Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weekday Running

I guess I've been pretty eager to run since I'm feeling better. We don't have a lot on our schedule this week (end of summer calm?), and Monday was basically planless. After a lazy early morning, I asked Big Girl if she was interested in a run and some playground time. In no time, she had changed into her running clothes (her third or fourth wardrobe change of the morning), and was telling her little sister that she was going to go running. She even "practiced"in the house - I'm sure to the dismay of our neighbors (who are actually very cool but we still try to be respectful). Anyway, she was game.

After loading up the duallie with our typical running accoutrements (water, snacks, sunscreen), we were off and running. Aside from asking me a dozen or so times when she could get out and run, Big Girl was actually pretty chill. I logged about a mile and a half before it was her turn. She was thrilled!

Off she went, running down the path. No hair tie - just wild child and the pavement.

is that a heel strike? 

she's fast!

She ran about a quarter mile and then began barking her orders at me. I was to stay where I was til she said "1-2-3, GO!" Then I was to run exactly 64 centimeters behind her - no more, no less -  until she changed her mind and demanded I go in front of her. Then I was to wait behind an imaginary line until she dictated that I proceed. Obviously, this killed the run for me. But I indulged her to some extent til I noticed she was tuckering out.


Then she was back in the stroller for another mile or so (scarfing cheese sticks and fruit) and then out again. She ran a bit more and then we took a break. I ended up with about 3 miles for myself. Her mileage was close to a a half mile.

I know this tired her out since she took a good nap that afternoon. That was quite a workout! In the evening, we attended a fun Broadway in Chicago concert at Millennium Park. Big Girl was psyched to go because some of her friends were going as well. She also knew she'd get to stay up "late" - which is always better in theory. She crashed big time as soon as we got home.

concerting with friends

So that was Monday. Yesterday, while Big Girl was at school, I took Baby J for a run. Our plan was to run about 4 miles and meet our friends at the beach. I packed the stroller with a few things and a towel and headed out. It was warmer and more humid than it has been. There was a wicked gusty wind. Unfortunately, when we got close to the beach, a storm rolled in. I smelled the rain before I heard or saw it. Drops joined to form sheets and whipped across the city. We were lucky to be somewhat sheltered by a bridge, but once we cleared that, we were drenched. And then the thunder - louder than I have ever heard - just booming in the skies. We ducked under a neighboring building's loading dock and took shelter there until the thunder/lightning passed. The dock guys were so nice, bringing us paper towels to help us dry off a puddle that had formed at Baby J's feet. Of note, Baby J did not in the least mind this thunderstorm. She splashed her bare feet in the water and blinked out the drops that came near her eyes. I'd say she rather enjoyed the show. I had another third of a mile to go before we were home, and though I waited for the thunder and lightning to subside, the drops still fell like buckets pouring water on my head. We splashed through huge puddles and got even more soaked as we headed for home. But we made it - and thankfully I had a dry towel stowed safely down below. That was truly an adventure - and our first stroller run in a storm (I typically make sure we do not venture out on foot in any storms - but this one took us by surprise!). Needless to say, we didn't make it to the beach. But I did end up with that refreshing "dip" in the water that I anticipated had I made it to the beach ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Menu Planning - August 17

I'm on the mend - but have still been taking it slow and easy these past few days. I went on one run since this infectious / summer cold fiasco and that was yesterday (meager details below). Instead, I've been running after my kids - Big Girl has some speed! and Baby J is pretty much crawling (scooting, on the move, you name it). Yikes!

On Friday we spent the lunch hour picnicking with our besties. The big kids couldn't handle too much downtime so they got up and chased each other. I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of the "wheels" on my Big Girl. She's got quite the turnover! And she was barefoot --> mad skills (or bad parenting..?).

taking a running break from picnicking
Our weekend eats were pretty fantastic. When you've got little else going for you (ie you're in baby jail), prepping dinner is about the extent of the excitement. Friday night we went with wild salmon. It included ginger/garlic/soy sauce and was topped with scallions. The side was leftover greens from earlier in the week. The wine was a cab sauv that pretty much sealed the deal with this dish.

salmon/ greens/ cab

Saturday morning was my first run in over a week. I was SO READY to get out on the roads. It was just shy of five miles (4.75) for no particular reason - that was just the distance when I finished. Pace was about 9:40 or so. But it felt good to get out there (finally). Post run we headed over to the beach to do some beaching and airplane watching c/o the Chicago Air and Water Show. The beach was way more crowded than usual, but that didn't cramp our style. Baby J still ate sand like it was in short supply and Big Girl ran back and forth collecting water and for her nonsensical sand projects.

work it, planes!
Blue Angels in the distance

Instead of seafood for lunch, we saved it for dinner. We were able to pick up some shrimp and langoustines at Eataly - put it all in a pot with some Old Bay seasoning and beer (and butter).

seafood feast

Big Girl was pretty amused at our dinner. She even tried both shrimp and langoustine and declared them ok. But she was fascinated with the whole production.
this!? is your dinner?? hilarious!

it's late - i'm silly
really silly 

perfectly paired with corn on the cob and an IPA
So that was good. Now, onto the week's menu. 

Sunday - tonight we did a big salad with greens, bell pepper, cucumber, blue cheese, bacon, scallions, radish and a mustard vinaigrette. Fresh bread on the side. Crisp white (an Italian chardonnay picked up at Eataly).

Monday - tomorrow will be an eggplant spread - recipe from Deborah Madison. Basically it includes seriously roasted eggplant (squeeze out excess liquid), toasted walnuts, fresh dill, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper - mixed in a food processor. Served with toasted pita and fresh cucumbers.

Tuesday - loaded nachos. This is a good way to use up leftover tortilla chips. We'll put black beans, shredded cheese, scallions, jalepeno peppers, and sour cream.

Wednesday - Homemade pizza. Shallot and pepperoni. With mozzarella.

Thursday - BLT's

Friday - out for date. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WIAW - August 13

In lieu of running due to illness and recovery, I've decided to do a food post like I've seen called "What I Ate Wednesday." I'm not totally sure of the appeal of taking a picture of every meal you eat on a random day and posting it with descriptions...however, K of Team Stick and I were texting the other day about our eats, and she suggested I do a post on breakfasts sometime. I told her I would do it - because if I'm ever in need of breakfast ideas, that post might be gold :) But also, why not. I'm taking a mini running break and it seems food talk has become quite fun for me these days. So here we go - my meals for today. 

Breakfast - my mom was here this morning because she is awesome and stayed over the past couple nights to help me with recovery. This morning I was feeling a wee bit better, so I decided to make pancakes. Also my pancake freezer stash has been long gone, and it's a bit of a staple for many of Big Girl's lunches or snacks. So I restocked. 

Pancakes - from Runners World Magazine
Fresh fruit (the remains of Big Girl's banana from yesterday, cantaloupe, and blueberries)


Lunch - toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread (the BEST!) with sliced tomato and smashed avocado (liberally salted)
"Milkshake" made from two frozen bananas, a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a splash of maple syrup (this puppy rocked!)

avocado/tomato toast

Dinner - this one was on the menu plan but days were switched around due to me being sick. So this is my greens and tofu dish over millet. 


So there you go. And yes, there were a few snacks not pictured. For one - coffee. A half caf K-cup went with the 'cakes for breakfast. I can also guarantee that I snuck a few more pancakes while I was cooking (so I had at least 5 or 6. At least.). I remember a handful of cashews and pistachios in the late afternoon. And I just finished off the better part of a gourmet chocolate bar for dessert (because that killer cocoa shake at lunch wasn't enough chocolate for me?!). I'm not really a night eater, so that will wrap things up for the day. In any case, it was all delicious, and I hope it helps me heal.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Infected & Menu Planning - August 10

I realize the title of this post is pretty odd, but that is the state of affairs over here. I battled a 102 degree fever all weekend - which was the result of a nasty case of mastitis. There are other super fun symptoms that go along with mastitis, but I'll let you research them on your own. Little J is sick herself with a cold, and she could be teething. She has also been going longer stretches at night without feeding. Whatever happened, it was a shocker to wake up one morning in such pain when I have a nine month old. I though this happened with newborns (as happened to me with Big Girl). Sometimes I think that these girls are in cahoots and want to put me through the same crises so they can compare notes later..  Joke's on me. In any case, I am pretty effen miserable. Oh, and I also seem to have a cold coming on...sore throat, hoarse voice, and stuffies, because, ya know, mastitis isn't enough.

So, if I can somehow recover, here's the week's menu.

Sunday - tonight - we (and by "we" I mean the hub) are grilling chicken for grilled chicken tacos. The rub was made of ground cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Corn tortillas. Lime. Cilantro. Sliced radish. No booze. I wish.

Monday - Chili layer dip. My mom was gracious enough to send over some chili which we will turn into a multi layer concoction of goodness. Refried beans, roasted tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, a jalepeno, and fresh scallions. With chips.

Tuesday - Those greens I rave about - kale and chard and some kind of hot red pepper sauteed in sesame oil, ginger, garlic, cashew sauce, soy sauce, maybe a splash of balsamic with tofu over millet.

Wednesday - pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes

Thursday - Fish with olives, roasted tomatoes, capers, and shallot along with leftover greens from above

Friday - I didn't get this far. I hope to be more healthy by then. If I'm not, then perhaps there will be lots of frozen pizzas and/or cereal (the latter of which Big Girl and I survived on yesterday while I was alternating between shivers and sweats and aching all over - if at all possible: never be home alone with two small ones (especially - and this is important - if one of them is three years old) if you have fever and infection. You will more or less want to die because that will seem like a better alternative.

little #sconnie
Note: she is wearing my 17 year old college sweatshirt over shredded up too small for her tights. I had no energy to protest her choice of outfit, not that we were going anywhere. And while she looks innocent enough, beware. I think this is her "I've had way too much cereal today" face.. Watch out.

Luckily Big Girl went off to Camp Nonna last night, so at least it's been somewhat quiet here. As the wise Nonna stated : health is everything. She is so right. I am hoping like hell for a "good night's sleep" tonight (whatever the hell that means these days..).  My job stops for no one.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Menu Planning - August 3

Yep - I'm a few days late again. And in the middle of a chaotic week. I'll get right down to it, right after I show this pic of a tomato / mozzarella / basil / vinaigrette / sandwich on toasted bread that made for a perfect light dinner last week. 

classic summer sammie

Next up, the reason for at least some of the chaos --

inside our wall
Ok, really this picture shows TWO major reasons for the chaos - my threenager, duh, and the fact that part of our wall is missing. We had to have it replaced due to water damage from a neighboring apartment. Isn't that fun!? Luckily, the contractor is here as I type, putting the finishing touches on the repairs, so our wall will look as good as new. It's just been a process, as usual. 

So, because of that and Lollapalooza, we spent this past weekend at my MIL's. We were able to dine out Friday night - a fun little date night. And Saturday we ran all over the place (hurray for a seven miler!), spent some time at the pool, and took over the dinner menu. Here's what was served up- 

To start, shellfish on the grill. That would be scallops with a cilantro/lime/butter rub and grilled butterflied shrimp. Served outdoors with a crisp Duckhorn sauvignon blanc. Summer, no?

grilled shellfish

The main course was fajitas (or steak tacos) which included a strip steak and lots of grilled veggies (peppers, onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, and fresh scallions) in corn tortillas.


Seriously, that was a meal! Summer dining at its finest. And another perfect summer evening for relaxing outdoors all day long. Can't ask for much more. 

Onto this week - 

Monday - last night we just had leftovers. Tacos with leftover steak, avocado, peppers/onions, and fresh scallions. Pretty much as good as the first time around. 

Tuesday - tonight the husband has a work thing, so me and the girl will have hummus and pita. With cucumber and olives. Maybe some yogurt as well. 

Wednesday - panzanella 

Thursday - spaghetti and meatballs. There won't be red sauce - I'll do olive oil, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and fresh parmesan. 

Friday - picking up something for an outdoor picnic

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beach Run 2014 & Menu Planning - July 27

Given the relatively few beach appropriate weather days we've seen this summer, we had to capitalize on anything that resembled 80 and sunny(ish), and yesterday was one of those days. I set out on a solo four miler to "front load" our beach run yesterday morning. I did this primarily in the interest of saving time, but also because neither of us wanted to push that dualie for too many miles (it's not so much the weight of the load .. it's the constant annoying screeching noises that emanate from the side where my #threenager is not something that you want to hear in 80 degree weather while you're pushing that beast!). So, after my run, I met up with the fam and we ran the kids to the beach. It was about a mile or so, giving me a total of five miles for the day. While I set up shop on the sand, my husband "rear loaded" some additional solo miles. Then it was time to play in the water and lay around (and/or stop the baby from eating too much sand (how much sand is too much sand to ingest??). Lucky for us, the sun danced in and out of the clouds, so we weren't sitting there in scorching heat, but when the golden globe did emerge, it was quite pleasant. The water was chilly as usual, but also refreshing and something you could easily get used to with time. Clearly, Baby J likes beaching! I cannot get over how adorable she looks hamming it up for the camera in this picture!

big smiles!

It took some coaxing for Big Girl to join us for a group girls shot- she was too busy running back and forth in and out of the water. But she humored us..and even smiled. I also think she was trying really hard to keep her sandy feet off the blanket (she's a bit of a neat freak in some ways). 

beaching it up

So, after the beach, we had to make a decision regarding lunch. We so badly wanted seafood (because seafood is obviously the perfect post-beach nosh, no?). But dining options serving seafood in the area were poor at best, and it would have meant enduring our tired, hungry and un-napped kids which is nothing shy of torture. And not at all conducive to enjoying post beach run seafood! So we headed for home, got the kids bathed and down for naps (relatively quickly, I might add) and whipped up some peel and eat shrimp. If you haven't ever tried this, now's the time. It's quick, easy and delicious! Don't even bother with the cocktail sauce - it doesn't need it. Just peel..and eat. (Though I'd recommend adding corn - it makes the dish!)


This dish is best washed down with an icy beer, but we skipped that this time (mostly in Baby J's interest, as I was still technically "working" and shouldn't imbibe until she's in bed for the night). Anyway, this shrimp was fantastic and hit the spot.

Onto this week's menu. 

Sunday (last night) - we started with a simple tomato / avocado salad. Just tomatoes, avocado, a bit of salt and olive oil. For the main - pan roasted salmon -

It was as delicious as it looked. Pan cooked in mirin, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar and finished off with lightly braised scallions in that same concoction. Pictured with the fish is my long awaited Two Brothers Hop Centric Double a frosty glass. Pretty much heaven. 

Monday - I was looking back on the blog at past menu plans and spotted a dish from Deborah Madison's "Local Flavors" book that involved zucchini, tofu, coconut milk and rice. We will be doing this tonight but probably over millet (as that is a fun substitute for rice!). 

Tuesday - whole wheat pasta with fresh pesto sauce and tomatoes

Wednesday - sandwiches with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes (which will include a vinaigrette of some sort (likely balsamic) as well as the addition of some freshly grated tangy pecorino cheese). 

Thursday - BLT's. Classic BLT's. Nitrate free bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, romaine lettuce and real mayo on toasted whole wheat bread. Maybe some chips. 

Friday - hopefully out for a date? Kind of could use one - as well as a night off from cooking. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Mama Sticks Reunion!

I've mentioned Team Stick numerous times on the blog - we are best friends from college who first met in our university's running club and have since stayed close despite big (huge!) geographical distances between us. Stick visits are precious and provide us with time to catch up, hang out, and (usually) run together! The past few days were the first time the two mama sticks got together with all the kids (known affectionately as the "sticklings"). So fun!

Mama L came down with her two awesome boys (ages 4.5 and 1.5) to spend some time with me and my girls. They arrived Thursday afternoon, and we had a chance to get acquainted and enjoy a casual home cooked dinner together. Life is busy when you have four little ones to tend to - but we made the best of our evening together, which included a Willamette valley pinot noir and some late night conversation ("late night" = loosely defined.. as is "conversation" at that time of night..). In any case, it was nice to chat and share a comfy couch together with a glass of wine in hand ;) 

Friday morning the kids had us up and at 'em early and we breakfasted and chatted between feeding ourselves and our kids. Our plan for the morning with the children's museum, which was fun and exciting and just the right amount of activity before lunch.

"fishing" at the museum
"safe" in a designated "for non walkers" section of the museum
We were home for lunch and naps (which, thankfully, all those who still nap graciously took, including myself). Unfortunately, the oldest of the bunch came down with some kind of stomach bug and the poor thing battled that sucker all evening :(  We did our best to lay low and keep him comfortable, which made for another low key night and quiet dinner. Mama L wasn't sure of the best steps to take and briefly considered packing up and heading out. But luckily they stayed and the kids got a good night's sleep (this phenomenon still escapes us adults - I find myself wondering if and when I will ever sleep soundly again?!) 

four little monkeys
This morning everyone was feeling better and after coffee and breakfast, we loaded up the Bobs and took the bigger kids for a run. It was muggy and humid out, but not terribly hot. My Big Girl led the way with the most requests for getting out to push the stroller herself and number of times she tinkered with her snack/drink configuration (snack/water handoffs between us were at an all time high..). The boys were calm and chillin', occasionally asking for a snack, but mostly quiet. We stopped along the way for a picture. The mamas were smiling. The kids look a bit miffed. I think they are tired of all the paparazzi. In any case, we weren't finishing this run without a proper photo! The run ended up being about 3 miles, which is fine by me.

Mama Sticks and 75% of the Sticklings
another angle

Post run we enjoyed some playground time and discussed our lunch plans. Of course, Big Girl had to have her hand in the swing-pushing, as she likes to have a hand in most everything. 


Lunch was quick and al fresco, and it went about how you'd imagine it might with four hungry and/or restless little ones. I'm not sure I said much to anyone unless I was encouraging actual eating or reprimanding questionable behavior. That is how most dining experiences go these days. But it was nice to have one last meal together before Mama L and her sweet boys departed. 

group shot
I am so fortunate to be able to share parenting experiences with such an amazing and inspiring mama athlete! We don't touch base on a daily basis, but I know Mama L is sharing in the same triumphs and challenges that motherhood affords. Someday we will be able to sit down and actually have a conversation without interruption (imagine!!) and we will reminisce about all the craziness (and joy!) that our little ones brought us in those early years...and how we are totally grateful that we survived. I look forward to that day. In the meantime, we will keep logging the miles, however short and slow, and getting through the seemingly endless days (and nights) with our heads held high and as much concealer as we can smear under our eyes to mask the exhaustion. Thanks, Mama L, for coming over and sharing some precious time with us!! So glad to add this memory to the collection of successful (and crazy!) Team Stick functions ;)