Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Runday: Running Food Finds

One of my favorite parts of races is getting to try new treats.  For free!  Whether at the expo or after the race, there are always samples.   It's a great way to find something new to add to my routine.  Or just my life in general.  (Although often I have to fight for the goodies with Thatkid, who views every race-bag as  Santa's sack.

So here are a couple of recent finds that I am highly recommending!

Diablo Sodas

I mostly drink water - all day and all night.  And I have a soft spot for LaCroix when I want to mix it up a little.  But I really like these.  My favorite is the mint lemonade.  It reminds me of the Citron Presse we used to drink in high school French class.  French soda is the same concept as most other (Italian) sodas.  It's soda water with syrup.    Nothing fancy, but they do it well.

Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins

 I'm much more into soft cookies than crispy cookies.  Crispy cookies might as well be crackers.  So I wasn't expecting much from these cookie thins.  But they're fantastic.  I swear there are enough chips in the chocolate chip versions to quell even the sweetests of sweet tooths.  They are completely addictive.  Once the bag is popped both Thatboy and I couldn't keep our hands out of it.


There are a ton of powdered peanut butters out there.  And I never thought I would be a powdered peanut butter-er, but they are so convenient for smoothies.  And a lot of recipes that call for peanut butter - if you're lazy like me and don't want to have to push the peanut butter off the spoon with your finger.  I especially like the chocolate peanut butter with milk and banana for my morning smoothie!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mommy Mondays: Travelin' With Two

This is a bit of pre-emptive post.  And I'll have to update it throughout the year, but it's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately.

You see, when I was pregnant with Thatkid, I decided we would take a year off travel.  There is just so much STUFF to bring when you travel with an infant - strollers, carseats, pack n plays, clothes, toys, highchairs - it just seemed like a major hassle.

But things are different with a second, there's a lot less flexibility.  Life just goes on.  So instead of taking a year off, we have a ton of travel planned for 2016!

We've already done some short weekend trips - up to Arrowhead, out to Palm Desert.  But we've got some bigger ones in the works.  And now we're not just traveling with an infant, we're traveling with a toddler AND infant.

We've got a plane trip, and two very long car trips, all before Thatbaby turns one.   So what are my plans?

Man on man defense - The nice thing about having two kids is that there are two of us.  One to entertain Thatbaby, one to bring Thatkid to the bathroom.  One to change a diaper, while the other fishes out snacks.  We plan on doing a lot of this.

Frequent stops - Just for the car rides.  They don't like this one on plane rides.  But at least for drives, we plan on making stops so no one gets too car crazy. 

Distractions -  This one is mostly for Thatkid, since Thatbaby is not really at a good distraction age.  Although he is at a good napping age.  But Toxicesq got Thatkid a new Kindle for Chanukkah, and we definitely plan on making use of it.  In fact, we've put it away since he received it, so we can pull it out as a special trip when we travel.  Because new toys are always more distracting than toys we already have.

Low expectations - I'm already kind of planning for these trips to be a disaster.  So if they're not I'll be pleasantly surprised!

Moms of 2 or more, any travel tips I should keep in mind?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Runday: Legoland Marathon Mile

This is one of my new favorite San Diego races.  Even though it's not a race for me.  As part of the Carlsbad Marathon weekend, Legoland hosts a special race for the littles.  A mile race through the park.

We met up with Lexus and her family before the race.   Getting into the park was easy.  At a lot of races with onsite parking, the lines snake back to the freeway and it takes almost as long to park as to get to the race.  This was smooth, with the line of cars constantly moving.  And we got free parking close to the expo (and park entrance)!

We had a little time to kill before the start of the race, and then headed to the corrals.  The corrals are divided by age, with the last corral being for 4 and under.

The race has wave starts, beginning with the oldest age group.  Which I get, because they're faster and would likely trample the smaller kids.  A lot of them were done before we even started.  But it is hard to keep 4 year olds occupied for the 30 minutes before our wave got walked to the start line.

When the race started, the kids took off.  Thatboy, Thatbaby, and Lexus's dad walked the stroller.  We told Lexus and Thatkid to just run, the moms would keep up with them.  And run they did.

Lexus and Thatkid are the perfect running partners.  She's faster than he is, which pushed him to run faster.  But he takes less breaks, which pushed her to run longer.   At the end, she pulled ahead and ended up finishing before Thatkid.

Then they both had to wait around for Thatbaby and the dads. 

The course was great.  It was a loop through the park, which was a neat way to see all the parts of the park we never get to.  And unlike the CHOCwalk at Disneyland, there was plenty of room for the kids to run.  The wave starts meant it wasn't terribly crowded on the course.   They even had an aid-station, which our kids didn't want to stop at.

After the race they had dancing, circus performers, food, and fire trucks!

Thatkid had a great time at the race and definitely wants to do it again next year.  I'm looking forward to making it an annual tradition.  I can already see these brothers running away from Thatboy and I, as they race each other toward the finish!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Lights, Cameras, Christmas: Christmas Punch

One of our favorite Christmastime activities is a visit to the Botanical Gardens "Garden of Lights."  I think the first time we went was shortly after Thatkid was born.  Even as a wee thing he was in awe of all the lights.  So I was really excited to introduce the event to Thatbaby.

Thatbaby is still too little to take advantage of all the garden has to offer, but Thatkid is getting old enough to really enjoy things like sledding.  This year he went down the hill all by himself!

Given the serious look on his face, I think he was a little nervous about going down sans dad.

Thatbaby was not interested in the snow - it was cold and wet and he was not pleased when I gave him some to hold.  After sledding, Thatbaby fell asleep while The rest of us headed to listen to the carolers.

Once Thatbaby woke up we went around and looked at all the lights.  Unfortunately Thatkid is no longer at the strolling age, so I got a quick glimpse of the lights as he tore through them at top speed, while Thatboy and Thatbaby took a more leisurely pace.

One of Thatkid's favorite part of the evening is that I make a giant thermos of hot chocolate.  He especially likes it after he plays in the snow.  You can't blame him.  For the grown ups the event serves mulled wine, which is a great Christmas tradition in places where it's cold.  Warm wine mulled with spices.  But here in Southern California we don't necessarily need warm drinks for Christmas.  A cold spiced drink is just as festive.  I like to make this punch with some sort of seasonal tea, which usually has similar spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves.  But the champagne is what makes this a true holiday drink.  Because nothing says "winter holiday celebration" like champagne bubbles.

Christmas Punch
1 cup rye whiskey
1 cup rum
1 cup tea
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup champagne
1 cup soda water

  1. Mix together rye, rum, tea, lemon and orange juice.
  2. Pour over ice and add champagne and soda water.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream

Thatboy made the decision last year that we would stay home for Christmas this year.  After Thatkid was born, I didn't want to travel with a 2 month old.  Thatboy didn't think a long car drive with a 6 month old would be a good idea either.

But the nice thing about staying home at Christmas is that we got to take advantage of all the fun things San Diego has to offer around the holidays.  And take advantage we did.  Every weekend was jammed full with activities which got us in the spirit. 

We started the month with not one, but two tree lighting ceremonies!  I love the idea of tree-lightings, since it wasn't anything my town did growing up.  I associate it most with Rockefeller and the giant tree.  Around here though it isn't a tourist attraction, but a community get-togther.  Our local tree-lighting is really aimed at the kids, and they go all out!

We skipped the line to meet with the Disney princesses, though Thatkid happily waved as Snow White and Rapunzel walked past us.  And he stared hesitantly at the solider and angel on stilts.

They brought in snow, which is always a hit with Southern Californian kids.

There were several tables of crafts.  Thatkid made a wreath for his door, reindeer food, a coffee filter snowflake, and of course, decorated a cookie.


And then he went and got his face painted, with one of his favorite Christmas characters - Jack Skellington.

Santa made an appearance, giving all the kids a chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.  Except for Thatkid, who had already seen Santa and wanted nothing to do with any subsequent Santas we saw.

And Mrs. Clause read stories to the kids.

And where there are Clauses, there are also reindeer!

After a short speech from the mayor, the trees were lit.  And Christmas began!

The next night we headed over to the Pirates for what has become a tradition with our friends, heading to their town's tree lighting!

This is a true Southern Californian tree-lighting, right on the beach!

Where the weather outside is far from frightful!

Southern California definitely has their own twist on things.  We like to take things and make them our own, with the addition of things that are quintessential to the region.  Like chiles.  You'll find them in everything here.  Which I love.  Because who doesn't love a little kick to their eggs?  Or sandwiches?  Or hamburgers?

This burger uses poblano chiles, which makes it kid friendly.  Poblanos are a mild flavored chile, and once roasted, they pack even less heat.  Instead you're left with just some great smokey flavor.  The heat in this burger comes from the sauce and the onions, so leave them off if you're serving to anyone who is sensitive to spice. 

But me?  Pile on the onions!  I love pickled onions, and I love pickled spicy veggies.  So the combination of the two means I was snacking on these nonstop.  We almost didn't have any left for the burgers!

Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream (From Cooking Light)
 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 jalepeno pepper, halved lengthwise
2 1/2 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 large poblano ciles
1 slice white bread
1 Tbsp 1% low-fat milk
3 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
1 lb 93% extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 canned chipotle chile and 2 tsp adobo sauce
cooking spray
4 hamburger buns, toasted
  1. Place sugar, rice vinegar, water, and jalepeno in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Stir in onion. Cover and remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature.  Place in an airtight container. 
  3. Preheat broiler. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil 10 minutes or until blackened, turning after 6 minutes.  Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Peel chiles, discarding seeds and membranes.  Finely chop chiles to measure 3/4 cup.
  4. Trim crusts from bread, and tear into 1/2-inch pieces.  Combine bread and milk in a large bowl, mashing with a for until smooth.
  5. Stir in poblano chile, 1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
  6. Add beef to milk mixture, stirring gently to combine. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions; shape each portion into a 1/2 inch thick patty.  Press thumb in center of each patty, leaving a nickel-sized indentation.  Cover and chill while grill preheats.
  7. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Combine 1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper in a medium bowl.
  8. Stir in sour cream, shallots, and juice. 
  9. Chop chipotle chile and stir into sour cream mixture with adobo sauce.  Set aside.
  10. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 160.  
  11. Spread 3 Tbsp chipotle cream on bottom half of each bun.
  12. Top each with one patty, 1 Tbsp drained pickled red onions, and bun top.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mommy Mondays: Bathtime Favorites

Thatkid expressed some displeasure tonight that I never give him a bath anymore.  It's a weird thing to be upset about, because Thatboy has always exclusively handled bathtime, save for a couple weeks when I was pregnant.

So I'm probably the last person who should be giving advice about things for the bath, but hey, since when has that ever stopped me?

So let's start with the obvious - the bath.

The First Years Infant to Toddler Bath with Sling.
The sling really makes this bathtub.  Because as much as I love the idea of bathing a baby in the sink, I'm terrified of dropping that slippery, squiggily, little body.  Washing a newborn can be a little nervewracking.  And not all babies love the bath.  The sling on this cradles them, helping to keep them feel snuggled and secured.  And you don't have to worry about them slipping under the water.  Once they get big enough, the sling can come out and there's a little seat in there for them.

3 Sprouts Hooded Towels

I have tried a ton of different towels.  This one is hands down my favorite.  It's soft, fluffy, and thick, which makes drying quick work.  Some hooded towels are small, they last about a week before the babes outgrow them.  This one is just perfect in terms of size.  Large enough that we're still going strong at 6 months.  Plus, CUTE!  Right?

Kushies washcloths

We use a lot of washcloths here.  Washcloths in the bath, washcloths to wipe down the face after meals, washcloths to wipe noses and after suctioning them with a bulb, washcloths in the freezer for teething.  So it's important to me that we can get a bunch without spending a bunch of money.  I love these because they're thin, absorbent, and completely affordable.

Episencial Body Wash

When Thatkid's was a baby, we started out with a different brand of body wash.  And we liked it just fine.  But then they changed their formula, and we noticed it irritated Thatkid's sensitive skin.  So we sought out to find another brand.  I love this stuff.  The whole brand.  It tries to cut down on the chemicals, and while I'm only somewhat of a hippie/crunchy/granola-y mom, I do like the idea of trying to protect my kids and their skin!  This is really really gentle.  Smells "clean" without being too fragrancy.  And it also doesn't get super bubbly (which is my own personal issue).

You don't need lotion for babies.  In fact, using lotion on babies can lead them to becoming dependent upon it for their moisture needs.  So the only thing we ever use on our kids is plain, simple, aquaphor if there are any irritations.  We're lucky that neither of our boys is prone to diaper rashes, but when we noticed any redness on the bottom area, we preventatively add a touch of aquaphor and voila - problem solved.

And for those times when you want to shower:

Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker
I keep this in our bathroom.  When Thatbaby wakes up early, I plop him in here while I shower.  When he's congested, Thatboy or I will also put him in here so he gets the benefit of the steam while we shower. The vibration really helps keep him happy, as do the hanging toys which play music.  Once he gets older, it converts to a little chair for him.  And kids love chairs that are their size.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Runday: Resolution Run

Last week I wrapped up 2015, so it's only natural that this week I talk about 2016.  You know, my hopes, dreams, and desires for the near year.

After last year when my main goal was to have a baby and run again, I'm keeping this year fairly low key in terms of my running resolutions.  No big goals.  No unrealistic expectations.  This year is all about running more and getting back into my groove. 

Between work and the kids, I really have neglected my running time.  Which is my "me time."  Which is such a necessity in my mental health and well being.  So this year is all about running more, and running for fun.

With that in mind, my "goal" for this year is to run all the holiday races.  Just fun little races I can have a good time doing. Well that and to come pick up the pace a little with my half marathon time.  So here's my races planned for 2016:

Resolution Run
Legoland Marathon Mile
Sweetheart 5k
Mardi Gras Run
St. Patrick's Day 10k
Zombies Run Virtual Race
Sharon's Ride.Run.Walk for epilepsy 
Scripps Ranch 10k
Turkey Trot
Jingle Bell Run

So in that vein, and speaking of resolutions, let's talk about how I'm doing so far.  I mean, it is already 3 weeks in!  So far I've done great, knocking 2 of those races right off the list.  

The first race I didn't even want to run.  I actually was going to run a different New Year's race because I dislike running at Mission Bay THAT much.  But NeighborRunner was going to be doing the Resolution Run, and I do enjoy having company at races.  So I sucked it up and signed up.

Let's start with how well everything started out.  NeighborRunner and I have terrible luck with races we run together.  It started with the Aloha Run, when my alarm didn't go off and I was terribly late in picking her up and we had to race to the start line.  Then came the Fit Foodie 5k when her alarm didn't go off, and she didn't make it to the race at all.

But new year and all that, 2016 is off to a good start, because both of our alarms went off, and we got to the race with time to pick up our bibs, make a bathroom stop, and wander leisurely to the startline.

The race made its own successful resolution - a new course!  Guys, I am so excited about this, because this opens up the world to me.  I have 4 races planned for Mission Bay in 2016, and now I actually like the course!  A lot of people hate running Fiesta Island, because there is no shade and it's a little boring.  But I love not having to dodge people out for a leisurely stroll, or try to find the course.

Which means I can actually appreciate the beautiful views of Mission Bay.

My only gripe about the race, is that it was too long!  NeighborRunner (who is much faster than I) and I both had the same problem.  We both reached 3 miles, at our goal pace, and realized the finish line was not in sight.  Which is a little unusual at a 5k when the finish line should be 1/10 of a mile in front of us. 

We both sprinted to the finish, and came in seconds after our goal times.  Booooooo!

(See, running with faster friends means someone is there to capture your finish!)
After we finished, we wandered around, indulging in samples until we decided it was time to head home.

Overall, it was a great experience, and I enjoyed the race even if it was too long, meaning I didn't meet my goal time.  Plus the medal was fun and unique - a mini-chalkboard to write your resolutions.

It's going to be a great year!

What are your goals for the year?  Any fun races planned?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chanukah 2015: Rum Punch

At Thatkid's first Chanukah he was a teeny, tiny newborn.  The holiday meant nothing to him.  But Thatbaby is older, and more aware, and as such, had a lot of fun with his first Chanukah.

Thatkid is old enough to take part in a lot of the traditions.  Like the making of the latkes.

This year we used a bunch of different types of potatoes - sweet, Russet, Yukon, red, and purple.  They may have been our best latkes to date!  I've given up on recipes and completely go on feel.  A little more flour and a little less egg than most recipes I've seen.

We had a family party at Thatmom's house.  You can tell Thatbaby is super excited about the holiday.

While Baby B is now old enough to get into trouble with Thatkid.

Thatkid is getting to be quite proficient in both getting the candles ready, saying the prayer, and playing dreidel.  He even taught his friends how to play!

I figured Thatbaby was too young to be able to unwrap presents.  I was wrong.

I didn't get a chance to share with you some of my favorite holiday drink recipes back during the holidays, so I'll share them with you now.  January is not really the time for parties and get togethers, but tuck these away for upcoming events, like any Superbowl parties you may be planning.  Winter is the perfect time for citrus-y drinks, since those fruits are still phenomenal this time of year.  Our orange tree looks like a Christmas tree, decorated with bright, orange balls.  Throw in some rum, and you have crowd pleasing beverage to brighten up your winter days.

Rum Punch
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup grapefruit juice
2 1/2 cups orange juice
3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 1/3 cup Jamaican rum
3 cups tropical punch
  1.  Make simple syrup by boiling the sugar with 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. Mix together with all the other ingredients and let sit for at least 1 hour.   Serve over ice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Southwest Salsa Burgers

Did you have a phenomenal Thanksgiving?  Do you smile thinking about the food and family?  Me too!  So let's relive it!

Thatkid usually helps me out in the kitchen on a regular basis.  So when it came time to make a pumpkin pie for his class party, it only made sense I would put him in charge of it

He did a fantastic job of making the crust, the filling, and combining the two.  (I did the heavy lifting of putting it in and out of the oven).

Normally we head up to Thatmom's the day before Thanksgiving.  But since she was in London this year, we got to wake up at home.  I went for an early morning run with friends, then came home in time to shower and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Thatkid.  Which also marks the day we break out the hot chocolate.

The night before, Thatkid had informed me that for Thanksgiving you have to dress up like a pilgrim. Ever one to please, we made him a pilgrim hat while we watched the parade.  After he decided Thatbaby needed a hat too.  Since Thanksgiving is supposed to symbolize the friendship between the pilgrims and native Americans, I thought it fitting to recreate the symbolism at home.  By the way, once you have a toddler, owning construction paper is a must.

We headed up to Repro and Nissan's home and got to spend Thanksgiving with family, despite Thatmom's absence. Which made it a Thanksgiving success, because I love spending time with my family.  I especially love the fact that my now-adult cousins spend so much time playing with Thatkid.  I remember when they were just little guys themselves!

I brought up the idea of making our own Thanksgiving at home with Thatboy, but he quickly shot down that idea.  That's a lot of work.  And you've probably figured out by the fact I'm blogging about Thanksgiving in January, time is not a luxury I have lately.  Most of our meals are thrown together very quickly.  I've really hit my stride when it comes to that.  Because I just don't have time to spend in the kitchen when I have a million other things to accomplish.

Burgers are such an easy weeknight staple, and there are enough variations that it's hard to get bored.  I'm on a very spicy kick lately, so this burger plays into that very well.  If you're not as into heat, you can easily sub in regular Monterey Jack.  And the salsa can be as hot or mild as you like it.  I definitely recommend some fresh, refrigerated salsa versus the jarred stuff you find in the chip aisle.  But I would recommend the same to go with your chips.

Southwest Salsa Burgers (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 lb 90% lean ground sirloin
1/4 cup salsa
cooking spray
4 slices reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers
4 boston lettuce leaves
4 hamburger buns, toasted

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients and 2 Tbsp salsa in a medium bowl.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2 inch thick patty.  Press thumb in center of each patty, leaving a nickel-sized indentation.
  2. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add patties to pan, cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Top each patty with 1 cheese slice; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts.
  3. Place 1 lettuce leaf on bottom half of each bun, top with 1 patty, 1 1/2 tsp salsa, and bun top.