My Boys

My Boys

Sunday, November 19, 2017

10K Race

Caleb and Carter expressed an interest in running a race, so I signed them up at a local race on November 11th where they had a 1 mile run for kids. The distance turned out to be closer to a 1/2 mile than a mile, but they both had fun and did well. Caleb got 1st place and Carter got 6th!

I signed up for the 10K and realized belatedly that it was a trail run. Whenever I've run a trail run (my Ragnar) it slowed down my time quite a bit, and I'm always looking to PR. Surprisingly, I did run a personal best with 7:38 miles! The other shocking news is that I got 2nd place out of all the women that ran so I got awarded a special medal and prize at the awards ceremony (as did Caleb). It was kind of fun. 1st place, a good friend and neighbor who used to live across the street, smoked me by quite a bit with a 6:40 mile pace. I don't know the total number who ran the race, but it was relatively small--maybe 30 - 40 participants for the 10K.

Now it's time to keep this pace but increase the mileage as I get ready for my next half marathon in March. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bryson's 5th Birthday

Bryson could not wait until his birthday! We were counting down the days for over a month.

The big day finally came!

All his presents
(not pictured are the quarters from MeeMaw and Papa)

Knight figurines from Denmark from Grandma and Grandpa 
(and dinosaur from a friend that he insisted had to be in the picture)

Cake balls on his actual birthday

Cousins celebrating with Bryson

Dinosaur birthday party a week after the planned date due to being sick

We did have a pizza fiasco where I ordered Domino's pizzas 2 hours in advance. When Matt went to pick them up, they weren't ready and there was no record of my order! I figured I must have done something wrong when ordering, but at the same time also confident that I double-checked everything. So Matt had to scramble with waiting, hungry children and drove another 15 minutes to a Little Caesars to get some pizza. Meanwhile I was scrambling at home with doing planned activities out of order and some without Matt's help when I had been counting on that. There must have been a glitch in the system with Domino's because my confirmation order finally came through at 6:36pm with all the details correct (including a 5pm pick-up time). Bryson was so pleased with all the dinosaur games/activities and especially the piƱata.

Bryson at 5 years old
Bryson can be the sweetest boy if he chooses to be. He likes to follow the rules and also make sure everyone else is following the rules. He can be a stinker and his new tactic is to try to blackmail me into giving him what he wants: "If you don't give me some ice cream then I'm going to throw this at the wall" type of stuff. Not cool. I'm pretty embarrassed about the fact that he won't go swimming unless he has floaties--he's had 2 swim lessons and that was enough for my other boys to be comfortable. I need to get him more lessons I guess. We also haven't practiced enough on being able to ride a bike. Bryson is becoming a great reader and catches on quickly at preschool. He loves to play outside and play with his friends. He's a funny boy, and we love him so much!


This little guy got a stomach virus that he then proceeded to share with most everyone in the family. He had a similar virus last year; this time was so much easier because he could articulate how he was feeling! He would tell me that his tummy hurt, and I knew to have a bowl handy. 

Bryson caught it next, and we had to postpone his birthday party because of it. Then Matt and Caleb caught it; Caleb missed two days of school. It just seemed to be a 24-hour virus and then everyone was mostly feeling better. The horrible part was that Austin had it twice--he started and ended the virus in the family. He was well and normal for 3 days and then started round 2.

He learned to call the bowl his "throw-up bowl." The day after round 2 when he was feeling better, he had the hiccups throughout the day and he kept thinking he was going to throw-up so he carried the bowl around all day.
The bowl is clean. :)

This is how I knew he was feeling better the next morning: pancakes, Cheerios and cookies.

And while Austin was on the mend, these boys had a window of time that they were being so cute and nice together. (Most of the time they don't get along because Bryson won't make allowances for Austin.)

We are so glad that everyone is well now!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

October Pictures

Our October was filled with sports. Caleb decided to do basketball this fall season and Carter wanted to do baseball again. They both have been stars on their team!

Unfortunately Caleb's team had a lot of beginners to the sport, so his team didn't have any wins, but they improved a lot and Caleb had a lot of fun.

Some of Caleb's team with their coach.

Matt coached Carter's baseball team this season, and they both really enjoyed it. Carter mostly played Short Stop and also batted first for his team. He had some great hits and plays this season. Though he is one of the best on his team, what Matt appreciates most as his coach is how hard Carter works at practice and in the game every time. They are starting the single-elimination tournament this weekend and as of now his team is in 3rd place.

Carter's serious face. 
(I'll update with more pictures)

 Austin decided to help me load the dishwasher one morning...just not with dishes.

 Caleb participated in a Suzuki competition and was awarded this trophy for level 1.

I failed at taking Halloween pictures this year! Carter wanted to be a baseball player. This picture is actually from the storybook parade at school earlier in the month.

These are costumes worn to Carter's school parade. For Halloween, Bryson was batman, Austin was a lion, and Caleb was a pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Whole30 Experience

My reasons for doing Whole30:
  • I've always wanted to do a cleanse but wasn't brave enough to do it
  • I heard that it changes your relationship with food
  • A friend told me she ran her fastest times while doing whole30
  • I felt like I was addicted to sugar and wanted to break that
  • I wanted to focus on eating healthier
  • I felt like it was do-able because I knew oils, potato, sweet potato, eggs and meats were allowed.
  • And the promises in this 2nd paragraph below sounded good to me!
Authors Melissa and Dallas Hartwig:
"This is not a diet--we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat both plants and animals. We get all the carbohydrates we need from vegetables and fruits, while healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and olive oil provide us with another excellent source of energy.

Eating like this allows us to maintain a healthy metabolism and keeps our immune system in balance. It's good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mood, attention span, and quality of life. It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food. It also works to minimize our risk for most lifestyle-related diseases and conditions, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and autoimmune conditions. "

The big question about whole30 is why cut out Grains and Dairy? The reasons are quite complex, and I'm not sure I can summarize it succinctly.

Dairy--"Cow's milk is the perfect food...if you are a calf. Milk is a blend of bioactive substances that not only promote aggressive growth of a very young mammal, but also ensure the complete development of the young one's immune system." An adult, and even children, don't need those energy-dense hormones any more. Dairy consumption has also been linked to a variety of medical conditions in children, including acne, asthma, juvenile myopia, insulin resistance, and type 1 diabetes. What about calcium? Bone health is not all about calcium. If the intake of calcium is all that matters for bone health, then why does the U.S. have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world despite having one of the highest calcium intakes? "The calcium in vegetable sources may prove more bioavailable than the stuff you get from milk" according to recent studies.

Grains--Refined grains bear little resemblance to the natural structure of the grain. "The bran and germ are removed, and so are the fiber, vitamins, and minerals present in those two layers. Refined grains lack most of the original nutrients but still contain almost all of the calories." What about whole grains? The authors explain that whole grains are not as nutrient-dense when compared with fruits and vegetables and have a chart comparing different whole grains to lots of different veggies/fruit. The minerals present in whole grains are not actually available to you. "Grains contain a compound called phytic acid, or phytate, found mostly in the bran portion of the seed. These phytates, often referred to as 'anti-nutrients,' grab hold of the minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium found in the whole grain, crating an insoluble and indigestible complex. This means that when these nutrients get to your small intestine, they are not in a usable form--and therefore are not absorbed into the body. In other words, eating a nutrient is not the same as being able to use that nutrient."

Things I learned while doing whole30:
  • Whole30 foods are expensive. I knew it wasn't going to be cheap. Fortunately Matt was a pretty good sport and made a joke of it all. "So how much was this cashew butter?" "How much did this almond flour set me back?"
  • I gained a new appreciation for sweet potatoes. 
  • Almond butter is disgusting. Period.
  • Though clarified butter/ghee has a nuttier flavor than butter, I appreciated it on a baked potato.
  • 30 days of mostly eggs for breakfast gets old. Fast.
  • I actually missed carbs more than I missed sugar, which surprised me.
  • Meal prep and planning took a lot of time. I spent hours looking for recipes that sounded appealing to me.

The foods that helped me get through my 30 days:
  1. RX bars- Chocolate Sea Salt flavor; made out of 3 egg whites, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates, which sounds disgusting but tasted like a candy bar when you haven't had sugar in two weeks. When I was craving sweets so bad, I would have a half of a bar (Because they're so dang expensive! I was trying to make them last longer.)
  2. Sweet potato fries- I missed something to dip them in so bad but still so yummy and would help fill me up.
  3. Cashew butter and honey crips apples- Seriously YUM! This was such a treat. The apples tasted like candy and paired with the cashew butter was delicious. I had this for lunch like 5 days in a row. I packed this as a snack to eat at the airport on my layover in Denver and was panicking that for some reason they wouldn't let me take my small container of cashew butter with me in my luggage. Throwing it away would have been like throwing away $3! When I got pulled over at the Houston airport to have an officer physically look through my bag, I thought, "Oh no! It's the cashew butter!"
  4. Chocolate/Banana ice cream- technically this is against the rules. You're not supposed to drink your foods and the fact that this was ice cream, even though whole30 compliant ingredients, is discouraged. Anyway, after 20 days, I didn't care! The ingredients are frozen bananas, a tablespoon of cocoa and 2 T almond butter. (Great way to use my $11 jar of almond butter that I hated!) This saved me when I wanted to quit, so I didn't think it was a bad thing. I was constantly keeping frozen bananas in the freezer and fighting Caleb for them, who loves to eat frozen bananas as a snack when he gets home from school. Out of the last 10 days of whole30, I probably made this 7 times. I wish I would have discovered the recipe sooner. [Side note, I made this a few weeks after whole30 was over and thought it was disgusting.]
  5. Fabulous chicken pot pie soup that my kids didn't like because it has coconut cream in it and therefore a slight coconut flavor. It bothered me some, but the soup was so delicious I didn't let it stop me. I plan to make this on occasion even after.
  6. There are lots of yummy ways to cook potatoes whole30 compliant.
  7. I made a recipe called Zesty Chicken Bites and The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat 3 times each during the 30 days. They were some of my favorites.

So what were the results of my whole30 and would I do it again? The authors of the whole30 book say, "For some, a Whole45 or even a Whole60 is necessary to get the job done, and we believe that the results you are hoping for will appear if you can be patient for just a little bit longer. Your body is slowly reverting to a healthy hunger cycle and metabolism and to having a happy (intact) gut, reduced systemic inflammation and a balanced immune system. And as this happens, you will notice a reduction in cravings, a shift in body composition, an improvement in energy, and a reduction in symptoms--but it takes longer for some people than for others."

I apparently fall into the whole45 or whole60 camp, but I didn't have the patience to continue doing it to see the results I was hoping for. For the most part, it was absolute torture doing whole30. I really enjoy cooking, baking, and trying new foods and doing whole30 sucked out that joy in my life. Cooking/eating was a chore, especially trying to balance making dinner for me that my family would actually eat too. [Mexican cauliflower rice did NOT go over well with my family.] Some days I resorted to making two meals for dinner, which was an absolute pain. Mostly I resorted to feeding my family things for dinner that I've never done before because I knew they wouldn't touch what I was eating like cereal, pancakes, and boxed macaroni.

Of the 5 of us doing whole30 together in my church, another friend was having the same experience as me...not seeing the promised results after patiently waiting and so then what was the point? We commiserated together and both admitted that we were finishing because "My mom didn't raise me to be a quitter!" I'm glad it went better for my other friends, but I was grateful to have this friend who was having a similar experience.

My results
  • No increase of energy levels--I was still tired every day and took a nap when the day allowed. (I get up really early every day to exercise/read my scriptures.)
  • Running didn't improve. It was so hard to push myself and I averaged 20 seconds slower per mile. It really put a wrench in my preparations for my next race when I was hoping it to have the opposite effect.
  • Weight loss- 4 lbs. (I put 2 of those back on quickly after going back to my normal eating.)
  • I have been having acne problems ever since starting a new birth control pill. I was hopeful that whole30 would help clear up this problem and that maybe the acne was more food-related. That didn't happen.
  • No noticeable improvement in my sleep habits.
  • My mood was definitely worse though I tried not to let it affect my family since I was putting myself through this torture!
  • I didn't feel like my relationship with food changed. Halfway through, I was still craving sweets and planning my day 31 foods for when it was over.
  • I do feel like it helped clean out my gut and helped with my digestive system. (Around day 12, for about 3 days I had the worst flatulence in my life!) 
On day 18 when I was continuing to run slower and lacking energy, my attitude went from 'frustration but still having patience' to anger and resentment. What was the point? Granted, I still realize that choosing fruits and vegetables to satiate hunger is a good thing as opposed to carbs. Although whole30 was one of the hardest things I've done (like marathon hard and birthing-a-baby hard), I can see myself being talked into it again in the future simply because eating healthier and having rules to do it is helpful for me. Though I didn't get the results I was hoping for, reading the book is very persuasive about how to fuel your body and give it the nutrition it needs while also safe-guarding yourself from potential health problems in the future. 

What did I take away and how is my eating now? I still have a sweet every day and have added everything back into my diet that I took out. But doing whole30 made me more aware of my sugar intake and the experience helps me make better food choices. I've done better about not eating when I'm not hungry and realizing that it's okay to throw food away. [This has always been hard on me due to the way I was raised--you know, starving children in Africa. I have a tendency to finish off the last bite of my childrens' dinner that they leave on their plate that isn't worth saving.]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book 2 Suzuki Party

On September 29, 2017, Caleb passed off his 2nd Suzuki book. He had 14 songs memorized to play at his recital including all the appropriate technique, dynamics, and other nuances to make each piece musical. He worked so hard and put on a phenomenal recital. Way to go Caleb!

8 friends from the ward attended, who all play the piano. His Grandpa Call was also in attendance. We celebrated with brownie sundaes afterwards. 

Utah Visit

September 22 - 24 I took a mini-vacation to Utah in order to be there for my college roommate's wedding. Elise and I roomed together for our freshman and junior years of college, and we were close friends. We have stayed in touch over the years, and I was so excited for her chance to start her forever family.

This trip was a much-needed break. For the previous 4 weekends, I had been on my own on kid-duty since Matt was out helping with hurricane clean up at every opportunity. I look forward to the weekends so much to have a break from my day-in and day-out responsibilities with the kids. Not having my husband's help for 4 weekends in a row was so tough. One of the things I fell in love with about Matt is his absolute love and desire to serve, so I knew what I was getting into when I married him. Those weekends I tried not to complain too much recognizing that his service was very needed (even though most other husbands just served Saturday OR Sunday and not both, which I felt was adequate!). 

By the end of that month though, I was ready to get away for some "me" time. In order to save a significant chunk of money, I had a 7 hour layover on the way there and a 3 hour layover on the way home. I spent the time catching up with a friend on the phone and preparing for my next Relief Society lesson.

Lindsey picked me up from the airport Friday night at 8:30pm and graciously hosted me that night and all of Saturday. We chatted that night with Derrick and spent time Saturday playing a game together, running errands, making lunch together, watching a movie, and watching the Women's session. It was fun to spend time with her and see her cute kids. Derrick was very kind to take the kids most of the afternoon so Lindsey and I could hang out together.

Saturday morning Lindsey dropped me off at the Provo City Center Temple for the sealing. I was so excited to see this new temple, and especially to be in a temple now that the Houston one is out of commission due to flooding. The temple was huge and quite stunning inside. The sealing was beautiful, and I was glad I was there to support Elise.

Elise, her new husband, Matt, and her twins

 Teddy and me in front of the temple

Lindsey and me with her cute new haircut

Elise and me later that night at her reception 

After the Women's session, Lindsey drove me up to Salt Lake where we visited with Grandma for a little bit. Then Lindsey went home, and I spent time catching up with Ali. She generously spent time looking at Family Search with me and giving me some tips for greater success. After Sacrament meeting the next morning, Ali drove me to the airport for my flight home.

It was a quick weekend trip, and Matt held up the fort very well by himself at home.

I do have to record how stressful it was leading up to this vacation. I am the Volunteer Coordinator on the PTO at Caleb's intermediate school this year. I wish I wouldn't have let myself get talked into this! I love the opportunity to be involved in the community, but I imagined myself being more involved in the schools and PTO when I didn't have young kids at home. Before my parents left on their mission, my mom would come every other Wednesday to give me the opportunity to go volunteer in the library at the elementary school, which was perfect for my stage in life. Attending PTO meetings and making frequent trips to the school is a lot trickier with two kids in tow, trying to make sure they don't touch anything or get in the way while I'm doing my work. One of my responsibilities as volunteer coordinator is making sure there is a room parent for each of the 56 teachers in the school. Many parents only wanted to volunteer as room parent if they had a partner to work with. So I am overseeing 90 room parents. The Monday after I got back from my weekend trip, I conducted a room parent meeting about their responsibilities and gave each a folder with papers they will need throughout the year. It was a lot of work assembling those 90 folders! I had to have them all ready before leaving on my vacation and got less than 5 hours of sleep the two nights prior to my trip. Now that that meeting is out of the way, my responsibility isn't so time-consuming. For about 6 weeks though in August/September, I averaged 5 - 7 hours a week doing work for PTO--organizing all the volunteer forms that parents turned in, inputting the data into spreadsheets, coordinating with teachers if a parent hadn't volunteered for their class, creating/collecting Teacher Favorites Lists, and prepping for the room parent meeting. It was SO much work. Most of our Friday night date nights consisted of me holed up in our study room putting in the time to stay on top of my PTO work. Matt wasn't happy about it. Between teaching preschool, piano lessons, my church responsibilities, and PTO, I knew I had taken on too much and was swimming in water over my head.  I just kept telling myself I only had to make it through September and then my responsibilities wouldn't be so time-consuming any more!!!

Another difficult thing about the trip was that I decided to do a whole30 challenge with friends. I felt like I had a sugar addiction where I craved a sugar fix after most meals. I heard that whole30 will change your relationship with food. A close friend that has done it a few times talked about how she had never run faster than while doing whole30. These promises intrigued me, and I jumped on board when 4 other friends said they were going to do it. We postponed starting due to the hurricane and officially started on September 11th. The whole30 eating plan involves giving up all sugar (no sweeteners whatsoever), and cutting out dairy and grains. I'll do a separate post about my experience, but needless to say, it has been very difficult. It was even harder doing it while traveling. I was grateful that Lindsey was willing to put up with my shenanigans in how she cooked for me.