Monday, March 31, 2014

No treats - I did it!

OK, so technically I have eight hours until midnight before the month is officially over, but I'm going to write my celebratory post now (quickly while Gwen is napping and Espen is at a friend's house)! But I promise no treats until tomorrow.

Can I just say that I totally nailed it?

*Insert Victory Dance here*

I'm kind of pleased with myself, can you tell?

I'm happy that I've done something good for my body, and I'm happy about the health benefits I've noticed. I'm very happy that I've taken a big step towards breaking a bad habit. And I am happiest about proving to myself that I could, and did, do it. Not eating cookies and chocolate (and a variety of other things) for a month may seem like a small thing, and it is. It is precisely because it is such a small, everyday kind of thing that making the conscious effort to change it feels like such a triumph. Knowing that I do actually have a little self-discipline means a lot!

So, what happens now? Do I stay on the straight and narrow, or do I return to my wicked ways at the stroke of midnight? Here's the plan:

Starting tomorrow I will eat whatever I want, whenever I want to - for one week. I want to give myself free enough reins to see what I choices I make without restrictions. Then the plan is that we can have a little treat two nights a week. So if we have cookies on Monday and brownies on Tuesday, then we're out of luck for the rest of the week. We will give that a try for a while and see how it goes.

Oh, and it turns out that I enjoyed having a little challenge for myself so much that I decided to do another in April! I'm going to try to exercise three times a week for a month. More on that later because I hear Gwen chatting in her crib, so nap time is over.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

House Tour: Gwen's room

Want to see my room?
I was dusting and vacuuming Gwen's room this morning, and decided it was time to pick up the thread on our house tour, so I got out Nick's fancy camera and snapped a few shots. Care to see? 

Where the tiny magic happens.
So, as you can see, I'm a big fan of keeping things fairly simple in kid's rooms. I love a lot of the gorgeous themed children's rooms that I see, but prefer keeping the big things pretty basic and rather switching out the details as the kid's preferences and interests change and grow along with them.  So the decorations in Gwen's room are mostly pictures I've printed and washi taped to the walls, banners from parties, and a few toys. That will change in time as we find things that we want to include more permanently and Gwen begins to put her own mark on her room, but for now I think we're happy with a simpler, cleaner look with a few fun details.

The fairy garland from Gwen's first birthday was so cute I couldn't bear to part with it, so now it lives on in Gwen's room. 

All of the rooms in our house were painted the same creamy mocha-ish color with darker trim when we moved in, and we really liked how it looks. In fact, we liked having a unified look throughout the house so much that we haven't painted and don't intend to for a very long time. Which explains the lack of pink in this little girl's room! Honestly, though, I love the freedom that a neutral background offers. I feel like we can basically put anything we want to in our home without worrying about whether or not it "goes".

A tea party for the bunnies.
In Gwen's room we've kept the same white nursery furniture that we used in Espen's room in Spanish Fork. It's clean, simple and fairly versatile. The crib converts into a toddler bed, and the bookshelf has  a changing table that bolts onto the front - which we removed once Gwen started scaling the shelves. We now have a changing pad on the floor instead, as you can see on the left in the picture above. Not wildly pretty, but very practical.

Some toys by the changing pad to keep those busy hands distracted.
And to keep our busy Miss occupied during diaper changes, we have a bin filled with toys beside the changing pad, although she usually prefers the bookshelf on the other side. 

It is never this tidy when it's not having its picture taken. 
Having a literary moment. 
Because I like to keep books within easy reach for little hands, we keep Gwen's books on the bottom shelf, which happens to be right next to her changing pad. More often than not when we're changing her, Gwen will grab a book for a quick read. And, although we didn't plan it this way when we put it next to the bookshelf, the changing pad makes a comfy little spot for reading (don't worry, we keep it clean!). 

Paper butterflies and the paper banner from Gwen's baby blessing.

Because she still spends more than half the day there (lucky!), I wanted Gwen's bed to be a safe and cozy little spot where she would like to be. As soon as she was big enough to really move around on her own, I got Gwen a duvet for her crib. One of the very last holdouts of my Norwegian-ness will always be my love of duvets, and now I am passing it on to the next generation. It's absolutely a preference thing and probably has a lot to do with what you are used to, but I just find them so much more comfortable and practical than sheets and blankets. We get our crib-sized duvets and covers at IKEA. 

Butterflies and sunshine!
The next step was to hang her butterfly mobile above her bed in a spot where she can see and enjoy it, but not reach it. We usually give it a little spin when we say goodnight to her so she can watch the butterflies dance as she falls asleep. I also hung this sweet little print from Paper Coterie above her crib, which makes me smile. You can see a little fairy picture above, but I think that's on its way out. The colors aren't quite right, and I don't want to overdo it with fairies. I think I want a poster with with "let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world" on it. If I can get past the fact that I'd be hanging a quote about China said by Napoleon on my daughter's wall. Fitting though, don't you think?

The Adelheid blanket - named for our good friend who has crocheted gorgeous blankets for each of  our kids.

Pacifier and Lamby - the bedtime essentials.
 Like most small children, Gwen has a few bedtime must-haves. At the tippy top of that list is her trusty pacifier than she cannot sleep without. It will be a sad day all round when we have to say goodbye to that little friend, because right now we just pop it in and she falls asleep! Lamby comes in as a close second. He is very soft and just the right size for Gwen to snuggle up to her cheek at bedtime. And then there's her Adelheid blanket (made by a good friend) that she will often snuggle to her other cheek when she goes to bed. As long as we have those three things, Gwen can be convinced to go to bed just about anywhere.

This tiny climber loves to push the buttons on her baby monitor. Such fun!
Other than that, there's not really a lot of other things in her room. We keep a little table for things her baby monitor or maybe a humidifier if she's sick. There's a closet stuffed to embarrassment with clothes for this little girl, but it's in a corner of the room that's hard to photograph and still a bit too plain and simple. There was an armchair where the footstool is, but now that the middle of the night feedings are over, we've moved it downstairs to the playroom where it gets a bit more use. I find that, as this is a family home, our rooms are always changing and evolving as we do too. Nothing is ever complete or perfect, but then again, neither are we.

Wild and ladylike - just like our Gweny. 
Thanks for reading! I enjoy doing these little tours of our home just as a way of documenting our own little family story, and if you enjoy seeing and reading about how we live, then I really could't ask for more. I didn't put together a resource guide this time, but just let me know if there's anything you'd like to know where we found, and I'll tell you!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kite flying

The other day I took Gwen shopping with me while our boys stayed home, and as it was a windy day, they got out Espen's kite. Do you think they had a good time?

And send it soaring. 
So high!
Keeping a close eye on things.
Getting fancy and flying his kite from the top of the playset. 
So happy. 
Getting even fancier and flying his kite while upside-down on the swing. Natch.
This kid! I love this this kid so much.
Can't you just see how much he loves his dad behind the camera in this one?
Do you know what I really love about the photos, besides the fact that my son is adorable, and my husband is getting pretty handy with a camera? I love how clearly you can see the fun that Espen had with his dad, and the love that those two share. The whole event took less than an hour of Nick's time on a Saturday afternoon, cost $0 and only required putting on a pair of shoes and stepping outside. So incredibly simple. But the return on being the kind of dad who takes the time to do this kind of thing is absolutely priceless.

Will you tell me about the good dads in your life?

Three weeks of no treats

A few of the cookies I have not been eating, all the way from England.
I finally found a few moments to sit down and tell you how I'm doing with my treat-free month. I swear it just gets harder and harder to find 20 uninterrupted minutes to anything for myself! You too? 

Anyway, I have 11 days to go and it's honestly not too bad. I am doing it, and that's a good feeling. It's nice and sort of empowering to know that I am capable of flexing my willpower and restraint when called for, even if I'm not really given much to self-denial on a daily basis.

A few thoughts:

  • If nothing else, this whole exercise has been pretty insightful in terms of understanding myself and my habits better. For example, I've always thought that I tend to snack out of habit and for something to do, but have been surprised to find that I might be a bit of an emotional eater too. When I've had a rough day and the kids are finally in bed, I really, genuinely crave cookies or brownies or some kind of sugary, starchy treat. It's like I feel like I deserve a reward for making it through the day, and that reward needs to be laden with chocolate. It will probably take a while to retrain my brain from this thinking, and I'm not really sure how to go about it. Any ideas?
  • I get hungry in the evenings. We generally eat dinner around six, often even earlier, and so I'm often pretty hungry by about 9:30 or so. I think it's legitimate to eat when you feel hunger, I just need to make sure that I make better choices once the treat cupboard is no longer out of bounds. 
  • Roasted, unsalted almonds have been the salvation of this whole enterprise. I bought a big bag of portion-sized bags at Trader Joe's, and have been eating one bag in the evenings when I feel hungry. It's sort of amazing how much it helps! And almonds are supposed to be crazy good for you, so that has been a pretty good solution. 
  • Saying no completely is so much easier than trying to figure out a balance. Having a completely black and white attitude to what is and what isn't permissible to eat, means that I can serve Espen a handful of chocolate chips or marshmallows for an occasional treat and not eat a few myself. It means that when a neighbor gives Gwen a bag of chips to munch on, I can feed them to her and not eat any myself. It means that I don't even think about eating the chocolate or cookies in the treat cupboard. It means that I say "no thank you" when someone offers me a treat, and it's not even nearly as tricky as I thought it would be. But what is going to be tricky is reaching the point when I can say "yes" sometimes, and "no" at others. I'd love your ideas about finding a balance and moderation and all of that good stuff too. I think that might end up being my next projects.
  • I had my book club ladies over last night, and for a treat, I made parfaits with greek yogurt, fresh berries and granola. You have to have treats at book club! It was all very healthy and above board (and delicious!), but I'm on the fence about whether or not it was a "cheat". But you have to have treats at book club! 
  • While this whole venture is about learning to live a healthier life, and not about losing weight, I did wonder out at the outset if it might make at least a little bit of a difference on ye olde scales.  It really hasn't. I might have lost about 2-3 lbs., or that might just be normal fluctuation over the course of three weeks. I think it would take more than a month of no treats to really see a difference in that regard. 
  • Similarly, I haven't noticed a huge difference in the way I feel, but I think I might have a bit more energy these days. I'm still tired when the kids go to bed, but I've been feeling more refreshed when I wake up in the mornings, and have been getting a bit more done during the day. And that is pretty motivating! 
  • I'm mildly surprised to tell you that other than when I've had a rough day, or someone is eating something delicious right in front of me, I really don't feel deprived at all. This is a completely doable thing. But I am certainly happy that there will Ghirardelli brownies waiting for me on April 1st! (But please no chocolate-themed April Fool's pranks!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Update! Art City Salad

It only took me five years, but I finally remembered to take a photo (or to ask Nick to take a photo) of  my Art City salad before we snarfled the whole thing, so I'm reposting the recipe complete with photo! 

As it happens, we're one of those families that eat. I know, right? So, as a direct consequence of our food consuming ways, we have also been known to cook. And every once in a while, that cooking leads to a new recipe or two of our very own. Should I share? Oh, go on then:

This is the delectable Art City Rip-Off Salad. I kept ordering the same salad (The Real McCoy) every time we went to Art City Trolley in Springville, so I decided to make my own version of it. The main differences are the dressing, and the fact that mine doesn't contain bacon. It has to be said that I will happily gobble up bacon if someone else puts it in my salad, but I really can't see myself frying up bacon and tossing it with my leafy greens. Don't be frightened by the scarily-named cheese: this salad is pretty, yummy and tastes like summer on a plate!

Art City Rip-Off Salad


(Note: These amounts are all approximations, and can easily be adjusted.
1 Green leaf lettuce head
1/2 cup dried cranberries
5 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/3 cup honey roasted almonds (I buy the Almond Accent bags)
1 large chicken breast in lemon pepper marinade.
Poppy seed dressing (I ever so very strongly recommend Brianna's)

1. Thaw and marinate the chicken for as long as your little heart desires. Slice into strips.
2. Cook chicken in a skillet until it's completely cooked and starting to brown. Set aside.
3. Wash, slice and chop lettuce, place it in a lovely serving bowl.
4. Add gorgonzola cheese, cranberries, almonds and chicken. Serve with poppy seed dressing, or another sweet dressing of your choice.

PS: If you happen to live somewhere where things like honey roasted almonds, gorgonzola cheese and poppy seed dressing are not readily available (like, oh... Norway) and you want to try this salad, leave me a message and I'll help you figure out what might work for you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reporting back on the treat-free sitch

Girlfriend knows how to party!
Monday morning and day 3 of my treat-free month! So far, so good. I am absolutely counting the days to April 1st when I can have treats again (no chocolate-related April Fool's pranks, please!), but not really feeling the pain yet.

A few observations so far:

  • Espen went to a birthday party on day 1, and really wanted his mama to have a cookie when I picked him up. I was a little hesitant to risk hurting his feelings, but I just said no thank you, and he didn't mind in the least. 
  • Along those lines, Espen is a sharer. If he has cookies or crackers or marshmallows, he wants to share them with you, which is so sweet and I love it! I don't want to discourage that at all, because I think it's so great that he wants to share without being told. So I guess that either we will be doing healthier snacks all around, or it might be a good time for him to learn that it's OK for people to say no thank you. 
  • Still on the topic of kid's snacks, I've noticed how easily I pop a fruit snack when I open a bag for the kids, or grab a handful or crackers when I'm serving some for them. And while I do generally choose snacks for the kids that are on the healthier side, it's probably not worth it for me to eat things if I'm not even really conscious of doing it. Although, again if I go for even healthier options for the kids, then there is little harm in popping the occasional grape or blueberry. 
  • Starting on a weekend was tricky. Starting on a weekend than contains the Scandinavian holiday of Fastelavn (sort of a Fat Tuesday, but on a Sunday) which seemed to compel people to fill up my newsfeed with pictures of their tasty Fastelavn treats - like this, was nigh unto torturous.  
  • I seem to have programmed my body to expect a little something-something at night. Nine o'clock rolls around and my mind all of a sudden turns to thoughts of cookies! Even on Saturday night when I was still pretty full from dinner, I found myself pondering if there might be room for a little something sweet. It wasn't really a problem on Saturday night because I wasn't hungry at all, but on Sunday night I felt insatiable! We had a fruit salad for dessert earlier on in the evening, but then by 10 PM I felt like I was starving! So I hunkered down with a handful of almonds and a tall glass of water, and while I still felt hungry, they definitely took the edge off. I can see that retraining myself to not need a treat every night (or at least not an unhealthy treat) is going to be tricky. 
  • Telling everyone what I'm doing and how it's going is pretty motivating for me. I've blogged about it, posted about it on Facebook and Instagram, and people are super supportive! So consider this my shameless bid for comments on this post - if I feel like you care, then I'll want to show you that I can do it. Props to my lovely friend Laura for going the extra friendship mile and actually joining in for the month of March! OK, so she was going to do it on her own anyway, but it is so nice to have an ally, even if she lives far away in California. 
Anyway, onwards and upwards! 29 days to go.