Saturday, 28 March 2015

Happy #Caturday - Lap cats


This is one that Mike took recently of the twins sitting on my 'lap'. They both rake at my leg until I move it so they can sit in-between. Dallas on the left, Leeloo on the right.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

4D Growth & Bonding Baby Scan

So at 32 weeks (I'm now 34wks) we went for a private 'bonding' scan to see what all the fuss was about with 3D pictures. For some bizarre reason (that we never did find out) they call it a 4D scan. Weird. Anyway, its just like a normal scan but the machine has the function to be able to select an area and show it as 3D at 90 degrees (so the normal looking scan is profile where the same area of the baby is from the front in 3D). Below are a couple of the photos that I liked. Of course the baby was moving around constantly and not being very helpful. Little hands and feet in front of her face. We did get to learn that she's going to be bigger than we'd hoped (Asian babies are often around 6lbs but she's already albs and a bit so looking likely she'll be around the 8lb mark when she comes out - eek). As you see from the top of the scan they managed to spell my name wrong - doh!





The black bits are where the sphere of view of the scanner are making shadows so not thick black hair or anything. And the fuzzy shape obscuring her face a little on the left of the picture is the placenta.

Originally we went for the Babybond 4D Growth Scan (basically the cheapest level) but the next level up had a dvd included so we upgraded to...

Babybond 4D Bonding Scan Option II 
Primary purpose of the scan: 
Babybond well–being check of fetal heartbeat and movement, bonding, reassurance and fetal growth report, ideally between 24 – 32 weeks gestation (20 – 26 weeks for multiple pregnancy). Includes: 
  • 30 minute extended diagnostic appointment
  • Babybond well-being checklist
  • Growth report with fetal weight estimation
  • Complimentary sexing of your baby if requested
  • 2D and 3D b/w prints taken throughout your scan in sleeve
  • 1 x colour gloss 3D scan print
  • DVD recording of scan in sleeve with your choice of white, blue or pink Babybond bag, to take home.

The dvd was around 9mins long, basically a film of the screen we were looking at when we were there. I re-edited it (took off the music for a start) so now its down to just under 3mins. I might stick it up on vimeo when I figure out why my final cut pro isn't exporting.

The one colour print seemed a bit dark to me. The black and white little ones seemed brighter. We also forked out for a USB stick with the photos (about 17 or so which was nice), they were remarkably small (only 800px wide, as you see above). It was not possible to have the DVD on a USB stick because their sticks weren't big enough. Luckily we still have a dvd drive in an old laptop we were able to convert it ourselves.

One of the best things about it was that we could arrange it for close by to where I work in London and I didn't have to have yet another day working from home. All in all I thought it was expensive (well, the extras were expensive for what they were) but worth it to have the record of the little one waving around.



Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Who Else Wants £15 off Amazon baby stuff?



Expecting a baby is an expensive time so imagine my delight at getting £15 off something I was already going to buy for the baby! 


I've discovered Amazon Family, you can get 20% off nappies too! Its a free service but you have to sign up to amazon prime for it if you're not a member (which is £79 per year). I've just started my free 30 day trial (and got my £15 off with the promo code BABYFMLY15), click here you're interested in getting started with Amazon family too (disclaimer, thats my referral code so if you sign up too I'd get some extra credit).


Here is the blurb:


Amazon Family is aimed at making it easier for parents, families and caregivers to find everything they need on Amazon.co.uk. By giving us some information about your family, we can ensure you have access to the right products, offers and information at the right time. Amazon Family members get 20% off nappy subscriptions with Subscribe & Save, as well as other benefits such as offers, discounts and a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime.
We want to ensure that our exclusive offers and product recommendations are relevant to you and your family. This means we can ensure our Amazon Family homepage highlights the products and information you're interested in, and that our e-mails to you are full of the things you want and need. Any information you provide to us through the Amazon Family membership programme, will be collected, used and stored in accordance with our Privacy Notice and you can update it any time through Your Account. We'll never share your information with third parties.
Amazon Family members receive benefits such as:
  • 20% off nappy subscriptions with Amazon Family and Subscribe & Save
  • Free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime (including unlimited One-Day Delivery on millions of eligible purchases across Amazon.co.uk)
  • Up to GBP 50.00 worth of offers every month
Note: Current Amazon Prime members can also join the programme and receive all Amazon Family benefits on top of your Amazon Prime benefits. If you cancel your Prime membership, you will no longer be eligible to receive the additional Amazon Family benefits.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday Surprise Photos




Today Mike surprised me with a couple of framed prints of my pictures for our bare walls :)
Please excuse the Dallas shape lump at the bottom of the picture.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Blogger vs Wordpress - battle of the free blogging sites





Both blogger & wordpress.com are free (not self hosted wordpress.org) but what else do you need to consider when making you're choice of which platform to go with? I've not been using blogger for that long so these are mostly first impressions (which I may edit or add to over time) but for now everything is compared to wordpress.com (so the advantages below are where WP falls short).


Advantages of Blogger:

  • Free repointing to your own domain if you have one. With wordpress, unless you pay, you are stuck with .wordpress.com on the end of your site name. With blogger you can dump the .blogspot.com. 
  • No Ads.
  • Ads if you want them. This is a double point in the favour of blogger. Wordpress.com funds itself on its ads so you are not allowed any of your own or any affiliate links. Blogger hooks directly into Google Adsense and you are allowed to set other ads & affiliates - or have none if you want a cleaner look.
  • Better SEO? This one is subjective it just seems I get more hits on my blogger site even though its new that I would on a new Wordpress site.
  • Add your own widgets. At least I think you can. You can certainly run embedded scripts in text boxes which is a no-non on WP.
  • You can add your own commenting system of choice e.g. Disqus. This is a pro and a con - see below for the disadvantage.


Disadvantages of Blogger:

  • Generally just not as user friendly to edit posts on blogger.
  • No draft saving history. Have you ever been half way through a blog post and accidentally wiped it or something happens to ruin it, the autosave has kicked in and now you can't get back to where you were? Well its happened to me more often than I'd like. Wordpress.com has a handy feature where you can go back to an earlier draft. Blogger does not.
  • Mobile blogging with Blogger? Might as well forget it. The wordpress app it great but the blogger one is very very basic. You cannot even edit the HTML of the post to work around how basic it is. 
  • I might just be missing it, but I cannot seem to find the media library on blogger. You can certainly upload images to the blogposts and see them when you want to enter one you've previously uploaded them into a post but how can you get there and search and maintain them? This is easy on wordpress.
  • When adding a link, there is no way to pick from your existing posts, if I want to refer back to a post I made I have to manually go and find the link in another browser tab and then treat it as any other. 
  • Better templates on wordpress. Its just my opinion but there seemed to be many many more to choose from on WP (and better more up-to-date designs) and the choices on Blogger seem somewhat limited.
  • Weirdly no hierarchical way to organise things. In wordpress you have tags and categories. In blogger you only have labels (which are like tags).
  • Less built in widgets to choose from. This follows on from the pro point above where you can add your own I suppose (which you cannot do on WP) but if you just want something ready made and right there, its isn't always obvious. For example a twitter box - took me a while to figure that one.
  • One disadvantage which annoys me with every new post is the lack of ability to say which social networks to push this post out too, and to be able to customise the text of the message on them. For example. If I know the topic has a particular hashtag, I may wish to use it on social media but not so much in the title of the post. Plus, it pushes to Google+ (sometimes) but I'm forced to use another service (such as IFTT) to push out to other sites, which means I have to administer to it elsewhere if I want to skip a certain one going out to twitter or Facebook. 2005 wants their social interactions back please blogger.
  • Again, I might be missing it, but there seems to be no way to search the blogspot community (assuming there is one, it appears from the interface that I'm blogging in a vacuum). Wordpress provide lots of ways to interact with other WP users, following, reblogging, seeing whats just been posted by other users etc. I know there are lots of good bloodspot blogs but I have no real idea of how to find them from within blogger. Once I have a link to a known blog I can add it to a reader though.
  • You pretty much have to choose your own commenting system (I choose disqus but there others commentluv etc) because the blogger one is so awful. It means I have to go into another program to manage them which is annoying (and to be honest I don't really get it yet so I keep missing replying to comments straight away).

Of course there's always hosting your own as an option (probably the best option, if you have the money). You can download the Wordpress software from wordpress.org for free and run your own site on a hosted server. (which you pay for). The famous ones are bluehost and godaddy but there are many others. I had 1and1 hosting for a while but never really did anything with it, it felt like gym membership, pay yearly and feel guilty for not going. I was trying to create my own site full website, gallery and blog though, a bit ambitious at the time. You get a lot more choice with themes and widgets (because it's your own you do as you please, ads, no ads, its totally up to you). You can get hosting for  as little as £30 per year so it won't break the bank but I just wanted to get up and running in 5mins which is why I choose blogger. Another advantage of the free ones is that they will back up for you, so barring user error or doing something to get your account suspended, your blog will be there forever. With a self hosted one as soon as you stop paying they stop existing. I thought I'd start off with blogger but using my own domain name (£5 per year), this was, if/when I switched over I could take my blog with me and all external links to me would still work after the move.

Any of you blogger/wordpress.com users got anything else to add in the comments? I'd love to hear what others think.




Sunday, 15 March 2015

Happy Mothers Day - Gone but not forgotten



Since being pregnant I've understandably been thinking a lot about my own mother, she's been gone for over ten years now and I miss her a great deal. Sure we didn't always get on but when we did, we had a lot of fun. Sadly this (rather terrible) photo above is one of the only electronic photos I have of her. We were larking about one Christmas while she was cooking. I should really dig the old photo albums from the loft and scan them in.

She would have loved Mike (especially his cooking) and I think she would have been pleased I'm having a little girl. Scarily, before she died she said she hoped I'd have a girl one day so she could reincarnate and come back - eek! At least this time I'll be on the parent side of any teenage arguments. This post is in loving memory of her so I have put some links to charities below - the WWF was one of her favourites (as a an animal lover she would have loved our little Siamese twins Leeloo and Dallas). The other two charity links are more to help other people not go through the same pain I did, Cancer Research to help find some cures and Macmillan Support (who really helped and supported my mother) to help those currently in need.

So wherever you are Mum, Happy Mothers day!

Please donate now to these worthy causes by clicking on the pictures:


Donate to WWFDonate to Cancer ResearchDonate to Macmillan Cancer Support

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Happy #Caturday - Cat music

Sleepy one

Its Caturday again. Did you know that scientists have made music for cats? Hmmm... yes. The sample sound in the article (embedded below) had no effect on Dallas. Leave me a comment below if it has any affect on your cat....

 

Friday, 13 March 2015

PhotoFriday - Mountain



To celebrate having found my original Peru photos after all these years, here is my original edit of Machu Picchu, one of the highest mountains that Mike and I have ever been on.

Last weekend I was trying to figure out some extra space on my network storage (NAS) by deduplicating a lot of stuff that's been piling up over the years (I'll write a blog post on this in due course I'm sure) and as part of that process I found a folder of images I thought I'd lost in a long ago hard drive crash! Yay! You can see the other entries for this weeks photo friday and add your own here.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Currently...

Linking up with Jenna and Anne for what I am "Currently..." doing. Each month they provide some prompt words so I'm going to have ago, this is vol 11 for March. Also it gave me a chance to test out picmonkey to create my little Currently banner here.




Currently, I'm...

{dreaming} of when I can get back in the water to scuba with the fishes again. This is an old picture of me, I'm usually behind the camera ;)



{planning} my first child's birth, less than 2 months to go - eek!

{making} Some space on my NAS (clearing all the duplicate files on my network storage)

{baking} absolutely nothing. I leave all the cooking to the master chef in the house.

{watching} Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflicks. Its very very silly.

Friday, 6 March 2015

PhotoFriday - City



Every week I participate in PhotoFriday (if the theme is good) on my other blog. I usually try and bend the rules to make it underwater photography friendly. Well on this blog I don't have to! So here is this weeks Photo for the theme City. One of my favourite places, my beloved London. You can see all the others, or submit your own for the theme here. This was taken on a rather grey day for open house a year or so about when we went to visit City Hall (the year Mike won the open house photo competition). Here it is from the inside:


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Week #31 - The Bump

So friends and family who've not seen me recently have been asking to see the belly... so here is is. My bump as of this morning (photo courtesy of Mike). Seems like its getting bigger by the minute though.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Chitika – Make money from blogging

So who doesn't want to earn money doing something they were going to do anyway?

Everyone has heard of Google AdSense but I'd never heard of Chitika before. In fact until I started this blog I was uninformed about Ads in general because over at Wordpress.com you are not allowed to show your own ads & affiliate links (for example I had one for B&H Photo in NY which I couldn't use). The free wordpress.com is only free because they show their own ads on your blog unless you pay to have them removed (which is fair enough).You have to host your own WP site using Wordpress.org for the freedom to use ads.

Anyway, I opened my blogger account with the express intention of belong allowed to use AdSense only to realise one of the conditions is that you have to have had your blog up and running for a while before you are eligible. Doh. I've only just activated them but before I did I found these guys.

Apparently you can even use different ad networks together. You don’t need to commit to just one! For example, publishers who use both Chitika Ads and Google AdSense together have seen a 30% boost in revenue, as opposed to if they used AdSense alone (according to the Chitika blurb).

Personally I hate sites with loads of annoying ads on them, I'm sure I'm not alone too. Mainly because they clash with the look of the site and stand out too much from the content you're there to look at (especially on photo sites). Thats why I was so pleased to find Chitika because they let you customise the look of the ads to fit better with your site giving a better user experience. That way, if a visitor is actually interested in the ad link then they'll click it but if not, well its much more easily ignored if it blends in. Their ads work on the search terms relating to what you have on your site (I don't think its as a clever as AdSense but I don't have any frame of reference for that yet).
The minimum payout is just $10 via Paypal. Also, Chitika have an affiliate program – you will earn 10% of the CPC revenue that your referrals made for the first ten months that your referrals have Chitika running with free referral banners are provided (as you see from the one I've put in this post).

I don't expect the cash will flow in but every penny counts, especially if you don't have to do anything  extra to earn it ;)