Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making a Cake

Have I mentioned that my girls like to cook?  They love to work alongside Tyson and I as we make dinner or bake and Friday they really wanted to bake apparently, but didn't want to wait for us.  It had been quiet, after  heard the tinkering of the spice jars so I went into the kitchen and found both girls standing on chairs in front of the counter with sugar, salt, and spices all over.
Their explanation was simple, they were making a cake.  Tyson took the hint and let them help him make some lemon cookies after this little mess was cleaned up.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Body Image and Little Girls

I've been debating with myself about writing this post for a long time, mostly because these are very much my personal thoughts and opinions, but for some reason I feel compelled to share them even though another part of me really wants to keep them private.  Nothing quite like exposing your greatest vulnerabilities to the world to make yourself want to run and hide.

I've struggled with my body image most of my life and my weight has been an issue since early adolescence.  My perception of myself has always been poor.  I never felt like I looked like my peers.  In high school I was sure that I was the fattest girl around, couldn't understand how anyone could like me, and it only got worse as I got older and of course, continued to pack on more pounds.  I tried all kinds of diets; from calorie restriction, to Atkins, to Weight Watchers, and probably half a dozen others.  I would lose some weight, lose momentum, and gain it all back, plus a few more for good measure.

In the past year and a half I finally started to figure it out.  I gave up on dieting and just started living better.  I made some simple changes to what we ate, adding more veggies and mostly eliminating processed food.  I remember one day Tyson walked out of the bathroom and said "I've lost 20 pounds, I don't know how that happened," and all that I could think of was "I know how it happened."  I had been trying to improve my overall health and so I cooked differently and he just happened to benefit from it without knowing it.  The change didn't happen quite so quickly and easily for me, but still, over time I managed to drop some significant weight.

I knew that I needed to do more than just eat better so at first I started walking, and then took up running.  It was miserable at first, I hated every second of it, but after a little while it became easier and before I knew it I was hooked.  I started a couch to 5k program at the beginning on October 2011, ran my first 10k in April and then a half marathon in July.  Somehow, just as I was about to turn 30, I found myself in the best shape of my life and 15 pounds lighter than I was as a junior in high school.  I was wearing jeans and shirts in sizes that I had never purchased before in my life.  I should have been on top of the world, right?
I wasn't.  I would look in the mirror and still see ever flaw, every fault, I could hardly see a difference.  In fact, I found new ones to add to the list of imperfections.  I had worked so hard, but I still hated what I saw in the mirror every day and was ashamed of my body and all of its imperfections.  Nothing looked like it should and I was very depressed.  Honestly, getting pregnant hasn't helped.  I had worked so hard to get smaller that gaining weight again, having my belly rounded, is positively painful for me right now.  I know that my issues can't be fixed overnight, it is going to take some time to get past, but more than ever before I have come to realize that I need to do all that I can to raise my daughters to have healthy and positive body images.  I can't wait for me to pull it all together for myself first, I have to do something about it now before I have a 4 year-old that says "I look fat in this."  Who knows, maybe by adjusting things for my girls I can help myself.

I've seen this image all over Pinterest, pinned as inspiration with captions like "Don't give up on your dreams."  It really bothers me.  No matter how hard that rhino works, he will never be a unicorn.  I will never look like a fitness model, no matter how hard I work, I just don't have the genes for that, and that has to be okay.  I will be fit, healthy, and active and that HAS TO BE good enough.  I want my girls to be the best versions of themselves without comparing themselves to anyone else on this planet.  Tear down those posters, get rid of that "thinspiration" and just do your best for yourself.  (This is totally my pep talk to myself here)
Everything has just gotten crazier since I was a kid and I worry about my girls growing up in a world that focuses so much on appearance and size.  What can I POSSIBLY do to protect them, to teach them that their value has nothing to do with their bodies and appearance and that they don't have to look like some airbrushed movie star to be beautiful?
I've started out by making some rules for myself as their mother.  My first rule deals with body image verbiage.   There are words that are not uttered in this house, not even when I am all by myself.  I will not use the words FAT and UGLY, but also THIN and SKINNY.  I think that "fat" and "ugly" are fairly easy to understand.  If my children never hear me call myself fat or ugly they won't be as likely to use those words to describe themselves.  I might feel like I look fat or ugly that day, but I refuse to ever let myself vocalize it because I won't teach my girls that this is okay.  You might wonder why I won't use "skinny" or "thin" either.  That is because I refuse to glorify being skinny or thin.  We do not endeavor to be skinny or thin in this house, we endeavor to be healthy and fit.  Skinny and thin describe appearance, healthy and fit describe lifestyles and states of being.  Do you see the difference?  In my opinion saying someone is skinny, especially as a compliment, is the same as saying someone is fat as an insult.  It is teaching my children to make a value judgement about someone based on their size.

The next rule has to do with physical activity.  In this home we move.  I love to run, my girls see me go for runs several times a week.  They see me take this time out of our busy lives to go and do something that is good for me both mentally and physically.  Tyson has brought the girls to see me run a couple of races and they get very excited as I am on my way back, running to the finish line.  Lily has started asking to go running with me.  My running club set up a Kids Race this last fall and the kids all had a blast.  I'm not going to lecture my kids about exercise, I'm teaching them by example, and it is working.  For me running is fun and my girls know that and amazingly enough are picking up on it.  We play, run, and dance together.  We move and movement is fun.
It was a cold day, but Lily did great in her first race!
The last rule has to deal with food.  We eat healthy food most of the time, but cookies and goodies are still produced in this house.  I don't believe in cutting everything out, labeling some food as "good" and other food as "bad".  Rather we talk about how sometimes we get treats, but they aren't what help us grow to be healthy and strong and have the energy to play.  I make balanced meals and sometimes we get goodies, but there is no food that is good or bad.  We all know that when something is forbidden we almost always want it more.  When you are on a carb-free diet all that you want in the world is a thick slice of fluffy white bread.  I have tried cutting sweets out for myself, because I have the biggest sweet tooth, and I find that I can hold off for a while, but eventually I cave and eat a big bag of candy.  No good.  So I allow myself to have sweets, but not every day and not a lot at a time, just enough to keep me satisfied and keep the cravings away.  Healthy nutritious food comprises 80-90% of our family diet with some room left for goodies and other yummy things like butter and creamy sauces that maybe aren't quite so healthy.  This works for our family.

Also, my children are not forced to finish their dinner.  If they don't eat much or anything at lunch or dinner I set the plate aside and offer it to them again later when they come back and say that they are hungry.  I want my children to learn to listen to their bodies and know when they are hungry and when they are not.  If they are not hungry, I won't force them to eat.  I believe that this will help them to build a healthy relationship with food.

I know that I can't totally protect my girls from the superficiality of this world, but hopefully I can safeguard them a little bit and not pass my body image issues onto them.

Lily the Artist

 Our Lily has always loved to color, but she tends to scribble and just draw shapes.  She has been working on learning to write her letters and numbers at preschool and she has gotten rather good at writing her name, but still, she hasn't been one to draw pictures.  She prefers to just color things in.  Sunday morning I was shocked when she told me that she was drawing fairies.  She showed us her pictures, you could kinda see some faces with scribbled dressed, but nothing solid.  She went back to work wanting to draw more and she has been drawing fairies and princesses all week.  This evening she sat down to draw some more and my goodness, I could tell what everything was.  She has come a long way in just a few days.

This is her drawing Tinkerbell this evening.  She is busy adding the little white balls that go on her green shoes, but the white colored pencil was missing so she went for blue.
The red things by her eyes are her wings.
Oscar sitting for our little artist as she worked on her picture of him.

Such a bright little thing.  I'm amazed at all of the things that she is learning and how big she is getting.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

We are in for a major change around here.  Not only are we expecting our third child (due at the end of May) but this baby is a BOY!  

Tyson is excited, and relieved.  He loves his girls, but he has always worried that he would never get a boy so he is very happy about it.  Lily was certain that this would be a baby sister.  We took her with us to the ultrasound and she even told the tech that it would be a girl, but she was wrong.  Didn't bother her though, she was excited about a baby brother and when the tech handed me a photo and CD of images Lily took them, hugged them to her chest, and said "I love my baby brother!"

I'm very excited, but all of the sudden this afternoon I started to feel a bit overwhelmed and nervous.  I've got girls down, I know how to handle baby girls and I have everything that I need, but this boy is going to be a new adventure.  Tyson and I had both felt for a while that this must be a boy, this pregnancy has just been so different, and I just felt like it was a boy.  I kept bracing myself to hear that it was a girl though, it had to be, I have girls, and I didn't want to let myself be disappointed by getting my hopes up.  Turns out that gut instinct was right though, this little guy was very clearly a boy.  He wasn't very cooperative with pictures though, so what we have is very limited.  
Forearms and hands
 back and neck
 one little foot
 and the little guy giving us a thumbs up!
We are really excited for this new chapter in out lives!

Looks like I need to get my sewing machine back out and get to work, not that I really need an excuse, but now I get to try out a bunch of the fun baby pins that I've been finding on Pinterest for the last year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Drawing on the Windows

When shopping for Christmas I was looking for some dry erase markers for Lily, but I wanted washable ones since the regular expo markers are miserable to get out of clothes.  I found some Crayola washable dry erase markers and next to them were these window markers.  My kids climb up on the chest that sits in front of our big window and color on it when I'm not looking and colored pencil is a pain to get off, so these seemed like a great compromise.  I figured that they could color on the window sometimes, but using the right materials so that clean up would be easier.

Charlotte opened them up on Christmas morning and they have been a hit.  They are great distraction when mommy needs it to be quiet for a few minutes.
 Lily was very intent on drawing her spider web this morning and putting spiders and bugs all over it.
 It is hard to see their drawing in this photograph, but it covered the entire window and used every color.
I love toys like this; just a few bucks, hours of fun, and easy clean up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I used to be one that hated New Years resolutions.  They always got broken, nothing really changed, so why bother.  I have so many friends that HATE them, others that say it is silly to wait for New Years, if we want to change just make a change, along with a myriad of other comments.  I used to agree.   However, in the last few years, my opinions have changed, and my attitude has adjusted.

Now I love the new year and the opportunity for a new start.  I have, however, replaced the word resolution with the word goal.  Resolutions are thoughts or determinations, goals require a plan of action.  I expect pitfalls, I accept failure, because I'm not perfect.  No real change ever happens over night.
Last year I made several new year goals and at the end of the year I had accomplished over half of them.  Those that didn't get checked off were still worked on and improved a bit and this year I will continue to work on them.  Just a few from last year:

Read 25 books- Because I never take time to read anything other than parenting material anymore and I love my books!  I needed to make reading for pleasure a priority again and I did.  I read nearly 40 books in 2012 and I'm happy to have reinstated the habit of reading for me.  I believe that it is good for my children to see their mother read for herself in addition to the time spent reading to them.

Run a 5k, 10k, and half marathon- Check, check x4 and CHECK!!!  I completed the Couch to 5k program in December 2011 and I wanted to set some goals to make me continue to push myself.  I've developed a love for running and the power that comes with it.  Running my half was one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but it was exhilarating and I can't wait to do it again this year.  To accomplish this goal I wrote up a training plan, signed up for races, and let people know to help hold me accountable.

Date night once a month- We've never been good about this, and I'm happy to say that we just missed one month this year.  They were simple, mostly inexpensive, but good for us.  Yet another goal that helps create a healthy habit.  To accomplish this one I wrote a date night on our calendar for every month at the beginning of the year.  My husband is a very busy man, so it was pretty well up to me to plan them, but because I saw them on the calendar I was expecting them and worked our schedule around them
This year I have several new goals, some are carried over from last year and others are totally new.  For instance I want to do a triathlon.  I've picked my event and I have written up a training plan for me to get ready after this baby comes in May.  I also want to do another half marathon and I have that scheduled as well with a training plan ready to go.  I even integrated it with my triathlon training plan so that I have specifics to get me ready for these events.  Also, as soon as registration is open, I will be putting the money down and registering.  Cheapskate that I am, if I pay for it I have to do it because I can't bear to waste the money.

We have also decided that we need to be truly consistent about family scripture study, prayers, and FHE.  I've printed up a calendar, posted it on the fridge, and explained to Lily that we will add a sticker for each day after we read our scriptures.  I believe that this visual reminder will help us remember and develop a stronger family habit.

I also want to start keeping a journal again.  I used to be so good about it, but I haven't written in a journal in at least 6 years.  I went out, bought a new one, and set it next to my bed, on the nightstand.  I don't expect myself to write every day, that would be too much and I'd be sure to fail, but regularly.  My children are growing so fast, this time of life is so precious, and I need to take the time to record my memories, thoughts, and feelings about it all.

There are more, but those I am keeping to myself.  Do I expect to falter?  Absolutely.  Do I expect to fail?  Of course!  But that won't keep me from trying.  We can't get better, we can't become more, unless we are willing to fail, and when we do we just have to get back up and try again.