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.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Sicko

Thatbaby has been a pretty healthy kid.  Which is lucky.  Because I remember when Thatkid was a baby and missed so much school.  But my luck (or his?) ran out earlier this month when he missed almost a week of school due to stomach virus that was going around.

I find this to be the hardest age to have a sick kid, mostly because they're not great with just relaxing and don't have the attention span for television.    These are some tips based on how I get through it.

1) Bed on the couch.  This is something from my childhood - maybe everyone's childhood?  I don't know.  But we bring pillows and blankets out on to the couch and make it extra cuddly.

2) Liquids.  I mean, it's always important, but especially so when you're sick.  We're not a juice household, but whenever my kids are sick they get juice.  I'll even turn it into popsicles.

3) Quiet-time activities.  Neither of my kids is very good about realizing they were sick.  Even when running fevers they are using the house as their training grounds for becoming the next American Ninja Warrior.   So I try to find special activities that will keep them still, quiet, and occupied. Thatbaby is one million times better than his brother was with this.  But it could be because my secret weapon is pulling out Thatkid's magnatiles.  Thatkid didn't have an older brother with cool off-limit toys.

4) Food catering.  My kids tend to snack more than eat when they're not feeling well (or when they are feeling well).  Thatbaby was on the BRAT diet when he was sick, which just so happens to include some of his favorite foods - bananas and applesauce.  Because he was sick, he also got to eat on his couch/bed/table.

5) Lots and lots of naps.  My boys nap once during the day when they're healthy.  But in order to encourage extra napping, when they're sick, we do couch naps.  Seeee there's reason for those pillows and blankets.   And Thatbaby gets the added benefit of getting mommy lap naps on the couch. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Runday: My Weekend Runs

It's no secret that I don't get enough sleep.  I'm up early in the mornings, and don't get to bed early enough.  Plus I have a kid that usually ensures I get up once in the middle of the night too. 

And yet, on the weekends, I get up at 4:30am.  Not because I'm a masochist.  And not because I really want to get up at 4:30, but because that's my running time.

I get up at 4:30 in the morning to run for two reasons.  This first is that my friends usually run at 5 or 5:30.  Which means if I want to see my friends, or have company on my runs, I need to get out there at the same time.  The other reason is because it gets my runs over early.  Which is important because the weekends are my time with family. 

So the night before my  weekend run, I lay out all my clothes on the dining room table.

When my alarm goes off, I get out of bed, wash up, and go out and change into my running clothes and try to sneak out of the house as quietly as possible, so as not to wake the boys.  Sometimes this is successful, sometimes it's not.

I keep a headlamp in my glove compartment for those early morning runs.  Because it's dark out at 5:30!

As much as it sucks to get up so early on a day I don't have to go to work, I never regret my early morning weekend runs.  After they're done.  Besides, I'm sure that I'll get plenty of sleep once these kids become teenagers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Prosciutto, Fresh Fig, and Manchego Sandwiches

The highlight of Thatkid's baseball season is Pony League day at Petco Park.  It's a day when all the Pony League teams across San Diego get to come to the ball field and parade around it before watching a baseball game.

Thatkid met up with his best friends and team mates outside the park.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, which you can read all about if you follow me on Twitter, we didn't actually get to see the parade of players.  Luckily Thatboy hobbled along beside them and texted me the following pictures.

We met up with them at our seats, which were right behind first base.  Thatkid used this as an opportunity to share the special snack he had brought for his friends.  He had originally wanted to bring cracker jacks, but got distracted by the neon orange-ness of a bag of cheetos.

Eventually the boys all settled into their seats, ready for the game to begin.

In addition to being Pony League day at the park, it was also Military Appreciation Day.  In honor of the honor, the US Navy Parachute Team entered the stadium from above.

After the first inning, Thatkid couldn't wait any longer for his special treat.  The fun thing about ice cream and 5 year olds is that not only do they end up wearing most of it, you wear a lot of it too!

The game was fun and exciting.  It was the last of the Padres/Giants series and the Padres had won the first two games.  But the Giants won this one.  As soon as the Giants took the lead, Thatkid switched teams and loyalties and cheered loudly when they won.

After the game, Thatboy noticed a sign that mentioned that kids could run the bases, and he brought Thatkid down to the field to stand in line and wait his turn.

It was an experience that he won't soon forget, as he got to round the bases of a real ball field.

If baseball season doesn't herald the arrival of spring for you, then perhaps the produce does.  Bright sweet strawberries have hit the produce aisles of my supermarket.  And figs!  We have fresh figs!  This might be a California thing, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.  (Speaking of - isn't that really a word of warning?  You're supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth to make sure it's not filled with Greek soldiers, right?)

Whatever the reason, I was quick to snatch them up.  I've been dying to try this sandwich, but fresh figs aren't available in the winter.  So it had to wait.  Really, when figs are available I put them on just about anything, from pizza to tarts. They have this unassuming nature that doesn't overpower like citrus.  Instead it just adds a sweetness, which pairs well with prosciutto, like melon without the juiciness.

With the prosciutto, manchego, and fig, this sandwich feels very "Spanish" to me.  Like something you'd eat on a spring day in Barcelona.

Prosciutto, Fresh Fig, and Manchego Sandwiches (From Cooking Light)
4 tsp Dijon mustard
8 slices Italian bread, toasted
1 cup arugula
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
2 oz Manchego cheese, shaved
8 fresh figs, cut into thin slices
2 Tbsp fig jam
  1. Spread 1 tsp mustard over 4 of the bread slices.
  2. Arrange 1/4 cup arugula over each bread slice.
  3. Divide prosciutto evenly among bread slices.
  4. Top evenly with cheese and fig slices.
  5. Spread 1 1/2 tsps jam over each of the remaining 4 bread slices, and place on sandwiches jam side down.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mommy Mondays: 22 Months

Weight: 30 lbs (+ 21 lbs, 12 oz) 
Height: 35" (+ 13") (from 18 month)
Head: 19" (from 18 months)

Sleep: Ridiculously terrible when he was sick.  Which we weren't really surprised about.  It's gotten amazingly better since he's been feeling better.  Usually once a night, often before we go to bed.  Which means in the past month I've gotten two full nights of sleep with no wakeups!  I'm hoping this is the beginning of the end.  And in typing that I also know I've jinxed myself.

Eating: He's still nursing, as I wrote about earlier, although I'm happy to announce that once he was feeling better, he dropped those extra sessions he'd added in while sick.  He eats like a bottomless pit at breakfast, either two waffles or two bowls of oatmeal.  He runs in the house after school asking for "nack nack nack" which usually consists of a cheese stick, or some raisins, or grapes, or oranges.  But dinner?  He's entirely uninterested. 

Best Moment:  I love these boys together, and I've had so many fabulous moments between the two of them.  Like the above picture occurred after Thatkid finished running home.  Thatbaby went running up to hug his brother.  Or when Thatbaby was sitting on the couch and Thatkid went up to him and said "ohhh you're so cute" to which Thatbaby responded "oooo  ew so coo" right back, as he hugged his brother around the neck.

Monthly Wisdom:  We're really working on communication this month.  And it's been more frustrating than I recall with Thatkid.  Thatbaby just doesn't have the vocabulary that his brother did and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what he's saying as he attempts to communicate.  But it's really important to make that effort and listen.  It's easy to tune them out when they're not making "sense" but that's enormously frustrating for them.  So we put in the work to try and help him find the words, or at least what he's trying to impart on us.

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
- Passover.  I feel like it's so much harder for kids who don't quite get why they can't have what their friends are having.
- A plane trip!  We haven't done one of these since before he started walking.  And even though it's a short one, I'm not looking forward to keeping him still and occupied!

Things Thatbaby is doing:
-  At bedtime he nurses, then looks up at me and says "walk" for me to walk around the room with him.  Then he holds my face and asks for the "Horsey song" which is "All the Pretty Little Horses."
- He asks for hugs, and when you hug him, he says "Oooooohhhh baby.  Oooooohhhh baby."
- He stopped sleeping in a sleep sack and sleeps with a blanket!!!! And he loves his blanket.  He also loves to be covered with it in his chair or on the couch.
- He loves to do everything himself "No!  My do it." 
- He looks for people/things:  "Mama where aaarrrrreee you?" "Where Thatkid go?"
- He loves playing tricks, like pretending to give me a bite to eat, and then taking it away.
- He climbs in and out of his crib before bed.
- He is a little echo.  He repeats everything everyone says.  Especially Thatkid.  It's the cutest during bedtime stories.  
- Probably because we spend so much time at baseball practices in games, but he is very into baseball.  He always is pulling out the bat or glove to play with.  He carries around a baseball all the time.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Runday: Sharon's Run Ride Walk 2017

I think this is the fourth year I've done this race, the third time Thatkid has done it.  This year was supposed to be the second year we did it as an entire family, but Thatbaby didn't sleep at all the night before the race, due to illness and fever.  He wasn't running a fever the morning of the race, but he was definitely still not feeling good.  So Thatkid and I left the other half of the family at home and headed down to Mission Bay.

We got there a little later than we usually do, so there was less time to kill.  Which was fine by me.  We met up with our group, the intrepid Serena's Crusaders.  All of us are dedicated to Serena, the leader of our team, who fights to daily fight against Epilepsy, and the reason we do this race which raises money and awareness for Epilepsy.

And pretty soon after we were all heading to the start line.  Thatkid and I did our mandatory "Running face" while we waited to begin.  I love this kid.

I love this kid, but I don't always love running with him.  This race is always tough on him.  I think it's because it starts so late that it gets warm.  Or maybe because he just doesn't sleep well the night before.  Or maybe he's 5.  Whatever the reason, he always spends the whole 3 miles whining and complaining and asking to be carried.  He ran in 3 second spurts about once a mile.

And he kept asking if he could just fall down.  When I inquired further he admitted that once he fell down, he had no intention of getting back up.  So I made him wait until after we crossed the finish line.

But after we crossed the finish line, we experienced a miracle!  His legs, which he claimed were going to fall off from pain during the race, were pain free!  He had all sorts of energy to partake in the post-race activities, the thing that keeps him coming back year after year.

This year, in addition to all the other great kid-friendly activities, there was cotton candy!

And once he finished his sweet treat, he made a bee-line for the giant inflatable slide.  Which he rode over and over again.

And then we moseyed over to the facepainting booth.  There was a craft station next door, so he colored before and made a bracelet after.

I'm hoping next year is more successful in getting this kid through the race course, of course then I'm sure I'll be dealing with Thatbaby and his own race issues.  But at least Thatboy will be there to help!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi

As you may or may not have heard, Southern California was hit with a record amount of rain this year.

There's a saying that "April showers bring May flowers" but when you live in a desert, that timeline changes a little.  In our case, March brought with it a "super bloom,"  an explosion of wildflowers that has blanketed the once barren desert.

Thatboy and I haven't ventured to Anza Borrego since before the boys were born, but we didn't want to miss out on the blooms, so we decided there was no time like the present for a return visit.

Upon our arrival, Thatkid grabbed the wildflower guide and made himself the unofficial guide, leading us around and pointing out the different varieties.

Our guide wasn't just interested in the flowers though, he was also interested in hiking up to various boulders and climbing them.

Thatdog and I, who had no interest in climbing big rocks, waited for them in the shade at the bottom.

The flowers themselves were everything I had hoped for.   I had set up Thatkid before we went, remembering that I was disappointed on my first trip out, after hearing about the amazing wildflowers growing in the desert. 

We spoke about how there is very little water in the desert, so things that grow there are small, conserving whatever nutrients they can and not wasting it on giant blooms or leaves.  And I reminded him that typically the desert is just brown brush and sand.  He took our discussion to heart and was appropriately wowed by the flora.

Some areas were a pastel wonderland.  A carpet of small purple and white buds.

Just a few feet away were fields of yellow.

One thing that is fairly well known about the desert is the heat - even in March.  And although that's fairly well known, I still had romantic visions of sitting on a blanket in the middle of the flowers, and having a picnic lunch.  The reality of the situation had us sitting in the back of our air-conditioned car.  Still picnicking, and still viewing the flowers, but not surrounded by them. 

I packed us desert appropriate sandwiches - cool as a cucumber, or a radish, or a carrot.  Or all three!  Banh Mi are Vietnamese sandwiches, usually served on a french baguette.  When I was in high school, we were close enough to a Vietnamese sandwich shop to have them on a regular basis.  And although they are certainly not seasonal, there is something about them that just seems like a summer picnic food.  I think it might be the pickled vegetables, the crisp cucumber, and the freshness of the bread.  This one especially plays on bright summery flavors with the addition of lemongrass.   And while most banh mi are not vegetarian, this one uses tofu, marinated in that lemongrass, which also makes it feel like a light lunch.

Lemongrass Tofu Bahn Mi (From Cooking Light)
1 package extra firm tofu
2 Tbsp finely chopped, peeled, fresh lemongrass
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp matchstick cut carrots
1 1/4 cup matchstick cut peeled daikon radish
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp canola mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp Sriracha
1 French bread baguette, halved lengthwise and toasted.
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber

  1. Cut tofu crosswise into 6 slices.  Wrap in paper towels and top with cast iron skillet or heavy pan.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Remove  tofu from paper towels.
  2.  Combine lemongrass, 2 Tbsp water, soy sauce, and 1 tsp sesame oil in 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  
  3. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer in soy mixture, turning to coat.  Let stand 15 minutes.
  4. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve.  
  5. Add carrots and radish, toss well.  Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain.
  6. Stir in cilantro. 
  7. Whisk 1 tsp sesame oil, mayonnaise, and Sriracha in a small bowl.  Spread evenly over cut sides of bread.
  8. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Remove tofu from marinade, discard marinade.   Pat tofu slices dry with paper towels.  Add tofu slices to pan.  Cook 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.  
  9. Arrange tofu slices on bottom half of bread.  
  10. Top tofu slices with carrot mixture and cucumber slices.  Cut baguette crosswise into 6 equal pieces.