Cookie monster

I just went up to check on Eve and found this…

A reminder note propped in front of her clock.

In case you need a better view…

Note to self.

I understand the excitement, but the fact that she wrote herself a reminder note is hysterical! I guess I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow! 😂

Sugar update

February is almost over and we have started discussing “next steps” in this sugar situation.  We have done remarkably well, I think.  All of us.  Lex has done a great job following the rules, I turned down all of the sweets (except one tiny one forced on my by the maintenance guy who I want to keep on my good side ;) ) on Valentine’s Day, and Eve even said no to Valentine’s Day treats and birthday party treats this month!  I was shocked!  Alan has been doing well too.

We are all feeling positive effects as well, though no all of us will admit it.  :)  I have noticed a marked decrease in headaches and the kids noticed that I’m not so tired at the end of each day.  I used to doze off on a regular basis when I lay with them at night, but lately I haven’t been feeling so tired and groggy at the end of the day.  Alan said he noticed changes in himself as well, particularly around feeling better overall.  (Alan, feel free to add your comments if you want!).  Lex said he mostly just feels angry that he can’t eat bagels, but he also has remarked several times (and I agree!) that berries taste so much sweeter these days.  It’s certainly not berry season in February in Vermont, but I think eating less sugar in general has allowed our taste buds to reset a bit and better appreciate the sweetness of fruit.  I notice a change in Eve, though maybe not as drastic as I was hoping.  I think she’s more even-keeled, with fewer ups and downs.  I mentioned that to her when she said she felt no changes, but she argued that sugar is what keeps her up and without sugar she is all down.  It’s hard to reason with that one.  I’m hoping that this month and future months will help minimize the ups and downs and perhaps mitigate the sneaky eating.  That’s never a good idea, I say, speaking from experience.  I still find myself modeling poor eating habits.  It’s something we’re all working on.

Alan and I had a chat about next month and I brought it up with Lex today as well. The plan is to allow some foods with minimal sugar (not sure of the specifics yet).  Foods like bagels, Rice Krispies, and maybe certain crackers with minimal sugar.  I do not want to end up back at the dessert after every lunch and dinner and ice cream in constant supply.  Knowing that sugar calls to sugar though, means that we will have to be careful not to go down that slippery slope.  It’s a hard balance, especially with kids.

This week we are facing a Girl Scout cookie delivery (175 boxes, I think, and 10 or so of which are ours!) and a birthday party with a “cupcake station.”  We will have to be strategic and thoughtful with our sugar intake.  We can do that, right?  Right?! Sure.

Right now, after a very healthy month, the boys and I are watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens with BB8 while eating pizza and drinking wine (just me).  Not so healthy.  But fun!

BB8 likes watching Star Wars!  :)

BB8 likes watching Star Wars! :)

Highs and Lows in the grocery store

I took both kids to the grocery store tonight, after karate, before dinner. I mentally prepared myself for the experience. We were ok until the kids discovered that bagels have added sugar. Although I had warned them ahead of time, they refused to believe me until they saw the ingredients list for themselves. Lex was angry! He hit the cart, then, upon realizing that punching things hurts, he started kicking things as we walked past them. Not in any damaging way, more like a public protest. I ignored him for awhile, but once he started slamming doors to the cooler cases I told him to cut it out. I’m sure slamming those doors isn’t satisfactory anyway because they just gently close. :) Eve kept it together and actively started reading labels, looking for something, ANYTHING, she could eat! LOL. They are both so dramatic. Lex hid in the beer cases for awhile, but eventually got it together. By the time we made it to the snack food aisle they were both doing a little better. Lex discovered that dry roasted peanuts have added sugar, which set him off again, until Eve pointed out that Cheez-Its do not! Who knew?!? We talked about all the other stuff in Cheez-Its, but since our focus this month is sugar I let them buy the crackers. They needed a consolation prize by this point. LOL! In the checkout lane we discovered that Tostitos also have no sugar. In fact, Tostitos have just three ingredients: corn, vegetable oil, and salt. Not a health food, of course, but acceptable for this experiment! By the time we made it out to the car Lex was feeling good, but Eve was falling apart. Tons of tears and desperation, insisting that sugar is what keeps her going and there’s no way she can be happy without it. Basically proving my point over and over again!

Actually, even though we don’t “officially” start until February (the kids remind me of this fact regularly), we have drastically cut back this week and today was our second “no sugar” shopping trip. At family meeting on Saturday Alan and I both commented on how calm and happy Eve has been all week. She was really with it and positive and went to bed in a good mood each night. This weekend, however, brought with it birthday cookies for Alan, and a birthday party with cookies for Eve’s friend. Sugar everywhere! She crashed hard Sunday afternoon.

In other news… Believe it or not there are other things going on besides our dietary saga. Eve auditioned for the school drama club this afternoon. They are going to perform Honk, Jr. a musical version of The Ugly Duckling. She is super excited, as are 40+ other kids so we’ll see how it goes! I think everyone gets to be in the musical but only 17 get speaking parts. She is excited and eager and nervous and feeling anxious about waiting until Friday for the announcement!

Lex will also be starting drama club at the middle school this year. They are doing na production of Shrek Jr. and he will, of course, be stage crew. He is looking forward to working with a real stage and auditorium (they use the high school facilities) and he’s hoping that maybe he can do some sound and lighting as well. I think that’s typically for the older kids, but we’ll see.

Hmmm… probably more, but I’m tired so I’m going to bed now. Thank you all for the support, advice, and encouragement! I think this will be a good thing. No, I KNOW this will be a good thing and it’s actually been easier than I was expecting so far. I hope we can install some habits that last longer than the month of February. :)

A quick sugar update

Thanks for all the support from my loyal blog readers! All three of you! :)

A few things I’ve noticed:

1. I don’t crave sugar so much as the dessert habit. After each meal I find myself feeling the need for a dessert of some sort. I’ve started having a small handful of almonds, which satisfies the need, but I’d like to actually break the habit altogether. Obviously I’m not actually hungry immediately after a meal.

2. Although we don’t “officially” start until Feburary, we are all noticeably cutting back already.

3. Eve and I read a lot of labels at the grocery store this week! We found very few crackers with no added sugar and only one type of cereal. Grape Nuts. Grandpa knew what he was doing! :)

4. After looking at a pack of peanut butter sandwich crackers (unhealthy for many reasons), Eve said, “Oh, why does everything that tastes good have to have sugar in it?!?” She’s starting to understand.

5. Alan said that he had some yogurt yesterday, the kind he normally eats but hasn’t since this sugar conversation, and he said it tasted way too sweet.

6. When we talk about sugar, are we looking for added sugars in the ingredients list or any sugar on the nutrition panel? I’m not sure what we are supposed to be doing, but for now we are just looking at added sugars. Almost everything has some sugar in it.

That is all. Off to work. Have a healthy day. <3

Fed Up

I have been getting more and more frustrated with the way we eat around here.  Over the past few weeks, months, years even, we have gone from a very healthy family to one where you can usually find chips and cookies in the snack cabinets.  Ice cream, once a special treat reserved for birthdays and special outings, is now a near weekly purchase and eaten once or twice a day by some people around here.  The healthyish “cracker snacks” I used to make with Cheerios (or small crackers), dried fruit, and nuts has morphed into a big bowl of crackers with a few nuts thrown on top if mom is watching.

Not coincidentally, my weight has crept up as well.  The kids are still on their “growth curves” and the doctors aren’t concerned, but I am concerned with their very limited, and even shrinking, diets and their up and down mood swings.  I often feel logy myself and find myself turning to crackers, sweets, Facebook, and/or wine to pass the time.  I was successful with WW many years ago, but in the past five years I’ve gained it all back and much more.  I’ve rejoined WW a few times, but can’t do it.  I’ve tried to track on my own and I’m unable to stick with it.  My friend is doing Whole30 and encouraged me to try, but just looking at all the food you have to eliminate exhausted me!  However, something has to change.  I weigh more now then I did at full-term with Eve!  I was looking through old blog posts the other day and came across a picture of me on my due date with Lex, and my first thought was, “wow, I was skinny!”  Not my belly, of course, but my arms, legs, and face looked so much thinner than today.  Ugh!

Sugar is something that is getting more and more attention these days.  I often find myself reminding the kids about the sugar high/crash cycle, and it occurred to me that maybe removing sugar from our diets would benefit all of us!  It’s a scary proposition, so I did what I usually do and thought about it for a month or two.  Then I cautiously broached the subject with Alan and, of course, he loved it!  Yesterday we told the kids.  They were less enthused!  :)

The plan is to use up what we have in the house, but stop buying obviously sugary things (cookies, ice cream, sugar cereals, granola bars, etc.).  From there we will move to looking more closely at the non-sweet things and looking for alternatives with no sugar.  Not “sugar-free” products, because they are just full of fake sugar, but the goal is to look for items with fewer ingredients, less processed, and more real food.  The idea is terrifying, but the idea of not making the change is even more terrifying!

The kids both cried.  Lex said it’s a good thing Feburary is the shortest month of the year (yes, that was part of my plan), and Eve, through tears, asked if she could still have a cake on her birthday.  She also worried about what to do with all the Valentine’s Day candy she will receive.  Big problems to overcome!

After family meeting, we gathered in the living room and I put on Fed Up on Netflix.  The kids insisted they did not want to watch, and I didn’t push the issue, so they sat with their laptops in the living room “not” watching the movie.  I paused it at various times and they had lots of comments about it and by the end they were both actively engaged!  Eve is all on board, because Eve is always either all in or all out of every activity!  Lex reluctantly agreed that it might be a good idea.  While we were making dinner Eve gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you for doing this now, mommy, before I get obese.  I don’t want to be obese.”  (The movie focuses a lot on obesity.)  She had a smoothie and oatmeal for breakfast and I noticed Lex chose Cheerios over his usual Mini-wheats when he had cereal today.  Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, I didn’t ask.

I was just looking through the Fed Up website and it says that you should quit cold turkey, because if you wean off it slowly the sugar will continue calling to sugar and make it harder for you to quit.  They say if you quit all at once you’ll start feeling better in 1-2 days and cravings will be completely gone within three weeks.  Maybe we should wean off a little faster than originally planned… but after Alan’s birthday this week!  Birthday Cookies are already under way!  :)

Now… what do with all those Girl Scout arriving mid-February…

Chocolate Crumb Cake

Eve has been planning a wedding for two of her animals since they fell in love at Niagara Falls last weekend. Each day she has wanted to make a cake for the wedding, but we have been busy. Today was our first home day and so we baked a cake. She wrote up the recipe a few days ago and decided today, since it is almost July 4th, that the wedding will be tomorrow and the cake will be 4th of July themed.

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Chocolate Crumb Cake recipe

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Start by mixing the eggs and butter.

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Me: “Why are you holding the bowl in your arms?” Eve: “I’m doing it the old fashioned way, like before they had counters.”

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Hmm…. I think we need more liquids.

I asked Eve if she wanted suggestions, but she said no, she wanted to make her recipe as written. When it ended up too dry she started making modifications and asked me to document them as we went along.

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The update recipe and a drawing of the cake.

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We baked them for 20 minutes. They are dense and almost fudgy… in texture, certainly not in flavor!

When we flipped the first cake onto the plate it broke apart a bit, so we took the opportunity to sample it. I wish I had gotten a picture of Eve’s face! It was not the flavor she was going for! She decided the cake had too much cocoa powder and not enough sugar. I agreed!

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To increase the sweetness we added some leftover Cool Whip between the layers and then, as originally planned, Eve spread the her black raspberry puree on top. She picked the black raspberries for the cake just this morning.

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She added some leftover macerated strawberries, blue sparking sugar, and white sparkling sugar to up the festiveness and (hopefully) the flavor of the cake.

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As the final touch, Eve added black raspberry “fireworks” to the top to make the cake perfect. Then she very carefully carried it to the fridge. :)

So now we have a lovely, and maybe yummy, chocolate crumb cake ready for tomorrow’s stuffed animal wedding. I’m not going to write up the whole recipe here because I would highly recommend you not make it. ;)

Maple Candy

Today we made maple candy from the sap from our trees.

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Starts off as sap...

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Ends up maple candy! We were going to put it into the flower molds, but the candy hardened too quickly so I put it in a bowl instead.

There were several steps in between that I also photographed, but for some reason my camera doesn’t hold on to all the pictures it takes.  I don’t understand at all.  I hear the click and see the little preview, but when I go to find the picture later they aren’t there.  It happens a lot.  Darn technology.  Anyway, the maple candy came out ok.  Not perfect, but not bad for a first try!

Spaghetti dinner

Eve requested spaghetti for dinner recently. In fact, she decided she remembered it is her favorite dinner and really, really wants it for her birthday.  I decided maybe we should have it again and tonight was the night!  Eve cooked the pasta and helped prepare the salad.  It came out soooo good!

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This makes me really happy.

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My tofu balls came out perfect!!!

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The obligatory dinner shot.

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Eve practicing her slurping.

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Doubles!

I don’t normally enjoy cooking dinner, but with Eve by my side it is much more fun.  And when she eats the meal too it makes it all worth the effort!