Friday, January 29, 2016

Best Toilet Cleaning Tip EVERRRRRR!

You might recall upon getting married, I finally got down and dirty with cleaning the bathroom.  I admitted to having been quite spoiled up until I was 28 back here.   Since then, I've learned the art of cleaning the bathrooms frequently to prevent a massive deep cleaning hot mess.  I actually do clean the bathroom once a week, sometimes a little bit more if there's a bit of a need (you know....).

So imagine my frustration when I started noticing a weird ring around the toilet water in our basement bathroom.  We don't normally use the bathroom much downstairs so at first I thought it might be because Jordan forgot to flush and maybe the acidity in the pee left a ring.  But I wasn't sure if that was a legit scientific explanation.  I made sure to flush the toilet periodically downstairs in case Jordan forgot, but the ring persisted.  I couldn't figure out how to wash it out, the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner didn't seem to do much, Clorox bleach left overnight also didn't do much, and even the magic eraser didn't do any magic.

I was stumped.  And irked.  If I put effort into cleaning the effort once a week and it still looks like someone rarely cleans it, what's the point.  What's the point in life?  Or anything really?!  Oh pity party for one.  Woe is me.

And then, I missed the weekly bathroom cleaning in our master bedroom a few times, and then I noticed these weird black lines and just like the basement bathroom, it was too late... the stain stuck and I had no clue how to get rid of it! UgH.

And then, we went off for vacation in California, and though I had cleaned the bathroom before we left, it wasn't on the day before we left as I normally do when we depart for vacation... when we came back, the boys' bathroom had a weird yellow rim near the bottom where the water normally sits.  I couldn't believe it!  Three bathrooms?!  I was without a clue what to do.

After months of no improvement, I finally made the smart decision that we definitely needed some new toilets and maybe a professional cleaning crew to visit our home once in a while.  I quietly added it to my list of "things we will buy when Andy starts his real job post residency in 2017" (so far, there's also a tufted headboard, a nice garbage can that opens automatically with a sensor or a push of a foot, a new Tupperware set or two or three, and a full length nice mirror that won't fall on my kids), and thought there isn't much else I can do.

I thought about the cleaning ladies who used to come to my parents' home.  I tried to recall if there was something used that I didn't have in my repertoire of cleaning products.  Did I just have the wrong tools?  Or did I do it wrong?

Since Wednesdays are for cleaning the bathroom, I looked at the toilets in dejection after my weekly cleaning rituals.  Depressed, I wondered if there was something out on the world wide web that might have known something I didn't.  I quickly googled "clean toilet water stains" and came across a YouTube video of a real woman cleaning her toilet with some Bar Keepers Friend.  She had some pretty insane hard water stains, hers looked brown in fact.  She scrubbed and the stain came off, I couldn't believe it!  And the product she used?  Something I recognized immediately!

Back in 2012, while we were cleaning up our LA apartment and getting ready to rent it out, I had complained about some dirty shower parts I couldn't quite get clean (I actually have a solution for this too, will post later....)  Andy's Uncle Ike had suggested I get a bottle of "Bar Keepers Friend," he claimed it was a miracle worker.  So I got some, applied it to the dirty spots, and nothing happened.  I put it into our box of cleaning products and it made its way to Salt Lake with us.  I knew exactly where it was, and was so excited to try it.  I had nothing to lose anyway...!

I excitedly took a before photo and then while my kids were in school and/or napping, I put on my sleak awesome bathroom yellow rubber gloves, pulled out an old bathroom generic Scotch-Brite wanna-be green scour pad, poured some Bar Keepers Friend on it (after shaking it of course), and went to town on the bathroom water stains I haven't had any luck with.   Before I started scrubbing, I turned off the water, scooped out all the water so the cleaning product would be able to attack the stain without being diluted.
BEFORE: it's not awful, but it's just faintly got a yellow rim 
AFTER: amazing, I could feel the grim rubbing off with the solution 
Our bathroom BEFORE: weird black lines that won't go away
Our bathroom AFTER: gone! O M Goodness!
I haven't yet approached the basement bathroom because it's so cold down there, but if an opportunity arises while the kids are occupied tomorrow, yellow gloves, scour pad, and Bar Keepers Friend and me are on our way to clean that rim!  Is it odd that I am quite excited about the prospect of removing the stains and another before and after evidence that this stuff works?  I wish someone had told me about this earlier, but maybe not everyone knows about it yet.... so here I am screaming it at the top of my lungs....
side by side comp: our bathroom
side by side comp: boys' bathroom

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Third Child Privileges

My first born didn't get to eat any candy until he was about 2 years old.  My second born had his first taste of candy around 18 months.  My third had her first taste at 14 months.

As you can see, she is beyond mesmerized...
Yesss sucka!
They weren't kidding when they said the first borns loosen up the parents and make it easy for the younger ones.  Personally, I just feel like with so much in the world to taste, why waste it on candy, something that will definitely be enjoyed by all?  I want to encourage my kids to have an inviting palate of foods ranging in texture, tradition, and tastiness.  And I need just one child to enjoy sushi with me (Andy isn't a huge fan, but he'll do California rolls, cream cheese rolls, and is always up for a good teriyaki chicken or bowl of ramen).  I've had real sushi twice in Salt Lake, once when my parents came to visit and once with some girlfriends for a birthday celebration.  Beyond that, I've had my fair share of Costco sushi, Dan's sushi, and Smith's sushi.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Morning Shenanigans

There's something so beautiful about having three kids who wake up at a decent time and make morning easy.  Lately... I've had the pleasure of a joy filled routine, lots of smiles and happiness, and an overall content me, up until the 10 minutes before we make it into the car to get wherever we have to go (usually Jordan's school which is 2 minutes away...)  Then, for 10 minutes... I am frustrated, annoyed, and constantly repeating myself.  These bozos just can't get their stuff together sometimes!! 

Our routine is simple.  I don't want anyone bugging me until the alarm rings at 7:30.  I normally snooze until 7:45, and on lazy days, I lay in bed until 8 AM.  

My kids are relatively good.  Bubba can wake up anywhere from 6:45 - 7:30, but he's always the first of the bunch.  He likes to make his way into bed in stealth mode and whisper sweetly "it's morning Mommy, time to wake up!'  I politely inform him that the sun is not yet out.  He always says "Ohhhh" like a big epiphany, and then proceeds to play with some toy or book or go looking for Andy if he's still around.  For a while, he was up in time to send Andy off to work, but the realization that Andy was gone before he was up one day sent him in a panic as he roamed the house searching for Daddy.  It was actually quite bittersweet to hear faintly in the background but probably a little traumatizing for the poor boy. 

Jordan has started to wake up around 7:30 not that we've moved his bedtime up (we start bedtime at 7:30 instead of 8:30 now).  

Dagny is my best sleeper thus far, and I hope it lasts!  At her age, Jordan went down for naps and nighttime with a bottle easily too, but if he was tired without a bottle, no nap.  Bubba would never go down easily, he was our "just cry it out a little longer" baby and would only go down nicely with a bottle filled with gatarode.  

Dagny will legitimately acknowledge when she's tired or not tired.  If she's not ready for a nap, she'll shake her head.  FOMO (fear of missing out) is low for her, she knows the fun will always be there when she's awake.  When she is fatigued, she'll just nod when I ask her if she wants a nap.  Her naps are not consistent, but her bedtime can effectively start at 7, we sometimes push it until 7:30, and she will always wake up around 7:45/8 and just chill in her crib.  The only time I've heard her cry for us is when she's wet through her diaper and pjs or when she's pooped.  Third childs are awesome.  

Breakfast is fun and pretty low maintenance with my kids.  Eggs and toast, sometimes cereal too, and when we're feeling fancy on the weekends, we do pancakes, french toast, or if we're feeling REALLY fancy, waffles!  During the week, once I get them all situated, I normally get a bathroom break.  

The other morning, the boys greeted me in their costumes as I made my exit from the bathroom.  Bubba then brought over his old Captain America costume and told me Dagny needed it, which is great because he had been trying to fit into his old costume without much luck and a huge wedgie, and we kept advising him that it was for Dagny now that he had outgrown it.  "No, it my Catan Reca" he would tell me seriously.   Well..I guess he finally got it!

After we drop off Jordan at school, Bubba and Dagny get a chance to play together for a bit.  They're still parallel playing for most of the time, but every now and then, if Bubba misses that I've gone to put Dagny down for a nap, he'll come by wondering where she has gone.  

They're starting to get the hang of each other when Jordan's out of the picture and it melts my heart silly to watch.  I'm reminded to count my blessings when I reflect on the day and think of all the happy moments they've brought into my life.  It helps to counter the times I count sweeping the floor because of their eating skills (or lack thereof).  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bubba's Prayer

Bubba is 2 and 1/2 years old.  Every time he prays, he says the same exact prayer... at least he has for the past few weeks.

"Dear Heavenly Father, please bless Mommy, please bless the food, in the name of Jesus Christ... Amen"

He used to bless diet coke, Captain America, all the members in his family and his grandparents, but for some reason, he has simplified his prayer and decided it's best to repeat and go with the same one.  Even when we're not eating!  Since he's so young and excited to pray, we just praise him for his efforts and have made a mental note to work with him on his prayer.

My kids sure do a great job of helping me laugh.  I hope I never forget this little Bubba-isms that are so fleeting.  Who knows if he'll have some new prayer in a couple of weeks.

stubborn but full of cuddles and love
a cheeseball who currently will only eat eggs, yogurt, toast, cheese, and seaweed

Monday, January 25, 2016

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids

I asked Andy to get ONE photo of me holding the lanterns... 
I love Chinese New Year's.  Growing up, Chinese New Year was a HUGE deal.  Though we didn't celebrate it with lots of crafts the way I do with my kids now, there was a lot more Chinese stuff going on around home.  We'd always watch a lion dance, a dragon dance, go somewhere to see fireworks, clean the house, wear red, get red envelopes, and eat a grand meal with shark fin's soup, fish, noodles, pig's feet, green veggies, and to be honest, a ton of stuff I can't even correctly translate from Chinese to English, along with lots of random dried fruit, candy, and nuts with all of our extended family in Los Angeles.  In China and Taiwan, Chinese New Year's is like Christmas in the States.  People go all out.  Everyone gets the day off, I think some even a few weeks.

Now that I'm in Salt Lake City as a token minority, I've felt more of a desire to keep up the cultural traditions and create some new ones for my kids.  As we gear up for Chinese New Year's, here are some of the top EIGHT (ba sounds like fa which is to prosper so 8 is a lucky number) traditions I've begun with my kids.

8. Wear Chinese clothes or the color RED - As corny as I thought it was to dress my kids up in Chinese garb (because we never did that for Chinese New Year's even though I wore a qi-pao for my wedding), once I was in Salt Lake City, I felt like my kids had to get some cute Chinese clothes to represent (especially since a ton of white kids and hapa kids were all wearing authentic traditional clothes!).  I finally asked my mom to get me some cute clothes for the kids, to which she was a bit surprised.  That's so tacky, she told me in Chinese.  Yeah, but everyone does it here and I don't want my 3/4 asian kids to be the only ones not dressed to represent!  So she went to get me some.  Yay!  I might even put my kids in their Chinese clothes for the Sunday weekend before Chinese New Year's, I haven't decided if I want to make that kind of a cultural statement so boldly yet.  Maybe tops with slacks?
Bubba running!
Jordan loving his outfit...
I told them these were ninja clothes and they bought it...
then I corrected myself and said Kung Fu but it was too late
now they keep wearing them while playing ninja

 this lil girl wanted in on the fun, she looked like a lil Chinese maid servant from my days of watching Chinese soap operas from ancient times...
Bubba was amused...
7. Talk about our ancestors - Pretty much all the holidays Chinese people celebrate seem to surround ancestors, even if it's not directly to honor them, they are remembered as we celebrate with family.  I know we don't have a shrine in our home with photos of dead grandparents or random Chinese gods, but I'm used to putting a lot of fruit and dim sum delicacies (baos, marinated pig ears, luo buo gao, etc.) in front of the photos of my dead grandparents as a way of honoring and including them in our celebration.  Though I don't plan to do that, I want to get photos of ancestors and share a bit about them with my kids.  I have so many stored away stories of my own grandparents and I'll get some of Andy's to share as well, and we can share with the kids.  Knowing my kids and how much they love a good story, I think they will dig this.

6. Decorate The House!
We love putting up decorations around the house.  We made some awesome red paper lanterns (see photo above) and anyone can do the same following this tutorial, my only suggestion is to add some bling like we did!  We added a strip of gold to the tops, the gold paper can easily be purchased at your local craft store, (we went to Michael's and used our coupons, yes, every little bit counts.. even on something $1), and for those who don't have the time or patience, use these easy printouts to frame and put up in the house (comes as 8x12).  You can print it on your computer or send it to Costco to print.
Download Chinese New Year Year of the Monkey print here
Better than nothing, right?!  Of course, you could always go the route of having your kids color, and then put those up too.  I've got a fun little monkey coloring sheet that we're going to use.
Click here to download PDF

And these are my other favorite sheets that I've chosen to use this year.  
Zodiac animals coloring sheet
Chinese Zodiac cards - have kids color, print, and cut out as flash cards

Here's an easy DIY we did this year, just using toilet paper rolls, red construction paper and a gold glitter pen... decorate red paper with drawings, let dry, glue or tape red construction paper around toilet paper rolls.  Repeat 6 times.  Then, stagger and hang together to mimic the look of red firecrackers used on CNY to scare away bad spirits and as tradition says, the monster Nian! (syonymous with year)

5. Learn to say... "Gong Xi Fai Tsai!" (Mandarin) or "Gong Hay Fat Choi!" (Cantonese)
Say it, repeat it, learn it, say it again... repeat it again... learn it over and over.  It's important that my kids know how to wish someone a happy Chinese new year.

So... there's this annoying Chinese New Year song that we all sung growing up over and over again that basically repeats gong xi fa tsai which is what we say during the New Year's, loosely translated as fortune and luck be with you but literally is more like congratulations, hope you strike it rich (Chinese people love money).

There is the cutest Ni-Hao Kai Lan video that we watch over and over that basically does a cover of this song.  I love it, and so do my kids!

4. Make stuff for the neighbors
I'd never do this in California, but with us being token minorities in SLC, I felt it was important to do something for the neighbors and give them the opportunity to celebrate and learn a bit about our culture.

Two years ago, we made horse printouts and almond cookies (they weren't very good though...), a year ago I was too tired with a new baby, and this year, we'll probably just buy some almond cookies and package them.  Keep it simple, right?

3. Talk about the Chinese Zodiac - Did you know there are twelve animals that represent each year of the Lunar New Year?  There's a story of the race that goes with it that kind of describes the order, but really it's just fun.  I like to go over everybody in our family and what animal they are.

My kids will tell you what they are in a heartbeat, but then they'll follow it up with what they'd rather be.  This year, it's the year of the monkey so we'll probably color a bunch of monkey sheets, hence why I created some for them (above).

2. Eat Chinese food - Traditional Chinese New Year's food varies depending on what province you're in.  It's easier to just do some bakeable frozen egg rolls, dumplings, and fried turnip cakes (luo buo gao - Andy's mom makes these every year) most of which, you can probably find in the your local grocery freezer section (thank goodness for diversity being so cool these days!).  

This year, I also plan to take my kids to the nearest Chinese bakery and let them choose some fun delicacies.  Chinese bread is so soft and fluffy, everyone loves it, but since we're in SLC, it's not as readily available nor is it cheap (compared to Arcasia).  

I also like to get almond cookies, not fortune cookies (because fortune cookies are NOT Chinese!), drink some Yakuit yogurt drinks (because that's seriously all they drink in Taiwan for bento boxes sold everywhere), have some glutinous rice balls (tang yuan) in red bean soup (yes, I can make it!  It's just red beans plus a ton of sugar), and Chinese bread (baos), throughout the weeks leading up to the day.  I always also bread (egg, flour and water) some nian gao or sticky rice cake, but from experience, I've figured a lot of people are not use to the texture so it might not be the best idea to cook up a batch and bring to work for your co-workers (the Chinese client will love it though...!).  

The weekend of, our family normally goes to the Chinatown buffet and our Uncle Ike aka Sparky, who is a fireworks dealer, normally has a fireworks show that night (if you're in SLC, it's at the Chinatown plaza on State State) and it's normally awesome.  

1. Hand out Red Envelopes - In Mandarin, these are called hong baos or red envelopes and in Cantonese, they are called lai si.  My kids get red envelopes from my family all the time, it's an easy birthday present, but it's really important for me to tell them the ancient Chinese legend about how red envelopes came about, and then we figure out who we can give them to - friends, family, etc.  Traditionally, only married couples give red envelopes to all single children (meaning if you're 30 and unmarried, you still get an envelope!)  

Chinese New Year like the American New Year celebration is really about cleaning up, pushing out all the bad spirits of the year, starting over fresh and clean, celebrating with family, and hoping for a year full of fortune, prosperity and good things!  Happy Chinese New Year to everyone, Chinese or not!! Gong xi fai tsai!  Gong hay fat choy! 

Friday, January 22, 2016

This Diet is DID I EAT TODAY Amazing!

I was at my wits end.  I feel like I had tried everything.. cutting out carbs, cutting out sugar, keeping my caloric intake to 1500/day (which is not enough, mind you... unless you want to be starving!).

I have always been a skinny person, but I actually think of myself as skinny fat.  Skinny fat means you look skinny, but if you actually were to put on a bathing suit or anything that didn't hide it well (I'm tall and have skinny legs and ankles especially), then the truth comes out.  You're fat!  Skinny fat!

All my life, I've dealt with multiple body image issues and disorders, I've gone from bulimic to borderline anorexic, though I never fully accomplish the latter because I love food too much, which is why bulimia is easier, you just overeat and then hurl afterwards.  It is true, most people with horrific body image issues are obsessive and controlling (I've been known to be both at times...) and when they can't seem to control this one aspect of their life that is seemingly controllable, they lose it.  Such was the case for me at least... all my life I had been pretty skinny (skinny fat but still skinny by most standards, don't go to Taiwan, they all think I'm a giant there), and then when I started to gain weight in my 20's, it was a bit difficult to cope with.  Of course, having a Chinese mom who bluntly told me I was looking a little hefty anytime I saw her, who blamed my weight gain on a life full of hedonistic alcohol and late night partying, and wasn't afraid to let me and everyone around her know, didn't help.  It also didn't help to live in LA in my 20's with a lot of close friends at the time who also were obsessed with "thinspiration" as we called it.  It was actually normal to have the conversation, "I ate too much, I'm going to go puke some out, one sec..." and some friends would just go workout, overeat and then go run 10 miles, but I was never a runner so that solution didn't work out for me. I finally joined a nice expensive gym (Equinox baby) and started to take care of myself physically and truly began to eat better and take care of my body.  Shortly after, I left to San Jose for a work rotation and being alone there really helped me out of my funk, but of course, not after eating an entire 1/4 of a sheet cake by myself, yeah I did.. but it was good and so worth it.  I started doing barre classes consistently, went to the Equinox in Palo Alto every weekend for a few hours taking classes, and really started to figure out what it meant to make my own sandwiches and salads for lunch and dinner.  San Jose was a short but good time for me.  It was also in San Jose that I found God, but that's unrelated to my body issues and dieting and for another time...

Flash forward to life now.  Well, first of all having three children didn't help.  I was good about exercising when I was pregnant with my first.  It being my first and me still relatively young then, the weight came off without much effort (you know when people say breastfeeding takes the weight off and you buy into it but really you're just young and it was your first baby...).  With my second, the exercising during pregnancy was minimal and mostly consisted of chasing after my firstborn, post partum weight was a bit slower, but it still came off despite the obvious increase in jiggle and inches overall.  With my third, I barely could find time or the energy while being pregnant, so I slacked where I hadn't with the first two and exercise became non-existent.  I'd start a DVD, do about 5 minutes and call it a day.  Slowly, the 5 minutes whittled down to 0 minutes and I just lay in my own slothful pregnancy, dreading the post-partum fight to get back to pre-baby size.  It didn't help that I never came back after my second size wise (muscle weigh more than fat!) and we got pregnant by surprise with Dagny before we planned to.  The weight after Dagny was the hardest.  I was exercising and eating well and it still wouldn't budge, but I was determined the lose the weight.  I just wasn't sure how to do it.  I signed up for a fancy barre class that was SO EXPENSIVE (the last time I did barre classes, I was single and making good money), and I went every week once or twice a week, I saw my fat tone up a bit, but not enough to really feel good about myself.  I was growing tired of the bulge over my pants as I saw down and debating whether or not I should acquiesce and go buy some new clothes that actually fit comfortably.

And then I noticed a girl at Church and how much weight her family had recently lost.  I was too scared to approach her about it, I mean it's always awkward, what do you say, "hey, you've lost so much weight!" .... awkward... but I even asked Andy if he noticed and he said yes.  At a church event, someone was talking to her and her eight year old daughter about it, and that's when I finally had the guts to ask about it.  Turns out it was this program called the Fast Metabolism Diet ("FMD"), a diet I had actually looked up and put the book on my wait list at the local library.  I hadn't researched it fully but the restrictions made me nervous and I had given up on it.  I had entertained the idea of Whole30 but it seemed absolutely miserable and unsustainable!  As for FMD, all I knew was you couldn't eat processed foods, dairy, or soy, and while processed foods aren't everywhere in our home, dairy and soy sure is!  While in Idaho this summer, my friend who had done a spout of clean eating kept persuading me to give clean eating a shot because she claimed amminos or Liquid Braggs was actually a decent substitute for soy sauce.  Prideful and claiming my Chinese superiority, I had politely declined.  But as this 8 year old talked about all the changes she made and how doable it was, I became intrigued.  She is EIGHT after all.  If she can do it, surely I could too!

So I got on board, bought the book, meal planned, and decided the next 28 days (which included Thanksgiving) would be dedicated to FMD.

My father-in-law, a very active person (he runs marathons ALL the time), also wanted to try it out.  He had cut carbs and sweets out of his diet for weeks here and there without much change.  We both have these family goals every six months and one of my goals was to lose either 15 pounds or 4 inches off of my waist.  So we buckled down, and got ready for FMD over the next 28 day.  We figured we didn't have anything to lose, but thing that really convinced us was just how much weight that family had lost.  It seemed like we could be success stories too!

Guys... we definitely cheated here and there.  We had Thanksgiving dinner where we both went a bit overboard, we had family birthday dinners at Chinese restaurants (lots of soy sauce), but we both came out feeling and looking different.

In the end, I lost 12 pounds, 4 inches off of my waist and 3 inches off of my hips.  I didn't measure my arms, but they looked more ripped and skinny than before.  It's truly amazing.  Haylie's diet is descrived as "Did I Eat Today?" and full of harsh realizations about how much protein I lacked, how much sugary fruit I was over indulging on, and how little vegetables I actually ate (despite thinking I ate a ton!).  I also got a handle on portion control which is seemingly my hugest problem since I eat so fast and it takes the brain a bit to actually figure out your stomach is full.  I went to a few parties with friends where all I could do was drink water or eat veggies, and having to resist all that great food really helped me build some confidence that I can do it!

Now I get that anything that shocks your body will force change, but mind you I was a pretty healthy person, or so I thought.  I ate vegetables, didn't carb overload, and only had processed foods occasionally.  I won't even let my kids have fruit snacks or goldfish unless it's Sunday (or grandma gives it to them during the week).  We do love some processed foods, but I try to balance it with real fruits, cheese, or deli meat.  I don't love chocolate and candy has never been extremely tempting for me (we still have all our Halloween and Easter candy just sitting in a big pumpkin basket) but I do love my nightly ice cream in a cone and cheesecake (I can eat a whole thing of cheesecake by myself).  My friends were skeptical, especially the ones who had similar eating habits as me.  They wondered if the only reason my friends had lost weight was because their eating habits were so far off.  Those doubters... I showed them, eh?!

The best part is.. 28 days later with some cheating here and there... I'm proud to announce that FMD WORKS!  And the best part is, I found out that other people in the neighborhood had also done it, and it worked for them too!  We got excited talking to each other about what it has taught us, about our own eating habits and that it's sustainable afterwards, and an easy enough diet that you can just hop in and decide to do a week here or a week there with actual quick results.  And, throughout the whole thing, we were eating.  A LOT for that matter.  The only part that kinda sucked was Phase 2 for two days when you're limited to pretty much protein and green veggies.  Bleh.  But two days is not a huge deal and it passes by slowly, but also quickly.

Anyway, it has been a great experience and I recommend it to anyone looking to really slim down and rev up their metabolism.  It SERIOUSLY works.  And the food is good (except for Phase 2) and filling, and if you're truly motivated to do something good for yourself, this is it.  It takes a lot of money (to buy all the natural stuff and fresh veggies and fruits), detailed planning and the actual execution takes a lot of effort, but the results are so worth it.

I've attached some photos of the food so you can witness it's doable and then, the only photos I took of myself during the process to show some progress.
Phase 1 oatmeal with blueberries 

Phase 1 open faced sandwich and fruit

Phase 1 strawberry french toast
Phase 1 turkey chili and pineapples

Phase 1 pineapple sausages with veggies served over quinoa

Phase 2 tuna with veggies (no tomatoes allowed though, I didn't know at the time and messed up)

Phase 2 turkey bacon and broccoli

Phase 2 chicken fajitas with meat and veggies only

Phase 3 chicken curry with spinach

Phase 3 green bean casserole (made with coconut milk and arrowroot powder!)

Phase 3 sweet potatoes made with nuts and coconut and expensive sugar Xylotil

Phase 1 chicken soup

Phase 1 turkey chili

Phase 2 baked chicken with lime and spices 

Phase 3 brussel sprouts

Phase 1 omelette with fruit (ketchup has to be natural and without much sugar)

Finally fit my wedding ring after 13 months, sent this photo to Andy because I never wear my ring.  Out of the 5 and a half years we've been married, I've probably worn it less than two years.  It is hard when you can't fit your wedding ring around 4 months pregnant until baby is born and older than a year... even now, it's still a bit tight, have to probably get it resized soon 
I'm not a good before and after photo taker but here is a shot of the after around week 2 of the diet, those love handles are still there but they've whittled down a bit and is even less noticeable now!  My butt deflated but that might come with not working my thighs enough and not the diet itself, in brighter news my back definitely thinned down a bit!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

LA for Christmas

On our second day of Christmas break in LA, the day started off rainy, so after grabbing some traditional Chinese breakfast from Yi Mei, we decided to stick around Arcadia and keep it casual.  We took the kids to the local Arcadia mall jump n jammin, and it was raining so I guess everyone else decided to do the same thing!  We had to wait about 30 minutes before we could go in.  Andy took the boys, there were soft balls you could shoot, places to climb to do that, and then there was a tiny little 2 and under section that Dagny and I spent most of our time in after she woke up.  

So side Daisy rant... I'm a rule follower, for the most part, so it really bugs me when other people are not.  First, playgrounds with height restrictions.  They're there for a reason, so please obey the rules!  I get it, some kids are unfortunately tall at a young age and not allowed in, I myself was too tall for most of the ball pits at our local Burger King at a young age, and I recall being sad I couldn't go in.  My mom told me to go ahead, but I was a RULE FOLLOWER, so I did not.  If kids go ahead without their parents consent, that is a different story.  But when parents are supporting their kids disrespecting the rules by being in a contained area that is restricted to babies in diapers ages 2 and under, I get mad.

Dagny and I were in this restricted play area and this useless excuse for a father was taking photos of his VERY OBVIOUSLY not in diaper 6 or 7 year olds as they built a huge tower of blocks and then kicked it down, and boy was I irate.  They almost hit Dagny once and she wasn't even near them.  The rules are there to prevent people like this from accidentally hitting little cute babies like Dagny!  Also, if they had younger siblings in there, I might have understood but they clearly DID NOT!  It took every ounce of self control for me not to go over and berate the father and tell him about his awful behavior and example to his kids.  It made me even more mad that Dagny did not have the blocks they were using to climb on, she loves climbing, as evidenced by our trips to gymnastics classes with the boys.  Before these rude obnoxious boys and their father came over, an attendant had come and advised a little 4 year old girl that she was too big for this play area.  This little girl was trying to touch Dagny's face and kept telling me how cute she was.  I wish the attendant had come around when these boys were there too!  I know they could read the VERY BIG sign that was on top of the wall in the play area, and I know their lazy dad saw it.  If he didn't, he surely heard my passive aggressive explanation to Dagny about how big kids weren't allowed in the playground.  .... Or maybe that's why he stuck around.. oh well.

We had these grand plans of places we were going to eat on the Westside (we also planned to spend the day at the beach.. but that didn't happen), but then the rain and the LA traffic made us decide to venture to downtown LA instead.  Andy wanted to try Eggslut in Grand Central Market.  Here's a photo of Grand Central Market.  Now, before I had Jordan, I used to park in that lot right in back of Grand Central.  To get to the LA office, I had to walk through the market, cross the street, and up the million stairs to California Plaza.  While pregnant with Jordan, I used to always get sick from the smells that came out of that market.  Most of the time, I tried to walk quickly and hold my nose.  I wasn't sure why Andy wanted to go there to eat, but once we got in.. I knew why. 
It's only been about five years, but the entire market has been completely gentrified!  It was full of hipsters everywhere and so many cool new and hip places to eat.  We wanted to eat everything!! We were also one of the few families that had kids with us.  We had one stroller with a sleeping Bubba, Dagny in a baby carrier, and Jordan walking with us.  The line was SO LONG, but we found a table and out came the phone.  Jordan enjoyed the screen time while Bubba napped and Dagny waited in line with Andy.  Jordan LOVED his sandwich, ate it all.
Bubba woke up just in time to eat a bit and join in on the screen time (what did people with kids do before technology?)  
I kind of wanted to take the kids up the train by the stairs I used to walk up everyday, but it didn't seem to be working, it was still raining lightly, so we decided to leave and go try some ice cream place called Cool Haus that Andy found online in old town.  So off we drove from downtown LA to Old Town Pasadena!

Parking is quite insane in LA, and Old Town Pasadena wasn't any better.  We found a spot close to a red zone, took it, and I waited with Dagny while Andy went with the boys.  As soon as they got their ice cream, I went in and got mine.  Bubba got pumpkin, Jordan got something with bacon in it, Andy's had french fries in it, and I just stayed safe with salted caramel.  
It was good!  I miss LA already.. so much good food and so little time and now with too many kids to handle, we really have become more limited in our eating adventures.  I think as our kids get older though, we'll be back at it.  Yay!