Monday, July 28, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Becoming an Aunt (again)

Breaking News!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Mommy Mondays with the latest report from Thatfamily.   On Saturday Baby B made her way into the world.

Word on the street is she came into the world  Superman style and fashionably early.  As can be expected, we are already madly in love.  Especially Thatbaby who loves "her little feet."  He's going to be an awesome big cousin.

And while I'm already an aunt to two great kids, this one is special to me.  This one will carry on my maiden name for good couple of decades at least.  This one came from one of my favorite people on the face of the universe.  This one feels more "mine."  Oh Baby B, we are so thrilled to finally meet you!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Runday: Four Legged Friends

My daily running partner is Thatdog.  And in general, dogs make great running partners.  It's good exercise for you and them, and also motivation.  One of the reasons I started running every day was because I had to take Thatdog for a walk anyway.  Our walks were 20 minutes long.  Adding on 10 minutes meant I could actually use that time for a little running without compromising the rest of my day.

But there are definitely some things you need to keep in mind if you want to run with your dog.

1) Size and age.  Running with you isn't the same as when they dash about on their own.  The same way most people can't just pick up and run a marathon even though they may run around a soccer field or basket ball court.  Distance running can be hard on a dog's joints and can actually stunt their growth, so wait until your pup is a year old before bringing them with you.  And if you have a very large breed dog (like a Great Dane) you may want to wait even later.

2) Teach the dog to run.  It sounds silly, but it's a different mentality than a simple walk.  Almost like a job.  When we run, there's no sniffing, no playing with other dogs, no horsing around.  We literally started out doing a quarter of a mile on best behavior.  If he wasn't running nicely, then we'd turn around and go home.  I continued this until he was able to do a whole quarter of a mile.

3) Increase distance.  Think of this as Couch to 5k, for dogs.  We went from quarter of a mile to a half mile, to a mile. Increase slowly - about a half a mile at a time, and not every run.  (Like we didn't move on from 2.5 to 3 miles until we had done 2.5 miles for a couple weeks).  When I first started training for a half marathon, Thatdog trained with me.  We both increased our mileage together.  He got up to 7 miles before topping out.  Anything longer than that I run without him.

4) Bring water with you - even if it's under 80, don't forget your dog is wearing a full coat, so it might still be hot for him.  Thatdog gets water every 2 miles on longer runs, but I bring it with me just in case.  He may not need it, but I have had occasion where I didn't bring it because we were only doing 3 or 4 miles and he flat out quit on me.  Sat down and wouldn't go any farther.  Poor guy was just hot and tired!

5) Pay really good attention to your pup's signals.   I can always tell when it's a little too warm for Thatdog because he starts slowing down in the shadier areas of our run.  If I see that, I'll start walking for a bit, or cut our runs short.   Make sure you're cognizant of the ground temperature since your pups don't have shoes like you do and paws can definitely burn and/or crack.  When Thatdog's feet get hot he does a little dance-y step.  (And I pour some water on his pads to cool them off and we head home).  You know your dog best, so just keep an eye on little things to keep everyone healthy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

From a Box, At Home: Homemade Hamburger Helper

As I child, I didn't grow up with "convenience meals."  Almost every meal we ate was something crafted from scratch.  No bisquik, no boxed cake mixes, no kraft mac and cheese, and no hamburger helper.  And honestly, because my parents never made a big deal about cooking, it didn't seem like these "harder" methods of preparing food were all that hard.

Thatboy on the other hand, grew up on all these foods.  Even though his father prided himself on his amazing cooking abilities, I never saw the man prepare potatoes that didn't come poured out of a box as powder.  And his mother consistently reverted to frozen lasagnas, because making lasagna yourself "is an all day affair." 

I feel as though I am constantly having to prove to Thatboy that making things from scratch isn't so difficult and tastes just as good as the boxed things he grew up with.  I have completely converted him when it comes to mashed potatoes.  Even he now recognizes it's a pretty quick side to throw together.  And this homemade version of hamburger helper also won him over.  It's the cream cheese.  It gives it that really creamy consistency that makes it taste like something decadent.  Add in the cheddar, because all pasta should have cheese, and you have a meal that can win over even the biggest doubter.

Now, if only I could convince him that you can make pancakes without bisquik...

 Homemade Hamburger Helper
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1/2 lb pasta
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp oregano
salt and pepper
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  1.  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain, reserving one cup of pasta water.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Cook ground turkey until browned.
  3. Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add cooked pasta, the reserved water, cream cheese, and sour cream.  Stir until cheese melts.
  6. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Take off heat and stir in cheddar cheese.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Beer, Beer, and Parenting

My favorite summer time drink is without a doubt, the margarita.  The ice, the salt, the sweet lime flavor.  But also in the summer I tend to stray away from the wine in favor of a nice, cool beer.  Yeah, I drink a lot of beer in the summer.

And lately, we've been finding ways to incorporate Thatbaby while exploring new and different brews.  Like when we ventured to Plan 9 Alehouse, which has 26 beers on tap, 37 in bottles, and a play area for kids.

And thanks to SD Mom I also discovered that Stone Brewery has a farm! Which is so perfect for family outings. 

There's a tasting room, naturally, and picnic tables to sit and drink and eat.  We brought our own lunches, but there's also a pizza oven if you get there early.

And while the parents sit and drink, there's so much to keep the little ones entertained. 

The HorseWhispers met us there this weekend, and Thatbaby was happy to show Little HW the ropes.

After the two of them swung their hearts out on the playground, he took her to see the peacocks and the goats.

Dear parents, if you really want to keep your kid entertained while you drink, there's nothing better than letting them bring a friend along.  Especially if their friend has super cool parents you're friends with.

Because there's nothing better than being able to indulge in your favorite pasttime with some of your favorite people.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spicy Breakfast: Southwestern Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast gets the short shaft around here. Dinners are lovingly crafted by tired hands and served and eaten as a family.  But breakfasts are done on the run.  Thatboy eats from time to time, a bowl of cereal.  Thatbaby is usually set up with a cereal bar or cereal or oatmeal.  Something that can be made quickly.  As for me, I tend to stick with oatmeal or egg whites.  Boring and blah.  But when we're running about so much it's hard to get creative.  And the last thing I want to do while trying to get ready and get Thatbaby ready is slave over an intensive meal.

Which is why I love these breakfast burritos.  I can make them on the weekend and throw them in the freezer for easy defrosting during the week.  I mean, sure, I could buy frozen burritos, but for some reason the tortillas never taste right in those.  Unlike these soft and pliable fresh ones which retain that pliability even when reheated.  I also like that I can adjust the filling so that Thatboy and I can have spicy ones, while Thatbaby's remains mild.

Southwestern Breakfast Burritos (From What's Cookin, Chicago)
1 lbs pork sausage
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 medium onion, diced
3 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
6 burrito sized flour tortillas
1 cup shredded taco cheese

  1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the sausage until browned.
  2. Add onions and bell peppers; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the eggs in the skillet and scramble.
  4. Add the eggs to the sausage and peppers, tossing to combine.  Let cool.
  5. Heat tortillas
  6. Place a line of cheese on bottom third of tortilla.  Top with a tablespoon or two of eggs.  Fold into a burrito by folding up the bottom third, then each of the sides, the continuing to roll the remaining two thirds.
  7. Wrap in foil and freeze.  When you're ready eat just wrap the burrito in a damp paper towel (after taking it out of the foil) and microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Choo-choo-choosing friends

Now that Thatbaby is at a new preschool, we don't get to see some of his old friends as often.  Which is sad, because I adored his old friends and their parents.  Luckily they've been really great about trying to plan times to get our kids together.  Mrs. Parrot contacted me to see if we'd be up for another outing to the train park with Little Parrot and BA.  Well of course we would!

Thatbaby was a little shy with Little Parrot.  Which makes sense, since it's been longer since he's hung out with him.  When he spotted BA however, he was overjoyed.  So excited.  And that excitement wrapped up Little Parrot in it as Thatbaby wanted to make sure both his friends were with him at all times.

The boys loved riding the train together, looking out the window and choo-chooing along.  It was a great ice breaker to remind them of how much fun they have together.  As soon as we got them off the train, they took off - running in circles and chasing each other through the park.

Eventually we got them to sit down and have a little snack, and then it was back to the racing around.

 We crossed over to a playground to let them have a free space to run where we didn't have to worry about them getting hit by a train or a car.  Then they spent the morning climbing, sliding, running, going through tunnels and just generally enjoying being together.  Thatbaby told me it was his favorite part of the weekend.  And who can blame him?  Everyone needs some good friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Pirate Looks At 40

I know, I was just telling you about Mrs. Pirate's surprise birthday party.  I laughed when Mr. Pirate texted me asking for help with the party, because Mrs. Pirate had already clued us all in that she was throwing him a surprise party for his 40th birthday.

On Saturday we all gathered at Mission Bay to celebrate the momentous occasion. 

 After everyone was there, Mr. Pirate showed up, blindfolded.

He told us after that he had no idea where he was going or what was going on.  Mrs. Pirate totally threw him. 

She had hired caterers who stood and grilled tacos for all of us.  And of course, where there are tacos, you can find margaritas!

Mrs. Pirate had advised us to bring some fun inflatables.  And since Thatbaby had such a blast with the blow up whale while in Palm Desert, we got him a blow-up on his very own.

Oh how he loves that dolphin!

About a year ago, Mr. Pirate got very into paddleboarding.  He is always trying to get Thatboy out with him.  He's been pretty unsuccessful with that.  I think Thatboy went out once and decided it wasn't for him.  But Mr. Pirate got a lot of his other friends interested, so there were no shortage of boards on the bay.  So Thatbaby had his first paddle board lesson.  Which pretty much meant Mrs. Pirate gave him a ride, then Thatboy took him for a paddle as the sun set.

When it started getting darker and colder, we lit a fire and roasted marshmallows.

We always love getting together with the Pirates, and celebrating a birthday makes the occasion even more fun.