Road Trip and Hiking with the Kids

We took our first real 'road trip' as a family last week, driving more than 4 hours away with an overnight stay.  We've always wanted to get to Olympic National Park and thought it'd be cool to go to the Hoh Rainforest visitor center area and check out low tide at the beaches of La Push the following morning.  It was awesome AND a living hell all rolled into one.  I should know by now to not have any kind of expectations when it comes to the kids: the things that I expected to go just fine, went horribly awry, and the things I worried about were no biggie.  Figures.

The car time had me worried.  We don't have a DVD player in the car and I really don't want to HAVE to go down that road.  We certainly handed over electronic devices from time to time (our shared family Kindle Fire and the kids have a MobiGo), but they also did a good job with sticker and coloring fun packs, books, and SNACKS.  Want my kids to pipe down?  Give them food, especially 'road trip only' food like Twizzlers - ohhh, that was a big hit.  Breaking the trip up into smaller sections was really helpful, too.  We had a nice ferry ride at the beginning, drove for awhile, then had lunch, and drove again.  For more great tips, here's a great post from Modern Parents Messy Kids that I read AFTER we got back.  Figures.

Hiking with our kids is something we do quite a bit, so we were prepared for that and it went great.  In addition to the usual hiking essentials (water, some food, sunblock, bug spray, small first aid, extra clothes, etc.), having big brother bring his own 'hiking backback' and camera always makes him feel like he's helping and gives him a place to put his 'treasures.'  Moveable Mom has some great tips on this post and we're TOTALLY gonna look for magical creature cottages on our next hike; such a cute idea!

Eating was pretty slim pickin' in Forks, despite it's world renowned fame for being the hometown of Bella Swan and the Cullens.  Just for kicks, we looked up where the closest McDonald's or Starbucks were located - at least 60 miles away.  But the Thriftway is always a fun jaunt in any town and they had lots of good deli options to take back to our condo or out for a hike.  The little pizza joint (Pacific Pizza) was tasty, albeit kinda depressing with the ripped vinyl booths and bad wallpapering.  But, for the kids, it could have been Disney for all they cared.  NEW!  FUN! DIFFERENT!

So, the one thing that just sucked beyond belief was trying to get our two year old to sleep somewhere other than her crib.  And, as all parents know, lack of sleep makes everyone cranky and pissed off.  She's at the age where she's not quite ready for a real bed and too old for a pack and play.  We got a two bedroom condo with two queen beds and figured we'd put both kids in bed together and just let them stay up until they passed out.  Since our youngest has always been pretty go with the flow, we just thought it'd work out.  Yeaaaaahh, not so much.  We put 'em to bed at 9pm (nearly 2 hours late) hoping they'd be tired and fall asleep.  Bwahahahaa!  They stayed up playing in the bed until nearly 11pm when finally went to intervene.  On the upside, they spent two hours in a queen bed playing quietly together without fighting like cats and dogs.  That's a small miracle right there.  Anyhoo, my husband took a deliriously overtired toddler into our room and got her to sleep on him and then put her back next to her sleeping brother around midnight.  Only to have her wake at 2:30am screaming her head off.  So, we basically spent the night taking turns holding her and trying to get her to sleep.  Kinda like when she was an infant.  At least there was more napping on the drive home and a lot less sniping between her and her brother!  I think if we, for whatever reason, had to get on the road before baby girl has transitioned to a real bed next year, we might try borrowing one of those sleep tent things from a friend of ours and just zip her in there... 

Sleepy girl(s)

Thankfully the beach at La Push was amazing and gave us a little pep in our step.  We had the best time checking out tons of starfish, anemone, clams, hermit crabs, seaweed...  It was a blast for my son who seems to have a penchant for marine biology.

Overall, it was all SO worth it to get out and spend some time unplugged with the kids.  Big brother was so psyched about sleeping in a new place and trying new things, and I know his sister will get there soon.  Now that we've taken that first tentative step into family trips, we're really excited about future adventures.


This Week's Eats and a FAB lunch salad

Ahhh, gotta love the perfect summer weekend.  For me that means getting together with friends, having fun with the kids (instead of feeling like I'm wrangling them) and going out for a nice dinner.  Check, check and check.  We went out for my birthday dinner and I had a LAVENDER martini, er well, I had two.  Sooooo good. 

Since our kids love all things Cars and Hotwheels related, we thought it'd be fun to check out our town's annual car show.  It was, without a doubt, the highlight of their weekend.  After eating their favorite lunch (Jimmy John's which we love, too - reminds us of home and college) we spent the entire sunny afternoon checking out hundreds of cool cars, vendors, and the kids even got to meet the Seafair Pirates and score some 'booty.' 

We also hooked up with long time friends for a BBQ and I volunteered to bring a salad.  I have a few gluten free and dairy free friends, as well as a couple that are mostly eating Paleo (those crazy Crossfit kids!) and at least one vegetarian in the bunch.  I'd been meaning to try this quinoa salad and thought it'd be a good audience to test it out on.  It went over really well.  HIGHLY recommend!  I've been eating the leftovers for lunch, too.  The only thing I did differently was cook the quinoa according to package directions (which called for WAY less veggie broth) and I will for sure add a little crumbled feta or cojita cheese when I make it again, because I love cheese and am an 'everything in moderation' kind of gal.  Unless my doctor tells me to, there will be ZERO banned items in my house.  I want to eat ALL THE THINGS.

Photo from The Diva Dish

Here's what we're eatin' this week:


Friday Things

So that new location for a ZOOMA run was announced yesterday and, sadly, no resorts in the Pacific Northwest were chosen.  Alas, they did choose a location near and dear to my heart.  They'll be going to Amelia Island, FL in January 2013.  We spent several years going to Amelia as a family.  We even drove down there from Chicago on at least one occasion.  Seeing as how my mom is into tennis, it's a PERFECT retreat for the tennis lover - as well as tons of other activities.  I remember riding rented bikes endlessly around the island and getting lunch (lots of hot dogs and virgin daiquiris) charged to our condo.  Thanks mom!  And when we were in our pre-teen years, there was lots of Tron/Qbert/Ms Pac Man playing in the arcade (OMG that makes me feel like a fossil), driving golf carts 'kamikaze' style around at night without headlights and trying to crash the older kids bonfire parties on the beach.  And now my big brother is about to embark on a vacation there this summer with his three kids.  Full circle...

All of the pictures surfacing on the web today from the opening ceremonies of the Olympics are making me SO ANTSY.  I can't wait to park myself on the couch tonight and watch.  And as much as I love to run, I'm so glad that swimming gets underway first - it's my favorite to watch, not gonna lie.  After our fancy dinner out tomorrow, we're coming home to watch Phelps vs. Lochte battle it out for the 400 IM. 

Also, if you've heard the term 'blackout' bandied about in regards to the athletes sponsors and aren't sure what the heck they're talking about, PLEASE read this blog post from Oiselle about what a bunch of crap it is and how we can do our small part to help the athletes and their sponsors.  Another good article here on Forbes.

Enough preachy preacherson, here's the latest admission of my top 40 listening habits...  YES I have some Pitbull on my playlist, OKAY?  This may have to inspire me while running in the wee dark hours...

("We Run the Night" by Havanna Brown feat. Pitbull)

Happy weekend!


What Next...(and a few race entry codes)

I'm almost glad that I didn't meet my sub 2 hour time goal for the See Jane Run Half Marathon, because then I'd be somewhat clueless about what goal to set for my next race.  I haven't followed any kind of training plan since early March and I kind of miss having someone telling me what to do a set schedule.  So, I'm starting a new plan on Monday - I'm gonna give the Train Like a Mother 13.1 'Own It' plan a go.  I really like how they've indicated which workouts are 'essential' that week and which ones I can ditch, if necessary.  It's a 14 week program that will perfectly segue into what looks like a nice little PR type race: the Snohomish River Run!  The only fly in the ointment is that the weekly long runs start right off at 8-10 miles in the first weeks and I can't fit more than 9 miles in at the Y, due to the (very reasonable) 90 minute time limit for the daycare.  So, it's either get up at a crazy hour of the morning (for 14 weeks rather than the usual last 2-3 weeks of a plan) or give up my beloved one day to 'sleep in' each weekend.  I'm leaning towards getting up super early one day during the week, but a bit worried about running alone at the crack of dawn...  I'm partial to running on the trails, but might keep to busier areas and just deal with ugly scenery and stoplights to be safe.  Blargh.  But, to have the workout done before the kids even get up?!  That'd be pretty nice... 

Any local yokels wanna join in?  If you do, Super Runner Mom has a code you can use for $10 off the entry fee!   'SuperRunnerSRR12'  I love that it's on a Saturday and within easy driving distance, too.

Speaking of codes...  I've got one for y'all to use for the inaugural Seattle Hot Chocolate 15K, as I've been selected as a 'Chambassador.'  Yes, you read that right; it's their way of callin' me a chocolate ambassador.  Woohoo! 

Go 'Like' them on Facebook now!

The race isn't for awhile yet, but save the date and mark your calendars for March 3, 2013 and use the code: HCSEAHAT1 for a free hat in yer goodie bag.  Don't worry, I'll remind you repeatedly about the code as winter rolls around.   

I'm SO excited for this race, for so many reasons.  A 15K is a long, yet fun and doable distance.  Proceeds go to the local chapters of Ronald McDonald House.  It's a national race with locations across the country, but it's run by RAM Racing which is based out of Chicago; and we all know I love to support my hometown.  And, really, who wouldn't want to eat chocolate fondue after a race???  I hope to see lots of familiar faces there!

mmmmmm (pic stolen from the Hot Chocolate website)

Aaaand, back to the subject of discount codes: I just got one for $10 off the Eugene Marathon for next year.  Hrrmmmm.  Anyone wanna help me run my first marathon there?  I'm seriously considering it...


One Word Wednesday - ZOOMA!

(okay, some extra words: fingers crossed for Seattle-ish area!  Video by Lindsay)


Berry Picking! (and what to do with all those raspberries)

One of the most fun outings for kids 'round these parts is Remlinger Farms.  I always keep my eye out for the inevitable summer Groupon/Living Social deal for half off, or two for the price of one tickets, as we've made it a tradition to go raspberry picking there every year.  Unlike strawberries, raspberries are easier to pick and you can stand while you work instead of crouching on the ground.  These are the things I think about with a husband who's 6'4 and small kids that get easily frustrated.

This year we went a bit too early in the season and had to do a bit of hunting up and down the endless aisles of raspberries and lifted up many branches to find the ripest ones.  But we still got a good haul.  Five pounds for $10 after less than an hour of 'work.'

Then, we spent over two hours seeing the animals and going on all the fun rides that are now just perfect for my five year old.  He finally rode the 'roller coaster' this year and we had SO much fun.  I think the pedal cars were our favorite though, we went on those twice. 

Also, OMG, what a difference 3 years makes...

What to do with all those raspberries?  Well, being me, I like to organize them!  After rinsing them in batches (in a bowl of water with a dash of vinegar) and drying them gently with paper towels, I spread them out on cookie sheets to freeze, all except for 2-3 cups I keep in the fridge for snacking.  Once they're frozen, I divvy them up into 2 cup portions and put them back into the freezer in Ziploc baggies. 

We mostly use the frozen stuff for waffle or pancake toppings, and smoothies.  My favorite way to make the smoothies is with 2 bananas, about 2 cups of fruit juice (I really like Dole's orange/peach/mango), about 1.5 cups raspberries, a tablespoon of honey and about a half cup of vanilla Greek yogurt.  That's usually enough for 3-4 servings.  Sometimes I'll add some peaches or if I remember, some ground flax seed.

Mmmmmm, they're tart, creamy and refreshing for breakfasts, lunch or snacks.  They'd be good frozen into popsicles, too.  Here's some links to my other favorite raspberry recipes to enjoy while they're in season:

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
Raspberry Ricotta Scones (also Smitten Kitchen!)
Peach and Raspberry Crisp (Ina Garten)

Next month: blueberry picking at Mercer Slough!


This Week's Eats and a Oiselle Meetup

Yay!  So this happened on Sunday:

Pic stolen from Sally's Twitter

I finally got to meet and chat with a bunch of super cool women that I've 'known' for months in the virtual world as part of the Oiselle team.  We did a nice 4 mile run and hit up Starbucks afterwards, natch.  My legs were feeling rather sluggish after last Sunday's half and taking an entire week off.  As I'd predicted, I brought up the back of the pack, even asking Kristen (our Team manager) at one point 'how much further?' On a FOUR MILE RUN.  Gah.  Oh well, I think I'll have a bit more pep in my step by the next group run.  In any case, it was so fun and such an honor to be able to run with these ladies, including Kate who just ran at the Olympic trials in Eugene!  Granted, she was always running a good 25-50 meters ahead of me - but we covered the same distance. :)  And Megan who had just finished running 24 miles in 40 hours with no real sleep (Ragnar) the day before.  Crazy rockstar girl.

Anyhow, what better way to get back into racing shape than to eat. lots. of. FOOD!  Errr..
  • Monday - Pizza!
  • Tuesday - an old Food Network favorite, easy cheesy chili chicken breasts with some guac and rice
  • Wednesday - sloppy joes: we do a typical ground beef recipe with ketchup, brown sugar, a little vinegar, onions and garlic
  • Thursday - southwest strata with spicy chicken sausage: I'm totally making this up as I go along as we have the leftover ingredients for such a dish in the house (sausage, eggs, peppers, bread, cheese..) we'll see how it turns out...
  • Friday - penne with vodka sauce
  • Saturday - babysitter's coming over and we're going out for my birthday dinner! wooo!
  • Sunday - Caesar salads with grilled shrimp
Oh, and to report on last week's Pinterest experiment, the spinach and artichoke pasta was a good one!  I added a can of diced tomatoes, drained and cut up the artichokes into smaller pieces and might even try adding grilled chicken next time.


Friday Things - Calling it in...

We just got back from our little family road trip and I'm keepin' it short because, although it was a LOVELY trip and so fun to unplug with the kids for two days, we're operating on about 2 hours of sleep.  Turns out that baby girl is sooooo nowhere near ready to leave the confines of a crib...   

I wanted to share this post from Not Martha this week that is a total game changer for me and my hair care routine - yes, I know, important stuff!  I always try not to shampoo my hair every day: it's bad for your hair, hair color, yada, yada...  But after working out, I just can't help but want to get it CLEAN.  Enter Trader Joes (yay!) Tea Tree Tingle conditioner.  I actually had this stuff in the house already because a teacher friend of mine told me that Tea Tree Oil helps deter lice, and that's high on my list of fears as a mother, so I use it on the kids hair.  Apparently I can WASH my hair with this stuff as well.  I've tried it several times now and, although it doesn't feel quite the same as a full shampoo, it's WAY better than just rinsing.  WIN.

Here's my song sharing for this week.  I'm sure everyone's hear Martin and Solveig's "Hello" already, well "The Night Out" is a good one, too.  Not that I've been listening/running to these songs recently.  After Sunday's half, I did about 20 minutes on the recumbent bike on Monday and 30 minutes on the elliptical on Tuesday all while reading my Kindle.  This week will probably rank as one of the longest stretches of not running.  Hopefully I'll keep up on my run with the Oiselle ladies when I get back on the running train this Sunday.  I do know that there will be one teammate coming off off Ragnar Northwest Passage, so perhaps she'll take it easy and hang back with me.  For those of you running it this right now (or if you're running any race this weekend) have SO much fun and GOOD LUCK!  I'll definitely be following #NUUNKOTB on Twitter!! 

And I'm just now reading about what happened in Colorado and, man, I just have no words...  Other than to have a peaceful weekend and hug your loved ones close.


One Word Wednesday - Reinforcements


See Jane Run Seattle Half Marathon

I learned a few things from the See Jane Run Half Marathon, had some high highs, and experienced some pretty low points.  Where to start?  I suppose at the beginning...

On Saturday, I dragged my family downtown to the expo at the Westin after a lunch/play outing to the University Village.  The expo was small, but got the job done: packet pickup was easy, there were vendors and good samples including some from Barefoot Bubbly (nice having a bit of vino after a hectic morning with the kids) and Nuun (good re-hydrating after a few alcoholic samples).  Our shirts/goodies came in really cute tote bags, and I'll definitely re-use mine at the pool or beach this summer. 

I was up and at 'em at 5:45 AM on race day, as I knew parking would be a bit of a pain and I didn't want to miss the 80's Jazzercise style warm up that started at 7:35.  After a quick breakfast (usual suspects, coffee, oatmeal cookie & banana w/peanut butter) I headed out and found parking on side streets by 7:15.  Nice!  I must say, though, that some of these neighborhoods in Seattle just kill me how they have "two way" streets; yet, with miles o' cars parked down both sides, you can barely drive one car down them, let alone two!  I digress...

Pre-race I learned via Twitter that I'd be running with fastie teammate Amanda from the East coast who was in town visiting.  It didn't take me long to spot her and have a nice chat before doing a last minute bathroom break and the aforementioned 80s warm up, which was pretty hilarious - especially watching the few dudes in attendance doing 'jazz hands.'  And I am an idiot and forgot to grab a Oiselle team pic! bah!  Plus, she had to run over to Safeco for a game afterwards.  Ah well, hopefully there'll be another meet up in our future.  BTW, her finish time? 1:36:46.  Daaaang.  I also spotted Lauren at the Nuun tent to say hello and Super Runner Mom, who's one of those folks I totally identify with via her blog and Twitter, and got to chat her up for a few minutes beforehand. 

Before I knew it, it was time to line up.  I looked over and right next to me was my hairdresser!  So funny.  I saw her just a week or so ago and we ended up talking about running and realized we'd both be at this event.  I didn't know if I'd spot her because she's a TINY little thing.  But there she was, and I snapped a quick pic with her.

And apparently not only does she do great hair, she does some great running: clocking in at 1:47:08!

The wind was a'blowing (the pouf my hair had goin' on in these pictures is not the norm, ahem) and it there was a nice misty rain going on.  I was beyond ecstatic about this weather; many times during the race I thought that things could be worse: it could be sunny and warm!  They staggered the start by two minute intervals and I started in the second group with the 8-11/min mile runners.  I had heard from a friend and from recaps that there was a lot of congestion last year, and the race organizers certainly addressed this issue.  There was the usual bit of weaving that happens at the beginning of any race, and it thinned out quickly.  Then the best part of my day: a bunch of Oiselle birdies were there to see us off at the start line, including our team manager Kristin, 'blue ribbon' JenSarah, new teammate Natty and the mastermind herself, Sally.  I spotted them right away and moved over so that I could score some high fives.  SO FUN shouting "yay yay! high five!" with these gals.  It was like a mutual, "HEY! I know you! So good to see you! Like, for reals!"  Loved it.  I'll also get to go for a Sunday run with many of them this weekend! (That's a total of five exlamation points, if you weren't already counting.)

About to give Sally a High Five - pic stolen from Kristen's Twitter Account

Once we got going, I was having major deja vu from the Seattle's Best 15K and was glad to know the course a bit and what came ahead... foreshadowing!  Anyhow, I found a nice and comfortable groove for a long time and was cranking out just under 9 to 9:20ish minute miles for the first 7 miles.  But then those damned mojo killing hills near the University Bridge that got me in the 15K (a refresher: it goes straight UP and then straight DOWN and there's another hill to climb right afterwards) just put a nail in my coffin.  Here's the illustration from that post:

  I knew it was coming, prepared for it mentally and yet I still felt a little queasy and a cold sweat coming on in that mile, and I clocked in at a measly (for me) 9:50.  But, I felt like I recovered a bit by mile 9 and ran two decent sub 9:30 min miles until the dreaded mile 11 where everything turned... 

Now, I normally love out and backs in a race; the first one along the course was super fun, seeing familiar faces, giving cheers and just general people watching.  But by this point we had passed Gas Works Park (aka: the finish line) for a last hella long out and back and mile 11 seemed like an eternity.  First off, I was counting on a second GU and for the life of me didn't see any at mile 10 - but I was preeeetty out of it. Second, the signage seemed weird for mile 11, like it was out too far and it messed me up mentally. Teammate Amanda said that according to the signage in the last 3 miles, she ran a 7:20 mile (probably right), a 9:36 and then a 5:44 mile... Errr..  Third, I had run out of water and it seemed like more than two miles without an aid station - but, again, I was kinda losing it mentally at this point.  So, yeah, all of that amounted to MAJOR LEG CRAMPS.  That's a new one.  I've had aches and strains of all types, but never a cramp while running.  There was a bit of an achilles thing when I was training for the Seattle Half Marathon and I had platar fasciitis when I was in college.  But for the most part, my issues are my hips and hamstrings.  Compression socks?  Eh, I've never seen the point.  I need compression shorts/capris.  Well I wish like hell I had some compression socks or calf sleeves on.  Might have helped the feeling of knives being stuck in my calves and that awful seizing up/squeezing sensation that gave me no other choice than to limp.  The last time I felt that kind of pain was in swim practice and we'd have to do sets with flippers; every single time I would use those stupid things I'd get a leg/toe cramp and have to jump out and stretch by the side of the pool.  I did NOT want to have to jump to the side and stop in this scenario.  So I walked.  A lot.  And it made me mad and sad.  But, I also didn't want to ignore the very loud and angry signals my body was sending me and injure myself or, as I said, have to stop completely.  So mile 11 and 12 were jog/walks that were nearing 10 minute miles and mile 13 was nearly an 11 minute mile.  I kicked it up at the end where there was a huge finishing chute and tons of crowd support, but man, I bet those pics will be more fodder for Uglyracepics because I was very obviously wincing in pain.

However, there's a silver lining, as there always should be - just gotta look for it.  When I saw the clock and factored in the staggered start, I thought the time would be close to my last half.  And, lo, I was only about a minute and 10 seconds short of a PR.  Final time 2:04:05.  Crazy.  And, of course, as much as I was thinking "never again" in those last three miles...  I really want to chase that sub 2 hour goal.  I was secretly hoping it might happen this time around, but deep down I kinda knew better with the lack of consistent training for this race.  Hope springs eternal, though.  I'll chalk this up to being my 'best bad race' - kind of like giving the 'best bad massages.'  And if you don't understand that reference, I CANNOT HELP YOU; STOP MAKING ME FEEL OLD.

And to end on an even better note, the post race festivities were some of the best I've experienced.  There was plenty of water, bananas, Luna bars galore (I think I lifted at least 5...), bagels, pretzels, a cute photo booth, lots of tables and chairs to hang out at, and the best part: a commemorative champagne glass filled with chocolates and then as much sparkling wine as you could put away.  There was a sectioned off area for the plus 21 crowd and free flowing libations from Barefoot Bubbly that were rather tasty.  I only had one glass, though, and chatted with some fellow runners before getting too chilly (the wind and cold is good for running, not for standing around drenched in sweat) and I needed to go stretch in the worst way.

Lessons learned?  First, follow a good training plan for every race.  As much as I tell myself it's for fun and not to worry about how I fare, I want to know I did the best I could to prepare.  Second, bring my own GU and either bring more water or rely more on aid stations throughout.  I usually pass by the first two or more aid stations to avoid crowds and rely on my handheld.  Third, perhaps invest in some compression socks...

I'm not entirely sure I'll do this half next year, only because of the time of year.  If the weather had been at all like what we've experienced in the first week or so of July (sunny and highs in the 80s) I would have been even worse off.  I think my goal races are best saved for chilly rainy days, and it's a good thing that we have plenty of those around here.  BUT, I would so love to do the 5K next year and drag friends along to do a little girl bonding/drinking.  Overall it's an excellent event and a great half for a normal person who likes warm air and sunshine.

Mile splits for posterity:


This Weeks Eats - Road Trip Edition

Wow, I'm really impressed with bloggers that are able to get race recaps done in less than 24 hours!  Lindsay and Jennifer, kudos to you.  I was too busy watching BREAKING BAD, OMG, last night and I'm still working through mixed emotions on my performance at the See Jane Run Half Marathon (time was 2:04:05) and will have a full report by tomorrow.

This week's eats is a bit pared down as we are taking our first family road trip (other than the two hour jaunt variety) to check out the Hoh rain forest and the beaches at La Push after an overnight stay in Forks.  Yes, I've already promised a number of people that I'd say hi to Bella and Edward, etc. etc.  Hopefully I'll have lots of fun travelogue pictures and activities to share and, of course, stories of hi jinks because we've never had the kids sleep in one room together, or in any kind of lodging other than their home, really...

The last road trip I went on was just about eight years ago, when we drove from Chicago to Seattle.  And, speaking of great road trip pictures...

This was as close as poor Peeps could get to Mt. Rushmore, no doggies allowed there.  Although, the pic from the parking lot was my favorite from the whole trip.  Classic.

Anyhow, since we'll be gone for two days, we're planning for five meals this week and will wing it based on what's easiest that day.

  • Pizza
  • baked chicken taquitos
  • braciole and mashed potatoes - we usually make this Giada recipe around the holidays/in the winter, but we've been craving it lately.
  • spinach artichoke pasta - this week's Pinterest experiment!
  • chicken fingers with honey mustard dipping sauce and big side salad: marinade chicken tenders in a little tomato sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasonings, then coat them with a mixture of 2 parts breadcrumbs and 1 part Parmesan cheese and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, flipping once.  For the sauce I just whisk together equal parts honey and yellow mustard and maybe a small tablespoon of mayo to give it a creamier consistency.


Friday Things

I came across Dinner: A Love Story via Everyday Reading and CAN'T wait to read it and start trolling the archives on her blog.  Already I feel absolutely simpatico with this woman!  From one of her more recent posts on weekly menu planning:

"Do you not know you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of obsessiveness and ridicule and…simple, delicious-sounding summer dinners?"

I can't tell you the number of times that people kind of laugh at us for our obsessive menu planning that we, too, have been doing even before we got married.  She feels my pain!  And also, the reward that comes from family dinners.

Speaking of family, I shared this Babble article on my Facebook account many moons ago, but thought I'd share it here.  Such a worthwhile read for parents and anyone thinking about becoming a parent.  Despite the summer crazytown that is going on with my kids right now, they certainly are (and will always be) my pride and joy.  I've also linked this video by the author (Babble co-founder Rufus Griscom) and his wife Alisa Volkman (also Babble co-founder) that goes more in depth on the subject of parenting (with a Powerpoint presentation and charts! my heart swoons!) and it's a bit on the long side at 18 minutes, but so funny and so wonderful.

Lastly, here's my song selection for this Friday: "Tell 'Em" by Sleigh Bells

It has that great motivating lyric: 'did you do your best today?'  Always makes me try to do just that.  Happy Friday!


Stir Crazy and Sitters

We had a pretty awesome day yesterday.  For the first time, the kids spent time with a 'real babysitter' (someone who's not a blood relative).  We've always felt that we've had enough help between our family, and occasionally a friend, to watch the kids.  Plus, we're kind of homebodies and enjoy a regular 'date night' meal on Saturdays at home (where you can drink expensive wine without crazy markups!) after the kids go to bed.  It seemed silly to pay around $50 to go out for dinner when we could go out every 2-3 months for free when one grandma or the other was visiting from Chicago.  Alas, travelling is not necessarily easy on my mom right now and my MIL just went through back surgery, so visits are sparse right now.  Usually we have someone in town around the end of July for my birthday and it just wasn't happening this year, so I finally got the ball rolling on finding a sitter.  I asked a trusted mom friend, who took this plunge somewhat recently as well, for a few referrals.  I think the hardest part of it all is making that initial contact and that first meeting.  It's like going on a date or something!  Really that was what kept me dragging my feet. I have no problem whatsoever handing my punks over to (trustworthy) strangers: they learned to deal with the Y daycare at a young age, as well as at a local drop-off day care facility and, of course, preschool.  There's just something a bit more intimate about bringing someone to your home and taking over routines (like dinner and bedtime) that the kids can get twitchy about. 

All went swimmingly with our initial 'getting to know you' visit and I even escaped for an hour and a half to get a pedicure.  Oh yes I did.  I was most worried about baby girl throwing an epic two-year-old fit, but she was distracted enough by this new person to just look at me like a bit of a deer in the headlights when I told her goodbye.  And, really, I suppose that's a sitter's job - to deal with that goodbye tantrum.  I remember dealing when I was a babysitter; it just seems weird to be on the other end of things as a mom now.  I was even hoping baby girl would get her morning biz-ness done in her diaper so the sitter wouldn't have to deal, like getting the house tidy before the cleaning people show up.  I kinda remember that from back when we used to have them...

When I got home, big brother had a little pouty fit because he didn't want the babysitter to leave and gave her at least two hugs goodbye. That went completely as expected: he's Mr. Outgoing, Chatty and Wants to be Everyone's Friend.  I sometimes fear he may have a little 'windy city' politician in him...  FYI, that's why Chicago is called the windy city, not because of the wind - because of the long winded politicians (I can work the subject of my hometown into any topic). 

Anyhow!  They're looking forward to her next visit at the end of the month, and hopefully many more after that.  Because, man, not only was it the right time logistically with the lack of family support, but the kids are at an age where they're at each other like CATS AND DOGS.  All day, every day is one EPIC FIGHT over something one kid has and the other one wants.  And it's always something that they could care less about, they just want to push each others buttons.  Does anyone have any surefire tips on that front?  We usually set timers for toys to take turns, keep special toys away from each other in his/her room, and if all else fails put the toy in 'time out' if they can't get over it.  But it's not like these things lessen the fighting: just buys me time until the next coveted object comes on the scene.  And summer is making it SO much worse - they're together most all the livelong day and are going a little crazy without their routines.  Outbursts are abundant.  I had a nice little public meltdown/throwdown with big brother over STICKERS at the Y the other day and I can't even remember the last time he acted like such an ass - probably over a year?  Ugh.  Just when you think they're maturing a bit, they throw a curve ball at you.  I should take my own advice and just relax and give them time.

We're going raspberry picking tomorrow, a little family road trip next week and then another sports camp the following week to break things up, thankfully.  Meanwhile, I'll just keep looking at these pictures to remember what fun summer can be and how well they are truly capable of playing together.


One Word Wednesday - Freeeedom!

Photo: Perfect outing for the kids first time with a 'real' babysitter  http://instagr.am/p/M8t4GmQcxe/


Tempo Tuesday

Many of the miles I've logged lately seem much SLOWER than I feel like I'm capable of...  I look back at the 15K that I did in May and just don't understand how I was able to keep almost a 9 minute mile pace the whole time when I feel like it's a pretty strenuous effort to maintain that for just 3 miles during a tempo run.  According to several articles from Runner's World (including this one) my tempo pace should be 20-30 seconds slower than my latest 5K, which would mean I should run them at 8:36-46.   On Monday, after an easy mile warm up, I was able to do one mile at 8:45, but could only do 9:00 for the second.  Granted, it was one of the warmest days I've run in so far this year.  I was pretty glad of getting at least two 'comfortably hard' miles in, so I did another 1.5 miles for a cool down and called it a day. 

The See Jane Run Half Marathon on Sunday should be interesting, seeing as how this is the first time I haven't strictly followed any kind of training plan.  If I was, I probably should have done a tempo of 4-6 miles by now...  Guess I'll be relying heavily on my old pal adrenaline.  I was curious about the particulars of what adrenaline does to the body and found this tidbit on ehow.com, it's rather fascinating stuff:

Read more: What Body Parts Does Adrenaline Affect? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6864054_body-parts-adrenaline-affect_.html#ixzz20Fsy79zU

It always truly ASTOUNDS me how much faster I go during an actual race and how much easier and faster the miles seem, but I suppose the adrenaline is masking the pain.  At least in the longer distances it does, because every mile of a 5K suuuuuucks in my book!  Which reminds me, I came across this article also from Runner's World that asks the question: what kind of runner are you?  I think it's quite safe to say that I'm a 'long hauler.'  What kind of runner are YOU?


This Week's Eats

I think this photo sums up the best part of the weekend.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is the best.  But, I'm biased, as I am in love with Seattle weather all year round.  It's so nice that big brother is getting the hang of swimming more and more every week, and I can sit by the side of the pool for little 10 minute breaks to watch him play with his diving toys.  I think when both of my kids are fully independent swimmers we might have to break down and pay some exorbitant fees to join a private pool so that we can spend most summer days like I did growing up in the Midwest.  That's definitely one thing I do miss about Midwest summers: the cheap and HUGE public pool in every single town.  We're making do out here though, for sure.

  • Monday - Pizza (gonna try and recreate Zeeks Cherry Bomb because they now sell jarred cherry peppers at Trader Joes!)
  • Tuesday - Emeril's Artichoke Chicken with wild rice (I typed up the recipe in this post)
  • Wednesday - Jalapeno Turkey burgers (season the hell out of lean ground turkey with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, a finely diced garlic clove, and fresh cilantro.  Add some breadcrumbs until they're dry enough to form into patties.  Throw some jalapenos on the grill with the burgers and then put them on top with a slice of cheddar to make them 'jalapeno popper' style.  Maybe I'll even hide a mixture of diced chiles and cream cheese on the inside...)
  • Thursday - spaghetti with meatballs leftover from this recipe
  • Friday - steak fajitas (always Trader Joes style - with the Carne Asada from the refrigerated meat section and fresh tortillas, etc.)
  • Saturday - mushroom and asparagus risotto (this is my pre-race meal and I think that making risotto is sooo much easier than people make it out to be.  I just drizzle some olive oil in our large saucepan, saute onion and a little garlic with my veggies of choice, stir in a cup of risotto and then add warm chicken stock every few minutes and stir until about 4 cups are incorporated.  I do not stir constantly; I just check it and give it a good 1-2 min stir while I'm prepping other things in the kitchen.  When it's done, I usually add some fresh tomatoes, basil and fontina cheese.)
  • Sunday - chopped salads with chicken, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, avocado and homemade champagne vinaigrette (olive oil, red wine vinegar, dash of sugar or honey, dash of dijon mustard and fresh parsley).  Yep, we practically eat this every week!


Friday Things

Wow, so much overwhelming love from everyone who follows Another Mother Runner and those who've read my post over there - my page views are off the charts!  Thanks for visiting and feel free to check out my 'About Me' page that I finally added to this blog.

So yeah, what day is it today?  The whole 'holiday in the middle of the week' thing is really throwing me off.  It's lovely to have my husband home for a day, but Thursday felt more like a Monday, and that's just one big fat bummer.  I would say that maybe in the future, he should take off more time around the holiday; but we're both of the same mind that it's SO much better to be at the office when you can get in late and leave early it's nice and quiet and then take days off when it's hectic and we need the break.

Anyhow, we had a nice quiet day because my husband was under the weather with a nasty summer cold and I wasn't about to attempt the craziness of the parades by myself with two kids.  There's something to be said for chillin' in the backyard all day and grillin'...

Sometimes I'm worried I may just take a bite out of her, for reals

Not to be outdone in the cute department - this is his 4th of July bedtime tradition with the headphones

On to some other Friday randoms...  I just pledged to back this very worthwhile lookin' venture.  I have yet to get a Garmin, they kinda scare me and reading this post by the Bia Founder/CEO on the Oiselle blog got me REALLY excited about this very cool product. 

So this week's video it kind of a repeat, since I linked to it yesterday, but I'd feel like a bad Oiselle Team member if I didn't embed it in my Friday things, and it's just that awesome.  WANT WANT WANT IT ALL. 

I'm also stoked that it starts with my pump up song!  No lie, it's even listed on my Oiselle Profile: Levels by Avicii!  AND it includes another favorite running tune that I've shared on previous Friday things, Tiesto's remix of Youngblood by The Naked and Famous.  Really, I think I have most all of the songs in this video on my playlist... 

So, perfect segue into my song sharing for this week, a fitting one for the gloriously beautiful Seattle summer that has inevitably arrived: Two Times by Sun is Up.  Yes, the sun is up and will be for about two months straight.  Happy weekend!


Letting Go

I came across this list awhile back of 15 Things You Should Give Up to be Happy.  It's been a handy list that I keep at the top of my 'favorites' for inspiration and thought I'd share the link.  Funny that the first two things on the list are the hardest for me and I make a conscious effort on them all the time:

1. Give up your need to always be right. (my mother and husband are nodding their heads sagely) and
2. Give up your need for control. 

I think that giving up control was one of the hardest things about becoming a parent for me; life with kids, especially babies, is organized chaos at best.  Having things in my life that I CAN control helps me stay balanced and I try really hard to let go of the things I CAN'T control, which is most everything.  I think that many runners would confess to being type-A folks.  Working on training towards a race goal is like therapy.  And then there's always something that doesn't go quite right during training or on race day so that you can set a new goal, a new task to master for the next one. 

As for the need to be right, I always THINK I'm right in my head, but I'm always trying really hard to keep my thoughts to myself (and, thankfully, to my sounding board husband). 

Funny Reminders Ecard: It says it right here, 'Women are always right.'

I certainly have my slip-ups...  Here's my anecdote for the day: back when Whitney Houston died, there was a LOT of negative commentary bouncing around the internet. I got so irritated with all of it and a 'friend' on Facebook(someone I went to high school with and hardly know at all) posted something like Whitney Houston, for all intents and purposes, deserved to die. I mean COME ON. I'd been so irritated with all of the politically charged ramblings and other negative stuff he was spewing since I accepted his friend request and couldn't stop myself from posting a comment.  He was so totally WRONG (in my opinion, of course) and I just felt that I had to say what was RIGHT: something like 'dude, she was someone's mother, daughter, friend.  Chill!'  Needless to say, it started a huge debate with the guy which ended up with his wife jumping online and dissing me.  (Still think I'm right, btw!  What if it was his daughter, friend? What good does it do?  What are you doing to better yourself or others by saying such hateful crap about someone who's dead??)  I was venting to my husband about it and he looked at me like I was crazy, "why the hell haven't you un-friended this douchebag??"   Um, I didn't have an answer to that! Why hadn't I!?  Maybe it's the residual high-schooler in me that is afraid to lose friends, offend anyone, or miss out on anything.  I walked right to the computer and un-friended the hell outta that guy. 

I've been feeling that 'need to be right' and 'need to control' things and the people around me a lot lately with all of the political hot topics so prominent in the news now: gay marriage, healthcare, and of course the impending election which is still a very long four months away.  Thank GOD for the invention of the DVR and never having to watch commercials again.  Anyhow, I have VERY twitchy fingers poised over the keyboard when I see 'information' or 'facts' that people are constantly sharing on the internet.  Then I remembered my husband's wise words and I've been doing some MAJOR Facebook feed editing!  LIBERATING.  There are quite a few friends, and even family members that are no longer showing in my feed (just show 'only important' status updates and they'll pretty much disappear).  Sorry, but if I want the news, I'd rather get it from a journalist.  Speaking of journalists, if you haven't seen this already, Anderson Cooper is a class act. 

Fear of missing out has become like a sickness (it even has it's own term now: FOMO!) with social media playing a larger part in our lives and I certainly fall victim to it - especially when it comes to the Oiselle Totally Trials action, but that's a bit off topic...  I encourage anyone who also has those angst-ridden, twitchy fingers poised at the computer to just let it go.  At first I was worried about offending friends/family when hiding a Facebook feed, but they won't know - so go ahead and hide 'em. 

Here's the full list for your inspiration, to put on your bulletin board, virtual or not:

  1. Give up your need to always be right.
  2. Give up your need for control.
  3. Give up on blame.
  4. Give up on self-defeating self talk.
  5. Give up your limiting beliefs.
  6. Give up on complaining.
  7. Give up the luxury of criticism.
  8. Give up your need to impress others.
  9. Give up your resistance to change.
  10. Give up labels.
  11. Give up on your fears.
  12. Give up your excuses.
  13. Give up the past.
  14. Give up attachment.
  15. Give up living your life to other people's expectations.


One Word Wednesday



Books I read in June

This was a really good month of reading: I finally ventured into 50 Shades of Grey territory, read a wonderful novel that all runners (and people in general) should read, and most will probably be my favorite books of the year...

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
A wonderful story of perseverance and acceptance.  It's a very emotional, and yet fascinating, journey the main character goes on after she loses her leg in an accident and learns to embrace her new life.  This book is not just for those who love to run, or run/ran track in high school (I certainly didn't) but I certainly identified with this excerpt!
"That's the funny thing about running.  The deceptive thing about it.  It may seem mindless, but it's really largely mental. If the mind's not strong, the body acts weak, even if it's not." p. 155 
Loved this book.

50 Shades of Grey by EL James
Ummmmm... what to say!?  I knew going into this that it started as Twilight fan fic and that was painfully obvious to me as I was reading.  It was a fast read, and I wonder if that's because she used a similar storyline and a number of similar scenes as another author's work?  The other thing that really drove me nuts was (much like Stephenie Meyer) she overuses phrases in the most annoying way: there was altogether too much 'smouldering' 'whispering' 'murmuring' 'oh my!' 'peeking through lashes' 'pants hanging from hips' going on.  Much like there's just way too much 'dazzling' going on in Twilight.  That aside, I SO wanted to know how things were going to unfold and, well, it was some fun SMUTTY reading for sure!  Of course she leaves it on a cliffhanger and now I'm just going to go ahead and read them all.  If you liked Twilight and you have an open mind/healthy attitude toward sex, it's certainly a fun read and don't knock it before you try it.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
This book really surprised me; I thought it was going to be a very descriptive, atmospheric historical novel set in pre World War II NYC, with a little Sex and the City vibe to it.  It was all of these things, and so much more.  It was witty, funny, sophisticated and gut wrenching at times.  Only problem was that it took about half way through the book for that 'can't put down' feeling to come to fruition.  But once it did, I was hooked.  So, if you're reading it/decide to read it, just give it some time - it'll grow on ya.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I don't think there's anything more that I can say about this book that hasn't already been said on the back cover: luminous, pitch-perfect, romantic, a triumph.  It's a devastating and yet wonderful read.  John Green's writing is almost TOO good.  This is the second book of his that I've read (Looking for Alaska is another great one) and I love the interaction/dialogue between his characters, but I can't help but feel that NO ONE talks like that in real life.  At the same time, that's why I love his books.  The characters are like witty superheroes that put thoughts so beautifully into words and say all the things we wish we could say.  I hardly ever highlight passages from books, but Green's are (to use a phrase from the book) lit up like a Christmas tree.  A few of my favorites:
"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
And all of the passages on infinity were a revelation:
"It seemed like forever ago, like we'd had this brief but still infinite forever."
"You gave me a forever within the numbered days"

These would probably make more sense in the context of the book, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone, especially the last pages of the book: all are one big highlight. 
If you're looking for the meaning of life, this book has got a lot of answers.  One of the best books of the year, if not THE best.


This Weeks Repeats

THAT was a weird bug that swept through our house last week.  We all got it at some point, except for baby girl, and were over it by Thursday.  Luckily it was only a 24 hour thing, but it messed up the last long runs before my next half marathon.  I think whatever ailment we had started bugging me during a very exhausting 10 mile run last Saturday and it's easy to see how important it is to fuel your body for exercise: I wasn't able to eat all day Tuesday and then didn't eat much for another day or two after that; it certainly made me feel slow and weak while trying to do my last long run of 9 miles on Friday.  Hopefully it'll be enough training to get me through all 13.1 miles at a decent pace.  Although, my only goal for this race is to have fun, enjoy some champagne, chocolate and girl bonding! 

So yeah, some of these meals were pushed back from last week, but I did put an old Giada recipe in there that I haven't shared before - super easy and a great way to get some extra spinach to the kids.

  • Monday - Pizza (might take the kids to Zeeks or The Rock)
  • Tuesday - Giada's penne with spinach sauce
  • Wednesday - 4th of July! spicy chicken sausages and corn on the grill with some fruit salad
  • Thursday - Greek turkey meatball salad
  • Friday - leftover baked ziti (I always make a double batch and freeze half)
  • Saturday - Flat Iron steaks and I might try this asparagus pastry I found on Pinterest...
  • Sundaysweet and spicy bacon wrapped chicken with mashed potatoes.  I was very sad we didn't get to try this Pinterest recipe last week; hopefully they'll turn out looking like the picture below and I'll have a good report for next week...