This blog is no longer being updated, but if you like what you see here, be sure to join me over at Life Pared Down!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I've moved!

The new space is all ready to go!

Check it out here: http://lifepareddown.blogspot.com/ and make sure to update your bookmarks.

I'm excited about the new space and have lots of great stuff planned. Come join me over there.

This space will stay up as a resource and an archive.

Monday, July 02, 2012


I'm just taking a small hiatus while I get the new blog sorted out and deal with a few things that have made life busier than usual lately. I think it'll be a few weeks, but maybe less!

Stay tuned for info on the new blog!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beauty of a Storm

Well, the weather forecast predicted heavy rain, and I suppose I can give them props for calling it right this time. As I was coming home from the Friday toddler group I attend, I couldn't help but notice how heavy the air was with humidity. It was raining, well, misting a little really, and I thought how it could potentially cause a thunderstorm.

I hated thunderstorms as a child. My most vivid memory is this one storm that really sounded like a train had collided with the house as it was passing along. Having grown up in a community smack dab in an agricultural region I was used to the heavy noise of a train.

This scared the hell out of me.

I vaguely remember crying and my mom coming in to comfort us (I shared a room with my younger brother then).

Now, thunderstorms don't exactly scare me, but they sure do get my heart racing. But this time, when that flash of lightning occurs, I wait with anticipation to see whereabouts it is, using the 1second= 1 kilometre rule. That moment when the horrifically loud clap sounds over your head and rattles your home immediately after the flash is thrilling at the same time as it's a little terrifying. I mean, you know what it is, so you can't really be scared, but I suppose it's the same adrenaline rush that causes people to want to watch horror films.

Inevitably though, there is a build up of pressure and the clouds just burst, pounding everything in rain. And even when you think it can't get any harder, it does, saturating everything and bouncing hard off of every surface. Sometimes it hails, sometimes it doesn't.

It passes and then the calm returns and the world seems that much more quiet, peaceful.

I should note that this was a particularly loud storm. K slept right through it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Little Validation

I'm still here… really. Actually, last week was crazy busy as hubby was away, but more about that soon.

Been musing over things and making some decisions. I will be starting a new blog soon. Just working out all the details. For now, I'll keep writing here.

I had an amazing, if rather surreal, moment yesterday at the playground in the park near our flat. We had just gotten there and K beelined for the swings. I put her in and start pushing and chatting with her. In the next swing was a little boy (probably about 18 months) pushed by our dad. He made some comment about how his son constantly changed his mind (as the boy tried to climb out) and I laughed and agreed. Then he looked at me and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but where are you from?"

I get that a lot. There are quite a few North American ex-pats in our area and you can pick us out of a crowd quite easily. The accent helps with that.

I replied that I was from Canada. He smiled and said that he always wondered when he heard someone who wasn't from around here. I made my comment about the multitude of ex-pats and a woman chasing her own 2.5 year old boy near the larger swings smiled and nodded. She asked me where in Canada I was from in a very clearly North American accent. I said Vancouver. She got excited. Apparently, she was from the USA and had a friend living in Vancouver. Turns out the man was from Ireland and had moved to Glasgow a little while ago.

We got to talking and really quite seriously, she glommed onto us, peppering us with questions about settling here. She had been here a month and a half. Some of her questions/concerns included:

-needing adult conversation
-not knowing how to meet people in a new place
-dealing with the uncertainty of knowing you might only be there a little while (hard to commit to things)
-finding ways to get out of the house more
-dealing with the not so nice weather
-missing home

It occurred to me that I was her a year ago. And there was this empowering thing for both of us in my being able to reassure her that what she was going through was normal, and that I could help her feel that her thoughts and feelings were validated.

I gave her my mobile number and am hoping she texts and that I see her again. She was a lot of fun and our kids are the same age (well, she has a second who's 6 months). It would be great to help her settle and here's the kicker for me… have a social life.

Who'd have thought.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


So um, yeah, hi.

Been awhile.

The visit with my family was wonderful in ways I'm not sure I can even express. I still have photos to edit and convert and a to-do list that is crazy long, but I'm still here… sort of.

Debating on something and I think I need feedback.

I always said I would never move on from this blog name/theme etc. Now I'm starting to think maybe it's time. Or maybe I need a second space.

Except that I don't think I can stay on top of a full second blog. I can barely keep up with my photography blog at the moment.

So while I sort out my priorities and what will work best for me, I'm polling the people here:

Do I start over with a new blog for a clean start (I have some interesting ideas for it)?

Do I keep this one for the more in depth musings and keep another for photos/recipes/life stuff?


While we ponder over this together, here's a pic. :p

Attack of the 60-foot woman… and her camera. Run!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking for the Soul: Easy Peasy Gourmet Summer Salad

After 11 hours on trains (ie. lots and lots of sitting) and eating out constantly, I was never more happy to eat salad with dinner again. I really love salad, but dressings are always an issue. I want a healthy one and I don't want to pay lots for something I try and don't like and it ends up sitting in the fridge unused.

So I make my own. In a small bowl with a whisk. Nothing fancy.

Olive oil and balsamic is a simple classic. Just drizzle a little of each right over each. But for something a bit more complex (but still really easy to make), try this:

-juice from half a lemon
-one clove of garlic, minced
-twice as much extra virgin olive oil as you have juice
-pinch of sea salt
-a little ground pepper
-half a teaspoon of grainy or dijon mustard.

1. Soak the minced garlic in the lemon juice to ease the sharpness of the raw garlic. I do this at the beginning of when I cook dinner, and then toss the rest of the dressing together before serving.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Whisk. The mustard will bind it together so if you don't serve it right away, it shouldn't separate too much.

For the salad I place a large handful of greens on my plate. Top with sliced bell peppers (I love red, yellow or orange for this), very thinly sliced red onion, sliced strawberries. Drizzle the dressing over top and then sprinkle some nice shredded cheese on top (I like gruyere or parmesan).

Presto! You're done.

It's light, tasty and healthy. And the best part is you can add, omit or adjust things as you please. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


At 10pm, it's only now just dusk here. And cooler. Have I mentioned the amazing summer weather we're having? It's currently 20 degrees celsius. It is moments like this that I am grateful that the front of our flat faces North and that it stays rather cool in the summer. It wrecks havoc on our heating bill in the winter, but at least we don't need a fan, especially when there is a cool breeze is wafting through, like right now.

My family is here. My parents arrived this afternoon via Amsterdam and after settling into their hotel, came on over to the falt. K was sleeping finally after fighting taking her nap. But we play that game enough and I know she needs the sleep, as evidenced by her being so passed out, she didn't hear my parents and I enter her room to wake her up early so she had time to acclimate to the new-ish presences before we went for dinner.

I'm not sure I can adequately express how much it means to have hugged my parents again. To hold them tight and feel their familiar embraces. Tomorrow I get to see my brother and his girlfriend and do it again. It's both surreal and wonderful.

There are lots of adventures to be had over the next week and a half, and I'm very much looking forward to them.

 Summer haze in the park

Monday, May 21, 2012

Impending Visits and Other Things

The cool, slightly storming weather has disappeared and we have been suddenly graced with warmer dry weather. The timing couldn't be better as my family arrives here on Thursday! I'm very much looking forward to the visit and all the fun we will have. On the list of things to do/places to go are a trip to the Highlands and the Isle of Skye this coming weekend, and some shopping with the girls. My brother and his girlfriend are in Ireland right now and having a good time as noted by the facebook updates when they have a wi-fi signal.

In other news, hubby was away last week and it was a very, very long week. K was good though, but the days were long. By the end of them, I was exhausted and it took a while to decompress, so I ended up going to be later than I really should have. Then of course she decided to wake up earlier than usual…

Like I said, a long but good week. We spent a quiet weekend when he got home catching up and enjoying the dry weather.

Today is warming up to 16 degrees celsius and it's been sunny on and off. So we got out today to enjoy it, camera slung over my shoulder and jackets unzipped (and then later off).

She was in the middle of spinning in circles…

Bluebells grow all over the UK, including in people's gardens…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the Day: Fresh Rain

If there's something that spring brings lots of here, it's heavy showers. The weather flits back and forth in a rather fickle way between dry and slightly sunny to torrential downpour and back again in 2-3 minutes easy.

The beauty about being out for a walk after said downpour is that everything is bathed in water after, and it's hard to be annoyed too long since all this rain is what makes the landscape around us so very green.

Looking at this particular image, that curled C of gathered water reminder me of a big fat caterpillar! Or maybe an accordian. Nah, I'm leaning towards the caterpillar.

Monday, May 14, 2012

When the Cat's Away…

Hubby is currently on route to Geneva for a few days to give a talk at a workshop, so it's just K and I and whatever mischief we can get into.

Well, not exactly. The spring storms have hit and for the next few days, it's not looking so nice. But I'm hoping that means we'll get a break the following week when my family converges on Glasgow for a visit! It's been over a year since we seen them and while I love Skype dearly, it's not quite the same. I was looking at the passport photo of K yesterday and it just shocked me to see how much she's changed since it was taken! Though my family has "chatted" with her over Skype, I really do think they will be shocked to see how big she's gotten. She truly is a small person in her own right, with attitude and opinions and everything. It truly boggles the mind to think of sometimes.

So five days with Baby-Girl on my own. I've actually finally gotten the hang of it and the last time R was away, we were just fine and had a good time. I know this time will be the same. K is over the cold she had the week before, which will make things easier since she's back to napping properly and isn't entirely miserable with her congestion.

Looking at my list this week, some is usual, others are a little different:

-picking a few things up from the shops
-trip to the library to get new books for K
-call Letting Agent to get an engineer in to check the fan inside the oven (it rattles so badly I think it'll fly apart!)
-make an appointment with the small business accountants
-finish the last bits of my business plan and financials
-at least one day with my camera,
-fiddle with business card design (opting for some super basic, inexpensive ones since I can't do much more at the time)
-Playgroup on Friday

And somewhere in there is all the reading and writing I do. Have I mentioned I'm on my own this week?

On a completely random note, K loves singing along to things and while she can't say the words really at all, it is terribly cute and makes me smile constantly. It's a nice break from the part of the terrible twos that is possibly the worst: The Hitting Phase. Yes, it is in full swing and man can she hit hard! :( We're doing our best to be consistent in not letting her and trying to get her to channel her frustration in better ways, but man it is ever hard! There are some moments I get rather upset because she thinks it's funny, and in those moments I just sigh and know she'll understand in time. These things don't click in their minds right away. Empathy is a complex skill to develop, and while she shows it in some ways, we know the rest will come in time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What's 12 Kilograms?

Skip the hand weights and carry a toddler around. 

That's my advice for crazy good arm muscles. Said muscles I noticed last night and went, "huh!'" I don't mind carrying her (sans stroller of course), though she is quite capable of walking on her own for quite a ways, but more often then not she moves to stand in front of me and make me stop, throws her hands up in the hair and grins at me.

How can I say no to that grin? Especially when that grin is followed by snuggling into me with her head on my shoulder. I just soak up her smell and hold her tight, knowing all is well.

Small things.

On a final note… this is my 500th post!

Monday, May 07, 2012


First off, thanks for all your comments about my weight loss. Truly, I'm still wrapping my mind around the change in my body, but now when I look at clothes in a shop, I actually can look at a smaller size and say that yes it really could fit me. Mind boggling I tell you! But on to my story for the day…

When the sun shows up here in Scotland, you better make the best of it, because it doesn't stick around for long. We do get small stretches of nice weather, but nice can be defined as 'not raining too hard' or 'not as cold'. Everything is relative and I've more or less given up on having an actual season called summer. Case in point, last year, the hottest it got was 21 degrees Celsius… in August.

But meanwhile, when I saw that this weekend (a long weekend here as today is a bank holiday), had two days of sunshine-like weather, we jumped at the chance to get out of the city a bit.

A short twenty minute train ride from our nearest rail station took us north-west of Glasgow to a place called Dumbarton. It's a small town and fairly industrial. It sits (as many places do in the area) on the River Clyde and is not too far away from where the the Clyde empties into the Firth of Clyde. The river is fairly noticeably tidal and you can see the kelp on the shores and smell the salt in the air.

I'm a coastal gal. I need my ocean!

So, yesterday we set off with snacks and water and a hope that the mild weather would cooperate with us. Not only did it cooperate, the sun came out and bathed us in warmth long enough to prove it existed, as is now noticeable by my slightly red face this morning.

We explored Dumbarton Castle, which is on Dumbarton Rock, an extinct volcano. The fortress (it has had many incarnations over the centuries), get this, has a recorded history of…

…1500 years!

Think about that for a second.

Don't worry, I can't truly wrap my mind around that either.

But it's quite high up and has over 500 steps to reach the different batteries and sections. At the very top you can see for kilometers both ways along the river and also see Ben Lomond, a high peak over at nearby Loch Lomand (about 30 minutes from the station we started at).

I think I needed this trip more than I realized, and also the sun too. I needed a change of pace and scenery to shake me out of the 'blahness' that hit me over the last few days.

£8.80 in return train fare.

172 photos uploaded from one of my 2GB memory cards.

3 hours of fun and sun.

A reminder that every once n a while you have to go out of your way to shake things up.

I have so many photos I can share, but here are a few to start.

View looking west towards the ocean and the Inner Hebrides.

Holding in my top so my clothes don't look nearly so baggy on me!

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Amazing, Incredible Shrink-O-Ray

So, every time I got to write a post, my mind goes blank. It's not that I haven't had anything to write, but that I most often have the posts form in my head when I'm out and about with Kio and then by the time I sit down to write I suddenly feel uninspired. I've got a fair bit that I'll be writing about in the next bit, but for today I wanted to share some news on the health front.

Last summer I decided that in order to help myself lose weight and find that healthier trimmer me that I know has been in there somewhere (I saw her the year of my wedding), I needed a goal. So I decided to train for a 10Km run that was happening on my birthday in Sept of 2011. It gave me 2 months to train and I was already back into running at that point.

Things were going really well and I was able to run over 3km straight. My goal was to run a total of 5km and walk the rest, hopefully doing the 10km in under 90 minutes.

Then I sprained my ankle. Damn! It wasn't too bad, but then again I was I couldn't walk much for 2 weeks and I was also trying to keep up with a toddler. Four weeks later, I rolled my already weak ankle right outside the hospital and ended up in a tension sock for a bit. I was out of commission.

But overall I was fairly healthy and we had been eating alright. Christmas wasn't a huge jump in weight considering there were no events for us to attend and it was a quiet meal, just the three of us.

Fast forward to April 26th, when I decided to jump on the scale after a couple of weeks had passed since I recorded my lowest weight since after I got married.

Weight Loss Stats:

Total lbs lost since July 2011: 8.8 kgs (19.4lbs)

BMI change: 29.4 (obese) to 25.95 (25 is the boundary into the 'normal' zone)

Waist shrinkage: 5.5 inches

Hip shrinkage: 7 inches

UK Clothing sizes are different than North American. I thought they were two sizes different, but it turns out they are only one. Am I complaining that I've lost 2 sizes? Nope!

I'm not hung up on numbers at all. I know what a healthy body weight/shape is for me and the max I can weigh without my fibro bugging me,

And it has been bothering me lately. I was aching even at the point that I weighed myself. However, it has passed and I'm more or less good right now.

All I need to to is really focus on some strength training and make sure my muscles are all strong, and we'll have this whole thing made!

The biggest surprise (aside from the weight change) was trying on clothes at the GAP (shapes I can actually wear thank you) and realizing just how much my body has changed for the better.

I actually got a little teary. No joke.

Though, on the flip side, losing weight is really expensive… on my wardrobe. My clothes hang off me…

Monday, April 23, 2012

Small Things and Imaginings

Ahhhh, a new week!

Like the rain that came in and swept things clean, I have now enjoyed two night of good sleep, which means things are calming down and my body is calling off the red alert.

I actually, get this, went over to a friends house for lunch! I have to blink when I read that since it seems somehow odd and strange. Me? A friend I can visit? Really? But it's true! After coaxing K into her boots and jacket, and her opting to get into the stroller, we crossed the West End in a respectable twenty minute walk through some bitterly cold wind and hints of warm sunshine.

Now, my area has some smaller neighbourhoods in it and there are a range of prices. Typically though, we're a bit more expensive as far as housing costs go. We lucked out and the furnished flat we let (rent) is a bit less expensive than it might be. There are reasons for this, as I've discovered, but the realities are that we are unlikely to move until we move to Oxford next year. It's just the way it is.

Now, on the north side of the west end is a really nice area I'd love to live in. That's where my friend lives. Walking up to the lovely traditional terraced houses, I couldn't help but be envious of the small gardening spaces and the resident's garden in the middle of the crescent.

Their place is one of those ones that makes my interior decorator side go 'Oh!' It's so hard not to ogle the intricate Victorian mouldings on the ceiling. Now, they're busy parents of a 2 year old and a 5 month old baby, and they only moved in a year ago, so they haven't had much time to do anything with the place. It was all I could do not to jump up and down and say "I'll help!" if only to be able to imagine what decorating a space like that would be like.

I don't begrudge them their larger and beautiful space. They are both working professionals and have had their ups and downs. But hey, I can imagine a slightly larger (3rd bedroom anyone?) flat with cheap furniture that isn't twenty or thirty years old and falling apart. Certainly it would be nice not to have the bathtub sink a little at the drain end when I get into it. Did you hear that? Yeah, it comes away from the seal a bit. And yes, my letting agent knows. Apparently he's going to get a plumber in to look over everything and hopefully ease my fears about mould and rotting floors… sometime. I don't expect these things to happen very quickly anymore. This sounds very familiar to the time my house tried to kill me. But that's another story.

For now, I'm looking forward to next month when we hopefully have a small amount of money in which to print some of photographs, buy some cheap frames and make this place just a tiny bit ours for another year.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Showers...

You know it's spring here when the weather changes every ten minutes. Sometimes that's an exaggeration, but quite often not. Even in the summer things can change so quickly it leaves you spinning.

The clouds have just burst open again, showering the ground in dampness that makes this place so green. I think that's why I really do love it it here as it reminds me of the temperate rainforests of the south coast of BC.

I was hoping for a longer and more thoughtful post today, but I'm exhausted. I haven't been sleeping well for various reasons and my body is not happy with me. I'm hoping for a really good night's sleep tonight and that I will wake up feeling refreshed and energetic. For now, I leave you with another photo I took back in the spring of 2007 when I was still learning how to use my new digital SLR camera:

Yes, I realize I'm on a flower theme lately. But it is spring after all...


Welcome to the new faces visiting for ICLW (IComLeaveWe)!

If you're not familiar with my blog, a very quick summary:

After two miscarriages, we now have a very active 2.5 year old girl, known here as K. I also was diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in 2006 and deal with flare ups from that as well as bouts of depression. I'm from Canada but relocated to the UK last year after my husband accepted a job in Scotland!

I'm a photographer and foodie who posts about both as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photo of the Day: Free Fall

Free fall: the downward movement under the force of gravity only.

A moment of exhilaration that wraps itself around your being and spreads through you.

You fall…

… but in that moment you are free.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Photo of the Day: Asters

In response to the query in my last image, here's a better look at the flowers underneath the tulips…

On a really cool, but somewhat annoying note in my development as a photographer, I've learned two very important details regarding image size and colour profiles for digital images on the internet. Without getting into details, what it means is that my online images will look better, but I have twice the work if I want certain images in print. Oh well, it's worth it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Simple Joys...

- warm sun on my face

- wind that isn't so cold it freezes my hands

- a washer/dryer that works consistently now

-a small face buried into my shoulder as I walk down the street

-random cackling from K for no reason that anyone but her can discern. Did she tell herself a joke? See something funny? Remember something funny she saw? Who knows…

-Pretty things to take photos of:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Editing a New Self Image

I'm a Mac user after many, many years of owning a PC and using both at work and school. I'm a photographer and so getting my MacBook Pro was very exciting. I actually decided to make the switch after using my husband's MacBook to put together a video slideshow with music for a client I had done some commercial work for. Not only did I do stock images for their banquet hall, but I shot an event their and they played my slideshow on a bit screen. It was pretty damned cool that I got to stretch my skills and  it was one of many sessions I did for them.

One thing that is clear now compared to even then, is that the quality of the images I take has improved drastically, as had my editing.

I don't edit all that much really. White balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and conversion to B&W are my usual tweaks if I'm not playing around and wanting to do something funky.

What is interesting are the images of myself (not that there are many).

I will admit that when I take and edit an image of myself, I do edit out major blemishes in my skin, like this one:

(You can still see that they are there under the makeup, but trust me when I say they are not nearly as bad)


I've had hormonal induced acne since I hit I got my first period, which was at 15. It's been so bad that I have scarring on my face and I hate it.

Yes, it truly provokes such a visceral reaction in me because I find it has clouded my self image for so many years. Those who will remember my bitching about my cycles, may recall that I have annoyingly short cycles (21-25 days). In the 2-5 days before I start a cycle, I break out. Sometimes just a little; other times they are big and hurt and all I want to do is hide under a thick layer of makeup (which only makes me look worse).

So yeah, I break out roughly every 3 weeks or so, which means my skin has barely recovered from one cycle before I break out again. Ugghhh!

Now, I've tried so many different solutions. I've had prescription cleansers, birth control pills that were supposed to help skin too (and only messed up my hormonal balance worse- I can't tolerate BCPs at all). I've tried consistent facial cleansing routines using inexpensive drug store products, and even expensive all natural products. Nothing works for long…

Why? Because aside from the fact that my skin adapts to these products too quickly, it's hormonally induced and (I believe) related to the low progesterone that results in my LPD (Luteal Phase Defect). So until I have a solution for that (that I can afford), I don't foresee any magical cures for my acne. I should add though that my hormone imbalance is something I want to look into more…. at some point.

Suffice to say I cringe when I see myself in photos sometimes. So when I want to use an image for a profile here, or on Facebook, I edit it. I take that lovely little blemish brush on either of my editing programs, iPhoto or GIMP (three cheers for open source) and make those awful marks go away.

I look at the image I took recently, especially the B&W version I have up here, and go, 'gosh, you know, she's kind of pretty…' Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my own beauty is hidden beneath a mask that for now, only a photo editing brush can reveal.

Perhaps I shouldn't care. But I do. My acne clouds my self-image and affects my self esteem at times. It has nothing to do with how I treat myself, but more the confidence I exude to the world around me. On the days where it isn't so bad or I get a small break from the acne, I wear makeup well and can see the same person in my edited images.

I have no illusions to looking anything other than I look. But I use that editing tool to show myself what I really look like, as opposed to creating some idealized version. That's not the point.

I just need a reminder of who that women in the photo is. She's there, if just a bit hidden at times.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lessons My Toddler Teaches Me

We've had the same argument over, and over, and over.

You might ask, "But how can you have an argument with a toddler who really isn't speaking?" According to my dictionary, an argument is defined as an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.

Standard scene: After leaving a place where K has been taken out of the stroller, she refuses to get back in it when we need to leave to go home. Typically this could be the grocery store or a coffee shop or the library. Okay fine, she can walk home and I can hold her hand. Except then she will often refuse to walk as well, which leaves us on the sidewalk with her having a tantrum because I won't carry her the 20 minutes home AND push the stroller, and she stubbornly refuses to walk (which she has done many time before and is quite capable of and even enjoys).

First off, if I don't have the stroller, I don't mind carrying her at least part of the way. But she's 12 kilograms (a little over 26 lbs)! If I have the stroller and I carry her I have to balance her on my left hip with one arm holding her and then use my right hand to push the stroller (I'm right handed so it's best able to control the tri-wheeled jogging stroller I have).

Now add to this little scenario that fact that I specifically brought the stroller because I had to go buy food items at the shop (including a jug of milk) and I wasn't going to carry 2 bags of heavy groceries plus a toddler. Forget it!

This morning, we got groceries and she and I were both a little hungry so we stopped for a bit at a coffee shop. Then we go to leave and as usual she doesn't want to get in. I have one bag of groceries tucked underneath in the basket and one lighter one sitting on top. Fine, she can walk.

K races for the door and we get outside and through the crowd of people in front of the subway station and then I stop to sort ourselves out a bit. I go to put her in the stroller and she throws a screaming fit. Fine. So I tell her she can walk, but as usual as I try to set her down, she tucks in her knees to her body so her feet won't touch the ground, and I'm forced to either set her down on her rear or hold her.

What I've been doing pretty consistently is give her a choice. I simply can't carry her plus push a stroller laden with groceries all the way home (and up a hill too mind you). I just can't. Not only can't my arms take it, it hurts my back and by the time I get home I collapse exhausted, sore and unable to move. It's not worth it.

So I tell her she can either go in the stroller or walk home. Till this morning, neither option appealed to her and we usually ended up in a stalemate with me simply getting frustrated and giving in and carrying her.

Not today.

This time, I stayed calm and just kept repeating her two options and explained why I couldn't carry her a couple times. She's two and a half so I really don't expect her to understand it all, but I wanted her to try and get that I wasn't saying no to be mean but because there was a reason for it.

After a couple of minutes of me crouched on the ground with her sitting on one knee clinging to me, she slowly lets go and happily does a running skip sort of thing. I stand up, unlock the stroller brakes and ask her to hold my hand, which she does.

And we walk.

K proceeded to try out every funny way of walking she could and jump in every puddle which elicited lots of smiles and chuckles from people passing by. Sometimes she held my hand, other times she wanted to venture about.

Half way home I ended up carrying her across a crosswalk because we had to hurry to make the light. Of course after that she didn't want to walk any more! But we were close to the bridge over our neighbourhood river and she likes to look over it at the water. So I carried her there and then stopped so she could look for a bit. I tried to put her down after a minute, but she held on tighter, so I simply held her tight and she snuggled into my shoulder, watching people pass. One woman smiled at her and she eagerly started waving at her as she passed and continued to even after to woman was 15 metres away. The woman turned back and smiled, waving again, and K was thrilled! lol. After a few minutes I tried to set her down again so we could continue walking. Instead of taking my hand, she walks to the front of the stroller and tries to climb in.


So I get her in and secure the belt and she's perfectly content to stay in the rest of the way back to our flat.

It might have taken us nearly 45 minutes to make the 20 minute trip home, but it was worth every single minute knowing that we had tested each other, negotiated and come to an agreement we could both accept.

At first my reaction was, 'Ha! I won'. But that really wasn't it at all. In the end, we both won, simply because we listened to each other. She got to make a choice and I got to set the parameters that would ensure not only that she was safe, but that I made it home in one piece physically and emotionally.

Now how's that for Parenting 101? Apparently, a calm heart, persistence and patience really do pay off.

Go figure...

Photos of the Day: Ode to the West Coast

Found these gems of images from photo cds I have uploaded on my laptop. They were originally taken with my old zoom film camera, my guess is with 400 ISO film, in Aug of 2003. The first is at a place on Vancouver Island called French Beach. The second a little farther north up the west coast of the Island called Jordan River (coincidentally it's where people surf on the south part of the Island). The funny part about the images is that they aren't the best (compared to what I take now) but I was still rather intent on being prolific. Except that the definition of prolific shifted dramatically from 24-32 images per roll, to 637 jpg images or 232 RAW ones once I ventured into digital.

That figure in the first would be my brother who was probably about six feet tall then, if not over. Not that I can recall exactly. But it gives you perspective on the waves…

I am Wave, hear me roar! 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Community Building for the Socially Anxious

Sometimes when I really stop to think about it, I realize how overwhelmingly difficult it is to not only be a parent, but to be one in a different country. Had I gotten pregnant and given birth here, I would have had in intrinsic network of people to use for resources. I would have had friends to call up on those difficult days, play dates to set up and so forth.

Being a stay-at-home-mom who's working on being a work-at-home-mom is more challenging than I ever anticipated. There was nothing in my difficult journey to being a parent that could have ever prepared me for how damned hard it is to not only raise a child but be with them day in and day out.

In that same breath though I can barely express how much joy and love I have and receive from my daughter. As often happened in the first year of her her life, I started posts and then never got around to finishing them. Sitting in my post list was this little gem:

Dearest Bean,
Yesterday you turned six months. When you were born, indeed, even before that, I had planned to write you letters to let you know all that was going on in your life at that time. But it was not to be. You will discover, in time, that the saying is true: "Life is what happens when you are making other plans."
I look into your smiling face as you giggle and wonder if you'll ever know just how much my heart aches in its love for you.

I never wrote any more than that and I surely can't remember what else I wanted to say to her.

So much love. But ache is the right word too. Some days, trying to deal with a two and a half year old threatens the very last strands of sanity I have. But as always, the moment passes, the day is over and we start again.

Because I have this social anxiety in my life now, reaching out to strangers is incredibly difficult. Even just starting a conversation with another mom I don't know can make heart race. But as soon as the words come out and the dialogue started, I relax back into the friendly and sociable person I truly am. 

People think that moving to Scotland means I live some sort of glamourous life; as if I am some trendy jet-setting mother off to show her child all the riches of the world. I am not. Really, it's just the same as being back home, except that I've lost a huge chunk of my support network, or the network I do have is 5-8 hours behind me in my day. That being said, the support I do get here is wonderful, if limited.

It was the unexpected curse of the newly relocated SAHM. I've met lots of other moms- at the playground, at playgroups and indoor play places. The issue? More often then not, they are working, even if just part-time. I'm not. So inevitably they don't have much time for me, since when they are off, they want to be spending time with their family and the friends they do have. There isn't a whole lot of time for that woman who just moved here that they don't really know yet.

But I'm lucky at the moment that I have found one friend to hang out with during the mornings, once a week or so, who just had her second child a few months ago. She's at home with both of them, so we can commiserate. I also have a feeling that if ever something happened and I needed help, I could call or text her and she'd be there for me.

I can't express how powerful and comforting that is. A year after I moved here, I'm only just starting to feel like I'm really settled and that I have a life here. Some days it doesn't feel like much, but I am ever grateful for it.

Going forward and knowing that I will be moving in a year, I can prepare ahead of time, if only mentally for the transition. I'll once again be the newbie trying to settle and fit in, but having done it once, I know what I need to do to build my little network around me. Doesn't mean it'll be easy though. Is it worth it in the end? I surely hope so!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Photo of the Day: Fawn Lilies

Cooking for the Soul: Thin Crust Pizza

-homemade or pre-made pizza dough (I found a kit of pre-made/pre-rolled stuff that came with a jar of sauce)
-pizza sauce
-cheese (I used just a sprinkling of fontina cheese that was way too expensive to be eaten regularly but oh so divine)


Roll, bake (400F, 200 C). 'Nuff said.

I can't even tell you how amazing this meal was. The spring veggie one was actually my favourite one, but the pineapple and ham (we used pancetta) made my day too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Cooking for the Soul: Cheesy Quinoa Cakes

So for the last couple of weeks I have made these wonderful little creations. I've also gone with what I had in the house, so they've been made with cheddar or Gruyere and parmesan, rather than the fontina cheese. And I've done minced garlic instead of the green onions, but no matter how you change it up, the result remains the same…


I even changed up the dip and did a sour cream, cilantro and lime dip with some salsa. Even plain sour cream tastes great!

You can find the recipe here: http://spoonforkbacon.com/2011/11/cheesy-quinoa-cakes/

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Imagining the Future: Part Two

I suppose I should preface this post by saying that yesterday's post was about my writing down the thoughts in my head, nothing more, nothing less. It was a lot to have to try and explain, and a lot of it was my needing to see the thoughts in my head in a concrete way. By seeing them in print, they were something I could tackle and examine.

Trying to find perspective with all that in your head is more than a little difficult, and I certainly didn't expect to find it right away. It wasn't even my intention in that moment.
Now though, I can sit back and work things out. I'm a very practical person in the sense that I can break things down into manageable chunks. Call it a learned skill after the downfall into illness; it was both practical and necessary.

What has occurred to me is that I almost need to re-learn how to dream. When you go through one thing after another, it gets hard to be able to visualize the things you want for yourself and others and simply imagine it. You would think that being the mother of a toddler and being an artist, that I would know how to do this. And I do… or rather I did. 

Now, I'm having to look at where I am in my life and reinvent the concept of dreams. 

You know, I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that I never remember my dreams at night. When I wake up in the morning I couldn't tell you if I dreamt or not. I have wondered if this is a particular fibro issue, but what I've read suggests it isn't, so it's still a bit of a mystery to me. The point is, the concept of dreaming is often enhanced/informed by our ability to experience the strange world of our own dreams. Or at least that is how I see it. I have a great imagination (which my RP club can attest to), but putting it to practice in my daily life is a skill I seemed to have lost. Is it the depression? Possibly, and goodness knows that my outlook is better when my mood shifts back to 'normal' for me.

I also know that right now is a critically important time in my life. Call me crazy, but I'm savouring it in a way. I feel like I'm on the verge of something truly life changing, and in order to allow it to come to fruition, I need to let everything happen as it will and also just be. If I try to force things to conform to some preconceived idea of what it should like look, I will lose sight of the process, and it's the process that interests me as much as the destination.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Imagining the Future

Do you have an idea of what your life will look like five years from now? Ten years? Of course, no one can predict the future, but most people have one or two things that they can feel certain about or at least are working towards and feels possible. Are they family related? Professional? Personal?

I can't imagine the future at the moment. Oh, I have daydreams about what I would like but in terms of realistic imaginings? I'm feeling uninspired and even, yes I will admit it, afraid.

Before we got pregnant the first time (or rather the first 'scare'/ possible chemical pregnancy- but that's something for another post), I wanted certain things. I wanted 3 children (both hubby and I came from 3 children families. I wanted a house of our own with a backyard. I wanted to work part-time at home as an artist while I was able to stay at home with the kids, and maybe have someone come into the house on certain days so that I could work uninterrupted.

Now? It all seems surreal and almost, dare I say, unrealistic?

Or maybe my timeline is all skewed.

The truth is that where we are right now, my priorities are far, far more different than I could ever imagine. Lately, when I cuddle K and snuggle my face into her hair, breathing in her scent, I feel… content with her.

For the first time in my life, I could accept it if she ended up being our only child.

Huh? What? The woman who wanted 3? Hubby wants two and heck, even after our 20 week ultrasound with K when we found out K was a girl, he joked that he wanted a boy as well, even if it meant having more than 2.

There are a lot of reasons I'm waffling on the idea of another child. It's not that I don't want another child, but it's that when I add up all the pros and cons, the con list far, far, far outweighs the pro list right now for us.

Right now in my husband's career, the reality is that we are going to move around a bit. What I didn't or couldn't comprehend before was that as exciting as it would be to move to a new country, it is extremely difficult to build a support network. Finding (let alone affording) a babysitter is even more difficult than I would have thought.

I have one friend here. One person who I text and meet up with. Her daughter is two weeks younger than K and she has a 5 month old boy now too. She's not working like a lot of the other moms I've met, and therefore I feel like she has a small amount of time to actually be there for me if I need it and I won't feel like I am imposing or being needy.

Except that she can't really drop things and help me if I needed it. She after all has two kids to look after and her husband also travels like mine. But we get along great and I know she's there to listen if I need it, and I know in an emergency, she would do everything to help.

I used to meet and make friends easily, but now one in a year seems amazing to me. I chalk it up to the anxiety that is inherent in my depression. The ever present battle I fight is more good than bad lately, but it also still means that it's stressful for me to reach out to complete strangers and say, "Hey, I'm new. Think you can help me adjust and settle in here?" Actually, just thinking about it makes me panicky in a way I never could have understood prior to my illness and subsequent fibro diagnosis.

So, my family and best friends are really far away, I have almost no support network here, and we're moving again next summer, so I will start the networking all over again.  Add to that that my husbands travels overseas and the idea of being alone in a place with a small child and an infant terrifies me.


I had post-partum depression and I am high risk for it again.

Those who read through that part of my journey know how hard it was and hard I had to fight to regain some sort of stability in my life.

And all of this was after 2 confirmed miscarriages and a lot of stress towards the end of my successful pregnancy that resulted in intervention due to high blood pressure and near pre-eclampsia. Trying to wrap my mind around doing it again in our current circumstances is beyond daunting. I mean, this is presuming that we are successful the first time we conceive again and I don't go through more miscarriages, which given my still short cycles and hormone balance issues, I'm not convinced I won't, it seems like inflicting a whole host of torture on my consciousness that I'm not sure I'd be strong enough to get through intact. I won't even get into the stress it all placed on our marriage.

This isn't even considering the financial side of things, of which another child would be that much more difficult for us to makes ends meet and add more stress to our lives.

Did I mention my fibromyalgia? Stress= fibro trigger…


All of this adds up to the fact that trying to conceive a child while we are in the UK is a really bad idea. We are pretty set at this point about returning to North America after is new contract is up, which is in 2016. Fine, so we wait. But at that point I will be 32-33. I can't even imagine what our life will be like at that point let alone want to comprehend what a few more years my do to my somewhat questionable fertility.

I told hubby about my fears and my feeling that I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to have another child, all things considered. Though it took him a little bit to say so, he was bothered by it. After talking it over I told him I wasn't vetoing another child, just that for now I thought it was a bad idea, to which he agreed. Later, we will revisit it.

Four or five years down the road, will our circumstances be significantly different? Will I feel more comfortable with the idea? I'm not sure. I have no precognition skills and the future isn't mine to see, but suffice to say, all these things will still factor into the equation, but it's very possible that the answer will be very different than it is right now.

All I know is that at the end of the day, we both have to be accepting of our circumstances and the consequences of our decision regarding more children at that point. For me, I will be weighing the pros and cons carefully and considering the price I am willing to pay for a piece of a dream. How much is too much? Is it okay to go half-way and back out when it looks like it might not be worth it? Or is it a jump in with both feet situation?

I don't know. For now, I'm accepting that as a reasonable answer to questions I can't truly fathom at the moment. Right now we just keep going and handle whatever life tosses at us and hope we can handle it. The world is such an uncertain place these days. But I have a wonderful husband and an amazing daughter. I have supportive family and a lot of love. And that's enough.

Photo of the Day: A Deep Breath of Spring

Trying to ignore the possibility of snow in this week's weather forecast and focus on the warmth I am remembering from the last couple of weeks…

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Signs of Spring...

Or an early, temporary summer. Sometimes it's hard to tell in Scotland, as it doesn't get really hot here in the summer at all. Last year the hottest it got to was 21 Celsius. It also doesn't hit peak heat until 4pm either, which is a little disappointing somedays, as it's still fairly chilly when I'm out in the mornings, but right now, it's making for lovely evening walks and tonight I'm hoping to go for a run, provided my headache goes away and Kio naps so I can lie down and am not so tired.

In any case, we went out this weekend and enjoyed the sun. Everything is is bloom. Actually, last night at the park, the cherry blossoms was 'snowing'. I of course didn't have my camera (not even my phone!) and I'm still pouting at missing out on the image of a young woman sitting cross legged on a bench under a pink Japanese cherry, nibbling on a sandwich while petal floating to the ground around her.

But here are some images I got on Sunday on my iPhone. The last was from this morning. In hopes we can make it to the coast, I bought K some sunglasses and a pail and shovel for the beach.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bearing Witness

Last week I was walking through the park with K in the stroller, as I often do. Along the river that cuts through our area, the paved path flows along and the metal fence you see in the image above goes the entire way.

This time there was something different. This time there were these crosses affixed to the fence at even intervals. The first one I passed with mild curiosity, briefly skimming the inscription, but it was seeing the second one that made me stop and actually read it in order to make sense of it.

On each cross was a name (male), a place, and how they died, plus some other word (or two) I couldn't make sense of. The best guess I have based on the info provided was that maybe they were members of a gang or something like that, but I have no way to know. It was seeing the cause of death  of a few listed as 'Shot' that possibly lends credence to my hypothesis, but the truth is I don't know.

I don't know a lot actually. I don't know the names personally, or who these people were. I don't know what compelled someone or some people to put up these markers, other than they wanted a public memorial to people who obviously meant something to them. There were after all about a dozen of these crosses put up, so it must be something big that I simply don't have a reference for.

It also raises more questions than answers. But therein lays the point of all of this.

Whatever their initial intention, the people who put up the crosses got my attention. It truly was a surreal experience but it was also humbling and touching. I walked along slowly, reading, wondering and feeling in general a little sad. When I saw that some of them had obviously been torn down, I wished I could find the missing cross and had a way to put it back up. It was as if some careless stranger had defaced the memorial, and I desired nothing more than to make it right.

For a short while, I participated in this public memorial and these people were a part of my consciousness. They were nothing more than random names, but they were people who had lived and died. And they had had an impact on someone else's life enough that this person or persons felt the need to tell the world (even if it was just a very small piece of it) about these lost people.

Who were they? How old? When did they die? Were they brothers? Fathers? Uncles? Nephews? Best friends of someone? Did they go to school? Have a job? Hope, wish and dream?

I'll likely never know the details, but for a short time they were recognized by someone outside of their experiences. I also think (hope) that I have not been the only one to notice the memorial and take a few moments to honour it's intent.

As I moved away, I was changed, if only in a small way. It made me think about the impact one life can have on others and how we take for granted our own interconnectedness. We are not alone. Someone will have noticed, even if we never know it.

And so it was for me that day. I bore witness to their existence and in doing so, I left a bit of myself with them. As I share this with you, I can't give you all the names so that you can share this with me, but I can ask you to take a moment and think about those in your life, even those you have a passing acquaintance with. Who might you have an impact on that you don't even realize? Some answers are obvious, some are not. But surely the point is to look at ourselves and our lives within the greater picture and see things a little deeper.

To the name on those crosses, I don't know who you are, but you have been seen and recognized. You have clearly not been forgotten.


Mrs. Gamgee asked, 'What would you do if you won the lottery?'

Honestly, I've thought about this and as nice as a cool few million would be I would be extraordinarily happy with $100,000.


It's just enough to take care of a few things but not enough to cause strife.

The way I figure it, we could pay off our student loans and our credit card debt, giving us more spending money each month, as well as have a down payment on a house (omg a real asset! :O) and have a rainy day fund/savings as well as be able to make a some donations to some well loved charities.

See, I don't think that is too much to ask for. It would be financial freedom and the chance for us to do the things we would really love to do.

Yeah, it would be nice...

Friday, March 23, 2012


I'm trying to get back into some sort of routine with my posts but it's just not been happening. So I'm trying some more 'short and sweet' ones in order to find my rhythm again.

 - - - - - - - -

Active 2 year old + overseas husband (work trip) = less time to blog or do much of anything.

Warmer weather + sunshine + not so cold wind = more time enjoyed outside.

> 4 weeks + strange mechanical/power issue = broken washer (again!!!!!)

Bad memory + calling from mobile where number is stored = wrong number given to letting agency (engineer couldn't get through to me… crap!)


Calling letting agency back after 2 days + home number given = appt. Sat afternoon for engineer to come by and look at the washer.


Engineer + a hell of a lot of hope = fixed washer to tackle the five loads of laundry we'll have to do once hubby is home from his trip tomorrow?


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Pushing Ahead

The days are getting longer and the sun is shining more. That usually makes me feel better, but I feel a little stuck. I know it will pass soon, but it's the process of kicking yourself into action that is always hardest.

Snag after snag lately with starting this business is sucking the energy and motivation out me. Who would have thought that opening a simple business bank account would be so difficult. But then again, as usual, my circumstances are always more complicated and the stupidest things are holding me up. I'm waiting… waiting for an application to come in the mail because I can't apply for my account online like everyone else. Why? It's simple. They want your current address and how long you've lived there. If you've lived there less than three years, you have to provide your previous address. Keep in mind all the moving back and forth with family we did last winter and that I was still in Canada. So I entered in my-inlaws address as my last address there. Except it wouldn't accept the Canadian postal code. The form has no country option so you can only apply online if your last address was in the UK.

Grumble, grumble, bitch, bitch.


I have a bunch of photo editing to do, and I might have a photo shoot this weekend, not sure. Trying to stay focused and positive.

Meanwhile, I'm working on the research portion of a fiction novel I've been planning to write. I know at some point I just have to start writing, but because it's partially based in real history, I am adamant about getting certain things right. If I'm writing about a certain group of people in a certain time period, I need to know about them, their environment, what motivates them. Who were they? How did they think? Feel? How did events around them affect their lives? Until I can answer these questions I'm not ready to start writing that side of things. However, that being said, there are parts I can write, so that's what I'm working on.

Focus. Breathe. Keep going…

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Made From Scratch

So a little while ago, Mel at Stirrup Queens wrote this very poignant (isn't she always?) post about the hurts we want to protect our children from. It got me thinking.

I posted a reply about how as a mother of a toddler, one of the first words out of my mouth is quite often 'careful'. "Careful, baby..." or  "watch out…" But more often just the one word, careful.

A friend of mine, a fellow stay-at-home-mom said it was better than saying no all the time. I have to admit that I do tell her that as well. Through usually it's framed through a request or simple stated reason: "Please come down from there," or, "No, you already had a snack, it's almost dinner time." But sometimes I just say no. Usually by the end of the day when reasoning with a two year old is too tiring.

I think about my predilection for telling her to be careful and I know all parents must tell their children that, but for me, the worry behind the word is that my girl, my baby, will get hurt. Or something terrible will happen that I can't fix. Because you know, I've been there before.

Echoes of loss.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if parents who had lost a child (during pregnancy, from stillbirth or from illness) or had a a lot of difficulty having one were more over-protective than those who conceived and gave birth in the usual straightforward manner. There's probably a bunch of articles I could find on the subject, but for now, I'm quite happy with my own personal musings.

Have you seen that Grey's Anatomy episode where the girl came in and had shattered tons of bones in her body and her friends ditched her to go off and continue their amazing travels, leaving the girl all alone? She was too scared to call her mom and let her know what happened because her mother had told her she had made her from scratch and the mother wouldn't be able to handle it.

I think a lot, if not all mothers feel this way. All those weeks of watching your belly swell, scans that show development, weight gain, "eating for two", it all frames it in your mind- you are making a baby from scratch.

It's so hard to let your child get the bumps and bruises when you know you could prevent them. If I'm doing dishes in the kitchen, I can't see what she's doing in the lounge (ie. living room). There have certainly been times when I'm cooking or washing dishes and I've heard a thud followed by a cry. Then I go running to find that she's fallen from something. She can't get up too high anywhere luckily, but still, my baby is hurt. Mama's hugs and cuddles can make things better.

But not for everything.

So maybe I am a little bit more protective, but I have a very active two year old who ploughs through life faster than I can keep up. I don't want to prevent her from trying things and making mistakes, but for now, I can at least tell her careful and hope that the bumps and bruises are minor.

Because I love her, and I made her from scratch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where Things Try to Get Complicated

It's beautiful day today. The sun is shining, and so far, the big dark clouds that hang threateningly over the sky have passed quite quickly. That's the beauty about the Scottish winds- they come in strong and things blow over quite quickly. I'm sure there's some metaphor in there somewhere.

The one thing about a good sunny day is that it's like whatever fog is in my head is suddenly swept away and I can think and feel clearly. Can one feel clearly? Maybe it's just that I'm feeling rather flat lately and whatever emotions are there have been minimized. It's not depression, it's just a temporary inability to feel motivated.

So here I am, not feeling quite as flat and trying to wrap my mind around all that is going on. As I mentioned in my last post, it's not busy in the sense of schedules, but it's the juggling act of raising a toddler. It's draining.

The business stuff is happening slowly but surely. I think not being open on the timeline I had set for myself has also contributed to my mood lately. But, I chose to cancel a meeting with one bank because I didn't believe they would be very helpful to me in the long run. I wanted someone that had something to offer a very small business. I mean, let's face it, as much as it would be nice, I'm not going to be bringing in thousands of pounds every month. Hundreds is the current benchmark so that I can supplement my husband's income. 

So I cancelled the one appointment and have set things in motion with another bank. Turns out that is complicated too since their Scottish branches are being sold to another bank (a result of legislation placed on them following the 2008 recession that is attempting to create more competition). So, to make things complicated, I likely have to open the account in an English bank and bank up here through their associated branches. Why? Because we pretty much have confirmation that in Oct of 2013 we're moving to Oxford, England when hubby's job shifts focus. I should also note that the contract (when it's drawn up) will be till 2016.

A plan. We have one!

So that means I'm starting my business here in Glasgow and then moving things to Oxford. Not necessarily difficult, just… complicated.

So that's one thing I'm trying to sort out.

Then there's my dear little girl.

I'm trying to not be worried. My mom and I talked about her speech issue recently and K went and tried to prove us wrong, but ever since then there's been no further advancements. I'm talking about words and speaking here. She has at 28 months a grand total of 3 words. Yes, 3. Mama (or some variation), Dada (also variations there) and recently she pointed to a carton of juice and demanded 'jussh!'.

That's it.

Now to her credit the girl can babble with the best of them and is very vocal. She can communicate with her body/actions quite easily and has a high degree of comprehension. She can point to parts of her body when we ask where they are (eyes, nose, mouth, hair, ears, chin…). She can shake her head no. She will drag up to the kitchen when she's hungry and point to the food she wants (and throw a tantrum if she can't have it). She will now demand to go down for a nap, even if it means she doesn't end up getting her diaper changed (that was today and it wasn't too wet, so it's fine). And in preparation for toilet training she is now starting to let us know when she does want her diaper changed.

But she doesn't use words. Even hubby is starting to be a little concerned. He was a late talker but usually there is a bit more than this by now.

On the other hand I don't want to freak out that our seemingly smart little girl has a problem. In any case, the health visitor was supposed to come back for a check-up to see how her speech was coming along. As soon as I post this, I'm calling her to make an appointment to get her take on things. It's one of those things that I'm not overly concerned about till she's three. But at that same time I don't want to leave it too long if some early intervention will make a difference.

So that's a bit of what's happening. More later… I have a phone call to make.


Right. Here I am. I think. Yep, still here.

Two weeks later and I'm finally getting back here. It's not that things have particularly crazy (though they are busy) but I'm tired. Three weeks of no washing machine has really put a damper on my mood. Who would have thought a washing machine would make such a big difference in my day? Oh, right, well it seems that when you have only so many clothes and the laundromat is extremely expensive (read: extortion) and you spend one day of your weekend taking care of that, it's hard to keep up with things. The good news is that the new washer is on it's way. We're just waiting for word on when it will be installed. The last we heard on Monday was that it will only be a few days. I'm not holding much hope that we'll have it by the weekend, so looks like it's the laundromat again.

Wash, rinse, repeat.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stylin' Feet

Even in the cold and wet a gal's got to have some fun on her feet. Each cost me £25-30. All I need now are a pair of hiking boots to tackle the rough terrain around here I'd love to be hiking and I'd be set. Well, at least as far as the outdoors are considered. I did see a rather awesome pair of block colour heels the other day…

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Motto

So I had this sorted out weeks ago but it's taken me this long to post it. As many of you know, each year one of my dearest friends and I select a motto for the year. It is often a reflection of the year we've had which informs how we want to approach the new year. Some have had a comical side, others were, well a little cynical, but generally they are optimistic.

We've both had tough years and gone through a lot. Change has been very prevalent and it will likely be so in 2012. I think the hope is that the changes we go through will be self-driven. Now, we're both realists though so we know that most of time we just have to take what life gives us and make the most of it.

Here is our mantra for 2012: "Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed, it must be accepted. ~ Unknown"

Having had this in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, I realize how much it's already changing my perspective. I was in a situation I couldn't accept and I know I'm changing it.

Change can be good. Change is scary.

Bring it on.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Cross posting… sort of.

Read the latest post here: Imaginative Lens Photography.

Uh huh, yeah.


A Place of My Own

We crave a tiny little space for ourselves- I think we all do it in some way. Perhaps that's why the idea of owning your own home is such a driver for so many people. We want a place that can be OURS. In working towards starting this business, I've come to understand this on so many, many levels.

I was chatting online with a friend of mine in England whose advice I always respect. Like me, he often needs a kick in the rear when motivation dies and when we're having a bad day, we know how to be supportive but also tell it like it is.

I made a comment about having so much to do yet and he replied, "There always is, and it never stops, but this is your business… your desk… your challenge."

And so it is.

My success, my failure, my dream. Whatever shall be will be mostly because of my own efforts. I'm a pretty resilient person and I can accept that there will be difficulties along the way, but I also am optimistic about things going really well if I keep working hard at it.

This working from home thing has it positives and negatives. For one thing, no one knows or cares that I'm wearing my blue socks with white reindeer and red stars on them and that I didn't get dressed until nearly 10 am this morning. But I can also go out during the day with my daughter, and then work later when she naps and at night. The balance is tricky though, especially right now when I have so many things to do and feel pulled in many directions. That is a down side. So is the fact that it can be hard to turn my brain off at bedtime enough that I can sleep. Reading something completely unrelated is vital to calming my speeding train of thought.

But back to my topic: a space of my own.

I work on a laptop, so due to uncomfortable dining chairs, I do like to sit in our overstuffed chairs much to the chagrin of my knees. But then again, I'm up and down so much that I stretch lots.

Still though, I needed a place to keep all my business stuff organized. I also needed a clean place that wasn't going to end up having jam spread all over it (like the dining table) and I also wanted to get all our personal papers in order too.

So I was industrious the other day and moved one of these comfy chairs (although they are horribly made and have the most awful goldish fabric that is ripping- the things that come from renting a furnished flat) into K's room and moved the Ikea desk in her room into the lounge (living room). Shifting the dining area a little and turning it to be at an angle to the corner it was in gave us a bit more room and space between it and the desk.

We have no money to buy furniture or organizational things, so I'm being creative at the moment. Instead of file folders for all our bills and stuff, I took our christmas cards and some small binder clips, slipped the sorted stacks of bills and other papers into the cards and then clipped the top or side to keep things from falling out. I'll probably keep doing this because instead of large file folders, the cards are neat and tidy. I'll probably buy some cheap non-holiday ones from our pound shop (ie. dollar store) later. There you go, your DIY tip for the day!

In any case, the results of my 3 hours of hard work is a neat and tidy work space that is mine. It may not be entirely devoted to my business, but nothing in this set-up will be really.

Here is my home "office" in all it's glory:

A piece of inspiration stuck to my white board with one of K's magnets...

A good notebook with a short version of my to-do list, purple pen (why not?) and my iPhone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Checking off the List

Thanks for all your support! Things are moving along now and coming together nicely if I do say so myself.

I've also realized how nitpicky I can be about things. For example, it took me several hours to comb through all my images and find the one that was perfect for my Etsy store banner and other graphics I needed. And I tested my graphical design prowess by installing free for use fonts so I could get the "perfect" look.

Suffice to say, it was worth it.

Still lots to do, but I now have a new blog/gallery for my art (you can find it HERE), and a Facebook page (HERE). Don't worry though, I'll still be blogging here. I want to keep my personal stuff out of the business stuff, so it made sense to separate everything.

Everything is still a work in progress so bear with me as I get things set up!

And on a very different and completely random note, I learned how to french braid my hair today. Huh, cool…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Decisions, Compromises and Finding Courage

I mentioned I have been in a bit of a funk.

That was a lie.

The other night at far too late an hour to be having proper discussions, hubby and I hashed out some issues. He asked my if I was mad at him. I was. We talked. I admitted the truth…

I am depressed… again.

Been there, done that, know the drill.

It's no secret that this move has been hard on me. I've now been in this new country for 7.5 months and sure enough it was at the 6 month mark that it really hit me. Just in time for the cold and wet winter weather to set in. Just in time for Christmas.

It's not just being far away from friends and family, and the solution isn't as simple as making new friends. I haven't had any status here. Aside from a visa that allows me to live and work here, you wouldn't know I was even here. Bills were all set up before I came (though that is changing), the bank account can't be changed to a joint one for another week, and I have no money of my own.

I hate feeling like I am a kept woman. I'm too independent for that.

I'm not going to re-hash the argument, but simply put, I needed things and didn't know how to ask for them. As usual it builds to a point where I can't take it anymore and I blow up. Usually over something small. I know this about myself and it's simply something I accept and try to watch out for. But when you're depressed, every… little… thing… becomes… HUGE.

The day before this rather hard day, I was inspired. As in the kind of inspiration that fills you up with so much happiness that you bounce off the walls and feel like you might explode! Have you ever felt that?

It was so simple too; I found some photography competitions. That I can actually enter. And are free. The ones that cost money to enter are big ones and could be very worthwhile, but I need to work up to them.

But my excitement was quickly brought down to reality, crushed really by a bad evening with the crazy demon that has taken over my normally lovely child. Terrible twos… I LOATHE them. They make me feel like an inept and horrible mother. Can we skip them? Please?

But now, a couple days after my talk with my hubby (who is far more patient than I often give him credit for), I've not only found inspiration again, I'm running with it.

It comes down to finances. I mentioned that we are on a budget. It's a tight budget since most of our spare money goes home to pay off debts and student loans. It sucks but there isn't too much I can do about that from here.

So we have to cut our expenses here or make more money, or both. I'm opting for both. Now, keeping in mind all our constraints (no vehicle, urban location, small flat), we can't be one of those people who collects coupons and runs to five different locations to get the best deal. I hate grocery shopping in one location with a difficult toddler, let alone trying to do five times in a week. But we manage with smart food choices (also healthier- a definite bonus) and doing the small things to reduce our other bills.

But it won't be enough to help us have the lifestyle we want. Here we are in a entirely different country 7000 kms from home and we can't afford to go out and explore much. I also have things I want to save for (both short and long term goals), plus the all important rainy day fund to see us through the next job change in a few years or if the European economy sinks more than it already has., I want a way out and home. I don't want to be in the same place we were last year. We won't even get started on the things I want for our daughter (to be able to do swimming classes and maybe a dance class or gymnastics). This all costs money we can't possible save at the moment.

The answer is clear: I need to be bringing in an income.

So I have my National Insurance number in hand now and many constraints on the kind of work I can do. This led to a lot of brainstorming on my part. If I want to stick to a viable work-from-home idea, I could be a Virtual Assistant and do project or data entry etc. from home for companies who need extra help but don't want to hire a regular employee.

But… knowing myself as I do and knowing that I need creativity and inspiration in my life, this is not enough. It can be a start though, so we'll see if I do that as well as my other plan, which is already in motion.

I am an artist, a photographer. Over and over I have veered away from traditional careers in hopes that my art could be my career. But it's not a simple thing to accomplish and I have to keep in mind that I need to try and accomplish a steady income.

I'm not going to be a hired photographer. While wedding photography appeals to me, the long hours away from home on weekends don't mesh well with our life right now. I can't afford childcare (yet), and I need to be around in the evenings and weekends if Ryan goes off for work meetings and conferences (which happens several times a year). I need to be able to work from home in a way that I decide.

So I'm once again starting a photography business. But rather than muddle through as I did before, I'm selling my work online. I love Etsy!! Thank you to my friend CB for introducing it to me a couple years ago, as I will soon have a platform for selling fine art photography. I also am working towards having my work shown in galleries.

It's not going to be easy. But I have a plan. A real plan, all written down in steps. This is real, it's going to happen! I'm nervous and a little scared. But I'm also happy and excited about it!

Stay tuned for more about my upcoming Etsy store…

And now for a parting photo:

(She fell asleep in my lap while on Skype with my brother the other week…)