when it’s been cooked as on a pizza.  Lately, I’ve found myself eyeing up the Pepperamis in the shops and wishing I could just sink my teeth into one of the fiery-hot ones. I also miss my home-made chickpea and chorizo soup.
  • My nails are looking fabulous – really strong and long – and they’re not snapping off like they usually do once they get to this length (thank you, Tadpole!).
  • The only comfortable way to sleep is with a giant sleep support pillow jammed between my thighs and hugging the top end of it tightly to keep it close against my belly.
  • Sleeping with a giant support pillow jammed between my thighs and hugging it tightly gives me very naughty dreams!
  • My sister-in-law has discovered she is also pregnant. She’s ten weeks behind me, so we’ll have our babies very close in age. Unfortunately, she lives in Edinburgh, so we won’t get to see as much of her and the baby as we’d like to, but it’ll be nice for Tadpole to have a cousin so close in age.

And now that the Spring-like weather has finally decided to put in an appearance (although, whether or not it deigns to hang around is another question entirely), I’ve decided to start shopping for some summery clothes that will fit over bump but not make me look “matronly” or frumpy. Cue lots of swirly gypsy skirts and maxi dresses made with crinkly material that will stretch over my ever-growing bump. Of course, in order to ensure I don’t look like I’m wearing a tent, I shall have to get some pretty ethnic-looking belts to put round my hips (under bump, see) and pull things in a bit. I have decided that 99% of maternity clothes look frumpy no matter what they are or where you get them – it’s just the nature of the clothes, I’m afraid. So, my attempt to combat that is to avoid them as much as possible and just get ordinary clothes that will fit over the bump. I’ve never been so glad that empire-line tops are in fashion!

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OK, so I’m a little peculiar!

April 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm (Life gets in the way...) (, , , , )

Everyone has their foible; some little quirk they’d rather keep to themselves if at all possible. In my case, I’ve managed to keep a major one of mine from my husband for eight whole years, then a little slip-up tonight let the cat out of the bag.

You see, I’m a frustrated, aspiring writer from a theatrical background and this combination has made for a tiny idiosyncrasy in my approach to how I write dialogue, which was witnessed tonight, for the first time, by my very sensible, non-writing, non-acting better half…

I was in the bath, you see. My bath time is my me time. I usually spend the time reading, but I can’t read while I’m washing my hair, so that’s when I specifically turn to various scenes from the novel that will one day work its way out of my head and onto the page. The weather was rather fine today, so I had the window open* and was working out a little dialogue between a couple of characters.

“Kell, why are you talking to yourself and making gestures with your hands?” came a voice out of nowhere.

I must add, here, that as I was washing my hair, I had taken off my glasses, and without my specs, I’m as blind as a bat! I thought Dale was standing at the bathroom door and tried to catch a glimpse of him in the bathroom mirror above the loo.

“And why are you trying to look towards the door?”

He was on the veranda! Having a cigarette!**

So, I had to explain to him that his wife wasn’t crazy*** and that I was writing my novel. When I write dialogue, whether or not I have pen and paper to hand, I have to act out the parts to make sure they sound right. Now, I was speaking the lines very quietly, so it must have sounded like I was muttering something under my breath, and with all the gestures, Dale could have been forgiven for thinking I was casting some terrible curse over the Noisy Bitch upstairs****.

The problem I now had was that my explanation sounded flustered and nervy as I hate being watched*****. And now Dale was having a right good laugh at my expense. He’s still laughing now and going on about me talking to invisible people. Of course, I just made it worse by saying, “They’re not invisible in my head – I know exactly what they look like!”

There’s nothing quite like making your other half realise he finally has proof that he married an utter loony.

Ha! He’ll be laughing on the other side of his face when I pen my best-seller!

~~***~~

* We’re in a first floor flat with the bathroom window opening onto our secluded veranda, so there was no danger of me being seen by anyone, or so I thought!

** He gave up smoking again a few weeks ago, but succumbed once more to the lure of the cancer stick a few days back and is not allowed to smoke in the flat or when he’s out with me.

*** Well, no more crazy than usual, anyway.

**** And, what with me being a Witch and all, that could be a reasonable assumption! Damn! I could have used that as my excuse and come across as at least being semi-sane!

***** I had a stalker at one point while I was in college. Fortunately, no restraining order was required to keep the nutter away from me – just two of my big, rugby-player mates from the Halls of Residence who didn’t even have to lay a finger on my would-be suitor. All they had to do, in the end, was look impressively large and use their excellent vocabularies to their fullest extent in describing exactly what could happen to someone who kept following their mate around once his advances had been spurned. See – brawn and brains in the same package! Those guys really were fabulous. And they were both big softies too.

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The Karate Kid Kicks!

April 17, 2008 at 5:56 am (Baby, Music, Film and Television) (, , , , )

Last night saw another first – Tadpole kicked hard enough for it to be felt on the outside!

I was lounging on the sofa, last thing at night before bed, watching an old episode of Jonathan Creek (I have a bit of a thing for Alan Davies, I’ll admit to that!), with my hand resting low down on my tummy, when I felt a pulse against my palm. I was a little shocked as it was so unexpected – I though maybe in the next couple of weeks I’d start feeling that, but not right now!

So, I called Dale over quickly to make sure I hadn’t imagined it. I gently pressed his hand to the same spot and within seconds he was treated to a double-kick!

So, our little Karate Kid is already practicing the Stork Stance (all together now, “Wax on; wax off!”). Or perhaps we have a mini Mike Portnoy in there practicing for that first drumkit…

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Annual Review…

April 16, 2008 at 4:42 pm (Life gets in the way...) (, , )

Today was my first Annual Review (despite the fact that I’ve been in the Chief’s office for almost two years now). Actually, the Council refuses to call is an Annual Review, or even an Appraisal, instead it goes by the initials EDRS – Employee Development Review Scheme. Whatever it’s called, I’ve always lived in mortal dread of the things – they make me feel like a five-year-old who’s accidentally wet her pants the first day at Big School and knows that she’ll now have to go home wearing strange “spare knickers” and carrying her own damp panties in a plastic bag as she takes the Walk of Shame at home time.

The last few weeks has seen today looming in ever-increasing loomy-ness as the day got steadily closer. Not that I expected anything particularly negative at my EDRS – it’s just that my only experiences of this kind of thing have been quite negative, mostly due to the people who were giving them, not due to anything I had done wrong. In fact, my previous EDRS (in a different department before I returned to the Chief’s office) was a very informal chat which lasted all of twenty minutes, during which time I was told by my old boss (who would spend all day surfing the internet rather than working) that I was doing really well. I handed in my notice within a fortnight. Not as a result of the review – although the timing was pretty nifty – I just couldn’t stand working in that atmosphere and had been offered the position where I am now much happier.

Anyway, the time came and I trouped into the office with my boss (not the Chief – his PA is actually my line manager) and sat myself down. We then spent the next 75 minutes chatting about the things I do on a day-to-day basis and how I think I’m doing, what improvements I think there have been made over the last year (both my own improvements and those of the department) as well as what I think is wrong with the department (which is precious little, thankfully), followed by the training needs I consider I need or would like, even though they’re not essential. There was some great dialogue – both of us exchanging ideas all the way through, so I didn’t feel pressured to come up with anything out of the blue.

After a while, it transpired that my boss thinks I’m pretty great, actually, and that I do an excellent job. From what she says, I cope well under stress (or at least, give the appearance of it!), have a rapid turnaround in my work as well as a high level of accuracy, and some of the ideas I suggested and put into place over the past months have been mentioned by others as having made their jobs much easier and faster as well as they have mine. I also made a few other suggestions and some of them are to be implemented immediately (such as a new mail log system) while others are to be brought onto play over the next few months (like revamping the filing system).

So, it turns out my in-fun bragging that I am Super Secretary is true! I really am fabulous!

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Happiness is…

April 14, 2008 at 7:05 pm (Life gets in the way...) (, , , , , )

… getting a great bargain or stuff for free. At least, it is if you’re a woman. Someone once said there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but lunch is lunch and quality facial care is another thing completely!

I decided it was finally time to stop using soap and water (was that a gasp of horror I heard from Iiris there? I’m sure she’ll be shocked at my lack of a proper cleansing routine!) and invest in some quality beauty products to get my skin in good order.

When I got pregnant, I immediately began suffering some of the worst breakouts I’ve had since, well, since I hit puberty (so, I was about eleven). I don’t actually remember a single day since that time when I’ve had completely clear skin – there has always been one stubborn blemish left to mar the canvas, no matter what – and since I’ve now reached the grand old age of (please, turn away now and don’t read the number I’m about to type) 31 (did you turn away? I bet you didn’t!) I’ve started worrying a bit about the inevitable fine lines and wrinkles. And since I’m going to be a Mum soon, I don’t especially want people to mistake me for Tadpole’s grandmother when I’m out and about!

So, I went along to Debenhams and spoke to a very nice lady who told me those little lines that had recently appeared weren’t fine lines and wrinkles at all – they were down to my skin being a little dehydrated! “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” I chortled in my joy*.

After a good quarter of an hour with my New Best Friend, I had an entire counter-full of products lined up before me and I was now becoming a little scared at the possible cost of ail these goodies. I desperately wanted at least four things – the cleanser, the clarifying lotion, the moisturiser and the exfoliator – but it was going to cost a pretty penny and I wasn’t sure I could convince Dale that it was worth it.

But then, my New Best Friend became my Best Friend Ever when she told me that two of the products were actually included in the free gift I would get for buying just two products, along with a whole host of other goodies. I was elated! Now, instead of just four products, I would be getting:

  • Cleanser
  • Clarifying lotion (I always just thought it was called toner)
  • Exfoliator
  • Moisturiser
  • Night Cream
  • Eye Cream
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Blusher
  • Blusher Brush
  • Lipstick
  • Mascara

The total value of all these wondrous goodies is well over £100 and I was only spending £29 – pretty nifty, eh? And considering I had been seriously contemplating a spend of approximately £75 for the basic products, a pretty hefty saving! There was no way Dale could complain when I put it to him like that!

So, tonight, I shall relax in my bath tub and start my new cleansing routine, and hopefully my skin will finally have a chance to become beautiful.

And on top of all that, I’ve been eyeing up some mineral makeup that’s supposed to make your skin look fantastic (with excellent coverage – exactly what I need at the moment) whilst not stressing the skin in the way that those nasty chemical-filled makeups do. There’s a starter kit for about £30 that has everything I’ll need to get me going. All I have to do is convince Dale it’s all for his benefit – after all, I want to look gorgeous for him.

Vanity, thy name is not just Woman – it is Kell!

* For those of you who don’t recognise it, I just paraphrased a line from Jabberwocky, a poem included in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. It’s my favourite poem of all time and the only one I’ve ever memorised.

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16 weeks in…

April 12, 2008 at 8:04 am (Baby, Life gets in the way...) (, , , )

Foetus at 16 weeks

It’s been a busy week this week, so I’ve found myself very tired again for much of the time and, as a result, rather irritable (so I apologise if anyone has borne the brunt of my unwarranted wrath over the last few days – I assure you, I didn’t mean it – I’m just completely knackered!). I’ve continued to feel the “muscle spasms” but now they’re accompanied by something of a “sloshy” feeling. The only way I can think of to describe it is when you’re in the bath and you move around, the water sloshes around and rebounds off the sides of the tub – it feels a bit like that but inside. A couple of days ago, Tadpole was being particularly active and it felt like I had an Olympic swimmer practicing the butterfly, so perhaps our little Tad will be a sporty kid!

I also had my 16-week blood work done which was a bit of an ordeal for me, as I’m terrified of needles, so I took Dale with me for moral support. On this occasion I didn’t pass out (although I came perilously close to it and almost broke Dale’s fingers by gripping them tightly all the way through), but I felt very light-headed for some time afterwards and, despite the fact that for the first time ever I have no bruising at all (well done, Jan!), my arm felt stiff and half-dead for the rest of the day, right through to when I went to bed. And she didn’t just take one vial of blood – she filled FOUR of those bad boys! It’s strange – I’m absolutely fine with other people’s blood, but when it comes to my own getting forcibly taken from my body, I turn into a big woos. I’m not so bad at getting injections – I can just about cope with those – but getting blood taken out has me feeling panicky and sick. I’d love to be a blood donor, but sadly, I just don’t see that ever happening.

Some interesting facts about being 16 weeks pregnant:

  • Tadpole has done another inch of growing, taking the crown-to-rump length to 5 inches (that’s a lot of growing in one week!).
  • Tadpole now weighs approximately 4oz (so why have I put on 6lbs? LOL!).
  • Over the next three weeks, Tadpole will have something of a growth spurt, doubling in weight and adding inches to length (no wonder I’m getting “growing pains” in my belly!).

Things that have happened this week:

  • We heard Tadpole’s heartbeat for the first time at my antenatal appointment on Thursday. It was wonderful!
  • My hips and knees hurt if I’m on my feet for long periods of time, due to the loosening of ligaments, and I sometimes get an achy feeling in my lower belly where Tadpole currently resides – I guess the kid is really starting to stretch me a bit!
  • I now get asked about when I’m due because, yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m finally starting to look PREGNANT rather than just FAT (although I still feel that I look a bit of a hog to tell the truth – I can’t wait for my “bump” to round out a bit more so there’ll be no mistaking it!).
  • I’m getting a lot of compliments and people say I’m “blooming” which is lovely – a positive point is that the breakouts I got earlier on ar now starting to properly clear up, my nails are now gorgeous and strong, and my hair is getting so thick and bushy that I’m going to have to book another haircut ahead of schedule.
  • My Mam and Step-Dad are visiting this weekend and they’re very generously buying us a cot-bed, so we’ve been looking at various lovely options and have decided on one from Mothercare. My Grom is also sending money which will be put towards a “travel system” (buggy/pram, car seat and carrier), so we’ve looked at those too.

A bit of a hectic weekend now – with The Olds up visiting, there’s always a lot of activity. We were out at the pub last night (don’t worry – I stuck to soft drinks) and by the time we left shortly after 10pm, I was absolutely exhausted – It had been a very long day. Today will also be very busy with shopping and just generally spending time with The Olds, then out to dinner tonight, so I’ll probably be falling asleep by the time we get to the dessert course! I’ll be spending tomorrow afternoon (after they’ve gone) and all of Monday (which I have off work) recovering from the weekend!

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