Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Espen goes to Kindergarten

He's got his new backpack and he's ready to go.
 Last week was another big milestone in our family when Espen started kindergarten. He's done joy school and preschool, so it wasn't our first first day of school, but now he is finally one of the kids going to the neighborhood school.

It's bittersweet, of course. There were tears when I dropped Espen off for his first day, and they weren't his! On the one hand it's scary and hard to send him off to a school with hundreds of kids to fend for himself (and it's every day!), especially knowing that he's a sensitive little guy who sometimes gets his feelings hurt. I worry about him making friends and kids being mean, and will his teacher "get" him and all of that motherly anxiety-ridden stuff. But then I'm also so excited for him to make friends (his preschool class was all boys, so we are super excited to make friend with girls!) and do all of the learning and growing that comes with going to school. Education is such an essential part of growing up and being human that I can't wait for Espen to fully experience.

I took a risk and let him pick his own First Day of School outfit.
Other than this being a 90 degree day, I think he did pretty great!

He's had a few nervous moments, of course, but mostly Espen has been happy and excited about going to school. His favorite part is playing with his best friend at recess, and he's already had a new friend  (a girl!)over for a play date already, so socially he's very happy, even if he was a bit shocked that a girl in his class had been "mean" to their teacher yesterday. And academically he is just fine. The pre-school that Espen went to last year was pretty academically focused (I mean, for a bunch of four-year olds!), so he already knows his numbers and can read or sound simple words already, so he's a little ahead of the curve - for now. But he's happily learning the alphabet and numbers all over again, and treats everything like it's valuable information to him, so if he's happy in the classroom and not getting bored, we really can't ask for anything more. Besides, a little review never hurt anyone.

I love this kid. 

So... so far, so good! Our days start a little earlier and our mornings are busier, but I feel like we've quickly settled into our new routine. Gwen and I drop Espen off at school at nine and then go and run errands and go shopping until it's time to pick Espen up at lunchtime, so I've had a lot of productive mornings! On Monday I was positively elated to have all of the week's grocery shopping done and dusted by 10 AM, which basically never happens at our house. And with our mornings being so productive, I've had more time to do other things in the afternoons; like working in the yard, reading, blogging, playing Lego or even painting with the kids. I really do feel so lucky that I am able to spend all of this time with the kids while they're small, and having more un-rushed time where I'm not constantly feeling guilty about all of the other things I should be doing is honestly pretty priceless. My least favorite thing about being a mom is when I feel like a stressed-out, snarly head case, so any time I don't have to do that is golden.

In conclusion: we're one week in, and school is great! Espen likes his school, we like his school and his school seems to like him too. I'm sure the time will come when things aren't as quite rosy at school as they are at the moment, but until that day comes, we're grateful that Espen is off to a good start.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ten Years

We are back from our cruise and our busy summer is officially at an end. We've had a few North Family Milestones since my last, including Espen's first day of pre-school and our 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years! How did that happen?

We decided very early on in our marriage that we wanted to really celebrate our anniversaries, and seeing as we both like to travel, we decided that an annual trip would be the way to do it. It didn't always have to be big or expensive or even very far, we just knew that we wanted to escape the everyday and spend a little time away, just the two of us. And so far we have done a pretty good job of managing just that! Some of our anniversaries have been in faraway places (Venice!) and some of them have been a couple of hours away (Cedar City!), but what they do have in common is that they have all been such happy occasions, as well as a perfect opportunity to stop the world and remind ourselves that we are still the people we fell in love with years ago.

2005: Married for about six hours and seriously happy about life. 

2006: First anniversary in our first apartment!
And then a day or two later, we hopped on a plane to spend a few weeks in England and Norway.

2008: We don't have any of our own photos of this trip, (so I borrowed one from Tripadvisor) but for our third anniversary we ventured north and stayed at the Providence Inn near Logan, UT. We slept in, wandered around the town, went swimming and just generally enjoyed a long weekend together. 
2008: Utah Shakespeare Festival. We watched lots of plays, stayed in a seriously cute B&B and fell deeply in love with baked brie and each other.

2009: This year we combined our anniversary trip with a babymoon to Stockholm! Sadly, most of those photos disappeared in The Great Photo Loss of 2010, so we will have to make do with a pregnant photo of me in Gamla Stan.
 I promise Nick came too!

2010: Back in 2010 we didn't post our every move on social media, so we actually don't have any pictures of our fifth anniversary trip. But we do have this picture of Espen swimming with Grandpa, which is how he spent his weekend while we went back to the same place we stayed in when we got married. 

2011: Nick's beautiful Grandma Jo passed away just before our actual anniversary, so we replaced our plans for an anniversary trip to Las Vegas with a visit to Las Vegas for her funeral instead. Life got very crazy for us that fall, but we managed to sneak off for a few days after Christmas, just the two of us, and went hiking in Zion National Park (and stayed in a posh-ish hotel).

2012:Six months pregnant with Gwen and enjoying a quick break in St. George while Grandma and Grandpa took care of Espen. The heat was ridiculous, but we enjoyed tasty food, a show at the Tuacahn theatre and spending time together.

2013: Our babysitter cancelled last minute, so we scaled back our plans and made our eighth anniversary a family affair.
(A friend offered to watch the kids for us that night, so we did manage to sneak off to dinner and a moonlit ski-lift ride in the mountains, so no harm done.)

2014: Our anniversary was also Espen's first day of preschool, so celebrations were low-key.

2014: But we did celebrate a month earlier with a trip to Venice, so romance was not dead.

2015: Ten years! We went on a cruise to Alaska and celebrated the actual day canoeing across a lake near Ketchikan.

2015: Back onboard the cruise ship, we celebrated again with a fancy dinner and eversoverymuchtoomuch dessert.

Happy anniversary to us! I can wait to see where the next ten years take us. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back from Norway

An extremely jaunty walk to get the mail. 
The kids and I are home again from our trip to Norway and getting settled back into every day life. We miss granny and uncle Jeremy and all of our favorite Norwegian people and places, but my goodness, it's good to be home! Home where my bed and my pillow (my pillow!) are, home where my kids sleep peacefully in their beds, home where I don't have to live out of a suitcase, and above all, home where the love of my life is! Good gravy, we missed our Nick/husband/daddy.

Playing by the lake. 
Whenever I talk to people about our trip, they always express that traveling such a long distance with two small children on my own must be really hard. But to be honest, the actual travel part wasn't too bad. Our kids are seasoned travelers that know how to hunker down, get comfy and make the most of being stuck in a seat for hours (and hours and hours), and I am endlessly grateful for that. They're rock stars! But what was hard (besides the first couple of nights of jet lagged kids) was the realization of what a gaping void there is in our family without Nick. All of the countless little things he does in a day to keep our family running smoothly suddenly weren't happening. And the kids, who usually love being in Norway so much that they don't want to go home, were counting down the days until we could go home to Daddy. Our family is just not our family without him.

A visit from my grandmother and the kids' great-grandmother. With my mum standing in for my dad, we've got four generations on this sofa and ages ranging from two to ninety-four. 

 That being said, we had a wonderful time. We spent hours and hours outside in Granny's garden and adventuring in the forest and along the lanes nearby. We discovered a wild strawberry patch and picked as much as we could find. We caught up with old friends and made a few new ones. We went swimming in the lake and splashed in the paddling pool in the garden. We ate lots and lots of ice cream and tasty Norwegian food. Espen discovered a love for salami, meatballs and fish cakes. Gwen spent every waking moment asking for ice cream, cookies and chocolate.

I gave Gwen one of my old bridesmaid dresses, and she immediately declared herself Princess Gwen.
I'm rather inclined to agree. 
 We had tea parties and made a playhouse in one of Granny's outbuildings. On rainy days we played with Lego from my childhood and drew the children's outlines on big rolls of paper. We picked wild flowers and jumped up and down in muddy puddles. We made leaf rubbings and had epic games of hide and seek all around the garden.

We went for lots of walks up and down the lanes.
Lest this is sounding too idyllic for words we also stayed up too late, threw epic tantrums, made big messes, lost some of Granny's belongings and spent way too much time playing on the iPads.

There were wildflowers (and their tiny tenants) everywhere.
 For me, the theme of the trip seemed to be getting out my comfort zone. I drove a car with manual transmission for the entire month, something I haven't done in well over a decade. I repaired the lawnmower and figured out why the vacuum cleaner wasn't sucking. I read instruction manuals and wielded power tools. I drove to places I had never been before without a GPS, and I drove the entire family on a road trip to Sweden. My comfort zone is my happy place, and I'm never especially interested in leaving it, but I will admit that there is something to be said for making it a little bit bigger. I didn't especially want to know how to clean and replace a spark plug, but now I do, and it doesn't sound so foreign and difficult anymore.

Pancake brunch with my Norwegian Bestie. We love our Annika!
 Of course the whole reason we went was so we could help my mum while she recovered from hip replacement surgery. When we got there a few days after she was home from the hospital, she had to use two crutches to get anywhere, and was frustrated because she couldn't even carry a cup from the kitchen counter to the table. So to begin with I cooked and cleaned and did the dishes and drove her to appointments and ran errands and mowed the lawn and did all of the things that she just couldn't do for herself yet.

Annika is the director of an opera museum, and therefore wins all of the Best Dress-up Box awards. 

As the days turned into weeks, it was really great to see my mum recovering more and more each day. Over the course of the month we were there, she went from needing two crutches to get anywhere, to mostly getting around the house unsupported and only using a walking stick in one hand if we were going somewhere. She was even well enough to drive the car into town before we left, which made me feel like we weren't leaving her completely in the lurch. And now she just had her first day back at work!

My lovely Mumsy

My mum and I have always been good friends, so just spending time with her was great as  it always is. I know I'm very lucky in that regard, because not everyone gets along as well with their mum as I do. She does have an absolutely frustrating ability to be right about things, but other than she's lovely.   We did a lot of chatting and knitting and shopping (so much shopping!) and sorting through old photos and just spending time together without doing anything very significant in that way you can only do with your very nearest and dearest.

Visiting the cows and breaking in their news boots.
There were other good things about being in Norway too, besides just being able to help my mum. One of them was that we were able to spend some time with my brother, which doesn't happen too often. He starts a new job next week, so had a few weeks off to spend with us. The kids adore their uncle Jeremy (he was getting bedtime hugs and kisses whether he wanted them or not!), and I suspect that he's pretty fond of them too. I won't tarnish his manly image by telling you exactly how sweet he can be to a two year-old with a bumped foot or a five year-old in need of a man-to-man talk, but it made my heart happy to those relationships develop.

Washing Granny's car. 

And I was able to enjoy some time with Jeremy too! We went for walks and talked a lot, and discovered that we are equally nerdy about Dr. Who, so almost every night after the kids were in bed, we'd pile onto the couch with my mum and watch some vintage Dr. Who or an old movie. He was great at helping out with the kids and did a lot of stuff around the house in general, which I really appreciated. He's going to make some girl very happy one of these days!

Cooling off with popsicles in the paddling pool. It's a rough life!
Spending time with friends is always a great part of being in Norway. Some of my friends have kids of their own now, which is great because it gives my kids someone to play with while we chat and catch up. And it's just fun to see how children aren't really all that bothered about not sharing a common language. There's usually about a 15 minute warmup period where everyone is figuring each other out, and then they just play. And Espen and Gwen always leave a play date in Norway with a few more words in their Norwegian vocabulary than when they came, which is wonderful.

Picking wild strawberries.
 Being able to spend time with my own friends is great too. We met up with one girl (lady, I suppose!) that I have known since I was four years old. Even though we haven't seen each other very much at all in the past 20 years, there is still something so comfortable and familiar about spending time with people you have known for practically all of your life. I also saw three other women who have all held the title as my best friend at some point in my life - and on some level still do. I think that unless there was some clear and obvious falling out that ended the friendship, then a best friend maintains that level of closeness and love no matter how many years have passed since the last time you saw each other. Some friends you just pick up with where you left off.

One of many tiny tea parties.
 I also spent my 35th birthday in Norway this year. Until last year I hadn't celebrated a single birthday in the same country as my mum for a decade, so being able to spend it with her and my brother for two years in a row was a really special thing. She helped Espen and Gwen chose presents for me (some favorite Norwegian chocolate and Marimekko-print napkins, respectively), and I took her out to lunch. My brother gave me a much beloved TV-show from our childhood on DVD (Vi på Saltkråkan), and my mum cooked a delicious dinner for us and a few friends, one of whom had just happened to fly in from New York that morning. My sweet friend Annika baked a cake and played games with my kids, who just can't fathom how you could possibly have a birthday without party games. I really feel that, for me, are less and less about cake and presents, and more and more about the people around you and the kindness and love that they express through the efforts they make for you. I probably missed Nick more on my birthday than on any other day the entire time we were gone, but it was still a special day where my family and friends just made me feel so loved.

Who even knows? 
Now we're home and everything is getting back to normal again. It took a few days of trying to put my foot on a clutch that wasn't there, but I am finally getting used to driving my own car again. I was a good girl and unpacked our suitcases quickly (within a couple of days, which is pretty great for me!) and have integrated most of our new belongings into our home already. It makes me happy to see our new tablecloth on the kitchen table, and the cute little dish I found holding tomatoes, like little splashes of Norway here and there. And it has to be said that we left with one suitcase and returned with three, so there was quite a lot of putting away and integrating to be done! (Did I mention we did a lot of shopping?)

Happy and handsome.
The next thing on the agenda, of course, is our upcoming trip to Alaska, so our travel bags won't be packed away for too long before we hit the road. And the air. And the high seas. The kids will have a fantastic time staying with grandma and grandpa while Nick and I can hardly contain our excitement to go on our very first cruise! Then, a few days after we get back, Espen starts kindergarten, by which time I suspect we'll be happy to sink into a nice little family routine again.

Playing with mama and uncle Jeremy's old Lego.

 How has your summer been so far?

Friday, June 19, 2015


Our house, where I thought I'd be spending my summer.

At least that's what my GPS says to me when we all thought we were heading in one direction, but then I suddenly throw everything off by heading down a different path than the planned route. And that's kind of what is happening to our summer.

When we got back from our trip to Florida and Disneyworld on May 1st, I thought that was sort of it as far as traveling went this summer. We'd had our big fun trip, and had nothing else on the cards beyond maybe a long weekend with Nick's parents as far as the eye could see. The rest of the summer would be spent at home, playing with friends, doing a few day trips here and there and mostly trying to beat the heat.

But then there was the question of our anniversary. We will have been married for 10 years in August, and always planned to do something big to celebrate. Although that was going to be tricky/nigh on impossible with two small kids, unless we took them with us, which wasn't really what we had in mind. At this point some friends and family kindly offered to take the kids so we could maybe swing a long weekend in San Francisco, and we thought that was going to be it. While it wasn't quite the Grand Adventure we'd always envisioned for this milestone, we love San Francisco and were definitely happy to spend a few days there.

Then Nick's parents, angels that they are, offered to take the kids for a week. A week! Suddenly the world was quite literally our proverbial oyster, and we started thinking what might be really fun. We knew we wanted to stay within North America so we wouldn't spend half our time traveling and adjusting to time changes, and we knew we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been before.

We're going here! On this ship!

And now we have booked a cruise to Alaska in August!

Neither of us have been on a cruise before, and neither of us have been to Alaska before, so we are very excited to check it all out. We did our research and booked all of our shore excursions, and were more or less just enjoying the rest of the summer at home until...

We're going to see my mum!

My mum needed to have hip replacement surgery. We knew it was coming, but it wasn't until two days before her surgery that I fully realized how tricky recovery is going to be for her. She will be on crutches and won't be able to drive for six weeks, and was sort of wondering how she was going to manage. Long story short, she had her surgery on Wednesday, should be headed home on Sunday, and the kids and I are flying out to Norway on Monday.

I am freaking out just a little bit. We booked our tickets just a week before leaving, which is the shortest amount of time I've ever had between deciding to go on a big trip like this and actually leaving. And I'll be flying with the kids by myself for the first time ever, which is pretty daunting. I'm actually not dreading the actual flights as much as the travel surrounding them (when I think about getting myself, two kids and our luggage onto the train at the airport in Oslo, I kind of want to cry just a little bit). But I know we can do it, and that things are rarely as bad as I imagine them to be. It'll be a hard day getting there, but it's only one day, and when we're done, we're done.

The hardest part by far is going to be leaving Nick for a month, because I am crazy in love with him. And he's helpful and lovely and we share a brain. And the kids love him and he is the other pair of hands that takes over when I'm doing something else. And we haven't been apart for more than about five days at a time in the 10 years we've been married. Oh, I'm going to miss him like cray-cray. (See?)

But! I get to spend time with my mum and my brother, I'll be able to see some of my favorite friends (and I'm really hoping my 94 year-old Nana!), I'll be in Norway, I'll get to speak Norwegian and hear Norwegian and read Norwegian and be Norwegian for a whole month! And I get to eat Norwegian food! Ohhh, it's like finding a gas station in the middle of nowhere when you weren't sure you were going to make it to the next town. So unexpected and just what I needed! And most importunely, I will be able to actually be useful and helpful to my mother which, given the geographical distance between us, doesn't happen very often. I feel very lucky that we were able to make it work.

So, goodness knows when I'll be able to blog again. I'll be keeping up with the small health changes I've made, but not adding anything new until we get back (although I am hoping I can do a good amount of walking while I'm in Norway and it's not 97 degrees outside). I'll be Instagramming up a storm while I'm gone (I even convinced Nick to get an account!), so if you're interested, you can find me there. My username is Tamsin_North.

I'll be back in a month, if not before, at which point I will surely start blogging about frugal living and austerity measures after I have spent all our money traveling the Northern hemisphere.

Bye for now!

Image borrowed here

Monday, June 8, 2015

Small Steps to Health: Four weeks!

Look at meeeee, I'm so healthy and sporty!

I've officially been doing my own little self-invented "Small Steps to Health" regime for a month now, so I think it's time for a little self-evaluation and accountability.

First of all, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself! I've been consistent and good and both seen and felt some results, which helps me feel like I'm doing something good for myself and moving in the right direction. I've lost five pounds (2.2 kg), which obviously isn't a lot, but considering I haven't really felt like I've been trying all that hard, I will definitely take. I've also felt happier, more energized and somehow... lighter on the inside, if that makes any sense at all.

In case you need a reminder, what I've been doing for the past month is picking a new area or habit to improve on each week, and then taken a small step to improve it. When the week is over, I try to keep up my good work from the previous week, and then add something new to it. Here's what I've done so far:

  • Week 1: Drinking more water. I've replaced more or less everything I drink in a day with water except for the orange juice I drink with breakfast and the occasional glass of milk (some meals just cry out for milk!), and it has basically just become a habit now. I'm not hitting 96 fl. oz. as regularly anymore, but most days I definitely come in above 64. I'm still using my giant 32 oz. hospital cup, and just fill it up a few times throughout the day, usually around lunch, dinner and then again in the evening. I think this will definitely be a habit that will stick with me. 
  • Week 2: Eating more vegetables. This has become something of a family project. As we have planned our dinners together, we've all made an effort to make sure there are plenty of fresh vegetables on the menu. Even Espen (age 5) who has a weekly dinner night that he is in charge of, knows he needs to make sure there is a vegetable or two on our plates when he's cooking. I've also started to buy bagged salad mixes specifically so I can eat them for lunch and get a little closer to that elusive "Five a Day" (at least!) that we should all be shooting for. I've mentioned before that I really, really like vegetables and salads, so this has been a pretty enjoyable change. The only hard part continues to be making the extra effort to actually make it a priority for me to eat well, as well as for my family (the washing! the chopping!). 
  • Week 3: Being a little more active every day.  I need to refocus and try harder on this one. I just get busy and sidetracked with other stuff, and all of a sudden it's Gwen's nap time or dinner time or time to get the kids to bed, and the opportunity has passed. And I'm very good at making excuses. I have hopped on my bike and gone for a quick ride around the neighborhood after the kids were in bed, which I honestly love doing. I love my bike. And I did give the kids piggyback ride around the house this morning. But there is a lot of room for improvement. 
  • Week 4: Better afternoon snacks. This is another area that needs some work. I didn't really have any bad snacks last week when I was trying to do this, but I just didn't have enough good options on hand. I feel like I just go to the store and my mind goes blank and I completely give up. I really do struggle a bit with buying and preparing things that are just for me. A friend did introduce me to these Kashi cookies, though. I thought they were tasty and filling enough that one cookie would be enough to scratch the itch. And, while I haven't studied their nutritional information in depth, the ingredients look decent and the calorie amount is pretty good for a snack. But I will continue to hunt for the perfect afternoon snack!
As for this coming week, I'm going to give myself a week off from adding new projects and work on improving the four areas listed above. I'll be back next week with a new Small Step, and hopefully before that with a post or two that have nothing to do with my health quest whatsoever!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Small Steps to Health: A better afternoon snack

I'm so healthy! Look! Look at meeeee!

Before I get into my snacking habits, let me first report back on how I did on last week's goal of being  a little more active every day. Here's how it all worked out:

  • Monday This was an easy one! It was a national holiday, so we all had the day off and went for a hike and a picnic up in the mountains. The hike was about 3.5 (5.6 km) miles roundtrip, and I clocked just over 10,000 steps on the step counter on my phone, while equals about 5 miles (8 km). I felt like that was pretty good!
  • Tuesday  I can't really remember what I did exactly, but I know we had stuff going on all day long, so I didn't get a chance to really do anything until after the kids were in bed. Fortunately by then the rain had stopped (we had such a wet and rainy May!), so I invited a friend and went for a quick 30-minute bike ride around the neighborhood. 
  • Wednesday Another busy day filled with play dates and shopping and errands. The weather wasn't being too cooperative, so we spent the afternoon inside. I knew I wouldn't get a chance to go out and do anything in the evening, so I turned on some music and had a 20 minute dance party with the kids instead. Lots of fun, and it definitely got my heart rate up! 
  • Thursday and Friday These days both completely got away from me. We were busy with appointments and this and that, and, to be honest, I think I was just feeling a bit discouraged by this whole "healthier me" thing that I'm trying to do. To do it right and get these new habits in place can be a little all-consuming, and frankly, my interests lie elsewhere (like in curling up with a book and eating cookies). But I'm determined to get there, and I will. Sometimes just feel like they're "two steps forwards and one step back" kind of days. 
  • Saturday The rain stopped and the sun came out at last, so we spent the whole entire day working in the yard. I mowed the lawn in the backyard and spent hours and hours pulling weeds, so by the time we stopped for dinner I was almost too tired to lift my fork (almost!). 
  • Sunday After we get home from church, our Sundays are always about relaxing and spending time together as a family - usually with some baking thrown in. All I did was take a 10 minute walk to the mailbox and back with Gwen, but it was still 10 minutes more than I might have done otherwise.
Baby steps, people! 

This week I'm trying to improve another habit of mine: the afternoon snack. Every afternoon, more or less without fail, I get absolutely starving hungry around 3-3:30 PM. Which isn't too surprising, because the kids and I usually eat lunch around noon, so being hungry three hours later is pretty reasonable. What isn't reasonable is that it somehow always seems to take me by surprise, so I never have anything planned to eat. Sometimes I do a good job and eat a handful of almonds, and sometimes I start opening cupboards and come out with a cookie or a fistful of chips. Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you want a cookie, then have a cookie, but maybe don't have a cookie every day? There are other snack options that will do a better job of fueling me with the energy that I need for the rest of the day, and I think I should try to eat some of those instead. And if I want a cookie one day, I'll eat one and move on with life. 

So, what is a better/healthier snack? A quick browse around the internet will show you that there are quite literally thousands of different sources* trying to tell you what a healthy snack might look like, and you honestly just have to try to find out what rings true for you. After a little bit of research, this is what I'm going for:
  • High in nutrients (proteins, vitamins and minerals)
  • Low in fat, sugar and sodium
  • Up to about 200 calories (much more than that and you may as well call it lunch)
  • Rich in fiber and protein (both help you to feel full, which is what I'd really like for a snack
  • I like food that is real food, so nothing too processed or pre-packaged, please. 
  • It has to be tasty and satisfying! It can be as nutrient-dense as it likes, but if it tastes like cardboard, I'm not eating it. 
So, off I go to the world of healthy snacking! Will you share your favorite healthy snacks and resources with me? 

*A few resources if you'd like to join me in being a better snacker. This article from WebMD gives a good outline of what you should be looking for in a healthy snack, but you'd have to be a complete doofus to need their list of "Not-so Healthy Snacks" to help you figure out that chocolate doughnuts might not be your healthiest choice. I like this article from Real Simple too. It supports what WebMD is saying, but then adds quite a lot of other good information too. And I like this list of 24 Nutritious (and Tasty) Snacks also from Real Simple (although I'm not going to be steaming myself an artichoke as a snack any time soon. Sorry, Real Simple!). The US National Library of Medicine offers this article that has some good ideas (put it in a container to help you control portion size!) and some advice that you'd think most of us would be able to come up with on our own (replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl!). Still, sometimes it's helpful to read even the most obvious of statements just to help solidify them in your mind, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Small Steps to Health: Everyday activity

Little explorers on the loose.

I realized today that we had a long weekend in the US because of Memorial Day, while the UK had one for Bank Holiday Monday and Norway had one for Whitsun. Which means that the majority of the people who read my blog are probably getting back into real life after enjoying an extra day off. So: how was your long weekend?

We had a really nice one. Saturday was a good combination of spending time with family (Grandma and Grandpa were in town!), getting stuff done like mowing the lawn, weeding the flower beds and planting some flowers that have been living in pots because it's been too rainy to get out and plant them lately. And, thanks to some other kind family members, Nick and I were able to sneak in dinner and a play on Saturday night, which was so needed and so great.

We started our Sunday at church, then spent the afternoon baking with the kids and just generally hanging out together before Nick's younger brother and his wife joined us for dinner. They cooked for us (being cooked for is my favorite!) and then we spent the evening chatting and playing board games. I love that they live close enough to have Sundays like that with us.

Then on Monday we drove up to Big Cottonwood Canyon (in the mountains behind Salt Lake City) and took the kids on a hike up to Doughnut Falls. We charged up our batteries with a picnic lunch and then hiked the 1 3/4 miles up to the fall. It was a bit steep and muddy in places, but the kids were incredibly good sports (not a single complaint!) and it felt so good to be outside in fresh air and beautiful surroundings, using my body in a way I don't often do. We will definitely be doing some more kid-friendly hikes this summer!

Which leads me to this week's small challenge for myself. Now that my sprained foot is starting to heal, I'm going to try to add a little bit more casual activity to my every day life. I'm not talking about dusting off my running shoes and galloping around the neighborhood every morning (although I wish I wanted to do that!) or doing anything very great and heroic. I'm just thinking a few little things, like maybe taking a walk to the mail box instead of stopping by on the way home in the car, riding my bike to a friend's house or having a little dance party with the kids. Just a little something extra every day to make sure that I'm getting my heart rate going and moving around a little more than I do at the moment.

And if you need a little inspiration to fit a little more physical activity into your day, check out this video from the Norwegian department of health! (No, really! Do it.)