Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hogmanay Edition - Making Goals

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In Scotland the clock strikes midnight and we 'bring in the bells.' We also call New Years Eve 'Hogmanay' and I have no idea what these two things mean. I only know we follow these traditions and customs.


Have you made any goals or resolutions for 2012? 


Mine are pretty simple and straight forward - so failure is low!


These are goals I need to work on, things that will strengthen me and make me a better person.


Read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. If you want to join me, order your FREE copy HERE.


Start and finish my 366 photography project. Outside of being a parent and working, I want to have a project I'm constantly involved in.


Start and finish writing my book - and get it published. 


Research and educate myself about photography. It will boost my confidence and help me with my next goal.


Set up my photography business. I've been part of and watched a business being set up over the past few years and I am keen to start up another business that is mine, especially related to photography (not necessarily taking photographs of people.) I need to write myself a clear business plan and make decisions about this. And like Nike say 'just do it.'


Have a good standard of a clean and tidy home. Now that Roman is bigger and more capable of being helpful this isn't such a chore. I've already started on this path by completely clearing and cleaning out the kitchen and bathroom in preparation for 2012 and my 366 Project and I just need to keep everything organised and ticking over. I know I can be better prepared and I don't like the stress of things not being in their place in my home.


Be healthy as I can be. I have finally accepted over the course of the past year and a half that my illness has limits. I don't kill myself to do things anymore. If I am exhausted I stop. I f I need rest, I take it. However, I need to lose some extra weight I've amassed over the years, too. 


I'm terrified about putting this out there for every one to read, but it's boot up my butt I need. If I don't commit these goals to something then they will just flounder about as flowery ideas in my head.


I can't go on like that.


Follow: @MamaChaser 
Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Friday, 30 December 2011

{Righting our wrongs} a blog for my mum.

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Dear mum,


it's been an interesting few weeks and I am happy to say that 2012 will be a great year. 2011 was good, there's no denying that, but 2012 will be better


Not because I have a perfected idea of what it will be, but because I know it will be good. I have a few loose plans, rather than resolutions, and I really hope to stick to them - but if I lose my way and I forget my plans and I somehow completely abandon them I won't wait another year to start again, I will start as soon as I remember I've gone off track. I also refuse to feel guilt or a need to punish myself just because I've forgotten something. 


And why do we feel guilt so much anyway? Is it a 'woman' thing? Are we raised to consider everyone else's feelings but our own? 


I've been giving that some thought this week because I am trying to watch what I say and the things I do around Roman. Yesterday was a day where that all went out the window. I told him to go away several times, I also imitated his 'want up, want that!' mantra back to him and he looked at me like I'd finally cracked. I felt awful before the day was up and I didn't know why, when I worked out that the way I'd spoken to him was making me feel so terrible it made me feel even worse.


It was one big cycle of guilt and not really liking myself. I was useless when I felt this way. I couldn't do dishes, I felt frazzled and unmotivated and my stomach was really hurting. I had been harsh to him because I could, because I hadn't slept and because I didn't think about what I was saying. I snapped and reacted in the moment.


Maybe it's not that we shouldn't consider ourselves - or others - but that we should be aware of the long term effect our words and deeds have. That would go a longer way to repairing our guilt cycles, I think. 


And so what did I do to 'fix' my feelings? I forgave myself. I'd gone through the day in my head again, played it out as though I hadn't said and done certain things and then I decided I'd be calm, loving, patient and playful the next day. I moved on from my mistake and I forgave my wrongs. 


The best part in all this?


I slept better because of it.  


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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas/Xmas/Whatever you call it-mas with the Quinns.

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Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle paid us a little Christmas visit - and they haven't left since.



Which we're all pretty happy about.

Apart from over dosing on In The Night Garden, these past few days have been filled with films, not a lot of getting dressed or going anywhere.

My birthday was an epic suck-fest, naturally. I'm not complaining, I'm just cursed to always have a down the toilet day on my birthday. It's Christmas Eve, there's little to do and nowhere you want to go lest you be killed by a herd of frantic shoppers doing their last minute thing. 

Also, I just want to take some time to honour the film that is the Wizard of Oz. I can't believe that everyone (yep) involved in that film is dead, it makes me feel quite old, even with the fact that if the film was a person it could be one of my grandparents. 


What did you do? 

Please share something exciting with me so I can live my life vicariously through your stories.






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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas.

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The time has come, the Walrus said...to make stuffed peppers for Christmas lunch!


Merry Christmas, everyone! See you in the New Year :).


P.S I really hope Santa brings me a new laptop in the Boxing Day/January sales. Here's hoping!




Follow: @MamaChaser 
Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Saturday, 24 December 2011

26 for 26.

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Today (Christmas Eve, I know!) I am 26. One year older than 25 and four more years closer to 30. My older/oldest brother (pictured with me above) was 30 two days ago. Growing up was fun. Two days, two birthdays and then WHAM, Christmas landed on our laps and by Boxing Day the birthday cards were cleared away. So, with lack of anything inspirational or even remotely motivational to say I decided to do a little Christmas list of my own. Except this one isn't me asking for anything, but rather I'm in a caring and sharing mood.


This is my '26 for 26' list. 26 little known or unknown facts all about me. I haven't written them down yet but just know this is extremely hard for me to do (you'll find out why in one of the 26 facts, I'm sure.) Have a great Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you're with, and enjoy my little list :)!


I am a private person. I like to hold my tears in, I like to shy away from a camera lens and I find it painful to share private things...yet, I share quite a lot on here. That's the thing, though. I only share what I need to - whatever is necessary to help or inform a change. I open up not out of feeling secure, but because I want to share things. And I try to not let the people who've let me down and hurt me change that about me. 


 I don't like to say 'I love you' over the phone. There was a huge time in my life that I went without saying it, but that's silly. Now I struggle to say it over the phone. I don't know why, it's just how it is.


This is a baby photo of me. I was two weeks old.






 I love looking at baby pictures. LOVE it. I go back and flick through Roman's baby photos, the few I have of myself as a baby and toddler and then I get all sentimental and full of ideas. "Oh Roman could do with a sibling..."


Even though it's hard to admit this, I think Roman is my first and last child. I can't count the number of times I've been asked about adding to our family...and while I still don't really know... I think another pregnancy would destroy what little scrap of health I do have. But, you never know, right? ;).


Childbirth, growing up and getting married were some of my biggest fears growing up. And now I'm not sure why. All of these things have been wonderful to go through and experience.


I cry, every single time, at the end of Vanilla Sky. No other film gets me like this one. I literally dissolve at the end. It's just so sad - but I won't say why and spoil it if you've not seen it ;).


8. When I was 8 we got our dog, Goldie. I thought she would live forever.


 I hate drama. I feel sick at the thought of it.


 I hate attention. Even someone wishing me a Happy Birthday on Facebook makes me feel anxious and I have no idea why. It's a well meaning thing, but it fills me with a strange panic.


Even though I hate drama and attention I love to talk politics. This can invite a lot of drama and a lot of attention...but I can't help myself. I have to stick up for what I believe in.


Silent Night makes me weep a little. I picture those song lyrics brought to life and it makes me weep.


 I love to buy presents months ahead of Christmas. I like to pretend I am an organised person and this validates my dillusions.


 Right now, this is my favourite photo.


 Right now, this is Roman's favourite piece of music/ad. And the song happens to be named 'Eliza's Aria' and not that I go shopping for coincidences but Eliza was Roman's womb name. 


 I like to think Roman choose me to be his Mama.


 I left school when I was 15. Best decision of my life.


18. I had my first serious relationship at this age. I don't talk about it an awful lot because it was a strange relationship that spanned years and isn't really all that interesting to me these days - it happened, it didn't work and now we don't talk. Before this relationship I never had a boyfriend longer than a few days/weeks/months. 


I moved out of home for good when I was 21. I haven't been back to live with my parents since and this makes me oddly proud of myself.


I used to hate roller coasters, now I love them.


I don't have a best friend. I lost touch with anyone from school, I don't speak to the people I grew up with and these days I find friendships hard to maintain so I don't have a best friend. Yes, B, is my 'best friend' and probably my longest standing best friend that isn't directly my family, but apart from that there is no best friend. 


22. I got engaged at 22. All I can say is: love is love and that's the end of it.


23. I got married at 23. I think it was one of the best decisions of my life. And also the most scary.


24. I became a mother at 24. Like the above. Scary and amazing. And also the recovery was quite painful but I wouldn't change any of it.


25. At 25 I felt 'old.' We were living in a mouldy flat with no proper bed, I was sleeping on our mangled couch and my hips were really suffering as a result...I'm so glad everything has changed within this year for the better.


26. This is the age I will go into the new year with. And I'm excited. I'm going to get myself incredibly healthy - as healthy as I can be - and get my weight back into a healthy range.


Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, everyone! 


And don't forget I'm doing a 366 Project in the New Year! I'm excited. But for now I'm off to party, whose joining me?!




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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Friday, 23 December 2011

My Birthday Eve {a blog for my mum}

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These are two people from my tribe. They are crazily cute together, don't you think?


We planned our trip before we left; a stop-over at a well known brand name health store and a trip to Santa. Everything else would be a bonus if we had the stomach for those crazy pre-Christmas crowds.


Today was hectic in Stirling. The crowds; a mixture of bleary and wide eyed human beings in all shapes and sizes searching out last minute presents of bath sets, chocolates and perfume. Shoving, pushing and pawing ensued.  It's easy (too easy?) to forget the real meaning of Christmas when you're swamped with a sea of human anxiety and desperation shoved into such a small space - with no allusions to anything remotely religious - and it's easy to get rushed and panicked along with the masses.


And today, something strange happened. I felt the anxiety with the crowds. It started off as a strange heat under my collar then a thump too much from my heart...we took sanctuary in our health food shop, where it was relatively empty and people-free, and I unravelled myself from my 'Narnia jacket' (a term coined by B) and it felt like peeling off layers of my anxiety. The truth is: I just don't like crowds. And this is why I am my mother's daughter.


Growing up with Edinburgh at my feet and then moving to London, I should be 'used' to the crowds, but I am not. The crowds thinned around mid-afternoon and my anxiety was dampened - I just felt thirsty and heavy eyed. I began to think of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, and it seemed odd that once the cloud of anxiety had passed that I began to think of Jesus. To think if it wasn't for his birth, we wouldn't celebrate Christmas. My birthday wouldn't be known as 'Christmas Eve', it would just be another day. And if Jesus hadn't been born, there would be no Redeemer. No great sacrifice.


In life we all go through sacrifices and it's made me reflect on my mum's sacrifice to me. Not only giving me a home inside her body for 9 months (unknown, no less!) but the biggest sacrifice was the danger and pain she put herself through to get me here - a Caesarian section without any kind of numbing or pain relief. 


The story goes a little something like this: an epidural was given, she kept telling them she could still feel everything - and move - but they thought she was trying to put them off to wait for my dad to get to the hospital. Wrong again. They hadn't given her enough of the epidural. She was told to sit up and push - yes, push - because I was so high up (Roman followed in the same vein.) And she did it.


All of that, to give me life. So that I could celebrate my birth every year. 


This birth story has been fed to me each year; piece by beautifully scary piece. Drip by drip, the lines of the story have played out, with an added detail here and there as I grew up and could understand the details more. I never really pieced together those details until I was in my 20s and asked my mum to tell me the full story, from start to finish. I had never known about the pushing and when I was a few weeks away from delivering Roman I discovered another fact: my mum went into spontaneous labour on that Christmas Eve morning in 1985. She felt the tightening and loosening of her body, the signal I had sent to her brain to tell her I was coming. I was ready to be born, despite her requiring a Cesarean.  A few hours later, I was born, after a lot of drama. For someone who feels so awkward being centre stage, I think my entrance into the world was my first and last major drama.


We come into life not really knowing what's ahead of us; all the pain and joy in one big mixing pot, waiting to happen. But I know that for all the pain and all the suffering, all the sacrifice, the joy is a much bigger prize than the pain. I'm just so thankful to my mum for giving me the gift of life - and because of my birth and my being here on earth, I married Bryan and together we have Roman. That's a very big prize. And a very special 'present.'




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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Baby Fever.

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Do you ever just get so overwhelmed by the cuteness of a newborn? It seems that after Roman was born many others went onto become Mama's and now I have the fever for another baby. Their newborn, earthy smell, those little warm hands pinching the skin around your breasts as they feed.


I even miss the late nights (okay, not really, but it's a good trade off for the other lovely things you get) and the way you could just snuggle them into your chest - that it's enough to comfort them.


I don't feel 'done' with my baby making days, either, I feel deep down there is a little girl waiting in the wings for us. I don't know when or where, but I know she's there. Maybe we will adopt. I'm not sure what Heavenly Father has planned for us, our little family, but I love what I have here, right now. I wake up excited: to see my little boy, to have another day with him, to teach him new things and to learn so much from him.


I also have my worries about what another child means. I was very sick in my last pregnancy, so sick that 9 times out of 10 I was in bed. It lead to me being so sick today. My energy was shot and I'm still not recovered. I'm not bitter about that, I'm just realistic and hyper aware. It's strange to think something 'simple' as morning sickness can cause a long term blow to my health, but it really does.


It sucks. I can't see myself physically bearing another child and it hurts. Especially when I see cute little newborn toes or when I hear the noise a baby makes while it sleeps...


But maybe one day, right? I don't know what's around the corner.




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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Monday, 19 December 2011

Twas the weekend before Christmas...

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Oh what a weekend we had! For a start, I've been outside of my house two days in a row. For anyone that knows me they know this is rare - I'm lucky if I make it out two days in a month. Mums who make it to playgroups, play dates and other such activities please know I envy you.


But onto the important stuff: the weekend filled with amazing-ness.  Pictures to prove it:






A little bit of Christmas - reindeer in Scotland. Reindeer in my town!



{1} carrots - all gone by the time we got there.
{2} reindeer butt.
{3} more cute reindeer butt. yes, really.
{4} a little boy says hello to the 'baa!'
{5} a little boy is a little overwhelmed by it all.

I was so (so, so, so!) excited when I read on Facebook that these reindeer would be arriving to pull Santa's sleigh through our town centre. Although we don't 'do' Santa in our home (please don't lecture me, this is a decision we discussed three years ago - in other words, we're set in our ways and won't back down on this one. I respect your choice to 'do' Santa, so please respect mine) I was very excited to see the reindeer - as well as to show them to Roman as he is a big animal lover and B was a tad excited, too! 

Well they were so cute. And so placid. A big crowd followed them on their march through the town - including myself, just as excited as those little kids, shouting back at B to hurry up so we could get some pictures up close. The best part is that these reindeer are Britain's only herd of reindeer - and we got to see them! Also, they are free ranging around the Cairngorm mountains right here in sunny (or not) Scotland. Read more about these beauties here.

When we got home I wanted to pass out and take a (rare) nap. But my doctor has said I shouldn't take naps as it means I don't sleep at night so I kept my eyes open and got on with the rest of the day which involved B going off to drop Roman off at his parents and us being at home with a very un-Christmas Rockfm playing in the background and me, getting aggravated, with the foil wrapping paper I stupidly bought thinking it 'looked nice.' 

Yes, that foil-y stuff looks good. That's how they hook you in. But it's a nightmare to cut through; it rips, it even ladders (ladies, or gents, like your tights do) and well I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of opening up a present wrapped in it. Still. The point is: don't buy foil wrapping paper unless you're a glutton for punishment. A serious masochist might like it. I am not a masochist. 

Once I did all my wrapping I patted myself on the back and got started on Roman's presents. More specifically, his stocking. A stocking full of Zing. Of the Zilla variety.


Take 4 ZingZillas...


choose a favourite to stick out the top...


And stuff them into a stocking. Tada!

I fear for these little guys and girls, I really do, because lately Roman has taken to biting into his soft toys for teething comfort:


Oh boy.



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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Friday, 16 December 2011

{A happy week} A blog for my mum.

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Dear mum,


We've had a wonderful week.


A week full of Roman trying to escape from his nappy, brushing his teeth, growing out of clothes and fitting into the next size up. A week full of storms and rain. Of darkness by 3.30pm. Another week down until Christmas, until my birthday.







You always gave me such great birthdays, with rich chocolate cake and crisps (err, not together.) With my birthday being on Christmas Eve it always felt separate to Christmas - I don't know how you pulled that off.


 We ventured out today and it was so much fun - all the Christmas lights were up in town (along with a big tree) and we were all kept warm by our hats, scarves and gloves. I was shopping for Bryan's stocking - which is more of a challenge than you'd imagine, but I am so excited to hand it over on Christmas day - and I had an overwhelming memory of Christmases past. Of stockings stuffed full of treats. Is that shallow, to remember the stuffed stocking?


It was never really the quantity - or quality - of the stocking, but more the little surprises I'd find inside. One year it was a sweet making kit and when I was 22 it was the shiny new purse with the shiny new 20p inside, with the year's date on it. It was the way you knew what I'd like so well. And now you've passed that skill onto me. 



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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Calling all blog designers!

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Okay, seeing as it's Christmas I've decided I want a face lift for one of my gifts...


Not that kind of face lift, but a blog face lift. And I could really use your help.


I've had my blog for nearly 2 years now and in that whole time I have taken care of the design aspect myself - sometimes I was happy with it, other times not so. On the times I was happy with it I soon got bored and wanted a change...but that's because I have little to no experience with web design and really, I wasn't ever completely satisfied with my DIY designs ;).


Sooo...how can you help? Well if you've come here from Twitter I guess it begs the question: do you know any good designers? Specifically those who can tailor blogs into my minds eye design? And while I'm willing to pay (and am prepared it won't be free or cheap) a decent price, I don't want to be ripped off, either. I've tried looking on Etsy and to be frank I'm not looking for a whimsical blog theme.


If you've come here from another blog - who designed your blog? Perhaps you're a blog designer yourself, I'd love to hear from you! Or perhaps your sister's husband's dog's first cousin twice removed is a designer and they can help me out? Either way, hook me up! I'm in need of some help over here!


Oh yes and have a very Merry Christmas - we're off to see Reindeer (I'm told there's no plural and that 'reindeer's' is grammatically incorrect as a word) tomorrow in our town centre.


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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Thursday, 15 December 2011

366 Project: Let me count the ways...

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After much thought and consideration, I am taking on a 366 (it's a leap year!) Project that will start in January, 2012.


Why?


1. Since completing my original 365 I feel I have a lot of 'lost' days - days where I forget what we did (is it important? Um, well sometimes it is) and I feel kind of sad for that fact. I also love the idea of having photo memories of a whole year.


2. I'm committing to really losing a lot of weight this year. I ducked out a lot of 365 photos because I didn't feel 100% okay with my body shape...not only that but I am doing that with a majority of photos to this day, hopefully this won't be the case with a 366 Project. I also feel if I commit to a photo project that it will keep me on track with my weight loss and getting fit routine. I'm not self conscious about my shape, it's just not the best it can be and I am not proud of that fact. It's strange, though, because I am the most comfortable and happy I've ever been.


3. It's a leap year. I vowed to not do another 365 project of this scale until I had another child. Well, seeing as we have that extra day - why not go for it? After all, it's not strictly speaking a '365' ;).


4. Encouragement. I'd thought privately about doing another photo project (and tried and failed at doing many mini projects) and then Georgia, over at Gregarious Peach, wrote a post about starting up another photo project - this time with 366 photos! Seeing as she was the inspiration behind my previous 365, I decided 'why not?'. If I fall on my face with this, I do, I can only try.


5. I had completed my other photo project with a lot of mobile phone pictures - they don't do too well in a photo book as the photo book needs the best and biggest image you have in order that you get the best quality. These were the days before my DSLR, the early days, the days I don't even remember now - life without lenses?! No way! I have a better quality of camera these days and ditched my kit lens for an upgrade. With all this in mind I will be able to produce work that is technically 'good enough' for a photo book.


I am a huge perfectionist. It wasn't easy to complete my project, but it was worth the effort. It gave me a new perspective and taught me to chill the hell out. I broke down in tears and madness a few times, but that was because I was comparing myself constantly to Georgia and many others who were doing the same project. 


The difference is that is their view of the World and it's not mine, it's how they see things and I don't see it that way. No two people do. I got so worked up about things that I wanted to spend over £1,000 on a camera alone this year and that's crazy talk - 1. we cannot afford or justify that spend and 2. a camera is an investment, sure, but £1,000 is just too much of an investment. So I upgraded my lens and with a new lens coming in a few days, I am pleased.


I need to learn humility it seems.


All that aside, I am excited. I've already started eating very well and I am excited to start a new chapter in documenting my son's 3rd year of life, as well as a 2nd birthday and 3rd wedding anniversary! Life goes by so quickly and I want to store as many memories as I can.


I hope this post might inspire a few others to join in. You don't need any fancy equipment or software - half the time I took pictures on my phone! - and it's about snapping what you want to cherish. 


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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Friday, 9 December 2011

So this is Christmas.

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Growing up there were two birthdays in December (2 days apart!) in my family - one of them being mine, the other claimed by my older brother - and Christmas didn't excite me like it does now. 

Yes, when I was small it was exciting. The anticipation the night before, belly full of my birthday cake (Christmas Eve baby over here and society will never let me forget it!), the snow that fell on the roofs and the belief (until I was 6) that Santa would have dropped off my presents by morning. 

Then on the morning of Christmas it was this whole stop start production of tradition and excitement. Our family of 6, all piled into my parents bed, listening to the radio; Christmas songs would be playing, of course, and then at 8 or 9am we'd go down into the hall, my Mum going into the living room to switch on the Christmas lights and turn on some Christmas music. She'd return to take photos, a good few. Then gently, perhaps one at a time, we'd go into the living room to open our gifts.

But then Christmas would end and it would feel like a whole year was so far away. Each year I got less and less bothered with it all and always felt like my birthdays were just drawing me another year closer to getting older and dying. I was such a happy teenager, can't you tell? ;).

During our first Christmas of being married we ran out of money to live on (but luckily had paid our rent and bought shopping AND presents first. Christmas Miracle of 2009 I think!) and ultimately couldn't afford to buy each other anything nice...or, you know, anything at all. B did get me a game, after insisting upon it and spending the rest of our money to buy it, but asides these things we didn't buy each other much compared to the previous year and we didn't have any kind of tree, decorations or anything. I couldn't be bothered at all and B is a little Grinch-y.

Also, in 2009 I was 8 months pregnant and my ankles were swollen - you know how it goes if you've been there before - and I was so tired of the 'are you having twins?' questions every time we went out shopping.

Fast forward to 2010. Roman's first Christmas. I was excited. Even though he was only 11 months, we bought him some small gifts and went to B's parents for dinner - then a Chinese take away when we got home (after skipping on lunch.) It was a calm and happy Christmas and it was amazing.

I'm hoping for the same this year (although without the Chinese. Damn you Christmas on a Sunday!) and a wee bit upset I won't get to spend it with my parents - but with Scottish public transport, travelling 9+ hours with a toddler on a packed train and Scottish winter weather we didn't want to take the risk. 

Also...my immune system + winter + public transport + millions of people with colds = hell on roller skates. Sometimes you wish the challenges were mole hills instead of mountains, am I right?

So this is how we rock around the Christmas tree this year:

Six huge vegan Christmas {almost sugar free} cookies full of everything yummy and a messy kitchen.
I LOVE this book. Hours of fun with it. Serious.



___ and a little something extra ___





An early Christmas present: I was asked to do the front cover image for a book and happily accepted the offer. I was delighted to get a copy and delighted it all came out so well.

Also, I am celebrating my 6th vegan Christmas this year. 'Tis Roman's 2nd and Bryan's 3rd. 

Oh how I love vegan Christmases - they fill you up, but there's not much chance to over do the eating. And that's mostly because we can't be bothered to eat lunch, knowing we're going to be fed up by dinner time.

Also, I'm running an extra special 'Vegan Series' next week and I'd love for you to come back and read about that - and for those who aren't all caught up parts one, two and three can be found herehere and here.


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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Thursday, 8 December 2011

All in a Twitter.

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I would fetch the link to that time where I talked about Twitter and social media in general but frankly I'm too lazy for that kind of shenanigans. However, what I will say is that I hated Twitter when it started up. I was press-ganged into joining Facebook by my friend Dan back in 2007 - and admittedly I haven't looked back since, but that's so not the point - that I was so sure I wouldn't be pressured to sign up to Twitter. 


So sure that I just avoided it completely.


That was then and now it's now. A new dawn rises on social media and to be honest Twitter is more fun than Facebook. It's more instant and you can write as many updates as you please without someone calling you addicted or obsessed. Because Twitter is the ideal home for social media zombies like myself and houses all the other social media zombies who like their information now, now instead of later. 


So, to the heart of the matter: if you like updates about, well...everything, then follow me on Twitter (details at the bottom of this post.) 


I realise this post has nothing about Christmas or the Scottish named 'Hurricane Bawbag*' but to be honest that's simply because I am sick of those who are blogging about Christmas purely for the blog hits they're getting and not really having any substance on their post. And mostly they will dump a whole load of pictures onto said posts that mean nothing to me or those outside their immediate family.


But, okay, I brought up the elephant in the room...so if you want to read about Christmas, hold onto your knickers, I will try to hammer out a post on it. In between being a Mama, newly self-employed (yes) and trying to cram in everything I want to do for myself it's tough, you know?


But if you really, really, really want to read about Christmas then here are some blog entries that mean it:


Christmas tree garland from ohdeardrea.
Gingerbread softies from Made.
Happy Go Lucky author, Kara's (love the name!) Christmas necklace




*I debated with myself on whether I should type that. If you're not Scottish or don't know a Scottish person please don't Google 'bawbag', especially not Google Images. 





Follow: @MamaChaser
Email: carakirk@hotmail.com

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Let it Snow...

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The past few days we have been waiting for the snow.

As I scan various blogs, reporting a whole host of weathers and seasons, (summer in Australia, winter sun in Miami) I keep wishing that our Scottish weather would make up it's mind. So far we've been  offered a light Gingerbread house dusting of icing sugar frost. Freezing frost. Nip your toes cold frost.

Last year we were snowed in. Days spent together behind our red door in our tiny flat. Cabin fever setting in.

For now we wait with cookies and keep ourselves warm by huddling together, waiting for snow.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Part Three of the 'Vegan Series': Bringing up Vegan Baby.

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Parts one and two from the Vegan Series can be read here and here.


So, let's face it, when you have a child you become public property. In fact, it starts in pregnancy. Everyone has an opinion!


'Oh they didn't have car seats in my day and my kids did just fine.'


'Stand on your head and shout 1,2,3 three times a day for the next nine months and that baby will come sliding riiiight out.'


And so on. Then there are the comments about your size, the million times a day 'is the baby here yet?' questions and the odd compulsion for strangers to grab and rub your pregnant belly. Um. Okay. Do you mind. That's my stomach you're touching and if you move your hand an inch lower it might not be my stomach you're touching any more...


Then the baby comes. More comments. More advice. More questions.


'Are you breast or bottle feeding?'


Breast.


'Oh you'll need to get them onto a bottle when they're 4/5/6 months/a year so they don't become clingy/so people don't think you're weird.'


Um...


'And is your son/daughter going to be a vegan like you are?'


Yes. 


'Oh I knew someone whose child was vegan AND THEY DIED.'


Okay, seriously, I haven't had that conversation...but pretty damn close a few times. 


A baby is a comment magnet, everyone is an expert and I've found nearly everyone has a different opinion. When our son's hair was wild and free (and not that wild and free, I shall add) lots of comments were made. From 'when are you going to cut his hair?' to comparing him to Justin Beiber. Seriously. And anyway, it was more a Boris Johnson 'do (poor kid!). You would never point out someone's gross lady moustache (not that I'm a moustache hater, but you follow my logic, right?) or someone's dodgy wig - so why get so personal on a baby?


Is it because they can't talk back? Well...our son has started to form three word sentences, so you better straighten that wig and get the wax out on that moustache - he's got some lost time to make up for ;).


But seriously. Seriously. I've heard so many weird and wonderful things like 'aww that's a shame!' to 'that's SO cruel, you're depriving him and wrapping him in cotton wool by doing that!' and the cherry on top: 'YOU'RE JUST DOING WHAT YOU WANT!'


Aren't all parents 'just doing what they want' when it comes to their kids? No matter how perfect your parents were, you see their flaws. You see gaps in things you missed out on. You want to fill your child's childhood gaps, you do your best and in the end you're going to make mistakes. It's how we learn. And it's why Grandparents get it oh so right with their Grandchildren. Second time lucky and all that ;).


So to address the former comments, the 'that's a shame' comment. How so? What will my child 'miss out' on? An advent calendar at Christmas? I bought it. An Easter egg? I bought it. Mc Donald's? No thanks!


And for all the stories I hear about fussy eaters I am grateful we don't have that problem. He doesn't miss out on all necessary vitamins and minerals that will strengthen his growth and development. And I am all too aware of what he needs in order to thrive because I would never go into parenthood not knowing that - whether I was vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous.  


So, what do average* children need?


Let's take a child between the ages of 1-2 years, seeing as Roman is at that stage and to make things easy in explaining. 


Sleep: around 10-12 hours per day (Roman probably gets more than this as most parents might cut the nap in this age group) and he goes to bed around 7pm most nights. Before bed he has a 15-30 minute 'wind down' period which starts with a bath and ends in scripture study (basic) and prayer. We had a lovely book called 'Bedtime Peekaboo' we used to read to him when he was a baby (I would suggest starting this as early as possible) but these days he prefers to 'read' books to himself.


Love: this is hard to quantify. But in it's most basic form children need to feel loved, accepted and safe. Of course you can only give what you can give and hope it is enough but safety is something easily quantifiable. 


Safety is knowing that you'll be there should they fall and hurt themselves. Safety is knowing there are boundaries to their behaviour and things they can explore; Roman used to love attempting to climb our fire place and radiators and would look at us as he was climbing them, looking for a response or a reaction, to which I would gently tell him to come away. If he wouldn't respond the first time either one of us would physically remove him. If it was an immediate danger I wouldn't hesitate to remove him. I believe this comes under love, because it is love that makes you respond to your child's behaviour - if you didn't feel love, you wouldn't care and you wouldn't react. 


On top of this he gets about a bazillion hugs and kisses a day - most of which he squirms free from. 


Food: it's our energy source, our enjoyment out of life, our nourishment, our joy to cook. Food is so important. But it's even more important that we understand how much we do and don't need of the stuff and what different vitamins and minerals food provides.


When I was a child, about 5, I knew about calories because my parents talked about them a lot. What I wasn't aware of was how many of these calories I needed in a day and even if I had understood, I was relying on my parents to feed me and prepare meals for me so it wouldn't have made much difference.


It falls on my shoulders to understand, at each point of his life and development, what my son needs from his food in order to be healthy, grow, play, learn and develop into a boy and then a man.




We are very fortunate in the sense that Roman isn't a 'fussy eater' so I don't have to worry about him lacking in minerals and vitamins. He also loves taking his supplement (VEG1, the same one I take, but in a smaller dose.) I remember being a child and having teddy bear shaped vitamins that tasted like oranges so I don't blame Roman. Every single food that is put in front of him, he will try.

Some treats Roman likes to eat and drink.

1. Orange juice. 2. Pffernuse, Christmas 2010. 3. A pirate. 4. Chocolate bagels.


According to the Vegan Society 45% of adult bone mass is accrued before 8 years old and another 45% between the ages of 8-16 years old (with the other 10% accumulating in the next decade) - so what does this mean? It means that every parent of vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous children need to be sure that their children are getting a decent intake of calcium (and other minerals and vitamins previously discussed to help the absorption of calcium.) 

For Roman it means fortified foods; non-dairy (soya, usually) milk, baked beans, dark leafy veg (brocolli) cous cous, and breakfast cereals. So how much calcium does a wee one need, exactly? 

This varies, but if we're taking an average 1-2 year old they'll need 350mg of calcium (as well as 10-20mg of Vitamin D to help absorb the calcium.) 

Calories? 1,500 or so but unless your child is underweight, you really don't need to count the calories. What matters is that they eat averagely well, that they are provided with enough vitamins and minerals to meet their developing needs, that you're on hand to explain what they are putting into their bodies once they understand and that they can make wise food choices alongside their knowledge of nutrition as they develop from child to teen to adult.

A healthy relationship to food and a greater understanding of nutrition is essential for children and I look forward to sharing the information I've gathered, and will learn, with Roman - much in the same way my Dad would tell me about how many grams of fat per day a person should have, how many calories we should eat in a day and passing on my love of fruit and veg inherited from my Mum, as well as the many (vegan and adapted to be vegan) recipes she has taught me over the years.

Another part of his nutrition started when Roman was newborn and was breastfed, right up until a few weeks ago, actually. He self weaned going from several (every 30mins to 2 hours at times) to one or two feeds, then down to just one and then no more feeds gradually and naturally, the way nature intends the relationship to end; amicably and happily. 

He would never 'ask' or even have a special sign for his milk, to him it was an eating/drinking/comfort process and nothing more, nor was he particularly interested in other people's breasts - asides from when he was a newborn and would try to get a piece at every door haha.

For me it kept me on track to eating well and gave me a great need to want to nourish myself as best I could. When he stopped feeding from my body he had reached a point in his life where he was happy to fill his belly with just food and drinks and I was happy to have reached a point in our relationship where we could naturally progress instead of being dictated to on when we should stop. 

It worked beautifully and I would hope to be physically and mentally able to do this if I add to my family in the future.

I realise food is emotional for a lot of people, it's a large topic and took up the bulk of this post, but it's so important. It's so important that no matter which diet you follow that you eat the best of the best, that you enjoy your food choices for the long term and not just the short term.

I've received a few criticisms for my food choices and now I receive the odd complaint or criticism (usually ill informed and sometimes well intentioned) for bringing up a vegan child but the point of the argument gets lost on me a lot. I know about nutrition, about food choices and I am very well advised on my choices - as I hope I've illustrated in my first and second posts.

My intentions are more than just a hunch, they're full of knowledge and plenty of nights I will never get back reading, reading and more reading many books, pamphlets, websites (for and against) and documentaries I have sat through, filling my little brain box up with info on vegan diets :).

I will be the first to admit I wasn't sure if a vegan diet was 'enough' for a child, but that's ridiculous. Any diet can follow that 'not enough' logic by lacking in a few vitamins here and a few minerals there. And it won't take long for your body's natural supplies to dwindle down - after all we eat because our bodies can't physically create certain vitamins and minerals, so every diet is 'supplemented' by food. And sometimes a lot of people don't strike the right balance and get it wrong.

When you understand the balances, when you understand how to nourish yourself and you follow through on that - you can't go wrong. 

Stuff your child full of Mars Bars or just fruit and veg and you'll go wrong, because a body needs more nutrition than that and it is easily achieved with a varied diet full of nourishment dense food, no matter if you're vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous. 

I really hope you can take something from these posts, no matter what diet you follow, and that it will have opened you up to trying something different. I'm doing a completely different type of Vegan Series next week, not related to food (okay maybe just a bit)  and I am thrilled to be sharing it here! 

Till next time!



*Average = average weight and height for their age group. Average levels of activity.