Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween (weekend)!

Spiderman and Rosie the Riveter are exhausted, in jammies, and ready for bed on Halloween night.  Mom and Dad won't be far behind.

Friday night, we started at a great Halloween party at the Karate school where Skyler wore her original costume, a fairy in a princess-y dress with wings.  When she complained that it was uncomfortable (and frankly, very un-Skyler), I seized the opportunity and pulled together this Rosie the Riveter costume.  I was surprised how into it she was.  I showed her photos of the Rosie poster online and told her that Rosie was one of the first women to go to work building airplanes that everyone else thought was only a man's job.

I knew she got it when she said on Saturday:  "I'm going to paint, and if I get paint on my clothes it's okay because it will just show how hard Rosie was working on those airplanes."

Saturday, we went to our friend Jody and Justin's Annual Pumpkinfest (sans costumes since it was so cold).

I got 5 inches of hair cut off on Saturday morning; it feels much better.

Next we had a Halloween party at Skyler's school.

 Skyler took every opportunity to flex her muscles.

p.s.  We think that some people might have thought she was dressed as a gang member. 

That's three parties and it wasn't even Halloween yet.

Halloween morning I woke up for an early 9 mile run with Susan and Jen and this is what Jen's front yard looked like:
Our run was good despite the rain/ snow that was coming down the whole way.  It was about 33 degrees, and I swear that I am still not warmed up 10 hours later.  I just got chilled to the bone in a way that has made me feel like I'm getting sick.  That might explain why I was kind of dragging for the last 4 miles. 

Now, for the actual Halloween night!  It snowed until about 2:00 but didn't stick.  But it was cold, and trick-or-treating lasted about 45 minutes, which was A-OK by us.

 Look at Ella and Maya in their matching Penguin suits.  Look at Skyler, still showing off her muscles!  Check out the muscles (layers) under Reed's costume.  And still... brrrrrr.

Ella was stuffed with pillows and had a serious penguin waddle going on, so much so that she needed a lift between houses.  

I am still feeling like I can't shake the chills, so I was cupping my hot tea and trying to keep moving while the kids cruised from house to house

 We're ready for bed now, and I'm still cold!  Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween... can't wait to see all the photos of everyone's little ones. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yes she can!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

updates and funnies

From what I hear, everyone's favorite post about the kids might be Reed's husband Matt.
Matt is definitely still a part of our lives, but he comes and goes.  Reed tells me, when we are driving home from school, "that's my husband Matt's house," pointing at a different house each day.  For a while it was true that Matt didn't have a dad, and had two moms.  But that morphed into "my husband Matt has a dad, but he's at work so his two moms take care of him."

Other details include:
"My husband Matt is 5 years old and has black hair."
"Matt is my husband, and Kristian is also my husband."  (hope that's okay, Christine!)
"My husband Matt sleeps in my bed and he is a very good sleeper.  He lies very still."
"When I play at my husband Matt's house, we go swimming and we have to watch out for the alligators."

Last week, tragically, Reed's husband Matt died.  "Because somebody died him."  Yikes.  But Matt comes back to life sometimes, especially when Reed needs an explanation of who made such a mess with the legos.  "Matt did."

Other random Reed-isms:

Last weekend we went hiking with Jackson who took off into the woods and was missing for about twenty minutes.  Reed said:  "I guess we didn't need a dog anyway."   

Reed, when he's on his way to time out for something, figures he might as well get all his trouble out of his system at once, he says:  "POOP STUPID DUMB FAT."

Recently I explained to Skyler that she could not say "Dammit" but she could say "Darnit."  Reed overheard the conversation, but heard it a little differently.  So, he's thrilled that I told him it's okay to say:  "Tampit."  Now when he doesn't get his way, he shouts:  "Aw, TAMPIT!" 

Skyler started Karate last night, which has elicited laughs from a few people who know about last week's playground drama.  But really, we didn't want Skyler to start Karate so she could chop-kick the mean girls (then again...).  Sam has actually talked about Karate for our kids since they were babies. I was skeptical until last night's class.

I took Skyler to "watch" her first class which is called (adorably) "Tiny Tigers" and she joined in with the class within the first two minutes.  She did great.  It was so much fun to watch the class, the emphasis on fun, strength, focus, discipline and self esteem  (yes please!).  In this one class she learned to bow on and bow off the mats, to address the teacher with "Yes, Ma'am,"  to always say "may I please" and be polite to parents, to always protect your head,  and to be "the strongest person in the world!" (hands raised!).  

There were some three-year-olds in the class, so guess what?  I don't know about you, but when I hear the words "discipline," "self-control" and "focus" the first person who comes to mind is Reed.  

We signed him up too.  There are little white uniforms and oh my goodness there will be photographs. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

dinner for four.

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of cooking a meal for our dear friends Sandi and Suzanne, something we had wanted to do for months as a way to thank them for the amazing friends that they are to us and to our children.  They got a babysitter and my mom took both of our kids for a sleepover, so we actually had an entire evening all to ourselves in our own house.  It was weird.  It was wonderful.

Sam and I had fun pouring over cookbooks trying to come up with an adventurous menu.

One thing about Sam and me (that we know and acknowledge) is that we don't play well together in the kitchen.  If I am making something and Sam stands over my shoulder and makes a suggestion, I don't know why, but I find it exceedingly irksome, even if he has a good point.  And he doesn't love my need-to-control everything attitude either, so we usually have a general rule that only one person cooks at a time.  But this was a big job, so we decided to split the menu in half.

Here is the menu:
Mixed Greens                                French Bread                           Carrot-Coriander Soup       
Moroccan Chicken Pie                  Stuffed Red Peppers                Chocolate Fondue

The Essential Mediterranean CookbookAll of the recipes came from this Mediterranean Cookbook that I  borrowed stole from my mom. 

Sam made the bread, salad and stuffed peppers.  I made the soup, chicken pie, and chocolate fondue.

We cooked all day, taking turns keeping the kids busy.  In the late afternoon, I dropped off the kids at my mom's and then we came home and got to do one of my very favorite things:  cook with a glass of wine while friends sit in the kitchen and talk and laugh and eat cheese and olives. 

Here is the food.  I'll post recipes at the bottom.
 Sam prepping the bread for the oven.  I love a man in an apron.

Carrot-Coriander Soup and Salad.

Moroccan Chicken Pie, before it was sliced.

Red Peppers stuffed with brown rice, pine nuts, currants and spices.

 After dinner, we lingered for hours over a bowl of chocolate fondue and a platter of things to dip into it.  (Couldn't find the fondue pot which is somewhere with the rarely-used kitchen stuff). 
Cheers to an evening with beautiful friends, music on the stereo, and otherwise-occupied-children.

Here are the recipes:

Stuffed Peppers

6 medium peppers (red, yellow or orange)
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 ounces pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup currants
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.  Remove tops and seeds from peppers and blanch the peppers (not the tops) in boiling water for 2 minutes and then dry on paper towels.
2.  Preheat oven to 350. 
3.  Mix all ingredients, pine nuts through the cinnamon with the rice.  Divide the mixture among the peppers.
4.  Stand the peppers in a baking dish in which they fit snugly.  Place tops on peppers and drizzle all the peppers with a little olive oil.  Bake for 40 minutes.

Carrot-Coriander Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 1/2 pounds of carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
5 cups chicken stock

1.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and carrot and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
2.  Add the bayleaf and spices to cook for 2 minutes.  Add the stock, bring to boil, simmer for 40 minutes.  Cool slightly then blend in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
3.  Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Moroccan Chicken Pie (Bisteeya)

6 tbs butter
3 lbs of chicken (I used breasts)
1 large onion, chopped
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped almonds

12 oz filo pastry dough

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan, add the chicken, onion, 2 tsp of the cinnamon, all the other spices and the chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
3.  Remove chicken from sauce and let cool.  Shred the meat into thin strips.
4.  Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer and add the eggs.  Cook the mixture, stirring constantly until the eggs are cooked and the mixture is quite dry.  Add the chicken, chopped cilantro and parsley, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
5.  Bake the almonds on a cookie sheet until golden brown.  Cool slightly and then blend in a food processor with a tbsp of sugar and remaining 2 tsp of cinnamon.
6.  Melt the remaining 4 tbs of butter.  Place a sheet of filo on a greased pizza tray (or, I used a spring form pan which held everything together really well).  Brush with the melted butter.  Place another sheet on top in a pinwheel effect and brush with butter.  Continue brushing and layering until you have used 8 sheets.  Place the chicken mixture on top and sprinkle with the almond mixture.
7.  Fold the overlapping filo over the top of the filling.  Place a sheet of filo over the top and brush with butter.  Continue to layer and butter sheets of filo in the same pinwheel effect until you have used 8 sheets again.  Tuck the overhanging edges over the pie to form a neat round parcel.  Brush well with the remaining butter.  Bake the pie for 40 minutes until cooked through and golden.

What's for Dinner?

Don't you love a nice soup in the fall?  Yes, me too.

I found this recipe in Fresh magazine that is put out by our grocery store. As usual, I made a few changes.  The Recipe is called Asian Meatball Soup with Kale and Rice Noodles but I ended up making

Asian Meatball Soup with Kale and Sweet Potato:

4 cups chicken broth
4 quarter size slices of ginger
2 cups diced sweet potatoes
1 tsp grated ginger

12 oz ground beef (I used turkey)
1 egg white
2 tsp plain bread crumbs
2 cloves minced garlic
2.5 tsp soy sauce

3 cups trimmed chopped kale
1.5 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced.

1.  In a large saucepan, combine broth and ginger slices.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add sweet potatoes, diced.  Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender.
2.  While broth cooks, make meatballs.  Combine grated ginger, meat, egg white, bread crumbs, garlic and soy sauce.  Form 16-20 meatballs.
3.  Remove ginger slices from the broth with a slotted spoon and discard.  Place meatballs in the broth and bring to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes.  Add kale.  Cook for 10 more minutes.
4.  If you are adding rice noodles now, you would want to have them cooked and rinsed and then add them at the very end.
5.  Stir sesame oil and scallions into broth.  Divide into 4 bowls and serve.

With all of those power foods, this soup felt very healing and tasted great.

Monday, October 25, 2010

chins up!

"Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses."--Confucius.

We made it through Monday and came out with our heads high.  I've been focusing on good things, loving the dickens out of my children, showing patience and kindness all around, ordering books about developing strong girls, and doing a lot of yoga breathing.

One of the pitfalls of my personality is that I am very, very quick to get from problem to worst-case-scenario in my mind.  I don't always give voice to these dangerous places that my mind goes to, but I just kind of fester in a state of worry.  Hoo boy. 

In 3 seconds flat, I can go from:  Sam isn't home when he's supposed to.
to:  I'm going to be so lonely and stressed out as a widow and single mom.

from:  That's a weird rash on Reed's back.
to:  "Boy, 3, dies of weird rash on back."

from:  Skyler had a bad week at school.
to:  I need to quit my job and homeschool, or
we need to move away, or 
I'm going to need anti-anxiety meds.

We had a great weekend.  I decided to stop interrogating Skyler about school and just love her.  We had a few conversations about kindness and being strong and walking away from people who use unkind words.  We practiced saying:  "I don't need that in my life" when someone is not being nice.  I might have given her a few hundred kisses and snuggles.  

Today Sam and I had a very positive meeting with her teacher and the school counselor and I walked out of there feeling 25 pounds lighter and very proud of us for advocating for our girl.    Everything that I wanted her teacher to say, she said.  And Skyler had a great day at school.  So, we are moving forward and assuming that this past week was a bump on the road.  We are focusing on kindness and not on injury.

I'm not suggesting that I over-reacted, because I am very glad that we made our concerns known to the school.  But I would like to teach myself to have concern and take action without getting myself into a state of heart-wrenching panic. 

I did learn quite a lot this past week, and also asked myself a lot of questions.  Some of these have been answered and some are left floating around in my head.  

What is the line between advocating and hovering?
How much should I push my children to give me all of the details about their day?
Should I even be writing on the blog about their experiences at school?
When do our children's stories not belong to us anymore?
How do I separate their experiences and my feelings about them?  

Why doesn't it sting quite as much when Reed says someone is mean on the playground?
How do you teach a six-year-old to avoid girls who need power?
Should I have written about something so painful while I was still right smack in the middle of it?

I removed the posts about Skyler's experiences only because it was stressing me out to have them there.  I can't totally explain it, but I wanted to be able to move on and every time I imagined logging on here, I knew that I would re-read those posts and I needed a break from my own thoughts. 

In conclusion:  Everyone needs more kindness.  I love my babies.  Parenting is hard.  Amen. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

onward and upward!

We are thinking happy thoughts and sticking tightly together this weekend. The day is full of sunshine and we have fun plans for the weekend ahead.

Thank you everyone, for all of the love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

I have often looked at the Pumpkin Streusel Muffin recipe on the back of the granola I eat every day (I put 2 tablespoons atop my Chobani Greek Yogurt; lately I'm into honey flavor).

I finally got around to making a big batch.  I know that I always say this, but this time I really mean it when I say YUM: YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE RIGHT NOW!

Technically, you use this Pumpkin Flax Seed Granola as part of the streusel topping, but I'm sure you could use any granola or just use plain oats.  What you want is this healthy and delicious pumpkin muffin, perfect in texture,  so just make them and figure out something to sprinkle on top.

Preheat oven to 350.

2 cups flour (I use half white and half whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Add dry ingredients to this combination of things:
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cinnamon
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (I doubled the recipe and used one can)

Mix it all together with your mixer on medium.

Pour into greased muffin tin.

Now make the streusel topping:

Mix together until mixture resembles crumbs.
1/2 cup granola or oats
2 tbs flour
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbs butter, chilled

Sprinkle a spoonful of the streusel topping on each muffin and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Eat them or package them up quickly before your kids take them all.

Watch Reed take my photo prop and eat it.

Now go make them!

Monday, October 18, 2010

a video ode to my friends.

Can you feel the love?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Race Report: MDI Marathon Relay

Disclaimer:  This is another ultra happy race report with an overall yay-for-running, yay-for-my-friends, yay-life motif.  I mean, just look at this sparkling October day.    The fall color is at its absolute peak, and we got to spend the whole day out there in the fresh air and autumnal splendor.   Let's just say it was very clear today why the MDI Marathon was voted the MOST SCENIC in the UNITED STATES by Runners World Magazine.  If Runners World also voted for the most fun, most enthusiastic group of running moms, we'd win hands down.

As I think I said earlier, we ran this marathon as a relay in two teams of three. 
 Team "Eat. Pray. Run."
Susan, Emilie, Suzanne.

 And Team "Sporty Moms."
Christine, Amy, Jen.

Amy and I ran the first 8.5 mile leg.  Here we are ready to go:

This is apparently what I look like when I'm at a marathon starting line with all the joy and none of the nerves.  Feeling pretty calm.

Amy and I ran at a very comfy pace and didn't really race it at all.  We stuck together, chatted and laughed, and oohed at the scenery. I felt so good, so relaxed, so happy, like I could act the way I want to act in a full marathon, waving at the crowds, thanking the volunteers, smiling!

The section that Amy and I ran had quite a lot of uphills and a few lovely down hills.  I can't overstate how beautiful this island is right now.  It's beautiful year round, but this is probably the single-most magically golden day of the year there because of the peak color and the bright skies.  We ran on a main road for the first 4 miles and then turned to run through a neighborhood of million dollar homes.  The road was narrow, with stone walls running along both sides, thick with trees exploding with color, and after a few miles, an ocean view through the woods.  I was seriously getting high off of the view.  I was giddy.

Susan and Christine, getting ready for Leg #2.

And here we come!

And guess what?  I really didn't want to stop.
Now it was time to get in the car, bundle up in the hunter's orange windbreaker that we all got (with the MDI logo embroidered on it... it's equal parts ugly and adorable) because we quickly got really cold, and chase our running girls.  Here are Susan and Christine ripping it up while I simultaneously cheer for them and video tape them.  And drive.

We made our way to the next hand-off point where Suzanne and Jen were gearing up to bring us home.

And here they come!  Suzanne is doing some sort of cheer or tribal dance.
A little bit of loving and then... they go for the final 7.6 miles.

Phew!  Happy to have 10.1 miles done!

 We made our way to the finish line area where we waited at the Mile 26 marker for Jen and Suzanne.

We cheered for all the marathoners as they passed us, and tried to find the ones who looked like we want to look at the end of a marathon.  I saw lots of tough women looking strong, in control, and smiling.  We decided today that we are going to keep running marathons until we look like that at mile 26.

A few minutes later I saw a woman with that bleary-eyed-vacant stare, mouth agape, sweaty, pale, barely moving forward.  I said hello to my marathon self and gave her some extra love, to which she didn't respond.  Yep.  Been there.

Soon enough, our girls showed up (huge props to Jen who ran with a hurt foot) and all six of us ran the last .2 together and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

We felt a little bit like imposters, not running the whole distance, and didn't quite feel like we deserved the medals.  But more importantly, we had a total blast.

Thank you Matt Smith for the finish line shots!

All in all, I loved the relay experience, especially as a way to make a really hilly course more manageable.  But I think (right girls?) that we came to a consensus to do this as a full next year, but to just take it easy, stay together, and enjoy the ride like we did today.  If you are a marathoner (or thinking about becoming a marathoner), consider an October trip to Maine next year for this seriously stunning course.
 We still have one more big event (York Half Marathon) to look forward to before our "season" ends.
I am so thankful to Sam for being so supportive about all these races.  It works out well for us that he has a lot of swim events and meets in the winter and spring (did I just say that?) so we both know how the other one feels.  I do feel like everyone is ready for Mommy to have some consecutive weekends of just being at home,  but they are all being very cool about letting me do my thing. 

I have some really fun video from today that I'll put together in the next few days to show you.  Good luck getting back to work tomorrow... I know I'll need it.  Good night!