Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for:

1. Independent Play.  Nya Bear has often wanted me to play with her but now she will play independently for long periods of time.  I bought an ice cream themed play dough set and she has played with it for about an hour a day.  So worth the $10!  Koen has always been so amazing at playing alone and with a daughter that hasn't napped in about a year, I appreciate down time!

2.  Great couples to work with.  I've probably said this before but I'm so thankful for the couples whose wedding days we get to capture in 2015!  

3.  Free tickets!  You guys, I know it seems like I win quite a bit and I do.  Seriously, I should do a whole post about how to win free stuff.  Step 1: Enter blog giveaways which have the best chance of winning! Step 2: Enter at least one contest every day.  I won Max & Ruby tickets for Nya and I valued at about $70.00 total.   Here's an example of a blog you should visit as she has two great prizes to giveaway right now: Bits of Bee. 

4.  A great date with Nya.   I had no idea how she would do with Max & Ruby as she doesn't even watch the show and it was at night.  She LOVED it.  She loved the dancing and the dresses.  So cute.  I just bought tickets to Disney on Ice for us too.  I know a lot of people think why spend money on events if they don't remember them but:

 a) I'd rather spend money on events/experiences than toys.  Usually I go for free experiences but sometimes if it's a highly recommended experience, we'll do more. 

b) Every single experience helps build their brain connections.  It can only help to spend time with mommy in a cool new environment.  Something like 75% of brain development happens by the age of 2! 

5.  Koen loving school.  Oh, does he love it.   He rarely writes for me, but if Ms. L asks him, he's all over it.  The boys both LOVE their out of school care program and I love that they get hours of exercise every day :)

6.  Crisp clear days/evenings.  The mountains are incredible.  I love living where we do.

7.  Creative kids.  Koen is still playing `Trick or Treat' with his stuffies for long periods of time.  Whoever gets the double pack of Swedish Fish is always very lucky.

8.  Nice camera equipment and knowing how to use it.  I love photographing my kids.

9.  Hours of fun on the slide.  It was an outside one but Nya and I cleaned it and brought it in for the winter.  Our kids need to move, move, move.  It provides so much fun for them and is a great way to race cars. The daycare girls loved it too.

10.  Miss Nya FINALLY adjusting to the time change (took two weeks!) and now gets up at 6:45am. PS Can you see the scar (huge indent) at the top of her forehead? It's from when she fell down the front stairs and you can see it when she lifts her eyebrows.

I hope you are having a great week!!  Tell me something you are thankful for today. Please.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Banana Chocolate `Ice Cream'

After my post yesterday about having a sugar reduced diet, a friend recommended that we make Banana Chocolate Ice Cream.  Bananas do have quite a bit of sugar in them (14 grams each) but it's not refined and they are full of nutrients.  I haven't been eating many bananas because of the sugar content but I decided to try it out, besides, what a healthy dessert for the kids!

The recipe is here, and it's so easy. 

In the food processor (or blender) put: 3 frozen sliced bananas, 2 tbsp cocoa, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup of almond milk.  You could use any kind of milk but the almond milk makes it vegan and decreases the sugar.  The riper the bananas, the more sugar so just use that to guide how you want to make it.

It took maybe 3 minutes to make!

All the kids (and adults!) really liked it.  

It tastes like a banana chocolate frosty (you know, from Wendy's).  You have to like a banana flavour though or you probably won't like it.

If you try it, let me know! Next time I will double the recipe as the kids really loved it.  I may also be super awesome and let them have some chocolate chips in theirs :)


Monday, November 17, 2014

Four Benefits to a Low Sugar Diet

Over the last 4 months or so, we have altered our way of eating which involves decreasing the amount of sugar (and refined carbohydrates) from our diets.  The kids have reduced theirs by about 40%, Gary and I by about 70%.  This is: refined sugar, most flours, potatoes, corn, regular bread, wheat & corn pastas, and white rice.  If you are looking for a larger list of high glycemic foods, they are here. 

Why did we do it? The reason for me is that I wanted to lose my tummy fat.  However, there were so many more benefits that came from it.  

Here are four benefits that I noticed:

1.  I lost 16 lbs (so did Gary) so far.

2.  I have way more energy.  I am up until 11:30 pm each night (and up for the day by 7 am) no problem.  I don't hit that `low' each day that I used to around 4 pm. 

3.  My hormonal headaches have really decreased in strength and length.  I'm still waiting to see if this continues but if so, it's totally worth it!

4.  I used to have to take a melatonin to go to sleep about 3 times a week.  I haven't taken one in probably 3 months!

If you try this, the first month of detoxing from sugar is not fun.  I'm just warning you :)  I still allow myself some cheats.  Just yesterday, I had my first ice cream cone in months and it was worth it even though my stomach got a little upset.  Gary has always had digestive issues but has noticed things have improved dramatically.  We're not sure if it's the low sugar or gluten but it's definitely welcomed.

Above is my breakfast about 75% of the time (although I don't use a green Menchies spoon).  Did you know that 3/4 of a cup of plain Greek yogurt has 16 grams of protein?! I use the Kirkland brand from Costco.  Another great source of protein would be to have eggs for breakfast. 

I know that with Christmas just around the corner, the amount of sugar is rampant (and soooo tempting!), so it might be difficult to start now.  Let me know if you have implemented any changes, I'd love to hear about it.  

I promise not to be all `Get rid of sugar!' ish all the time, I'm just excited about it right now :)


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful For:

1.  The joy on Koen's face when he showed us that he had the class bear for the weekend.  He was so incredibly happy.

2.  Gary's supporting me in how we eat.  I know I've said things like this before but it's not easy to make a change on your own.  Even if Gary isn't eating `on plan' as much as I am, he has still made so many changes and I'm proud of him!  Here's a picture showing all the inches he lost so far...(about 15-20 lbs).

3.  A nice weekend away.  I am very thankful that we have a place to go to if we want to get away and not spend $$$.  Thanks dad!  The kids LOOOOOOVE the quad.

4.  A dad that's relatively healthy.  He has nine lives:)  Thankfully in order to fly you need to maintain certain physical standards so he is forced to stay in shape and eat somewhat healthily. 

5.  A series that Gary and I enjoy watching together on Netflix!  I wonder what real lawyers think about it but we like it! 

6.  Community on facebook.  This boggled my mind, but I posted a picture of a sweater wondering if I should keep it or not.  I had over 60 responses!!  Thanks, friends.  I have some good ones.  In case you are wondering, the majority said `keep it' but you know what? It wasn't me!  I don't usually do `trendy' because I need something to last 5+ years :)  I returned it.

7.  Giveaways!  I love being able to do giveaways.  The two winners for the Google Chromecast Streaming Media have been selected!! 

8.  Those that fought to keep our country safe.  We went to a Remembrance Day ceremony but were one hour early by accident and the kids couldn't handle the wind/cold so we came home after 45 minutes.  We had our 2 minutes of silence at 11am.  {Koen may have said, `What's silence?'}

9.  Moments when these two play nicely.  Unfortunately it is when they are playing the `Throwing Game' on the bunk beds (throwing stuffed animals).  So far, no one has been hurt. 

10.  Babysitters/drivers.  Whether they are paid or volunteer, I'm thankful for those that we can call.  It is probably one of the most stressful things for me parenting wise because I don't have a lot of people who have the freedom to babysit at any time (who I know/trust) so I am thankful for each person who has helped drive Kai to climbing, do daycare when I work random days, babysit when we go out etc. It's been a bit wilder with our foster training/basketball season so I'm thankful it's worked out.

{Gary and I had free tickets to the Lions Game because they lost their other game back in August.  Well, it ended up a bit pricier with parking and the skytrain but it was fun for us.  It was our first sporting even without kids, how is that even possible?!}  

I hope you had a wonderful week so far!   I won tickets to Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite for tonight so Nya and I will have a fun date :) 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Green Lake Family Time

We had a weekend free, which rarely happens, so we decided to head up to Green Lake (near 100 Mile House) where my dad has a house.  It's a special place to us as we spent time there with my mom and dad, it's where Gary and I got engaged,  AND where we got married!  It's easy to vacation there because it's a house with ample bedrooms and a big kitchen :)

Along the way, we stopped at one of our favourite spots; Alexandra Bridge.  It's about 1/2 hour past Hope and it's a picnic area.  You walk 15 minutes down a path and end up here.  Isn't this bridge gorgeous?

Next time I'll take a tripod.  Balancing the camera on my camera bag didn't work very well :)

The whole drive up was beautiful as it was clear, sunny, and full of beautiful coloured fall leaves.

My dad had flown up to Green Lake for the weekend so he spent some time with us.  He took the kids quadding which gave Gary and I some down time!

On Sunday we went to 100 Mile House Baptist Church.  I met up with another blogging mom there with her husband and 5 adorable kids.  So fun to see people in real life :)  

Then we checked out Centennial Park in 100 Mile House. It was cold and Nya was a tad grumpy, but once we got going they all had fun.  I love the trails there, they are so pretty!

Koen was very excited to have his class bear for the weekend.  He wanted to make sure that he took Olaf quadding.

I was able to relax and read!! So nice.  Our kids are great ages for travelling and just hanging out.

This is the view from the deck.  Pretty nice, hey?

Kai and Opi put together a model airplane.  Kai thought it was great practice for a career in engineering :)  A while back we thought up some jobs for people who love math and that was one of them.

We had a nice relaxing weekend and I'm thankful for a place to go to! Thanks, dad.

I hope you all had a great weekend and are able to set aside some time tomorrow to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country.  


Friday, November 07, 2014

Foster Parent Training

We started the process of becoming foster parents in the spring and I posted about it here.  We are now almost halfway through our Foster Parent Mandatory Pre-Service Training.  Once a week, we meet with about 10 other couples who are on the same journey from the Delta/Surrey/Langley area.  The social worker teaches us from 6:30-10 pm as much as she can and answers our questions.  So far we have talked about the following topics; Foundations, Trauma, Attachment & Grief.  Still to come are; Partnership with Birth Families, Parenting Permanence, Protocols, Placement & Support.

By December we will be ready to start our home study process and that will take several months.  The greatest need is for families to foster teenagers so any parents willing to do so will have their home studies done first.  We are planning to foster younger children (2-8 years old) so I'm not sure how eager they will be to get to us.  There are about 800 children in the foster system in Surrey and about 400 foster families.

Once we have completed our home study (6 interviews and a giant report), we should be ready.  They put a lot of thought into the placements, especially if it's your first time, so I'm not sure how long it will take.  They want it to be a good fit for both the child and our family.  Could be the next day, could be a month or more.  Right now I'm anticipating March 2015.

I asked the social worker about what I can and cannot post in regards to fostering.  Sharing about this process is totally fine.  Once we have a child though, I will not be sharing information about when the child arrives, age, gender etc. I am allowed to share my feelings on fostering in general but nothing specific.  I completely understand but it will be hard for me.  I love processing here.

{This video was on facebook a while back.  We watched it in one of our classes. }

We've prayed for our child a little bit more lately, whoever he/she will be.  The most common reason children end up in foster care in our region is due to neglect (lack of adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision etc often due to addiction).  I'm not sure how I will be able to handle the emotional aspect of this journey but with most things in life, even if something is difficult, the good outweighs the bad.

Please let me know of any questions you might have and I will gladly try to answer them. 


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for:

1. Breathing aids for Nya.  After two ER visits (one via ambulance) we knew that she struggled with breathing when she got any kind of cold.  Like her brother Koen, she will have a cold for a month at a time.  I am so thankful that I can give her these puffers so that she has an easier time breathing.  It allows me to go to sleep with way less worry.  My doctor said that the official diagnosis for asthma doesn't happen until they are 6 or so, but she likely has it.

2. A husband who errs on the side of humour.  He knows how to drive me nuts and the idea that he is the `Boss' of our business would do that.  That is what his computer name is on our network.

3.  A marriage that is so much better than it was a year ago.  So worth it to work on it, you guys. 

4. A husband that works out.  He does this about 4 times a week.  I think it's great for our kids to see and I love that he takes care of himself especially since `someone' is turning 40 this year :)

5. Sweet moments with my boys.  Kai is definitely a mini adult and we often treat him that way.  We can have adult conversations, he understands  most concepts and generally he is pretty good at expressing his gratitude towards us.  I love that he is a great example for Koen in this way.  If there was a love language called `Bug everyone' that would be Koen's.  Koen grabbed my hand and said, `Mom, we have something to show you' and I anticipated a huge mess or something inappropriate.  It was a sweet message saying that they loved me. 

6.  Goofiness.  Although Koen has an excess amount of it, he make us smile.  I had no idea he had his stickers under his shirt until he was getting ready for bed.

7.  Traditions.  When Gary texts me that he's heading home, we will head outside and ride our bikes (okay, I sit on the steps watching them) so that we can welcome them when they get home.

8.  Good books to read.  Reading this one right now.

9.  Special blankets for each kid.  They all have a `Bubi'.  This is Nya's.  I love how these comfort items are so helpful.  Comfort whenever they need it and we're not around (like at night!).

10.  Koen's reviews.  We watched our fist Christmas movie, which by the way, can be difficult with kids of all ages.  We watched this one and while Kai gave it an 8/10, Koen gave it a 4/10 because he thinks any yellow Veggie Tale character is a mango and he just wanted to eat them not watch them. If you have not entered to win a streamer yet, please do so here!  We are really enjoying it!

I hope that you are having a good week.  Please let me know something that you are thankful for today!