Thursday, 17 March 2011

Take a break, take a vegan Kit Kat.


{Image: from my Mum's camera.}

We're having a little break - something I have heard Americans call a 'mental health holiday.' 

I don't know if vegan Kit Kats exist - or if I would even like them. I didn't really like Kit Kats (I was more of a Kit Kat Chunky follower.)

I've been doing less writing and thinking these days because for every day for a year I have been a little pre-occupied raising a child, taking his photo, editing said photo, doing a little blurb of what we did that day and everything else in between; working from home on a new business and finding out I have an incurable illness (the last part is my least favourite, everything else has been great.)

I have been feeling this weird pull to visit all my favourite blogs and leave at least one comment, to visit friend's Facebook profiles, trawl through their photos and leave comments, to try to reconnect with friends I have lost touch with and I haven't done any of that! 

No reading of blogs, no comments made, no Facebook stalking (my favourite waste of time) and so far no reconnection's with friends have been made. Worst of all I haven't called family members I said in my head I would call - where have the days gone since Saturday? 

I feel free from the 365 Project and I've taken this weird break from it all - it's been great not having to take a photo every day and then the process of all that, it's truly felt like a millstone has been taken off from around my neck.

The downside is that I haven't 'got round' to all the things I would do with the sparse spare time I have - I know every one reading this entry will be in the same boat.

It's so funny but when I was studying I used to think I had no time off to do anything, to enjoy my life and it was made even worse when I was working at the same time. I was a full-time employee and a full-time student who was mysteriously ill constantly - and I still managed to squeeze in time with friends and some of my own down time (I must have either been really organised or the worst student in the World.)

It's funny how we go through these different phases in our lives; when we're children being asked to do dishes feels like the biggest injustice in the World, when we're teenagers our parents are trying to control and ruin our lives, when we're not quite adults we're overwhelmed with the sudden onset of responsibility and what it truly means and then we're parents and...well, although it's fabulous, it's a lifetime commitment and guarantees that you have to plan every hour of every day very well in order to get every task done that needs doing - this will never happen 100% of the time and if you're lucky and very well organised might happen about 40% of the time.

When Roman goes to bed it's nice, but it also feels weird. When he sleeps, I blog. 

I remember the days when he first went to bed; I would fill my time doing the frivolous things I wished I could have done in the first five months of his life. Read a book. Check my emails. Take a bath/shower for more than two minutes. Debate with people on Facebook on politics. Watch several documentaries about Lagos. 

So I did those things. Then I got fed up.

My rest and relaxation period felt strange because I had been deprived of it for a little while.

And right now I'm feeling a little like that without the 365 Project.

Don't get me wrong, there's never a dull moment and I always have a project on the go.  I am never bored and even if people don't have projects on the go, being a parent is a full-time calling, it is mentally, emotionally and physically consuming.

Over the next few weeks I have decided to commit to another (less demanding) photographic project. I'm still working out what I want that to be, but I want to keep my hand in on the things I've learned in the year of 365. 

I haven't set a date nor have I firmly decided what I want the next project to be about because I think it's important to take a mental break after a big project - it's important to stop and smell the roses in life.

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When it rains, it pours.


Rain, rain go away.

Roman wants to go out and play.

So, a few things about the rain in Scotland:

It will soak through your rain jacket (unless you purchase something over the price of £65+.)

It will penetrate through to your very marrow; each rain drop falling from the sky as cold and as sharp as a miniature knife, slapping onto the surface of any exposed skin you dare to bare.

You might be surprised but it doesn't rain as half as much as people think it does. Okay, it rains a lot, but not as much as you'd think.

And so we have a rain cover for our buggy (stroller.) This is obviously an essential for us as we don't drive nor do we own a car. So it goes without saying that we need a reliable buggy and rain cover.

Roman has been delighting in kicking his rain cover which in turn has resulted in a massive rip down one of the sides .

I don't know if it's fixable, but I am off to hunt down a possible replacement before he kicks it any further and the whole things goes.

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Thursday, 10 March 2011

365: The End of a Photography Era.



365 days, 365 photographs = complete.

When Roman was a little over 4 weeks old I finally decided I should start a 365 Photography Project with him. The above photo was our starting point.

The idea came from Gregarious Peach a beautiful blog which 'documents delight.' 

I wanted to document my own delight and ended up doing so much more in the process.

(Image: C.Quinn. This is the original photograph and one of my favourite ideas, I decided to re-work this a couple of times.)

I uploaded the photos onto Facebook and under the description put down my days thoughts; any little stories, milestones or whatever else I had swimming in my head at the time. When my only reliable and decent camera died I still continued on. I took photos using my husband's camera phone. It wasn't until a few months later I decided we needed a 'better camera' and purchased our trusty 2004 Canon Powershot - as well as buying Lightroom later on in the year to enhance what the camera could not.

(Image: C.Quinn. My second re-work of the original photo above, totally different perspective.)

I haven't regretted a single day. There were days where I would comment on how crappy things had been that day or I would moan about sleeping patterns being destroyed, breasts hurting or neighbours being butt heads and when I look back now it provides me with a smile on my face and the perspective I need to see that my life is the most crazy/beautiful thing I have been blessed with ever.

(Image: C.Quinn. My third re-work of the original image and probably my favourite.)

I love it.

This Project was something I started as a keepsake for Roman and to keep my Mum and other family members updated on Roman. My Mum came to stay with us for a month - two weeks before and two weeks after he was born - in February and I felt sad she would miss out on his day to day growth. 

I have made some cherished ties with people I never even knew before this 365 Project and rekindled old friendships that time forgot. 

(Image: C.Quinn. I re-worked this second photograph as the 365 Project concluded. If you look very closely you will see B's hands wrapped around Ro's waist.)

I have learned so much - mostly from the King aka Roman himself - about life, about babies, about love, about loss (yep), about marriage, about myself, about cameras, about editing, about photography and about people reaching out in this year.

(Image: C.Quinn. Re-worked from the above image, here is what it looked like eleven months later. Making me teary eyed by sitting by himself on the wall - and still not too happy wearing socks. )

This is for everyone:

Thank you for being one of my cheer leaders. Thank you for being one of my followers, even if you didn't comment - thank you for taking five minutes out of your day to appreciate the work. Thank you for all the comments. Thank you for new and re-kindled friendships. Thank you for all the likes. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over.

And thank you to all my followers on the blog - and all my readers.

This is for B:

Thank you for taking the photographs, my crap about taking the photographs, inspiring some of the ideas and telling me I couldn't quit just about every single day.

And this, well this is the photograph we ended on:

P.S. I will still be keeping the blog on. After all this was a 'behind the scenes' look into our lives and I've loved writing about that.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mormon/LDS Bloggers and my thoughts.

I've heard a lot about what Mormon Bloggers are for a while now.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

We're (we're being LDS/Mormon bloggers) often revered for our "picture perfect lives/out-of-style-magazine homes/our cookies/pies etc."

I don't have a picture perfect life by anyone's standard. And to be honest I don't know anyone - LDS or not - who does. We're (we're/we being humankind) all constantly wishing we could be better than we are - after all if we weren't, would cosmetic surgery be such big business? Would we even bother to keep up with fashion trends or cause trends of our own? 

The truth is this: me and my husband argue. I've blogged about it once. 

Because it was included in the context of the blog that I wanted to achieve, not because I wanted to gripe about how bad I have it. Not because I want to paint him as some monster and not even because I wanted to get off my chest about how much he drives me crazy. 

And what is wrong with griping, of painting husbands as monsters in the relationship and of telling others they drive you barmy? 

Well I just think it's counter-productive. When I have a problem with someone, I take it up with them. I think it would be very premature of me to come and detail our arguments, piece by piece. And really although we say we love the drama that life throws at us - do we really?

I turned to my blog as a bigger way of apologising to him. Of saying; "I can't believe I've turned into the things I thought I'd never become." This is the human condition. It can be over come. This is the goal of everyone - LDS or not. Are we agreed upon that? 

I think it is important to acknowledge that both me and my husband are flawed - but why should this be the focus of my blog? It's my way of keeping record of my thoughts. Not a place to bank self-pity - and yes, you're very entitled to self-pity where it's due (didn't want to open up a can of worms on self-pity there.)

I accept there are abusive LDS/Mormon relationships and would never tell someone to keep quiet about this - and neither would our church. And if you want to read someone's view on recognizing emotional abuse read it here. Because the words are placed better than I could have put them and the explanation is pretty thorough and if you're dealing with this then you shouldn't have to live with it, no way. Or go here, here or here. 

The point is that I try to see the good in everything - and I accept people have short comings. However one of my short comings is also one of my husband's and so sometimes we spark off each other and it results in an argument - but why would anyone want to see that? We don't even like it in each other so I don't understand why a reader would want to read about it.

We were wed in 2009 - I had just turned 23 and he had just turned 22. We hadn't been engaged for long at all. We were each other's best friends. I told him anything, everything and the favour was returned. I knew straight off the bat what I wanted and this is something I had never known in any of the relationships I'd had previously. 

I couldn't have had my baby boy without this man I call B. Yes B is annoying sometimes and yes he grinds my gears sometimes but he also has this amazing calming effect on me. He makes me laugh mid-argument when he purposely comes out with an inappropriate moment joke or just a certain look he will give can send me off into a fit of giggles. He's been through things with me that I haven't been through with anyone else; because I haven't let anyone in that close. I'm comfortable, safe, secure and happy - and most importantly I love my husband.

He believes in me. And he believes me.

He isn't threatened by me simply because I am an intelligent woman, like all these other people I have dated. He doesn't speak to me like I am several I.Q points off brain dead. He doesn't tell me what I can and can't do with my life - it's our life and we share it together. He doesn't make decisions that effect me in any major way without speaking to me - and I give him the same courtesy in return.

We are trying to work hard at following what we preach. We are trying hard at upholding the vows we made in 2009. And we are working on our eternal marriage. 

Why? Because we love each other and because we know it's what makes us truly happy. We could retreat away from our beliefs but we believe that wouldn't bring us the true happiness that is promised to us, that we feel every day. Our son is a result of our choice to be married, our love to one another and another sign of our commitment to life. 

We're happy because there's so much to be happy for. Do we get sad? Yes. Do we feel down sometimes, too? Yes. Do Mormons/LDS people suffer from depression and other mental illness? You better believe it. 

There is no conspiracy here; I'm just blogging about the best because when I think of the arguments, the things we said I can't help but think about the joke he made or suddenly images from our wedding day crop up in my mind; I was very late, he didn't look at me when I walked down the aisle, (as per my instructions because I thought it would make me nervous) the intense feelings of happiness and overwhelming love when it came to saying 'Yes' to marriage and the feeling of nervous energy as it got closer and closer to it being us, on our own, the married couple without the fanfare of the wedding day around us. 

And then I sit and wonder what it will be like on our tenth, twentieth and thirtieth and so on wedding anniversaries - how I will feel and how those feelings will evolve over time. Because I fully expect them too. 

Because even after two years of marriage I wish we could do it all over again; relive all the happiness even if it meant going through all the sadness. 

It would be worth it a million times over.

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Friday, 4 March 2011

Being a Mum to a Boy.


This is Roman, my nearly 13 month old son, on the afternoon of his first birthday. 

Throughout my nine (and a bit) months of pregnancy we were totally unaware of the sex of our unborn child. Well, actually, we thought we had it licked. 

We were both convinced that we'd be welcoming in a little girl into our family.

I can't say that my pregnancy was a text book case because it was up and down and filled with many weird and wonderful stories that I won't get into on here (it's late and I would get emotional.)

I prepared in my mind for a little girl. I dreamed of the frocks, the Hello Kitty d├ęcor, the big dolls house for her first Christmas. I had at least the first 20 years of her life all mapped out for her.

When people would tell me I was having a boy I used to feel quite affronted.

The thing is, I think deep down I knew I was having a boy. 

A few weeks before I was married I had a dream about a boy. We had already picked out our baby names (freaks, I know) so in the dream the boy was called Roman. He was in B's arms, but he was a toddler. He was also blonde haired and blue eyed - of which I am not, but B is so it's not a total revelation. I was holding a girl - not a newborn but not a toddler either - and we were in some park. It looked like a really cheesy scene and I remember in my dream mind I was happy but ready for the sick bucket, too.

But I just put this all down to dreaming. 

Dreams didn't mean anything

And from the start of the pregnancy it just felt like we were having a girl. 

As I lay labouring in my delivery suite of the hospital and my midwife had a gloved hand in my cervix (all the glitz and glamour of childbirth) she kept telling me she had a "feeling" that I was having a boy. Months later my Mum said this was probably because there was meconium (baby poop) in my amniotic fluid (the thing they call "waters") and a high proportion of little boys 'go' when they are distressed in the womb, apparently.

And yes he was distressed in the womb. It was quite a sad moment when it hit home he was distressed and his heart rate was dropping inside of me; but funnily enough I didn't feel the powerlessness that some women report about. 

So when he came fresh from his nine month home inside my body and B announced the sex I couldn't believe it.

I'd been thinking to myself in the labour; "what if it's a boy and not a girl?" it kept worrying me. All this time I had been preparing for a girl so I wasn't ready for a boy to appear. And I really thought it would be lovely to have a girl.

However, when I heard he was a boy everything made sense. Eliza melted away into the future and Roman was here, present with us.

I didn't find having a boy a challenge. 

Did it freak me out to change a nappy of a boy? No. 

This is something I hear a lot of new parents to boys say. Usually it's said when the parents have had a girl or two. The norm for them up until that point has been little girls. And suddenly they're landed with the challenge of pee spraying upwards - although, didn't find that an issue either.

I remember the first time I changed his nappy and I can say that I didn't once think; "Oh no, he's going to pee in my mouth!" Babies aren't constant running taps. They are not constantly peeing, despite what people might have you think.

So what of other stereotypes?

Well I haven't purposely bought him toys that I would consider "boys toys." I don't go for that. My brother loved playing with dolls when I grew up and I loved playing with cars. I don't believe that "boys will be boys."

Boys - and girls - will be whatever we shape them to be.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Photos By B.

Looks like I'm not the only photographer round here...

Me: "Do you want to learn how to take better photos?" (as B was randomly snapping the camera at all angles.)

B: "No."

I then proceeded to draw his attention to the macro and super macro (perfect for the kind of close ups he was doing) features on my camera. He wasn't a fan. And anyway, he was getting classic shots like the above. 

Who was I to rain on his parade?

He tried out the features I'd directed him towards but wasn't fussed.

(I can't help but think this looks so like one of those 4D scans.)

This is a lot little out of focus but it's that happy face I love so much. This might just be my most favourite photo ever. Might be.

I'm so glad that B isn't big time into photography because I have a feeling he might be better than me - and that would make me way too jealous for words.