Sunday, June 24, 2012

training report

Don't tell running, but I think I'm in love with biking.  I'm really enjoying the variety of the training for the 70.3.

I had three great rides this week, all of them very different, and all beautiful.  I feel like my body gets a great workout without hurting, and I don't have to force myself out the door for a bike ride like I sometimes have to do for a long run.  Whereas most of the time, I think that running is all work and no fun, biking is lots of work, but lots of fun, and all of the hard work has a pay off, every up has a down. 

Suz and I did another early bike ride on Saturday.  This time, 31 miles at 5 am.  AND, I had ridden 24 miles the night before, so I was feeling kind of worked.  Especially in one particular area.  Yes, that area.

Here we are out in the willy wacks at 6:30 in the morning when we stopped to check my phone for directions when a street sign was askew.  Our bike ride included lots of beautiful country roads, deer, a chipmunk, a luna moth, many tractors and red barns.  Also, love, laughter, and swearing. 

 We were home by 7 am and I had time for 2 cups of coffee before the kids woke up.  Winning!

I had a pretty solid training week, though I'm still not doing all that I'm supposed to do.  I did finally go to my first swim practice with the local masters swim team.  I hadn't been in a pool in a YEAR and I was pleasantly surprised how great it felt to be in the water, and I was able to hold my own with the other swimmers. They workout at 5:45, which I love, and a few of the guys there are friends of mine.  It was awesome.  I'm going again tomorrow. 

Let's compare the plan with my reality:

SWIM:  The plan for this week said:  3 swims at 1000 yards each
Reality:  I did one swim at 2100 yards (so that's kind of like 2 swims, right?)

BIKE:  The plan said 3 rides at 20, 20, and 30 miles
Reality:  I rode 10 miles, 24 miles and 31.5 miles

RUN:  The plan said to run 30 minutes, 40 minutes and 50 minutes
Reality:  I did 2 runs, 3 miles and 4 miles, so I guess I missed the 50 minute run

I'm getting there!  I'm going to try to get in 3 swims this week while keeping up with the bikes and runs. 

Parting shots:  Skyler and Reed with sparklers from our night with the Carvers on Saturday. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

I've got parenting skills.

But they don't always work.

Exhibit A:  Reed has a nasty little temper.  He has big blue eyes and perfect skin and soft blonde hair, and when he sleeps he's so beautiful that I swear to God I can hear angels singing, but he has a streak of terror that belies his angelic look.   If you send him to time out, he will go, but he always picks up something and throws it on his way.  Or, he'll kick the wall.  Then he does the most impressive mad face and crosses his arm and spits daggers at you with his eyes.  And I try not to laugh because he's still so freaking cute.  I also try not to be sarcastic, but I can't avoid saying, when he kicks the wall and consequentially hurts his foot,  "I bet you feel a whole lot better now, huh?"  More daggers.

So, I've been working on teaching him to do deep breathing and count to ten when he gets mad.  Instead of throwing or kicking, I try to get him to breathe in through his nose and blow out through his mouth and count to ten.

The other day, Reed was furious because I took away a toy for talking rudely to me.  He was fuming.  He was sitting on the floor, and had just taken off his shoes.  I watched him pick up a shoe.  I said:  "Reed, do your breathing."  He huffed and puffed and counted.  One.  Two.  Three.  Deep breath.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Deep breath.  Seven.  Eight.  Nine.   On ten, he picked up that shoe and chucked it at the wall so hard it left a mark.

Okay.  Next strategy?

Exhibit B:  I've been reading the book Siblings Without Rivalry that was given to me by my friend Susan when Reed was born.  I smugly didn't read it for 5 years because my children are not like other children, and there was no rivalry.  Until this year when they are sometimes so mean to and mad at each other that it makes me want to cry and pull out hairs (mine and theirs).  

The book is great, full of actual strategies to help your kids get along with each other.  I read chapters 1-2 the other night and the basic advice is that instead of constantly telling your kids to "stop fighting!" and "don't touch each other" and "grow up,"   kids need their feelings of frustration and jealousy about their siblings to be heard, acknowledged, and understood.  There are lots of role-playing examples to illustrate what parents should say, things like "I know it must be very frustrating when your brother knocks down your block tower" or "It's not fun to be left behind, is it?"  But there are some ideas that made me laugh out loud and I doubt that was the author's intention:  "You must be so enraged.  Would you like to draw a picture that shows me how you feel?" or "You can't hurt your sister, but you can show me your feelings with your doll."  (Yikes!  Reed would decapitate the doll, and then where would I go from there???)

Anyway, reading this book gave me a good reminder that I need to, especially in Skyler's case, let my kids express their feelings of frustration instead of shutting them down.  She gets VERY frustrated with Reed several times a day.  He touches her, pokes her, and gets into her space, so I shouldn't blame her.  But she can yell back at him in a very biting tone.

The other night, I sent her to her room because she called Reed "stupid," and she yelled it.  She was very upset by the injustice that she had been sent to her room, and was crying loudly.  She has an especially, um, inspired type of dramatic cry when she feels she's being treated unfairly.   I thought about what the authors of the book would say, and went into her room. I was pretty proud of myself when I said:  "Why don't you spend a few minutes thinking about five words that you would use to describe Reed and how he makes you feel.  I turned to walk out of her room.  She sat right up and shouted:  "RUDE.  DISGUSTING.  HURTFUL.  MEAN.  DESTRUCTIVE.  AND ANNOYING."  Then she continued to wail. 

I said:  "Good job.  That was six words.  And I'm glad we had this little talk."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good morning to you: help, hugs, and puppy rescues.

All I have for you today is this wonderful series of photographs.

If this doesn't make you feel good all over, well then...

At the very least, this will make you want to pay for someone's coffee today.

21 Pictures that will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

all winter, we wait for this.

This smoothie is called "Mommy Wins":  Orange juice, pomegranate juice, 2 cups raw spinach, banana, blueberries, and yogurt.

Cheers!  Post-swim practice smoothies by the fire. 

Just a regular Monday evening with the crazies.  :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post: Chris returns to Indonesia

Today I am so excited to share a guest post from my brother Chris who just returned from a 3-week  trip to Bali, Indonesia.  It sounds like Chris' trip hit the reset button for him like my trip to Mexico did for me. Nothing like traveling to a whole different side of the world to be reminded of what is most important. And, after reading this, there are three things that I all of a sudden want and need.

1. I need to go to Indonesia.
2. I need to go to Indonesia with my brother.
3. I need to ride to the beach on a scooter with my surfboard on a surfboard rack.   It's going on the bucket list.

Speaking of surfing, reading about this trip did not help with my hankering to get back on a surfboard. If anyone wants to sponsor me with a long board and wetsuit,  you just say the word.

 Read on for my brother's awesome description of his trip.

"In 1999 I was fortunate enough to spend a solid month in Indonesia. I was drawn there by images of lush green rice paddy landscapes, an adventurous and rich culture, and the perfect waves of the Indian Ocean breaking on the reefs of the 17,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. The trip was everything I could have hoped for, and I moved on to planning travel to other places on my short list.

This year, a few things came together that brought me back, the main catalyst being that my good friend Will has been living in Bali for about 8 months. He is as close to a brother as I could have, a truly inspirational person, and even though he lives in New York he is one of those friends where distance doesn't diminish the bond. Returning to Indonesia 13 years later was akin to reconnecting with an old dear friend, figuratively and literally.

One night around the dinner table at Will's house we all took a turn explaining what it was about Bali that meant so much to us. One thing everyone expressed in some fashion, was the friendliness of the people and the richness of Bali's predominant feature, its Hindu culture. Between the dress, the offerings of flowers and incense, the intricate carvings and art that decorate every building, there is an overwhelming sense of spirituality. There are areas of worship everywhere, the running joke in Bali is to give someone directions and tell them to turn left at the temple.

Riding through Ubud on motorbikes is a splendid exercise in sensory overload. There are beautiful rice fields of the richest green mixed between open air restaurants, stone temples, grass-thatched dwellings; incense is burning everywhere, and the traffic is as comical as it is dangerous. I was usually following Will who was always at full throttle with his turn signal on, passing cars and dodging stray dogs every 100 feet as we maneuvered through streets, down alleyways, over paths. And in Indonesia you drive in the left lane. There is no way to ease in to it, you just have to jump in there and adapt, and it could not have been more fun. Getting into the more rural areas was my favorite; kids were always running out to shout hello or give us a high-five as we drove by. The openness and warmth of the people in Indonesia is truly inspiring.

On the way to have dinner with the King of Ubud and about 50 other guests, traditional Balinese dress required.

I spent about two weeks with Will in Ubud on Bali, and then went back to Kuta Lombok, the place I fell in love with on my first trip. It had changed some, but was still amazing, white sand beaches everywhere and some amazing surf in a seaweed fishing village called Grupiuk Bay, a 20 minute scooter ride from the bungalows in Kuta. I ended up hanging out with some amazing people, mostly from Australia, we shared boat rides out to the reef to surf, usually twice a day, once super early and then again right before sunset. I got really lucky with the swell, and conditions could not have been better, but it was crowded as compared to 13 years ago. Indonesia is arguably the best destination for surf on the planet. The swells develop in the Indian ocean and establish a perfect rhythm by the time they hit the coast, there is no continental shelf or obstruction to break up the sets, and the water is crystal clear, warm, and most often over coral reef. As with the last trip I often found myself in a moment where I just was happy to be in the lineup of such beautiful waves. Beyond the joy of surfing, it is just incredible to see first hand the dynamics of the ocean come together in such a perfect way.

I still have a lot more places to travel to, but I would not be surprised at all if I am back to Indonesia for a third time before too long. Might have to bring the kid sister along."

Love you, Christopher.  When do we go???

banana bread experiment: success

After getting the anti-cancer package from my Aunt Ellen, and thinking about ways to tighten up our diet around here, I wanted to try some baking without sugar. I had never baked with Agave before. I forgot to include that a bottle of Agave Nectar came in the package from Ellen.

I started using Agave Nectar last year during my first Clean Food Challenge. It is a thick syrup made from the Agave Cactus, tastes very sweet, and has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it does not give your body the spike and the resulting crash that refined sugar does.
I read some recipes online that used Agave instead of sugar and then combined a bunch into my own recipe. I also added chia seeds for the extra omega-3s. No one will even know they are in there. When I made this bread, I doubled the recipe to make two loaves. You know my theory is that if you are going to mess up the kitchen, you might as well double the batch.


2 ripe bananas
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 1 and 1 white/ whole wheat)
2 tbs chia seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract 1 stick of butter, softened 3 tbs brown sugar and 1/4 cup chopped pecans for the topping (optional)


1. Smash bananas into a pulp and set aside.
2. Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine softened butter with agave and vanilla.
4. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, and add the banana pulp. Mix together.
5. Add batter to a greased loaf pan.
6. Combine brown sugar and pecan topping and sprinkle on the top of the batter.
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The consensus? You won't miss the sugar at all. You don't even need the brown sugar topping. It was sweet, moist, and awesome. My kids devoured it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I have bike-short tanlines and other weekend fun.

I started off my Saturday with an early bike ride with another new biking friend, Emily.   We set out for a 17 mile loop and half way in, Emily's chain came off and then her derailer jammed.  Sidelined out in the middle of nowhere!  Poor Em.  She tried to fix it but it wasn't fixable.  She called her husband to rescue her and I rode on alone.

 The best thing that came out of Emily's bike disaster is that I found out very quickly that my new friend and I share an inner potty mouth.  If you'll get up early to bike with me and you like to swear, I'll love you instantly. 

There are just so many pretty rural areas to bike around here, and I've been loving getting out further and further on my bike.  It pretty much looks like this:  farms, barns, hip-high grasses in the wind, cows, horses, tractors.

 On one road I ride on often, there is a big sign that says "HAY" and I always wave and shout "HEY!"  Cracks me up every time. 

I went out again today for another 20 miles with some killer hills.  I really feel like I'm getting stronger on my bike.  I feel good.   And the only thing hotter than tan lines from bike shorts is tan lines from bike socks.  I've got those, too.

Next up for the day:  Moose Point State Park with my babies.
This was a new destination for me, but Skyler's entire first grade came here on a field trip recently so it was her idea to take us there.  I love how she took charge and showed us around. 

We picnicked on the rocks and we even spotted dolphins swimming in the ocean.  The kids happily explored caves, collected rocks and shells, and we hiked on a very pretty seaside trail through the woods that led us to this giant spruce.

And, the annual summer hair cut, before and after.  I took him to the pros to get it done because last year I did it myself and Reed said that I was "horrible" at it.  I guess I pulled his hair too much and it hurt.  
 The consensus on his hair:  My mom hates it. I absolutely love it.  Sorry, Mom.
He's ready for more summer fun!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A hike and a product review

The company sent me a pair of Tecnica Hiking Shoes to try out and review.  I've worn them a few times just around the neighborhood, and took them out on the trail this week to try them out.  Skyler came along for the hike on her first day of summer while Reed was at school.

Here is what I think.

First of all, I think my daughter is very adorable and cool.   And I love that at her current age of 7, we just walk and talk about all kinds of things on the trail.  I can't say it enough:  being one-on-one with my kids is the best way to appreciate and enjoy them. 

"Hey.  How did this seashell get into the woods?"

Okay, on to the shoes! These Women's Tecnica Shoes (Inferno X-Lite) were comfortable right out of the box.  I didn't need to break them in at all.  I wore them on a hike that had a lot of different surfaces:  grass, trail, rock, wet rock, moss, and some steep ups and downs, and I felt totally comfortable and supported.  They feel sturdier than a sneaker, but not stiff like other hiking shoes I've had.  I wouldn't run in them (and they aren't meant for trail running), but I think they are perfect for the kind of hikes I do with the kids.  If I don't need my leather hiking boots, but sneakers don't feel like enough, these Women's Tecnica shoes will be my go-to shoe.

I have heard great things about Tecnica hiking boots, especially when I worked at an outfitter store in college.   I was unfamiliar with their Women's hiking shoe line, but after my hike with them today, and the fact that I'm still wearing them hours later and they feel great, I give them two thumbs up.

Are they cute?  I don't know.  What do you think?  I would not have picked them up off the rack because I just am not drawn to lavender.  If they were bolder colors, I'd like them more.  I know, function over fashion when you're hiking, but still.  If I were to pay $100 or more for a pair of hiking shoes, I'd like some more color choices.  I do love the "quick-lace system" with the little sliding toggle. 

 They have good treads and did great on slippery terrain.
Actually, the gray and lavender is kind of growing on me.  I think I like them more after they got a little dirty.

I am very grateful to for the chance to review these shoes.  They were provided to me for free, but these opinions are my own.

In conclusion:  comfortable right out of the box, very good on the trail, and once they get dirty, the colors grew on me.  I love the little stretchy-cord laces.  Overall, I'm very happy with these shoes.  Good job, Tecnica!

Here are 2 more photos of Skyler and Jackson enjoying our beautiful hike.

and summer begins...

 I'm not totally done with work for the summer yet because I'm teaching summer school and doing some summer projects, but the students are done!  Grades are in!  Books are counted!  Classrooms are being cleaned!  And Skyler is DONE with 1st grade.  Oh my goodness.

She has met her 2nd grade teacher and is very excited because in 2nd grade you get TO SIT IN A DESK.  This is big stuff, people.

Skyler started a journal called "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" and by dinner time (5 hours after summer began) she had written 3 pages.

I got out of a long and busy and stressful day of work at 3 and hopped on my bike for a ride through the most sunshiney, green, breezy day.  Meanwhile, I got a last minute text from Lindsay to join her and my friend Casey at an outdoor kids' concert in Orono at 6.  It would be tight, but I really thought this was the right way to start my kids' summer.

I got home at 5:15, packed some picnic stuff, ordered a pizza to take with us for dinner, hopped in the shower, snatched up the kids, picked up the pizza, and we made it to the concert picnic just in time.  It was a lovely and sun-bathed scene of happy kids and folk music.  I mean, please.  

with Lindsay.
Lindsay and Leah

congo line
 kids dancing to Miss Julie and her band.
my new friend Suz with her daughter Georgianna.

Casey with her blondies Jake and Reese.

I'd say this set the tone for an awesome summer.