Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Garlic Fries

I hope you guys had a peaceful Mother's Day - whether you spent it with your mom, whether you're a mom yourself, or whether you spent the day avoiding all things "mother" because of the pain it causes.

We started the day by meeting Thatmom for breakfast.

Breakfast was great, and Thatbaby spent most of it on Thatmom's lap, eating her fruit, and ignoring his own breakfast until moments before we were about to leave.

After breakfast, we bid goodbye to Thatmom and headed out to do my mother's day request.  I had wanted to go blueberry picking for ages, but always seemed to miss blueberry season.   This year, when Thatboy asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day I did a quick check and found that the Temecula Berry Farm opened the weekend before and requested we go.

Each boy got a bucket and Thatboy and I shared one, since I spent most of the time helping the boys fill theirs.  Although blueberry picking is perfect for little hands.

Thatkid requested the biggest bucket they had, and did a pretty good job of filling it.

But Thatkid is 5.5, I wasn't surprised he would do such a great job.  I was really surprised that Thatbaby did as well as he did.  The two main rules he followed were to only pick the blue blueberries, and to not eat as he picked.

We ended up picking 6 pints of blueberries.  And after we were done, we rinsed off a pint and ate it right then and there.  So we were down to 5 before we even left!

I noticed that the exit for the Temecula Berry Farm was also the exit for downtown Temecula.  Where my favorite brewery was located.  Typically our trips to Temecula are to visit the wineries, so we don't stop for beer.  But this seemed like the perfect day to make a request to stop.  The boys were more than happy to oblige.  Especially when they find out it involved pizza.

We came home and I played with the boys in the backyard while Thatboy cleaned the house and made dinner plans - a fancy French restaurant which was far from kid friendly.  The boys did okay, and the food was good, but I was relieved when dinner was over.  Places like that are so much more enjoyable without kids.  With kids, I'm much happier in a place that serves pizza.  Or burgers and fries.  Although, you don't have to go out to enjoy either.  Burgers and fries at home is a great way to go when you have small children.  Sometimes it's more relaxing to be in the comfort of your own home.  And you can elevate your fries by simply adding some cheese and garlic.  Because who needs a fancy French restaurant when you can have fancy French fries?

Garlic Fries (From Cooking Light)
4 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
cooking spray
2 Tbsp butter
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tsbp grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Combine first oil, salt, and potatoes in a ziplock bag, tossing to coat.  Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 50 minutes, turning after 20.
  2.  Melt butter and garlic in a large, nonstick skillet over low heat.
  3.  Add potatoes, parsley, and cheese to pan, tossing to coat. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mommy Mondays: 23 Months

Weight: 30 lbs (+ 21 lbs, 12 oz) 
Height: 36" (+ 14") 
Head: 19" (from 18 months)

Sleep: Things started out so well this month!  Thatbaby started consistently sleeping through the night, or waking for moments and then going back to sleep.  And then things got REALLY bad.  Like waking up and screaming for 2 hours straight at night bad.  Like taking 2 hours to go to sleep at night, while screaming, bad.   We brought him into the doctor and discovered a double ear infection.  Which was probably the cause of the screaming.  And once he was on medication, the sleep went back to normal..for a week..before it started again.  Another trip to the doctor revealed that the ear infection had cleared up, and there was no good reason for the screaming at night, except maybe as a residual effect from the swollen and draining ear tubes.  And maybe bad dreams.  I was looking at the 23 month update from Thatkid (see - this blog is a really great resource...for me) and noticed we had a similar issue with him at the time, waking in the middle of the night crying and saying ow, having trouble getting back to sleep.   I thought he was having bad dreams back then too, because Thatkid is a sleep talker, and before he started crying he would usually yell out things like "stop" and "no wannie."  I'm hoping this is a short lived phase.

Eating: Thatbaby is still putting it away.  He developed a taste for mushrooms this month, which involves him running to the fridge yelling "sooms!" and looking for them.  He's also still a huge fan of fruit.

Best Moment: I was entertaining Thatbaby at baseball practice this month.  While the boys were playing in the outfield, we found a lonely tee sitting around, and Thatbaby decided to practice his swing.

Monthly Wisdom: I feel like this is my constant monthly wisdom, but you know your kid best.  You know what they need, and you know what is and isn't an appropriate way of dealing with them.  When Thatbaby first started the screaming at night, I was complaining to a friend who told me he was just doing it for attention, and we were giving him that attention.  I got really frustrated.  Because I knew this wasn't manipulation.  And while people are trying to help you with their unsolicited advice, they don't really know what your situation is without living it.  So if advice doesn't feel right, then don't take it.

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
- Work on Thatbaby's birthday party!
- Get the kids passports.  I keep saying we need to do this, but I keep not doing it.

Things Thatbaby is doing:
-  His current favorite phrase is "go away" (as in "go away mommmy!"  "go away snail!"  "go away napkin!")  He does it when he's mad at us, during those middle of the night screamfests, when he gets frustrated with something not going his way.
- He's still asking a million questions - "what's that?" "where going?"  "Where's dada?"  but once you answer him, he does the cutest, shortest "Oh."
- He's having real conversations with/about friends.  Conversations might not be the right word, but he's asking for them by name, telling them to do things like sit down, or come with him, etc.
- We've started doing yoga with him, and he follows really well!
- He sings along with songs on the radio.
- He demands to pick out his own clothes.  Mostly his tie-dye shirt.  He would wear that every day if he could.
- He started swim lessons again.  So far they're going better than last year.  Less crying at least.
- He's into the stacking toys and shape sorter.
- He's been playing pretend with anything that's cup shaped and calling it 'hot chocolate."  He blows on it and everything.  He will only share his hot chocolate with me.
- His favorite color is orange.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Mustard and Dill

Last Monday I realized it was May.  May sneaks up on you, doesn't it?  I also realized that Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, happened to fall on a Friday this year.  Which seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

I texted Thatboy - "What do you think about having people over for Cinco de Mayo Friday night?"   He thought it sounded like a great idea, so I texted some friends to see if they were available.  As luck would have it, the J's were available!  Well, 3/4 of the Js.  Since Mr. J was going to be out of town, Thatboy decided he should make himself scarce, so he didn't end up stuck in a house with 2 women and 4 boys.

On Friday, I threw up some flags for some festive, easy "decorations" and set the table.  One of the amazing things about me is that I have just about every color of paper plate and napkin there is.  Which I used to my advantage.  I also picked up some Cascaron - confetti filled eggs for the boys,

One of the perks of living in Southern California is that we have no shortage of amazing Mexican food.  I went easy and picked up tacos, rice and beans.  I threw together some guacamole and margaritas and we were good to go.

Our local bakery also was celebrating Cinco de Mayo with these colorful "pinata cupcakes."  In general, I hate the idea of the pinata - there's always the one kid who doesn't know how to do it and the other kids are pretty much stomping each other on the head to get at the candy.  But pinata cupcakes - filled with sprinkles, I can definitely get behind.  While the boys ate those, Mrs. J and I had churro cupcakes.

I'd love to blame the sugar in the cupcakes for the craziness that was going on in my house, but really, that's just what happens with four boys.  In an attempt to calm them down, we sat them down for some yoga in their pajamas.  While it worked NOT AT ALL, it did result in some pretty cute pictures.

Eventually the J's packed up and went home and I got my boys tucked into bed, right as Thatboy returned home from his night out.   The entire evening was a burst of color, from the flags, to the confetti - which covered my floor, to the sprinkle filled cupcakes.  The main meal, however, was a little lacking in color.  My fault.  It's easy enough to get vibrant color in food - if not in the main course, then in sides.

I don't know if it's a current trend, but I'm noticing vegetables come in a whole host of different colors than they did when I was a kid.  And I'm taking advantage of it!  Purple carrots, green cauliflower, purple potatoes - I love adding color to my meals.  If the idea of that sounds a little scary to you, lets talk about an entry level rainbow - the tomato.  Thatboy loves heirloom tomatoes, and I love that they come in so many colors - reds, oranges, yellows, greens... Toss them together and you have a vibrant and colorful salad that rivals anything that came out of those eggs.  Or cupcakes.

Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Mustard and Dill (From Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp chopped dill

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 lbs heirloom tomatoes cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

  1. Combine dill, mustard, lemon rind, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add tomato slices, tossing gently to coat.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Runday: Hoppy Yoga

I know this is usually my space for running, but sometimes I do things other than run.  Just not as frequently as I used to.  Think of this as...cross-training.

Before I left my last job, a couple of the girls and I started hanging out outside of work.  One of the adventures we had discussed was something that seemed to embody San Diego - "Hoppy Yoga."  Because it doesn't get more San Diego than yoga and beer.  A lot of the breweries around town do this, hosting a yoga class followed by a "beer social."  We discussed different dates and options, and made plans for last Sunday.

This was a great wrap up of my first week at a new job, getting to see my old friends again.  We met at Culture Brewing Company in Ocean Beach before they opened for the day.

We spread out our mats and Katie, from the Hoppy Yoga group, led our class.  It's been a couple months since I've taken a yoga class, but I swear it comes back to you quickly.  And this seemed to work for pretty much every skill level - although as usual, the chaturanga separates the wheat from the chaff.  And I'm all chaff over here.

The class was a little longer than an hour, and after we were given tickets to redeem for a pint of beer. Everyone seemed to gravitate toward the pinker beers.  Strawberry blondes were the favorite, although my tart cherry wit was pretty pink too.

One of the things I really liked about this whole concept is that it encourages you to stick around after the yoga class.  I discussed with my friends the fact that if we had just taken a yoga class, we'd probably all go all separate ways after it was over.  Instead we sat around, talking and laughing, comparing when we had our first tastes of beer.  And then after we walked around exploring the neighborhood.  So good class, good beer, good friends?  It's the trinity of fitness.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Creamy Potato Salad

Another holiday means another trip to see my inlaws.  Easter found us journeying to their neck of the woods for a short weekend which felt a lot longer.  But we'll get to that.

Let's start with Easter morning.  Our new status quo is to stay at a hotel when we visit, which definitely helps my outlook, knowing I'll have at least a couple hours away from Thatboy's family.   Luckily, staying at a hotel has never prevented the Easter bunny from finding us.   He left baskets for the boys, with a trail of eggs helping them find their goodies.

What's funny is that despite the fact that the green basket held a swimsuit that fit Thatbaby, and a book aimed for Thatbaby, Thatkid was convinced it was his, because he wanted that green bunny.  He decided the bunny must have made a mistake.  Next year the Easter bunny is going to have to write names on those baskets.

We let the boys dig through their candy for a little bit before ordering up room service for breakfast.  As usual, Easter fell on Passover, which always makes being with Thatboy's family more difficult.  Despite acknowledging our "dietary restrictions" they refuse to make any accommodations.  So we ate a breakfast we knew everyone could eat.  I'm glad we did, because this was to be the only food we had all day.  TBIL, who was hosting Easter lunch/dinner/food for the day served lasagna and tortilla chips.  Neither of which Passover compliant.

After breakfast everyone got dressed so we could head over to spend the day with inlaws.  I love these cuties in their Easter best.

We got there and spent most of the morning trying to keep the boys from breaking everything in their house until it was time to dye eggs.

Both boys took naps while we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.  Then we watched them eat.  Then finally it was time for the kids to do their egg hunt!

Thatkid did a great job of helping his little brother find eggs, and they both had baskets full.  There was more playing with the kids, and then we called it a night.

It wasn't dark yet, so the boys convinced us to try out the new swimsuits the Easter Bunny had brought.

The water was freezing cold, and it wasn't warm outside, so I waited on a lounger while they swam.

And I was there to wrap up my cold children when they emerged from the water.


Then it was up to the room and into pajamas, ready for bed for the night.

The next day brought us back to TMIL's house to kill some time before our flight home.

It was a very long, very hungry weekend.  And really, at this point, I blame myself.  It's been 17 years.  I don't know why I keep expecting it to be different.  TMIL makes Easter dinner for the night before Easter every year.  And every year, without fail, she serves the same thing - lamb and rice.  Despite being told every year that no one in our family can eat rice.  I was complaining to Thatmom that now I'm annoyed because it doesn't just affect me, it affects my children.  "What's so wrong with potatoes?"  she asked.  "Why does it have to be rice?"  Which is so true.  Mashed potatoes are lovely with lamb.  As are baked potatoes.  And there's always potato salad.  Which, okay, sure, maybe doesn't go so great with lamb.  But it works fantastically well with ham - which I always thought was the traditional Easter meal anyway.  This potato salad works especially well with ham.  It's the spicy mustard, really.  Mustard and ham/mustard and potato - it's the unifying ingredient.  I also like potato salads that use hard-boiled eggs - which also works well during Easter when there are so many hard-boiled eggs just lying around.

So next year, I know I won't have time to make anything for Easter dinner, but this potato salad might ensure my family has something to eat on Easter day!

Creamy Potato Salad (From Cooking Light)
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup relish
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely shredded
  1. Place potatoes in water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Cook 20 minutes, or until tender.  Drain.  Cool 15 minutes.  Cut into cubes.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Add potatoes, green onions, relish and eggs.  Toss to coat.  

Monday, May 01, 2017

Mommy Mondays: The Kindergarten Dilemma

I feel like so much of "mommy mondays" is devoted to my littlest guy, which makes sense.  These are NOT the salad days.  Let's check in on the reason Mommy Mondays started.

When we first moved into our house, one of my concerns was that the school system where we live is terrible.  No really. This isn't like a skinny girl telling you how fat she is.  The elementary school that we're zoned for based on our address is one of the absolute worst in the state.

Our original plan involved us potentially moving before Thatkid started kindergarten, although, in truth, that was never Thatboy's plan.  He loves our house, he loves where we live.  So for that, among many other reasons, Thatkid is due to start kindergarten in the fall and we're still stuck with the same school.

Back in March, Thatkid attended a "kindergarten assessment" for the school he is zoned for.

At the assessment they took a photo of Thatkid with the school mascots, and asked him a bunch of questions to determine what he already knew.

They were unbelievably impressed with the fact that he knew his alphabet, how to count, shapes, colors, sight words, things that all the kids in his preschool know.  And Thatkid reveled in the attention.  Being told he was so smart, so impressive, the best kid they had seen all days.  All the teachers fought over who would get to have him in his class.  He ate it up, and declared that night that this was the only school he wanted to go to.  But the fact that the school was so impressed by him only confirmed my concerns with the school.

So we've been on the hunt.  With plans A, B, and C to get him out of the bad school and into a better one.

Plan A involved a lottery to get into a better school.  Our district allows interdistrict transfers, if there's room in the school you wish to transfer to, and you get selected in the lottery for those empty seats.  The school we attempted to get Thatkid into just  happened to also be the school where all of his preschool friends are distictred (is that a word?) for.

Plan B involved a lottery to get into a charter school in our area.  There are 2 in our school district. One is a homeschool charter school - where the children attend classes 2 days a week, and are homeschooled 3 days a week.  Which does not work for us as working parents.  The other is a more traditional school, but after the application and lottery process we were 37 on the waitlist.   Which doesn't look so good.

Plan C involves some shadiness - using a friend's address to claim we're in the district for the school we want to go to.

Luckily, we didn't have to resort to plan C, because we got into the better school in our district through the lottery process.    The only process we now have to worry about is telling Thatkid, who wants to go to the other school.  He's got another assessment at the new school next week, so I'm hoping that goes well enough that he's sold on the new school!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Rundays: Figuring out a new schedule

I feel like I just got a handle on weekday runs when I went and did something silly.  I got a new job!

It's not really all that silly, I'm so ridiculously excited about the new job I couldn't even begin to tell you.  It's an amazing opportunity and I feel unbelievably lucky.

Of course, that means running has take a backseat to finishing up things at my old job, and figuring out things at my new job.  And trying to figure out when I'm going to fit running back in is one of those things.

Most of the time my new job involves working from home (see - unbelievably exciting).  Which means a lot more flexibility, but because I am completely type-A I feel less able to go for a mid-day run when no one can vouch for how hard I'm working the rest of the day.  Almost like if I happen to leave my computer, that will be the one half hour that someone from work tries to contact me and assumes that I'm not actually doing my job.  I may get over this feeling of paranoia, or a may not. 

But, what I realized at the end of this week is that working from home means I don't have a commute anymore!  Which gives me a lot more time in the morning BEFORE work.  Especially when your children wake up before 6:00 am.  So I tried something out on Friday.  It worked really well, and so, it may become my new normal.

Thatboy and the kids leave the house right around 7am.  He drops the kids off at preschool, and heads to catch the bus to take him to work.  If I leave the house to go for a run at the same time, I have plenty of time to run, come home, shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast before logging on to work at 9am.

I'm a morning runner again!

AND I can run with my old running partner again!

Although it has been years since I've run with my old running partner and he is in definite need of some conditioning. 

The only downside to this is that running around my neighborhood means hills, hills, and more hills.  Which is only nice when you're running down them.  Not as pleasant chugging up them.  I know in the long run running these hills helps my speed on flat courses, and may help me drop those last 2 minutes in my 10k, but it definitely makes more morning runs more challenging!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Cabbage Slaw

In September a new kid, Mensch, joined Thatkid's preschool and was quickly initiated into the "cool kids" club.  (And when your entire preschool class is 8 kids, they are all considered part of the "cool kids" club.)  

Menschmom made a number of attempts to set up a playdate between the two boys, and some time last year we finally were able to make it work.  And a new friendship began.  Not just between the kids, but between the families.  Menschmom grew up in Western PA, not too far from where I did.  In fact, I mentioned to her that we had to drive out to her area in order to stock up on Passover food, given the fact my small town didn't even carry boxes of matzah. 

That's when she confessed that she really hadn't celebrated Passover since she was a small child, despite the fact she had been raised Jewish.  She couldn't even remember the last time she went to a seder.  One of us, I can't remember who, suggested we throw a seder together this year.  Which I tucked away in the back of my head until one day in March I remembered and asked her "Are we doing a seder together?"  This, in turn, led to me throwing my very first seder. 

I don't have a ton of Jewish friends here in San Diego, but what's funny about the two I have is that each of them is married to a non-Jewish man, like I am.  I decided it would be the most fun to get all three of our families together for the seder.

We had a grown up table

And a kid's table, completely with crayons and Passover coloring books.  Although the kids were much less interested in coloring, and much more interested in playing in Thatkid's room.

I was pretty pleased with the spread I was able to make given what a buys week it was with traveling to seders all over Southern California.  I had made all of these items before separately, but not all together for one meal.  Although, it definitely helped staying home with a sick Thatbaby because it gave me the time to do most of the cooking.

There was matzah ball soup


Honey Glazed Carrots

and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

The highlight though was desserts - which could be the worst part of Passover.  I find a lot of Passover dessert recipes to be sub par.  Like these strawberry rhubarb tarts.  I found Passover pie crusts and was so excited to use them, but was very unimpressed.

Luckily I had also made my tried and true favorites,  Almond Horns

And chocolate ganache covered macaroons.

We ate, we drank, we talked, and the kids played.  At the end of the night we sent our guests home happy and full while we remarked that it had been far too long since we've entertained like this. 

Hopefully that means there will be a lot more summer entertaining - because it's always nice to dine with friends.  And I have plenty more food ideas that are good for summer entertaining.  Things that involve the grill!  Or fruit!  Or salad!

Salad often gets overlooked when it comes to dinner parties.  Luckily Menschmom brought some over to share for our Seder.  Because for me, it's just a staple of a "nice dinner."  It doesn't have to be the typical lettuce, tomato, carrot kind of salad.  I love caprese, or watermelon with feta.  I'm even a big fan of slaws - making use of the hugely underrated cabbage.  This slaw with crisp cabbage and bright radishes is complemented by the use of fresh mint.  It works just as well beside a roasted salmon as it does when paired with a juicy burger.  It is perfect for your outdoor barbecues, or your elegant dinners for close friends.  It is THE salad for all your summer entertaining needs.

Cabbage Slaw  (From Cooking Light)
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced radishes 
1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
3 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Combine cabbage, radishes, green onions, olive oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with mint, salt, and pepper.