Wednesday, July 23

Love My Body Project - Week 4: Love YOUR Body

I was at the gym yesterday, and they are starting a Wall of Success. People can email their success stories to be posted on a motivation wall. Some of the leading questions were things like "What's your favorite cardio workout?" or "How has working out affected you?" or "How much weight have you lost?"

As I kickboxed like a lumpy rhinoceros (because let's face it, I may be learning to love my body, but I still don't go no rhythm), I thought about success stories. I think they are for the most part good. They are motivating. They are encouraging. Especially for those already on a fitness journey, they can be inspiring. But they can also be demotivating.

There's been times I've read blogs about getting fit or eating right, and it just depressed me. The author would talk about how great it feels to go to the gym each day or to run miles before breakfast, and I'd just think, "I don't have time for that" or "Easier said than done." And I'd be demotivated. Their bloody enthusiasm made me want to take a nap. Or I'd read about the right way to eat or "15 Foods That Are LITERALLY Killing You", and I'd think, "I can't afford to eat like that" or "But without cake, my life has no meaning." And I'd be demotivated. Or I'd read "I've lost ten pounds!" and I'd think either, "You've lost ten pounds that quickly? Screw you." or "You've been going on and on about ALL this hard work you've been doing for THIS LONG and you've ONLY lost ten pounds?" And I'd be demotivated.

So this week, I don't want to talk fitness or healthy eating. I don't want to post success stories that will just push you further away.

Because if I know anything, it's that outside pressure will not motivate us inwardly. I can tell you all about my current successes, but it won't necessarily affect you personally. I can say I want to model positive self-love for my kids, and you may agree, but it's not enough to get you motivated to change. It's not until YOU decide in YOUR mind and heart that it's time to change - regardless of what kind of change we are talking about - that things can really start moving forward. Motivation to be healthier can only come from within.

I know many of you may not feel up to hitting the gym for a good cardio workout every day. You may not want to run a marathon (or the length of yourself). You may love cake. (I sure as hell do.) You may be suffering from depression. You may be exhausted. You may be going through a lot of stress or be in a tough situation right now.

I don't want to push you further away.

As important as your health is, today I just want to encourage you to find something you like about the way you look. I don't want to tell you to get fit, get active, push yourself away from the table or deny yourself that much needed piece of chocolate.

I just want you to feel comfortable in your own skin.

It may not be the right time for you to start a workout routine or make major lifestyle changes. Let's be honest and realistic; you've got to be mentally ready for that. But it is time to start changing the way we think about the way we look. However we look. Whatever we look like. Big noses, wide hips, lumpy legs, whatever.

You may not look perfect. In fact, I know you don't look perfect, because there is NO SUCH THING. The curvy hips one woman wishes for are the curvy hips another woman is trying to lose. Tall or short, big chested or small, tiny butt or round - there's no such thing as perfection.

All I want to suggest today is that you go look in the mirror and refuse to cringe. Don't point out your flaws. Lie through your teeth if you must, but say to yourself, "You are beautiful." Say it. Maybe even try to pick out something about it that you do like. Got sexy ankles? A flawless neck? Beautiful hands? Adorable feet? Striking eyes? Luscious hair? Smooth skin? Perfect fingernails? Even complexion? Winning smile? Straight teeth?

For a moment just forget about all the pressure out there to get motivated. You'll get motivated when that moment hits you and you are finally ready. For now, maybe just start with trying to think positively about your body. It's yours, and it's beautiful.

*PS. I'm not saying ignore your health. This really IS your only body, at least until science figures out how to give us all robot bodies, so taking care of it iS important. But sometimes, mental health has come first. Though physical health certainly improves mental health, and if you are up to it, exercising really will improve your mental health, if you aren't mentally or emotionally ready to take on the sometimes big challenge of improving physically, it can feel even harder and more impossible. All I'm saying is learn to love your body, even just a little bit. And hopefully that little taste of self-love will grow into a desire to give your body a little more healthy love.

*PPS. I'm also talking to myself here. Don't think just because I'm saying all this means I'm 100% in love with how I look myself. If you think I don't still wear Spanx under my clothes or suck in my tummy for photos, you're wrong. If you think that I'm not incredibly self-conscious about publishing the above picture, you are seriously wrong.

Friday, July 18

Texan Surprise

As promised yesterday, I'll share a little about our special surprise we got last weekend!

I was at work at the community center last Thursday when Scott called. He said he had someone who wanted to say hello. He handed the phone over and a deep Scottish voice said hello. It was my brother-in-law Pete from Texas! He and Rebekkah (his wife) and their three kids had driven to Arkansas to surprise us with a weekend visit. It was Cailean's birthday the following day, and Pete had some time off of work, so Rebekkah suggested they come down to see us.

Scott was able to get Friday off last minute since his brother was in town, and we had a really good extended weekend with them. On Friday, we laid pretty low to let them recover from their long drive. We had a late breakfast at Waffle House, and then hung out at our house the rest of the day. The guys picked up beer and margaritas, and I picked up some groceries to make guacamole, cheese dip, and fajitas for dinner. Fiona and Isla were delighted to see their cousins Audrey and Juliette, and Cailean had fun trying to follow them all around. Baby Samuel slept most of the time. (It was great to see our newest nephew!) We played Skip-Bo and Cards Against Humanity until late in the evening.

On Saturday, we planned to go to the zoo. However, it was Dollar Day, and the traffic to even get to the zoo exit was unbelievable, so we turned around and went to the Little Rock River Market instead. We visited Heifer Village, where the kids got to do some crafts. We had a picnic for lunch. We wandered around the Farmer's Market. We got slushies.

After leaving Little Rock, we went back home and took the kids swimming at the community center. Following the pool, we stuffed ourselves silly at Western Sizzlin. Everyone came back to our house for about an hour, and Rebekkah, who is an amazing photographer, took lots of family pictures, which I can't wait to see. Pete and Rebekkah wanted to get back to their hotel early, since they planned to leave super early the next day to get back to Texas, so we said our goodbyes after pictures. The girls cried. We took more pictures. We promised we'd come visit them in Texas soon. We waved to them as they drove off.

It was a wonderful surprise. And luckily, my house was pretty clean when they showed up.

And now -- the pictures!

Click here for more pictures.

Love My Body Project Weeks 2 & 3

Last week was awesome. I felt awesome. I looked awesome. I was eating awesome. I was in control of my food and my exercise routine. It was an awesome week.

At the end of the week, we got a huge bonus surprise; my brother- and sister-in-law from Texas came to visit us with their three children for Cailean's birthday weekend! We had a wonderful time. It was such a great visit, especially since we haven't seen them in about three years! (And details of that will be for another post.)

But as always, with out-of-town guests, we spent a lot of time eating out (and drinking booze...). Splurging every now and then is fine, and it's something I think I should be allowed to do if I really want to, but I didn't anticipate how it would make me feel afterwards.

Getting back on track with keto has been a nightmare this third week in. I feel a lot less in control of what I am eating and a lot more hungry. I don't feel as confident. To make matters worse, I'm approaching shark week, which means I'm less energetic (making trips to the gym a huge effort) and bloated (making my belly bulge out like I'm 20 weeks pregnant). My clothes aren't fitting well this week. The scale is still promising progress, but the mirror is decidedly not. I also have not been making myself say I love my body this week like I should. Instead, I've been internally spreading negativity about it.

I woke up this morning feeling groggy, demotivated, fat and hungry. I planned on going to both a weightlifting class and Zumba but couldn't get up and out in time. I missed the weights class and considered just staying home and doing nothing at all. But my kids (thank you, kids!) insisted we go to Zumba anyway, so we went. The first half of the class was killer; I had no energy and just did not feel like doing it. By the second half, though, I could start to feel my body wake up, and I was so glad I'd gone. It gave me the energy and motivation to do everything else I needed to do today, like get groceries and return books to the library. It gave me the determination to keep off the carbs at lunch time and during peckish moments of the day.

I guess loving one's body is a process. It has ups and downs. Hormones play a large part too. The key is probably just keep going, don't give up. And keep giving your body and your mind some love. I put on all black after realizing I was feeling negative again about my body and said defiantly to my reflection, "I LOVE MY BODY, DAMN IT."

Wednesday, July 9

Love My Body Project Week 1

Originally I'd had in mind that I would blog each day about my 'progress', aka, attempt at loving my body, including a full length photo each day, the kind where I don't crop out my thighs or PhotoShop my coloring, but it turns out, that was too much work. Until I get a tripod and can take surreptitious full-body selfies, it just isn't going to work. Besides, it felt kind of narcissistic. Kind of made me feel a little 'On my momma, on my hood, I look fly, I look good!'
But as a follow up to my Love My Body Project, I must say, it's working! So each day, I look at myself in the mirror. Isn't that fairly normal? Out of a shower, or while trying on clothes, I check myself out from every angle. Normally I obsess over this and find everything wrong with how I look and end up deflated. But this past week I've changed my perspective and have been finding the things I like. I've been telling myself I Love My Body. (And I keep singing Charlie Boy - help!) But it's working. And I've been identifying things about my body that I like. Such as...

I have small boobs, which mean I can wear a tube top comfortably.

I have curvy hips, which make my figure look vintage like a 50's model.

My arms are taking shape and actually feel like muscle when I flex.

My profile is shapely and pretty.

I'm sticking to my keto diet too, though I did not deprive myself of birthday cake on Cailean's birthday. I'm trying not to focus on weight loss numbers, but I'm happy to see a little weight coming off according to the scales. I'm happy with the quick and drastic change I'm already seeing in my tummy. The more I work out and the better I eat, the better I feel about my stomach. It's got a lot of toning to do, but I'm happier with how I look. I can look in the mirror and force myself to say 'I love my body' and I'm starting to kind of mean it. I can wear shorts to the gym and think, 'Who cares what anyone else thinks? It's hot outside, it's hot while working out, and damnit, I am - almost - comfortable with how I look.'

But more than how I look, I'm starting to appreciate my body for what it can do. I'm getting stronger. I can squat longer and deeper than I could before. I can lift heavier weights now than when I started working out five months ago. I don't get nearly as exhausted after a work out as I used to. I don't crave junk food nearly as much as I used to and feel completely in control of what I choose to eat. I feel more energetic, less stressed, more in control and less depressed. My body is good. My body is strong. My body is - dare I say it? - beautiful.

I'll even post a picture of it. And resist the urge to comment on the parts of the picture (and my body) I'm still learning to love.

Tuesday, July 1

Love My Body Project

Today is the first day of July. It's summer and super hot outside. Summer and super hot means swimsuit weather! And shorts. And tank tops. It means wearing as little clothing as socially acceptable to keep from dying of heat stroke.

This is great news for people who love their bodies and are comfortable in their own skin. It's not so great for the rest of us.

From a young age, I've been very self-conscious about my shape, weight and body image. I've always wanted to be skinny. When I was a teen, it wasn't too hard to stay thin, though my bone structure was never one that allowed me to be below a size 8. In college, I gained 'the freshman fifteen', but I was still pretty thin, and if I ever wanted to lose a few pounds, I just... did. I practically thought about it, and it was gone.

Then, as we post-teenage ladies know, time goes on, metabolism slows, and for some of us, we start having babies. Our hips widen, our bodies cling to extra fat reserves for possible future pregnancies, and if we've been pregnant, our skin stretches and our breasts fill with milk then sag (whether we breastfeed or not). Those photos of us in bikinis at sixteen laughing by the pool seem like photos from another life. Photos of us in bikinis now are hard to recognize, because we've put our hands out in front of the camera while screaming, 'NO!'. That is, if we were even in a bikini at all. More likely, we've moved on to tankinis or one-pieces with skirts, a coverup and a towel.

In the last year, I've gained weight, and I've been miserable about it. My mental health hasn't been optimal to begin with, and this obsession with my weight has made it even worse. I spend a majority of the day thinking, either directly or indirectly, about my weight, my figure, my shape and how others perceive me. To an unhealthy extent, I obsess about how I look.

Since February, I've been visiting the gym regularly. I go because it gives me something to do and because I like how it makes me feel. I also hoped it would help me lose a few pounds. Instead, I've only gained. Perhaps it's muscle, perhaps not, but the numbers on the scale haunt me anyway. I've tried counting calories and other half-hearted diet changes, but I always fail. I did keto in January for a month, but having house-guests quickly made that incredibly difficult to maintain. I have felt defeated, depressed and anxious about my body.

As the heat builds, and I look longingly at the shorts in my drawer, I reach for the thin cotton trousers instead to hide the body I don't want anyone to see, the body I'm ashamed of, the body I hate.

A couple of days ago I watched this video on Upworthy, where 'Plus Size' model Robyn Lawley says 'I love my body the way it is.'

I thought, 'Wow. I'd love to be able to say that about myself.'

I decided it was time to embrace the body I live in. I could use to lose a few pounds, yes, and I'd be healthier for it. I decided to go back on keto with Scott and to up my time at the gym. But my motivation is a little different this time.

Instead of being motivated to get down to a certain weight or a certain clothes size, my motivation is to love my body. However it looks. If I eat better, cut out carbs, workout more regularly, then I will be getting healthier. I may or may not lose a lot of weight. Eventually, once I break the ingrained carb addiction, I'll start allowing myself a treat now and again - after all, I only get to live once, and I don't want to live my whole life continually obsessing about food and weight! I want to enjoy food as I always have, while also enjoying the way I look and feel in my own skin (and fat stores). I know I'll never be 'skinny'. My natural weight may just be higher than I wish it were. But my goal now is to be healthier, not necessarily much skinnier, and to learn to love my body. While I'd like to fit more comfortably in my clothes (they have definitely gotten tighter over the last year), I'd also like to be able to honestly say 'I love my body'.

I like how this model commented that the more you actually say 'I love my body' the more it works. It gave me the idea to start a Love My Body Project (which I'm sure has already been done officially elsewhere, so it's not like I'm trying to start a 'thing'). I've decided that each day for the whole month of July, I will stand in front of my mirror and compliment myself. I will find something about the way I look (and not just in my face, but from my whole body) and compliment myself on it. And I will look in the mirror and say, 'I love my body' and try to mean it.

Today, I noticed that when I'm sitting with my knees up and my feet on the ottoman, my legs look smooth and sexy. I told myself how nice my legs look when they are in that position.

It's not much. I certainly don't like them when they are flat and mashed out against the chair (but who does?). It's just a start. Today I love my legs when they are in that position.

Today, I stand in front of the mirror and say, 'I love my body.' It's summer, and I'm going to wear shorts and I'm going to love my body.

(And now I need to put away all the laundry on the couch...)

Friday, June 20

One Year Later: Throwback Thursday

I guess I should say something about this.

Today marks one full year we've been in Arkansas.

On June 17th, 2013, we stayed up well into the early hours of the 18th finalizing our packing - re-weighing all our suitcases, re-evaluating WHAT we packed, double checking all our documents, and eating chicken pakora and drinking Diet Irn Bru with family: Kate, Faisal, Adam, Andy and Marion. The girls slept on the one mattress still in our house. Cailean, Scott and I slept on the floor on blankets getting taken the next day to the charity shop. The only things in the house besides that mattress and our suitcases were a few boxes of things to be delivered by Scott's parents to various places the next day and a few boxes of things the family was keeping for us until we would be able to bring it over to America at a later date.

On June 18th, 2013, Scott and I, our three kids, and Scott's mum Marion drove early to the airport with Scott's Dad, Kate, Faisal and Adam. We ate overpriced bagels in a coffee shop at the airport. We cried and hugged and said our last goodbyes. We boarded the plane and flew to America.

We should've arrived in Arkansas that night, but our flight had a problem. There were massive thunderstorms in Philadelphia, our port of entry. Our plane circled for a few nauseating turbulent hours, before running low on fuel. We were redirected to Baltimore to refuel, where we sat in an un-air conditioned plane on a hanger for an hour and a half, not knowing what was happening, everyone panicking about their connections. Finally we flew back to Philadelphia to an empty airport. Everyone who missed connections were given hotel and food vouchers.

We, however, with our twelve suitcases, had to wait for another hour or so in that empty airport, with staff giving us odd, suspicious looks, while Scott went through his Port of Entry Immigration procedure. Finally, he emerged from the immigration room with the final stamp of approval from the US government and a green card, and we lugged our suitcases and children (thank goodness Marion was traveling with us!) out to the curb to wait for a shuttle to take us to the hotel. We had to get twelve suitcases onto the tiny shuttle. It was almost midnight EST, which was 6am our body clocks' time. We'd been awake for over 24 hours.

We got to the hotel and unloaded twelve suitcases. We checked in. We took twelve suitcases up the elevator and rolled them down the hall to our two rooms, where we had to fit them all. Scott and I ordered dinner for everyone, our food vouchers barely covering the price of even half our meals. A glass of wine was almost $10. We managed to crawl in bed around 1am. We had to wake up at 4am to catch the shuttle to the airport to board our newly booked flights.

Three hours later, on June 19th, 2013, we woke up and rolled twelve suitcases down the hall, down the elevator, out the door and back onto a tiny shuttle. We took twelve suitcases and three children off the shuttle and into the airport where we waited in the check-in line. The woman did not have proof that we had purchased those six extra cases and thank heavens I'd shoved the receipt from the day before into my handbag, or she'd have made us pay another $600 to get them on the flight. We boarded a flight to Little Rock, Arkansas.

At about 10am, we arrived in our new home state. My mom and step-dad were waiting for us. With two extra adults to help us, we loaded twelve suitcases, three children and five adults into two cars. We pulled into my parents' driveway. We talked for a few minutes and then fell fast asleep.

We've been here one year. Within that one year, Scott and our children successfully immigrated to America, Scott got a job, I started a business and got a job, Fiona started a new school and Girl Scouts, Isla started and completed a homeschool program, we got a house (rental) and a car, our kids played two seasons of soccer, Cailean learned to walk and say a few words, we got two cats, made several friends, visited Seattle, WA, and countless other things that I'm sure will start popping into my head as soon as I hit 'publish'. It's been a long, eventful year. It's been really wonderful at times and really sad at others. Over all, we are happy. We know we made the right choice. While we have no intention of staying in central Arkansas forever, this is where we are right now, and slowly I'm learning to be okay with it, happy even.

It's been kind of an emotional few days as I've reminisced over what these days were like one year ago. We said a lot of sad goodbyes and a lot of excited hellos all in a matter of days. But when I think of where we've already come in just the space of 365 days, I'm amazed. Life is good. We are good. And it's only going to get better.

Monday, June 16

Special Things - Part 2

A few months ago, I posted some pictures of Special Things that Scott and I chose to keep when we moved to the US from Scotland. I promised a Part 2 of some other special things we kept. I've been waiting until I got a few of these things framed (the tea towels) before posting, but this weekend I went on a bit of a frame splurge and got them up. Now I just need to get frames for our family portraits, and I'll be just about done!

So first, the tea towels.

Technically, only the first one (the blue one) came over with us from Scotland. Only about six months before moving here, I became really good friends with Sheila. Our daughters were in the Gaelic nursery together and had become best friends. Since we were constantly getting the kids together after nursery (along with Robyn and Laura and their daughters), Sheila and I got to know each other really well. And I loved her to death. She was one of those people you just automatically click with and after only a few weeks, I felt like I could trust her with anything. It was really hard having to leave her after only just getting to know each other, really hard. She came over for weeks prior to our move to help me clear out each room of my house, take trips to the dump, and clean. Before I moved, she gave me a gorgeous tartan handbag (the kind I'd been wanting ever since I first visited Scotland with TMI, unbeknownst to her) and this blue Scottish foods tea towel.

Since moving, she's been the person I've kept in touch the most with, via cards and packages. Isla and her daughter send each other drawings and little gifts all the time, and often we include a little something ourselves for each other. The red Tunnocks Tea Cake LOVE towel was one of the gifts she sent me. They are so adorable, I couldn't bear to use them, so I framed them. They are now in my living room.

The next framed item is also a tea towel. This one came from Robyn, another nursery friend. Like I said, our daughters all loved to play together and were best friends. Robyn knows I have a thing for moustaches, and she sent this to me after I moved here. So technically it didn't come over with us, but it's classified as a special thing that reminds me of her whenever I see it. It too was too nice to be used, so I finally framed it and hung it in Cailean's moustache room.

Sorry about the flash, I didn't realize it had reflected so badly, but it's in Cailean's room, and he's asleep, so no retakes tonight.

FYI, regarding all the tea towels, they are of such odd dimensions, no standard frame fit perfectly, so there is about six inches missing of each from framed image. Oh well.

Again, poor image, sorry. This is a painting I framed a while ago and have hanging in my living room. It's a painting of the Cloch Light House in Gourock, given to me and Fiona from my friend Debbie and her son who was in Fiona's class at school. I love it. I love all the things that remind me of Greenock (and Greenock friends).

Such as this.

In the previous post about special things, I showed a picture of two little angels from Mollie and Rosie, girls I childminded. This little tile was from them too for Cailean. It's a painting of the Waverly, which can be seen (and ridden) along the Clyde past Greenock. The tile hangs on Cailean's wall next to his birthday banner.

Also hanging in Cailean's room, on the post of his bed, this little plaque was a gift from our friend from church Val when Cailean was born. It was one of my favourite gifts. I was terrified it would break in the move, but thanks to about a meter of bubble wrap, it survived. Cailean IS a real cute cookie, if you ask me!

Moving out of Cailean's room and into the kitchen, I have this glass painting by our friend Lorna. Lorna was one of the first people I met, though it took a few years for us to get really acquainted (it happened once I started going to her church), and there is literally no one I know on this planet with a bigger, more selfless heart. And when Lorna's around, there's going to be laughter. I don't know anyone else who has so many random, weird things happen to her, but if it's random and weird, it will happen to Lorna. I mean, do YOU know anyone who on more than one occasion has found a stray sheep wandering around her living room?

Lorna used to invite the girls over for sleepovers at her house, and she always prepared really exciting adventures for them. Leaving Lorna was hard for all of us. The girls called her Auntie Lorna, because that's pretty much what she was. Lorna had started getting into glass painting, and before she moved, she gave us this treasure. It hangs above the counter in our kitchen. I love that she put in the effort of looking up the Arkansas state flag to add to the painting - along with the face magnets we used to have on our chores board that she glued to the airplane!

Finally, the last photo, also in our kitchen, my green and white pottery bowls and a card in a frame.

The card, which reads Children are the flowers of life was sent to us by my sister-in-law Rebekkah some time ago. I love homemade cards and usually keep them for a time, but this one was really beautiful. I loved it so much, it deserved to be framed. I found the white ornate frame which matched the ornate card so well, and put it in the girls' room in Scotland. It moved over with us and now decorates the top of my baking rack in the kitchen.

The three stackable bowls are possibly my favourite things ever. These were made by my dear friend Maria's own hands in her pottery studio. They were among her first pieces she made, and according to her, they have flaws, but I see only beauty. She gave them to me as a going away present. I decorated my entire kitchen around them. I use them for special occasions only, and the rest of the time, they keep my kitchen pretty. There are some matching green candlesticks in the living room too, but I need to find a new place for them; my cat knocked one off the shelf the other day and broke it. A little superglue will fix it, but I don't to risk any more breakages. These three bowls make me so happy, and I love telling guests where they came from. They always get a mention. I love that Maria is so talented. I am really proud to be her friend.

There are still a few other things scattered around the house, but most are in Fiona and Isla's room, which I can't access right now (sleeping, yay!), so a Part 3 is still to come!

Friday, June 13

Lightning Storm

Last night Scott and I stood outside for thirty minutes watching an incredible lightning storm about 25 miles away. It was so far we couldn't hear any thunder (but oh how thunderous it must've been where the storm actually was!), but the constant lightning was fascinating to watch. We even pulled the kids out of bed to come watch. It looked like the gods were warring. Or as Fiona put it, bombs going off.

I filmed a couple of minutes of it. My camera naturally couldn't capture the awesomeness of it, but I'll post the video anyway. Since there was no sound - just dogs barking and Scott and I Whoa!-ing, I've put the video to music. The song is called Tetrishead by Zoe Keating.

Let It Go...

I've decided to work on being more laid back this summer. I'm going to follow Elsa's example and let it go.

About some things at least.

I mean, there are things I'm not laid back about, that, in fact, I'm cracking down on. Home cleanliness is one of those things. I've made a rule that the girls' bedroom must have nothing left on the floor at bedtime. Anything left on the floor after they go to bed gets put in a bag, and they have to earn it back. I extended that rule to the living room too. With three kids plus all the extra kids who are welcome to pass in and out of my house all summer, I cannot face constantly cleaning up after everybody. So far (it's only been a week), the rule has been well-kept by the kids. They go down and wake up to a clean bedroom every day. And now maybe the living room will be the same.

I've also returned to my Motivated Moms app and have been using it long enough now that I no longer really check it daily, but leaving my kitchen clean has become more of a habit. It's not perfect every day, but it's better than it usually would be. My laundry is usually kept up to date, and I'm keeping the inside of the van clean. These are not matters I want to be laid back on.

But letting the kids be kids and do kid things is an area I need to chill out in. Isla, for instance, loves to cut up paper and glue or tape it into works of art. I never want to quench her creative side, but I go a little mental when the kitchen table and floor is covered in tiny bits of cut up paper and glue spots and broken crayons and scissors in Cailean's reach. However this summer, I'm determined to worry less about it. As long as crayons and scissors are put away, I'm going to let it go. I'm lucky she keeps her art projects to the kitchen table like she's supposed to, right?

Cailean is a total boy's boy. He loves to get dirty. Yesterday at the park, he found the dirtiest, most disgusting soggy wet patch in the mud and splashed around in it. Then he slipped and landed right in the middle of it. He was covered from shoulders to feet. He got back up and kept jumping and splashing. I could feel the germs and amoebas crawling all over his skin, but I kept my composure. I stripped him to his diaper for the walk back home, hoping no one would judge me for my half naked toddler walking home in the blazing sun. His clothes - shoes and all - went straight into the washing machine.

And Fiona has become obsessed with gardening. I love that. It also means her fingers are always caked with soil and her clothes are stained. I'm going to just go with it. She and Isla have been 'collecting worms' too, and while the worm habitats they are creating with plastic ice cream tubs will NOT be permitted in the house, I'm not freaking out over all the dirt. I personally hate mud and dirt, but I am making the conscious decision to let them play in the dirt all they want. They can wash their hands with the garden hose before coming in.

The garden hose. I'm going to get laid back about that too. It's hot outside. And yes, water costs money so they can't just play in the hose all day, but they can play with it some. They can fill up the paddling pool and jump in fully dressed. As much as that makes my twitch - I hate being wet and having my feet covered in grass cuttings - I'm not going to stress out about it. They are having fun, and they can strip down and dry off before coming into the house.

This afternoon, the girls were watering their plants, and I told them specifically not to get wet, because it was almost dinnertime. A few moments later I heard a shriek, and Fiona was standing on the porch with a wet streak across her hair and shirt. I almost shouted at Isla for getting her wet after me telling them not to when I observed that Isla was thoroughly drenched. I looked back at Fiona.

'Isla sprayed me!' she shouted indignantly.

'Well it's pretty obvious you sprayed her first, so no complaining!' I returned. I nearly added an admonishment for disobeying me, but I caught a glimpse of the delight in Isla's face over being totally soaked, and the relief in Fiona's that I didn't seem all that mad, and I just let it go. The kids played in the hose until the table was set and the dinner was out of the oven. Then I made them strip down and handed them towels. But not before I snapped this photo.

While they ran to their room to put on dry pajamas, I dumped the sopping clothes in the washing machine. No harm done. We ate our dinner happily, and I figured the water play was as good as having had their evening bath.

I hate mud and I hate mess, but I don't want my kids to hate summer. I'm going to let them get dirty and have fun. I'm going to let it go.

...But they're going to learn how to clean up after themselves too!

Wednesday, June 11

Happy (Early) Birthday Video to Cailean

I was going to wait until Cailean's 2nd birthday to post this, but I just finished it and love it too much not to share. Happy (one month early) birthday, son!