Thursday, December 30, 2010

and two more bump photos

a kiss for the baba...

bumping bellies!
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bump pictures 37 weeks

37 weeks according to my dates, 36+2 according to hospital.

Loving my bump (apart from how uncomfortable it is!)! My friend Elaine took the pictures with her digital SLR and I did a bit of contrast, red eye correction, black and white and glow on them in picasa. This will probably be the last time my belly won't look wobbly! For the rest of my life! I got lucky after Emm and there wasn't much damage done, but this babe is meant to be bigger, and also, you probably can't stretch your skin like this, twice, and go back to normal afterwards!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas day

We had a very quiet, but lovely, christmas day, with a fire down all day, lots of chocolate and christmas sweets and mandarins, a little bit of unwrapping, but we kept it the presents to a minimum this year. We had a few more presents from Germany today (we did Christkindl, doing the 'Bescherung' together, on skype), and M is going to get more from Peter's family, but it was nice, even without lots and lots of luxurious presents! I have to admit, I enjoy buying presents, and it was nice to be able to do it a few years ago, when I was earning money and didn't have a mortgage to worry about. There were a few years where I was buying for all my family, and most of Peter's, and for my friends, and I loved it! I enjoy the giving much more than the receiving, mostly because I am quite picky about what I like. This year I got a voucher for pregnancy reflexology (something I would have just booked and gone for when I was pregnant with Emm) and a clipboard with lists, that I actually bought myself and P just wrapped it for me. It would have been nice to get some little surprises, too... Something I hadn't asked for or bought myself!

At the same time, we're all relatively healthy, M's eyes are OK for the moment and we have a new consultant, the pregnancy is going well as far as we can tell, and we were fortunate enough not to have to travel anywhere during the cold snap, and not to have to worry about the heating bill, or food!

her new kitchen being unveiled.

...straight to work!
raiding the tree

some more snow play

Today the thaw has set in, the snow's gone from the roof and trees and walls, the snowmen have melted to small mounds, there's rain and melting water everywhere. On the upside, it means some of P's family might come after all, for dinner on Tuesday!
Tomorrow we have to brave IKEA, and get Emm a new bed, we really shouldn't put it off any longer, with only 4 weeks till the due date! It'll be enough change for her, without giving up her cot and seeing it used by the new baby straight away, I think it'll be better for her to have a few weeks settling in, with the cot out of sight, before we set it up in our room.
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christmas eve

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

snow pictures

P says this is the most snow he's seen since he was a little kid. It's certainly more than I have ever seen in Ireland, and I've been here for nearly 9 years... Emm is loving it!

On a not so nice note, the stomach bug that we seem to have avoided for the last two weeks seems to finally have arrived at our house, P is miserable today! Emm and I have met a lot more people just before and after they came down with it and have escaped so far, but it looks like we might all have it for christmas! For most of my friends it's been a 24 hour bug, so lets hope that's all it's going to be... I really hope that if we're going to be struck with it, Emm and I won't get it before tomorrow afternoon, as we just got tickets to see 'The Snowman' at the concert hall in the morning!  Fingers crossed...


swedish gingerbread men and other ornaments! Other pregnant women apparently get the nesting instinct, cleaning their houses... i've clearly gone mad making and icing gingerbread... i really should be in bed, not tying red cotton string to biscuits. i've hung some of the ornaments into the tree, in the top layers, i better wait with the lower branches until christmas morning, I have a suspicion they won't last long!
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Monday, December 20, 2010


Today we finally got a proper snow fall, I'd say 6 inches at least, and it's still going. We haven't had any snow to speak of in the last weeks, but it's been quite cold. Lately I've noticed some robins and tits out in the garden, They must have come from the countryside to the village gardens, looking for food! I spoke to my mum, who loves to watch wild birds, and she said the best way to feed them is to make some fat bird feeders. I bought some cooking fat and bird seed, got small clay pots, string and twigs from the garden, and checked my baking cupboard for oats, and some leftover nuts and seeds (great way to use up the slightly out of date ones!). As it's nearly christmas I threw in some raisins as a treat, too! you can also add peanut butter and any unsalted unroasted nuts and seeds.

You melt the fat (Vegetable fat, lard, beef drippings, whatever you can get your hands on.For today's batch I got some free cutoffs from the butcher, and added the rendered fat to the bought stuff) over a very low heat, then stir in your seeds, chopped nuts and oats. Leave to cool. You use the twig and string to hang the pot from a tree, with the twig serving as a climbing branch for the birds. Hard to explain, easy to show this link shows it quite well.

During my first attempt yesterday I hadn't looked it up properly, thinking I remembered it all from when my mum made these when I was a kid. I forgot to put in the little branch for climbing, and also didn't let the mixture cool down enough before filling the pot. The birds don't seem to mind so far. I made another one today, and this one's by the book, just waiting to set on top of the garden shelve.

We had Emm's follow up appointment last  week and the professor said her retinas are reacting to the laser treatment as they should. He isn't the one doing her long term treatment plan, so he wasn't answering any questions, in fact, when I mentioned we might get referred to London he nearly seemed insulted and wound up the appointment very quickly. I don't think even as a professor, he has any reason to feel offended if parents are looking to see a specialist, if he has only had one or two patients with this condition in his entire career... I forgot to ask for the October photographs of her retinas and he didn't offer them either, I'll have to call the nurse on tomorrow and ask will she email them to me. I'm still annoyed the professor didn't take any before and after photos during the operation, and didn't repeat the angiogram, which is what the consultant had said would be done initially... We see him again in January, so I think we'll just have to wait until then to find out what the next steps will be.

I had an antenatal appointment on Friday, and the midwife reckons this baby will be bigger than Emm was! It's lying oblique at the moment, she said that's OK at this point. I certainly get lots of kicks and I think it's still twisting and turning a lot, sometimes it feels like there's just not enough space! I feel as big as I was just before Emm was born, and I still have 5 weeks to go!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

making christmas cards

I've been experimenting with using Emm's artwork for christmas cards. My baubles didn't quite work out, but I was very happy with the snowman,

so I made a little series! I used two of her drawings that had only pale colours, and mostly blue, on white. I cut it into wide strips so that I'd have a rough guide to for the size of the circles, which I then cut freehand.

I used red card (which came with matching envelopes from a bookshop in Germany, 3.45€ for 10 about 2 years ago) and glued three circles on, trying to make sure to get a bit of texture by mixing and matching darker and lighter circles, or by turning them so the lines would go in different directions. The carrot noses are done with white glue and red glitter, everything else is drawn on with black ink.

Sure to delight grannies and aunties!

I love red and white for christmas decorations, but I might let Emm loose with lots of shades of green, and then cut shapes to make christmas trees, because I have lots of cream coloured cards in my paper crafts box! I'm not really a big fan of glitter, but it seems essential in irish crafts for kids (maybe in Germany, too, but it wasn't around when I was little...). Emm enjoys the stuff greatly, so I'm sure the christmas tree designs will feature some, too!

I enjoyed the bit of peace and quiet during her nap time, making the cards, ignoring my floors which are in dire need of mopping...

I've got a super itchy eye, which I'm pretty sure I got yesterday, ironically, from the hospital for Emm's eye operation! They had the air conditioning set to heat the place full blast, it was worst in the tiny play room, imagine sitting under a hair dressers dryer hood! There was no getting away from it, and now my bottom eye lid is swollen and itchy, can't think of the name for the condition. The pharmacist gave me some over the counter drops to calm it, but so far it's not making a difference! At least now Emm doesn't feel too hard done by, having to get eye drops, as she's not the only one!
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eyes update

We're just back from the hospital, and Emm had laser on both eyes. She was a very brave girl, didn't cry once or make a fuss, with lots of sets of eye drops, and blood pressure measuring and general taking her away from the play room and toys.
It's a bit strange, she was booked in for another EUA and FA, and if necessary they were possibly going to do some lasering. Then they phoned us on Monday and said they spoke to the specialist in London and he recommended they laser the left eye and see about the right eye. This morning we noticed the EUA and FA wasn't on her file, but the nurse added them. After the OP the Professor came down to speak to us and told us the OP went well and that he'd lasered both eyes. When I'd asked about the pictures he said he didn't take any! I'm a bit annoyed, as this was what our new consultant had ordered in the first place, a second set of pictures to compare and assess whether there had been any change!
We're glad they did the laser and that the Professor said he didn't 'see' any change, but I really would have liked there to be pictures to show it. Especially if we want to get a second opinion abroad it would be good to have some 'before and after' pictures from today. Also, I hardly even bake a cake without taking pictures, so I thought it strange of a surgeon doing extensive laser surgery without documenting the process... Maybe they were too busy? The ward certainly was full today...
He agreed to let us have copies of the images, but I'm not sure if he will have them digitally. I wanted him to just email them to me, but he was saying 'I'll have them for you next week, at the appointment'.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

messy baking with two year olds

I didn't quite realise before just how hard it is to bake with two year olds! While a 12 months old baby tried to eat raw cookie dough, two two year olds tried to cut cookies before the dough was even rolled out. When it came to decorating the first biscuits were eaten immediately (why would mama put sweets in front of me unless she's expecting me to eat them?) one was sprinkling hundreds and thousands onto icing only to lick it all off seconds later, while another just ate the alphabet sprinkles straight from the bowl! They did get into the spirit of things soon after, but another minute later they were bored and went off to play, while the mammies finished the job. Cleaning up afterwards was a sticky business! But all worth it, the girls had fun, and their mums, too, and proud little bakers brought home biscuits for their daddies.
Four of us had this great plan of craft afternoons for the little ones, but none of us have any experience, so we're learning by doing. About attention spans, the importance of being organised, and basically about enjoying watching them have fun, without getting to concerned about how perfect the finished project is going to be!
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eyes update, not so good this time

On wednesday we had our follow up appointment after the eye exam under anaesthetic and to our devastation, the consultant took back all the good news she had for us immediately after the eye exam. She talked to the professer in the meantime and he said it was very clearly a rare eye condition that we'd worried about. All the blood tests came back negative, she told me now that they were testing for antibodies to viruses, that I might have had during the pregnancy. She's going to refer us to a Genetics Consultant, they drew more blood from Emm (poor girl!) and examined my eyes, which were clear, no sign of the disease (it's believed that for most people with a gene mutation for this disease, there are only very subtle changes on the retinas, that are never noticed and never cause any problems), to pass this information on the the Genetics person. The baby will have to be examined as soon as it's born, too.

Emm also needs laser treatment to the scars as soon as possible, within the next two weeks. They don't think she's a candidate for drug treatment, which might stop abnormal blood vessel development. However, the consultant and the professor have only seen one case of this before, so they are trying to get 2nd opinions. It'll be hard to find them in Ireland, as it's just too rare, but apparently there's one specialist in Michigan, and there are some people in the UK and other, bigger, countries, that have several patients, rather than just one.

We weren't told if the disease is active at the moment, if there are abnormal blood vessels, if there's exudate (fluid that leaked from blood vessels and seperates the retina from the back of the eye), what stage she's at, but I think it's a matter of the consultant not being sure herself yet. The angiogram pictures were extremely blurry, nothing like the examples I'd seen online, so it might be hard to tell from them, unless there are others that are clearer, that I haven't seen. We're not sure if both folds had been there all along, or if she developed one of them in the last year.

I phoned the secretary on Friday, trying to see can I talk to the professor maybe, I couldn't. I was trying to get some more information, saying that I was doubtful they'd find a specialist with enough experience in Ireland, and of course lost it and got all choked up with tears again. They assured me that they are consulting specialists abroad, and that the consultant would call me on Monday and let me know if she's heard back from anybody.

After a two week break where we were recovering from the stress of the day procedure and MRI, starting to be just happy that it wasn't progressive and that she didn't need any treatment, even if it confirmed that she had very reduced vision, where we were getting back to celebrating birthday and halloween, cooking, baking, shopping, outings to the beach and market... now we're back to frantically trawling the internet for any information we can find, specialists, and how people find dealing with them, treatments, prognoses... It's heartbreaking to read the stories of children's vision deteriorating, the problems they have dealing with it, the horrific operations some of them need to have... We'll have to work out a way of getting back to living in the moment, to dealing with what's happening with Emm now, rather than worrying about the future. But I feel I have to be sure first I am not missing any vital piece of information that might help us! So it's long nights on forums, and google, trying to read medical papers where every second word is new to us, looking for information in english, german, i even worked my way through a dutch page, using the 'translate' button and what patchy knowledge I have of dutch. A lot of the information out there is outdated, there have been a lot of new discoveries in the last ten, five, two years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

dreaming about new boots

I really like the look of these! Yes, yes, I know they won't make my legs look like that in a million years! I like the way they slouch! I don't know about spending that much money on a pair of boots though, and looking out the window, suede boots are not really a great option right now... 
This one might be more sensible... I like the buckle! 

I was talking to a friend about Uggs and weather it was worth buying them, but she said she wasn't too fond of hers as they were too flat! something I sometimes find with my Birkenstocks, great  for around the house and garden, and driving, but for long walks I think I prefer either a little more heel, like an inch or so, or more support... She then showed me her FitFlop Boots, that's how I came across these! 

Ah, maybe it's not a good idea wearing wobbly shoes for me anyways, I think you're supposed to start before you get pregnant, with any new and different footwear... 

If I hadn't so many pairs of handknit woolly socks from my mum, I'd also like these shearling clogs! But in combination with the socks I would probably get heat stroke on my feet! They'd be lovely for the hospital though, when you're in and out of the bed all day long... 

Enough of consumer dreams, the babe's awake and we'll have to brave the weather and get some food into the house!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ginger cake

After the birthday and halloween shenanigans Emm came down with a temperature last night, which got up to 39.3 today, she's not herself at all! I've been up since five, as I drove my sister and her husband to the airport this morning. I thought I'd have a nap while Emm has hers but because she's been poorly she had a sleep this morning, which was too early for a lie down for myself. I did make a ginger cake though, which turned out more like a gingery treacle cake, but very nice none the less.

I also made two lasagne, and froze two one-pound-bags of bolognese (We cooked a big batch yesterday, I'd say we had a little more than 4 portions of it last night, gave 4 to P's mum to bring home (they couldn't stay for dinner), have now 4 in the freezer and the two lasagne probably count as 2 portions each, too. 16 generous portions, I like when the work that goes into cooking yields a substantial amount!)

I must get my hands on some rye flour and try this, I'm suspecting it might be as close as I'll get to the kandiskuchen i've been craving lately.

In a week and a half we have the next eye appointment, hopefully they'll have good news for us then, as in, they might have found a cause that is not linked to any further degeneration of her eyesight! We couldn't find any further information on babies being born with 2 identical looking retinal folds through the makula (of course not having any official medical terms to search for doesn't help) but I got a reply from the parent I contacted in Germany. He was surprised to hear about another case, they got their daughter's eyes tested about a year ago, and their specialist said he didn't know of another case like it in all of Germany (population of over 80 million!) but then their specialist mightn't have access to all the data... They were never given a cause for the findings, just that it most likely happened before birth.

I'm officially in the 3rd trimester now and feel very big, I have another appointment on the 5th I should get my iron results then. I do feel quite tired, but I think it's probably down to not sleeping. I'm just lying awake all night, either worrying about Emm or the baby, or having nightmares or other strange dreams with convoluted plots and no conclusions...

By the way, do you ever feel like you should be able to function on four hours of sleep a night, like some highly efficient people seem to do? I was very happy and sad to read that there's a gene mutation responsible for the ability to survive on so little sleep, nothing to do with the rest of us being lazy bast*&%s! In fact, I also read this article suggesting it might be bad for us to sleep less than 7 and a half hours per night! Now, there goes my hope that once I get over my lazy sleeping habits of at least 6 hours per night I will finally have that clean tidy house with lots of home cooked healthy food on the table, while also having time to play with my daughter, keep up with current affairs, read literature, knit, sew, help others or charities more, and keep up with fashion and some kind of beauty regime, in addition to earning extra money to afford said beauty regime and fashionable clothes... did i mention regular exercise? and socialising? and blogging? and yoga and writing and photography? ...or that there's a baby on the way....

I had 5 hours of sleep last night and can't you tell, rambling... I better get the little one to bed now, she's done with her puzzles and looking for some attention! I wonder will I stay up until P comes home from swimming (he goes straight after work) or should I give in and go to sleep as soon as Emm does...

Friday, October 29, 2010

eyes update

After two emotionally draining days in the hospital, (a morning for the MRI and until half 6 in the evening for the eye exam) we got some good and some bad news. The MRI brain scan seemed to be clear, at first glance from the radiologist, which is a big relief. The fluoresceine angiogram did not show up any abnormal blood vessels, which means if we're dealing with an exudative retinal disease, like it is at least not active at the moment. Coats disease was ruled out by the consultant, which is good news as well. The photos they took of the back of her eyes however showed that she indeed has two retinals folds, one on each eye, covering the macula (area of central vision, the area you use for fine detail, like reading) reaching all the way to the optic disc. There's also scarring of the peripheral retina on both eyes. The specialist thinks it happened before birth, and may not lead to further scarring or damage, but this kind of bilateral retinal folds is very rare, so she is going to consult another ophtalmologist to look at the photos. Emm will need 'help with her schooling' is as the specialist put it, they can't say how much she actually sees at the moment. We don't know will she be legally blind, or visually impaired, or if she will require a special needs assistant in school. She seems to be doing OK at the moment, as far as we can tell, so we can only hope that there won't be any deterioration to her vision.

They drew 5 vials of blood which are being sent off for testing, but she wouldn't tell me what they are testing it for. We are guessing genetics, or maybe antibodies to a virus, as there are some viruses that can cause retinal damage to the unborn baby. I asked a nurse could I have a look through the file, which was one the counter, and she said I'd have to make an official freedom of information request!

That peed me off quite a bit. But I was in no shape to argue, as I'd been crying on an off the whole day, beginning as soon as we walked in, with the registrar asking for a 90€ fee, that I had not been informed about in our appointment letter. I really am pretty useless under stress (and under the influence of pregnancy hormones). I was so upset that they would ask people to pay a fee when it's tests that one of their consultants has ordered, without warning the parents beforehand, 90€ is a lot of money and there are more costs involved, with travel costs and days off, and not everybody can just pull out  their wallet and present that kind of money. It turned out that, as we have her covered under my husband's health insurance, the fee was waived, but it took some phone calls to get her policy number, as we hadn't been told that the health insurance would be involved in this (all the previous appointments, including the MRI, had been free of charge). The registrar was pretty unfriendly with me, saying I should know that there's always a charge with the day ward, and that I'd have to pay it every time (setting me off again, realising I'd have to come for more tests with her!).

I'm so glad P was with me! He kept his head and let me cry it out while he took Emm to the waiting room which had lots of toys. She had been fasting since 7 that morning, with no water after 9.30. We were asked to come in at 11.30, and we'd been told that they'd start the procedures around one, or one thirty. That actually meant that they started the 'list of patients' at one thirty! Emm's name on the board had all the boxes ticked and we expected to be next, for ages, Emm soon turning into a very unhappy, cranky, angry child being so hungry, at half two we were told that it wasn't her turn for another while, and that we should try to get her to sleep a little, at half 3 another little boy came back from theatre screaming, really upset, and not stopping until it finally was Emm's turn at ten to four. I was allowed to go into theatre with her until she was asleep (with gas), but was then immediately more or less frogmarched out to the staircase, and asked to wait downstairs.

I couldn't bear to be any further away from her than strictly neccessary, and after P tried and failed to take me for a walk we waited right outside the elevator doors. She was crying when they brought her down, at about a quarter to five, and it took a little while to settle her. She finally took some water, and then some toast, around five. Ten hours of fasting is a really long time for a not even two year old who's only 10.7 kg! We were allowed to leave at half six, and Emm was back to her usual form by then. P and I hadn't eaten all day either, so we stopped at a burger king on the way home, not our usual choice of venue, but we were so hungry by then, we didn't care... Emm loved it, of course, and ate lots of fries and played happily with her crappy plastic toys, but she's not a fan of the chicken bites (they are vile) and wouldn't have much of her juice, either. We finally got home around 8 that evening and were fit for nothing, which is exactly what we did, after putting Emm to bed. I actually went to sleep soon after her, around nine, and P stayed up a little longer, having a beer and watching a DVD, winding down.

We've been googling some more but it really must be an extremely rare occurence, as we can't find any more information! I have however found one similar case in Germany, and contacted the parents, to find out what they've found out, about their daughter who is only a little older than Emm.

both babies dressed up for halloween

Emm went as Pippi Langstrumpf (Pippi Longstocking). To get her fine straight hair to stay in braids I soaped up my hands and rubbed them through her hair, then plaited it. I pinned the two plaits up with bobby pins, and sprayed the lot with hairspray. When we arrived at the party I took the bobby pins out and the plaits stayed sticky outy for about an hour. The freckles are done with my eye liner pencil. We already had the cute little wrap dress, the pockets and the patch are just roughly sewn on with embroidery floss. She's wearing red tights, with stripy long socks (a too small stained pair of tights cut up!), and her winter boots.

For baby number two I just painted a pumpkin face onto an orange top, and flashed it when appropriate.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

a break from worrying ourselves sick

we're making a conscious effort not to worry ourselves sick this weekend. It's not long now until the tests, the MRI is on Tuesday, and the eye exam under general anaesthetic (including fluorescein angiography). We've done all the googling we could, and talked every day about what it could be and how it might affect her, and I've cried every day, and lay awake every night, and it hasn't changed a bit about her eyes. I'm so glad I got through to a nurse that took the time to pull Emm's file and explain what the consultant wrote and what tests she ordered!

We're now doing what we knew we should be doing all along, look after her and care for her and let her have fun, and not pull ourselves apart worrying about things we can't change. It's ironic, that we got the news just after I finished reading 'eat pray love' a book all about acceptance and living in the moment, and everything i'd learnt went right out the window... But I'm getting back to it.

We've made no plans, we're just at home, spending time with her, playing, baking (apple cake), cooking (chicken and chorizo gumbo (loosely based on this recipe, ignoring the turf and using free range chicken portions instead)), going into the garden, the beach, a birthday party yesterday... this evening we've put down a nice fire, the first this autumn, and let Emm stay up a little longer, letting her enjoy the fire. She was playing with her Clipo bricks, for a good hour and a half, chatting non stop, repeating all the words and phrases she learnt today.

I'm not making plans for her birthday next week, we'll play it by ear. There will be a small party of course, and  a cake with candles, and her auntie and uncle are coming for the weekend, but I'm not planning a big party for all her toddler friends. We've also ignored Halloween so far! But we might get a pumpkin tomorrow, and we're going to look for shoes for her, so maybe we'll find a little costume, too!

Now, back to enjoying the fire and talking to my husband, and paying some attention to the kicks from my unborn!

Friday, October 15, 2010

scary times

Emm has been cross eyed  since birth, sometimes more, sometimes less. After finally getting a referral for the eye clinic she was diagnosed with a retinal fold on her right eye, which disturbs her central vision.Her left eye was declared perfect and I was consoled with sentences like 'she'll be fine, she has perfect vision in her left eye'. We were advised to patch that eye for two hours a day to make her learn to use the weaker eye, too.

We had another eye appointment for Emm this week, as at the last test she seemed to see less on her 'good eye', probably due to the occlusion therapy, which was stopped. So for this week she got a 'double appointment', meaning she first does the test where she 'reads the charts' (pictures of fish and shoes and houses and so on.), and then goes in to the consultant who has a look at her eyes with lenses and lights. For that they put eye drops in, to dilate her pupils. She seemed to recognise a lot more picture with her 'weak eye', than with her 'good eye' again.

I had thought that maybe Emm had just had an off day where she wasn't as interested in the charts, but after the consultant examined her she said in addition to the fold at the back of her right eye, she was now seeing another one in her left eye! She seemed confused and wondered if she might have missed it the last time. I can't imagine she did as she had a good look at drew each eye fore me in her file, to explain what she had found. It was meant to be a congenital thing, that happened before birth, but finding a second one, now at 23 months, doesn't fit in with this! She wouldn't tell me what she suspects but arranged for a different eye exam, where Emm will be under a general anesthetic, and an MRI brain scan, both to be done within the next two weeks!

Of course i burst out crying but she wouldn't say any more, just that she's sorry about having bad news for me and that she won't be able to say anything until after the tests. Since this I've been crying my eyes out, and fool that I am, googling everything about eyes. The condition that matches the consultant's drawing most, is a persistent fetal vasculature, PFVS, a little stalk that's present while the eye develops, in the womb, and normally disappears before birth, but persists in some cases. The way I understand it's a bit like scar tissue, and over time, as the eye grows, will pull the inner eye out of shape, and distort her vision more and more! It then can also lead to glaucoma, and complete blindness. Or PHPV, a similar condition with clouding of the vitrous... It could also be a kind of vitreo-retinopathy, a degenerative condition that can lead to blindness. I could have coped if this was happening in one of her eyes, but in both! I don't know if this is what she has, but all the other eye conditions in infants and children are even scarier, being linked to genetic syndromes, some in combination with loss of hearing, too!

This is such a terrible time, not knowing, not being told anything, a brain scan for my little baby! I keep sending up little prayers, hoping they'll find it was all a mistake, and crying my eyes out realising that that's very unlikely. I sometimes see Emm looking at small items really close up and i find myself taking them away from her, because it freaks me out so much. She is such a bright smart happy little girl, loving her drawing, and books, knowing her colours and counting to ten and even recognising some letters, it just can't be right that she shouldn't be perfect and healthy! She's always picking flowers and looking at bugs and leaves and asking what everything is...

I've been crying at least every two hours, and I'm starting to worry it's not good for my unborn baby, 26 weeks today. It doesn't help that my cousin and her family are visiting, so when they are in the house  I really have to pull myself together. On the other hand, Emm is having such fun with her cousins, who are 4 and 8, she doesn't notice my state, as she might otherwise. Then I look at them running and dancing around, and admiring each others' drawings, and wonder if she will still be able to do that in 2 years time. Then I have to find an excuse to leave the room and have another cry, and splash a lot of cold water in my face afterwards.
I'm glad I'm on a career break at the moment, I wouldn't be able to function in the office, at all!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

plum cake, blackberry jam and crumpets!

i had a bit of a cooking day! no photos unfortunately, but i made crumpets and blackberry&apple jam from darina allen's 'forgotten skills of cooking' book. The crumpets turned out beautifully, I made the whole recipe, thinking i'd wrap the leftovers in clingfilm and toast them tomorrow... alas, i am a pregnant lady, and over the course of the afternoon they were all gone!! and Emm had no more than one! i had to throw out the first three though, in my defence, but still, i must have eaten about 10!!!
For the jam I made the mistake of listening to too many cooks, using Darina's recipe but adding my mum's advice that I definitely should use jam sugar rather than ordinary sugar, so the consistency was on the verge of wine gums!! very very set. i added the juice of half a lemon because i knew the berries were quite sweet, from my friend's husband's jam experiment, which worked a treat, my jam turned out just the right balance of sweet and sour.
I used the last of the plums from our tree to make a small 'Pflaumenkuchen', using a pastry base instead of the favourable yeast dough base. (I made that one last week and I think out of the two versions it's definitely the better one) The bready base makes you think of bread and plum jam, only it's less sweet, much tarter and with only just cooked plums, rather than mushy sugary jam.
In the evening I still managed to cook a yellow thai curry, inspired by Jo's post! Emm was tucking in, except for the peppers and mushrooms. I had to make sure she drank lots of water afterwards, because I suppose the paste is quite salty, much more so than other dishes I cook. I forgot to put in the broccoli, my concentration was definitely waning by then!

I had bought Bill Grangers new book (can't find it on the amazon associates search engine), but returned it when I realised it was 12.50£ on amazon (13.25£ at the moment), after I'd paid 33€ for it in the shop! I know there's exchange rates and shop overheads, but I don't think that kind of price difference is justified!! They took it back, no problem. I haven't ordered it yet and am thinking almost everyday of a dish i saw in it and then remember, oh yeah, must buy the book! I had half decided to return it when I realised what most of the ingredients were going to cost!! If I was able to source them, that is... But now I keep thinking back and I think I will get the book again. Or maybe I should just get his first book? Are chef's first books usually their best?

Monday, September 27, 2010

blackberries and cookies
We went picking blackberries today, yum... A friend of mine, Kate, recently bought a new house, on a bit of land, which happens to be covered in brambles! They've made jam already, and today, when Emm and I dropped in to bring cookies and borrow some maternity clothes, we decided to pick some more! Her two boys, and my little one, of course picked all the berries straight into their mouths, thoroughly destroying their clothes and covering their faces! Such a pity I didn't have my camera with me, it all looked so idyllic, Emm hasn't had the freedom to just roam around such a big area since we were at my parents'! The sun was on our backs and when we had enough berries, we picked a few cooking and eating apples to go with them. Kat's youngest started to get tired and cranky, so we headed back to the house to put him to bed, and I cooked the rest of us some sausage sandwiches.

When we got home Emm happily went to sleep, and I checked my mobile to discover to my embarassement that I'd totally forgotten about the window cleaner, for whom I was going to be home hours ago! He did my windows anyways, accidentally setting off the alarm, which called my mobile (unanswered in my handbag in the car), then P's mobile, who thankfully managed to switch it off remotely and then sent a neighbour around to check... How embarassing! I spent the rest of Emm's nap making phonecalls apologising to people, and the rest of the cookies went to support that cause...

Tomorrow will most likely be spent making something with the blackberries, maybe blackberry and apple jam? and something else with the last of the plums from our tree, i'm thinking german pflaumenkuchen! And I'll have to get the rooms ready for my mum and my aunt, there's some more tidying and bedmaking to do. And I'll have to try and spot and fix all the little things that i generally don't notice, like spiderwebs in the corners, the ironing basket, and dust behind the TV!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

yippie, the last of the hideous 'buttermilk' paint is gone from our house!

When we moved into this house every room, bar the bathrooms, was painted Dulux 'Buttermilk', a sickly, light zapping, depressing, pale yellow. The new paint is Dulux 'Abbeylands', a neutral beige, not too dark, but dark enough to provide a nice contrast to the white woodwork, no yellow undertones, just perfect! I usually like colour, but in the bedroom we have dark purple curtains, a bright orange anglepoise lamp and a green woolly throw that has flecks of purple, orange and turquoise in it, so I thought I better keep it neutral! 

I think I'll get these photos printed and frame them white, they'll be great for the room! 

That duvet cover is quite faded, and I should probably get a new set, but this one has just about gotten perfectly soft! The other problem is finding affordable 100% cotton bedlinen! I don't like the poly cotton almost everything in the shops here seems to be made of, and the linens in Ikea and in Germany have different measurements. Plus I would have to come across a nice design, in the right colours, and without any glitter or beads!! So for the moment, we'll stick with this one, and the 2nd set, which is all white, and let them both get softer and softer with every wash. 

I'm not showing the side of the room with the hideous built in wardrobes, or the less than perfect chest of drawers, maybe if we paint them, or get rid of them, but that'll have to wait for better times! 

On the dinner front, we had Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls 'slow roasted shoulder of lamb with merguez spices'. I've been looking online, to see can I find the recipe to link to, but no luck. I did, however, find this blog post

with a nice photo. Ours looked equally delicious, and when P lifted the bone, the meat just fell off! Really really yummie...We had roasted spuds, spinach, and the meat juices with it.  Emm was tucking in, she probably ate more than me! We have lots of lamb left over, and i have a beetroot and feta salad prepared, so it'll be an easy dinner tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

finished knit dress

It's long enough, after all! She should be able to wear it all winter :-) She looks a bit grumpy, but that's because I put the dress on her right after her nap, and took her soother away to get a picture! Bad mama... 

And I already started the next project, a groceries bag. I'm doing it in ancora cotton, it's really thin, it's meant for lacey crochet projects, i think. I bought it in Portugal. I'm using a 2.5mm hook and am already changing the pattern a little, as I go on, so no idea how this will turn out! But the bag is meant to be very stretchy, so it shouldn't matter too much! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

late summer visitors

the lavendar plant is really popular with the bumble bees and butterflies! i should probably try to take cuttings, it's huge now and i don't know how long a plant lasts?
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Friday, August 27, 2010

control freak boyfriend

Oh, scary, I'm just watching Oprah, and they are talking about violent relationships. They are describing how violent relationships start, what patterns are telltale warning signs, 'red flags', and it's like a step by step account of my last relationship before I moved to Ireland! The flatteringly persistent guy, eager to move the relationship on quickly, always wanting to know where I was, hating if I spended time with my friends or family and always making me feel guilty about it, really jealous und untrusting (with no reason!), trying to control every aspect of our life, down to the way I washed the dishes... I am so glad I got out when I did (even that took a while because he wasn't taking no for an answer and hassled me, and then, when I moved away, my parents...)! The women in the program were later hit by their husbands, seriously injured, and some nearly killed...

Only got about 3 hours of interrupted sleep last night, better go and get some more while the little one naps!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

more work on 'Puppe'

She got a pair of trousers to go with her top/very short dress, and I put her felt hair into pig tails. There was more minor surgery to her hands to get rid of the lobster look.

I also looked my pattern over and made some adjustments, mainly to the hands and shoulders. Will have to make another doll to see if the changes worked! But, as you can see from the photos, we're having an unusually sunny day, so I'll be off to the Grange with Emm and my friend Cath, for some coffee and cake and sunshine, and then maybe for a little dip in the sea! Just waiting for Emm to wake up!