My Love My Life 7/12 - Water

Last month I was away to Brighton for the weekend, four days later I was jet setting again with Daisy.  I just had so much on my plate I couldn't think about blogging.  I wasn't even sure I was going to be ready for this month but our recent heat wave has made it possible to grab some photos in amongst the school holiday madness.

We went to a swimming pool that I haven't been to since I was a child.  Stonehaven Open Air Pool.  I must say my childhood memories were somewhat different to how it is now.  I recall the last time I was there.  It was a cold day, the pool was freezing and I have vague memories of shivering and being generally miserable.  When my mum mentioned it was open for the summer; I felt a wave of dread.  I also found myself snorting at the thought of Daisy having to suffer just like I did.  It's a right of passage and what every other child in the surrounding area has to endure as a youngster, I thought to myself. 

We arrived around lunchtime and Daisy soon found some friends to play with.  She even knew one of the kids from her nursery.  I swear she knows more people than me!  The children's pool gave her more independence to play on her own.  She was having a great time catching the water out of the Dolphin fountain.  She must have been in the pool for over an hour before being beckoned out for a hot dog that I bought her from the cafe.  You don't have to buy everything from the café. There are various options to consider.  I saw a few families with their own picnics.  The cafe has a service hatch at the poolside and a seated area near the entrance.  Serving burgers, hot dogs, chips, ice-cream, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks.  There's something for everyone.

The main pool is huge.  There's a water slide at the deep end, which Daisy was disappointed that she couldn't go on because she can't swim yet.  The swimming lessons are in progress so I'm sure it won't be long until the water wings are a distant memory.  They also have an inflatable assault course that spreads across the width of the pool for the kids to scramble across.  It looked like a whole bunch of fun.  Since I'm on IV antibiotics again, it gave me a chance to have a seat and soak up the atmosphere instead.

My thoughts on Stonehaven Open Air Pool now?  It was brilliant!  Lovely weather, couldn't complain.  Daisy was splashing about in the glorious sunshine just like our holiday last month.  It has certainly helped erase the old memories and created new ones.  If you are fairly local and haven't yet been you must, or if like me you have bad memories from childhood you need to revisit.  If you get the nice weather I promise you will not be disappointed.

Don't forget to pop over and read the blog from Karen of K Lou Photography.  Here she talks about childhood memories and shows you the best things in life are free.


My Love My Life 5/12 - I want to Be


I want to be RICH!  How many of us say that.  There's probably hundreds of things I would like to be, but I guess the important ones usually fall into three categories.  Happiness, Health and Wealth

If you and your family had all three your life would be sorted right?  Lets talk about the least important one, money.  Now, some may think hey, wait a minute that’s the most important.  Reality check, if you are a sad Susan and your general health is not great, no amount of money is going to fix that. You may think it would, but deep down you are who you are.

Take a handful of lotto jackpot winners, do any of them still have most of their winnings. How many are still together with their spouse or partner.  How many have totally screwed up and made an arse of it.  Probably quite a few!  They say money doesn't bring you happiness, but what it does bring is choice.  Imagine being able to choose what you do everyday instead of having to get up and go to work.  If you want to have money, the thing you must actually master is good decision making because without that you will likely fail.  

I think you'll find that most people that do have lots of money are very ruthless. Probably the reason they have it in the first instance.  Money is a dangerous commodity; it can change people.  Some it may enhance their lives, other it will ruin theirs.

If you are a person, whose main focus in life is to be rich, you are an equally ruthless character.  Blinded by the pursuit of perceived wealth, they will do whatever they see necessary to get their hands on some cash.  Like, the duplicitous women that bait married men in the hope of getting a cut of the family fortune.  Yes it happens.  We read about it all the time and it’s not just a problem for the rich and famous.  For some, money and success is so important they dismiss the feelings of others.  They forget to be grateful for what they have.  

It would be nice to not have to think about money, but the reality is most people work for years hoping to get to that position.   Sadly, as you earn more, you want more and you'll never get to the point where you don't have to work.  It is easy to say money can't buy happiness.  For some people struggling financially it can seem like that is the missing part of the jigsaw.  I get that.  I think most people believe it’s the answer to their problems.  Most people want to be rich.  Guess what, it's not going happen.  Sorry to be blunt.  
If you take one thing from this blog post it should be this.  Be thankful for the air that you breathe because you know what, some people struggle doing that.  Be thankful we live in a fairly civilised country.  People around the world don’t have enough to eat.  Some are living in war zones, others are drinking sewage water exposing themselves to serious health issues.  Look around you at things you have which money can't buy.  That's what makes you truly rich.  And, as my mother would say “there are people a lot worse off than yourself.”

Please pop over to my good friend Evy's blog, where she talks about her hopes and dreams for her two beautiful girls. Click here


The Second Trimester



So much happened in the second trimester, some great, some extremely stressful and scary.  Turkey was good for me, just the break I needed and lets face it, I probably wasn’t going to get another for a few years.  This blog is a direct follow on from The twelve week scan

My mum has friends in Turkey, they live on a farm way up in the hills far away from the regular tourists.  It’s pretty basic, almost like Roma villages you see on television.  We stayed for the night and I was really cautious I didn’t eat anything.  There’s all these lists in the western world about what you can and can't eat while pregnant, but in places like Turkey you eat what you have and milk comes straight from the cow.  I slept on the only bed they had in the house, under a mosquito net that my mum had purchased for them a few years earlier.   I lay on the bed listening to bugs flying about and it made me feel really grateful for the life style we sometimes take for granted here in the UK. 

Once home the hospital appointments started up again.  I was seen frequently, usually every two weeks. We were a little upset that my husband missed the twelve-week scan but being seen and scanned again at fourteen weeks made us feel happy.  I actually felt really good in this trimester.  I had loads of energy, no morning sickness and I was out buying or looking at baby bits and bobs every chance I had.  I started a Pilates class early in my pregnancy and when my stomach started to grow too big I found a pregnancy yoga class.  I wanted to be in the best possible shape for what lay ahead.  I also had to think about parting with my beloved pink smart car. My favourite car ever!  We planned a little holiday to Cornwall, driving about and exploring was just the thing we loved doing.  My cousin who lives down that way was seven months pregnant and I thought it would be nice to go visit her, you know so we could compare bumps.  It‘s somewhere I’d always wanted to visit and it was scorching hot, just like being abroad.   My husband was a bit of a Rick Stein fan so we were definitely going to visit Padstow.  It was so lovely, we knew we’d return one day with Daisy in tow.  I bought her first toys in a Rick Stein boutique; at £40 each for some crochet rabbits Daddy Bear needed a little persuasion.  I will treasure the memories of that grumpy face, so to make him feel even better; I bought a bloody cake stand too!

I was really looking forward to starting my first antenatal classes but unfortunately, my dreams of a “normal” delivery were shattered when I was diagnosed with Placenta Praevia.  It can correct itself as the pregnancy develops and plans can change right through pregnancy from one week to the next.  I soon needed another course of IV antibiotics, as my body wasn’t coping.  My CF team were voicing concerns about a vaginal delivery knowing I was struggling to breathe and I resigned myself to the reality that I was going to have a planned caesarean section.  There were a lot of mixed emotions around this time because of the worry surrounding the various tests that are carried out to determine major birth defects.  This included the 20-week scan, which we were looking forward to, but there is always that worry we would find out there was something wrong.  By this time you look pregnant, you have accepted you are going to have a baby.  I could not imagine finding out there was some serious birth defect at this point.  How would we deal with that.  I remember my mum trying to explain years ago that your thought process is completely different when the baby is inside you.  I had casually said in my teens that I wouldn’t keep a baby it if had something major wrong with it.  I used to think a cleft lip was major defect and that I’d never keep a baby with that.  I guess our beliefs change with time as we mature.  We came home with another handful of scan photos and there was a really cool one showing her curled up in a ball showing all of her spine.  The lady said that was the best possible picture you could get to check the spine was normal.  

Even though I was clearly unwell at times, I loved being pregnant and our happiest times as a couple since the early years of marriage were around this pregnancy.  As I started to get bigger I suffered from leg cramps and foot cramps.  I think it’s pretty normal, but it was scary at the time.  So many changes is happening in your body and being ill I worried if it was normal or was it just something that was happening to me.  I had a good run of weeks feeling well so we organised a family meal with my late father in law and his parents.  I even went out and bought a new maternity dresses for the occasion.  I was feeling really good.  I wasn’t that close to my extended family.  Relationships were somewhat strained, but I was slowly trying to accept that not all families are like your own.  My husband was supportive of my beliefs and I was going meet him halfway in being more tolerant of the situation for the sake of our little family.


My Love My Life 4/12 - Growing


Daisy often asks me when will she grow bigger.  I think it's a question a lot of parents just don't want to hear because we want to keep them just as they are.  Although, I do like choosing new outfits and shoes when the old ones no longer fit.  Daisy has started to take an interest in clothes lately.  She picked a pair of floral Dr Martin style boots she wanted and recently there's been talk of wanting Lelli Kelly shoes.  It's the first time I've known her to refer to a particular brand.  She really is growing up!

When the growing question comes up, I think back to when she was a baby.  Seems so long ago, I wish I could have those moments back just for a day.  I have a few regrets about back then.  When people came to visit, I found myself in the kitchen cooking, doing washing or loading the dishwasher.  I wish I didn't feel like that's what I was supposed to do.  I missed out on precious moments in time doing housework, things that didn't really matter.  So when she asks me that question I try to block out all those bad feelings.  Instead I smile and say, you know what, you have to eat your vegetables if you want to grow bigger.  Then my little darling looks back at me with those big blue sparkling eyes and a face that could turn milk sour and says, "I don't like vegetables, they're YUK".

The truth is, we grow each day, our children grow physically and mentally.  We grow as people, in our jobs and hobbies; all at our own unique pace.  Some people coast along never really doing anything interesting while others live life in the fast lane.  You don't have to settle for second best in life.  If your college or university course is not what you expected you can change it.  The same goes for your job, house, car or relationship.  You have the power to grow and change the course of your destiny.  No one will do it for you. But proceed with caution; sometimes it's us that need to change, to grow, to grow up even.

I'm hoping in the next few years to grow my hobby as a photographer.  When I look at the pictures I took a few years back, I cringe.  I don't think I'm where I want to be but I'm glad I'm not where I used to be. 

This month I'm linking to Sarah Ferry, who practically lives on my doorstep, well in the same town anyway.  Be sure to check out her blog about growing, which has some lovely pictures taken and edited by her daughter when they were on a Mum and Daughter photojolly.




My Love My Life 3/12 - Family Life

My perception of the ideal family life would be like the ones portrayed in the movies.  Lots of immaculately dressed relatives warming themselves on an open fire. Picture perfect surroundings.  You can see it now can you, but lets face it who has that.

I grew up in a similar setting that Daisy will soon become accustomed to.  My mum and dad's relationship didn't work out.  My dad wasn't committed to family life with my mother and sadly my husband wasn't either.  I expected that I would have a long marriage but maybe I wasn’t cut out for happy relationships.  I didn’t exactly have many role models and my perception as a youngster from the ones I did have was of the woman telling the man what to do and him doing it.  Maybe I was just with the wrong person.  However, I would say that it's particularly difficult to know you are with the wrong person, when they act like the right one in your company.

I’ve mentioned before that my mum brought my brother and I up on her own, which is hard work physically.  As a single mum it must have been difficult to support us financially when there is usually two parents contributing.  I thought we did ok, my brother and I had our own bedrooms.  He had all the latest computer games and boys toys.  I went shopping most Saturday's with my mum for new clothes.  We had plenty to eat, our cupboards were always full because my mum put us first as you would expect.  We were not a wealthy family but that wasn't uncommon where I grew up.  Most of the children in the neighbourhood were the same.  As kids, my brother and I spent a lot of time with my mum’s sisters girls.  Weekends spent at our grandparent’s house were good.  They had a big house, bigger than the houses my cousins and I lived in.  The kitchen operated like an unpaid café.  All the naughty stuff like crisps, ice-cream and coca cola were in constant supply.  We played in the attic, it was floored,  had a big hatch and when dropped a set of stairs came down.  We each had our own part of the attic, our own little sectioned off spaces.  We photocopied money and bought the loft junk from each other.  It was a real imaginary land.  I think I spent the most time at my Grandparents house, usually because I was off sick and that, is why I was the wealthiest with the pretend money as I photocopied more when I was there on my own!  As a family we used to have the big Christmas with everyone around the table at my grandparents house.  When we got older, the invitation was extended to partners and they were squeezed in too.  I never thought the day would come where those Christmas celebrations would end.  As I got into my mid twenties my Granda wasn't himself, he'd suffered a mini stroke and my grandparents sold up and moved into a 2-bedroom ground floor flat, with a small kitchen.  Nobody had a house big enough to accommodate all of us anymore and I missed it.  As I was the first to settle down and get married, I hoped in the near future I would be the one with the big house and the big family celebrations could continue once again.  I imagined my nieces and nephews all running about together like I did with own my cousins.  My childhood was mostly happy but I dreamt of a different lifestyle for when I was older.  I would've liked the big house with lots of open space.  It would have a large kitchen/diner for entertaining and as silly as it sounds I always wanted a Belfast sink!  The kitchen would open onto a perfectly kept mature garden with fruit trees and fragrant plants.  I saw myself having twin girls and a couple of big guard dogs, but that's a bit of a fairytale.  

This week we've seen the press cover the breakup of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.  From the outside one would assume they had it all, but I guess like a lot of couples, we're never truly happy with our lot.  Like them, I'm also from a generation where it's easy to throw in the towel when things don't go to plan, but that isn't my way.  Daisy can be a handful to deal with at times and I've spend this Mother's Day questioning whether I'm actually a good mum.  Family life, does it ever turn out how we imagined it?  I didn’t know how my life would unravel but I can tell you this.  I didn't expect to be bringing up my IVF baby on my own.  What I ended up with is not what I would've liked in an ideal world, but who has the ideal.  All I can do now is try to keep myself as well as I possibly can for as long as I can.  Then hopefully Daisy and I can work towards our own happily ever after.  

We didn't get to spend the day with my mum because she works at weekends so she can help me out during the week.  This was the Mother's Day gift I got for her, a custom designed photo box containing mounted prints with my favourite photos of Daisy.  She loves it.

Be sure to pop over to Annie's blog about Family Life.  She has written a beautiful story about being a Mother and the sadness she feels living without hers.



Mr Gray

It’s that time again, where my winter darkroom course has come to an end.  The finale is a big exhibition at the end of term to show off the schools work and it officially starts today!  It covers a wide range of Art subjects from painting to drawing, sculpture and jewellery making, the list is long!  So if you live in or near Aberdeen you really should go check it out. 

As most of you may know, I’m slowly turning into a photography geek as my mum put’s it.  She finds herself yawning as I explain how water being one degree out can ruin your film processing.  I never realised I'd got that boring.  But, this is good, it means I'm actually absorbing information. However dull it may seem to others, this for me is progress.  Last term I completed the Foundation Photography course and this term I moved in with the big kids in Intermediate Photography.  It is expected that the intermediate class, “yeah that’s me” will print bigger images than the foundation class, which puts a bit of pressure on.  The intermediate class is generally full of very experienced photographers and it’s easy to feel inferior, but that's not the atmosphere of the class.  People love it so much that they come back year in year out.  As you can imagine, it’s tough to get a place.   The tutor Neal is highly recommended and has a wealth of experience in both digital and old school film.  

I had a few ideas over the duration of the course on what I would exhibit at the end of year show.  The images you see on the wall wasn't the ones I had originally planned.  I borrowed an old twin reflex camera from Neal and went out with it one chilly weekend in December capturing the madness of Christmas shopping.  I had planned to show them, just people going about their everyday business.   Neal made comment that some of my images reminded him of the work by Diane Arbus, which I was absolutely delighted about.  She is a Photographer who's work I really admire.  Her artistict taste probably wouldn't be socially acceptable in this day and age though.  After much deliberation with my subconscious I decided to exhibit some studio portraits and some of Daisy because they had grabbed the eye of my tutor Neal and I could display in my home afterwards.  Portraiture has to be the genre of photography I am most passionate about.  When I was printing up the images a few weeks ago, I found myself again being compared to yet another famous Photographer.  Someone from my class last year said the legs image reminded him of the work by Helmut Newton.  I had no idea who that was and thought nothing more about it until a few days ago when, "the man from wales" said, the picture reminded him of Helmut Newton!  After googling him yesterday I quite like his stuff.  Verging on the weird and wonderful just like Arbus.  

Yesterday, I took my mum and Daisy along to the private viewing.  Daisy was very keen to meet my teacher, as I tell her I’m going to school whenever I'm going to my classes.  We popped into the darkroom so she could see where mummy works her magic.  I’m sad to say this will be my last year at Gray’s and I was sad opening up the prospectus that was sent to my house knowing I wasn't going to be going back next term.  However, I was absolutely over the moon to see that one of my images from last year had been used in the school prospectus.  It kinda feels like a small victory, that I somehow made it.  I’ve loved the past three years at Gray's but now it’s time to move onto pastures new.   I’ll no doubt keep you all up to date with what I decide to do next.  To be continued…..

I’d also like to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to my bang tidy models Shannon and Fraser.  Thanks for giving me free reign to do as I please.  I think you will all agree that the lovely Miss G would be in with a shot for "rear of the year", and I wouldn't mind a pair of legs like hers either!  


The exhibition is on for one week. 

PRIVATE VIEW
Saturday 8 March 2014
1.00pm– 4.00pm

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Sunday 9 March – Sunday 16 March 2014
Open Monday – Friday 9.00am – 10.00pm
Saturday 9.00am – 6.00pm
Sunday 11.00 – 8.00pm

VENUE: GRAY’S SCHOOL OF ART
Garthdee Road, Aberdeen AB10 7QD

Sometimes the only person you can Trust is Yourself



As I'm squeezing my facial cleanser into my hand I find my mind begins to wonder.  You see, my brain never seems to shut off and I end up thinking up blogs just after I've had a few minutes out doing something a simple as washing my face.  In the early days of married life I found it difficult to develop friendships with the partners of my husband’s friend’s.  On the outside I maybe appeared a bit of an Ice Queen, but I didn’t mean to be.    

You see for a long time I’d been subjected to the horrid tales of people in the forces cheating on their partners.  It was rife and it almost made me glad I didn’t live on a military base.  Most could not begin to imagine the love triangles that operated.  That aside, not living on a base meant I felt a little isolated and I didn’t feel like a proper Army wife.  My first quarters were in a residential housing scheme because the former married quarters had been sold to a housing developer when the base no longer housed a regiment, so they only needed a handful of houses.  I’d only agreed to move to keep my husband happy.  I met a forces family living there the year earlier and thought it might be a chance to be involved in the next best thing; a smaller community where I could be friends with fellow wives.  By the time we moved in, that family had vanished.  The word on the street was that the wife had done a runner with the children after an affair was uncovered.  That was my first experience of “army life” and the way some conducted themselves.  I think with the fear of infidelity, some chose to keep themselves to themselves.  When I moved into the house there wasn’t many of us.  The single guys in the recruiting team occupied one house and it was a total mess.  If you looked through the windows into their living-room, it was sparse with the occasional enormous hole in the wall and the grass was never cut.  They lived life as you would on an actual base, picking up trash during the week and then out with their “chick” at the weekend.  Some of the married guys thought they could do they same, and it wasn’t uncommon to take your wedding ring off and put it in your pocket on a night out.  Postings changed all the time and there was a high turnaround of new guys in the recruiting team, usually unmarried guys.  Most were local and had a girlfriend in the same town.  Not being on a base you would generally only mix with the partners of your husband’s close friends, rather than choosing your own.  I remember being on the verge of making my first friendship with one girl when I found out that her boyfriend was being unfaithful.  I felt so sad for her.  I froze when I was told whom the other woman was; I felt sick.  It made me feel like I couldn’t be friend’s, what a great way to start, keeping her boyfriends affair secret to save face for your husband; I knew I couldn’t.  What made it so much worse was that this guy was taking said woman to his girlfriends flat, not his flat, her flat and sleeping with this other lassy while she was at work!! What is it with these guys, I just don’t understand what makes them gamble everything they’ve got for sex with some slapper.   Some men are not the sharpest tools in the box when it’s being offered on a plate.  They probably don’t think that far ahead.  They are probably so self-absorbed thinking their wife or girlfriend has forgotten about them, grow the fuck up!! Some just have no idea how tiring it is running a house and looking after children.  I felt safe in the knowledge that I could trust my husband, this bad stuff happened to other people. 

As I said earlier, making friends was very difficult for me, especially with the baggage that usually came with military spouses.  Getting emotionally involved with wives made me feel uncomfortable, not wanting to carry the burden of knowing their husband was up to no good.  I needed to try and put my past experiences behind me and make a real effort as a good friend of my husband had met a serious girlfriend.  We had met a few of his girlfriends but he said this one was different.  The first time we met up we went out for a meal and had such a good time, I thought she was really nice; we seemed to get on.  We didn't have much in common at the time, so I guessed we probably wouldn’t be bosom buddies. Unlike me she already had children, she didn’t live in the same town and she smoked; smokers made me feel awkward.  I just found most were unsympathetic to non-smokers.  However I wasn’t your average non-smoker, I was someone with a serious lung condition who’s breathing was affected by the slightest sniff of cigarette smoke.  I tried to be polite about it.  Maybe it’s wrong to expect that people will make allowances for you.  Her boyfriend worked away from home so I thought I maybe just had to grin and bear it, for the amount of times we would actually see them.  The two friends always went out drinking together when he was at home and there were times I resented it because it would happen even if we couldn’t really afford it.  Some people are happy to live life on the edge and maybe even take out payday loans when they are a bit short, but I liked to live within my means.  Which on the surface can look like you’re being all boring and sensible. I remember this particular night where I dropped my husband off for his latest knees up and I was asked if I wanted to stay and have a drink.  They were already a few glasses into their bottle of wine, but I had the car outside, so I couldn't really.  This was our first social gathering without our partners there.  We chatted about various things and it seems when you’re married but don’t yet have children, everyone wants to know when that is going to happen.  This was a bit of a raw subject for me with the ongoing fertility issues but I felt comfortable talking to them, I felt like I was part of the crowd having known my husband and his friend for a number of years.  I ended up sharing with them some very personal information, which I foolishly thought wasn’t going to be repeated, but it was and the shit hit the fan.  From then on I subconsciously became a recluse as a way of protecting myself where they were concerned.  I didn’t want to socialise with them because I knew I’d always have to be on my guard.  It didn’t go unnoticed, but it’s not like I wanted it to be like that.  I was suffering emotionally and that betrayal of trust deeply affected me.  Invisible wounds are the hardest to heal. Everyone deals with things their own way and in their own time.  I guess I appeared all ice queen again.  There were constant pleas for me to kiss and make up, so to speak.  I was always getting told that the guy’s girlfriend thought I didn’t like her.  I heard it over and over and over.  I did like her but I felt I couldn’t get close to her and tell her anything because it would come back a hit me in the face.  It also didn’t help matters that the friends were a pair of gossipping fishwives when they were drunk and unbeknown to her, I was getting a full account of what she actually thought about me, after every night out; which didn’t really help build bridges.  He should have really kept that to himself.  Was it any wonder I had a sour face in their company. 

It’s funny the secrets husbands and wives keep, how they confide in each other and know potentially damaging information.  Yes, I know a few marriage breaker secrets of my own.  You find you know the in’s and out’s of all their friends relationships and I wonder how much of my life was out there for general discussion.  AND GIRLS -No matter what bullshit these guys tell to get into your knickers.  That’s all it is, Bullshit.  Well done for being so stupid and guess what, they don’t love you, that was also a lie.  Now who looks like a fool?  These women have no conscience and adopt the attitude that they are single so the infidelity problem is not theirs, but that’s untrue, that’s just what they tell themselves when they realise they’ve been had!!  One thing I can tell you though, is that I wish both women and men would show more respect for their partners or people in relationships.  Maybe the answer is to get to know a person properly before you open up your soul to them.  I’ve said in previous blogs that I trust too easily and that’s something I need to work on in the future.  Trust, it take years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair and once broken it's never the same again.


 
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