Thursday, 25 May 2017

IVF #3, FET #3: T-Day!

Today is the big day!

Note: We're not bring all nine home with us, this just happened to be the first embryo photo I found on my laptop!

Hopefully by the time you're reading this I will be what is known in IVF-circles as 'PUPO', that is 'Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise' and all being well my future offspring will be getting snuggled in nice and tight ready for a cosy nine months with me.

I have no idea which of the Nine that will be, but I'm hoping that some time in the future they might get to read the letters I wrote to them during April (along with the dozens of others I intend to write along the way).

If any of you would care to put out some good vibes into the universe in whichever way you prefer; good thoughts, well wishes, prayers, whatever, they will all be gratefully accepted.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Making use of...
... the local library at last!

The library is open late on a Tuesday so I took advantage of this to pop in on the way home from work and pick up the May Book Club book.

Of course, this means that I'm now frantically trying to finish the ebook I'm reading at the moment. It's taking a little while since I'm falling into the habit of nodding off while I'm reading it. The night before last I woke up to find Mr Click blissfully snoring away on top of my Kindle. Luckily there was no harm done.

... for tomorrow! Embryo Transfer Day!

I wrote out a massive list of things I needed to get done this evening. We've got a very early start tomorrow and I've got the complication of meds to take before I go so I need to get as much done as possible tonight.

As I'm writing this, I'm charging my Kindle, Fitbit and powerbank. Next up on the list is organising the clothes I'm planning on wearing (my lucky outfit which I've worn to every appointment on this round, the nurses must think I'm a real skank with only one set of clothes). That's to be followed by doing a stock take of the meds I have in the cupboard (and scattered elsewhere around the house) so I can request extras to see me through to the Official Test Date.

... for an early night.

We do have an early start after all. And it's kind of an important day for us.

Keep everything crossed for a successful thaw and transfer.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Books 46 & 46 of 2016: The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel & Dear Almost a poem by Matthew Thorburn

Yesterday I shared The Hogwarts Tag which included a picture of my Halloween costume for last year. I very carefully hand-lettered a book cover for a Muggle Studies textbook. That 'textbook' was actually the 46th book that I read last year, The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel, the fourth book in the Earth's Children series.

When it's not dressed up as a Hogwarts school book, it looks like this:

This book follows Ayla and Jondalar's journey back across all the land that Jondalar spent the last two books travelling through. Their journey is pretty time sensitive as the last bit of the journey requires them to cross a glacier and warmer weather is rapidly approaching. They meet up with a lot of other people and have a lot of hot prehistoric sex!

This is a massive book; it clocks in at 724 pages! This was the main reason I picked it to become a Hogwarts textbook because it looked suitably massive enough to be a magical book. Sadly I don't have Hermione's beaded bag so it took me nearly a month to read as it had to stay at home rather than come out in my bag; if I'd taken it with me there was very little room for anything else!

I think it would have been better as at least two, if not three books. Ayla and Jondalar spend time with several different tribes and since Auel goes into so much detail on everything that even more detail could've been given to the cultures and the book wouldn't have been so huge. There was SO MUCH of this book dedicated to the scenery and the flora and fauna that I couldn't help but skim read those bits.

And then there's the sex. There's so much sex. Ayla and Jondalar regularly stop to 'share Pleasures', which isn't bad in and of itself but the book could have been about two hundred pages shorter if they'd not stopped to bonk quite so often!

When I finished this on the 24th of November I was initially at a bit of loss for what to read next and just planned to select a Christmas read from my Kindle when I arrived home from work to find a package from Stacy @ Stacy's Books. It contained a copy of Dear Almost a poem by Matthew Thorburn.

This is a book length poem, written after the author and his wife experienced a miscarriage. It's addressed to the child who they never got to meet.

It arrived on exactly the right day, the one year anniversary of losing our twins and it was just what I needed to read. I'm not sure I can even formulate the words to explain just how beautiful this book is. I had a physical ache in my chest as I read it. I stopped up late and cried.

You can actually feel the love and grief in the words on the page, but in a way it was also nice to read. Pregnancy loss is one of those things which is so rarely spoken about, it was strangely validating to read a book written by someone who experienced it and had gone through all those emotions you had felt and were feeling.

I don't normally share quotes on my book review posts anymore, but this one had so many quotes I wanted to save in my book journal that I can't help but share the top five I selected to copy out in the the end, because this will explain my feelings for this book far better than any words I can use.

Pages 25 & 26
I want to show you
what life is like
here where you ought to be
with us, but aren't:
a not-uncommon story
though few people will tell you

it's their story too. They choose
not to relive it, relieved
not to revisit what happened
or didn't. What should have.
What went wrong
for no other reason, finally,
than that it didn't go right.
Ours is the story of how
is became was and was became
wasn't, became no,
became not. The story of
our almost girl, our might've been.

Page 41
This is the story of
what's missing, a space
one can see only
because we've filled in
everything around it:
keyhole I peer through
to what I can't hold,
little hole in my heart
where the air leaks out,
little no more, no luck or way
or how.

Page 44
I think of you still,
so still, and not there anymore
in that dark room,
though I ought to know
better, though I feel
the tiny light I cup
deep inside me gutter
and go out. "It's strange,"
Lily says when
I come home, "and unsatisfying, isn't it?
To hurt like this for someone

we never met?"

Pages 53 & 54
a piece of me that's
missing. I almost didn't
know she was there
but she was there and now
she's gone.

Pages 71 & 72
It scares me
I can no longer
picture your face,
which was only ever
my imagining of
how your face
might look someday -
not enough
to hold onto.
I've had to learn to live
with this: we
didn't see you, didn't
meet you, only
knew you
were there a little while
and then you weren't.

There are lots of little repeated motifs through the book as the seasons change and the author seems to come to terms with the loss they experienced. The sense of loving someone you never got to meet and really knew nothing about, but who you loved completely unconditionally.

Even if you've never suffered that kind of loss yourself, read this book. It might just give you a glimpse into what other people have suffered and you might come close to getting a tiny sense of understanding.

Just read it.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Hogwarts Tag

I've started keeping a little document on my laptop for blog post ideas and when I saw The Hogwarts Tag on A.J. Sterkel's blog @ Read All The Things, I knew that was a thing I needed to do.

Being a massive Harry Potter nerd, who has spent part of the last week planning a trip to London for the studio tour, this seemed right up my street. If it's your kind of thing too, feel free to tag yourself and leave a link in the comments to your answers.

The Hogwarts Tag

Am I a Pureblood, Half-Blood or Muggle Born?
I swing between being Pureblood and Half-Blood. I think maybe I'm technically Pureblood, but there's a Squib in there somewhere which muddies the waters somewhat! I'm happy to embrace my Muggle-ish side.

Which wand chose me?
Laurel, 10 inches, unicorn hair core (of course), slightly springy.

Did I take an owl, cat, rat, or toad with me?
It would obviously be a rat. I just might have to smuggle two in with me, after all, they need ratty company!

For practical reasons, later on I think an owl would be useful, but while I'm at Hogwarts I can use the school owls, right?

Where did the sorting hat put me?
I am so definitely in Ravelclaw! 

Note the rat in my cauldron!
What house did I want to be in?
Ravenclaw all the way. Ever since I first read the Sorting Hat's song in the first book I've known where I truly belong. Pottermore has only confirmed that for me (twice).

What lessons are my favourite and least favourite?
I think I'd be really good at Charms and I would love Transfiguration (though I'd need to put in a little more effort there). History of Magic would come to me relatively easily and I'd do fine with Ancient Runes. I would also really enjoy Muggle Studies.

Potions would not be one of my top subjects. I'd probably be okay on the theory but not so hot on the practical side of things; same with Herbology. I would want to be good at Defense Against the Dark Arts but coming face to face with a Boggart would flummox me!

The form my Patronus takes?
According to Pottermore it's a Sparrowhawk:

But I've always felt that it would be more likely to be a dog, specifically a collie.

Your Patronus can change over time though, right? So perhaps I'll get my collie some day.

What does a Boggart look like for me?
I'm with Ron on this one, a big spider would send me running for the hills. That or a negative pregnancy test perhaps.

Do I partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?
Definitely no on the sports front. Perhaps I'd join the Wizarding Chess Club, or the Charms Club. Perhaps I'd organise a book club or knitting group for my fellow students.

Where would I find myself hanging in my free time?
Either the library or in the Ravenclaw common room. Somewhere peaceful where I can surround myself with books.

What would I most likely get detention for?
I managed to go right the way through school with any 'bad comments', demerits, punishment exercises, or detentions. I was a swot.

Of course, Hogwarts is a different kettle of fish so perhaps getting caught performing a spell that backfires or doing something stupid in class.

What career do I want after leaving Hogwarts?
I imagine I'd go work for the Daily Prophet (or some other Wizarding publication) or perhaps get work in Flourish & Blotts. In the end I'd probably end up working for the Ministry or perhaps finding some way to get back into Hogwarts; Flitwick or McGonagall have to retire sooner or later!

How about you?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

IVF #3, FET#3: Lubion Injection

Something that I learned very early on in the IVF process is that you have to try and learn something from each failure, if you don't you'll probably drive yourself crazy. I think trying to find one positive thing from each disappointment is about one of the only things that has kept me sane during the last four years.

Case in point:

  • IVF #1 - Cancelled cycle due to OHSS. Lessons: I respond (very) well to stimulation meds, hyperstimulation is serious and very, very bad.
  • IVF #2 - four embryos made it to blastocyst, froze three and transferred one fresh which didn't take. Lessons: I can make it to egg collection without hyperstimulation, egg collection isn't fun but I can survive it, our embryos can make it to blasto stage, perhaps fresh transfer isn't best for me as my body might need more time to recover.
  • IVF #2, FET #1 - transferred two embryos and both stuck but suffered an early miscarriage. Lessons: I can get pregnant! Progesterone delivery might be an issue as have had spotting whilst on Cyclogest on both transfers, perhaps it's time to try something different?
  • IVF #2, FET #2 - transferred our last frozen embryo and switched to Crinone Gel for Progesterone support, spectacular failure five days after transfer. Lessons: Progesterone absorption is clearly an issue, time to bring in the big guns! Also, 100% success at thawing our embryos, this is a good thing.
  • IVF #3 - Return of the OHSS, freeze all cycle with 9 fabulous embryos! Lessons: I still respond (very) well to stimulation meds, our embryos appear to be better quality that the ones we produced two years ago so those lifestyle changes we made have obviously helped.
See what I mean?

The major lesson we've taken away from our failed (and briefly successful) transfers is that my body is stubborn about accepting support.

We switched from the Cyclogest pessaries to the Crinone Gel because I liked the idea of getting up and moving around after putting it in, rather than having a lie down for twenty minutes each time. The Cyclogest sort of bullet shaped and in a waxy coating which leaks out afterwards and I was suspicious that perhaps the medication was leaking out as well. It appears that Crinone Gel is even harder for the body to absorb though, so this time we're back on the Cyclogest with the added fun of a Progesterone injection once a day as well.

When this was agreed upon I did what any normal person would do. Promptly logged onto Dr Google and freaked myself the hell out!

Everything I was reading about was Progesterone in Oil (or PIO) injections. This is an oil-based injection, usually sesame (which some people then discover they are allergic to), which is injected in the posterior (and is therefore hard to self-administer), and can cause ongoing discomfort in the form of painful lumps under the skin. Oh, and it's intramuscular which means a massive great big needle. None of this reassured me and there were several moments when, despite identifying Progesterone absorption as being an in issue independently of my doctor, I seriously considered changing mind mind about doing it.

So imagine my surprise at our appointment on Thursday when our nurse, the lovely D, went off to get a collection of syringes, needles and our latest lot of meds, and returned with something called Lubion. I sort of panicked a little because a voice in the back of my head started jumping up and down yelling 'we haven't Googled that one!' but as it turns out, it's a lot easier to use than the alternative.

For one thing, there is no mixing involved! Fertility treatments are so stressful as it is without the added hassle of sucking up liquid from Vial A, injecting it into the powder in Vial B, stirring it around to dissolve it, drawing the resulting solution back into the syringe, switching needles and injecting yourself, all to a set schedule where you're not wanting to be even a minute late with it.

See those little vials, I just suck up the liquid from one of those and inject it into my tummy. And that's right! My tummy! No gymnastics or asking (the chronically needle-phobic) Mr Click to do it for me. I like to be in control of stabby things getting injected into my body, thank you very much.

Since I knew that the PIO injections were a literal pain in the ass, I was prepared for this to be a little uncomfortable. And it was. Not helped by the fact that I nicked something as it was going in and I ended up bleeding right after I took the needle out.

It also seems to be harder to push in than the injections I've been on previously. Normally when you get a stingy one (Cetrotide, I'm looking at you), you whack that sucker in as quick as you can so the burny feeling hits you once it's all in, not halfway down the syringe. Try as I might, there's no way I can get this one in as quick as I'd like to. You just have to keep pushing, grin and bear it.

I was so tender after I did this one yesterday that I had to unbutton my jeans all day, I managed to do it right where my waistband falls and it was pressing against it when I sat down. There's a tiny bruise there too and an area about the size of a 50p piece which hurts when I bent or stretched.

Today's was a lot smoother, no blood and less pain so hopefully I'm getting the hang of it (having said that, I just poked my belly to check if today's injection site is tender and it is when poked so add that to the list of things not to do)!

Fingers crossed I'll still be doing this daily injection in twelve weeks time. I'll be a pro at it by then!

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Pregnancy Paradox

As I write this blog post, I am currently one week, 6 days pregnant. Before you start getting excited and congratulating me, my embryo transfer isn't actually for another six days so there isn't actually anyone in there yet. I'm in this strange mystical stage between being and not being. Is this the point where you're a little bit pregnant?

The reason for my current unpregnancy is because of the way pregnancies are dated. Normal women can't usually pinpoint the exact hour when their offspring were conceived. Normal women don't have regular cycles where they ovulate on Day 14 to allow for an exact gestational age to be calculated. Normal people forget or don't keep track of these things or assume that Tab A fitting into Slot B is all you need to do to get knocked up. Normal people sometimes fudge things, as House so sagely told us, everybody lies; how do the doctors know you conceived when you said you probably did?

So they date pregnancies from the woman's Last Monthly Period and assume most people will ovulate about two weeks after the start of the bleed. This is, of course, wildly inaccurate since you can have a woman with a 30 day cycle who ovulates on Day 19 or a woman with a 28 day cycle who ovulates on Day 11. But this is how it's done. And IVF pregnancies get the same treatment.

Even though I know their exact age, the simple act of them making contact with my body ages them by two weeks. I suspect it's this concept which has been acting on Mr Click over the past decade we've spent together because he went grey very quickly after we got together!

Not only are my embryos magical beings who can survive in suspended animation, they're time travelling as well!

Yesterday we had our hospital appointment in Glasgow to check how I've been responding to the medication I'm on. Answer: well enough to move on to the next stage. My lining was sitting at a happy 7.3mm (they like anything over 6mm, preferably 7mm to progress onto the drugs to prepare the body for transfer).

I was sent away with a fantastic goody bag. No, seriously, look at what was in it:

Not pictured there is my sharps bucket into which the contents of that bag on the right hand side will be going as they're used (along with the preloaded Clexane syringes too) and the Progynova tablets I'm already taking.

Oh yeah, that's about two-three weeks supply just there. Most of these will be taken until I'm twelve weeks pregnant. Yikes!

At the time we left the hospital we didn't know for sure how many days pregnant I could count at that very minute. We'd been told the transfer was likely to be on the Thursday or Friday. I've spent the past three weeks planning for a Friday transfer and hoping it would fall on the 26th just in time for putting my feet up and chilling for the Bank Holiday weekend, the idea that it could fall on a Thursday as well called for some readjustments to my plans!

So we headed into town, and had lunch, and travelled back; the whole time I had a vice-like grip on my phone ready for the Embryologist calling. It came in a little after 4:30pm. Thursday.

And even though my embryos are neither defrosted nor in me, that means that I am unofficially pregnant right now. And by this time next week I will be classed as 'PUPO', an awful acronym which means 'Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise'.

Keep everything crossed!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dodgy Unicorn

Do you remember a few weeks ago I shared this picture?

The pattern was a wee bit complicated for such a small project and when I reached this point and realised I was supposed to snip through my knitting, unravel it and pick up some stitched that would then be hanging loose, so I promptly stuck it in a bag and put it in time out until I was ready to tackle it.

On Bank Holiday Monday I decided that the time had come to get it finished. So I spent much of my afternoon stuffing and sewing and sorting out the mane.

I wound up not bothering with the fiddly cutting and picking up of stitches. Instead I went for the equally fiddly, but slightly less nerve-wracking, option of casting on the head separately and then sewing it on where I should have picked up the stitches to knit it. It made getting the eyes on a little tricky since there was a blue knitted strip in the way, but otherwise I think it turned out okay.

I also didn't bother stuffing the legs, since they were pretty stable once they were sewn up. The mane could've been a little neater but by the time I got to that bit I was ready to be done with it.

It's ever-so-slightly wonky. The horn has a touch of a curl to it, which I actually quite like, but there's something about the shape of its face and the placement of its eyes, and those massive ears, which makes me think of my little wonky Dodger rat.

I don't think I'll be repeating this patter again, but I might try adapting it into a slightly simpler version because I know of a fair few ladies who would appreciate a little unicorn paying them a visit.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


... very tired.

That little bottle is the reason for the tired.

It's a nasal spray which is doing the job of my Prostap injection (since that only lasts for a month at a time), this is keeping my mini-menopause topped up. I have to snort this stuff four times a day to keep my body from taking over and doing what it's supposed to normally do, since I'm taking medication that will do all that for me.

I should note that it doesn't actually come with the clever yellow chart around it, that was my own addition. I'm actually kind of regretting my paper colour choice now since the little container the spray bottle goes in is about the size of urine sample bottle, so with the yellow paper around it, it kind of looks like I'm carrying a bottle of pee around with me everywhere I go.

And why is it making me tired?

Well, it's one of the side effects, along with these niggly, almost-tension headaches which come on about twenty minutes after a spray and dissipate about 45 minutes before my next dose.

But it's also because of the four times a day rule for this stuff. There are set times I have to take it; 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 11pm. It's the 11pm one that's the kicker. I'd actually rather they were all an hour earlier because I have no problem getting up at 6am (even on the weekend I'm awake then). But stopping up until 11pm is HARD, especially when you've been snorting this stuff all day and you're feeling worn out.

Trying out...
... a new phone.

This will probably be a whole blog post in its own right because setting up a new phone is never as straightforward as it looks, is it?

Our phone contract was coming up for renewal so we took advantage of it to replace our phones (Mr Click's has no space because it's filled up with operating system and mine spends half its time with a black screen trying to remember what I asked it to do). The poor things are over three years old which I get the impression is pretty old in modern mobile phone years (Mr Click's old Nokia that his father inherited is still going strong nearly two decades later).

Mine arrived today and I took it out the box, stroked it lovingly and then put it away again. I'll deal with that on Friday, today there were ratties to clean our which was far more pressing than playing with a new toy!

... for my next hospital appointment.

Which is tomorrow. This one is to check how I'm responding to the Progynova pills I've been popping for the last twelve days. I'll have my blood taken as well as a scan and all being well it will show that my endometrium (that's my womb lining) is over 6mm thick so we can move onto the next stage and the Embryologist can get in touch to tell us what the procedure will be for the transfer.

If it's less than 6mm thick then I'll have the weekend to fatten the thing up before another blood test and scan. Obviously, I'm hoping it's already hit the peak point but I know my body tends to be a little bit slow on a frozen transfer, so I won't be too disappointed if I'm not there just yet (so long as I get there eventually).

Think thick thoughts for me!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Books 44 & 45 of 2016: Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs & Songs of the Road by Arthur Conan Doyle

I feel like all I seem to be doing at the moment is writing book reviews. Since I got my new Kindle I've rediscovered my love of the Goodreads site, so I've been working back through my book journals for the last couple of years and adding all the reviews to the site. I'm all up to date again now, but I've still got a few books to add from some of my older book journals.

But here and now, I'm looking at two of the books I was reading in October last year. The first of these is Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs.

Tempe Brennan is excavating some remains in an old convent when the call comes in that there's been a fire and she's needed to help identify the bodies. Soon the bodies start to mount up, including murdered twin boys, and it appears that there's a strange cult behind it. As if that's not enough, her sister Harry has come to town and is acting oddly too.

I've read this one several times but it's been a while since my last reread and I'd forgotten just how much was packed into this book. For some reason I thought that some of the dead bodies that crop up in this story were actually from a later book in the series.

That said, once I started reading it, I started to remember what happened at the end, so that made me read slower. I can't help it, if there's no urgency to get through the book to find out who did it, I can't help but slow down. I like trying to solve the crime which obviously, I don't need to do if I already know who the bad guys are.

I think I also found it difficult to get through this book because the deaths of the babies really bothered me. I found that hard to read and so that made it harder to pick up the book.

This book is notable for being the one where Tempe and Andrew Ryan kiss for the first time. In fact, they almost do a lot more than just kiss! Whenever I read that now I can't help but be taken back to the moment I read it, sitting on a train heading into Glasgow on my way to Uni. We were almost into Glasgow Central and I didn't want to stop reading to get off the train!

I followed this up with an ebook, picking one which had been on my Kindle for ages without having been read. It just happened to be an Arthur Conan Doyle book, Songs of the Road. This is a poetry collection.

I didn't actually realise that Arthur Conan Doyle had written poetry so it was a bit of a surprise when I opened it and discovered this was a poetry book! On the whole I did enjoy it.

The poems all seemed to follow a similar sort of rhythm. Without getting too OU-ish about it, I thought the metre of the poems was good. There's also lots of references to places in Scotland which were fun to look out for.

Some of the poems also used different accents in them which were a fun little touch. I felt like it followed on quite nicely from the Merry Men ebook which I'd read a few weeks before.

I think that there's another couple of Arthur Conan Doyle books that I've not yet read. I might have to bump them up my reading list.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Another Shopping Spree

I feel like half my blog posts at the moment are about shopping trips I've been on!

On the 7th of May, Mr Click and I went to the mainland with a couple of friends. We left the menfolk to attend a Ham Radio convention and we went off for a little retail therapy. There was only one place I wanted to go, Hobbycraft.

Like Paperchase, they've got a rewards card which includes a £5 voucher on your birthday. I heard about this about a week before my birthday so deliberately signed up for the card a couple of days beforehand so that the voucher would still be valid when we took our shopping trip. Just because I'm treating myself, doesn't mean I don't want to save a little money!

One of the things I was planning to buy was a white tree for my window. Technically these are wedding decorations but I love the idea of having something in the window which I can decorate each month. Ultimately it'll be where I hang our snowflake decorations at Christmas, but the rest of the time we'll decorate it with things that relate to what we're doing at that time.

When it came down to it, I decided against getting one because getting it home would be tricky. These trees are white and are unboxed so I'll go slightly better prepared to bring it home next time. It's actually not all bad because this way I'll have time to actually knit some decorations for it. I'm aiming to have that sorted in time for autumn, so lots of brown leaves to get knitting now.

I recently completed my collection of Jean Greenhowe knitting patterns:

That's all 27 of them right there. It's my aim to have knit something from each book and eventually to pick a pattern book and knit everything in it too.

But of course, that meant that I was looking for another designer whose books I could start collecting. Well, I've alighted upon Sarah Keen, not least because I've already got three of her books. And in Hobbycraft I picked up my fourth:

Image from
I followed that up with some googly eyes (since the Jean Greenhowe Jiffyknits patterns, among others, use them), a set of pom pom makers and some yarn. The yarn was something that I had intended to pick up, I was looking for something that was flesh coloured for knitting dolls with. I've considered ordering it online but I needed to see it in person to gauge what colours I was getting.

That was really the only other thing that I actually intended to buy and bought. So I didn't really get what I went for, but I'm pretty pleased with what I came home with.

Do you ever have shopping trips like that?

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Post-Hospital Bargains

Last week I blogged about my hospital appointment for my baseline scan. We followed up the appointment with a little trip around the shops in Glasgow.

When we were there for my Prostap injection I got a new pencil case and some unicorn stickers in Paperchase where I signed up for a reward card with them. One of the major selling points was the £5 off voucher I was promised for my birthday, which was just over a week later and would be valid for two weeks, perfect timing for the next hospital appointment.

We took advantage of the hospital appointment to make use of the voucher. When I'd been picking up the pencil case and stickers I'd been playing 'spot the unicorn'. Unicorns are in fashion at the moment so I found a huge number of them, one of which was a book called 'Keep Calm and Colour Unicorns'. I'd wanted to pick it up then, but couldn't really justify adding to my already heaving collection of colouring books.

Well, with a voucher it was basically a free book, so I was happy to treat myself.

We had a bit of time to kill before we could get lunch so we headed into The Works where they were having a Spring Clearance sale. I spotted the unicorn mug at once and kind of fell in love with it. I love the idea of having something to boost my spirits with my morning tea of bedtime hot chocolate. In the end, after trying to talk myself out of it, Mr Click treated me.

Which meant that I was free to splurge on two more knitting books!

The Knits for Kitties book is actually one which I saw in Ayr and really wanted to get but didn't. It's got some fabulous little toys and animals in it. The other, Cute Knitted Toys, has a basic pattern which is attempted in each pattern to make simplistic animal patterns. Another two for the collection and they only cost £4 for the two!

Perhaps the best bargain of the day was one which I didn't even take a photo of.

I left Mr Click in one shop and took myself into Rymans to look at all the lovely stationery stuff. My oldest colouring pencils are getting a bit past it now so I was on the hunt for some new ones. They had some good offers in there, but none seemed quite as good as the Millie Marotta colouring book, Curious Creatures, which came with a pack of 36 Maped colouring pencils. It was originally £14.99 but had been marked down to £7.49.

Mr Click offered to treat me since it was a really reasonable price for the pencils even without the colouring book. So imagine how pleased we were when the till rang it up at £2! I almost wish I'd picked up another set!

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Lost Library Card

I recently joined a book club because the one thing I need more of is excuses to read books. I've been involved in book clubs before, mostly online and I always enjoy finding new authors and books that way; it was how I came to fall in love with To Kill A Mockingbird and Neil Gaiman.

Once the first book was selected I planned to buy my own copy for a little while but I'm trying to get fewer books at the moment since I don't really have space for the ones I've already got. Then it was time to consider the ebook version but by that time I'd alighted on a better idea.

Check it out of the library!

It's been quite a while since I'd been there, which I've always felt kind of guilty about since I used to be in and out of the place. So many places are losing their libraries and I'd hate for something to happen to ours, all the more reason to actually use it!

Armed with a plan, I went onto the library catalogue website and ran a little search. Sure enough they had the book, but it was out on loan until next week. No fear, I thought, I'll just reserve it for myself afterwards.

Now, our library system uses your library card as your login. I pulled out my purse to retrieve the card, but it wasn't there. Other places it wasn't included the bottom of my bag, the top of my bookcase and the cupboards beside my chair.

And that was when it dawned on me. I knew exactly where my library card would be.

You see, the last time I actually planned to go to the library was a good couple of years ago. I decided I would nip to the library on the way home from work, since I was walking by it anyway. Wanting to keep my library card close at hand, I stuck the card between the pages of my book as a bookmark.

Well, one thing lead to another and I didn't go to the library. I finished the book and set it aside, but never actually removed the 'bookmark' from it.

This means that somewhere in one of the boxes of books upstairs, sandwiched between the pages, is my poor old abandoned library card.

Luckily I finished work early this afternoon so was able to stop into the library and I'm not the proud owner of a shiny new book passport:

And I won't be using this one as a bookmark!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mini Mischief

Thank you for all the birthday messages! I'm still getting caught up on comments after the A to Z Challenge (hopefully I'll have made it as far as my Z post by the end of this month) but I have read all the comments on my birthday post. :-D

Obviously, I had a fantastic day. It was wonderfully relaxed, which was just what I needed. As I mentioned, there was a definite theme to the day; Knitting and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them so I decided to combine the two by knitting some fantastic beasts of my own.

Namely, my Mischief; Dodger, Fezziwig, Jingle and Pocket.

I started off with Mini!Fez because I had the perfect yarn for his fur and I also needed to get the hang of where I would need to change colours for my more complicated rats.

And I finished up with Mini!Pocket:

As Pocket is a Himalayan I had to work out how many rows I would need to do to get the colouring right on his nose and bum. I think I got his nose spot on but may have done a row too many on his backside.

Dodger and Jingle were a little tricky to get their eyes right on since they're black and they pretty much went invisible once they were sewn on. I had great fun sewing up Dodger's black stripe on his back, though I overdid the stuffing a little and he turned out bigger than Fezziwig!

It wasn't until after I'd got them all knitted and their tails sewn on that I realised that I'd basically spend the day knitting little rat-coloured tampons!


Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Back to...
... colouring in!

I finished up the picture I'd been working on in Johanna Basford's Secret Garden earlier in the week and went straight on to this one from Lost Ocean. I've been feeling a tad wound up recently, I'm guessing it's the hormones, and struggling to focus on anything too demanding so colouring in seemed like the perfect thing to do.

I'm very much a fan of picking a few colours and then limiting myself to a particular palette in these pictures. I've managed to move away from the 'proper' colours of things (since colouring in a picture with blue and purple trees) so this time I used a random colour generator to give me an idea of two colours. It threw up green and black so that's what I've gone with, mixing it up a little with black plants and green sealife. I'm planning on adding some pink to the mix soon as well.

... Andrew Lang's The Yellow Fairy Book.

It seemed like a nice easy choice back at the beginning of the month but oh boy! Here we are a week later and I'm still reading it.

Part of the problem is, I'm sure, the fact that my meds are making me feel wiped out (and the aforementioned lack of concentration) plus work is insanely busy at the moment. And I've been spending my time colouring in rather than reading, and a hundred and one other excuses. It's just taking forever.

And I am enjoying it. Some of the stories are a little bit repetitive, but on the whole it's good fun. But right now I'm still 20% from the end and it's probably going to take me until at least Sunday to get there.

... to start snorting Buserelin.

I've got two more nights where I can turn the light off at 10:30pm and happily roll over to sleep. Friday morning is going to begin with a snort at 7am, followed by one at 12pm, one at 6pm and the final one of the day at 11pm.

These are crucial timings and I am not to miss one at all. I suspect that there probably is a little bit of leeway with these, after all, the drug will build up in your system. But all the same, the nurses and the paperwork drum it into you that it absolutely has to be done at those times. And with all these things, I always think, 'if it didn't work would you wonder what if I'd taken my meds at the right time?' if the answer is yes, you should probably take them when you're told.

On the other hand, this might work out in my favour, since I'll need to do something to keep me awake (I don't trust myself to set an alarm and actually wake up since my latest trick is rolling over, switching off the alarm after its gone off and then having a sleepy Mr Click mumble 'was that the alarm?' to cause me to bolt out of bed). I might get a lot of reading done, sitting up in bed, that's assuming I don't get distracted by something shiny or which I could colour in!

What are your favourite methods to keep yourself awake when you need to stay up?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Books 42 & 43 of 2016: The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace & Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson

When I visit my Nan in Wales, she always makes a point of making sure I'm well set for reading material and The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace was one that she passed on to me when I went down last year.

It is set during the Victorian era and features a woman named Anna who has been sent away by her husband to an institution. At first it seems as though she was sent there with just cause, but gradually Anna's story comes out which makes you wonder if perhaps her husband's motives might have been ever so slightly sinister. Alongside this is the story of a young doctor who is exploring the possibility of using photography to help diagnose the women he treats.

I felt like I had a bit of a slow start to this one. I guess part of that was because in the beginning I wasn't sure what to expect from it and even when I started I didn't know what sort of a story it was going to be. As I progressed through the book and I learned more about Anna and how she came to be where she was, I couldn't help but get hooked and really drawn in.

It was written in such a way that my opinion of Anna changed as I read. At the start of the book I believed that there was something wrong with Anna because she didn't seem to be doing much to prove her sanity, but gradually I came to realise that there was nothing wrong with her and that there were bigger factors at play in the story.

There's also the subplot featuring the family who run the institution she has been sent away to, and the realisation that they're all kind of in need of help themselves. I found their story almost as interesting as Anna's, particularly trying to figure out what Catherine was going through.

At the end of this book is a preview of the next book, however this one follows Louisa and Harriet; Anna's sister and niece. I love it when you get books which share characters, however this one is set many years after the events of Anna's story. I wonder if Anna will crop up in that one.

I followed this up with a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson stories on the Kindle, Merry Men.

I was already familiar with one of the stories in this collection, Olalla, which I have in the Penguin Little Black Classics edition. I think that I enjoyed it a little more for the second reading though.

This collection had a very 'Scottish' feel to it, particularly 'The Merry Men' and 'Thrawn Janet'. 'The Merry Men' was set on a Scottish island so I especially enjoyed the references to island life in that one. The latter was written in Scots dialect; sometimes I think in Scots dialect (even though when I speak there is no hiding my Englishness), so I didn't have any trouble understanding the story. It was pretty creepy.

'The Treasure of Franchard' seemed to go on for a really long time, but I did enjoy the ending. I think I appreciated it more when I finished it than I did when I was reading it because I liked the way that it ended up developing.

I do have to admit that I'm a bit of a Stevenson fan so I doubt that this will be the last book I read by him.

Monday, 8 May 2017

TV Series Review: 24

Towards the end of last year one of my colleagues at work summoned me to his desk as soon as I'd walked through the door. Intrigued I headed over and was definitely not expecting him to ask me whether I'd ever seen the TV series 24. I've been passed a fair few book recommendations from him over the years, but normally this kind of conversation is reserved for asking me to pick up some emails or do a little handlettering, I definitely play to my strengths at work.

Instead, he had the box set of 24 and wanted to know if I wanted to borrow it. I did and that afternoon it was duly deposited on my desk.

We didn't get around to it until the start of this year seeing as we were entrenched in our annual Christmas film session at the time he brought the series to me. We'd originally planned to go on with watching Criminal Minds at the start of the year, until I decided that I really couldn't face it at the time we were doing the IVF treatment. I needed something a little softer which didn't have people being brutally murdered and sadistic serial killers at every turn.

It turns out that 24 fit that bill quite well. This is kind of funny considering there are nuclear bombs and shoot outs and poisonous gases and all sorts of other terrible things going on in every episode but perhaps because the original series started way back over a decade ago before these things became so commonplace in out TV viewing, it didn't feel as intense somehow.

24 is basically a cross between Die Hard and Spooks. Each series is told in real-time, following Jack Bauer, a CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) Agent as well as his friends, family and coworkers. Every episode follows the events that take place within that hour and I have to admit, it's a nice gimmick.

When we first began watching the very first series I was a little worried. As with any series with an ensemble cast, it can be a little tricky to keep track of who everyone is and what they're doing. And it seemed like there was a lot happening right from the very first second of this series. Once I got into the swing of things though, I have to admit that I quite enjoyed it.

Mr Click and I had a bit of a bad habit of commenting on everything that was going on, mainly because of how there was never just one bad thing happening. All of the bad things, things that can go wrong, and inconvenient moments all happen at the worst possible moment. Sometimes you go kind of get the sense that they were dragging the storylines out just to make sure it stretched out to the full twenty-four episodes for the series. The tension of the last four of five episodes of each series really bugged Mr Click no end, it was kind of funny watching him almost reach breaking point with every series.

Obviously the hero of the series was Jack Bauer, though at times he doesn't really come across as the most likable of guys. So many of the issues he (and everyone else) encounters in the series could be avoided if occasionally he just told them what he was doing and why. Of course, he couldn't do that because there were enemies on every side who might sell him out or take him down.

My favourite character is probably Chloe O'Brian, mainly because she is the person I could relate to most of all. She doesn't get on with most people, she just wants to get on with her job and she finds it very frustrating when other people want to do things in an impractical or inefficient way. A lot of the comments that she makes about things are the sorts of things I would be thinking myself were I in her shoes, but just wouldn't actually say out loud, or at least while there were people around in earshot. She probably undergoes the most growth as a character over the course of the series so it seemed like she may have actually learned some things from her experiences at CTU and with Jack.

Mr Click's favourite series was the very last one, whereas I liked the third one. We also both quite enjoyed the prequel to series 7, Redemption, which was included in the box set.

On the whole, I quite enjoyed the series and I'm glad that I've seen it. There were lots of little things that bugged me while I watched it, the not least the fact that for all its security and protocols, it was easier to get into CTU than the call centre where I work. Each series had a mole who was feeding information to the bad guys; you think they'd improve their screening procedures.

Also, in the 24-verse, being the President is a lonely job since you're pretty much guaranteed to lose all your family members once you get the role, probably because they're needing to go to jail for murdering people!

It's a programme I could see myself getting on DVD some time and watching again, though Mr Click isn't too sure himself. Watching it a second time would probably lessen some of that tension, but I'm sure it would make those earlier episodes a little easier to follow as you'd already have a handle on who everyone was.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

IVF #3, FET #3: Baseline Scan

May the Fourth was obviously Star Wars Day but this year for us it was something a little more important. It was also Baseline Scan Day.

It's probably not quite as exciting as Star Wars Day, but it's a pretty important day in the frozen embryo transfer process because it's the one which tells you whether you're ready to start the next lot of meds. Last year when we did our second FET it didn't go quite as planned and we had to postpone everything by a week until my body got itself in gear. And that was why I was feeling a bit nervous about this one.

I suspect this was why I didn't sleep too well the night before. We had a very early start (ten to five, ouch!) before the usual trek (car, boat, train, bus) to the hospital. Thankfully this appointment was at 9am so the journey was a little more relaxed than the last one.

I knew that this appointment would be for the baseline scan but I wasn't sure whether I would need to have any blood taken. It's ironic that when you're having an internal ultrasound, also known as the dildocam owing to its strong resemblance to the sort of thing you'd normally buy from a shop like Ann Summers, it's the blood test you look forward to the least! I guess that means I'm pretty used to the process by now.

It was the usual process. Summoned from the waiting room by a nurse (who was very friendly but I can't for the life of me remember her name now). She remembered us and asked about the island and our journey.

Mr Click got to have a nice little chat with her and her assistant nurse, I on the other hand was given a drape and sent off to the bathroom to disrobe from the waist down. Then it was up on the bed, legs in the stirrups and time for the close encounter with the scanner.

The baseline scan checks what's going on with your womb lining. The Prostap injection aimed to shut down my body's hormones and put me into a menopausal state. I had been told to expect a bleed some time after the jab and my body was a little bit slow to respond. Eventually, twelve days after the jab my uterus went into self-destruct mode, and it did such a good job that my lining measured a mere 3.2mm.

Last year it was still too thick at this stage so we'd had to wait another week for it to thin out some more. This time I got the go ahead to more on to stage two, Progynova, also known as HRT.

As of this morning I'm taking three of these little pills each day which will be doing their thing to plump up my womb lining for the next couple of weeks before I head back to the hospital to check my lining is scoring over 6mm.

Meanwhile, towards the end of next week my Prostap jab will be wearing off but we obviously don't want to risk me ovulating or my hormones getting any funny ideas about doing their own thing, so that's where the Suprecur nasal spray will come in. This is actually the same stuff I used as my trigger injection before egg collection (except that was injected, whereas this will be snorted).

Whereas the pills are taking once a day at roughly the same time, the nasal spray is far more exact. It has to be taken at 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 11pm each day (I actually count myself lucky here, I've seen some clinics instructing it to be taken every six hours - 6am, 12pm, 6pm, 12am - which is easier to remember but a lot easier to miss a dose). The really good thing about snorting the stuff at those times is that I get a hell of a lot of reading done trying to keep myself awake until 11pm; one of the Progynova side effects is tiredness.

Once we'd gone over all the meds, stowed them away in Mr Click's bag, confirmed what was being taken and when, updated all of our paperwork, and set a date and time for our return appointment, we were free to go.

By the time we go back I'll have been popping and snorting for two weeks and a week respectively. Fingers crossed we'll get a good result on the next scan.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Birthday Shopping

Last year on my birthday we headed to Dunoon as I was right in the middle of down regulation for our frozen embryo transfer and didn't feel like travelling too far afield. This year the down regulation for our current frozen transfer has started but we're not as far through it yet so we decided to follow our usual plan of heading to Oban for my birthday shopping trip.

Oban has a special place in our hearts as the first place Mr Click and I lived together (for a whole six weeks while I was on a teaching placement) was Appin and on a Friday or Saturday we would head into Oban for shopping and Chinese. I love the collection of charity shops there and we have our routine down to a fine art.

It meant a fairly early start for a Saturday (6am! Yikes!) and we headed off the top end by about 7:45am. We had planned to listen to music from Spotify I'd put onto my phone but we couldn't get the phone to connect to the car we were in, but we'd brought CDs so it was all good.

I love a good long car drive. We chatted, sang along to the music, admired the houses we were passing, kept an eye out for wildlife and tiny lambs. The journey was as much a part of the trip as the actual shopping expedition.

As usual we stopped off at a cafe when we arrived for a spot of breakfast (and after a one hour, forty-five minute drive, the loo) and then got down to the serious business of shopping. Often when I go charity shopping I'm heading out with a particular purchase in mind; new work tops, a particular book, board games, whatever. This time I didn't really have anything in particular other than a vague idea that I wanted to buy more knitting books.

Sadly, old knitting books were rather thin on the ground. There were a couple of old 1980s jumper books, which aren't my thing, and lots of odd patterns pulled out of magazines which were rather jumbled and none of them were especially 'vintage' or for toy patterns so I gave them all a miss.

I'd mentioned to Mr Click that I'd like to get some funny DVDs to watch after our frozen embryo transfer and we hit the big time in the first shop we went into with Pirates An Adventure With Scientists, The Tale of Despereaux, Miss Congeniality and Practical Magic. The latter two are old favourites that I've been wanting to pick up for ages.

I gathered a fairly impressive collection of books over the course of the day as well. I spotted The Life of Pi in one shop for about £2 and decided against if as I knew I'd be able to get the Kindle version cheaply, then found it in the last shop we went in to for 50p. I took that as a sign and grabbed a copy of it right away (along with two other cheapie books).

We also did a nice big shop to fill up our cupboards with goodies. Then headed back to Inveraray for sweets and takeaway to fortify us for the last leg of the homeward journey.

So now I've got to squeeze another seven books onto my bookcase (which I only rearranged a few weeks ago). But I had a brilliant day out and it was the perfect way to finish off my birthday.

Thursday, 4 May 2017


This time last week I was having a fantastic day celebrating my thirty-first birthday. It was a very good day and the beginning of a very good weekend.

Mr Click loves presents, regardless of whether they're his or someone else's. We'd set the alarm for 7am which I thought meant we'd have a leisurely wake up, breakfast and then do cards and presents. Mr Click had other ideas though so we did the cards and presents before breakfast.

Now I threw a slight spanner in the works the week before my birthday when I did that thing you really shouldn't do so close to a birthday. I bought myself stuff.

I wasn't expecting anyone to pay attention to my ramblings about knitting needles so treated myself to a set of the KnitPro Nova interchangeables, plus 3mm and 3.25mm needle tips to go with them. They arrived the Sunday before my birthday and are a thing of beauty:

But back to my birthday. There were two distinct themes between my presents; knitting and Fantastic Beasts. I'm actually thinking about buying a Niffler knitting pattern so I can combine the two!

Not pictured is the dreamcatcher that my Nan sent me, as it's currently hanging in my window, waiting for me to give it a nudge and set it spinning again.

I was already expecting the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. While the Hobbit films were coming out, each year I knew I would get the latest film on my birthday, so when Fantastic Beasts came out it seemed like the logical birthday follow on. What I wasn't expecting was a reproduction of Newt's notebook (going to need to find a really special use for that one) or the book which I had mentioned to Mr Click in passing about the making of the film not realising he was actually paying attention at the time!

My above mentioned knitting needle shopping spree sort of messed up my Mum's birthday plans for me, but she's awesome so she recovered well.

I've been collecting Jean Greenhowe's knitting pattern booklets for the last few years and I only had ten more left to get. My Mum sent me over half of the books I needed (I've since ordered the last four). I spent a very happy birthday afternoon organising them by date of publication. It's the little things that keep me amused. I fully intend to knit something from each pattern book and ultimately hope to knit EVERYTHING!

My in-laws were responsible for the Art of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book. I'm yet to explore this one but having skimmed through the artwork in there, it looks beautiful.

It was a lovely relaxed sort of day. We watched my new film, had homemade Chinese and I spent most of the day knitting. And that was just the first half of my birthday, the second part came when we went shopping at the weekend.

But more about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


... back into the swing of regular blogging.

I had a great time taking part in the A to Z Challenge this year and unlike previous years when I tried to stick to my regular posts alongside the A to Z ones, this time I just focused on the A to Z ones. Now it feels a little weird going back to posting about stuff like book reviews and my knitting, but also kind of nice as well, like when you get back to a routine after some time off.

Catching up...
on the comments on my A to Z blog posts.

I'll probably be doing this until the end of May because I'm trying to visit each blog as I go. It means that when you've got five comments on your blog that ends up taking about an hour to get through them because I like to read the comment, reply to it, visit their blog, read a post, and then leave a comment on it.

I've also had a pretty busy April and it's shaping up to be a pretty busy May (in the space of eight days I'll have been off the island three times!) it's kind of crazy.

... All. Of. The. Things!

I feel like I've been missing my reading mojo a little for part of the year. Reading anything seemed to be kind of slow going, but in the last few weeks I've been reading anything and everything and powering through it all.

I don't know what kickstarted it, rearranging my bookcases or getting my new Kindle or whether it was something else, but I'm really enjoying being able to get lost in my books again. Just as well because I acquired another seven paperbacks over the weekend!

... The Two Ronnies and The Dukes of Hazzard.

We finished watching 24 this week and I've requested light-hearted, funny TV viewing while we do the frozen embryo transfer. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that women who were entertained by a comedian (or was it a clown?) for fifteen minutes after transfer had a higher rate of success than the woman who didn't, so I want fewer explosions and dead bodies on my screen while we have this go.

The Dukes of Hazzard is our pre-bed viewing. It's funny, you know what's going to happen and you can tune in and out of it without missing too much. And then I picked The Two Ronnies this evening for much the same reason. Sure, we've seen them before, but that's part of what makes them feel comforting and safe.

Are you recovering after the A to Z Challenge? Are you getting back into something you've not done for a while?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Books 40 & 41 of 2016: Farmer Giles of Ham and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien & Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling

With the end of the A to Z Challenge we can return to your normally scheduled blog posts, which means that for the first time in over a month, it's time for a book review post.

Way back in September last year I picked up a book which I'd actually been given some time previously and it had sat on my bookshelf waiting for me to get around to it.

Image from Tolkien Library
That was a single volume edition of Farmer Giles of Ham and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien. The latter is a collection of poetry which I've read before, the former is a short story about the titular Farmer Giles and his adventure which involves a dragon.

I've read The Adventures of Tom Bombadil many times before but Farmer Giles of Ham was entirely new to me. It's actually one which I'd been hoping to get my hands on for a while but I hadn't yet found a copy of it. Until a friend saw it in a charity shop and knowing me as well as she does, bought it without even asking whether I needed it.

I actually feel like I need to reread the first half of this book. I don't know if it was because I was just reading it in dribs and drabs every now and again so I didn't get a continuous run at it, or if it was just because the story was brand new to me, but I found it a little tricky to follow at times. I think I'd do better taking the time to sit and read it for a while, rather than the odd page here and there as I did.

I love Pauline Bayne's illustrations. Her illustrated poster of 'Bilbo's Last Song' hangs at the bottom of my staircase and I look at it each time I come down those stairs. I thought her illustrations for Farmer Giles were like the pictures you get on tapestries.

As always, my absolute favourite part of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is 'The Mewlips'. It's dark and creepy but conjures up such vivid imagery for me.

I still think the poems sound best when they're read aloud. You get a better sense of the rhythm of them than just read silently.

I followed this up with a Rudyard Kipling ebook which has been hanging around on my Kindle since virtually the time that I figure got one, Rewards and Fairies.

This is a collection of stories and poems. The stories follow a couple of children who meet a fairy called Puck who introduces them to a number of historical characters. These are interspersed with little poems.

I found this a tricky read. The children would meet 'people of the past days' who would then tell them stories, so you've got a story within a story going on. At times I found it a little confusing about who was speaking and whether they were telling a story of the present day or the past.

Although the stories were quite nice, I actually preferred the poetry in this book over the prose. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the stories. To begin with it reminded me of a sort of cross between Enid Blyton (specifically The Faraway Tree, since they were meeting new people each time they met Puck) and Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

I would have liked to know a little more about the historical people the children were meeting and the eras they were from. I got the impression that I should have known who a couple of them were but I just didn't have a clue. Perhaps I would have enjoyed their stories more if I'd understood their backstory.

It seemed to take me ages to get through what was otherwise a pretty short book. Insomnia helpfully got me to the end of it.

Monday, 1 May 2017

#atozchallenge Reflections 2017

We've made it to the end of another A to Z Challenge. Well done if you're made it to the end (either blogging, reading or a mixture of the two).

First of all, how I feel the challenge went?

I swithered a bit on which theme I wanted to use for the challenge. I knew I wanted to do it with a theme (because I've found that easier in the past) and I was fairly certain that I wanted to do it about infertility and IVF. The last week of April is Infertility Awareness week so it seems like the right time of year to write about our attempts to start a family.

But I was kind of in a different place this time around compared to the last two times I've blogged about the process. This time we'd just completed a fresh cycle of IVF and had to do a freeze all due to hyperstimulation. We had nine embryos in the freezer and I was feeling such a strong pull towards them, I couldn't get them off my mind.

I've always planned to write letters to my children, right from day one, and so that's what I did. I sat down and gradually crafted 26 letters I'd like my child to read some day, to learn about how they came to be. And along the way I hoped to educate others about the IVF process.

And that's what I did.

It was strangely cathartic to write. It's a strange feeling, finding yourself so connected to something that is essentially just a bundle of frozen cells in a freezer in a Glasgow hospital, and yet which has the potential to be so much more. Writing these letters gave me something to channel that energy into and yet still remain focused on the end goal.

I think that in terms of the theme, it's been my favourite one yet.

Of course, the big thing about this year's challenge was the change in format for sharing your blog and posts. The massive, unwieldy Linky List is no more. Instead each day there was a separate blog post for each letter. People responded in the comments with links to their posts for that day's letter.

I'll admit that I was slightly apprehensive about this approach, but I felt like it worked well.

In terms of posting my own links, I followed the A to Z Challenge page on Facebook, initially intending to comment or respond to posts but ultimately that became my reminder of when to post my link to the day's post. As I wrote my posts and scheduled them ahead of time, I just saved a draft email with the HTML link already formatted for each day. It was just a question of copying and pasting from that email, regardless of whether I was on my laptop or doing it from my phone.

I often ended up in one of the first twenty to post but I wouldn't say I saw more traffic on those days compared to the days when I was one hundred or more down the list. I think I probably got more traffic from commenting on other people's blogs and visiting the blogs of people who visited me.

Most people formatted their entries on the posts really well, so it was easy to click the link (or highlight the link and visit that way). I would probably have seen more visitors if I'd given more of an explanation of what my posts were about. Instead I simply marked it as 'Letters to my Embryos' and then the title of my post for that day. I wonder if people skimmed over it because I didn't give away much about what it was, but by the time I realised that I'd written (and so formatted the links) for most of my posts and I was too lazy to go back and change them.

I was a little more selective with the posts that I read this year. If the link didn't take me to the actual blog post, I tended to ignore them. If I was met with a great wall of text (I know, ironic considering this blog post), unless it was something that captured my attention, I tended to move on to the next one. Despite having internet access at home now, my time is still kind of limited, so I had to be economical with my time.

Google+ also kind of proved to be the bane of my life with people leaving comments on my blog posts. In some instances it took three or four goes to find their own blog to leave my own comment. It's made me more aware of the need to leave my link on every comment I make to make sure people can find their way back to me.

As I said, the lack of the list worked quite well. It was still a little easy for blog posts to get lost in the midst of all the other comments so I think it might be a good idea in the future to come up with some sort of coding system that people can tag their comments with so that you can CTRL+F to find blogs that meet your interests.

Alternatively they could perhaps do a spotlight at the end of each main letter post to highlight some of the posts from the day before. If there were maybe five posts highlighted some blogs might get a little more attention that they could otherwise miss.

At the moment I'm still getting caught up on the comments on my blog during the challenge. I fell behind early so I'm still visiting and commenting on everyone's blogs. I'm going to carry on reading and replying, and hopefully I'll be able to work through the Reflections list as well so may come across some challenge themes I missed on the first go round.

And maybe I'll even join in next year. Hopefully I'll have a real little person I can address these letters to by then!