And just like that September is over! I feel like it’s flown by, even though I didn’t actually do anything. Seriously, I have no idea what I’m even going to write in this post! Obviously I did not manage to find the time or energy to blog… sorry about that. I didn’t mean to promise holiday photos and then disappear for a month. I will try to get something up soon. But today it’s the first Thursday of the month so I’m going to give you a recap, even though the What’s New With You link up doesn’t seem to be up yet. I hope everything is okay with Kristen!
So what is new with me? Honestly, nothing much. In September I read a lot – a total of 18 books, or I read 17 and listened to 1 if you want to be precise. I cross stitched a lot. My godson turned 8, which is scary. Surely he’s still a toddler? I made Halloween cards to send to Post Pals children (I still have another 10 left to do!).
I watched Richard Osman’s House of Games almost every week night – except when they moved it because of stupid athletics. On Tuesday I went to the office in Germany for the first time since March because a colleague was leaving and I wanted to see her one more time and say goodbye. It was fine. The trains weren’t too full – the one on the way back was more full than on the way there, but not to the extent of people standing in the corridors, crammed in like sardines (I specifically took an earlier train home because my usual train one is of the sardine variety).
I had to have more blood tests to rule out certain things after every attempt at IVF so far has either failed entirely or ended in miscarriage. When I first had it done back in July one value came back high so the tests had to be repeated. This time all was normal though, which means I don’t have to inject myself with blood thinners every day if I ever do get pregnant again (yay!) but also means we’re back to having no real explanation for why things aren’t working (boo!). I guess most people would give up at this point and say the universe doesn’t want them to be a mother, but we have two embryos left and I have every intention of using them!
I am continuing to going for walks once a week, even if it’s raining. Most of September’s weren’t too exciting though – I just went into town and stopped by the free public bookcase to drop off some books. One Sunday Jan came with me and we went for a walk in the woods, stopping to say hi to the horses.
Switzerland added the UK to its quarantine list, but it doesn’t matter because Switzerland was already on the UK’s quarantine list so I couldn’t have gone there anyway. It’s lucky we spent last Christmas in England since who knows when I will be able to see my family again? Germany added some parts of Switzerland to its list of risk countries, but Basel is currently okay. Cantons Geneva, Vaud and Fribourg are currently on the list.
And on a non-September related note, my brother turns 30 tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), which makes me feel ancient! So annoying that stupid covid means I don’t get to celebrate with him.
These are trying times (especially given that, today, I called my fertility clinic to find that – as expected – they’re closed and all treatments are cancelled until the government lifts its restrictions, so who knows when I will be able to even try another embryo transfer), but I still have a lot to be thankful, so I thought I would make a list. This post is about things I am grateful to have in my personal life, so it won’t mention the “key workers” who are keeping society running – and I hope it goes without saying that I am grateful to the medical professionals/care workers who risk their lives every single day to help people in need (a shout out to my mum who is a nurse here – hi mam!). This post was inspired by Kezzie, who always manages to find reasons to be grateful even in the darkest times <3.
1. I am not in isolation alone. As much as I am fine with being alone – most of my hobbies are solitary – not seeing anybody at all for weeks on end would be too much even for me! I still don’t see a great deal of Jan – it seems like without a commute he works even longer hours – but at least I know he is here, albeit locked in the spare room on his computer most of the time 😉
2. I love my flat. There are definitely people out there who don’t like where they’re living and I can’t imagine being stuck there for the foreseeable future would be much fun!
3. We have a balcony! Obviously I would prefer a nice big garden, but our old flat in Germany didn’t even have a balcony! Even if I can’t properly go out I can at least get some fresh air.
4. My employer is being very transparent about what measures our company will be taking and there’s a plan in place to make sure nobody has to stop work entirely and we can hold out on full pay for as long as possible. We will be applying for “short-time work” from April but the hope is that our customers will rally sooner rather than later and things won’t end up being as bad as they seem. Also grateful that – as of right now – I have enough work to last me until the end of next week before I even need to start using my overtime. (And this is all I’m going to say about work because I don’t really like to talk about it here).
5. Spring is here! The days are lighter and warmer and even though I can’t see any flowers from my flat I know they’re out there. (And I can see the trees that are budding and growing new leaves – hard times are so much easier when it’s light outside and everything looks alive.)
6. Books. I am always grateful for books, but I’m even more grateful now that I enjoy reading and have plenty of unread books that have been waiting on the shelves for far too long.
7. Solitary hobbies. Cross stitch and card-making are things I can do without even leaving the house, so really I haven’t even lost anything. (Other than the ability to go for hikes before it gets too hot. And, of course, we had to cancel our holiday but this is supposed to be a positive post so enough about that.)
8. That we went to the UK for Christmas. If we hadn’t, I have no idea when I would have got to see any of my family again. Before Christmas, the last time I had seen my dad and grandma was very briefly in February 2019!
9. That we have so much technology for keeping in touch these days. My dad called me via WhatsApp the other day, the boss addressed us all via Skype today, my mum is in constant touch via WhatsApp, and people have even messaged me on Facebook… and of course I’m constantly in contact with blogging friends via Instagram, Twitter and – naturally – their actual blogs. I may not be able to physically see anybody, but honestly I’m probably in touch more now than I would be if I actually lived in the same country as my friends and family!
10. We have plenty of food and our local supermarkets (mostly) do too. When I’ve noticed something missing it has usually been available again the next time I went in – so last Friday I couldn’t get tinned tomatoes but yesterday I managed. (The only loo roll available yesterday was the scented kind but luckily we currently have plenty ;-)).
Okay, that’s it. ten seems like a good number. I hope you all have a good weekend despite everything!
Tell me something you’re grateful for in the comments.
Hello friends! I’m posting this photo an hour round-up extremely late because I actually forgot I had done it. So that’s a thing. As always, this link up was hosted by Jane and Louisa and I originally took part on Twitter.
Here’s how my day went:
10 a.m. Gotta start the day with a cuppa!
11 a.m. Heading for a shower since we were supposed to be going out for the day.
12 noon Showered, dressed, now brushing my teeth.
1 p.m. Since Jan only got up at 12:30, we spontaneously decided to add on overnight stay to our strip. While he booked a hotel, I thre a few things in a suitcase.
2 p.m. Just hanging around, waiting for the boyfriend to be ready. Boring black tights today.
3 p.m. On a train with my book.
4 p.m. Still on the train, waiting to leave Zurich.
5 p.m. Another station… Uzwil apparently.
6 p.m. Made it to St Gallen – yay! Quick walk around the old town before it gets completely dark.
7 p.m. Dinner at the hotel was yummy.
8 p.m. Decided to have a beer – my first in probably a month. I’m not really drinking this year.
9 p.m. In the hotel room, looking at accommodation for our next trip!
10 p.m. Still discussing hotels in Poland.
11 p.m. Time for bed!
I won’t ask you how your day went since it was ages ago. But I will point out that the next photo an hour date is 21st March, in case you want to join in. Post a photo every hour on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #photoanhour or save up all your photos and write a blog post. It’s fun!
Hello friends! As you can see by the fact that I’m posting this over two weeks after photo an hour day, reality has my firmly back in its grip. The time between finishing work and having to go to bed seems to go by in a flash, and honestly I just don’t want to go straight from working on the computer all day to typing up blog posts in the evening. I actually intended to post this on Sunday but the computer decided to be a pain. So I’m doing it now. Better late than never, right?
As always, Photo an Hour was hosted by Louisa and Jane.
10 a.m. It might be a new decade, but some things never change. Starting the day with tea as usual. And since Jana and Steph were hosting a SUYB readathon, also with a book.
11 a.m. Breakfast. Note the sultanas on the side… totally counts towards my fruit or veg with every meal goal!
12 noon. Getting dressed.
1 p.m. In town, where the sky can’t decide what it wants (it looks friendy-ish here, but right at the back you can see where the really threatening clouds start!). Also, construction.
2 p.m. Still in town. Next stop Aldi.
3 p.m. Home and eating a late lunch.
4 p.m. Back to my book… it *is* a readathon after all!
5 p.m. A break to boil the kettle.
6 p.m. Jan came home from choir practice so I got started with cooking tea.
7 p.m. So many pans all wanting my attention at once. Help!
8 p.m. Finally starting Good Omens. YESSSSS!
9 p.m. And back to reading.
That was the last photo I took, although I stayed up reading a while longer.
If you’re interested in taking part in a photo an hour, the next one will be on 15th February. Simply take a photo every hour and upload it to Twitter or Instagram… or save them all and use them to write a blog post later. Or do all three!
People have been recapping their decades on Instagram and Facebook, and some (like Hazel) in blog posts. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share a photo from each year of the last decade along with a brief outline of the main events of that year.
2010: We started the decade at a house party in Padua, Italy where Jan’s sister was living at the time. Jan turned 30. We watched Germany play Argentina in Munich (the stadium was freezing!). Jan and I moved in together. I wrote my Master’s dissertation. We travelled around Britain with a friend – see photo above. I got my Master’s in translation and passed my probation period at work. We spent Christmas in England and then went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.
2011: My grandma’s dog died – RIP Copper. We took a trip to Paris to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday. For the first time, we didn’t visit one of our families for Christmas, but spent it in our own home instead. I really wanted to see Austria again, so our New Year’s trip was to Salzburg.
2012: Our family dog, Barney had to be put down. We visited friends who were living in Delft in the Netherlands – the photo above is from that trip. I randomly met K at a beer festival, and she became one of my best friends. My sister visited us in Karlsruhe with her then boyfriend and we took them to see the Formula 1 at Hockenheim. We had a holiday in Stockholm, which I loved. My godson was born and we got to meet him when he was just 10 days old. For New Year, we headed to Luxembourg to visit a friend.
2013: Jan went to Turkey with work and ended up having his appendix removed there. We saw Eddie Izzard in Berlin. We saw a wheelchair rugby Champion’s League match in Karlsruhe. Road trip round Ireland with friends from our quiz team. I went to England for my mum’s 50th birthday and my godson’s christening – but Jan ended up going to hospital with stomach pains instead of getting on the plane! I turned 30, got drunk and cried because I was neither married nor a mother and felt like my relationship was going nowhere. We saw the Rocky Horror Show in its 40th anniversary year. I had my wisdom teeth removed. We returned to Feldkirch, Austria for the first time since I was living there (it hadn’t changed much). We headed to Madeira for the New Year, which I think was our best New Year’s trip yet (potentially tied with Edinburgh).
2014: My colleague went on maternity leave (and my other colleague was still on parental leave) so I spent the entire year as the only English translator at work. It was a very busy year! Jan and I celebrated 10 years of being in a relationship. My Grandpa went into hospital in February and I was luckily able to get time off work at short notice to visit him. He turned 80 in April and passed away at the beginning of May. We saw Pearl Jam in Vienna (I gave Jan the tickets for his birthday). My brother visited us in Karlsruhe and we took trips to Strasbourg, Basel (little knowing we would be living there a year later!), the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Jan had to go to Taiwan for work so I joined him there for a week after the conference. Jan, K and I went to Paris for a Welcome to Night Vale live show. We visited what is still my favourite Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern with friends. Jan was offered a job in Switzerland and we decided to start trying for a baby after the move. We decided on Zurich for the New Year so we could get a taster of our new country.
2015: We moved to Switzerland and I started telecommuting. I went to my cousin’s wedding, which was attended by the most family members I’d seen in once place for about 20 years! My friend from Luxembourg came to Basel to watch the Lion King musical with us. We took a trip to England where we saw three Rugby World Cup matches. In October, once Jan was sure he would be staying at his new company, we started trying for a baby. For the first time ever, we didn’t go away for New Year, but instead invited friends to come and spend it with us in Basel.
2016: My sister turned 30. We attended our first Fasnacht in Basel. Three old friends from university days came to visit. We spent two weeks in New Zealand! My mam and brother came to visit. The EU referendum happened (ugh). We attended my friend’s wedding in Luxembourg. Jan’s dad came to visit. In November, Jan’s mum turned 60. We were referred to a fertility specialist after 13 months of unsuccessful trying to get pregnant. My mam and brother visited for the second time in one year, this time with two of my mam’s friends. My sister and her fiancé (now husband) visited for a weekend to see the Christmas markets. We spent Christmas in England with my family and New Year in Glasgow with K.
2017: Attended the Liestal fire parade for the first time. Spent Easter in Berlin with K. Took a trip to Champagne, where we drank Champagne (an item from my 35 before 35 list). Took a trip round England (and a tiny bit of Scotland) and got to meet Kezzie. I tried eating insects. My sister got married and I was a bridesmaid. For New Year, we went to Geneva with a friend.
2018: Decided to switch fertility doctors. I got pregnant with twins via IUI. After months of being unsettled at work and being unsure what to do, Jan was offered a new job and decided to take it. My mam, brother and a friend of my mam’s visited. Just as we thought things were finally going well, I lost the babies. A week later, my maternal Grandma died. My other grandma had to have a pacemaker fitted and then my dad diagnosed with cancer. We buried the boys in November, then Jan started his new job in Zurich and immediately had to go to California – so my mam and sister came to keep my company for a few days (although I was back at work by then). We spent a quiet Christmas and New Year in Basel.
2019: Found out our December IUI had failed and tried another one, which also failed. Celebrated 15 years together. Started IVF in the middle of a renovation (in retrospect, maybe not my best idea?). Went on holiday to Spain and Portugal. I celebrated a decade in the same job. Had four failed embryo transfers and one successful and one failed hysteroscopy. Spent Christmas in England with my family, then ended the decade in Basel with board games, cheese and friends – a much quieter night than the house party the decade had started with!
It has certainly been an eventful decade! We travelled a fair amount – not as much as some, but given the state of the environment, I think it was enough, and we saw some amazing places. There were plenty of good times, but also some very, very bad times. I have grown up a lot, and I feel like we’ve also grown as a couple, particularly since we moved to Switzerland in the middle of the decade. Before that we almost broke up on more than one occasion, but now I feel like we’re stronger than we’ve ever been. We’ve made it through the toughest of times and come out the other side, still together and still in love. No matter what happens next, I know I’ve survived everything life has thrown at me so far and there’s something to be said for that. I’m hoping this new decade will bring more growth, more adventures, and lots of happy memories.
Hello lovelies. I haven’t done one of these in a while… I’ve just checked: the last one was June 2018. I don’t have anything else to post about right now – or at least nothing I feel like making the effort for – so we’ll go with this.
Dear Christmas. I see you lurking just over the horizon. Calm down and bide your time… I have way too much to do before you get here!
Dear people who constantly posting X sleeps until Christmas. You are not helping with the above situation!
Dear universe. On behalf of my family, I would like to say please just stop! The last couple of months have been relentless.
Dear flight companies. Are you actually serious about your prices to fly from the European continent to England this year? I paid triple what I normally do for flights to England… and that includes the time I went over for my grandpa’s funeral and literally booked the flight the night before. In fact, I’ve just checked and I could get a return flight from London to New York on the same dates for less. Care to explain?
Dear work. I still love you but I have to confess I would much rather be off right now. As I already told Christmas, there’s just so much to do!
Dear weekend. You’re so close I feel like I can almost reach out and touch you. I just wish we could hang out more often and for longer!
Dear bookshelves. Please don’t be sad that I’ve put myself on a book buying ban for the rest of the year. After the extortionate flight prices I really can’t justify buying anything other than necessities and Christmas presents now. And the unread books seem to be on a mission to take over anyway, so I shall be attempted to make a dent in those before adding any new ones. Okay?
Dear everyone. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, however you plan to spend it. I will be reading, cleaning and trying to get as many Christmas cards as possible made.
*Disclaimer: this is entirely about me and my situation. Other people may not think the same way. Other people may have entirely different experiences. Whatever your journey has been like so far, I wish you all the best and sincerely hope you get your miracle soon.
… asking yourself if you’re sure you really want a second cup of black tea today. (I won’t even discuss coffee. The last time I had one was the end of August. At the time we were on an enforced break from IVF because I had to have a hysteroscopy before continuing).
… trying very hard to drink enough water because now staying hydrated is even more important than it is anyway, but hating having to pee in case you see blood.
… being willing to try all kinds of random things that may or may not help. Eat an avocado every day? Why not, I like avocados. Brazil nuts after transfer? My new favourite snack! Wear socks to bed? Okay! Give up chocolate? Hmm, maybe not that one ;-).
… sitting in the waiting room at your clinic and being greeted by name every time another member of staff walks past.
… always hesitating/checking the before booking a flight somewhere or buying tickets for an event in another location because what if you need to be near the clinic that day for another ultrasound/blood draw/transfer
… constantly scouring the Internet for reassurance that you’re doing the right thing by paying out for another transfer.
… giving up any food that sounds even vaguely yummy every few weeks because this time it might have actually worked and you don’t want to end up feeling guilty because you ate sushi/soft cheese/pâté or took some medicine after a transfer.
… spending the last two weeks of every cycle feeling utterly, completely exhausted because of the progesterone you’re on (all the fun symptoms of early pregnancy but most likely without the actual pregnancy!)
… constantly being afraid that you’ve started spotting, then when you discover you actually have momentarily feeling relief that at least it’s over now and you can move on, before the devastation of what it actually means kicks in. (I am aware that spotting in IVF cycles doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but when it starts the day you would usually get your period Every. Single. Time. and doesn’t stop until you get the negative pregnancy and can stop progesterone it’s really pretty obvious what’s going on).
… not giving up hope. Not now, not any time soon. Putting up with all the early appointments, blood tests, needles and hormones because I still believe that someday, somehow, I will get to be a mother.
Before I get into today’s post, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today is exactly one year since we lost our boys. I never thought I would reach this date again and still be no closer to being a mother. (And please don’t give me any comments about how I still am my babies’ mama, they are always with me, etc. While true, it is not the same as having a living, breathing child to take care of and love). In honour of this day, I thought I would share the only “bump” photo in existence from my pregnancy – courtesy of my mother who insisted on taking it. I was planning to wait until I actually looked pregnant and not just bloated and frumpy, but I never got the chance.
This and a handful of ultrasound printouts are the only evidence I have that I was ever pregnant. Oh well, gotta keep swimming, to paraphrase Dory. I’m meeting up with my great aunt and uncle this morning (no work because it’s a holiday in Germany), but I hope I’ll be able to go to the cemetery later.
Anyway, on to my September recap, although honestly the entire month went by in a flash and I don’t feel like I did much at all. I’m linking up with the lovely Kristen, of course.
Jan was away on the first full weekend of the month, so on the Saturday I went for a bit of an explore. There’s a place close to Basel called Münchenstein and I had read there’s a ruined castle there, right in the centre of the village, so I went in search of it. I forgot to take my camera so I can’t show you a photo (although I put some phone shots on Instagram, which you my have seen if we’re connected on there), but I found it. The path/stairs outside and the house next to it are private property but there’s a sign saying you can walk there. Nonetheless, a woman standing outside one of the buildings at the bottom of the stairs spotted me reading the sign and glared at me like I was desecrating the place. Rude! The following weekend, Jan was away again, but the one after that was the only one in the entire month where he wasn’t either away with a choir or spending both Saturday and Sunday at rehearsals. We decided to go out for the afternoon on the Saturday, but needed somewhere close since he had to do something with a choir in the evening (literally stand outside the theatre and hum for 9 minutes, then leave. Weird project). We decided on Brugg, which the Internet told me is a “picturesque town”. Spoiler alert: it’s not! I mean, it’s not horrible… there are a couple of nice buildings and the river is pretty, but when I read “picturesque” I kind of expect something more. Windisch, which is either the neighbouring town or a district of Brugg (I never quite figured it out), has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre – called Vindonissa – so that was kind of cool. We had a nice afternoon, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to visit Brugg.
The “Storchenturm” in Brugg
We went to see John Cleese at the beginning of the month. I think people who didn’t know much of his stuff would have got more out of it since the show mainly consisted of him showing clips from various things on a large screen and explaining how they came up with it/the background to certain things or just showing his favourite clips. It was a bit like a documentary about projects John Cleese had been involved in, but live. Not that it wasn’t good, but I’m not sure it was worth what we paid for the tickets. Oh well.
Cross stitch and card making
I was mostly making Halloween cards in September – I’m now up to 14 completed. Plus a few birthday cards for Post Pals. I meant to start on my Christmas card cross stitching and technically I did, but I only completed one design so I really, really need to get a move on in October!
For the second month in a row, I read 13 books. I had days where I didn’t pick up a book at all, which is unusual for me. I was tired most of the time and I also got stuck on one book that I enjoyed when I was reading it but never seemed to feel like picking up. Still, 13 is a decent amount so I’m happy.
I got the box set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my birthday, so Jan and I started watching that in September. I am loving my trip back down memory lane so far. I’m hoping Jan will have some time to continue watching it with me this month because October feels like the perfect time for demons and vampires and all things undead.
My “baby” brother turned 13 (I officially feel old!) and my godson turned seven. Not that I actually celebrated either birthday since they are in England and I’m not, but they happened. Here’s the birthday card I stitched for my brother (I’ve blurred out the name):
Also, I started my current job on 1 September 2009, so it was my 10-year anniversary. Again, I did not actually celebrate but I got a letter from the bosses and will get a one-off bonus payment with my October wages. Perfect timing for Christmas shopping!
Miscellaneous/general life stuff
I don’t really have much to add in this section. I’ve been trying to declutter… using the Swiss method – basically take an empty cardboard box, write the word “Gratis” (=free) on it, fill with things you don’t want and place outside for the neighbours to help themselves. I managed to get rid of a few things that way. I also took about 25 books to free public bookcases in September… I still have a few more in the carrier bag I mentioned in my last post, but I will hopefully be taking those away this weekend. I made apple and rhubarb crumble the other week to use up some apples that we’d had for too long (the rhubarb was frozen) and I decided it should definitely count towards my 5-a-day since I didn’t put any sugar at all in the filling. The topping contained wholegrain porridge oats and pecan nuts. I am a crumble-making genius.
That’s all I’ve got for ya. Like I said, this month went by way too fast.
Let me know what you’ve been up to lately, and of course check out the link up to find out what’s new with the rest of the blogosphere.
I haven’t done one of these for a while… not since I stopped using this format for the What’s New With You link up. Now seemed like a good time for one. Most people call these kinds of post “Currently” and I think maybe there’s a link up with specific prompts? I don’t know. I just grabbed these ones off the top of my head. Anyway, here are a few things I’ve been doing recently. Enjoy!
Eating. I’ve become weirdly obsessed with dried apricots. At least it’s something healthy, I guess? They make a good snack and it means I’m actually getting fruit into me without having to eat like six plums at once because everything always starts to go bad within a couple of days.
Watching. I pretty much only watch TV when Jan’s home – I don’t feel compelled to switch it on the minute I sit down like he does. Lately he’s been flicking to The Repair Shop (but we always miss the beginning) and it’s such heart warming, wholesome TV. Soon I want to start a re-watch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I got the entire box set for my birthday.
Listening to. Jan and I started listening to the Good Omens radio play. It was on BBC Radio 4 Extra, so we listened to the first two episodes there, but then it became unavailable so we found episode three elsewhere. We need to listen to the rest, but for that Jan would need to have time… (By the way, episode one has a cameo from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, which I thought was awesome.)
Making. Halloween cards for Post Pals. I have about 10, I need 41 (last year I think I made 50, so it’s a little less crazy at least).
Buying. Way too many books, as always. If you’re wondering, I mostly get them from Better World Books (used – I very rarely buy new books for myself).
Wondering. How and where we acquired so much stuff! Clutter… clutter everywhere. Sometimes I’m tempted to just start ruthlessly culling things.
I can’t think of anything else, so I’ll leave it here. What have you been up to lately? Care to share some recent doings in the comments?
By the way, the photo at the top has nothing to do with anything in this post, I just wanted to put something there. You’re welcome.