Saturday, 30 August 2008

Tomorrow is the last day of the summer holidays and on Monday my children will all be back at school. I'll have approximately 12 weeks of quiet time during the day before our little bundle of joy will be born. I intend to make the most of that time!

Little Barney will be starting his very first day of school on Monday. He's very excited about it, although understandably a little nervous. Annabelle will be starting her first day of High School, whilst her big brother moves into the third year. So Monday will be the first day back to routine since we went travelling around America in January! What a change it will be! It's been so long that I can't even remember what times the schools start and finish at each day.

This week seems to have been very busy. What with running around to get the last few items of uniform, naming uniforms, washing, ironing and generally keeping up with the housework. I've started making homemade bread again (at last). So I'm now fully back to sprouting seeds and making bread, which should really help my health. Dan has been an amazing Dad this week and spent a lot of time with young Barney. Maybe it's the realisation that he will soon be at school. But he has made cakes with him, taken him out on walks, and made little marshmallow top hat sweets. You can read about some of that on Dan's blog - which is rarely updated but worth checking out when it is!

Wednesday evening saw us going to the wedding party of Jools and Andrew. Jools is a belly dancing friend of mine and she looked absolutely beautiful on her wedding day. It was great to see her and also another of my dance friends that has moved away.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Friday, 22 August 2008

Metallica, Dublin 2008

It was on our travels in America that we heard that Metallica would be playing in Dublin this summer. I was so excited but really didn't think of booking tickets as I'd just found out that I was pregnant, and had no idea if I would be feeling well enough to go to the gig or not. But that didn't put Dan off. He secretly bought two Metallica tickets for us, while we were somewhere in a desert, somewhere in America (the wonders of the internet, eh?)
So this week saw us trekking down to Dublin for the gig of the year. I spent about 5 days building up to it. Some days I feel fine, but other days I feel so rough that I can barely get out of bed, and I didn't want to be like that at the gig! So I spent a few days getting early nights (I slept for 20 hours on Monday!), eating lots of alfalfa and broccoli sprouts, and generally taking care of myself. And it worked!
Our mate D was also going to the gig so we all drove down in the car together. What should have been an hour & a half drive turned out to be a four hour drive, due to the concert congesting the roads, and lane closures. It took us 3 hours to drive 17 miles at one point. Which meant we missed the supporting bands, and arrived just in time for the last song by Tenacious D. I was a bit gutted at missing them as I thought Jack Black would be very entertaining on stage, but at least we were in time for Metallica.
There must have been at least 20,000 people at the gig. That's a LOT of people, in a big muddy field, mostly filled to capacity with alcohol. Dan was very protective of me in my condition and kept me near the back where I had lots of room to myself. Every time anyone came near me he put a protective arm across my bump, which I found very sweet. Perhaps I should have bubble wrapped myself. D went off to the front of the crowd and got lost in the mosh pit. He met us at the end of the gig (minus his treasured hat which he was proud to say died and was lost forever in the Metallica mosh pit, LOL) looking a bit the worse for wear.
And what about Metallica? Well, I have to say that they were absolutely fantastic live. Seriously amazing. I think I enjoyed the intimacy of the Apocalyptica gig more, but for such a huge audience Metallica certainly rocked the place. They played one of the songs, Cyanide, from their new album 'Death Magnetik', plus a set including tons of my favourites including Enter Sandman, Whiskey In The Jar, One, Ride The Lightning, The Memory Remains, Master of Puppets, and ending with Seek And Destroy. I found the whole thing totally shattering, but was just getting past the pain barrier of standing for so long during pregnancy when the show came to an end. They had a display of fireworks during Enter Sandman, and during the song 'One' an amazing pyrotechnic display of mushroom bombs! Which was very impressive.
All in all it was a great gig, and I'm glad that I was able to stand long enough to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Medical Insurance Dramas

Those of you who read my travel blog will remember that we had to come home from our 5 month trip 2 weeks early due to complications with my pregnancy. At the time the medical insurance company we were using were extremely unhelpful. I had been to A&E and been told by doctors that I must return to the UK for monitoring of baby and blood pressure medication for me (which is now starting to work thank goodness). But the travel insurance company (Insure and Go) wouldn't agree to send me home without a ton more doctor visits and forms to be signed. Dan spoke to them at the time and they said we could return home at our own cost and make the claim for reimbursement from them when we got home. So that is what we did.

However, on arriving home and sending in our claim we started to receive letters that hinted that because we hadn't made our claim in America we would not be entitled to any reimbursement. Well to cut a long story short, we received a lot of letters, a lot more emails, and various forms to fill in, all of which hinted at us trying to con money out of them, and that we wouldn't receive any compensation.

So you can imagine how amazed I was this morning when a cheque arrived in the post from Insure and Go, with a letter explaining that they have already paid the hospital expenses directly to the hospital in Oregon. But not only that, they included a cheque which covered the cost of prescriptions, motel stays in San Francisco, and the cost of 5 flights home, (despite them insisting at the time that they would only pay for me and one other person even though that meant leaving my kids behind in America!) Well, blow me down, they actually paid out. What a relief!

Monday, 18 August 2008

22 week baby scan

Today was an exciting day for our little family. The 22 week scan of baby number 4. Needless to say I was very excited about seeing how our little bundle is getting along. Daddy, Annabelle and Barney all came along to see their little one on the screen (Jimmie said he will just wait til next time as playing on the computer is more fun).

At first I went into the scan room on my own while the radiologist spent quite some time taking measurements and looking for various things (heart, stomach, bladder etc) She said baby is measuring perfect for due dates (19th December). Then she invited Dan and the kids in to see. Little Barney was very excited to see the little person who's cot he had chosen and helped put together earlier last week. He has already bought baby's first teddy bear (a very large crocodile from Ikea). He was full of chat and questions for the radiologist. He announced that our baby looks like a dinosaur, and I suppose he's quite right! Much to his disappointment baby had it's legs tightly crossed for the entire 15 minute scan and so we couldn't find out whether it is a girl or boy. But Barney doesn't need any confirmation - he knows for sure that it's a girl, and if it's a boy he will still love it anyway.

Baby had the hickups during the scan (something which I can feel he/she has a lot these days) and we could all see its little chest jerking with each hickup. The radiologist managed to get a good picture of babys face (see photo above which doesnt look anything as clear as it did on the screen at the time) and we all saw baby opening and closing its mouth, then lift its hand up towards us. Barney said the baby was waving at us and trying to say hello. How sweet.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A visit from Neil

This weekend we were delighted to see our friend Neil from Birmingham who came to stay with us for a few days. He's never set foot in Ireland before, so we were more than happy to show him a little of the north. The weather was pretty dismal all weekend (no surprises there) but the sun managed to shine whenever we stepped foot outside of the car.

I picked him up from Belfast City Airport on Saturday morning and took him on a little driving detour of Belfast city, before driving home to Banbridge. We saw some of the murals around east Belfast (where I used to live) and then drove through the centre to see the City Hall, University, etc. Since the sun started shining in the afternoon we decided to make the most of it and took a drive with the kids to Newcastle, Co Down. As we stepped out onto the beach the sun started beaming down for us! Barney, Annabelle, and Annabelle's best friend from school all got totally covered in wet sand, but had a good time digging about on the beach. We then drove up into the Mourne Mountains a bit and stopped at the Silent Valley Dam. You can see all the photos from Newcastle, and the Giants Causeway by clicking here.

Although the weather on Sunday was pretty awful we still took our trip to the Giants Causeway in county Antrim. The coastal drive to the causeway is beautiful, although far more spectacular when not raining. The queue to get into the Causeway car park went on for miles. I've only ever been there in the winter when its quiet, so I was surprised to see it so busy. Despite the rain we still managed to have a walk around the causeway stones without getting wet (except for Jimmie who almost got swept away in the waves!) The sun stayed out long enough for us to explore.

It was great to have Neil over to visit. Barney just thought he was great, and had him tortured playing games of hide n seek. Hopefully next time he will come for a little longer and we can show him some more of the delights of Northern Ireland.

Update on family life.

We've managed to keep ourselves quite busy the last week or so. In preparation for the baby we are changing the upstairs office into a nursery, and the downstairs spare room into an office. But the downstairs room (our old home education study room) was a tip. The 14 year old wallpaper was peeling and just disgusting, so we decided to strip it and give it a lick of paint. So Dan spent a day stripping wallpaper, and another day painting the room magnolia. If our wireless internet connection ever arrives (we've been waiting 2 months for it now) we will be able to move the computer into the new office and start work preparing the baby's new room.
In an attempt to get me to believe we are really having another baby, Dan sent me off to Ikea to buy a cot. Barney and I spent many hours in Ikea (our first ever visit there) and came home with a new cot, mattress, duvet, sheets and blankets for the baby. It was good for Barney to help in choosing these things. It's helped him to feel a part of the whole 'baby thing'. I let him chose the baby's first teddy bear, which he will bring to the hospital as a gift when baby is born. He chose a HUGE green crocodile. He is sleeping with it until he baby is born, just to take care of it. After we paid for it and he carried it to the car he said "Mummy, I hope the baby doesn't die when it's born, now that I've bought it such a lovely present".
The doctor has started me on medication to lower my blood pressure, which is working fabulously. Apparently I am taking an extremely low dose, but it has worked effectively to lower my BP to around the 75 mark, instead of over 100. She was delighted with the results. On Monday of next week we have our big 22 week pregnancy scan at the hospital. When I was pregnant with Barney the big kids came to see the scan. This time the whole family will be trudging along to Craigavon Hospital to see how the youngest member of the family is getting on. These days baby is starting to kick very strongly. Dan felt his first kick with his hand on my tummy this week.
We have been dog sitting my sisters dog Leila for the past few weeks while she is on holiday in Australia. Leila has proved to be a big hit with the kids, and she's been spoilt rotten. Between sleeping on peoples beds and getting up to 10 walks a day, I don't think she'll ever want to go home!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A summer wedding

Yesterday saw Dan and I put on our glad rags as we headed off for the wedding of his friend R (and his fiance, obviously). R has worked in our CD shop since the day it opened 7 years ago. We were delighted to be able to share his happy day with him.

So Mum came to babysit, and I tried my best to make my horrible shapeless sack of a maternity dress look pretty. I thought Dan looked amazing in a suit! It's not very often that he gets to wear one. In the end we got ourselves looking quite respectable, even if I do say so myself!

This was the first wedding in a chapel that I've ever attended, and I found it very interesting. I was fascinated by the bell ringing, chanting and kneeling. Having been christened into the Catholic church myself but never having attended it, I always find it interesting to see how I could have been brought up if circumstances had been different. The service was lovely and the bride beautiful, as expected. Even R scrubbed up well for the big day!

The reception was held in a beautiful lakeside setting. Every detail of the day was just divine. The food, the company, the setting. A really lovely day. I didnt know a single person apart from the groom but within minutes of arriving at the reception I'd met his entire family and had my legs sprayed with cooling spray by his mother! They were a really lovely bunch. I hope R and his new wife are as happy as Dan and I have been together. I'm sure they will be.