Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first trimester symptom olympics.

So, we were going into week “anywhere between 6 and 10 but definitely not past 12”, without any actual answers or chances for medical advice, and we simply had to make our peace with the fact that we would be tackling my yet not officially confirmed and yet “oh so obvious by all the shitty-symptoms” pregnancy, by ourselves for the time being.

We heeded the advice of conventional wisdom, and the books of course, and adjusted my diet as one does… The Doctor at the first visit had “helpfully” given me a print out of an NHS website that I had already bookmarked in my phone almost 3 weeks prior, on the day I got a positive pregnancy test result at home, but sure, since I am polite, I would thank her for it all the same. *eyeroll*

What’s the list?

  • No alcohol. ✓
  • Don’t undercook your meat… I’m a pescatarian, so ✓.
  • Don’t eat Sushi (this is completely redundant within the European Union, due to the European raw Fish for human consumption processing laws, which kill all the harmful bacteria, but it’s not worth the fight with petty bitches) so… ✓
  • Do not consume non pasteurised Dairy products (who does that, eww) … ✓
  • Do not consume blue cheese (again with the eww) ✓
  • Do not eat cheeses with white rinds (brie, camembert etc) unless fully cooked & bubbling (I guess) … ✓
  • Do not eat raw eggs. Shame I like my Tamago kake gohanbut it can wait … ✓
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose of 200mg of caffeine per day … wait WHAT??? But…  normal Americano has 100mg …. only 2 cups of coffee per day? *Death glare at my husband* fine…  ✓

I can handle that, that seems “simple” enough. 🙂

Besides, the physical symptoms don’t come until later, right? LOL WRONG! Let’s get a big drumroll, for the early pregnancy symptom Olympics.

Opening with a classic – the “morning sickness” routine steps up to the plate first, keeping you on your toes by not actually coming exclusively in the morning but rather at any random time of day it wants. The only known counter moves are crackers and fennel tea, and even those don’t always work. Great show, 8 points for ingenuity and cruel timing.

Who’s next? Oh! Team achy boobs reporting for showtime, and they brought their back up dancers, swollen blue alien-looking veins and deadly sensitive nipples. Wonderful; a proud 9 point hit for these tender ladies.

Following right behind the queasy stomach and boobs of aching fury routines, comes the bladder with it’s very own rendition of “the Riverdance that you thought was reserved for the third trimester”. Magic. Incredible. 10 points and a golden stream… I mean medal. Standing ovations all around, but not too long, because that might trigger an encore of sickness.

The ribbon that ties it all together, is their uniform representation; they’re all swaddled up in the flag of fatigue; never ending tiredness that just doesn’t leave and usually brings its very own soundtrack of sore muscles and headaches along with it. Three cheers for the first trimester symptoms olympic squad on a truly impressive performance.

Surely, that’s enough for any one person to be getting on with, right? Right… please say I am right… Oh wait… Flipping cavity fuelled nightmares of a tooth fairy… I forgot to account for the unsolicited advice from, well anyone who has a mouth.

“How much coffee have you had today?” “Do you know there’s caffeine in chocolate?” “Are you drinking enough water?” “Let me see what you brought for lunch.” “Are you sleeping enough?” “My gandma always said … ” “So this time my neighbour was pregnant… ” “Let me tell you about what happened to my cousin 20 years ago… ” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

Are you a Doctor? Are you a Nurse? Are you a Midwife? Are you any other type of paediatrically or ante-nataly specialised medical professional? Are you the other parent of this child? Are you the woman who brought me into this world, i.e. my mother? No? You’re none of those things? Well then, unless I specifically ask for your advice, kindly take the advice of famous comic Billy Connolly and FUCK OFF!

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Click here for his glorious (and short) explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJMqdTr7IQM

Yep, now I am going to need some fennel tea… ooh and maybe a soak in the hot tub. Oh right… I’m not allowed that either… The Sofa and Star Trek it is then… *sigh* xx

 

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Diary of an (unimpressed) Pregnant Lady – the first weeks of Healthcare.

NHSSo, before I begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am an avid supporter and great fan of the NHS as an idea and as an institution. I think it’s a great feat of social and universal medical care, and I have greatly appreciated being able to see a Doctor, get medicine and not be afraid of calling an ambulance if it were ever needed, since my arrival in the UK nearly 4 years ago. I feel that the majority of people who work in the NHS are incredible and very hard working people, who have been stretched to their limits by a government that takes from their plates at every turn, to feed the baying dogs of private industry below the table even though everyone is looking! I have nothing but respect for the people of the NHS, and for the institution as a whole. That being said, because the NHS is being bled dry by bad policies, the services they are capable of providing are becoming more and more limited. Part of my pregnancy experience thus far, has obviously been around my heath care within the NHS and regrettably, due to a combination of bad financial policies, antiquated notions of health around weight and the very odd bedside manner of a few individuals, it has left me with feelings ranging from slightly confused to totally baffled, and I got there via the stations of incredibly frustrated and utterly insulted.

But, this is not a “hate piece” on the NHS, so if that’s what you’re here for jog on love. It is a commentary of my personal, and regrettably so far upsetting experience of the antenatal care therein thus far, and I just want to make it clear that I genuinely believe that the problems are a result of the cut throat reduction of funding the NHS suffers under. Good? Good.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.52.51Now, moving on to my actual piece… Healthcare. It’s an essential part of antenatal care, and anyone who has sat through High School Biology, or has a meddling older neighbour or family member, has already been well schooled on “the basics”. Personally, I took a slightly more vested interest in the medical aspects of pregnancy, fuelled (not in small part) by my personal aversion to the very idea of it (as discussed here). I wanted to be as prepared as I possibly could be, for a process as notoriously unpredictable as this.

I had the timeline of the scans at hand, knew which symptoms to expect at what point, and which tests to expect as the weeks passed, and yet none of my reading prepared me for my experience with my very own “medical team”.

When I first discovered my pregnancy (with a private at home, Clear Blue pee on a stick test) it was April 19th. I called my (new) local GP’s office right away, and they summoned me for a registration appointment, which I needed since I hadn’t registered with them yet, because we had only just moved into the neighbourhood a few weeks prior. Said appointment was scheduled very quickly, for Monday the 24th of April. I went, filling out tons of forms and got to meet a very kind young nurse, who took my blood pressure (and complimented me on it), measured my height and took my weight. She entered some numbers into a chart and told me to make a new appointment to come and see the actual Doctor.

I was a little deflated, since I was hoping to get an official confirmation of the pregnancy at that point, especially since I didn’t have any sort of indication of how far along I might be. You see, I don’t have regular periods, and my last one had been in January of this year, so I had no way of knowing how far along I was, other than that the digital Clear Blue Test said it was more than 3 weeks. Alas, there was nothing she could do, so I went to make a new appointment. The first possible date? May the 5th, almost 2 weeks later! This baffled me, since everything I had read said it was crucial to know how far along one was, but oh well; I had no choice and they were doing their best.

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It also struck me as odd that I wasn’t instructed to take the oh so important folic acid, but I just took it upon myself to go buy some at Boots and made sure to take the average recommended daily dose of 400 micrograms. (As discussed with the Pharmacist.)

 

At home, I did a bit of crude math, based on a combination of the “3+ weeks” diagnosis the digital stick gave me and our *cough* recent intimate liaisons *cough*, and arrived at a rough estimate of 6 weeks pregnant. I downloaded the NHS approved app for my phone, and fervidly threw myself into even more reading.

My husband, very excitedly, took the morning of May 5th off, so that he could attend that very first Doctors appointment with me. The Doctor measured my height, my weight, took my blood pressure (which she too complimented me on – I thought this odd) and then asked me exactly the same questions as the nurse had two weeks prior. No sooner had the appointment started, she then wanted to dismiss me from the office, with a referral to the local hospital’s maternity unit.

Excuse me? But she hadn’t done any tests yet! No pee test. No blood test. Nothing to actually confirm the pregnancy. I asked about this, and she said that the “at home tests were as good as anything they could do”, and when I protested some more, especially about not knowing how far along I was, she laid me on a table and to poke my abdomen. She poked my abdomen – with her hands – and then proclaimed “anywhere between 6-10 weeks, but not past 12”. I was completely dumbfounded. That wasn’t a diagnosis. That wasn’t medical evidence. Where was I? When was I? The 1800’s?

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 17.56.53In a desperate attempt to get any semblance of a medical answer, I also mentioned that my Rhys factor is negative, and asked if she would test for that please, since I know they need the confirmation, but even that was refused, saying he hospital would do it – whenever I got there. Which she didn’t know when that would be. Anytime within the next 2-3 weeks. I was to expect a letter (a physical, paper, snail mail letter) in the post, confirming my “booking appointment”. I walked out of that appointment with a prescription for an over the counter supplement called “Pregnacare”, which I was to take instead of what I had been taking so far, and in near inconsolable tears.

What if I was having a hysterical pregnancy? What if it was an ectopic pregnancy? What if, because I am quite heavy and thus a baby bump wouldn’t show on me like on other women, I was already passed the 12 week mark, which was the window for the dating scan? What if my hormones were just out of whack, given that my monthly cycle never recovered after the Nexplanon was removed? I had so many questions, and not a single answer. Not even a proper confirmation that I was actually pregnant.

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Not the start I was hoping for to my pregnancy care, and it had me very concerned for the rest of the journey, which I was already so concerned about. x

What a year….

What a year it’s been; plenty of good lots of bad & sad and here I am, in December, facing down what’s supposed to be my favorite time of year, hiding under a blanket with my (albeit concerned looking) puppy and a bottle of fruit wine trying to remind myself that I’m an adult… but I can’t really hear myself through my childlike sobs. Yikes.

So I think I need to write all of this down, the good, the bad and the ugly to get some perspective. And then share it with all of you guys. Because heck, if a gal can’t share her deepest and most time consuming thoughts with an internet of strangers, then with whom else? Right? 😉

So, to start off with, I am concerned about the planet as a whole and my absolute inability to do anything about it. I am concerned about the bleak future we’re facing. The refugee crisis, the countless humanitarian crises, harmul hardcore feminism, persistant anti-LGBT laws in areas as advanced as the European Union,  Brexit, Putin in the East, and the West condemned to a minimum of 4 years of Trump; all while we’re doing fuck all about global warming, the inevitable food and water shortage and the epidemic uprising of diseases such as cancer. image1

All of this floats through my brain at one point or another, during almost every waking minute of every waking day. Not all at once mind you, and usually more like the faint buzzing of bees in the background of the garden of my mind, rather than the shredding lawnmower at the front and center of it, but they’re always there and manage to remind me that there’s nothing I can do about them being there. This scares me.

It scares me, because it’s the world I live in, and whenever I may die, whether I have the privilege of dying of old age asleep in my bed, or if a freak accident or illness were to take me sooner, it’s the world I’m leaving behind for generations to come. Maybe I’ll have kids someday. Maybe my brothers will. Some of my inlaws already do, I have two beautiful nephews, and two wonderful goddaughters for whom I want to create a better world. And I don’t know how to. I feel tiny, powerless and insignificant to change anything.

That being said, there are also the mundane pains and sorrows of my every day life, which seem almost childish and selfish to linger upon in the face of such global catastrophe, but I live with them every day. So affect me they do, and face them I must. (If you were wondering, these ones are the lawnmower and his buddies, the leaf blower and weed whacker.)

It’s been a long year. I’m 26 years old, almost 4 years married, have a dog and live in a nice apartment. However, this year has raced by so fast… painfully fast even; and it’s the first time that I’ve understood what my parents meant when they told me as a child to appreciate the time I have because soon it will be racing by.

I feel old. Not in the “god I’m almost 30” kind of way, I hear 30 is supposed to be an amazing age and I’m actually greatly looking forward too it. No, I feel old physically and mentally… wishing there were more hours in the day for me and what I want, rather than spending my precious hours on the futility of the rat race.

The fact that I never got on with kids my age as a child has come back to haunt me as an adult. It turns out I still don’t like most people my age.

Other 20-something year olds take themselves one of two ways: either far too seriously (making me feel aloof and childish for loving board games and video games so much) or they’re all free spirited go getters with no semblance of what a consequence might be, and stay out till obnoxious times of night drinking dizzying amounts of alcohol that make me tap out before they even think the night has even begun. This also means that I’m struggling to make friends.

 

I have several great acquaintances in Belfast, but no one that I could call up whenever to just hang with; not like my besties back home. My husband hasn’t really found anyone like that either. The one or other beer buddy, sure, but not the types of friends you can rely on at a moments notice.

 

We’ve been here almost 3 years, and we’re incredibly lonely. With barely enough time to spend on one another and our family never mind trying to go out and make friends.

That leads me to my professional situation. I’ve found myself stuck in an industry that I don’t much enjoy, with rules, regulations and goals that definitely do not align with my own, but due to my lack of a university education I am lucky to be where I am at all. I am stuck. Good and properly glued down. I come home and I’m exhausted, mentally and emotionally and haven’t the energy to as much as do the dishes…. I’ve even cried myself to sleep more often than I would really like to ever admit.

This leaves my personal life a bit of a shamble… I’m not caring for my home properly, leaving laundry to pile up like small mountain ranges and dishes to run wild in the kitchen, like dirty pasta sauce crusted monsters. That of course has the side effect of my not caring for myself properly either. Think there’s time for the gym? LOL

I did great on Weight Watchers earlier this year, losing almost 20lbs and being well on my way to looking fab, but I felt like shit. That always happens to me by the way… I hate the way I look and feel, so I go on an extreme diet… I’ve lost 20-35 lbs three separate times in my adult life now, just to then crash and burn like an emotional wreck. I end up missing a casual beer, pizza night and popcorn at the movies… being perpetually hungry and “that girl who only eats salad” makes me feel like shit… so then I convince myself that I don’t need to diet at all, and that it’s okay to love myself the way I am and then what happens? I yo-yo right back up and past my original weight… I have never weighed as much as I do right now, and I hate myself for it. Yes I do. I loathe the situation I am in. I just can’t figure this out and I don’t have the time to figure it out any better either!!!

I try my best to be confident and bright, my darling husband always says the one feature he likes about me even better than my eyes and boobs (lol) is my confidence… so I try my damndest not lose that. I’ve spent a fortune on bigger, better fitting clothes, in flattering shapes and colours, have been getting my hair dyed and regularly boost myself with my favorite makeup routine.
But then I see a mirror. Or a photo from a party where I am literally 2 times the size of every other person in the photo with me… and despite my best efforts, and investments, I feel the icy grip of self loathing upon my heart.

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To be honest, I’ve been restricting again lately… not eating during day, to prove to myself that I’m in control, just to then lose the battle with hunger at night and completely overindulge. I can always try again tomorrow, I tell myself. Trust me, it sucks.

All of this, and some other things that I don’t think need to take up more space at present, have lead to me being quite down this Christmas season (don’t even get me started on the fact that I desperately miss my younger brother who moved away with his wife… it’s the first ever Christmas in my life that I am spending without him, and even though he’s a pain in the ass at times, I miss him fiercely and have been very sad about it at all attempted traditions this year. 😦 ) (In the bad metaphor of my mind’s garden, that’s the hole in the corner where once a great tree stood… it’s been moved to another park and now the gap is achingly obvious.)

The tree is up, the candles lit… but it all seems very half hearted. I’ve not decorated the rest of my apartment properly, and I’ve not even bought a single present! Usually I am DONE by now, but I’ve not even started!! I haven’t baked a single minced pie (I’m afraid I’ll have a “snaccident” if I do) and I’ve not even put in the effort to watching a single one of my favorite Xmas movies. 

 

ALL Of THAT being said, I also had some great things happen this year, so now that I have vented some of my biggest heartaches off my chest, I want to share some of the amazing things that happened, that I am truly grateful for and will hopefully get me back in gear in time for Christmas in 2 weeks.

image6I have an amazing husband. He loves and supports me through everything and I think we’ve really found our stride this year. He knows that I’ve been struggling a little, with how untraditional and sometimes “unromantic” we have been (based on the classic template) but, funny story, we found a YouTube video that gave us some serious perspective. I know right?? I’ll share it for you here: https://youtu.be/jltM5qYn25w Let’s just say it showed us that we’re the new kind of romantic, and have our very own way of bonding over things and that’s okay. More than okay, I genuinely believe it’s helped us be the best us we’ve ever been.

We have Riker, our pugalier puppy. He’s a gem and a pain in the ass, but I wouldn’t be without him. He’s my companion on days such as these, when Derek’s at work and I don’t want to be alone. He gets me out of the house and is my snuggle bug. (He also drives my parents crazy and ate the leg off of my new dining room table when we first got him, but hey, no one’s perfect. 😉 )

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We have made our apartment our home. When we first moved in, it felt like a huge hotel room, but just that, a rented space… someone else’s space that we were borrowing. It took almost two years, but now when I come home it’s exactly that – coming home. And I love every awkward little inch of this space. It’s our first family home, Derek, Riker and I, and I love it.

I have a job. I don’t have to be in love with it every day, but I have the good fortune of being employed, and being able to bring home a generous paycheck (for an uneducated hick 😉 ) and I’m grateful for it.
We’re about to go on vacation. Derek’s family invited us to go to Mexico with them for the new year, and it’s going to be glorious. My inlaws are quirky (whose aren’t?) but I love them to bits and can’t wait to see them and spend time with them and see how happy my hubby is when he’s with them. mexico

And I have my family. Through thick and thin, crazy and crazier, madness and insanity. They’re mine. They’re generous, loving, welcoming people, with hearts of gold and sparkling humor. I don’t know what I would be without them, and I’d rather not think about that. 

So that’s it… those are (almost) all the things that are battling in my head for attention right now and also, the long list of reasons why I haven’t blogged in such a long time.

I’ve been battling my demons and didn’t feel like it was genuine to be posting my thoughts on recipes and travel destinations when I wasn’t really feeling it.

Huge shout out to my dear friend Richard who took it upon himself to write to me the other day, asking when I would blog again because he missed reading my posts; I am not sure this lengthy, self centered, sob-story rant is what he had in mind, but hey, his encouragement helped me take the time to sit down and type this and hopefully find my new blogging groove. So thanks buddy.
I hope if find my Christmas spirit, preferably before the end of the season, and I just want to thank you all very much for letting me download and deal with my feelings in such a weird way. It’s oddly therapeutic.

Hopefully I will be back soon, this time with proper happy posts concerning travel, recipes, Disney dissections and of course the occasional rant.

Thanks all! xx

#FluffyFriday – Pros of being a Doggie Mama

Riker has been with us for just over 6 months now, and as I realised back in March, yes, I am a puppy mama.

This comes with wonderful pros, and an unexpected boat load of cons, so I thought it would be nice to talk about both. However, I thought it would be best to start with the pros, which is of course what every prospective dog parent hopes for.

CUDDLES ~ So many cuddles. You won’t know what to do with them all!

EXCITEMENT – trust me, no one will ever be as excited to see you at the end of the working day than your pooch!

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COMFORT – They’re like little sadness detectors & then come to kiss away your tears.

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COMPANIONSHIP – There is no such thing as complete loneliness when they’re around, even if they’re just sitting on your feet sleeping.

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EXERCISE – Who knew I could walk this much?

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MEETING NEW PEOPLE – I have literally met more of my neighbours by having our dogs meet, than ever before!

HILARITY – They bring hilarity into your life, you will laugh so much. Especially when they do things like: trip over themselves, scare themselves by falling off folding chairs, chase their tails and pull goofy faces.

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PRIDE – When they learn a new trick and you get to show it off? Priceless!

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LOVE – In all of this, your doggie makes you feel unconditionally loved, appreciated and needed in this world, which is a true gift.

 

I don’t think either of us would have this any other way, at this point; Riker has become an integral and irreplaceable part of our lives, even though he’s only been in it for 6 months.

(Disclaimer: It’s not all been sunshine and daisies though, and I will share some more about that, that next time. 🙂 )  xx

I’m sorry that you stole my bike – #ThoughtfulThursday

This evening I met with a constable from the Belfast Harbour Police; he took my statement regarding an incident in late April when 3 young teenagers made off with the Belfast Bike that I had returned to a station in Titanic Quarter.

I had returned the bike according to protocol, reported the incident immediately to the company and the police, and because of that I was not going to be held liable for the lost bike. Yay.

A few days later, the bike was found, badly battered and beaten (missing the light, handle covers and bell, with cut wires, slashed tires, and dents) but the case seemed closed; now they just wanted my official statement for the record.

However, those boys were never caught and that’s what makes me feel awful.

No, I don’t want to see them “punished”, I want to take this chance to apologize to them.

Children and youth are not inherently bad. I was just one myself, less than a decade ago, and I know that they’re (mostly) actually quite alright; but they struggle with impulse control – they see a tall ledge and feel the need to jump. They see a loose sign and just have to hit or kick it. Someone offers them a swig of a drink they shouldn’t have? Sure, why not.

Most teenagers don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds them and I inadvertently presented their ids with a challenge to juicy to pass up – a chance at a cheeky joy ride.

As I said, it wasn’t my fault that the bike didn’t lock properly, but they watched me struggle to get it to lock properly in the first place, and as soon as I stepped away they tried to yank it back out.

I am sorry that you were tempted to do this and I am even more sorry that you got away with it. Because you got away with it, you will not have learned how much stress this caused me, or just how much it would have cost me (a total stranger to you) to replace the bike if they had held me liable (£250 btw) and you didn’t learn what  the consequence for stealing is to you personally… You had a jolly joy ride, feeling like the macho men society pressures you to be, like Rebels and cool dudes.

But what scares me the most is that, just like any “gateway”, if you’re unlucky, this might lead you to worse crimes – because that is what that was – a crime.

Next time, you might try to knick something off of someone way more dangerous than me and get hurt by them, or worse, it might be someone weaker than me and you hurt them in the process!

Will it stop at a bicycle? Or will it be a moped? Maybe a motorbike? What about a car?

That’s what keeps me up at night. Worrying about where you are and whether my not stopping you quick enough, my hesitation to chase you and scare you out of what you were doing, might have allowed you to slip onto this very dangerous path.

I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m over exaggerating and I really hope that you were just excited because it was a warm spring day, that you got your fill from it and that you’ll never do it again.

But if my worst fears are true, and this this leads to worse things (that I will probably never know about) – I am truly and deeply sorry that you weren’t caught that day, and that we, as a society, may have missed our chance to teach you all a lesson, and maybe help you become better people.

#ThoughtfulThursday

Becoming a Puppy Momma

For years I have wanted a dog, you could say I was one of those kids who had wanted a dog her whole life; but as is the case for so many families, due to commitments, restrictive landlords and financial concerns (A pet insurance costs HOW much?) we did not get one.

Fast forward 2 decades, past countless cases of dog walking, minding and sitting (as in watching someone else’s dog, not learning to sit like one 😉 ), my parents having eventually caved and gotten a dog of their own too and *drumroll* … Derek and I finally found ourselves in an apartment where, due to the fact that we own all our own furniture, we were finally allowed to have a (small – medium sized) dog. 😀

There were so many things to think about, such as what breed would suit us best, could we reconcile our busy work schedules to properly care for a wee dog, how much would it cost per month to have him… well normally I am the “write it all down and do the math” kind of gal, but in this case I was just too excited and dove head first into trying to find ur perfect furry match!

I started sending my hubby an excessive amount of Gumtree advertisements of dogs I fancied, (primarily of pugs, who are a) really expensive and b) brachiocephalic meaning their health would be even more expensive in the future) and he kept giving me the non-committal  “uh-huh”, “that’s nice” and “mhm” responses … however, to keep a long story short I eventually found this guy:

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He is a Puaglier; he has the features of a pug that I adore (extra skin rolls, squishy forehead, short coat, faun coloured and a curly tail) but he has the height and long snout (read: good breathing) of a Cavalier. Derek saw this picture and the response I got was: “Now THAT’s a dog.”

(I took that as a “yes honey, we can buy him” and contacted his owner without further discussion. 😉 )

I met the very lovely lady and her husband a few days later, at a park in Belfast (you don’t want to invite strangers you met on the internet to your home, even if you are buying/selling a dog). Since then I have been in semi-regular contact with them, since they wanted to know how he was settling in. I thought this was really sweet, and it actually made me really happy that they got back in touch, because it proved to me that he came from a loving home and that the circumstances of his rehoming were indeed as genuine as they seemed.

IMG_7392They had named him Gus, which is really cute, but I had my heart set on Riker (yes, like Commander Riker, from STTNG). All the dog training books said to rename your dog as quickly as possible, so as to create a permanent association to the name, so I started calling him Riker right away, on that first walk home.

Every time we stopped at a light, I praised him, wanted him to stop or was just talking to him, I called him Riker. It took us an hour to get home, so he got loads of practise and it worked really well. (Also, my friend Taryn of Kawaii Candy Couture made us a custom dog tag for him, to cement his place in Puppy Star Fleet. 😉 )

By the time I got him home and Derek came home from work to meet him (yes, he knew that Riker was coming home that day), he was already responding to that name. ❤

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First “Family Photo”.

Now, when “they “say that getting a dog is a lot of work… believe them, and trust me that every dog owner you have ever talked to downplays just how much work it really is. 😉 He is inquisitive, clever and crafty. He wants to get to know the world (and to my dismay usually explores it with his teeth) but also knows who his pack his, and is wonderfully affectionate and sweet.

12806165_10153781090500219_7138642072306859621_nTo be perfectly honest, the first couple of weeks were rough; he seemed not to know how to sleep on his own (we’ve a bed area set up for him in the hallway outside our room), so he cried ALOT at bed time. Even though he was already 7 months old and housetrained when we got him, he didn’t know how to “mouth” gently, so instead of playing gently his nips and bites really hurt, and he was humping anything with upholstery – which was exhausting. Walking him was also a touch tricky, since he thought the nice extending lead that I bought for him (8m to give him lots of play room without being off-leash) was a chew toy and don’t get me started on my fear for my Disney Stuffies! *sweating just thinking about it* (He has also destroyed the leg of my new dining room table… I thought he was lying underneath it chewing on his bone, and I was waaaaay too late to notice that he was actually chewing on the table! Alas… my fault.)

12670499_10153840904390219_5339511400703164018_nHowever, he is an incredibly fast learner. He learned to walk on leash very quickly and we were even able to upgrade him to the extendable leash within just a few weeks. 🙂 He (almost) walks at heel now (hopefully that will get better with time), does not bark at strange dogs when walking, is incredibly gentle and patient with strangers, good with children, and knows to not bring his treats onto the sofa… he has (almost) learned not to touch my stuffies and that he has his own toys, is getting really good at a doggie food puzzle toy that we bought him and has excellent dinner manners (he sits pretty and waits as I prepare his food).

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There are still a few things we need to iron out, such as his incredible curiosity for anything edible (eating on the sofa is really hard for us these days) and he still does not know the different types of human/dog interaction. Whenever we go to touch him, he thinks its play time, so he doesn’t really know yet how to just let us pet him, brush him or scratch his belly without him trying to “catch” our hands with his teeth, since they’re playthings in that instance. *sigh* But we’ll get there. 😀

Coming home to him at the end of the working day is priceless. He is affectionate and excitable, gets us making better choices (we are sooooo much more active now)… we still get to be ourselves, be social and play our video games as well, but we also spend a lot more time in the here and now, with him. He loves to play, cuddle and just generally be around us – which is oddly, magical.

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Even though I always wanted a dog, I never understood why people called them “fur-babies”… they’re animals after all, not people. But now that I have Riker I am starting to understand:  I love his goofy puppy grin, how he licks me all over and jumps like a kangaroo in excitement when I come home, how he curls up at my feet to keep them warm when I watch a movie and how he has brought out the very best in Derek. (I could write a whole separate post about how having Riker has positively affected him.)

 

Now I can’t help but admit that he is indeed my fur baby, and I have – at long last – become a Puppy Momma!

 

 

To blog or not to blog…

It’s interesting looking back over the posts I’ve written, especially considering that I still don’t fancy myself as much of a “blogger”.

There are recipes and reviews, angry rants and thoughtful reflections but most importantly, I have noticed that there are many “unfinished” projects.

I was off to an incredibly good start on “Around the world in 26 breakfasts” and thought I had a real crowd pleaser when I started “Disney Lessons”.

What strikes me though, is that when I think about those projects, rather than being excited and joyful about the fun things they would allow me to do (namely cooking some amazing international breakfasts and having an excuse to re-watch and totally over analyze my favourite Disney movies) they have become a source of stress.

I berate myself for not having “posted” in so long, fearful that any of the few regular readers that I have might lose interest in waiting and might stop following my blog all together.

There is so much I’d like to write about, such as our recent trip to London, my wonderful (and unfavourable) experiences with AerLingus, the kindness and understanding of Viking River Cruises, not to mention all of the great foods we’ve been cooking and so much more. But I’ve found that the pressure of writing things that other people will enjoy, and in a way that won’t get me judged, has scared me away from my computer all together. I ask myself “to blog or not to blog?” And more often than not I end up simply answering that question with a defeated “no”.

I’ve opened this page innumerable times, have started and deleted countless drafts… And then I look at those projects and feel guilty that I haven’t done anything with them, and put off writing anything new until I’ve continued those.

To you wonderful readers – I want to say:  thank you. Thank you so much for joining me on this blogging journey for these past 18-ish months, despite all the breaks and I promise, I will finish those series eventually. 😉

I hope you’ll forgive me, if unlike my more organized or even professional online peers, I admit that I don’t enjoy the stresses of scheduled posting and that I am choosing to not be doing this on a schedule.

I am enjoying life so much right now; cooking and traveling, work is going well, I’m making pretty great choices for my health and on the weekends we’re just relaxing.

I look forward to what 2016 has to bring and am open to any article suggestions you may have.,

Thanks again to everyone who checks back here every once in a while, I really appreciate it.

xoxo