Monday, 30 April 2012

Living Car Free in Scotland - Why We Do It.

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It's not a typo. As a family we live car free in Scotland - and it's hard, but surprisingly doable. 


In this post (that I've been thinking of writing for a while) I'll outline why we live car free. In later posts I'll go onto the pros and cons and some tips you can use wherever you live if you're thinking of going car free or are just thinking of laying off using the car as much.


Why we're car free.


Neither of us have a driving licence. In the UK (of which Scotland is a part of) you're legally allowed to drive a car when you turn 17, provided you have a valid driving licence, have taken enough lessons and passed a theory (written) and practical driving test. That is expensive to do and none of our schools offer drivers education classes like they do in certain other parts of the world - and while we're on that subject, I'm perplexed as to why they don't offer it.


Before you've even purchased a car, insured yourself, MOT'd yourself etc you have to make a commitment to paying several hundreds (perhaps thousands) of of pounds (£'s) before you even step into a car. Now, unless daddy or mummy's bank balance is going to pay for all that then most 17 year old's like me and Bryan never would have been able to afford that nonsense. I never had a regular job, for a start, so it wouldn't have been possible for me at that age. My brother was on a mission and my sister was at university plus I know better than to ask for any kind of hand out from my parents - I don't like doing it and I won't be caught doing it if it can be helped. I mention that just in case anyone is thinking 'why didn't you parents just pay for it, then?' Well they weren't made of money, they had other obligations, these things can run into the thousands and I'm the sort of girl who will be very reluctant to take money from my parents. I struggled with the fact that my dad gave me money to pay for my wedding because I wanted to do it myself, which would have been okay but I would have had to scale back a lot and our wedding was probably the most red neck style wedding as it was so it would have looked like something from the Creek* if my pocket book had been the only thing funding it.




So what are the costs involved, exactly?


Provisional lience (that you must get before sitting the theory test) - £50 
Theory test - £31 ($50)
Practical test - £62 ($100) (weekday price) £75 ($121) (weekday evening, bank holiday and weekend price)


If you fail these tests you have to take them again, at the full cost. No discounts are given and when you don't book through the official website, you can be charged more. 


I've seen driving lessons average out at anywhere between £9 ($15) per hour (usually in big cities) to anywhere up to £20 ($32) an hour (in our area, this is what it costs.) Depending on the driving instructor and your own abilities in picking up driving you might take anywhere between 15-29 lessons. If that were me or Bryan taking lessons it would total up to £300-580 ($485-939.) 


So before even having a driving licence in our hands we'd have paid out a total of anywhere between £443-723 ($716-1,170.) It starts running into the thousands when you fail any of the two tests along the way. I've met many people who become discouraged after their first failed attempt and then just give up for years - if you leave two years in between passing the theory test but not getting a full driving licence then you have to re-sit the test again, with whatever price the government has decided to inflate it to. 


Also, this information is assuming you'd take anywhere between 15-29 lessons, take your test on a weekday and pass the first time on both tests. Most people that I know take over the 29 lessons, with only a handful passing the first time and definitely only a minority taking less than 10 lessons until they are ready to sit a practical driving test - which is notoriously stressful and bureaucratic; the driving test has 'major' and 'minor' fails.


On top of this, there's the running costs involved in a car. There's noway we could buy a car for thousands of pounds - I'm not going into debt for a new car or anything other than a house (which isn't really debt) or education (which is a 'better debt' in Scotland.) So we'd buy something second hand. Based on those who buy second hand, we're still talking anywhere between £500 right up to £3,000. By the time we've been taken to the cleaners with the costs of getting our licence (only one of us would learn until we passed) we'd have to look on the lower end of the second hand car market (and that's after saving for a year or two.) 


Before our car is even on the road we have to think about insurance and general repairs - as well as MOT fees - an MOT is a 'test' to check your car meets safety and environmental standards, with fines if you don't have a car MOT'd. At this point I don't know what our insurance would be, nor do I know MOT fees and for general repairs any smart person (who runs their family like a business the way I do. Ha!) would have a fund for this. I learned from my parents who had to shift things around financially when our family car exhaust blew up - always save for a rainy day and always have a back-up fund. 


Our main driver (excuse the pun) in living car-free are all the above costs. There is also the fact that the UK driving test is notoriously difficult. There are a few lucky people I know who have passed first time but a majority of people pass their test the second, third or fifth time. It doesn't measure what you know, it measures what you remember and then it depends on your anxiety on the day. 


Life that is car-free and toddler filled can be stressful but what is more stressful is not being able to provide for Roman. More on that next time, though ;). For now, these are the reasons why we live car free for now. And it's not because we're environmentalists or because we think we're better than anyone. The costs of it all seem crazy and to us, as a family, it's a 'want' rather than a 'need.' I know every family and every circumstance is different, but that's how it is for us.


*It's a fictional place me and my aunt made up where dirt poor people live.

Popcorn Lovin'

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Right now you're popcorn mad. "More popcorn!" you'll demand, after finishing a full bowl of the stuff. Today when I said "I think you're all done with popcorn, Roman," you immediately understood this was my way of saying 'no' to you and you threw yourself down in protest - you really like popcorn, I guess.

It's funny because you have these little upsets (rarely) and they're over in a few minutes - just when I want to say "okay," and give in to your demands, your upset is over - thankfully for me as I am a bit of a flake and would probably cave when your first crocodile tear is shed.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Humble Digestive.

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It's been a while since I have had one of these myself but while we were at the supermarket getting our 'messages' (shopping/groceries) I was struck with an idea. 

Digestive biscuits - or better known as 'digestives' - are a British staple. Roman, not unsurprisingly, loved them. After he'd filled his tummy with a fair amount of food, I decided it would be nice for us to make some iced biscuits. He was impressed by being allowed to share in the icing process but wasn't too keen on iced biscuits and preferred his digestives plain - even with a sweetie on top! 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

World Championship Snooker (Snore Fest 2012)

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When I married Bryan I celebrated the fact that he liked 'cool' sports like UFC and martial arts - things I might be able to take a faint interest in or at least not be completely bored to death by.

Little did I know, he's very Scottish. He likes snooker. Which makes me snookered when the World Championships are on. Because he takes pleasure from this snore fest - can you believe he has such audacity? ;). 

He also likes to bore me with the minutiae of the game. Oh, darling, I'll say, I quite frankly don't give a damn. Except, you know, with more rude words inserted in there. Even after I say I don't care he keeps telling me stuff about the game; whose winning, what's going on, the ethnicity of the referee (yep, really) and pretty much anything goes. I've given up telling him I don't care because he'll tell me useless information anyway - whether I want to hear it or not.

Today, as I was preparing to head out the door, I spotted this. A multi-tasking husband applying sun cream to our toddler. Distracted a little by the snooker, index finger raised and ready to spread the cream but on edge about whatever he was watching on the TV. And Roman's little face of determination; that look that says 'give me the cream, would you. I'll apply it myself!' ;).



Blogging for Dummies: Part Two.

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Lately I have found this site. It says a lot of the things about blogging that I think the more popular bloggers are thinking but afraid to say lest they destroy their page views and readership. Well, I really have nothing to lose. I don't rely on this blog for my income, I don't rely on it to validate me as a person and I certainly don't care if certain bloggers fall out of favour with me because I had the fortitude to disagree with them and stick up for myself in the process.


I do like certain other 'popular' blogs, but that's because the women who write them are nothing but genuine to me. That's because their heads haven't yet exploded with an ego the size of the moon (and I'm willing to bet that it won't ever) or that they're not self-entitled self-serving people in general. The blogs I read, every single one of them hand-on-my-heart here, are written by real people. Maybe some of them grew up with a certain middle class privilege, but in a way I did too so how can I hold that against someone?


Now, while I grew up with advantages over others, the buck stopped when I moved out of my parents home. In fact, I have never been handed anything more than a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back - which is an advantage more than others who never know what parental love is, or what it feels like to have a home-cooked warm meal waiting on them when they walk in the door. In terms of advantage, the type of advantage I had was loving parents who provided for me and I see that as a wonderful thing. I was never handed a car, driving lessons, a pony or a trust fund. When I went to university, it came out of my pocket - or rather, the tax payers pocket, but it was and still is my debt. I have to pay that off because I took it on myself. I didn't once, either growing up or as a grown up, expect my parents to foot any bill of mine; be that food, rent, bills, university fees, whatever.


I remember the year before going to university my dad continually kept saying to me; "we'll help out." He never once clarified what the 'help' meant but I knew it meant financial help. I can't tell you how uncomfortable that felt because I'd chosen to live in London and I was 22 years of age, by law I'd been an adult for 4 years and technically I'd felt like I'd been an adult my whole life, or at least the sense of being responsible for myself and looking after myself in every way. It was uncomfortable and it felt sleazy to take money from them.


I know other people don't take issue with these matters, but I certainly do. I find it very hard to even admit I need help from people - I'm working on it but I couldn't draw you up a list of things one person could do in order to shape up my home yet I could spend all month doing tasks on my own. I wasn't always like this, I remember as a teen thinking that people should help me but struggling to really voice what it was people could do for me. And when I found that voice it was dismissed. I was told to work for my own things, that I should complain less and do more, that I should just take control of my own problems etc. And well, it's turned me into the me I am today. And it's hard to rewire that. 


Over the years, people have been sneaky about their help. They just do things for me, usually without proclaiming it, and I have to accept it then because I am not rude and I am grateful in the end. I don't want to embarrass anyone here by talking about the ways in which people help me but my aunt, parents and certain friends have been big contributors over the years - but just so we've not got it twisted we pay all of our bills, rent, clothes, food etc. People are just generous and do what they can when they can - and when I allow them.


Now, it's not exactly a secret that my parents gave me a sum of money (a generous one and we'll leave out the numbers because that is private) for my wedding. Could I have footed the bill myself? Yes, I just would have had to scale back a heck of a lot - we're talking second hand, possibly charity shop wedding dress and absolutely no food. As it was there were plenty of complaints about lack of food so I don't think I could have stood that ;). Was taking their money difficult for me? Yes. I let it sit in my bank account for days because I seriously considered paying it back into their account. I also reassured my dad that one day, when I could club together the money, it would be paid back in full. He told me not to be silly, that they wanted to do this for me. 


Even after all of this I still let it sit in my account and tried to pay people I owed money to out of my own funds, just to see if I could do it using my money. It wasn't too long before we had to start using up the money my parents had given us and that's what it was for, I saw that, but it took me a good while before I really had to let go the idea of not supporting myself 100% in paying for my own wedding - something I'd always dreamed of doing.


Before anyone starts judging Bryan, he spent an awful lot on my engagement ring - far more than I had wanted him too. In my typical fashion I had told him we could just buy an imitation diamond on a metal ring - figuring that we could put the money to good practical use, like a deposit on a place to live or even invest some money on a car or driving lessons. He dismissed my down-scaling and we went ring shopping (a task I honestly believed I would hate but ended up really enjoying and not only because I got to shock everyone in the ring shop by telling them how little time we'd had between dating and engagement.) He spent a fair amount on an engagement ring and then covered our first months deposit and rent - and continued to pay for the rent for the first two months we lived there until I got a job in April.


I'm not a fancy person in the least. My camera and perfume are the only brand names I own and for everything else, I don't care. I wouldn't even care about the perfume but seeing as it came as a gift, I don't think it counts. I don't even want to be a fancy person, or someone who surrounds themselves with designer brands that cost more and don't really add value. I'm happy with the clothes I have (and have had for years), I'm happy that people see fit to buy me new clothes when they spot my much loved jogging bottoms have holes in them or have lost their elasticity - and as a side note, thanks mum and Jinty, you've single handedly kept me well dressed for the past few years because I would quite happily go around dressed like this all the time (Bryan calls it my 'Tellytubby' outfit. I think he's right. But wow they are so comfy. And yes, I have the decency, well bred upbringing and manners to cover any exposed jiggly flesh.)


So we've covered that I don't dress like most of the other whimsy Zooey Deschanel look-a-like bloggers. We've covered that I had a fairly middle class upbringing, that when I left home I truly left home and didn't think my parents bank balance was my overdraft or fall back fund. We've covered that I got into debt for a university degree (that I didn't complete due to very ill health) and didn't expect my parents to foot the bill. And we've also covered my uneasy feelings around Bryan paying for my engagement ring and my parents footing the bill for a majority of my wedding, an event I have always sincerely believed I would cover financially. 


But that's life. Sometimes you want to do everything yourself, take help from no one and just get on with it - not in a martyr way, just in a self-preserving way that bullet-proofs you a little from the disappointment of being let down by people or getting hurt by a friendship or a promise someone might not be able to keep. And sometimes you need to shut up, sit down and take help while it's there. I definitely had to surrender myself, in a good way, to many people during my wedding preparations. And it felt so good to do that, once it was all said and done.


I'm not a self-important or entitled whinger. And I avoid, like the plague, the blogs that have that air about them - as well as in real life avoiding people like that. I'm just not that into them. I work as hard as I possibly can at everything I do and it annoys me when people say 'blogging is hard.' Meanwhile there are single mothers out there scrubbing toilets 12 hours a day and you have the gall to say blogging, which you do in the comfort of your own home, is hard? Please go to an available mirror and check yourself before you wreck yourself. No one put a gun to your head and told you to spill the beans on your life through your blog. If you don't like it, delete it. Put up or shut up.


And while I've worked my way through all of life's different scenarios I don't look down on those with less - or more - than me. I know what living hand to mouth truly feels like. I know the feeling of living in terrible housing conditions. There are many, many bloggers who don't understand that. And there are many, many who don't even begin to try to understand it - how do I know that? Through their actions, their over indulged lives and the ignorant sweeping statements they publish on nearly every single post that boils my blood. Over time I've had to cut these bloggers loose because all they do is stir up contention in me. When in all reality, at worst, they're just not clued up at all. And their understanding would be about as good as mine would be if I were in their position. 


So, the best thing I can do is not read their blogs and not get myself involved in that theatrical portrait of life that doesn't represent the majority. I have no bad feelings towards or against these people...it's just, they're not my kind of people. I wouldn't invite them round for whoopie pies anytime soon (because whoopie pies seem the 'done' thing in 2012) but I wouldn't walk past their house if it was on fire, either. So I harbour no ill feelings nor do I wish them any harm but I think they do seem out of touch with the majority of people - and a lot of their readership. 


I've been in touch with most of my favourite bloggers. They get back to me*. And I think that makes all the difference. These ladies (and one gentleman) don't have their heads in the clouds. They might be 'blog famous' but they don't have the ego or the behaviour of a typically arrogant famous person. 


*The only exception to that is C.Jane who isn't great at answering emails but will quite happily and speedily reply to something I've asked on Facebook. Yes, I read C. Jane's blog. And I am a Mormon. I'm a cliche. And yes, I mentioned her on here. And no I'm not being an ass kisser. And yes I said 'ass.'


I find it quite funny that most bloggers 'advice' to other aspiring bloggers seems to be; keep it real, be you, have fun and always, always be real. While that's absolutely true they forget to say that a lot of luck, who you know and how you sell yourself on Twitter is the real key to popularity. And the real advice should be; always, always be nice. Even if you receive massive amounts of snark, criticism and negativity. And act like it's rolling off your shoulders, or like you haven't even read it. This is precisely why I've shied away from Twitter this year. Earlier on in the year I had people calling me a slut, saying that I deserved to die and well the list goes on. I did bite back in those instances but mostly? I just stay away. Not because I believe Twitter is evil and all who inhabit it are the spawn of Satan but because I don't want to deal with that kind of crap just because I post one Tweet that others don't agree with (a political one.)


When you blog, it's a massive risk. Especially when you put photos of your family on your blog. I photograph things, it's what I do. And I photograph my child every single day. In my 'normal life' I edit, proof read and finely tune author manuscripts (and putting that on here amps up the pressure because I know people will nit pick my blog for grammatical and spelling mistakes.) I also studied for a degree in Creative Writing (in London) and Communications and Media (in Scotland) so blogging was kind of an obvious choice for me. I just happened to arrive at a time where blogging was booming and becoming business for people. I had no intention of making it a business for myself, I just wanted a space to write and share my life.


Then, I decided I'd like some free stuff from companies I like and enjoy - I'm putting that out here for transparencies sake and because I want to share it. So, I got in touch with some companies, gave them a bunch of stats about my blog, some got back to me, others didn't and I reviewed a few products. They were pleased with my reviews and told me to keep in touch - Graze box have the nicest communications department ever, if I ever want a job in the communications/PR industry I hope I end up there. I think a lot of bloggers can come off as false about their give away's, acting as though they haven't worked their butts off to get a sponsorship deal or give away with a company. And yeah, maybe a company did contact a blogger before they contacted them, but a lot of hard work goes before you can get to that stage.


And that's why so many people believe they can 'give this blogging thing a go' too. Because of the bloggers who make it all look so easy when in all reality it's luck, who you know, the opportunities you are given or reach out for, using Twitter effectively and working on getting the page views up in order that a company would even consider featuring their products on your skittery, meaningless blog that they probably have never ever heard of.


All in all: I don't understand the blog famous egos certain people develop. I can only deduce that their self-importance comes from a lifetime of a certain lifestyle and the amount of sponsorship's they have in their back pocket. They're all very willing to dole out advice to those wishing to imitate their style, their success but they're not so willing to share the dirty, nitty gritty details of that - just vague statements of 'be real, be you, be true!'. Well, I am willing to share nitty gritty details and after all I've not got much to lose in doing so.


So, there, I've said it. 


What do you think?

Scottish Feminist Mormon Housewife Who Is Self Employed.

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I'm glad I identify myself as a feminist. I'm not militant, aggressive, masculine or forceful. If you know me in real life you'll know I'm mild mannered, meek, slightly shy at first and have equal amounts of girlishness.

Being a feminist is having the foresight to see that every situation should be balanced, every circumstance considered and that women shouldn't be down trodden or replaced by a man if they are capable of carrying out a task. It is also, to me, realising that men and women DO have differences - and we shouldn't forget these, but rather celebrate them and enjoy everything that comes our way. We shouldn't forget that we are women; brilliant, curves at our hips, inventive, intelligent women. We shouldn't pick at others, or ourselves, just because it's the done thing. I'm done with the 'done thing' and I'm doing my own thing. 



And that is what I want to say and leave you with. Thanks for tuning in.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Whoops.

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I know my gran and Roman's great gran would really disapprove of this photo but I seriously had to. I'm sorry gran. I'm sorry Roman. I'm so sorry I'm such a bad example at times...but I had to.

So, what happened here? We buy these little tubes that are filled with smoothies (as treats) for Roman. I opened one of the corners and because I was in a daze of pain and fatigue while opening it didn't open it all the way, thinking this would be fine. Yeah. I can think again on that one. He pushed out the smoothie and bam, this happened. It was like a smoothie explosion. I had to cover my mouth because I knee-jerk burst out laughing and felt instantly bad - but it was really funny.

This photo was the after math, before I grabbed the wipes. So yes, sometimes I'm a Crummy Mummy. 

But just the let the record show that he is not scarred for life...


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Moments.

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Bryan: smelling his newly washed hair.

Roman: quite happy to be swaddled, clean and having his hair sniffed.

Me: happy to be watching this, able to document this, to be living this life and sharing this childhood with this boy.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sick Day / Ick Day

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A cold started today. All he wanted to do was lie down in bed, eat some popcorn, chocolate and crisps.

I couldn't protest to that and so still being sick myself I joined him, wiping his snottery nose now and then when it overwhelmed us both. I hope we're feeling better soon.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Emotions.

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I want to be careful about the things I document - I don't want to be overly negative or critical and I have a feeling I gave myself a hard time the first time round - and so I've really tried to avoid talking about the different emotions Roman goes through.

Which, if I can say freely, is frankly ridiculous. Emotions, whether for better or worse, are part of everyone's life; from birth until death. We're born naked and crying, possibly two of the most vulnerable states we can be in and constantly our parents look for solutions to soothe our tears, to reduce our fears and find creative and healthy ways we can express those emotions.

Let me just say that sometimes that's really hard to do for a two year old. Sometimes I want to be the one throwing myself on the ground, kicking and screaming. Sometimes I want an outlet for my own emotions. But in and through Roman, I think I've found my outlet. I think I understand my parents better and I definitely believe I understand why they did what they did as parents - they made mistakes, there's no getting round that, but you know what? They did really well, too. And I hope Roman can say the same about me one day.

I just want to love him unconditionally. 

And sometimes it can be challenging to navigate the waters of his emotions at times. The above photo is right after a crying phase that might have stemmed from a missed nap and me saying that Roman couldn't choke himself with a hair clip - I know, worst mother ever ;). 

*******************************************************************************

And on a somewhat unrelated note: I really want to improve my photography. I just want to learn so much so I can do that. I've applied a few times to study photography, even last year,  but it's just never felt 'right.' 

I think it's great if people can get to classes all the time, write essays, keep up with assignments and generally do the whole formal education thing. But self-teaching is just that formality put into an informal way of learning something. All knowledge is passed down and learned in different forms. I have to self-teach because I can't get to classes, can't keep up with essays or assignments and generally speaking I can't keep up with the pace of education as my energy levels are in short supply.

Sometimes I feel like giving up completely because I don't feel 'good enough.' I compare too much. I want to spend so much money but I know it won't bring me closer to feeling anymore fulfilled or knowledgeable. I know that the misery I sometimes feel about my photos is that part of me that keeps holding onto the cliff-side of this passion I have, it's what  drives me to do better and be better. And in spite of not feeling like I measure up, I still continue to take photos.  

I'm trying. Even if I'm not the worlds best - or most original - photographer. I'm still new to this, I'm still learning and I don't know everything. No one does, really, we just feel like they do at times and the pros I admire? They look up to people, too. They have days where all they want to do is hide under a duvet and not come out. Or at least I keep telling myself this so I can keep going, because I know better times are ahead of me. 

Thank you for sharing my life with me. Whoever reads this, whoever comments - thank you.  And to those who admire what I do - what an honour and thank you, too.

Daddy Day Care.

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Another Daddy day, Roman is of course very happy to pose for Bryan ;). As soon as the camera was taken out of it's case Roman very happily said 'CHEESE!' (I've no idea where he learned that.) As soon as he sees me coming near him with a camera he'll run a mile ;).

And despite me being laid up in bed for the whole day in agony, I was very well looked after. Roman wanted to make me feel a part of his play time and shared his toys with me, as you can see below.


Bryan took the top photo on his camera and I took the bottom photo on his camera. He has this recurring joke that he's a better photographer than me - well, I think I proved a little point here ;).

I love that Roman is so thoughtful, that he runs through to tell me everything that's going on and share toys with me. On top of this he never forgets to give me a kiss and cuddle before bed. My lovely little man.

Monday, 23 April 2012

All The Single Ladies; And Everyone Else Who Feels 'Less Than.'

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I came across an interesting blog post on inadequacy as I was catching up on blogs this morning - I was sick and didn't feel like doing much else - and the jist of the post was that this blogger feels 'less than' because she is 26, unmarried and child-free.


I can't lie and say I don't remember the 'less than' feelings and to be honest, I still get those. I don't know why but I mistakenly believed that as soon as I got my crap together, got married, had a place of my own and had a child that suddenly I would be so insightful and feel totally full to the brim. And in a way I do, but in other ways I feel so much less than...what I could be? What I want to be?


I have a history of depression - I hate saying that and seeing it in front of me. I still see my struggle as something to hide from, because it's still not socially acceptable to be depressed, no matter how many adverts are thrown at us from our TV screens to accept people as they are, the truth is that things move at a snails pace in the acceptance stakes. Especially with any kind of illness. And especially with depression.


So, I have a history of this illness. And the threat of it returning always hangs over my head in some way - I feel 'free' of it because I don't have those days where my negative brain swallows up my positive thoughts, or where I'm sinking into a mental sinking sand, but the threat of it looms. In pregnancy I suffered a great deal with depression, which I kept to myself. I admitted some of my feelings to a few people, but they were horrible and consuming thoughts. I don't even know if I can share them here because they seem so awful now. 


I didn't know that depression would hit me like a speeding truck when I became pregnant. I didn't know it would be so awful for me. For some odd reason all of my depression passed when I hit the second trimester. The pregnancy was real, I suppose. There was less risk of miscarriage - which I was convinced was next, rather than a healthy, slightly over cooked, baby. I know people play off miscarriage like it's not a thing, but it really, really is a thing. It hurts so deep that women don't even talk about it and quite frankly I don't believe a lot of men understand it. It was on my list of one of the most devastating things that could happen to me during my pregnancy with Roman - because I wasn't sure if I could do it all over again. Lose a child, overcome the overwhelming grief (if ever), hope for another child, be pregnant and fear the whole time. 


That was my main trigger. A fear of miscarriage, of death, of a child who's not even a child yet but carries with it all the promise and hope of the future. And so I was depressed, in denial and very sick for my first trimester. I didn't enjoy it like I should have - you know, when I could still bend over.


And when I look back on what was making me unhappy when I was young, free and single it was the pressure I put on myself. I measured where I was in my life against where others had got to at my age and I felt I came up short every time. I'm not saying this was a trigger for my depression back then, because it wasn't, but it didn't help. The way I constantly compared 'me' to 'them' wore me down. 


The point is that all of our lives start differently. When a baby is born it releases a chemical to the mothers brain to tell her body to go into labour - the baby decides when it is good and ready to be born (with exception to cases where medical intervention happens, obviously) and yet we go through life trying to decide when it's 'our' time. Wrong. Everything happens when it happens. And sometimes it can happen when you're least expecting it.


I didn't expect that when I turned 22 I'd be engaged less than a year later. And to Bryan, my friend. Everyone tells you to be prepared, to be ready and to plan things out but the truth is that life is never planned - how many babies do you know that were planned? I was an accident, for a start and one my parents didn't even know about until a few days before my birth! If they'd spaced out pregnancies, waited until they had money then I'm not wrong in saying that they'd be raising primary aged children by now. Bryan would be married off to someone else. Life would be great, but it would be different. Granted I'd never know the differences but it's knowing that if people did things differently then things might not be how they're supposed to be.


If we force ourselves to love someone, we'll never know the true joy (and pain in the butt) that love and marriage can bring us. If we get pregnant simply to make our parents grandparents or to compete with our siblings (trust me, it happens) then we'll never be true to ourselves. If we attach 'I should be doing this' to our age or place in life - i.e the mother who 'feels like' she should be out at work because all her friends are, yet yearns to be at home with her babies and feels that path way is right or the young graduate who feels they should be married 'by now' because they're nearly a certain age...to them and everyone I mentioned before them, and to you, my readers I say this: take a chill pill and accept that everything you might want to happen or land on your doorstep might never be. Just because you think it and dream it doesn't mean you'll be it.


Go back to what I said before; Granted I'd never know the differences but it's knowing that if people did things differently then things might not be how they're supposed to be. If you do things differently. If you go against the grain of knowing how you feel, knowing what's the right thing to do and you work towards 'what everyone else says I should be doing' then things might not be how they're supposed to be.


We all arrive differently. I was born by C-section, my son was not. I was not planned, my son was. I'm the third child, my son is the first. There are precious little baby photos of me, there are thousands of my son. Does all of the above mean that his life is more genuine, more real, more tangible than my own? No. It means that my sweetness, my delight and my agony are different. His will be different. His path in life will be different to mine, the choices he faces will be different, the challenges will be different and the pressures will be different. 


Everyone is different and for some reason or another what we truly want out of life truly never happens. I always believed I'd have three children - three seems like a 'good' number to me and four just seems too much (speaking as the third of four children.) However, life decided differently. I was asked to serve a mission when I was 21. After a lot of careful and prayerful consideration...life decided differently. I also studied Creative Writing and Communications - I didn't graduate. Life decided differently. I dreamed of marrying a dark haired man with dark eyes. Life decided differently. I didn't think that at 26 I would have a two year old child and have been married for over three years. Again, life decided differently.


Yes, I made these choices - asides the three child one, I could very happily have three children right now, but my body is not willing - but it was the path I took in order to get to the stage of making the choices. I could have decided not to go to university, to never get married, not go on a second date with Bryan or give him the benefit of my doubt (and I'm glad I did. He rented a movie for me this afternoon and bought me easy things I could eat) and I could have easily put off having Roman. But these decisions would have lead me to having zero children and being stuck on the same spot for the rest of my life. That is not a path I would want to travel because I'm here, although frail in physical form, to get the most out of life. To experience the most and to love what comes.


Not to pine for what's ahead or to think 'I'm 26, I should have 3 kids and a driving licence by now.' I'm here to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going and to keep making decisions that lead me to happiness. And not to be stuck on the past, stuck in fear mode. And definitely not to think 'by the time my parents were my age they had X, Y and Z' (and just so we're clear, I don't go around thinking that.) 


The point is this: you're you. You've chosen different paths to your friends with loads of kids or your best friend from university who just got married. Or you know, lo and behold, your parents who seem to have everything - they don't, they struggled just like you do and they still struggle in their own way. We all got here by different means and we all get by with different means. No two lives parallel (even when it feels like it at times) and there is no time limit on when it's right to be married, have children and all those trimmings. Just know that when the time comes it will feel good, it will feel right and it will feel genuine.


And if it never comes? It will. If not in this life, then the next. I'm aware some of you might not believe that so to those of you who don't; just know you're loved. And that you're special and thought of often, even when it feels like you're the most lonely person in the world. And you should never feel 'less than', no matter who you are or what you've achieved. 


We're different, diverse and each have our own stories. Someone's worth isn't measured by the stretch marks of a pregnancy or a ring on their finger. It's their strength to endure, their fighting spirit to carry on and their ability to ask for help - and to take the help they're given.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Roll.

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It was a bit of an upside down day today. A surprised little face when we woke you from a nap - a face I wish I had immortalised forever in a photo - and then shortly after you woke up properly from your nap you were demanding a roll. Easily your favourite food right now.

And then you delighted in watching the London Marathon (and for once, I did too.) I haven't really sat down to watch it before, brushing it off as boring, but it was fun seeing three runners dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz. And to daydream about living there again (no chance.)

It was a fun afternoon. We just got on. Me and my friend Roman.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Big and Full.

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Topless, drinking a smoothie from a tube and sitting in the living room in a high chair. It's a Saturday but to be honest this is what most of the week has looked like while me and Bryan have taken turns having gut rot.

Today (Saturday) was my turn. As I lay in bed clutching my spasming tummy, Bryan snapped a few photos of Roman (without me asking him to.) I'm not sure what this look is about but Roman's eyes are oh so big and full.

Friday, 20 April 2012

'Buhin' Mah TEEF!'

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We have a little, hand made with love for his second birthday, quiet book for Roman. I don't know if you're familiar with quiet books but they're very popular amongst us Mormons because they provide the ideal appeasement for toddlers who don't want to sit through an hour of talks in church - I had one as a small child and I loved it. 

 I was delighted when my mum told me she was working on this book - it's a soft cloth book filled with pages of non-frustrating activities for little developing minds - because I am not gifted with crafting abilities whatsoever. My dolls always wore immodestly sewn dresses because I got lazy half-way through making them and I've never learned to knit, crochet, make quilts or generally do any of the stuff my mum is so good at doing. I always tell myself that some day I will learn but in all honesty you and I both know I won't. 

I had every intention of making a video of this book, but well, time slipped away from me. Without wanting to put it off further I decided today was good as any day. I had a little helper who then decided he'd like to brush his teeth using the little cloth toothbrush from one of the activities.

 "BUHIN' MAH TEEF!" he told me, with the biggest grin on his face knowing full well the difference between his real toothbrush that sits in a mug on the window ledge in the bathroom and this cloth one. Undeterred by my protest that he put it back into the mug in the book he loaded some 'toothpaste' from the cloth toothpaste tube in the book and scrubbed at his chompers very heartily.

And this, my friends, this is the best thing ever in Roman's world. He loves this book so much that I have to ration how much he uses it because if I let him have at it he gets a bit excitable and starts to rip things out of the pages.

I hope you like it just as much as Roman does.



Yep. That's an iPhone.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

'Carry It.'

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On the train, on our way to Stirling, the train conductor gave Roman his own ticket (children under 5 travel for free in the UK) and he was very happy about this. "Mah kicket (my ticket)," he kept telling me over and over. When we got off the train we walked for a while until I glanced down at Roman in his buggy, still clutching his ticket. "Carry it!" he exclaimed, with a big smile spreading over his face, very happy to use the phrase I'd taught him yesterday and pleased as punch to have his very own ticket.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I'm Ready, MUM!

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I almost didn't want to put this picture up because I felt it was too similar to the one I shared yesterday - not exactly the same pose, but in the same room with similar lighting and colours. 

With that being said this is one of 5 photos I took today. All in a mad rush to get out the door and be back in time for bedtime. I was in such a rush that I got my little 'helper' to get his own fleece. He was also in such a rush that he put it on the wrong way up ;).

Return of the Jedi.

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I'm making a return to blogging tomorrow. It's not quite a week since I said I was taking a break but I've felt it was 'long enough.' Long enough to leave my 366 Project - and my mum - lying in wait. 


I've added a few new things to the blog: 


1. Side pages. Just a few pages to go over some of the things I am asked quite often but don't always reply too - whoops, sorry, at least the pages make up for it, right?


2. Header description. In other words; some text in with the header to 'describe' the blog. I felt that 'Life. Photos. Food.' wrapped things up pretty nicely around here. Life, my life, my trials, my lessons learned; it's what I share. Photos, again this is obvious and while I might not be the best or the kind of photographer I want to be...I share my photos. Food, well it's my other passion in life. I hope to share more because lately my life has been all about fresh, natural and wholesome foods. I've also been discovering new recipes just from dreams I've had or ideas that suddenly pop into my head. Safe to say I'm bordering on food addicted ;).


3. A little profile. I was starting to feel as though things were maybe getting a little too...impersonal? The minute you land on my blog you can read all about who I am on the right hand side of the page, which is far better in my view :).


I've got lots of other fun ideas for this blog in the coming weeks, as well as a few guest posts on other people's blogs next month - I haven't done of those for a long time, but now I feel more confident and as though I actually have something to share so I'm excited.


I'm going to be sharing more food stuff, as well as recipes that are mine. Like I said I've been daydreaming up lots of ideas for food, as well as having some very interesting (and detailed) dreams about food and I'm overly excited to share those. As ever, I will be doing my daily updates on my 366 Project and living my life :). 


In my personal life: Our rental agreement runs out in July so I'm mulling this over, too. I love my home but there's so much work that needs done on it! 


- I just found a burst pipe outside my kitchen window - which doesn't seem to be effecting us, but oy vey I could live without that if something does go wrong. 


- The bath needs to be completely ripped out, a new one fitted and we need a new panel near the taps.


- The mold* from every room (excepting the kitchen and bathroom) needs scrubbed off the walls (for the millionth time) and well I think the doors and our living room need a paint make-over. 


*Is it mold or mould?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Inspector Quinn.

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Just making sure there's no contraband in my bag. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sleepy Head.

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Location: in the kitchen in his high chair.

I think my empathy for his tiredness was truly felt at this point, too.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

I've Pulled.

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The strange world of shoulder anatomy.


Today I woke up with the worst pain in my shoulder. Perhaps, ever. I had plans of getting my butt in gear, going to Stirling and just generally killing myself at the shopping centre (hate those places when they're packed.) Well, my plans were foiled when I woke up with a pulled muscle (seriously hoping that's all it is.)


So instead I spent the day eating an obscene amount of food - honestly. Probably the most food I've ate in one day in a long time, I just couldn't stop opening my mouth and shoving food in. I think I was working on the theory that food usually makes me feel better, it may even give me a rush of endorphin's and help with the natural pain relief. I also intentionally put pressure on my shoulder for a period of time by lying on my back and then sitting forward - to relieve pain. Don't ask me how that works, it just does.


I was really annoyed this morning. Annoyed because I kept thinking to myself, "as if I don't deal with enough pain and knocks to my health, this is just what I needed." I said a silent prayer to myself as I was crippled by the pain and then my shoulder eased a bit - I could barely breathe in and out before this point the pain was so overwhelming. I did feel bad about saying a prayer because I'd fallen asleep while in the middle of my prayer on the Friday night/morning and I had a bit of a cheek asking for help when I'd left God high and dry mid-sentence the night before. 


I was also in so much pain that I had to go back and repeat sentences I'd already said, just to make sure I'd said them. Because in my cloud of pain - oh but it was 'just' a pulled muscle, wasn't it, Bryan? - I was confused and a little bit sick. Thinking about that now I should have been worried, but I was so confused about waking up, not being able to move or take a proper breath that I didn't think of muscle tissue infections or something more sinister. Now I'm just convinced my body freaked out, went into a bit of a panic that I couldn't move, and I developed anxiety over it. I'm positive it's a pulled muscle because when I run the shower head over it? I'm virtually pain free. 


Anyway, I hope I don't get judged on my vain repetitions and God just see's my praying OCD for what it is. And I also hope that Bryan doesn't pull his neck out of place again - despite me walking out of the bedroom, in a big cream puff, and then spitting out to him; "I can't wait until you pull your neck again! Then I can say to you 'oh it's just a pulled muscle.' " 


On top of this I decided it would be smart to take a week off from blogging - not just because of the pulled muscle but because of a combination of many things; one being that I want to focus my energies and efforts into motherhood. I read an important blog post (I can't be bothered to hunt around for the link) about how children don't need fancy smancy crafts as seen on Pinterest, that they don't need 10 different sensory boxes nor does my house need to look like something out of Apartment Therapy in order to state the point that my child needs me. Not a clean house with immaculate floors, a swept kitchen, up to date washing, shiny sparkling dishes in the cupboards and the full works. I also don't need to be blogging when I could be spending time with Roman - although usually I do wait until he's in bed unless I get a few spare moments in the morning to quickly update things.


What my child needs is me. Especially at this age - this age I won't be able to get back again or repair any damage I might do intentionally. My wee boy is a great wee soul, he really is. He's so content about 95% of the time, sleeps through the night (this doesn't equate to the 'great wee soul' comment, it's just a nice bonus I enjoy), always receives praise on his cheerfulness and is generally just full of life. I'm blessed with Roman as my son because goodness knows I was a very, very determined little girl; full of cheeky comebacks, antics and driving people crazy all the time with my cheeky behaviour. 


But this little boy, this content little smiler, he needs me. This blog does not need me, I give it too much of my time and I need a break. I need to sort a few things out with our landlord, I need to sort out the walls in my home (covered in mould!), I need to sort out my eternally messy room and I need time to just belong to me and Roman in the afternoons. I need my son and he needs me - the more time we spend together, the more calm he becomes. His behaviour becomes seriously altered when he is ignored or, shock horror, is left to watch TV for an afternoon. He has started calling out for me in the mornings - when all I've ever known is a daddy's boy. 


So my goal is to work in the mornings meanwhile Bryan cares for Roman and then the afternoon belongs to me and my toddler - and Bryan can work in the afternoon while me and Ro stroll in nature and the shops ;). For that afternoon the TV will be off and if it's on I will talk to him about all the small details of the show and do sign language with him - which he loves. And for that whole afternoon I will not go anywhere near the internet or my laptop. It will be shut off as soon as all my work is complete and I will put an out-of-office reply on emails. 


Afternoons will be made of mess, fun, frolics, connecting with this beautiful country we have the privilege of living in and tapping into things that catch Roman's (and my) interest. 


We've been doing this for a good while now, but lately I feel myself slacking off so that's my plan. I need to be strict because lately my weeks have felt like they drag and as though nothing ever gets completed - mainly house work. 


So here's to the week and that we all enjoy what's ahead of us - and that we remember our children need us and don't care about how successful we are in a career or how wonderful our cupcakes are. They'll remember how we made them feel and the time we spent with them - not the time we spent on Pinterest fooling ourselves we'd make those kick-ass crafts with our kids. Although I do remember the kick-ass crafts me and my mum used to make together.


We were an unstoppable force.

Those Eyes.

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One look, one little look, and I am this puddle on the floor - my heart in tiny pieces from bursting open with love.


Those eyes will be the end of me.

BYE!

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I had plans for today that shortly went out the window when I woke up at 7am with the worst shoulder pain ever. And as for how I look; think the Hunchback of Notre Dam.

Toddlers don't take notice of these things, of course, their world is all about them and how much cheekiness they can get into. I struggled to take some pictures of Roman today, this was the best of the bunch. Him sneaking into his buggy when our backs were turned, then waving bye to us.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Not Popular. Don't Care.

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Me as a fat, fat child. I loved food then and I love it now. I will never be skinny.

I've never been 'popular.' I don't know what it is about me but I am not a people magnet in the least. I'm not like my dad who can be friends with anyone and start a conversation out of the air. I don't have the nice-ness that my mum was born and blessed with - that same magnetism I lack to attract people to me just because they want to be around a nice person. I think I've always seen myself as this person with a steely edge who puts up barriers and borders to stop people getting in. I don't know how that comes off at all. I see myself as a terrible friend even though I feel as though there is a lot I'd do for people - if only I had the energy to do it all.

In high school I didn't have a problem making and keeping friends. At church and in our youth programme I was quite good at making new friends - the only catch there seemed to be that at first people didn't really like me at all, they had to learn to get to know me. To not second guess what was going through my head. So many people have told me things like 'I thought you hated me when I first met.' I think I have this problem, too.

There is also the other problem I have. I meet these amazing people and suddenly I do something (that I usually have no clue about) and they stop speaking to me. I think it's usually because our politics and other values don't match - but honestly, if I don't care, why should you? Trying to keep this blog politics free has been hard for me. It's something I feel very, very strongly about. When I turned 18 I couldn't contain myself about being able to vote - it felt like a bird being let out of a cage. So when there is a conversation going about politics I feel my head shouting to me; "DON'T SAY IT! YOU'LL RUIN ANOTHER FRIENDSHIP!" but then my mouth does other things. I can't help myself and I don't feel I should help myself - other people don't, after all...

But it's that whole 'if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it?' scenario. Just because someone is being unkind, mean, hurtful, offensive etc doesn't mean I need to do the same back. And just because someone is hero-worshiping their politician of choice doesn't mean I need to respond to that nonsense or counter it with my own views (hero-worshiping aside because quite frankly there are about zero politicians who are 'hero's' in my eyes.)

So, when I came to blogging with the idea of just writing what was in my head and spilling out my heart (with some censorship, naturally) I honestly didn't think anyone else would read it - least of all people I knew. Mostly I was writing for myself; I needed a space to fill up with my thoughts and impressions. When my mum started reading my blog I think I started to tailor the posts for her a little, then my aunt joined in and so I began to tailor certain posts for her, too. Then other people, strangers, started to read the blog.

I remember the little flutters of excitement I would get when someone would respond to one of my posts - even if what they said was mean, I got excited that someone gave a crap to work up a mean reply ;). But focusing on the good: the majority of replies were positive, encouraging and not just someone looking for a chance to try and network and leave me high and dry otherwise. The comments left me feeling full of respect for people, gave me faith in humans and restored my belief in friendships.

Only a handful of people (who weren't family) have truly reached out to me in life. And it's because the rest of those people didn't see who I was, not truly. I can't speak for why people have helped me and reached out to me but the only answer I can give is that they are lovely, nice people who teach me so much with their kindness. That even if I did give them chronic bitch face, make them think I hated them and was quiet around them they still reached out to me. 

Look I'm never going to be popular, and you know what? I don't care. I thought I knew the future of this blog, but I don't. And: yep, you guessed it, I DON'T CARE! :).

 I'm not sure how I want to be remembered in life but I would like it to be with kindness and love. I don't care if I'm popular or 'liked', because that's not what counts, is it? Having friends is great but it means nothing if you did nothing. 

I wouldn't even care if everyone hated me, because if I knew I was doing my best and my Heavenly Father knows I'm doing my best then that's what counts to me. If I succeed as a mother and do it without complaining too much then that's what counts and matters to me. Having a happy home, a happy relationship and 'good' marriage is what counts and matters to me. Doing my best for those around me, to the best of my abilities - that's what counts, that's what matters.

Having loads of friends and people 'liking' me because I say things that make them happy, make me fit in and make me seem like a better person when I'm not acting on it is false. 

I can only be me, do my best and accept that I will never be her or her. I only have my life to write about and if that's not popular with people or it's not interesting to read, well, people don't have to read it ;). If you don't take the time to get to know someone, how do you know you don't like them?

So I'll keep on doing what I'm doing. I'll continue on despite the trials, the problems, the health issues and I'll keep going; not giving a damn that I'm not popular, but just doing my best.