Friday, December 31, 2004

NYE04

Since we get to start it before many of you reading this, just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year for 2005. Sydney, as always, is planning an evening focussed on the two firework shows (9pm & 12pm) around the Harbour Bridge, but with a couple of additions:
The traditional follow-up to the celebrations is the start of the test cricket at the SCG on January 2nd which, after having to endure me watch it on TV recently, Anna is keen to go to. So, we'll see if our friend, Henry, can organise the tickets. Chris

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Chosen One

After numerous trips to numerous stores, I think we have finally decided on the type of pram (or stroller) that we want to get. As I've mentioned previously, the parent-craft instructor at our ante-natal classes was a little scathing about some of the accessory prams that you see around Sydney. So, trying to avoid too much of the keeping-up-with-the-Jones that seems to occur when picking a pram, we've plumped for
this one. Of course, now that we have decided, we've been told that none of this model are expected in Australia until the end of January! Back on the permanent residency front, the next excitement is going to be trying to organise for our UK police clearance. A quick Google search revealed the following disappointing sentence: But it was fortunately followed by: So, I'm hoping that the Avon & Somerset form that I found here will suffice - given my experiences to-date however, I'm sure there'll be more complexity involved! Chris

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

O, come all ye faithful

Although some of you may disagree, I don't really mind working at this time of the year - plus, with the days until the baby is born decreasing, I don't really want to take any unnecessary holiday. As of today, we are six weeks from the estimated due date (
not that it's likely to be born on that day). Anna is still progressing well but, as the baby goes through its stages of descending, she is becoming more uncomfortable at night - despite my reading of Bill Bryson. That, and the fact that some of her friends are due before her, has meant she is becoming increasingly keen for the baby to be born. I remember that both my brothers had their first child within days of each other, and I suspect it was a factor that when Peter & Debbie visited their new nephew Aaron, it spurred Debbie on to deliver Emily a few days earlier might otherwise have occurred. Chris

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Beaches, beaches everywhere but...

When we looked out of the window this morning, it seemed nice enough to head for the beach, so we packed up a few supplies and off we set. I was a little surprised when we got to
Maroubra Beach that there weren't more people around, but the reason became clear as soon as we got out of the car. There was a pretty brisk breeze which, although didn't lower the temperature too much, did create Lawrence-of-Arabia conditions (sandstorm!). We thought we'd try another less exposed beach, so we headed off to check out Clovelly Beach - a little better, but still much the same. After some head-scratching, we decided to try out Clontarf Reserve, which is a little beach close to the start of the Spit-to-Manly scenic walk; and is positioned in a more sheltered spot. This worked out better, and we had a late picnic lunch in the afternoon sun. Back to work for me tomorrow, but shouldn't be too strenuous as I'm mostly catching up on documentation from Canberra. Chris

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Thank you Santa

Hope that everyone had a great Christmas day, Anna & I were lucky enough to have Santa visit, and he left a few things for each of us. By the time that we started our video conference with Barkers Green I was a little worse for wear, so hopefully I didn't say anything too embarrasing - but, hey, it is Christmas. Today, we've been walking our way around the Bay Run, which is a nice scenic 7km walk around the foreshore of Rozelle/Drummoyne close to us, trying to work off some of the turkey. Apparently, there was some snow today in
Thredbo, but in Sydney it was over 30 degrees, so plenty of water was the order of the day. Chris

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Friday, December 24, 2004

Let it snow

Anna & I visited the obstetrician this morning and, much as we had anticipated, he was pleased with the results from the last ultrasound scan that had been performed, confirming that:
  • The position of placenta should not pose any problems
  • The baby's size was right in the middle of where it should be (not too big or small)
  • Anna's blood pressure continues to be very good, 90/60 was the reading today (once he was able to get a reading)
  • He's going away on holiday until January 17th (all right for some), so we're hoping that there isn't any emergency before then
So, drinks tonight with some friends in Balmain, then the full bash tomorrow - hope the turkey thaws in time. The forecast is for mid-to-high 20s in temperature, so I don't think we're in for a white Christmas, but I guess we'll manage somehow. Best wishes and seasons greetings to all, Chris

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Wrapping

Heading back up to Sydney this evening, so just wrapping up the last few bits before the Christmas holidays are upon us. We're due to visit the obstetrician tomorrow morning for the regular two-weekly check-up, so hopefully that will go smoothly. Otherwise, it will be full steam ahead with turkey-stuffing and mince-pie-baking for Anna. We haven't been able to locate any brussel sprouts in Canberra either - I know that this is the main reason why many of you read the blog - so I'll just have to pray for a brassica miracle (maybe Santa could bring some from the North Pole). Finally, Anna & I have been doing another pass through the list of potential names for the baby, and I think we've reached our final decision. Obviously, I can't tell you what it is in advance, but after much consideration we've decided against
Slartibartfast. Chris

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Look, no hands!

While Anna has been in Canberra this week, she has stumbled upon a new ability that she didn't know she had! Due to the bump, her navel is now the front-most point of her body - and she has found that if she carefully places a piece of paper over her navel, there is enough of a partial vacuum formed for the paper to remain in place without any support. So, when she first stumbled across this ability yesterday, she was parading around the hotel room with a variety of articles held mysteriously in place - as Paul Daniels used to say 'That's magic!'. Anna's dad was also kind enough to send us a few pictures from her
Great-Uncle George's 90th birthday party which took place recently. Sorry we couldn't be there in person, but we hope you had a great day. Chris

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry ... um ... New Year

We've finally finished writing and sending all of our Christmas cards and presents destined for the UK, but given the distance that means they'll probably arrive after the big day itself. So, if you haven't received a card from us, don't worry it should be on its way! Thanks to everyone that volunteered to send us a care package of brussel sprouts - not sure why they are so hard to come by, as we got them easily last year. In reality, I don't think many people are going to miss them - we're already under instructions to cook them separately before we arrive at our friend's place, and I think I'm the only person that really likes them. Anna is still doing very well, and has begun to feel her
Braxton Hicks contractions a little more - which is expected at this stage of pregnancy. She has also noticed that the baby must be practising her breathing a little more, as she (the baby) is occasionally getting hiccups. Finally, not that it gets much coverage here, but it looks like the England & Wales cricket team is going to record its eighth consecutive victory later today - good luck! Chris

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Monday, December 20, 2004

The Goose is getting fat

Much as predicted, this weekend saw a variety of Christmas fare. On Saturday, Anna & I were out buying the turkey and a few trimmings for our dinner next week, although we didn't have any luck with the brussel sprouts - all the grocers kept shrugging their shoulders in a sprouts-don't-grow-at-this-time-of-year way. We also organised our tree, which
Anna decorated and I rocked-around. In the evening, we joined a few friends to attend the Carols in the Domain extravaganza. There was a big turn-out this year, as the weather was clearer than last, and we managed to avoid most of the attacks from the fruit-bats as they went about their usual dusk flights. Sunday was pretty hot, so we went for a swim (while Glenn McGrath was demolishing the Pakistan batting) before packing up our bags for the evening drive down to Canberra. Hopefully, we put enough water in the base of the tree to survive the next few days while we're away! Chris

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Friday, December 17, 2004

No more curry

Over the past few weeks, Anna & I have got into something of a habit of going out to eat the evening when I return from Canberra. However, more times than I'd like to admit, we've just popped up the road to our
local Indian restaurant. Although the food is really nice, we often seem to overface ourselves and, because of the baby restricting her stomach, Anna sometimes suffers later with heartburn - at which point she invariably states that we aren't going to go for a curry again. Of course, by the time the following week comes around that promise has been forgotten, and... Anna is joining me in Canberra next week, which means that this weekend we'll be dashing around getting food, trees, etc. so that we are organised for Christmas Day itself. We are joining some friends for a combined celebration - I think we're responsible for the turkey and the brussel sprouts - so hopefully things will be a little more relaxed than last year when we were cooking a whole Christmas dinner in 40-degree heat! Chris

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Not-so-secret Santa

Aside from the obvious annoyances of working away from home, I've still got my Xmas shopping to organise. As I've been working in Canberra during the week, for the last few weeks, Anna & I naturally want to spend our time together at the weekends. However, that does make it a little tricky to organise the pressies - hopefully I can sneak a couple by, without her noticing, when I get home this evening! After the storms earlier in the week, it's calmed down significantly and has been really nice mid-20s weather in Canberra, and a little warmer in Sydney. Anna informs me that she has been out-and-about having lunch with a number of friends, which is good because she hasn't been able to do that recently because of TAFE and orchestra commitments, both of which have now finished for the year. Chris

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Those aren't my fingers!

This morning I was back at the police station, to make my second attempt at obtaining some fingerprints. The volunteer that I spoke to at first seemed pretty helpful, and he soon got someone out to help me go through the process - after collecting the $26 fee. Having not had my fingerprints taken before, I was expecting to only have the ends of my fingers in the ink, so I was a little surprised when the officer suggested that I take off my wedding ring and watch. A couple of sheets of ink later, the end-of-my-finger prints, the whole-of-my-fingers prints and my palm prints had been transferred on to the paper. It took about five minutes of washing to get rid of the majority of the remaining ink on my hands, but the officer was able to complete all the other details while I was doing this. Then, feeling somewhat like a spy, I went to the Post Office to send off the deocuments to the FBI. TV has probably made me imagine that everyone who works for the FBI is some shadowy intelligence spy, but it's just a government department; so fingers (now un-inked) crossed it won't be too long before they return my US criminal history (a blank piece of paper). Chris

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hell Unleashed?

As I was making my way to the airport for a flight down to Canberra early yesterday morning, there was a warning on the radio suggesting that there might be a big storm coming towards Sydney. Although
this article may have overstated things a little, there were a number of airplanes that received some damage from large hailstones; so I guess I timed my trip well. I guess it must be related to the climate, but we do seem to get quite a few big lightning storms every summer in Sydney, and a number of people have commented to me that the storms seem to be that much more dramatic than they have seen elsewhere. Chris

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Round-em-in

Even though the weather is different to what we're used to over Christmas, events are starting to get that end-of-year feel. First up on the agenda was a drive to
Oatley Park for a barbeque with the students & lecturers from Anna's TAFE course. One of the lecturers returned Anna's final assessment, which she once again had passed with flying colours, and gave us an Engineer Bear as a present for the baby; which was very generous. It was still quite hot on the drive back, so we decided to head to the Leichhardt Aquatic Centre for a swim, only to discover that a little rain & lightning was circling around; but it didn't amount to much, so we did a few laps anyway. The Sinfonia concert took place on Sunday, so Anna had to get to the venue quite early for the final rehearsal, while I was getting changed and picking up some of our friends for the performance itself. It was a very enjoyable show, and there was a big audience on-hand to see both the orchestra and the Sydney Harmony singers perform. Afterwards, it was down to the Welcome Hotel for a congratulatory drink - then on to Birchgrove for some dinner with Robbie & Robin. Chris

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Friday, December 10, 2004

U/S all clear

Anna & I visited the ultrasound clinic this afternoon to have a 32-week scan performed - this was because an earlier scan had shown that the placenta was lying slightly lower than preferred. However, the natural change in positioning, that we were informed of, seems to have taken place because the distance between the cervix & placenta has now increased from 18mm to 33mm. The guideline that they use being that they recommend that there should be 30mm between the two to minimise any risk of the placenta interfering with the delivery. As such the latest reading means that Anna has now moved out of this risk category - so, all's well! We were also able to get a couple of other measurements while we were there:
  • Size of the head as 7.75 cm around
  • Estimated weight of 3lb 13oz (babies supposedly gain around half-a-pound per week from this point, so if born in week 40 that would mean a 7-and-a-half to 8 pound baby)

Finally, we were also able to get a couple of images of the baby's face, which was nice - she obviously takes after Anna because she was poking her tongue out ;-)

Chris

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fair Weather Hasher

Over last weekend I saw a couple of hashers from Canberra so, as I'm currently having to work there a few days a week, I thought I would ask them which local group might be worth running with. Both of them suggested that I try out
WACT Hash, as I'm generally around on a Wednesday. So, last night was my first opportunity to potentially make the run. It didn't look good however, when I couldn't find out where they were running from, my use of WhereIs didn't help much either, as I was unable to find the exact location. Then, as the time neared 5pm (half-an-hour before I would have had to leave), a large black cloud engulfed the centre of Canberra, lightning started to flash and thunder roll - needless to say I decided to give the run a miss. Fair weather hasher, you say - too bl**dy right, I say! Chris

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fingerprints?

As part of our application for permanent residency, I need to obtain police clearance from the USA, which involves writing a letter to the FBI including a set of fingerprints. However, when I went to the police station today, they seemed very bemused when I asked to have my fingerprints taken - I thought they might be a bit more familiar with the idea! Once they understood why I wanted this, they said I'd have to come back in the morning because the person that does it was in a meeting for the rest of the day! I wonder if they would say the same thing if I was being arrested for something? Ho hum, try again tomorrow, Chris

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

OB Thumbs Up

Anna attended her obstetrician appointment this morning, with the following results:
  • all the tests that she underwent two weeks ago gave the hoped-for results (I would say positive results, but that's bad for some things)
  • her blood pressure continues to be low (which is good during pregnancy)
  • he also said that he could tell that the baby has lowered into the pelvis a little, which Anna had also noticed as she has been feeling a little less breathless
So, everything went well for this visit. We have a separate appointment for an ultrasound scan on Friday, hope that goes as smoothly as today. Also, best wishes to Anna's
dad, as it is his birthday today! Chris

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Monday, December 06, 2004

On and off track

As planned, on Saturday we attended the 444th running of our local hash, as you can see things got
off to a fast start, and we were able to catch up with a lot of our hash friends that we haven't seen for some weeks. The run took us through a section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and the weather was just right - sunny, but not blisteringly hot. Since our hosts also have a swimming pool, it was great to be able to dive in for a cooling dip at the end of the run. Sunday, we picked up the cot and change table - they only just fit into the car, but only just was good enough. It took us an hour or more to put everything together, but by the end we were very pleased with the result - this time we managed to get everything upstairs without a hiccup, and by the time Anna had fitted the sheets & blanket to the cot it was looking very comfy. Anna then attended her Sinfonia rehearsal, the performance is next week, before we finished the day having a video conference with Anna's family in Barkers Green. Her brother looked a little worse for wear after Saturday night out (I felt much the same myself when I woke up on Sunday), but I'm sure the Christmas dinner they had planned would perk him up. Chris

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Friday, December 03, 2004

The weekend ahead

I've been working in Canberra for some of this week and, while talking to Anna last night, I found out that the
cot and change table we ordered are now ready for pick-up. So, Anna has been clearing out the second bedroom so that we can assemble them this weekend. Also, we have a scenic run planned for tomorrow, as it is the 444th running of our local hash, so it will be good to catch up with some people that we haven't seen for a few weeks. The route to the run also takes us past one of the Babies Galore shops, so we thought we might stop in to take a look around the pram section - all tips welcomed if anyone has any... Chris

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Step-by-step

A friend of ours is currently undergoing some fairly invasive medical care, and I thought I'd dedicate todays' post to them. I have spent my fair share of time in hospitals, and it is common to feel that your life is on-hold at these points. We all have a variety of crossroads that we have to negotiate in our lives, and discovering that you have an illness is one of these times. However, moving ahead with treatment is the most positive step that you can take when you find yourself at such a point, as it represents the decision to tackle the issue head-on. Although it can be a difficult process, each small step that you take forward is bringing you closer to the goal of making that crossroads another of the many that you have successfully negotiated. Our very best wishes are with you now and for the future.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

How many wheels?

Anna & I attended the seventh (and final) of our ante-natal classes last night, and once again the information provided was really useful as the discussion was centred around what things you should/should not buy for the baby. All progressed smoothly until the subject of prams/strollers got mentioned, at which point the woman leading the class made the mistake of referring to accessory prams as she termed them. What she meant by this was that, at least here in Sydney, you see quite a lot of rather trendy-looking three-wheel joggers, and some even more
bizarre-looking four-wheel prams - her point was that there are a pretty standard list of actual requirements for a pram, and that simple four-wheeled prams typically offer the best combination of convenience, practicality and safety. A somewhat heated debate ensued, as those people that had already bought an accessory pram justified their purchase! The item that she rated most highly of all, however, was the Baby Bjorn carrier that she said was a real god-send, especially when travelling. So, I think we'll definitely be investing in one of these for when we visit the UK next year. Earlier in the day, we also got the chance to have afternoon tea with Helen's mum, Sheila, who is currently towards the end of her tour around New Zealand & Australia. It was nice to catch up with her for an hour or so before our class, and ask her to pass on our best wishes to the Barber & Kirk families. Chris

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