Thursday, 27 March 2014

Body confidence - part two

I'm sure lots of you have seen this controversial image which has been doing the rounds online for a few months now. It features Maria Kang, a California mum and fitness blogger, showing off her, frankly amazing, post baby body.
What do you read into the "What's your excuse?" tagline?

For some, she might be saying "Come on, girls! Don't feel like motherhood has ruined your body. With the right diet and training, anyone can achieve amazing results. Don't give up - if I can do it, you can do it. Let's go!"

For others, she might be saying "Hey, fatty - you don't look like me, why is that? Because you've had kids? What a lame excuse! Look at me! I've got kids, and my body is amazing, so if yours isn't, you should be ashamed and you really need to explain yourself. Come on, what's your excuse? Get your fat ass to the gym!"

It's totally a matter of perception, and there have been lots of responses to Maria online, most of them pretty hurtful. In a way, I can see what she's saying - if you aren't happy with your body, don't hide behind excuses or a victim mentality, do the best you can with the abilities you have.
Of course, another part of me thinks "Oh, eff off you, with your perfect image. Get a life!"

My own response to Maria would be this;

Hey, lady, you're right, I don't look like you, and I have no excuse. What's more, I don't need one. I'm happy with how I look. When I look in the mirror, I don't see pounds and ounces, or stretchmarks, or wrinkles, or wobbly bits, or imperfections.
I see a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I see a woman who loves and is loved, who lives life and enjoys it. I don't have hours to spend in the gym honing a perfect body. What little free time I have, I'd rather spend playing with my kids, cuddling my husband, chatting with my family, baking a cake or laughing with friends. I'm healthy, I eat my fruit and veg and I take long walks, and that's enough for me.
It's not fair to judge everyone by your own standards. If I, with all my flaws and imperfections, can have the confidence to stand proud and say Live and Let Live, then what's your excuse?

How do you feel about this photo? Please share!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mama's happy list

Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the everyday, and it's nice to remind myself  of the amazing moments that make my heart sing. Here are just a few...

* Family game nights
* Clean plates at dinner
* Bubble bath afros
* Trick or Treating
* Playing in the park
* The smell of a freshly bathed baby
* The moment they finally fall asleep after fighting it FOREVER
* Nativity plays - 5 year olds in angel wings and tea towels on their heads singing "Away in a Manger"
* Amazing school report/parent's night pride
* The smell of Play-doh
* The happy face when Daddy comes home
* The way a newborn opens and closes their fist
* "How many sleeps?"
* Being confident enough to go out without a huge bag of gubbins
* Sitting in PJs at 9pm on a saturday night and knowing there's nowhere else you'd rather be
* Milk drunk smiles 
* Baby tights that are far too big
* The way they say "Yessssss!" when you tell them you've cooked their favourite dinner
* Seeing your new baby for the first time
* Believing in Santa again
* Sloppy baby kisses
* Marvelling at their eyelashes when they sleep
* Knowing that this is the best job I've ever had
* That "lippy oot" sad face when a newborn is about to cry
* The way your heart skips when they clutch your hand
* Watching them play together
* Homemade birthday/christmas/valentines/mother's day cards
* How seeing them in a onesie, no matter how old they are, makes you want to smoosh them into your lap for a cuddle
* Living room discos
* Mastering a "no-bumps" ponytail
* Making sandcastles
* Watching them dance when they think you're not looking
* "I love you, Mummy"
* Dimply knuckles
And many, many more! What's on your happy list?

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Why my body is amazing - and yours is, too

This morning, I was getting out of the shower and Daisy was waiting for me - you get used to showering/sitting on the toilet in the company of your children!
Today, she looked me up and down and said "Mummy, your boobs are droopy and your tummy is wobbly, does that make you embarrassed?"
Now, she wasn't trying to be insulting, it was a genuine, innocent child question. My body doesn't look exactly like hers. It doesn't look exactly like the cheerleaders and dancers she sees when she goes to competitions. It certainly doesn't look like the actresses and singers she sees on television. 
The only thing about her question that made me a little sad is that even at the tender age of seven, she realises bodies "should" look a certain way, because we're all surrounded by these perfect images every day. 
They're on TV, in magazines, everywhere. The most important thing we can teach our kids is that bodies ARE different, we might all share the same basic DNA, but everyone looks different, and it's all okay.
Far from being insulted or offended, I took it as an opportunity to teach Daisy exactly why our bodies are amazing.

Yes, my boobs are droopy. But look what they did! They've fed and nurtured a whole person, they helped my baby grow until she was able to eat solid food.
They might not look amazing on their own, but they provide a comfy, soft and loving place for my kids and husband to rest their heads when we cuddle. 
Any, you know what? In the right bra, I bet they could still stop traffic ;)

My arms wobble when I wave. Yep, I have the dreaded bingo wings. But my arms also carried my kids, they provide a warm place for my loved ones and they show my family how much I adore them. I'm never ashamed to open my arms to my friends and family, even if they don't belong on the cover of a beauty magazine.

My stomach is more cheeseboard than washboard, it has plenty of wobble, but it's soft and cuddly. I might have to tuck it into my knickers to hide my "shameful" overhang (2 c-sections mean that my chances of a flat tummy are pretty much a pipe dream), but it was home to my three beautiful kids, and is now growing Tootie number 4. How could I ever be embarrassed by that?
As for the stretchmarks, those are my tiger stripes. They remind me daily how awesome my body is, and how incredibly lucky I am to have been able to successfully grow these gorgeous little people. I remember waning Steve when we first met that my body wasn't ideal, and he told me, without a hint of irony or sarcasm, that he hadn't noticed. As far as he's concerned, my body is beautiful, and who am I to argue?

My legs are also wobbly, they have cellulite and aren't photoshop perfect, but they take me everywhere I want to go. My dad lost both his legs, and seeing him after his amputation made me truly appreciate the power of my legs. Don't waste time hating these bits of your body, you'll be amazed by what they can do when you push them hard enough. I used to do pole fitness, and whenever I feel like I'm having a bad bod day, I just remind myself of this picture...

Be proud of your body, use it every way you can. Appreciate what it can do, and please, please don't compare yourself to the silly, overly photoshopped perfect images in magazines.
Ignore those "Best and worst Beach Bodies" headlines, take a long, hard look at your own, gorgeous, unique body as it is right now, today. List what you love about it.

My body isn't perfect...but it is.
My body isn't beautiful...but it is.
My body isn't amazing....but it is.
It totally is.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Things I learned this week

Phew-eee! The last 7 days have been so busy, time is properly flying. Can you believe we're in the last week of March already?
Here's what I learned this week...

1) My daughter is a badass cheerleader.
Okay, so I already knew this. Daisy has been in her cheerleading team since the age of 4, and she gets better every year. Her team are growing up together, and it's wonderful to see them getting tighter as a team every year. We've just come out of two major dance and cheer competitions - one last weekend in Glasgow, and one yesterday in Aberdeen. Yesterday, they swept the boards, first place in every category they entered. Amazing!
They work so hard, I have to remind myself that in addition to learning all their moves, placements, stunts etc, they also have to go to school and learn squillions of other things. Their energy astounds and inspires me, and I shamelessly sobbed alongside the other proud parents at the competitions.

2) My husband looks hot in glasses.
Steve has worn contacts since he was a teenager, but his eyes are getting seriously damaged, so he was strongly advised to give them a break and start wearing glasses. He wasn't keen, but seriously. Whoah, mama. He suits them in a major way, and I get a bit like a giggly teenager around him even more than usual now...
My daddy is so handsome!

3) Sometimes pointless internet crazes turn out to be not so pointless after all.
Remember all those irritating FB messages that went around every year, usually with the same message - "We're raising awareness for breast cancer, so post your bra colour/where you keep your handbag/a single heart/the place you were born/some other ridiculous rubbish on your page, but don't tell anyone why! Especially not MEN! Tee hee!"
Um, yeah. Cos silly cryptic messages with no explanation are totally going to eradicate cancer.
Well, the latest one was to post a selfie of you with no make up on. Now, it started off as a bit of a divide. Well, as a huge divide actually, with some people posting selfies, and some people ranting about how pointless it all was. Not that big a deal really, but there were quite a few bitchy posts and it did become quite nasty, until something quite amazing happened. People started to post their selfies with a number to text which would automatically donate £3 to Cancer Research UK. (Text BEAT to 70007)
Within 2 days, more than £2m had been raised, amazing!
I admit, I had started on the "pointless" side, although I did post a selfie because I really think we could all do with being more confident in our natural faces. However, I was more than happy to jump on this bandwagon, and proudly donated my £3. If you haven't done it yet, please do!
Au Naturel

4) My baby rocks a headband.
Seriously, I can't believe it took me 9 months to get into these. They're adorable!

5) It's amazing how much you can achieve when you work together.
This weekend, Steve and I cleaned, hoovered, decluttered, scraped, cooked, ironed, dusted, washed, hung out, tidied and put away All The Things.
It's monday, and I need a weekend to recover from the weekend! Of course, it all needs done again every single day, but I never stop feeling blessed that I have such a good husband who sees our home as a team effort, and we work brilliantly together.
Early pregnancy nausea and general exhaustion are really taing their toll at the moment, and it's not an option to just forget about the housework and take to me bed. In the hour between the kids coming home from school and Steve coming home from work, the house which was immaculate at lunchtime can be an absolute bombsite, but we work together and it never takes long to get straightened up again. 
Now that we're staring down the barrel of a 4 child household, we really need to start tightening up our routines and thinking of ways to simplify our lives and make our house easier to run. If you have any tips, please share!

What I think my living room looks like during the day

What I think my living room looks like 5 minutes after the kids come home

Friday, 21 March 2014

An anniversary to remember

As we all know, on 2nd March, 2012, I went on The Best First Date In The History Of All First Dates. It was one of those proper Hollywood soulmate moments, the kind you never thought existed until they happen to you, when the very second you meet someone, it feels like coming home.
I looked at him and thought "Oh, there you are. I've been looking for you".
We always said that as it was such a special date, we would have to find a very special way of marking it each year.

So, on our first anniversary, this happened...

What, isn't that how everybody celebrates their first anniversary? See, we're super efficient, by getting married on the anniversary of us meeting, we only ever have one date to remember. Clever, right?

So, this year, on our first wedding anniversary and second year anniversary, we celebrated by going back to the place we were married, courtesy of Steve's lovely parents. The beautiful Pittodrie House...

It was wonderful to have a whole night to ourselves, and be properly treated to a fancy meal and a nice room, as well as reliving the happy memories of our day last year.
I was even more excited, because I had a very special surprise for Steve...
We had written each other letters, which we'll continue to do every year and keep them in a memory box. Steve had bought me a gorgeous Pandora charm for my bracelet, and some chocolates and a scratchcard (I'm a sucker for a scratchcard).
I had given him a large frame full of photos from our wedding, plus a wooden memory box with some wedding mementoes in.
His biggest surprise, however, was a small black box wrapped in ribbon, which held inside it a positive pregnancy test!

Yup, his face kind of looked like that! In all honesty, we were hoping to have another baby very soon after Amelie, so it wasn't that much of a shock, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect! I'm so glad I found out right before our anniversary, so I could tell him in such a fun way!
So, how did he react? Well, we hugged, we cried, we said "No way!" and "Oh my god!" a lot, and we giggled, and kissed, and talked about how ridiculously lucky, and grateful we are.
Honestly, if someone had told me that by the age of 34, I'd be married to my soulmate, with my much treasured fourth child on the way, I'd have thought it was a joke. I will never stop being thankful for these blessings.

So there we go, baby number four! Just goes to show that no matter how hard things may seem, the good always outweighs the bad, and never puts us off doing it all over again. Meh, sleep is overrated anyway...

I guess the big question is, how on earth will we celebrate our anniversary next year???

The room we were married in a year ago. Just like last year, there are three of us in this picture!!!