Monday, February 17, 2014

Supermom Sighting

The elusive 'supermom' is rare and hard to spot. In the wild, you may find her growing her own vegetables in a family homestead while simultaneously home schooling eight children. In suburbia, she may be sighted at a local book-signing where she is promoting her latest Attachment Parenting book while breastfeeding her newborn in a sling across her chest. In my lifetime, and particularly since becoming a mother myself, I've met a few members of this species, but today I spotted the Alpha female, the quintessential Supermom to dominate all other Supermoms.

She was at the gym. She wore her two month old baby in a sling and attended PowerPump. She brought the baby's car seat into the Group Fitness room, and I thought she'd be putting the baby in the car seat upon commencement of class. But no, she wore Baby during warm-ups. Warm-ups were fairly easy though, so surely Baby would be put in car seat after warm-ups. But THEN we stared doing push-ups, and to my amazement, as I not-so-covertly turned to spy on this mother, I saw she was doing push-ups with the baby still in the sling! (Baby's head was well supported by the sling.) We started weights. SURELY not. But yes. Alpha Mother began bicep curls with the dumbbells in either hand. She did chest presses with dumbbells. She did lunges. ALL WITH THE BABY STILL STRAPPED TO HER.

The class was thirty minutes gone before she finally took her sleeping baby out of the sling and put her into her car seat to rest peacefully while Mother started her post-partem ab work.

I was amazed. I was inspired. I was frickin' jealous.

Incredible. Just incredible.

Photo Credit: CoolMomPicks

P.S. You'd NEVER see this being allowed in Scotland. Health & Safety would throw a fit! It's one thing I love about America. People are just allowed to take responsibility for their own health and safety. (And then of course they like to sue when things go wrong, but anyway.) If I'd been allowed to take my infant babies with me to the gym, though I doubt I'd have exercised with them ON me, I'd have definitely gone more often. I also love that my Community Center has a childcare service. I get to put Jaguar, and sometimes Lolly if there isn't a kid class on at the same time, in the creche while I work out. It's an incredible service! They also do classes aimed specifically at senior citizens which is another demographic that needs opportunities to keep fit. Mothers and old dears... that's kind of who I see every day at the gym! I love it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day: Elf on the Shelf Returns

The kids woke up this morning to a huge surprise.

Banoffee Pie was back!

Santa gave Banoffee the day off to come back to Arkansas to visit his three favourite kiddos. He came bearing gifts and mischief.

He brought a heart-shaped box of chocolates for everyone (Scott, Granny and Grampa all included) and a chocolate rose for me (aww). He brought Jaguar a stuffed doggie, Fifi an owl and Lolly a unicorn.

He made us a batch of pink pancakes, and being the cheeky rascal he is, he dyed our gallon of milk pink.

(He made the pancakes on my Pampered Chef Executive Sauté Pan and left some of the pink batter in the fridge in my Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl. Lolly, the observant one, noticed this and said, "Banoffee is so clever! He uses Pampered Chef stuff!")

The kids were elated this morning, and utterly surprised. They hugged Banoffee and thanked him for all there presents.

The best part though?

After breakfast, Fifi came running over to me and whispered in my ear, "Thanks, Mum."

My baby girl. Growing up too fast.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Out-Mothering Each Other

I could totally be one of those mothers who hijacks her child's art projects in order to make it the best in the class. I've got that competitiveness in me, and I love arts and crafts. I have fun ideas and love a well-made, mess-free final product. So when a project is assigned from school, I have to make a huge effort to stay the heck out of it and let my child take the lead.

Kids are making their Valentine's Mailboxes for school parties tomorrow. Fifi's class is no exception. A letter went home with the students informing parents that the boxes need to be made at home and brought into school, and there would be a competition for Most Creative, Most Loving, Most Whatever-else-the-teacher-could-think-of. The letter mentioned 'Cute ideas can be found on Pinterest!' Bloody Pinterest.

I haven't made a Valentine's mailbox since elementary school, and that was long before Pinterest took over our imaginations. My mailboxes were shoeboxes covered in wrapping paper (or at least brown packaging paper) and covered with stickers and marker drawings. Glitter was considered high-brow.

I took the letter's advice (BAD) and looked on Pinterest for ideas. BOY, DID THEY HAVE SOME IDEAS. I showed Fifi photo after photo of cute, intricate, creative, stylish, award-winning mailboxes. She loved all of them but didn't want to do any. Fifinally I came to my senses and like a proper mother asked, "What do you have in mind for your box then?"

She thought for a moment and said, "I'd like the top to look like a Scottish flag. On the side, I could have a picture frame or something."

There was nothing on Pinterest that looked like a Scottish flag with a picture frame on the side. I was pleased and humbled by her individual creativity.

So I bought some blue spray paint (because we all know I love spray paint), and while she was at school, I prepped her shoebox by painting it blue for her. By the way, spray paint doesn't apply well to cardboard, I've discovered. I used an entire can on that baby, about six coats, to get the Nike swoosh to finally go away.

Yesterday we got out my trusty hot glue gun and glued down two white strips of paper, creating the Scottish saltire across the top of her mailbox. We cut out a picture frame from a scrap piece of cardboard, and Fifi helped me spray paint it orange. (By helped, I mean, she picked out a color from my collection of cans and stood back while I sprayed. Baby lungs, people.) She drew a picture for inside the frame.

I thought she was done, but no sir. She had other plans. Every side needed something. So today I pulled out my craft box, and we started brainstorming. At the library this morning, Lolly got to do a project using foam Love Hearts, and it had given me an idea. I had a bag of real Love Hearts which I allowed Fifi to hot glue all over the box. I imagined a nice little frame made of candy all around the flag, but she had different ideas. So I once again, stood back and let my kid direct the project. I love what she did with them.

You'd never think she was actually having fun based on this face!

She placed them along the white cross of her flag. It wasn't what I'd have done, but it's how she wanted it, and it turned out really great. We then found some wooden letters. I've been holding onto these wooden letters for years, not wanting to waste them, but today I decided it was time to USE the craft items. She spelled out her name on the box with them. Then she colored the letters in with markers and dotted the 'i' with a Love Heart.

Won't be using those letters again, I guess.

I also had some miniature clothes pegs in my craft box, so she got the idea to peg little pictures or words along the side. I suggested 'Be Mine' or 'Love' (not wanting to use all my pegs!) but she wanted 'Valentine'. So we glued on the pegs, and I showed her how to cut hearts out of folded paper. Most of her hearts looked like those pixelated Space Invaders, but oh well! She pegged the hearts to the box. It turned out super cute!

On the next side, she drew some hearts on pink cardstock and glued a Love Heart in the middle of each. I call this the Triple Hearts side.

And finally, I let her use my pink alphabet stickers (my poor craft box!) to write a message on the last side. "Happy Valentines Day!" (There was no apostrophe sticker, much to my perturbation.)

I think the whole box looks fantastic.

I know it's easy to get caught up in our kids having the "best", most impressive projects, but really, that's not what it's all about. The real point is letting the kids get creative themselves, letting them come up with their own ideas, and then helping them see it through. I'm not criticizing ANYONE for doing awesome Pinteresty projects; if Fifi had wanted to do one, we would have, and I would've LOVED it. I'm AMAZED by how cool some of my friends' kids' mailboxes are. (I'm thinking in particular of a Facebook picture of the most awesome shark mailbox I've ever seen. I am so not criticizing this stuff!) What I'm more pointing to is the temptation to take over their projects for them, and make them do what we, as the parents, think is the best way. This not only deprives them of the opportunity to be creative and think for themselves, but it also undermines their confidence. When we shoot down their ideas in preference to our own, we're only teaching them that they are not as creative as we are nor as capable. Their ideas may not win them the class competition, but who cares? It's often, I've found, the parents, with their parental pride, that cares more about winning those competitions than the kids do. Sure Fifi mentioned that she wanted to win, and of course she wants to win. I just reminded her that winning the competition is only part of the fun. Having a blast with glue and markers, coming up with fun ideas, and making her ideas come to life is the good stuff. Whoever gets picked, I reminded her, will have worked just as hard as she did, but hopefully she'll have had the most fun!

I've seen a refreshing number of friends on Facebook remark that their kids have just colored and glued and stuck stickers on their boxes. I've seen a refreshing number of people suggest we all stop competing with other parents via our children. Furthermore, my saying I let Fifi take the lead and do her own thing is also not meant to be another version of "competition" or "out-mothering you". We can compete with each other by our non-competitiveness too. ("I'm less competitive than you, na-nana-na boo boo!") All I'm really saying is, it's the child's project. Not ours. We had our turn, back in the day. Now if we feel the need to out-craft each other, that's what bloody Pinterest is for. But let's keep the parent competition out of our kids' classrooms. They have enough peer competition to deal with as it is.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Missing Element

My "theme" for 2014, as decided after last year's October Dress Project, was/is "Satisfaction". More specifically, I wanted to make an effort to be satisfied with what I have and where I am right now. So far, I can't say I've made much headway in this. I still look at the clothes hanging in my closet every day and think, "I can't/won't wear 90% of this stuff." Either it doesn't fit, it's the wrong season (I never did get much in the way of winter-wear), or it's just not me. I still look at where I'm living and think, "I can't wait to get out of here." My house is starting to feel more like a home, which I'm happy about, though I still have so many things I'd like to do to decorate it. I still haven't gotten around to making many friends either, but that's where this thought process is going...

Before I expect satisfaction, I need motivation. It's the missing element.

I can't be satisfied with my situation if I don't have the motivation to change it. Granted, motivation won't fix everything; I can be very motivated about going to the mall, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to spend our money there! But I can be motivated about getting myself in a better place mentally, emotionally, physically and socially.

I've only been here in America eight months, though it feels like so much longer, but it's not like me to sit at home all day, every day, letting the kids watch TV while I busy myself with housework or lie on the couch in a bored or depressed daze. I'm in-between everything right now, and in-between is never a comfortable or exciting place to be.

I'm in-between Lolly being at school. In Scotland, she was in nursery and would've been at school this year. Here she can't start school until August. It's an in-between year with her back at home with me again for a year, and we're both going stir crazy.

I'm in-between homes. I was settled in Greenock, and I hope to settle somewhere else soon. I'm not settled here in Arkansas and if I'm honest, I guess I don't really want to be. I also know we won't be in this house for any longer than another year, so I don't feel it's worth the effort to get really properly settled in this house either.

I'm in-between friends. I had so many close friends before I moved, and I haven't yet quite made those same kind of friends again. I have met people who have great potential for becoming good friends, if I'd just make the effort, though. I just haven't made the effort. I guess I'm afraid of missing them if/when we move away?

I'm in-between faiths. I am not quite a Christian any more, but I'm not quite something else yet either. I don't know what I actually believe, I just know what I don't believe.

I'm even in-between sizes! I've lost enough weight that my old clothes hang off me, but I'm not yet the size I'm going to be, therefore I can't justify buying new clothes yet.

Having my Scottish in-laws staying with us these past few weeks has kind of made me realize how much this needs to change. My father-in-law, who is the kind of guy who tells it like it is, keeps commenting on how "greetin'-faced" I am these days, and how it's not like me to be stuck in all the time. I get the impression that I get talked about a lot for it behind my back! They have made sure me and Scott have gotten out a few times to spend time together without kids, and they have encouraged me to get to the gym. It turns out (and I only found this out because they found out for me) that our local community center not only does the kind of Group Fifitness classes that I enjoy, but they also have childcare!

So I have some new goals, which will require motivation to achieve.

Get fit. Today, I woke up early, got dressed in the only set of gym clothes I have, and went to the gym. I put Jaguar in the creche, Lolly went into the twice-weekly KidFifit class, and Marion and I went to a Step class. It felt great. It also meant Lolly got a little social interaction too, which she's been missing out on - and suffering for. I now have a one-month membership to try it out. I have good intentions of taking Lolly to KidFifit twice a week, taking myself to Kickboxing, Step, PowerPump and Yoga, and taking all the kids to the pool on Saturdays. I'm also back on Keto, and I'm not going to give in to carb temptation! (Even when my father-in-law makes delcious-smelling toast at 10pm... grrr.)

Get crafty. I have started sewing a little again. I'm making the flower girl dresses for the three flower girls at my brother's wedding next month (Fifi, Lolly and my niece Ava). I've also made a taggie blanket for my sister-in-law who's due her baby next month, and I'm making one for my other sister-in-law in Scotland who's just had a baby, and once I know what sex her baby is, my other sister-in-law will get one for her baby due in the summer. Scott has promised me my own new sewing machine next month, so I won't have to rely on borrowing machines from family members. (He's the best.)

Get friendly. Last week, I went to a visitation for my friend's father who just passed away. On the way home, I sat in the back seat of the car with my two old best friends from high school, Devon and Liz, and we all lamented that we don't do anything any more besides sit at home alone. I think we all need to change that. I also have a new friend here in town that I really like (hi, Mandy!), and I'm determined to get to know her better and see her more. (In fact, I'm meeting up with her and her kiddos tomorrow.) I may never have my old Tuesday night Craft Night back (boy, do I miss Craft Night and my awesome Craft Night buddies), but some kind of regular chin-wag with friends is something I really need to make happen.

And finally, Get the book done. I'm now brave enough to call my 'project' a 'book'. I have enough pages written, and enough material in my head I still have to cover, that I can confidently say I'm writing an actual book. Now, what I'll do with this book once it's finished is completely undecided, but getting the book written is necessary and essential for me in a million ways. I've had to take a break while in-laws are here, with the baby sleeping in my room, and therefore no privacy for writing, but the ideas keep coming and I'm jotting them all down, and thinking about it constantly. This book is happening!

These are my goals. I feel motivated about them today; I'm not so naive as to think I may not feel less motivated tomorrow. The act of sharing them publicly, though, helps keep me on track.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I think it's time to come clean about something.

I've been keeping this little secret for a long time. Actually, that's not fair. In all honesty, I had no idea how completely this has had a hold over me. To say I've been keeping it a secret would imply that I realized it's power over me and have been concealing it. In truth, it's been concealing itself from me.

Only a few people in my life are aware of what I'm about to share. Yet I feel there are probably many of you out there who have the same problem. This needs to be said.

I have an addiction.

It's not an illegal addiction, like heroin. It's not a semi-legal addiction like alcohol. Instead it's a fully legalized, even encouraged substance that I'm addicted to.

Friends, I am a carbaholic.


I thought I had my addiction under control. I thought I could stop whenever I wanted. I thought it was a minor thing, doing only minor damage to my health. I even believed at times that carbohydrates were good for me. But the truth is, I am dangerously addicted to this substance, and I always will be.

Once an addict, always an addict.

Scott and I went on a ketogenic diet starting the first of January. Basically, we went cold turkey. For the first few days, the withdrawal was awful. I got shakes and a headache; I felt grumpy and depressed. A couple of days later, however, I started feeling great. The cravings were gone! Physically anyway. The mental addiction was still strong; I opened the cupboards several times a day looking for a tasty snack. I wanted to put food in my mouth. I satiated myself with cheese slices and boiled eggs to help me get over the habit of snacking. For three weeks, we stuck to our carb-fast impressively, and I never felt better.

Then one day, we fell off the wagon. Just like that. It was so easy to do. We went on a date, a rare thing when you have kids, and decided to treat ourselves to a little cake. We shared one small slice of chocolate fudge cake with ice-cream. While it tasted heavenly, the sickness immediately followed. We vowed never to eat carbs again; we felt so awful. I even felt morally guilty about it. Yet only an hour later, at the cinema, we decided to just 'go with it' and order popcorn too. Again, we felt awful afterwards, and all night I wrestled with nausea. We abstained from carbs for the next week or so, trying to get back into ketosis, going through the withdrawal symptoms again.

But after only another week or two, the urges returned. I started getting careless, wreckless. A little chocolate here, a bit of toast there. Surely one little bite won't hurt. Before I knew it, I was fully back into the ways of carb addiction again. I wake up each morning determined 'today will be different' but end up blowing it by noon.

I have a problem.

I need help.

I want to get to a stage where I can live without carbs, and if I do want to indulge quietly every once in a while, the same way I occasionally enjoy a drink of alcohol, I won't binge. I don't know if this is possible, but it's the goal.

The first step to overcoming addiction is to admit you have a problem.

Hi, my name is Lori and I'm a carboholic.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Real Scotland - In Film

We just watched a Scottish movie directed by Ken Loach called The Angels' Share. I've seen a few of his movies, namely Sweet Sixteen and Ae Fond Kiss, and I like them for how realistic their portrayal of life in the West of Scotland is. Sweet Sixteen was even filmed in Greenock!

I find it amusing that when people picture Scotland, they imagine the beautiful mountains, green grass, a light misting rain, and people in kilts eating porridge. They see Braveheart and Brave and Highlander; if they are a little more canny, they might see Trainspotting. But in reality, it's a lot of Sweet Sixteen, Ae Fond Kiss and The Angels' Share. Neds and drugs, drink and thugs. Sectarianism and fitba, track suits and chibs.

It's also beautiful mountains, green grass and misting rain. It's also fine whiskys, Robert Burns and masterful cutting banter. There are a lot of amazing things about Scotland, right along side all the rubbish.  (I really miss Scotland.)

If you want to know what every day Scottish life is really like, and you are over 18, you should check out one of these films. The Angels' Share is about a ned who develops a taste for whiskys and uses it to find a way out of his troubled life for the sake of his girlfriend and new son. Sweet Sixteen is about a kid with a tough background waiting until his mum gets out of prison so they can start a new life, who needs to raise some cash - and does it the only way he knows how. Ae Fond Kiss is about a Pakistani man who falls in love with a Scottish woman and all the problems it presents with his family.

Next on my Ken Loach watch list is Kes. It's an old one, and I don't know why I've not seen it yet.

Monday, February 03, 2014

America: The Beautiful?

I hate to get involved in the Culture Wars, except while in my own home where my husband and I like to mercilessly berate anyone whose views differ from ours and are therefore wrong, but it's late, and my sound judgement is maybe a little off kilter, and I'm just going to say this:

If anyone I know complains on Facebook about the SuperBowl Coca-Cola ad, I will de-friend them.

Yeah, it's maybe a little extreme, and I'm probably going to regret saying that in the morning, and in the end, I'll probably only remove you from my feed as opposed to full-fledged de-friending (maybe), but at this moment, when I'm feeling a little keto-woozey on my half-dram of Glenlivet, I am utterly disgusted with certain Americans right now. America the Beautiful? It is, but it's also made up of a lot of seriously un-beautiful jackasses.

"America the Beautiful" was sung multi-lingually in a Coke ad. It was a nice ad. It was ethnocentric (no, really, America, it was. It was America-worship.), but it was nice. Lots of people singing in their first languages. I heard some Spanish, some French, some German, was that some Arabic? and lots of other languages I'm not educated enough to recognize. It started and ended in English, of course. Me and my family, while watching the SuperBowl, joked that people were going to get all riled up, 'Murica-style about it, but we were only kidding. When Scott told me it really had caused a controversy, I thought he was messing with me. He sent me a link; I assumed it was a hoax site.

But no, really. People are ACTUALLY mad that Coke sang an American song in - gasp - a different language! You mean, all Americans don't speak American? Send those immigrants home!

Oh wait.

Seriously. I shouldn't even have to explain what is wrong with that line of thinking. There is so much wrong with it. I'm going to assume no one needs me to go into all the levels of wrong and stupid this is.

Because if you have a problem with this ad, you are not only an idiot, but you are an idiot. Yeah, I did that on purpose, because there is no other term for the idiocy that these racist Americans are spewing all over the internet. I have no respect for racists. I have some respect sometimes for idiots who can't help being idiots, but not for racist idiots.

MID-STREAM DISCLAIMER: Scott hates when I blog stuff like this. Sorry, honey, blame the whisky. Scott is not affiliated in any way with his wife. Except through marriage but that's different.

Apparently, part of the controversy is that they sang that particular song. Like it's a particularly English-only song. Either people are enraged because it's an American song sung by - gasp - bilingual Americans, or they think it's the national anthem. (To which I ask, why would that matter anyway? And also, it's not.) Is there something unpatriotic about languages that aren't English? Psst. Here's a bit of trivia for you. English isn't our language anyway. We stole it from, you know, England. Unless you are Native American, your own ancestors spoke a different language too upon arriving on this soil (unless they were from, you know, England). Come to think of it, if you ARE Native American, your ancestors also spoke a different language before the Europeans - some of them even spoke English - forced them off their own land and nearly annihilated their entire population with guns and disease.

Anyway, my diatribe is coming to an end. I've just run out of irritated steam. If you haven't seen the ad, here it is, in all it's linguistic glory.

***Now go read this to see what real-live Americans have to say about it.

Speak English!: Racist Revolt as Coca-Cola Airs Multilingual 'America the Beautiful' SuperBowl Ad