Monday, November 12, 2012

November Fun

This past weekend we celebrated the ending of our whole life challenge of 8 weeks and celebrated Annalise's 4-year birthday on sunday with a tea party in her honor.  We had a closing WOD at the gym and our kids were awarded medals too for going through this health challenge with us.  They did have to put up with a lot less sugar, but we made up for it by having lots of fresh fruit and sweet potatoes from Mississippi.   Here are just some of the few things I learned to make and change in our lives about how to live more healthy...I learned how to make my own chicken and beef stock from the carcass, I learned how to roast chickens and many other types of meat in the oven, how to season meat and cook it at the right temperature, how to make mashed sweet potatoes (which are better then white potatoes and way more healthy), how to make my own coffee creamer with coconut milk, how to read every food label and avoid ingredients such as guar gum and other wierd "gums."  I learned a whole lot more ways to cook or prepare a variety of vegetables, and how to do without the starchy, genetically-modified corn and soybean produce.  And lastly, I think I learned how to survive without added sugar or honey or syrups in my food and drinks.   I tried the stevia extract a couple times since they allowed it on our diet and I didn't like it.  It tasted like a chemical and made me nauseous, so I just went without sweeteners and learned to enjoy food and drink they way it was.

After our awards, we went grocery shopping for Annalise's birthday party the next day.  While we were shopping I was with Annalise picking out stuff and Jeremy was with Hudson looking at meat.  He turned around just in time to see Hudson bringing a slice of Pepperoni to his mouth ready to eat it!  After our boy had poked a hole with his finger into the plastic cover of a frozen pizza, we decided we had to take that pizza home to bake for lunch.  It was real good after being on such a strict diet without traditional flour crusted pizza.  Jeremy and I are, however, deciding to continue with this kind of grain-free paleo diet after the weekend of celebrating.  Jeremy was much better at staying on the program than I was, and he also lost many inches and got more muscle.  I am so proud of him and how hard he has been working at being healthy.  Having a healthy body overlaps with all the other areas of our lives - we are not divided up with separate compartments for body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions, and will.  I really believe they overlap and all effect each other in many ways, good or bad.  Jeremy got some very real gains from this health challenge.  I suppose my greatest gains were getting a little stronger - discovering I can back squat 135 lbs, for example!  I also gained many great recipes for making real food items from scratch, which is something I've been working at for years now that I have a family to cook for...

Annalise is growing up to be such a unique, very creative and very sweet young lady.  These are some of the things she has accomplished this past year: being daytime potty-trained, drawing family portraits, tracing and practicing letters, practicing the letters of hers and Hudson's names, and finally, attending some preschool classes.  I can finally feel good about placing her in a class once a week and letting someone else teach her, confident that I am still the greatest influence in her life.  The preschool class she is in currently is led by a Waldorf-style teacher who encourages lots of imaginary playtime as well as realistic, practical life skills learning.

What impresses me the most about my little girl is how interested she is in learning more about God, communicating with him and reading the word.  She has a very sensitive, tender heart and likes lots of hugs and physical affection and attention from me.  At bedtime the kids love their rituals of baths, teeth brushing, and getting the LED camp lantern for story and song time on the rug in their bedroom.  They gather their pillows all excited for this time.  Annalise always picks out stories from her favorite Bible story book that has the best pictures of the people with the best facial expressions.  That's my girl.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

If I could do that, I can do anything

It's been about one week since Jeremy and I have started this health challenge and we're both doing pretty well and feeling alright.  Both of us have felt like we have some kind of flu and it is from the sugar withdrawal most likely.  I have also felt weak but I am able to keep up with all my running and enjoy it.  I'm noticing that I am cooking even more from scratch now.  Even something as simple as a soup recipe I have to adjust or make my own stock for.  There are no available bullion or store-bought soup stocks that do not have unnecessary chemical ingredients or sugars or corn syrups in them.  None!  I have checked a couple times and read every single label.  So if I want to make chicken soup or borscht soup, I have to make it with my own.  Chili is easier to make and it always turns out good :)

I was thinking last night about how we just plain coddle our bodies too much and don't push ourselves hard enough to do things that we could be doing - in exercising or anything athletic, or other activities in life.  That's just how it is in the west mainly.  In other cultures you don't see that as much.  I also notice that a lot of mommas with small babies are on the rise in joining crossfit gyms.  I know that for a lot of these mothers when they realize what their bodies are capable of - being in labor for 48 or more hours and delivering a beautiful baby, for example (my experience)... you realize that if you can do that you could do just about anything.  I would have to say that having a baby is way more of a challenge than racing a marathon.  Even after having a baby the physical work of carrying and breastfeeding for 1 or more years is quite demanding.  And now as 2 and 3 year olds mine have so much energy that I am on "active recovery" exercise nearly every minute of the day.  Having kiddos is one of the things that motivates me to push myself further each day.  I am so thankful to be a momma.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Family Update and Life Challenge

Jeremy and I are participating in a Whole Life Challenge at our crossfit gym today and it will last for 8 weeks.  It is a strict diet and fitness program and we will be eating a very healthy diet with no sugar, grains, or dairy items.  I am still trying to figure out how I will accomplish this being the sugar and dairy addict I am, and while running a 20 to 26 miler today in training for the Twin Cities marathon, which is now only 3 Sundays away.  I am writing this while my watch recharges and enjoying my coffee.  At least I can still drink my coffee and tea, and I am planning on drinking plain coconut water (unsweetened) and eating plain bits of fruit/oranges while on my long run.  We did pretty well with our diets up till this past week before the challenge started.  When the weather starts to turn cool I want to stay in the kitchen and bake things like homemade bread, cookies, etc., so we had plenty of that stuff to eat this week!  Now I am switching to cooking a paleo diet and when I get that cozy, warm feeling to bake bread in my kitchen I am going to have to make other cozy food items instead, such as chili, beef stews, baked sweet potatoes or butternut squash.  I'm going to include recipes as I go along.  I take my cooking pretty seriously.  The kiddos will have a few exceptions such as dairy, brown rice and pasta, but they actually eat plain meat and vegetables better than they eat grains.   And they love to eat burger patties with their hands and other finger foods.  It is much less mess to clean up after as well:)

Last week I was reading up on the ideas behind the paleo diet and how it is compatible with a Christian worldview of creationism and found a very well-written argument for how it is.  Most of the time these arguments say that even in the Bible grains were not necessarily recommended as the best food choice for human consumption, and this is grains from Bible times.  The grains grown these days are supposed to be far worse with genetic modification and cross-breeding.  (I really don't know much about agriculture, but I do believe it is safe to say that neither of those things are going to lead to a quality food choice for us).  This article also goes on to talk about cities and agriculture, and he somehow makes an assumption that agriculture and cities had a negative influence on people.  I am not sure how that can be justified, especially being a person who loves cities and large civilizations of people groups and architecture in one place.  There is a book written by a Harvard professor I'd like to read sometime about how great our world's cities are - Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser - and maybe that will help me know more about where I stand on agriculture and how it relates to cities.  I love cities and I couldn't imagine living in the country or like a nomad.

All I know is that I imagine I will feel lots better and be lots stronger on this diet.  I always assumed that sugar was harmless and it doesn't really make me gain weight, but being strong is a whole different thing.  I don't care about losing weight, but I do want to be stronger and faster.  I am happy and proud to be married to a man who likes me the way I am now, who is also proud of having a wife who is strong and has some muscles!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Annalise's first cross-country race

My little 3-year old preschooler ran a 1-mile race yesterday with other homeschoolers and won 2nd place for the girls preschool age group.  I am so proud of her and squeel every time I see a picture of her running.  She looks so cute!  We didn't even know that she would enjoy running until Jeremy tried running around the block with her at 9:00/10:00 pm, out of desperation to get our kids tired out so they would stay in their beds and go to sleep at a decent time.  She easily ran a mile in 13 minutes and did not want to walk at all!  I hope she continues to enjoy running and thinks it's fun because it will benefit her so much later on in life.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Artwork & Annalise

Annalise has been doing really well with drawing and coloring pictures.  The first one is of our family with Jasper included.  She also draws lots of scenery pictures, airplanes, and computers for some reason (Daddy's work is the computers, and the airplanes have to do with travelling of course).

I also took Annalise to her first gymnastics class last week.  We are going to try it out for a few weeks and see if she likes it :)

"Mommy, help-et"

One morning this week I stepped away from the kitchen for a minute, getting ready to scramble eggs, and came back to find more eggs added to the cracked ones and Hudson standing next to the counter saying, "Mommy, help-et" in his sweet little voice.  I had to take a picture :)

I also made some really good fish last week with some fresh herbs I happened to have on hand that I don't usually have and had to find something to do with them.  Here is the recipe:

I took some white fish (thawed) and mixed it around in a bowl of 1 egg (white), almond meal flour, salt and pepper to coat it, and then pan fried the fish with a little butter.  After they were done I added the fresh herbs - mint leaves and cilantro - and lemon juice (lime would be better).  It was like a mint mojito taste.  I liked putting the fresh herbs in my water glass with some lemon or lime juice too and it was so refreshing.  Hudson was really excited to dig in when I put it on the table.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Little Rascals

My sweet little kiddos can be such rascals sometimes!  They are at an age where they are together all the time, whether playing and getting along or not.  Recently they have begun to get into trouble together.  Lately it isn't too strange to find a hunk of cream cheese with a bite out of it laying on the kitchen floor, or sticks of butter randomly discarded with bite marks in them.  We all know that Hudson is the one who is guilty of this minor crime, but Annalise is right there with him and probably giggling the whole time.  This last weekend we bought bagged milk from Kwik trip instead of jugs.  We thought it would save us a few cents, but my worst fears happened...the kids both got into the refrigerator to get themselves some milk and it spilled all over the floor, through the floor boards and into the basement.  Milk was dripping on the basement floor.  We are never going to buy bagged milk again, it just isn't worth it! :)

When they are not getting into trouble together or Annalise isn't tattling on what Hudson is doing next,  they are getting along really well.  I can't think of a time when they are ever in separate rooms playing unless Annalise has some of her dolls out that she doesn't want Hudson to get.  I don't want to end my story above without a positive one.  The other day Annalise decided to take care of Hudson and he let her wipe his mouth and hands off after eating, unbuckle him from his booster, and lead him upstairs to play together.  She is going to be such a good mommy or caregiver someday.  But that's a long ways away, as we remind her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Princess Annalise

We've been having a challenging time getting the kids to bed at a decent time all summer long, with falling asleep times ranging from 10:00 pm at the earliest and all the way to midnight. One night last week Jeremy decided to try running the kids around the block, in their pajamas in the dark. He took Annalise out first and they ran around it 3 times straight, which I found out the next day equals about a mile! My 3 year old girl can already run a mile? That's better than lots of adults! Hudson went next and he got distracted and wanted to stop and walk. We need to look for some little kid races for them to be in this fall. I was thinking about signing Annalise up for a ballet & tumbling class, but I'm having a hard time with that. I will eventually if I know she will enjoy it, and make some new little girl friends while in the class. I would also be just as happy if she wanted to play soccer instead or run around on a muddy field, because she is just as much a princess whether dressed in a pink, frilly leotard or wearing muddy sport clothes, and I hope that is the message she hears starting at this early, impressionable age. I remind myself to be careful and not make dieting or weight comments and jokes (how I need to slim down or try to squeeze into clothes that are too small, etc.) I am always trying to find a balance between teaching my daughter to take care of herself, or fix her hair prettily for example, but at the same time not too fancy that she can hardly be a child and be free to run and play without messing it up.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What we all have been doing

At age 3 Annalise is learning to write letters, and her favorite name to write is Hudson's...
Hudson loves his trucks and cars, but instead of just pushing them around the house he likes to try and get inside and drive them too...
I made a responsibility chart out of felt for Annalise. It is made of cut-out pictures instead of words so she can know what she can be responsible for even at the age of 3. She has been doing lots better with her potty-learning, and even went in an outhouse toilet of all places!
Jeremy and I are going to crossfit gym classes every week and getting stronger, and I'm going to run in the twin cities marathon again this fall. Annalise and Hudson like to stretch with me.
Jeremy and I also performed a song and skit at the Chinese school graduation in town. We sang the song that Jeremy sang when he proposed to me, and Hudson and Annalise loved hearing and seeing us with the grandparents in the audience. There were other performances too of the younger kids dancing, and Annalise wants to do that when she gets "bigger". We're planning on enrolling them in the Chinese school when they are old enough, and we are trying to teach them Chinese words now when it is easier for them to pick up a new language. We sure hope and pray about when we can go to the nations and go back to China.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bathtime Adventures

We had a bathtub/ bathtime adventure last night at our house. After dinner I mention something about it being time for the kids baths and how we need to head upstairs. A few minutes later I am still cleaning up in the kitchen and hear water running upstairs. Hudson likes to get stools or paint cans, whatever he can find to step up on and turn on water in the bathroom sink. I go up there and to find them running back and forth from the sink to the bathtub with "buckets" of water, trying to fill the tub with water for their bath. For their "bucket" they were using the empty potty bowl from their potty chair, and several bowls of this water had flooded the bathroom floor already. This was the biggest adventure we've had yet in bathtimes, and it took several towels to mop up the water. I had nice clean floors afterwards though!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


We are still working on Annalise being potty-trained. I had given up for awhile simply because it wasn't working for her (or anyone else in the house) and because I am not the least bit worried over other kids her age and younger being potty-trained before she is. I will not compare my child to other people's children and do not like her being compared either!
Today we got up and started with underpants right away. Pull-ups do not work, look ridiculous and do not make potty-training any easier. Cotton underpants look so much more cute. So far it is almost 11:30 am and we've had two pee-pee accidents as well as two successes. I'm rewarding her with fruit snacks candy since that is something I wouldn't normally have for the kids to eat on any occasion. It's a little challenging trying to potty-train her the right way where she has my full attention to help with the whole process, helping her on and off the toilet seat, wiping, and washing our hands after poop or peeing. This is mainly because Hudson is around getting into things and still wanting to nurse alot. I was nursing Hudson earlier when Annalise told me she had to potty. I told her to go upstairs and try to sit on the toilet herself. She went upstairs and a few minutes later I see a whole roll of toilet paper being thrown and unraveled down the stairs. We clean that up as well as the pee-pee on the floor, all while trying to keep Hudson out of the accident. I am helping Annalise get dressed in her room when I hear Hudson reaching inside and splashing toilet water in the toilet. I gather him up and bring him to the sink right away to wash hands and then change his shirt since his sleeves were in the toilet water. I wonder if I will have another load of laundry to do after just one day.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Adventure of the day

We've had a few mishaps and adventures recently in our newly purchased house. The other day I tripped while carrying the plastic humidifier tank upstairs to the kids room, and it burst open spilling a tank of water on the steps. I mopped it up with a big blanket and got all the water, then I checked the basement below the stairs. The water and gone down to the bottom step and through the wooden beam ceiling of the basement, but there was so little left by that time I mopped it up with an old towel and that was it! We had just gotten the humidifier with the kids being sick this past month, so we will have to wait until next winter to buy another one if it's ever needed again.

The second most recent adventure in the house was this morning. I brought Hudson downstairs to the living room and heard a chirping, flapping noise in the fireplace. It is enclosed with doors like a wood stove so I couldn't see whatever was in there, but I assumed it was a bird. We called my dad to figure out what to do and decided to open the doors and let it fly out the front door. My husband bravely opened the doors with a bucket ready to catch it and a little black bird flew out into the room. He opened the front door and thankfully it pretty quickly flew outside. I think Jeremy said it was a grackel bird. I'm just glad it was a could have been something much worse!

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Adventures

Our household has had quite a start to the year! In March we went on our first cruise in the Caribbean. We went with Colbert grandparents, uncle David, and aunt Sarah and uncle Mike and went to the country of Belize and to Cozumel, Mexico. We were so busy with the 2 kiddos that the week went by so fast. It wasn't until about a month or two later that we can look back and really appreciate our vacation and be thankful for it. I don't know if we will bring the kids on a cruise again until they are older or potty-trained at least, so that there is more for them to do. We were very lucky to stay healthy too, some other ships had gotten nasty, dangerous stomach viruses. One of the best times we had on the cruise was when we all went to Belize while Hudson and Annalise stayed with my parents on the ship. We were only gone for 3 hours or so, but I was still a little nervous leaving them on the ship. We met some really neat guides on the land who took os on a tubing adventure through some ancient caves on the river. They were so much fun to talk to, and we had fun figuring out what they were saying in their creole dialect. On Belize the primary language used is not Spanish but English, and everyone uses Creole as well.
When we got to Cozumel, Mexico the next day all of us including the kids went on land and to the beach. We had fun wading, snorkeling, looking at all the fish in the water and getting braids in Annalise's hair.
Looking back, the best memories I have of our vacation was being right on the beautiful ocean, hearing the water and smelling the ocean breeze, and of course the families being all together for a whole week!

After we got home from our cruise we closed on our new house and moved out of the apartment we rented for a year. We moved to a 2-story house with a basement and an attic, so there are lots of stairs to run up and down. It actually isn't as bad as I thought it would be, even with the kids up and down the stairs, and it gets us plenty of exercise. We have one large bathroom and it is on the 2nd floor with all the bedrooms. The only difficulty we have with that is for potty-training, but even that isn't too inconvenient for the kids. Another thing I am happy about is that the house is pretty loud and open, with the open staircase, and I can hear the kids wherever they are, upstairs or down. We live across the street from a park we can use, and we walk to lots of other parks too since we are right by the trail systems around the city, which we use a lot! Jeremy walks or bikes to work downtown everyday. We have been busy with painting and re-doing a few things around the house. My dad updated a few electrical outlets and lighting fixtures. They put in a rug runner on the wooden staircase, and Jeremy climbed on the porch roof last weekend to take out storm windows and put in screens so we can open the windows this spring. We also discovered that our refrigerator is plugged into a cabinet instead of the wall, and that is supposed to be bad. What this means for me is... we will have to have a kitchen remodel/reorganization within a few years since that refrigerator cannot stay that way :) In the meantime, I am going to make do with painting my kitchen cabinets green/brown to look better with the white appliances.
This is our 1920's home :)

Not long after we moved in to the house, the kids got sick with bad colds and coughs. Hudson had to go the the emergency room twice. The first time was in the middle of the night. He had woke up crying and didn't sound right to me in the monitor, and when I checked on him he wouldn't wake up and his breathing sounded really labored. When we got to the emergency room he was acting like he was having a seizure and it really scared us for awhile, and no one knew what was wrong. They gave him some advil drops and he started returning to his normal self within a couple hours. They sent us home by the early morning when he was running around the room. While we were there they checked his oxygen levels, took a chest x-ray, took several blood tests, made sure his blood sugar levels were normal, and took a nasal swab because I thought he might have a bad respiratory infection. They called us back 2 days later and told us he had RSV (a bad respiratory virus that can be dangerous in infants and small children if they are not able to breathe the appropriate levels of oxygen their bodies need). After several days he finally started acting like he felt better, but the next weekend he was getting really high fevers. We took him in again when his temperature reached 105 degrees and he had an ear infection. Now both kids are feeling much better and we are all getting lots of rest and trying to pace ourselves with all the house projects. Next weekend we will finally be back in church. The coughs can last up to a month and that is how long it has been almost. We definately don't want to spread this virus to other small children or babies!