Thursday, December 31, 2009

Strengthen thy heart with a morsel of bread.

Last week, I baked 10 loaves of bread in one evening for Christmas gifts for my neighbors and friends, and it made me very happy, the baking, the eating, and the giving.

I did 4 loaves of this great oatmeal bread, and I added raisins and cinnamon to the dough before baking.



Then I made 6 loaves of pesto-Parmesan bread, a recipe I sort of made up. I made a double batch of the basic artisan bread I wrote about here.

and then roll each piece of dough flat, spread with pesto and Parmesan (so complicated, right?)


roll it up, sprinkle with pepper and Parm

bake

taste (yes! yum!)

and packaged for delivery.

christmas and sam's birthday

woo hoo! Christmas morning!









You'd think we live in California with all this beach recreation gear.
Actually, Reed just loves to wear a snorkel and mask at the pool, so we got him his own so he'd stop stealing from other kids.

(try being in the presence of this belly for 2 seconds without squeezing)

And Sam got this wetsuit for open-water swims (as in lakes and oceans, not pools).

And because poor Sam's birthday is 12/28, he always gets joint Christmas and Birthday presents (wetsuit) and so on his birthday, he got cinnamon rolls, bacon, eggs, and fruit salad for breakfast,

paper decorations, a lovely dinner,

and this cheesecake that we ate before I photographed it.


So there, Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

this is our boy

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in 2 minutes (it works now!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's almost 2010. Time for a post about running.

Looks like I'm going to keep at this running thing for at least another year. After all, I now have a separate basket next to my dresser for running clothes only, I have a cool new Nike watch (thanks, Liesel!), a bunch of cold-weather running gear, a fat pile of race t-shirts, and a rainbow array of those cute Nike running shorts.

Look how much I learned in 2009, you know, besides determination and perseverance, blah blah blah:

I know the best running shoes for my feet (Asics Kayanos) and the best socks for my feet (North Face lightweight quarter socks).

I have figured out, through much trial and error, that Luna Moons, blueberry flavor, are my mid-run fuel of choice, and that I can't actually get down any more Gu's without gagging, but if I had to in a pinch, I know to choose the chocolatey flavors over the fruity (gag) ones. Pre-run food I've got figured out: peanut butter and jelly and a banana, small coffee. Post-run food of choice: Larabar, lemon: A perfect food (got some in my stocking!).

I learned not to set out on a long run without my Camelbak, and that the best formula is 4:1 water to Gatorade. I wear a Road ID on my wrist. I read my Runner's Worlds as soon as they come, from cover to cover, at least twice. I'm pretty sure I'm hooked on this sport.

******************************************************************************************

I think I have my 2010 race plan figured out, a plan that pretty much allows me to have a training calendar on my fridge from February to November. Phew. I am so ready for Feb. 1st so I can feel like I have a purpose again. Looks like I'm going to race several of the same events again, specifically three half marathons in Maine because they are just so darn pretty. If you are sharp like my husband, you've probably figured out that I like to register for races only if they are scenic and vacationay and include an overnight in a hotel.

Here is the tentative plan, which does not include 5Ks or Turkey Trots, etc.

Feb. 7: 10-mile Mid-Winter Classic in Cape Elizabeth, ME {registered}
May 30: Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT {registered}
August 7: Beach to Beacon 10k in Cape Elizabeth, ME {if I can get in... fills up super fast}
September 18: MDI Half Marathon in Bar Harbor, ME
October 3: Maine Marathon (or Half) in Portland, ME
November 7: Maine Coast Half Marathon in York, ME

I'm itching to get going here, but I also love all the anticipation.
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Lastly, there was a great article in the last Runner's World called "A Few Rules to Run By" and some of the tidbits (that I'll paraphrase and/or expand upon) rang especially true for me:

- Running means expanding your sense of fun (to include waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 10 miles. Wee!)

- Running with someone faster than you? Time to employ the open-ended question! Say: "Tell me about your new job" (and then let your running partner talk and talk while you work to keep up.)

- It's fine to lie and say "Lookin' good!" to a runner at the end of a hard race. (Even if they look like death. And when you are that runner, you won't think that they might be lying, you will believe that you are indeed lookin' good.)

- Learn and love the farmer's blow. (No thanks (ew), but I would like to learn to spit like a man. I am a terrible spitter.)

- Black toenails are a badge of honor. (Lots of talk of toenails, and losing them, among runners, and I've never had any weird toenail discoloration, let alone lost one. Maybe I'm not working hard enough.)

- 1 glazed doughnut = 2 miles. (or worse: one bagel with cream cheese = 5.5 miles)

- Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50% more hard-core than running the same route on a sunny day. (True true.)

- If you care even a little bit about being called a jogger versus a runner, you're a runner. (I guess I'm a runner).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mama's got a brand new toy

My little digital camera that could do video broke last year (Skyler dropped it) , and I've been sad about missing the ability to capture little snippets. The remedy was under the tree this morning: my new cute little Flip video camera that can fit in my pocket. Expect videos galore coming soon.

This is just from today, just Reed doing his smoothie dance, and yes, he is wearing a bathing suit. In fact, for most of the day he also had on a snorkel and mask.
video
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve, new dress, new sweater.





Off to bed, new flannel pjs from Aunt Liesel


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

wait. who's the crazy one?

Me, to myself: "This seat belt is driving me crazy."
Skyler, to me: "Mom, don't let that seat belt drive you even crazier than you already are."



Reed: "Mommy? I need to tell you sumpin."
Me: "Oh yeah? What is it?"
Reed: "I need to talk to you about sumpin."
Me: "Tell me."
Reed: "Okay, are you ready for me to tell you sumpin? Here I go."
Me: "Yes! Tell me!"
Reed: "And a one, and a two, and a one, two, three."
Me: waiting
Reed: "Mommy? I need to talk to you about sumpin. I really do. Okay, here goes."


(Now repeat. I never get to find out what it is that he has to tell me, but this happens all day long.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A lengthy post on chicken nuggets and other epiphanies

After I wrote this post about what I feed my kids for dinner, I was so annoyed with myself, and wanted to take back what I said and pretend it wasn't true. I felt really exposed. Cheap and dirty. Chicken nuggets (I hate even typing the word nugget, such a gross word) are against everything I believe in and stand for.

Am I being over dramatic? Yes, probably. But I did read Michael Pollan's book, Omnivore's dilemma, and I just let myself conveniently block out what I read. Want to know, or be reminded of, what exactly is in a chicken nugget from McDonalds (and everywhere else, I assume)? Look here, and read all the way to the bottom.

But here is the thing. After I wrote that post, I was struck with the most ridiculously obvious solution to my problem. We aren't going to buy them anymore. I just decided that we will be a processed-chicken and hot-dog free household. And I said so to Sam, and he said "really? okay." Done and done.

This epiphany is actually similar to others I have had over the past few years. Here is my pattern: I have a feeling that something is not going the way I want it to in my life, and I get overwhelmed with the feeling that it will always have to be that way, that it is beyond my control, until I somehow remember that actually, I have absolute control over it. And I can make a change. I just have to decide to change it.

So simple it's embarrassing to write.

Case in point (or, here she goes talking about running again):
For all of my teenage and adult life, I said (to myself and to others) that I could not run. I wanted to be a runner, was jealous of all the runners I saw out there, wind in their hair, but I just couldn't do it myself. I could swim forever, but I was just not made to run. I hated it and found it to be really hard, so I told myself, and I had to stop and walk after a quarter of a mile. Once I decided that I wanted to run, and that it was totally within my control to train myself to do so, I started chipping away at it, and we all know what that led to. Running a marathon was my new self saying to my old self: Ha. And you thought you had all the answers.

Case in point 2:
After Reed was born, I was out of shape and unhappy with my post-baby weight. I settled into a funk, feeling like I would always be a little heavier than I wanted to. Actually, I had learned to live with being a little heavier than I wanted to be for years. Until one day, when Reed was 6 months old, my friend Suzanne and I talked about it, and she was having great success losing weight, and it occurred to me for the first time ever (duh) that I could do something about my weight. I started working on it that day. 6 months and 25 pounds later, I was back to my high school weight, and felt better than ever. More importantly, my new self said to my old self: Ha. And you thought you were stuck forever.

So now, two things: I came home from the marathon and ate like I was still running 35 miles a week. But I wasn't running 35 miles a week anymore. Now that it is December, all that eating has caught up with me a little bit (Okay, fine. You want to know? 7 pounds).

I had one day of beating myself up for the extra pounds, and now I'm fine. I know exactly how to remedy this situation. Totally within my control. Been there. Done that. Truth be told, I find way more satisfaction in keeping careful track of what I eat and being disciplined (and being rewarded by meeting my goals) than I do from eating like a wild woman*. My plan is to get back to my fighting weight before Feb. 1 when I start training for the next marathon.

*It may or may not be true that I ate an entire pecan pie over Thanksgiving weekend by myself. I can't be totally sure.


AND, back to what my kids eat: I am done feeding them crap for dinner. Done! I'm not going to go nuts and insist they eat roasted beets, spinach pie, and broiled salmon (what WE had last night!), but nothing else that I wouldn't want to eat myself. Maybe even more important, we will sit down with the kids while they eat and try to all eat together when we can (damn schedules!). I don't like how Reed gets up from the table 19 times during dinner? That's my fault. While they eat, he sees me cooking our dinner, checking email, cleaning the kitchen, and reading Runner's World while pretending to listen to them. I know. I suck. But I can get better.

And, to add to the fun and keep up the promises, I will keep you posted. I will make this my new project, to come up with healthy foods that I can offer them and try to add to our repertoire of what they will eat happily. I will work to make dinner time a much more positive experience for all.

So far, I am happy with these foods that they will eat:
veggie burgers, quesadillas, chicken soup, (organic) macaroni and cheese, tortellini, grilled cheese, chicken-apple sausages, and turkey burgers.

They love pizza, but I will stick with our home-made variety and put some veggies on there too.

They already eat lots of fruit and veggies for side dishes, so I am happy with that, but I am begging for suggestions of foods you are able to get your picky eaters to eat. Send them on down, and I will keep you posted on how we do as we head into 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

somebody stop me

I lucked out yesterday... Skyler's Kindergarten class went on a field trip late enough in the afternoon that I could go as the chaperone. Working moms never get to do that!

Her class went down the street to sing songs at a senior citizen home, dressed as elves, of course!


We rode a bus because it was zero degrees. no degrees. none.


They did their little show,

and while they were mingling with the old folks, I realized I could take everyone's photo and Skyler could give them out as Christmas presents! Here are some of my favorites:





We zipped over to Target to print them, and then later that night, we assembled the rest of the little packages.

Skyler and I made these reindeer cookies:


And then we made little packages for everyone
- a group photo of the class and everyone got their own elf portrait
- one of skyler's handmade salt-dough ornaments

- and a reindeer cookie tucked behind.


All packed up and ready to go! Skyler couldn't go to sleep because she was so excited to deliver the goods.

I hope I still have enough energy to do this for Reed someday too. I'm tired.

my children eat beets, and other lies I may have accidentally told you

A few posts ago, I wrote about how I've been eating "power foods" as much as possible to try and stay healthy, and wrote specifically about spinach salads and beets. My cousin Paige commented that she could never get her kids to eat beets.

Ummmm.

This made me think about what other falsities I may accidentally lead you to believe.

My kids don't eat beets. Spinach? Not a chance. Skyler will eat bowls of broccoli and peas, and Reed will eat peas and mashed sweet potatoes. With lots of butter and salt. But that's it. They are totally unadventurous eaters. About beets, Reed says: "those are basgusting." Roasted squash? Skyler says: "Gross."

The biggest way that I suck as a parent is that I allowed my kids to become picky eaters, and that I started them off as little kids eating chicken nuggets (I cringe to even say those words together) and now they love them. They also love mac and cheese, hot dogs and pizza. And if I don't feel like fighting them on it, that's what they eat. I don't photograph their plates of food. I have lots of friends whose kids eat what they eat for dinner and I think: damn. I screwed that one up. I cook separate meals for my kids every night and then Sam or I make what we're having. I see a New Years Resolution brewing here.

I vividly remember that when I was pregnant with Skyler, I said: "I'm never going to let my kids eat chicken nuggets or fries so they just won't know they exist." HA HA HA HA HA HA. Ha. That's rich! I also said that my kids wouldn't drink juice. Hilarious.

While I'm at it, the other biggest way that I suck as a parent is that I let them watch tv while I'm trying to get something done in the kitchen, and when my intentions are to let them watch for 20 minutes, that almost always stretches into too long.

I know this isn't earth-shattering stuff, and I know we all crop our photos and choose our angles to make things look the prettiest but I just feel like saying that on a typical day my kids exhaust me, I often forget to use my calm mommy voice, Sam and I argue about stupid crap, I forget to be grateful for everything that I have, I fixate on what I don't have that I want, and my kids eat processed chicken for dinner.

Phew. I feel much better now. Thanks.

Oh wait... this one is too good to pass up: On Thanksgiving evening, my kids were hungry before any part of the dinner was ready and we were all so sick of cooking that I gave them peanut butter and jelly and sliced bananas for dinner. They were psyched.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a whole lotta work love

I'd always wanted to try to make candied orange peels, and this year I decided I was crazy enough to try it. Here is how you make it:

Peel, peel, peel oranges. Eat some, (oranges, not peels) feed a bunch to your kids, put the rest in a bowl for later.


Boil the peels in water. Dump out the water. Refill pot with cold water. Repeat x 4. (this is to get rid of the bitterness in the peels)

Next simmer the slivers of peel in 3 1/2 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar (!) for an hour. Don't stir.

Strain.

Coat each strip in sugar. Get really tired halfway through and realize you are kind of in a pinch because you can't stop now. Keep rolling, rolling, rolling and lining them up on trays.

Set them out to dry over night.

Good Morning! They are done! Except for the dark chocolate dip.


Dip in dark chocolate



Then bag them up for Christmas presents. And eat a bunch to test. YUM.


now about those oranges...
a whole pitcher of carrot orange juice (that whole bowl of oranges plus 8 carrots in the juicer) has helped me fight off a cold.


kids drinking vegetables makes mom happy.

Christmasy



Sam hooked up his laptop to the projector and we've been getting cozy in sleeping bags and watching Christmas stories on the big wall.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reedo says (boy, does he ever)

This boy doesn't stop talking, and I could post just about everything he says because he is so, so, so funny to us. Here are a few zingers, all from just today:

On the way to the doctor for his flu vaccines, he said: "I already got my shot" (referring to the iv in the hospital) "and it was NOT on my favorite list."

On the way to daycare: "Mommy, you shouldn't go to work. It's too dangerous out there."

Talking about going to swim practice with Sam's team while I took Skyler for her check-up:
"I love kicking with those big girls." and "I love splashing with my team."
(When I got there to pick him up, he was holding onto the side of the pool doing the kicking drill with 35 high school kids, right in the fray, smiling his head off. Sam said he wore a team swim cap and goggles for the whole practice. Did I mention that he is 2?)

After he bravely got his two shots without crying:
Me: "Do you know who makes me very proud?"
Reed: "Suzanne!" (Yes, my friend Suzanne does make me very proud.)

After I tucked him in and turned out the light.
Reed: "Are you going to go do laundry and then come back?"
Me: "Yes. I'll be back to kiss you."
Reed: "Okay, but not so fast. You calm down. You do deep breaths like this..." (shows me deep breathing).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Tis the Season

for sledding!



and frequent package delivery!


and Christmas crafts!

Wednesday gave us a SNOW DAY (all schools in the state were canceled except Sam's school...seriously), so we stayed in and made salt dough ornaments, thanks to my friend Kelly's inspiration.

Rolling out the dough:

Ready to bake:

All painted for Skyler's kindergarten friends:


Then we braved the storm and drove (only 2 miles) to the Carvers for cookie decoration!

I love this photo. Suzanne is explaining the process to the girls. Look at them. Do you think our voices sound to them like the adults in Charlie Brown?


very cooperative:



This is Ella's. It's about an inch thick with frosting, sprinkles, and coconut.


This is Maya's. Very post-modern.


One of the (many, many, many) great things about going to the Carvers' house is that they have really stretchy yoga bands that they can hang from the ceiling and the kids hang on and jump. They just FLY. Last week we had 4 sets of cords up and Skyler, Ella, Reed and Maya all jumping (but I had no camera). It was quite a sight.


Yesterday we set out to cut down the Christmas Tree! There is a great tree farm right at the end of our street, so we walked down the road:

and when we realized how painfully freaking cold it was, Sam went back to get the truck.


and at this point, Sam and Skyler braved the cold to cut down the tree,


while Reed and I stayed in the truck with the heat blasting.



Until they came back and tossed the tree atop the car,


and even though things hadn't gone as planned, I still took pleasure in the kids' rosy cheeks


and I reminded myself of my mother when I started everyone singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain"

while we drove home to decorate. More photos coming.