Friday, April 30, 2010

Lazy afternoon with Beck

Here’s a little of Beck (mostly for the grandmas) on this balmy, breezy Friday afternoon playing with mom before we head up to meet dad at school for a little pizza party. I caught a little crawling, more sniffing, some yelling in the mirror – the usual. Catch a sneak peek of our new living room paint color. I’ll post proper before and after pictures when the resident photographer has a spare minute.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



I impulsively picked up this book at the library last week. I usually go in to pick up one book I have on hold and come home with 10 others. Topics usually rotate between health, fitness, parenting, organizing, sewing, vegetarianism, travel…and baking. I always come back to baking because secretly I wish I lived in a house with a professional bakery where I baked and decorated people’s dream cakes. I also dream of being a personal trainer out of a home gym. Kind of conflicting services. There also apparently wouldn’t be much room in this dream house for my family. Hmm.

Anyway, I get these books on baking and I ogle them but I never bake anything out of them. Why? Because I don’t keep sweets I enjoy in the house. Why? Because that is all I will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No self-discipline. None. The only safe baking is oatmeal butterscotch cookies because I think they are disgusting. Conveniently they are Stephen’s favorite so I make dough, freeze it and he can feed his equally shameless sweet tooth for a month with no interference from me. We’re such a good match.

So I get this book and I’m ogling it and I run across this quote by the author that gives me hope about my unhealthy relationship with sugar (which I sometimes refer to as poison which oddly enough doesn’t prevent me from eating it). I aspire to adapt this healthy philosophy on sweets.

“I like cakes with heaps of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. And I don’t feel guilty about eating them either. In fact I think I eat less because of that fact. …I do so in moderation-I also exercise regularly. It’s only prudent that we allow for indulging in decadent treats because, let’s face it, we usually eat them anyway. Self-control breaks down from time to time-it happens to all of us. Rather than fight clawing urges for delicious sweets, I just accept it and have a small taste. When I indulge my cravings and eat something made from scratch, I am satisfied by the pure, natural flavors I can taste. Eating a slice might make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven, but it alone won’t kill you. So bake from scratch, eat to enjoy, and exercise often.” –Warren Brown

Is this in conflict with my new resolve to eat more whole, pure, plant based foods? Nah. It’s all about a healthy balance, right? In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan suggests you allow yourself to eat junk food as long as you make it from scratch. Sounds slightly dangerous but does require more time and is therefore a little more difficult to get your hands on. And really is there anything more satisfying than baking something beautiful and delicious from scratch? If all else fails it makes a great gift.

Maybe I’ll try one of these cakes after all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Beck…




On Sunday you turned 11 months. Today you crawled. Mom is proud…and relieved.

Why did I worry? You taking your time has just given me the gift of more time in each stage. And we both know the delay in crawling has not deterred your King Kong like destruction powered by your mean army crawl. I love you so much. I can’t get enough of you. I even miss you sometimes after you go to bed and am tempted to go wake you up so I can squeeze you and nuzzle that spot just under your jaw in your squishy neck. I resist. I wait until morning. I usually don’t have to wait very long.

Before I had you, reports of motherhood, specifically stay at home motherhood, were either from women who felt they had finally realized their superb but formerly wasted innate maternal nurturing that was the answer to their child’s every need or, conversely, from women being disappointed by this new life they viewed as a boring and tedious kind of servitude from which they needed to escape at any given, or taken, opportunity. (In all fairness, some, like my mom, painted a more realistic and hopeful picture.) Since I couldn’t imagine the latter being true I assumed it would be the former. Let’s be honest. It’s not. At least not exactly. It’s definitely closer to bliss but you and I both know I’m way more domestically challenged than I realized. It’s hard. Not all the time or even most of the time but definitely on a somewhat regular basis and if it wasn’t, what would be the point? It’s supposed to be a challenge otherwise I’d miss out on this great opportunity for growth and learning. And I am learning so much. You are a kind and patient teacher. And even though I generally feel like a fish out of water with kids (just ask my Primary class) I like to think I was made to be your mother. Everyday, even those sleepless days and nights, there is bliss and a recognition that this responsibility I have to be your mother and stay home and care for you is the greatest gift and privilege. Everyday, you crack me up and fill me with purpose and a sense of self that makes me proud and gives me peace. It is amazing that Heavenly Father would trust me to take care of you and teach you his gospel and help guide you. No pressure. I thank him everyday for that gift and for your father who loves you just as much as I do.

Next month you’ll be a year. Party!



Monday, April 26, 2010

An experiment…a turning point…brought to you atop my soapbox.


(Ok, this is a long post and in all honesty, if I saw this on the blogs I check I wouldn’t read it. I get it. Pretty pictures and short blurbs are so much more fun and efficient. I just had to get this out. I feel passionately about it. For good measure, and in case you don’t read on, here’s an awesome picture of Beck that Stephen took at the beach at the end of our street. Can you believe he’s going to be a year next month?! Ahhh! Where’s my baby?)


A couple weeks before this last Christmas I sat at my computer during one of Beck’s naps and watched the documentary Food Inc. I had heard about it long before this day, seen posters in Chipotle and been intrigued but purposely avoided watching it. I wasn’t interested in anything that was going to turn my stomach at the thought of eating meat. I enjoy meat and feel better (by better I mean thinner) when I eat a diet heavy on the protein and lower on the carbs, focusing on whole foods. How do you do that without eating meat? I’m not sure why I thought this would be the result of watching this film. Would it really be in the best interest of Chipotle to promote a film that discouraged the consumption of meat - of which they sell a wide variety? Still I avoided it. And then one day I felt strongly that I needed to watch it.

I think I’ve been confused about food most of my life despite my unending research on nutrition, diets, health, etc. I’ve always been looking for how to keep my weight in check and my body wholesomely nourished. I felt like the more I researched the more confused and overwhelmed I became. I had often wondered why I had abandoned my go to resource for answers about confusing topics and decisions. I mean the scriptures offer a very specific guideline on what we should and shouldn’t put in our bodies. Why wasn’t I turning to the Word of Wisdom for diet advice? The reality, if I’m being honest, is that I wasn’t really sure what to do with the nutritional guidance given in the Word of Wisdom. Am I really supposed to be a vegetarian unless there truly is a famine? Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to run and not get weary, but what was a girl to do who looks forward to tri-tip at the ranch, chicken phad thai at Thai Ginger, my mom’s meatloaf, and my sister’s barbacoa. I figured I would make sure I was avoiding the big no-no’s and glaze over the rest.

Enter Food Inc. Now I should preface this by acknowledging that we are not commanded in all things. This gives us the opportunity to seek out personal revelation and use our own free agency, so that we can act and not be acted upon. I’m not saying this film should be everyone’s interpretation of the Word of Wisdom, but for me, when I read the Word of Wisdom after watching this film, it all clicked. I finally understood a little of why and how to follow this guidance and apply it to my philosophy and attitude towards food. Michael Pollan sums it up so well. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Eat meat sparingly. Make plants the bulk of your diet. Eat foods in season, locally grown and organic when possible. Have respect for the temples that are our bodies. Have respect for the incredible gift that is this earth and the resources that have been provided to us.

Those last few sentences don’t sound like me. Before watching this film, I would maybe roll my eyes at some of these sentiments. I use the terms tree hugger, granola, etc. freely and not usually to describe myself. I don’t think these are negative terms, necessarily, but I do usually use them for people I think have been caught up in the trendiness of being “green” and have maybe gone a little overboard at times. The description of “green” is used as a powerful marketing tool and I think there are times when threats are over exaggerated or misrepresented to justify charging more for a product. Having said this I find myself gradually leaning toward the more “crunchy” side of the spectrum, especially in those areas that I feel effect choices regarding the health of myself and my family.

Ok, enough, background. Now the experiment. It’s no secret, and it is an important point in Food Inc., that buying organic, locally grown whole foods is not cheap. In case you haven’t heard, we are currently starving students. Organic, free-range, locally raised chicken is usually not at the top of a starving student’s grocery list. I can see the numbers crunching in Stephen’s head when I bring home the organic milk. Steam starts rising from the head of the all knowing Nielson Family Budget spreadsheet. It’s not pretty. Regardless, I feel like there is a way to start to make a change - to work within our current budget to make better choices about how I feed our family. My hypothesis is that if I’m more diligent about planning out our meals, cooking at home and including more vegetarian options I should be able to afford the expensive chicken and weekly surprise organic fruit and veggie box delivery I’ve been coveting. Just eat the more expensive stuff (aka meat) more sparingly and get creative with the plants. Oh, and hit the treadmill. Those nutrient dense grains add up. I think I can do that…wish us luck.