Beautiful stars

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but things kept getting in the way.

A few weeks after we lost the boys, I unexpectedly received post from the lovely Alison, aka Fat Dormouse. Inside the envelope was a card with a lovely message that made me cry and a beautiful zentangle.

stars zentangle

It’s now hanging in the corridor, just outside our bedroom, where I can look at it every day and remember our tiny stars. Once again thank you so much Alison for thinking of us.

The kindness of fellow bloggers never fails to amaze me. From wonderful gestures like this to a simple email just to check in and see how I’m doing. It is all appreciated. I may have never met most of my long-term readers, but I consider each and every one of you a friend ❤ (My real-life friends have been fantastic too but the kindness of what are, essentially, “Internet strangers” is honestly overwhelming.)

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January 2019

Ah, January. The month that should have been my last one at work before going on maternity leave. Instead it’s just the start of what feels like it’s going to be a long year. I mean, there’s still a chance I could end up with a baby in 2019, a December baby could still happen, but it’s hard to believe I’ll ever be able to conceive again when some days I find it hard to believe I ever conceived in the first place. A combination of that, the cold, dark days and the relentlessness of work made it difficult to be positive. Mostly I was just tired. I either need a holiday or spring to hurry up… or a combination of both. I’m okay though. Some days are just hard.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about what I got up to in January. And to link up with Kristen, of course, because link ups seem to be the only thing I post these days!?

whats new with you

We started the year with a slow day. I mean, we were up relatively early to have breakfast with a friend who had stayed the night, but neither of us actually left the house on 1st January. We watched something. I don’t remember what. The BFG? Or was that in December? Maybe it was The Jungle Book. No clue. Then I started my first book of the year, which was Far from the Madding Crowd if you’re interested. It took me days to finish.

2nd January was my last day of freedom, and Jan was also off because it’s a holiday in Zurich. Berchtold’s Day. Don’t ask me! We got a car and drove to Einsiedeln. There’s a big abbey there that I can only show you the outside of because you’re not supposed to take photos of the inside. Some people were, of course, but I am a good girl ;-). There was snow, so that was nice… but cold! We then went to a café and had hot chocolate and cake. We wanted to drive to Glarus then to Lake Lucerne and finally to Schwyz, but once we got to Glarus we discovered that the pass to get to the lake was closed and we had to drive back the way we had come. We stopped at a shopping centre where we found some mini drawers for my craft stuff then we drove to the motorway and just came straight back to Basel. Schwyz will have to wait for another day.

Einsiedeln Abbey

My first day back at work was a long one because I had to be in the office on my 2nd day, meaning I worked 9.5 hours on my first day back to make up for only working 6.5 hours the following day (and even though my working day is shorter when I go into the office, it’s a two-hour train ride to get there, so overall the day is longer). I was so glad my first day back was a Thursday and the weekend came after a mere two days!

The first weekend of the year was pretty uneventful. On the Saturday we went to the furniture shop where we bought the light for our “home office”. It hasn’t been working properly for a while and Jan wanted to ask them about it. There’s another branch of the place where we bought the mini drawers in the same area so we also went there and bought a third set. I finished reading Far from the Madding Crowd and started my second book of the year. Sunday was going to be the day the tree came down (6th January… it’s the tradition) but we discovered it wouldn’t be picked up until the 14th so we decided to let it stay for another week. Last year we took the tree down on the 6th then realised too late we had to wait 2 weeks for another collection day so it sat on the balcony for ages and dropped needles everywhere. So this year it stayed. I did take down most of the other decorations on the 6th though. And we hung this year’s calendar… most likely the last time it will show the correct month until about April (typing this has reminded me that 7 days into February it hasn’t been changed yet). I started stitching my grandma’s birthday card then stopped when I ran out of the right thread colours – the two colours I needed to complete it were ordered but hadn’t arrived yet.

drawers
Jan took the legs off two of the sets of drawers so I could stack them

The following weekend was a fairly boring one. Saturday was mostly housework and I wrote two pen pal letters… I’m way behind on my replies! Sunday we took the tree down ready for collection the next day. The living room looks so boring and empty. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card hadn’t arrived, so instead I started cross stitching a motif to make a birthday card for a friend’s son. I still haven’t actually made the card and his birthday is in 8 days so I need to get a move on. While I stitched we continued watching Season 2 of Pushing Daisies.

On weekend number three, Saturday happened to be photo an hour day. You can see my hourly photos here. It was sunny, so in the afternoon we decided to take a drive out. We went to Burgdorf in Emmental. The castle turned out to be closed for renovation so we didn’t stay long. We then drove towards the mountains but it got dark fairly quickly so we didn’t stop anywhere else, just took the scenic route back to the motorway then came home. We watched the final episode of Pushing Daisies while eating dinner. I am so mad that it was cancelled. There are things I need answers to! Sunday was a lazy day. I started cross stitching a unicorn that would later become a card for a Post Pals child and we watched some random stuff on TV, including Tatort. The threads I needed for my grandma’s card finally arrived the next day (Monday), so I spent that evening working hard to get it finished so it could be posted.

On the fourth and final weekend of the year, Jan had a choir rehearsal weekend so I had the place to myself. Saturday was the first deep-clean day of the year… I’m determined to at least keep that resolution (not doing so well on the drinking water one). I changed the bedding, cleaned the oven, hoovered and mopped, scrubbed the shower. I also picked up a prescription and took books to a free public bookcase. Not bad! Sunday was my grandma’s 80th birthday, so I called her, of course. (We spent the following weekend in England so we could celebrate with her, but that’s for February’s recap.)

In between weekends I worked, shopped, cleaned. I’ve been cooking a lot of soups/stews/broths lately – it’s the only way to cope with the grey miserableness of January. That and chocolate, which I’ve definitely consumed too much of recently. Thankfully all the Christmas junk food is finally gone so I can stop making a pig of myself now…

So that was January. February is a short month and then March brings my due date, two days later it would have been my other grandma’s 90th birthday and at the end of the month it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Can’t wait to get that one over with!

I hope your January was a good one. How’s everyone doing with their yearly goals so far? Don’t tell me you’ve all given up already 😉 Check out the link up to see what’s new with everyone else.

A Photo an Hour: 19 January 2019

Hello lovely readers! On Saturday, I took part in the first photo an hour day of 2019 via Twitter, and now I’m finally getting round to also posting the photos on my blog. So here’s what I got up to.

10 a.m. Out of bed and wearing my new slippers. Very cosy they are too!

11 a.m. Aww, my tea mug loves me.

12 noon. Made it to the post office to pick up a package before it closed, now doing a bit of shopping.

1 p.m. “Helping” Jan make the office light work… which at that point manly involved watching and waiting (my main job was to hold the light up in the air while he attached it to the ceiling).

2 p.m. We wanted to go out since it was actually sunny so I started looking up places to go.

3 p.m. Finally on the move!

4 p.m. Emmental! We reached our destination not long after that photo.

5 p.m. Back in the car heading closer to the mountains. We were in Burgdorf, if you’re wondering.

6 p.m. Still in the car. It’s hard to take photos in the dark!

7 p.m. Almost back in Basel.

8 p.m. Fooood! Leftovers from the night before plus some refried beans from a tin. It tasted nicer than it looks 😉 (Inside the tortilla was chicken, avocado, tomatoes, cheese and lots of garlic).

9 p.m. Making us both hot drinks.

10 p.m. Reading in bed.

11 p.m. It’s good night from Eeyore (and good night from me).

And that was all from that day. If it had been up to me, we would have gone out sooner and had time to stop off somewhere else before it got dark, but Jan wanted to get the light sorted, which is legitimate.

How was your Saturday? Did you do anything nice?

2019 goals

10
Random photo of healthy looking food because it seemed fitting…

Yes, I’m late jumping on this bandwagon because it’s taken me this long to decide on most of my goals for the year. Also, how is it that we’re an entire week into the New Year already? (For the record, I initially typed 2018 in the title so clearly my brain hasn’t caught up yet). My goals fall into three basic categories: reading, cleaning and healthy eating. Here they are:

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

My one other goal/wish/hope for 2019 is, of course, to get pregnant again and this time actually get a baby at the end of it, but that one is kind of out of my hands (thanks useless body!) and therefore doesn’t really belong here.

I won’t ask what your goals are because I feel like everyone who isn’t me actually managed to decide and post theirs before the year was a whole week old!

December 2018

One day I might go back to my recent doings/currently style posts, but for now I think I’ll stick with a rambling review of how I spent the previous month. Maybe I’ll add in some “recent doings” posts at random in mid-month? Anyway, for now let’s talk about what I did in December. Advance warning: this will probably be long.

Linking up with Kristen, of course, to talk about what’s new with me.

whats new with you

I will mainly be talking about the weekends since that’s when the interesting stuff mostly happens. Plus Christmas, obvs.

Jan came back from his three-week orientation in the US on 1st December. He arrived in the late afternoon, so before that I spent the day doing some necessary shopping and making Christmas cards for Post Pals children. I totally forgot to mention in my November recap that we finally got a shelving unit for the home office right before Jan left (it actually wasn’t supposed to arrive for another week so score on that point!). We put it up before he went away – by which I mean Jan mostly put it up with a little help from me (in fairness I was working at the time!) – so during that first December weekend he sorted out some of his stuff that needed to go on it, which involved unpacking two boxes that had been in the spare room this whole time. Yes, I am aware that we moved here 3 and a half years ago. *Shame* There are still two boxes in that room.  I need to work out what’s in them…

Xmas card

The second week in December Jan had concerts. By which I mean he had a rehearsal in Zurich on Thursday evening, a concert in Bern on Friday, a concert in Basel on Saturday and a concert in Zurich on Sunday. There were three choirs involved, one each from Basel, Bern and Zurich, hence the performances in different cities. We also had visitors that weekend, a friend from Karlsruhe and her boyfriend, so I hung out with them while Jan did choir stuff. And of course we went to see Jan perform on Saturday evening.

The following weekend was concerts again… with a different choir this time and only in Basel – one on Saturday, one on Sunday. I went to see the Saturday one. You can see what else I did that day in my Photo an Hour post, if you’re interested. That weekend, another blogger was in town… Jordan from Wayfaring with Wagner (check out her blog… she takes the best photos. Honestly, I defy you not to want to visit places after seeing her pictures of them). We met up for breakfast and then took her on a whirlwind tour of Basel, including a trip to the Christmas market. The place I had originally suggested for breakfast was full so we ended up going to Markthalle, which ended up being an excellent choice. I will definitely be having breakfast there again! (Hoping the Z’Morgeland brunch buffet is a regular thing!).

Bloggers in Basel

The weekend after that was the one before Christmas. Jan was invited to a birthday party in Geneva on the Friday night. For those who aren’t familiar with the geography of Switzerland, Geneva is at the other end of the country. I mean, it’s a small country, but that’s still a three-hour journey. I had the day off because I had appointments at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., and working in between only to have to rush off again seemed silly. Jan was at work though, then he went  straight to Geneva so I didn’t see him that day. I finally posted my final parcel of Christmas presents to England (which of course meant those family members did not have anything to open on Christmas Day. Oh well… extended Christmas all round!). On the Saturday, I continued my pre-Christmas clean then when Jan arrived home shortly after 2 p.m. we went to buy a Christmas tree, brought it home and then decorated it. The living room looks so pretty with the tree lights on and I’m always sad when it has to be taken down. On Sunday, the 23rd, Jan slept late while I continued cleaning. I finally got round to cleaning the oven… a task that I’m sure would be much easier if I did it more often! Then in the late afternoon we went to visit my dad’s cousin, who lives in Germany, about a 40 minute train ride from Basel. His parents (my great aunt and great uncle) were visiting as well as his wife’s parents, and they also have three kids so they had a full house! It was an enjoyable evening and we had baked potatoes for tea, which is always certain to make me happy 😉

Christmas tree 2018

On Christmas Eve, I spent the morning pottering around, drinking tea, scrolling through social media, reading a bit. At 1 p.m., just as I was putting my coat on to go for a walk, Jan got up (to be fair to him, he had been up at 6 a.m. to go jogging then gone back to bed). He claimed he had stayed in bed for that long because he had a headache, then said I should have woken him and he could have gone for a walk with me… but when I pointed out later that if I had woken him he would have just said he had a headache and not got up he agreed that he probably would have. Anyway… I went for my walk then stopped by a supermarket for some last minute bits… milk, clementines, that sort of thing. In the afternoon we watched Santa Claus: the movie, which I hadn’t seen since about 1992! Dinner that night was Bratwurst and potato gratin. Then we opened our gift from Jan’s dad so Jan could thank him when he called. Jan phoned his parents and we watched Only Connect (a quiz show, for those who don’t know). Then it was off to bed.

Bruderholz Basel

On Christmas morning we were both up by 9:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right! After a cuppa followed by breakfast (bread rolls and jam), it was time to get down to the serious business of opening presents. Between us we got 3 films and 4 series for Christmas so we won’t run out of things to watch any time soon! After presents came showers, then we both headed out for a walk. We stopped by the cemetery to say happy Christmas to the boys then went and visited the cows at the farm. Then we headed back home to start making Christmas dinner, which Jan ended up doing most of because my dad called part way through. Beef, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon) and honey roasted carrots and parsnips were consumed. And gravy, of course. After dinner, we watched some TV, tried out a game that Jan had received for Christmas, spoke to my grandma on the phone and finally ate some Christmas pudding that my dad’s cousin had given me.

baby calf

On Boxing Day (26th December for those not in the know ;-)) we decided to get a car and go for a drive. We went to Murten near Fribourg, a small town with a very well-preserved town wall and beautiful old streets. After a walk around the town and along the parts of the wall you can access, we headed to a pub for a dinner of delicious Flammkuchen. Back home, we drank hot chocolate and watched The Big Bang Theory.

Jan was back at work on the 27th, and although my office remained closed until after the New Year, it was still back to reality for me. First a trip to the post office to pick up a parcel I had missed, then shopping, cleaning and laundry. I also made chicken broth for tea and it was delicious. While Jan was at work again on the 28th, I cleaned the kitchen and went into town before taking a train to Zurich so he could show me his new place of work. The next day was Saturday and we took a trip to IKEA where Jan bought containers for storing all his cables and I attempted to buy a mini set of drawers but failed because they had sold out. I did, however, manage to get a frame which we later used to frame a jigsaw puzzle (now hanging up in the spare room) and of course we consumed Swedish meatballs while we were there. You can’t go to IKEA and not eat the meatballs! On the Sunday, the 30th, I don’t think we did anything much. Watched Big Bang Theory and had cottage pie for tea… that’s about it.

And finally we come to New Year’s Eve. We had invited a friend over to eat raclette so while Jan worked (from home) I went out and bought all the necessary ingredients. Our friend had been in Finland for the holidays and was returning from Hamburg, where he had spent the night. First his train was delayed leaving Hamburg and then there was an accident between Offenburg and Freiburg so it was just after 11pm by the time he arrived at our place! It would have been later if he’d gone home first, but we told him to just come here with all his stuff and stay the night at our place. This meant we literally ate our way into the New Year, which is just fine with me!

We had a nice, quiet festive period, which was exactly what we wanted, and have already managed one day trip in 2019. And today it’s back to work and back to reality for me. Only two days until the weekend though… I’m sure I can cope with that 😉

And what’s new with you? I hope you had a good December. Come join the link up and see what everyone else got up to over the holidays.

2018 – Didn’t We Almost Have It All?

Usually at the end of the year, I write a month-by-month summary of the things we got up to, places visited, etc. Clearly I’m not going to do that this year… mainly because I wouldn’t have a single good thing to say about October. But I do still want to do a recap of the year, just for closure. Or something. Apologies in advance if this gets long.

Even after all that happened, I can’t just write off 2018 as a terrible year. Yes, it ended horribly, and yes I will be glad when it’s over and we can start a new chapter, but before everything went wrong, I had a few short weeks of genuine happiness. Basically, the entire year has been a roller coaster.

To start with, in January we switched fertility doctors, which meant going through most of the same tests again (I did get to skip one though). I am so, so glad we made that decision though… I mean, the clinic sent us a sympathy card when we lost the boys! I can’t even imagine the first doctor doing that! Plus they have done a much better job of explaining everything throughout… although my final diagnosis still ended up being “unexplained infertility”. *Sigh* The testing went faster this time around, and by May we had made the decision to pursue intrauterine insemination (IUI). Since we were going to the UK at the end of the month, I was put on progesterone for slightly longer and we ultimately ended up starting hormonal treatment in June, with the actual insemination taking place towards the end of the month. On 7th July 2018, I found out it had worked… then two weeks later I had my first ultrasound where we discovered it was twins.

wedding outfit
Me at my friend’s wedding in England

While all that was going on, things were also happening with Jan’s job. Towards the end of last year (I don’t remember exactly when), a colleague of his who also happened to be a friend of ours announced he was quitting his job. He was just one in a long time of people who had left, which was rather worrying… we were both slightly concerned that the company was going to fold, sooner rather than later. So at that point Jan decided that, while he didn’t want to start actively looking for something new, he would at least make a linked in profile and put out some feelers to figure out what was even out there. This led to him being contacted by a company based in Zurich. I don’t even remember exactly when that was, but I do know while we were in the England he was supposed to have a phone interview with somebody at the company, which then ended up falling through. He had definitely been in contact with the person doing the recruiting for at least a month at that stage, but it was the end of July when he finally actually signed the contract. So that in itself was a bit of a journey. As it happens, the old company managed to replace all the people that had left and currently seems to be doing okay, but so far the new job is also going well (still early days though) and there are definitely a lot more perks!

SIA-ANna Atkins
I was around 10 weeks pregnant here, but most people had no idea.

I spent most of my first trimester waiting for the other shoe to drop. After everything we had been through, I thought there was no way everything could be working out so well… not just one but two babies, a new job for Jan. Something had to go wrong, right? But with every ultrasound that still showed two babies and every week that passed I started to feel more confident. Once I reached 13 weeks, I told the team at work (bosses already knew), gave my mum permission to tell the extended family, and finally announced the pregnancy on my blog. I still had a lingering fear of something going wrong, but my fears all centred on the third trimester… premature babies, a stay in intensive care, possible complications from that. The second trimester was where I finally stopped feeling nauseous and started to actually enjoy being pregnant. My mum, her friend and my brother came to stay and we had a really nice few days. I started working on some cross stitch for the babies’ room and I even bought them their first book. For those few weeks I actually allowed myself to get excited about what was to come. This was going to be it for us… we were finally going to be an actual family.  Then I started spotting.

October ended up being probably the worst month of my entire life. We lost the babies, my grandma died (exactly a week later), my other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted (which went well, by the way, but at the time it just felt like more bad news). And on top of all the bad news I felt physically terrible for a few weeks thanks to the blood loss, residual hormones and for the first ten days also the antibiotics. A few good things did come of it… I had so much support and learned just how amazing the people in my life are, and Jan and I had some really intense talks and I honestly think the whole experience brought us closer. But all in all it’s not a month I want to remember… although I of course never want to forget my boys. While I would  obviously prefer it if we had never lost them – by this stage I would have been able to feel them moving inside me and thinking about that still makes me sad – I am still so glad I got to experience being pregnant with them. Even with the sad outcome I cannot and will not say I wish they had never existed.

candles

In November we said our final goodbye to the boys, laying their ashes to rest at a memorial for babies born too soon. Jan’s last day at the old job was on 31st October, then we had a few days together before he started the new job with a three-week trip to the US (and I have to say I am very glad I didn’t lose the boys while he was over there… I absolutely could not have coped with it all without him by my side). Another family member also got a not-good diagnosis while Jan was in the US, because apparently the universe didn’t hear me asking it to please just stop! Once Jan returned, he started properly at the new company, commuting to Zurich every day and staying relatively late for the first few nights while he got settled in and set everything up. That combined with 5(!) choir performances and the associated rehearsals meant I barely got to see him for about the first third of December. I also worked a lot in December… right up until almost the very last day (when I luckily didn’t have too much left to do as our system failed completely and I was only able to complete the few translations I had left because one co-worker could access our team email inbox and forward me the corrections from my proofreaders). Christmas was relatively quiet, just the two of us, which was what we wanted and Jan went back to work on the 27th. And now the year is almost over. Just a few more days and then it will be January and the dawn of what I hope will be a better year. Although maybe I shouldn’t say that given I ended last year’s recap post with the words “Bring it on 2018. I’m ready!”. I’m not sure I actually was ready for what 2018 brought…

Happy Christmas!

The tree is up, the presents are underneath and I’m almost finished with the cleaning. So all that remains is to wish all my lovely readers a very happy and stress-free Christmas. Spend time with your loved ones, eat delicious food and don’t worry about how your Christmas compares with anyone else’s. The most important thing is that you have a nice time, whatever it is you’re doing. I know a lot of you haven’t had the best year, so I hope you can forget your troubles, at least for a few hours, and have a nice time. Catch you on the other side!

Christmas tree 2018