Sunday, 25 February 2018

Finding Balance in Healthy Eating // Dessert Night

Something tells me this teddy-bear jar is going to feature heavily in my kid's childhood memories, haha!

Friday night around here is 'dessert night'.

It kinda speaks for itself, I guess, and needless to say, is a pretty popular night on my kids' weekly calendar!

A couple of years ago we instituted the tradition of 'Friday Night Dessert Night'.  We try to eat pretty healthfully around here - I try to avoid refined sugar and processed food in my family's daily diet. However, as the kids (currently 5, 7 and 9) were getting older and more aware of all the food out there that their peers enjoy, bringing home lolly bags from parties and all of that, they started clamouring for  treats and desserts! What to do, what to do!? While I make a lot of healthy food treats (just ask my kids' school friends, apparently I am very well known for my healthy brownies and muffins, lollllll) the kids soon became familiar with the more sugary and processed alternatives. Whose idea was it to let them out of the house?! ;)

While we certainly talk a lot about good food and healthy eating habits and all of that (see this post on our general family food approach and tips for creating healthy eaters) I felt like total restrictions and putting a blanket ban on all junk food wasn't ultimately going to help with building a lifelong healthy relationship with food. Extreme restrictions might be more likely to lead to the kids going overboard on junk food either as teens or just whenever given opportunity out of my sight! Plus, I just didn't want to be so uptight ALL the time, it's not fun being the food police!! Even though I do what I gotta do for my kid's health, sometimes it's just fun to have a treat without over thinking it and while I want them to be conscious eaters, I also don't want them to get paranoid, know what I mean? Ha! It's a fine balance, huh? It's been really wonderful to see them learning to self-regulate and often stop eating a slice of sugary cake half way through, announcing 'My tummy says that's enough'. I wish my own tummy had always been so self-aware!!!

So, I try to follow a general 80/20 rule for our family. 80% whole and nourishing foods, 20% just eat whatever you want, no stress or guilt. Because life and food are also just for enjoying and celebrating and being in community too, you know? I don't want to be too uptight. Sometimes I feel we swing too far one way or the other but that's life, huh?! When we do, I just try to steer the family back on course without beating myself (or them, lol) up.

Anyway, back to Dessert Night!!

It works well for us because the kids know not to ask for junk food at any other time, but they also know they have a treat outlet once a week! It's a healthy (ha!) boundary for our family. So I am not a total killjoy who always says 'no' haha (last week when I served up ice-cream I did declare - 'see, I can be fun!!'). But also so that the treats don't become too pervasive in daily life. Yes, we still do party food, treats with friends at social events, ice creams etc when we are out occasionally too. But 'dessert night' helps us keep in a healthy routine at home and with our daily eating.

The kids know they aren't totally 'missing out' but they also appreciate and generally want to eat healthfully too. I hope it's the kind of pragmatic balanced approach and habit they might choose to keep up throughout their lives. I love that they are getting to know their own bodies and often times won't even eat all of their dessert before recognising they are full!

As for what we have? Sometimes I make something more elaborate, a proper dessert or even ice cream with sprinkles (or a healthy version of a 'treat' too which they usually love just as much!), but more often than not, the kids just want to select two items from the fabled 'lolly jar' where all the random sweets and chocolates from party bags etc get dumped. I sometimes try to do it Friday afternoon  rather than after dinner, gives the sugar more time to burn off ;)

So, that's 'our family way'. Certainly not the only or 'right' way to handle healthy eating in the home, but just sharing it as a strategy that is working well for us! It gives us balance. Not total restriction but not a free-for-all either!!! It sure does save a lot of negotiations too, the kids know not to debate it, if they want a treat they know when they can have it!

These family 'policies' work differently for every family or even in different seasons but this seems to be the 'sweet spot' (pun intended!) for us in finding a balanced approach to our family's healthy eating.

Now, I better go check the 'lolly jar' stocks!!! ;)

Thursday, 22 February 2018

{January} Sunshine Summer Travels

Summer travels. 

Six stops in two and a half weeks, three states and a whole lotta people, fun, memories, swimming, friends, scenery and car time!

After our annual week at our much loved Christian family camp between Christmas and New Years, we hit the road for an epic road trip - driving up to Queensland, convoying with some dear friends who were visiting from Hawaii. It was so special to be travelling together. We joked that there were not many other families we would want to spend *quite* so much time with, but with these guys, it was just easy breezy and such a delight. Kinda awesome when two families can click so well, even when travelling. That's how you know they are next level friends!!! Love them so much and can't wait to hang out in Hawaii later this year (still can't believe that is happening!).

After an overnight stay, we ended up staying at a quirky Air B&B, and going to Australia Zoo (fantastic, as always!), then on to visit our darling friend Georgia and her crew on the Sunshine Coast. Hanging out with their clan is always so lovely, our kids are twinning and each duo gets along so well. They are just all so dear to us. It's always a delightful time.... Georgia is teaching us how to be more chill, haha! 

Like a very bad blogger, this was the only time I actually pulled out my big camera on the trip!!!! #oops - I was just a little tooooo relaxed, clearly! All my daily holiday snaps are over on my Instagram, if you wanna scroll :) But while enjoying the beach life with dear George and our combined six kiddos, I did manage to take a few 'proper' photos! 

After that delightful stay, it was a few days with my Dad on his new property, out in the middle of nowhere. So relaxing, and a taste of the country life! Including waking one morning to the sound of gunshots. #nothanks

On the way home, we spontaneously decided to add one more night's adventure visiting another Christian family camp in the stunning Gold Coast Hinterland.

Did I forget anything!? Perhaps. It was one of those delightfully exhausting holidays. So many people, so many different locations, so much driving, fun, adventures, conversations, food, memories, a few melt downs (!! let's be honest!) and all the rest. 

We came home to (amazingly) another whole three weeks of school holidays as they were super long this year. And we really needed that time to wind back down after all that travel! 

Here's to summers with the kids. There are not so many left together, really. 

What a blessing it is to make these memories, in these golden days, with our perfectly imperfect family. 

Thanks Georgia for snapping this pic! The big leap xx

These images summarise time at my Dad's place. Hammock time and enjoying the serenity....

Back home again, time to relax and enjoy some quiet, lazy, home days. Travel is wonderful but there is a certain loveliness in summer holidays spent tinkering around the home.

Nothing I love more than seeing the tops of that trio's heads. All burrowed together, makes me melt every time!

Our summer, our January. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

52.52 Our Busy Christmas

Christmas 2017.

There isn't much evidence in these photos, I realise, because it was such a busy day, I mostly just snapped random moments on the trusty phone (argh, so easy, I am getting so slack with my big camera!).

Our day was action packed and really lovely. I felt so grateful for this Christmas, ever more aware of the magic that is these early years, we just want to soak up the season so much! It feels like such a privilege to witness our kids and their excitement over Christmas :)

We started the day with the hazy glow of early morning stocking-opening. Is there anything more magical than seeing the kids diving into the stocking and squealing as they pull out all those tiny treasures!? Who knew a toothbrush could bring such delight, haha!

(Randnom sidenote: I got them all cheapie electric toothbrushes this year.... soooooo good and effective!) 

We try to include some element during Christmas Day of giving back to others (on a day we often are blessed so much) so after our early start, we dropped off some little chocolates with thank you notes to those who serve our community on Christmas Day - the police, paramedics, and hospital emergency room staff.

Then it was Christmas brunch with my in-laws and mum - delicious and lovely family time! So lovely to see the grandparents enjoying the morning with the kids, with family gift opening and even some good old daggy Xmas games this year!

Then our tribe went into the city to help serve at a community lunch. We first went a couple of years ago and it was such a rewarding and special experience, the kids still asked about going back, so this year we did! It is really such a special place. A room filled with hundreds, so much community spirit soaking the air, Christmas carols and smiles everywhere. Seeing the kids taking and delivering drink orders, clearing plates, making new friends. I was fit to bursting with pride and gratitude.

We then rolled on to our fourth stop of the day, popping by to see the extended family to spend time with them and share dessert! We ate way too much of course, and it was good to wind down with them all.

We made our way home in the late afternoon, happily exhausted and thankful for the many connections we had made that day and ready for a quiet and relaxed night together. And the kids were needless to say, excited to just play, play, play with their day's bounty of gifts. 

It was a Christmas to be thankful for, that's for sure.

Eli got a cheapie version of a Go-Pro as he is sooooo into photos and videos. He was SO intensely into it, it was awesome!

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2017.

So here ends the 52 project. 

And now we are in 2018 and for the first time in.... years... I am without a photography project for the year. I am kinda sad about it but also lacking inspiration!? Maybe this year I will try to do more actual blog posts (gasp!) instead of just photo posts. But I am also sad that I am falling so behind in my photo taking. Hmmmm.... well, let's see what unfolds this year, huh!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

51.52 Decorating Christmas Cookies and Memories

'Twas the week before Christmas, the kids were done with school (hooray!) and we had a whole week to get into the Christmas spirit before the day itself.... it was so lovely to have the chance to wind down and gear up together! 

We don't usually do cookie decorating, partly because the cookie making stage often seems too much prep, to be honest! But then a friend gave us a plate of plain shortbread cookies and since the hard part was done, we decided to just have FUN! I pulled out a bunch of sprinkles that sit in the cupboard and rarely get used, made some simple icing and let the kids go wild. There was icing everywhere, sprinkles everywhere and the cutest, messiest, not-very-Christmassey cookies. And let's be honest, a whole lot of finger licking and sprinkle-sampling went on too. It was really cute and actually relaxed and enjoyable!!

Cooking with kids is admittedly not my fave thing to do (looks so sweet, usually mayhem, haha!) but this really was so fun. I think because it was easy and simple and it was neither a lot of work to prepare or pressure riding on the outcome (either of those seems to guarantee that the stress overcomes the joy of the process!!!!). The kids had a blast just decorating like crazy, haha. They were verrry generous with the sprinkles, needless to say!

With a quiet day just before Christmas, we made cookies and memories and mess and it was truly as sweet as the sprinkles.  

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2017.