My Life in Lomo #1

I am totally guilty of taking the same photo over and over again until it’s perfect. If a photo doesn’t look right, you can delete it and (in most cases) try again.That’s the luxury we have with modern digital cameras. Although it’s wonderful to be able to have this ability, I can’t help but feel like photography has lost its magic somewhat. So, last Christmas when Stephen bought me a La Sardina Lomogaphy camera, I was excited about using an ‘old school’ film camera again. Nothing beats the anticipation of going to pick up your prints from the lab, not quite knowing what to expect.  Flicking through photographs of moments that you had already forgotten had even happened.

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It wasn’t quite that straightforward, though. The first film I used in my lomo camera failed to process and my second came out streaky. My third? Not much better. I realised that I was  completely missing the point. These cameras do not produce ‘perfect’ photos. If that’s what I wanted, then I ought to just stick to using a digital camera. No, my La Sardina produces perfectly imperfect photos. It produces grainy and (in my case) streaky images that won’t win any awards or be featured in any photography magazines. BUT they do make me smile. They force me to forget about taking perfectly framed photos and concentrate on just capturing moments, people and places.

I thought I’d share some of my photos here on the blog – these have all been taken over the last couple of months, most of which are from our honeymoon down in Devon.

Little glimpses of my life in Lomo…

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LOMO 1

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I’d love to know which photo is your favourite? I think mine is the one of Jasmine smiling on the swing. :)

Do you ever use film cameras or do you prefer to stick to digital cameras?

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Peter Pan Syndrome

I am the first out of my group of friends to have a baby. The first to have my own home. And now, the first to get married. It could have been any one of us, but it just so happened to be me. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal but there’s no denying the dynamics of my friendships have changed dramatically in the last year or so, especially since becoming a mum.

“You’re a proper grown up now!” my friends often joke.

They certainly don’t mean any harm by that statement but what I hear is “You’re boring” and “You’re no fun anymore”.

Because that’s what being a ‘proper grown up’ means to me.

Today as I dusted in the guest bedroom (which definitely is a boring, grown-up thing to do), I looked over at the large glass frame proudly displaying many of the music gig tickets I have collected over the years. They were yellow and faded from the bright morning sunlight that leaks into that room each day. Most of those bands, whose names were emblazoned across the tickets, I haven’t listened to in an awfully long time. It made me feel a bit sad.

“Is this adulthood?” I thought to myself.

Forgetting about everything I ever used to know and love?

It was at this moment that I questioned whether I had, indeed, ‘grown up’.

I shuddered at the thought.

I suppose you could say I suffer with Peter Pan Syndrome. I don’t want to grow up. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly walking around in light up shoes (although, now that I think about it, that does sound fun).

I accept that I’m an adult. I accept that I have responsibilities (my mini human, being the most important of them all). I have bills to pay. A mouth to feed. A home to take care of. A husband to love and cherish.

But please, don’t ever tell me I’m a ‘grown up’. That is the WORST.

(I should point out I’ve recently had a birthday, I’m allowed to be oversensitive about this stuff!)

I can, of course, understand why my friends see me that way.

Because it’s my job to keep a little person alive, safe, happy and healthy.

And heck yeah, I love finding a good deal on loo rolls when I’m doing the weekly shop (we all do, right?)

And alas, I don’t spend my evenings going to gigs anymore. Nor do I stay up drinking until the small hours of the morning.

Instead I’m more likely to be found researching blackout blinds on the internet because nowadays? I’ll do anything to get more sleep.

But in all honesty, I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my life. And I feel anything but ‘grown up’.

I can (and do) legitimately crawl around a soft play centre and nobody bats an eye-lid.

I can re-read the books from my childhood (and do all of the voices out loud).

I can play peek-a-boo in the middle of a shopping centre.

I can sing silly songs and dance silly dances.

I can make dens out of cardboard boxes and blankets.

And the best part is, I get to do it all with the coolest kid I know…

Who else has Peter Pan Syndrome?!

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The Twinkle Diaries
Let's Talk Mommy

Should I keep my maiden name?
The Pros and Cons

There’s just over a month to go until Stephen and I tie the knot and almost everything for the big day is sorted. However, there is still one issue that I’m completely undecided on. Should I keep my maiden name once I’m married? I seem to keep going back and forth on whether or not I want to keep my current surname or take my husband’s.

So I thought I’d do some thinking out loud, here on my blog, in order to help make a decision. I’m going to list the pros and the cons for changing my name and see if I feel any clearer at the end of it.

And before anyone suggests it, a double-barrel name is out of the question – honestly, it would sound ridiculous.

Should I keep my maiden name – the pros and cons:

Con: It doesn’t sound right

It’s not that I don’t like Stephen’s surname, in fact it’s far more unusual than mine (my surname is Richards). Until I met Stephen, I’d never even heard of his surname before. I do like that it’s a bit different. BUT when I put it together with my name it just doesn’t sound right. Does that even matter? I mean, it didn’t stop Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, did it?!

Pro: We’d all have the same name

I think this will probably be one of the main factors in making my final decision. Jasmine has Stephen’s surname and I do think it would be quite nice for us to all share the same name as a family. From a practical point of view, I never want to be in a situation where I have to prove my daughter is mine because we don’t have the same surname, when travelling through an airport, for example. I know people who have experienced this kind of hassle first hand and recently one of my favourite bloggers, Charlotte, wrote a very moving post about such an experience. (You can read that post here.)

Con: I don’t like paperwork

I’ll be honest, I am extremely lazy when it comes to paperwork – I can’t stand filling out forms. The thought of having to change my bank details, passport and driving license, plus countless of online account details etc. fills me with dread.

Pro: I feel like a new name could give me a fresh start

Sometimes life presents you with opportunities to wipe the slate clean and start again. Opportunities such as starting a new job or moving to a new area. You can reinvent yourself a little. I feel the same way about a name change – perhaps Mrs Jenna L***** will be a bit more sassy (I just giggled at the idea of me being ‘sassy’) or a tad more confident. Or… maybe I’m just talking out of my arse. And I’ll be the same old me… with a different name.

Pro: The feminist in me wants me to keep my name

I can recall my much younger self (we’re talking 7 or 8 years old) saying that I would keep my surname when I got married (although I did think that I’d have to marry a man with the same surname to do that). Obviously, now I know that I can indeed keep my own name or change it to something completely different if that’s what I want. Part of me thinks “Why should I?”. Why should I be the one who has to change my name. I’ve been Jenna Richards for almost 28 years – do I really have to take a man’s name just because I’m marrying him? Is it really that important in this day and age? I don’t believe it is and I don’t believe I should (nor does Stephen by the way).

Pro: I don’t have to make a decision right now

I can, of course, change my name at any point in the future – it doesn’t need to be as soon as we’re married. I can think about it a little longer and decide how much it bothers me that I’m the odd one out or even if it bothers me at all.

From looking over the above points, it would seem I’m leaning towards keeping my name (at least, for the immediate future anyway) but I would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think, should I keep my maiden name?

Did you/would you keep your name or change it? Why?

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Stream of consciousness….

Some days I feel like my mind works overtime, the voice in my head yammers on all day long about anything and everything. I often find that writing down these thoughts and feelings help me to process them, rather than let them run round and round in my head, like a broken record. So that’s exactly what this post is, a stream of consciousness, that will mean very little to anyone else, but something tells me that I’ll feel better for writing it all down.

Jasmine’s napping upstairs and I stand outside in the garden, the sun warms my skin, I’m feeling a little lost….

Heidi is with me, she’s dragging a toy around the garden. She dumps the manky, old ball on a rope at my feet and I bend over to pick it up and then throw it for her. She whizzes to the other side of the garden and snatches it from the air. She then runs around in circles, tail tucked between legs, ball and rope hanging from her mouth. She looks so happy. I think for a minute about how uncomplicated happiness is for a dog.

All I can hear in the garden is the gentle hum of the main road, it’s like white noise and I barely notice it half the time. I can never decide if I enjoy this peace and quiet whilst Jasmine naps or not. Part of me likes the silence, a little bit of time to catch my breath before she wakes up for ‘Round 2’ but the other part of me feels like the silence is a reminder of just how lonely and isolated I am on a day to day basis.

I can’t stop thinking about my family. I get annoyed with myself for thinking about them because I know they don’t think about me. I constantly go from a ‘ah, who needs them’ attitude to ‘I really wish they were a part of my life’. I hate turning green with envy every time somebody mentions how wonderful their parents are, how they dote on their grandchild, how they are always there for them. I want that. I want Jasmine to have that. And we can’t have it because we cannot control other people. We can’t make them care about us. We can’t make them want to be part of our lives. Ah, who needs them.

I wish that Stephen was home because this weather is glorious. I feel selfish for enjoying it when I know he’s at work, feeling stressed. I wish we could enjoy this sunshine together. We met around this time of year, it was on sunny days like this one that we would walk for miles and miles, getting to know one another.  We’ve been together for almost 5 years, but I still feel like there’s lots of getting to know each other that’s still to be done. It’s so important that we make time for each other, it’s not so easy anymore but that shouldn’t be an excuse. I never want to take him for granted.

I think about going back to work. It’s not that I’m planning to, I don’t have to and I’m not sure if I want to. I’m not a career woman, I don’t miss work. I do miss adult company, though. The friends I’ve made on maternity leave have all gone back to work and now I rarely see any of them. I can’t help but think maybe I should go back to work too? I always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mum when I had children but I never realised how guilty I’d feel about it. I feel like it’s not enough. Whenever I go somewhere new, meet new people, I secretly pray they won’t ask me what I do. Because I’m not sure how to answer them without feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I care what they think and that annoys me. Ugh.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never be able to earn a living from my blog. The type of blog posts I enjoy writing aren’t the type that make money. And even if they were, would I want to put a price on them? No, I’ll have to find another way. For now, I’m enjoying just doing what I do. I have got some genuinely lovely readers and that is payment enough.

I’m undecided about going dancing again tonight. I enjoyed it last week and I am proud of myself for giving it a go. But I don’t know if I’ve got it in me to do it all again tonight. To put on my brave face, to go and dance with strangers, to walk in that hall, bust some moves and pretend I don’t care that I’m alone. I’ll see how I feel later on…

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The elephant in the room (that’s actually a bear)

I, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, really needed to get something off of my chest. Something that had been bugging me for a while. I needed to sit down and talk to my partner, like proper grown ups, and discuss the elephant in the room.

At Christmas, my daughter Jasmine received a gift from her Auntie and Uncle. It was her first Christmas and we knew she was going to end up being a tad spoilt by friends and family. And she was – she received beautiful clothes, stacking blocks, an interactive shape sorter, books… the list goes on.

But this particular gift from her Auntie and Uncle? …It’s totally f**king useless.

It doesn’t serve a purpose.

It won’t help Jasmine perfect her hand-eye coordination.

It doesn’t play music (small mercies).

Jasmine won’t take it to bed every night to snuggle up with it.

It does nothing.

Because this particular gift… was a 3ft tall brown teddy bear.

I’m sure, as I unwrapped it  helped Jasmine unwrap it, I was unable to mask the look of sheer horror on my face. The look that said “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?!”.

I tried to think what it was we could have done to deserve this. Had we annoyed them in some way?

We live in a small house, every square foot is precious.

Why would our own family do this to us?

No, I was being silly. Their intentions were good, they just got a bit carried away.

They weren’t thinking straight.

So why couldn’t I get the image of them chinking wine glasses and throwing back their heads laughing at us. “We got them good!” they would snigger. “A giant bear… Muhahahahaha!!”

I know, I know – I’m being silly.

Of course, I made a big mistake that morning. A very big mistake indeed.

I gave that bear a name.

What is it with my compulsion to name everything?

Because now, now there’s no way on earth I could ever get rid of Jeffrey.

That’s right. I named that giant, useless teddy bear, Jeffrey.

Why was it a mistake? Well, you try taking “Jeffrey” to the charity shop.

You try eBaying “Jeffrey”.

And you just try and sell “Jeffery” on your local Facebook selling page.

Because I can’t!

I gave him a name and now I can never get rid of him.

(Besides, I don’t think I could pay someone to have him even if I wanted to, because as we’ve already established, he is genuinely a giant. waste. of. space.)

For over  months he’s has taken up residence in our bedroom because Jasmine’s nursery is tiny. (Auntie and Uncle knew this!) So I curse Jeffery every time I try to open my wardrobe because his big, fat fuzzy head is always in the way. And then he looks at me with his big brown eyes and I feel guilty for snapping at him… and then we secretly hug it out. (It turns out he’s pretty hug-able).

One dinner time I finally had the courage to bring up the subject with Stephen (who’s brother and sister-in-law were the ones who oh so kindly gifted us the bear in the first place).

“What should we do about Jeffery?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he’s kinda big, don’t you think….”

“Yeah, he’s just like the one I bought for them when N was born!”

And there it was. Suddenly it all made sense. Jeffery was a revenge bear.

Stephen was the one who, all those years ago after becoming an uncle for the first time, got carried away. Whose intentions were good. Who didn’t think straight. He went out and bought a giant useless f**king bear. And now we’re paying the consequences!

But, now when I look at Jeffery, I think about Stephen rushing out to buy a bear, just like him. Carrying him under his arm at the hospital, to go and meet his nephew for the first time. And Jeffery is no longer useless… because he (and what he stands for) makes me smile.

And as for me? I feel so much better for having talked about the elephant in the room… that’s actually a bear.

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