Sunday, August 30, 2009

Running

I ran the Denver Skirtchaser 5K yesterday. What a fun race! I had a great time even by myself (everyone bailed on me... even my husband... something about needing to catch a flight... blah, blah, blah). I was thrilled that I ran much faster than I expected and set a new personal record, but then I was equally frustrated that I didn't quite make my end-of-the-year goal. So close, yet so far. Next race.

The Skirtchaser is especially fun because there are no normal race t-shirts that go straight into my donation box. Instead I got a sassy red running skirt which I am certain made me run faster (as a side, the girl handing out the skirts kept insisting that I needed a small. I actually had to argue with her to get my medium. Flattering, yet annoying). The "skirts" (aka the girls) start the race first, and the "chasers" (aka the guys) start 3 min later. I came home planning to take a mini vacation to the next scheduled race in Savannah, but it is on Halloween. Can't miss Halloween at home but I'm already excited for the 2010 dates to come out.

oh... and I almost fell over at the finish line! Partly because I was exhausted but mostly because they were handing out water in Aladdin reusable water bottles! (I always hate taking the bottled water at a race yet I'm dying of thirst and sorta thought there weren't any other options) You had the choice of taking the bottles home or giving them back to be reused again. I took 2 home because they are a handy 12 oz size. Perfect for longer runs or the incline when I need a little water but don't want to lug a big bottle. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, August 28, 2009

This Week

I have so much I want to be blogging, but I'm not going to be catching up this week. Can you guess what is going to be happening in our house this weekend and into next week?
Maybe I'll catch up after Labor Day when Jack starts back to school. Of course, by then I'll be even further behind!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

High Price of Cheap Food

One of my cohousing neighbors showed me this TIME article last weekend when we were visiting for a community meal. Thought I would share.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just Jack

Everyone keeps asking me how Jack is doing with Kate in school all day. He is pretty bored with just me. I'm finding that it is more difficult to entertain one child than two. I'm actually getting less accomplished with just Jack. I have been trying to do some special Jack-oriented activities (aka boy stuff!).

Jack learned to ride a bike this summer and has since been asking to race his bicycle. He also loves to make jumps in the driveway and go through his "obstacle course" in our back yard (which consists of riding over and through a couple of my bushes!). At first I wasn't so thrilled with the idea of bike racing, but finally decided that if that is what Jack wants to do, I am going to embrace it.

Last week we set out to find the local BMX race track just to check it out. I called my friend Ashlee to meet us with her boys since it isn't far from her. Jack was a little unsure about going over the big bumps until he saw Bode take off. Then we couldn't stop them! 24 hours later we had leg and elbow guards and were on our way back to the track. I ended up taking Jack to the BMX track 3 days in a row!

Here's my 4 year old on the bumps...

And here are the boys checking out the first hill out of the gates. Notice what Jack says to Bode just as he takes off... and check out the air! (this one makes me laugh every time!)

And when not out riding, Jack has been busy watching these for inspiration...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Survived

So we all survived the first week of kindergarten.

Kate loves it, adores her teacher, and was quite disappointed that she didn't get to go on the weekends. She has an alarm clock now and is getting up at 6:30am easily. The earlier wake-up and the full days are causing an earlier bedtime also. Pretty nice to have long evenings.

I was able to keep up the facade of a got-it-together-mom through the second day of school. Then things started to fall apart! Waffles stuck in the waffle iron, forgot to pack lunch and snacks the night before, can't find shoes, can't find backpack, etc. I'm a bit more organized and prepared tonight. I just hope it carries through the end of the week...

Jack is a bit bored with Kate in school which means that I am doing a lot more entertaining than usual (which means that I'm not on the computer as much so if I haven't responded to your email, I'll get to it eventually!). He'll start school after Labor Day. Until then, I'm trying to keep him busy. I'll try to blog about our adventures sometime soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Demoted on Day 2

Walking home from Day 2 of kindergarten...

Kate: We started making a calendar today.

Mommy: Tell me how you did that.

Kate: We wrote the numbers up to 13. Oh, and I want to learn how to tell time.

Mommy: Sure! We can start learning to read a clock. Tonight let's read that book from Auntie C, Telling Time with Big Mama Cat.

Kate (with frustration AND attitude): Noooo, Mom. I don't want you to teach me. I want Mrs. B (her kindy teacher) to teach me. Don't you know that she knows a lot more things than you?!?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day

Kate didn't cry. Mommy didn't cry. Pretty successful morning.

First Day Outfit
picked out by Kate
Teddy is Ready
Bears can go to school the first week
Saying Hello to her New Teacher
(Kate then asked me when I was leaving so kindergarten could start!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Panic Mode

We were gone most of last week enjoying some time in the mountains. Gotta post about some of that soon as we had all kinds of fun adventures! But tonight I have something else on my mind... Kate starts kindergarten tomorrow! And I'm all in a panic!

I'm not worried about the school (it has an excellent reputation). It isn't the teacher (I'm thrilled with her). It isn't Kate getting lost in the shuffle (there are only 15 kids in her class!! although there are a lot of big kids running around...). It isn't that I'm worried about Kate not doing well in school (she is a smart bean and is going to do amazing). It is the lunches and snacks that have me all in a tizzy.

I was mildly concerned about what I was going to pack for lunch 5 days a week (we only did preschool lunches 3 days/week at most), but I knew I could handle it. Then I learned on Friday that I have to not only send lunch each day, but I also have to send TWO healthy snacks every day. They need to be finger foods that can be consumed fairly quickly, and no cookies, candy, juice, etc. Fortunately we can send nut products.

Two snacks. Every day. I'm only going to be able to keep up my facade of a have-it-together-mom for a week or two at the most!

Over the weekend I started combing through my pile of recipes and children's snack/lunch ideas. I'm going to have to plan ahead and make lunch/snacks the night before or it will turn into a total disaster. Here are my snack ideas for this week...

Cinnamon Poppers (Kate loves these, and I'll probably pack them with some fruit)
Blueberries and graham crackers
Homemade cheese crackers (I use whole grain spelt flour and alphabet cutters)
Yellow pepper and cucumber slices
Quinoa Bars (haven't tried these, but will use the leftover quinoa from dinner tonight)

And, yes, I know that only gets me through Thursday...
Hoping we can reuse a couple snacks throughout the week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wise Words on Dancing

Kate: Mommy, do you know how you learn to dance?

Me: Uh... at dance class?

Kate: No, Mommy, you just have to feel it!

I think that advice could be taken for much more than learning to dance...

Green Moms Carnival

In all the craziness this week, I forgot to post that the Green Moms Carnival is up over at Organic Mania. Go check it out!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patagonia Sale

Thought I would share that the Patagonia Summer Sale started today! We love Patagonia in our house!

Monday, August 10, 2009

School Lunch Priorities

I've been getting an overload of information lately about school lunches.  Go waste free.  Where are the organic foods in our schools?  How to connect your school lunch program with local farmers. There is a program somewhere in California that is catering in healthy, organic lunches to schools.  Even Whole Foods is doing a School Lunch Revolution where you can donate money to encourage schools to make changes in their school lunch programs.

I don't have any experience yet with lunches in our local school yet.  I've heard the range of parental comments from how generally awful the food is to how great it is that the pizza has whole wheat crust.  I'm sure the school is pretty average, maybe even above average.  I plan to mostly pack lunches for my kids so I honestly haven't really given the lunch program much thought.

Last week I received a form in the mail to apply for our district's free lunch program.  The form went straight into the recycle bin as I know we won't qualify.  It did remind me of a conversation I had at a birthday party last spring with two other moms.  One happens to work in a school lunch room, the other is an elementary school teacher.  The lunch room mom was telling us about all the complaints from upper middle class parents, and the teacher mom commented that she can't complain about the lunches.  For many of her students, it is the best or only meal of their day.  It was an instant change in my paradigm (as Stephen covey would say...).

It is a good reminder for us moms who are so worried about from where our child's food comes - local and/or organic?  In all of our concern, may we remember that there are other moms who also worry about from where their child's food comes - or if it will come at all.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Monday Menu Plan

My bread from last week's plan turned out SO GOOD. I'll should have some time in the next few days to blog about it. I didn't make the grilled pizza (I found a babysitter so Matt and I snuck in a date night instead!), but I think we'll try it this week.

Sunday - Grilled elk (from Great Uncle Mark - so yummy!), grilled corn on the cob, Strawberry Avocado salad, 4 seed loaf from Hungry Mother Foods

Monday - TBD - it will be just me and the kids. Something easy.

Tuesday - Matt's in charge of dinner
Wednesday - Grilled Pizza with salad
Thursday - Potato-Kale Quiche (new recipe I'm trying from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook which is my current favorite cookbook despite the fact that I am neither pregnant nor lactating!)

Friday - Matt will have Jack & I'll have Kate for kindy orientation - might take her out to eat to celebrate

Saturday - Tamales from the farmer's market, I'll probably do some black beans, grilled corn, and fresh tomatoes on the side.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Race to the Shrine

This coming week is going to be a good one. Matt is taking a few days off so we can have some family time in the mountains and also each have some time home alone.
This morning I woke up early to run the Race to the Shrine at the zoo with my friend Kristen (yup - same name, same spelling). It was only 2.1 miles, but it was UP HILL the whole way with an elevation gain of more than 900ft (average grade of 8.5%) from about 6800ft at the zoo entrance. It took me just over 30 min to get up, but less than 20 min to get down. I think I need to be running hills more often...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Freezing Blueberries

When Matt and I were dating, his career took him from Dallas to Burlington, Vermont.  He wanted me to move with him, but seeing as I had a good job, a condo that I owned, family and friends in Dallas, and no ring on my finger (I don't know how many times I told him the "why buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free" line), I opted to stay in Dallas.  But I did go visit.  A lot.  My favorite visits were during blueberry season.  We went out and picked buckets of blueberries.  I spent quite some time while Matt worked freezing and storing the blueberries to be used during the deep Vermont winter only to come back a few weeks later to find that Matt had already devoured every. last. frozen. blueberry.  We picked, froze, and stored again with Matt quite aware the second time that he was only supposed to eat fresh blueberries during the season.

We were engaged and living in Indianapolis by the time the next blueberry season arrived, but I still froze blueberries.  Just didn't get to pick them. I continue to freeze blueberries every season (and continue to harass my husband about eating the frozen ones when there are fresh ones in the fridge!) and feel lost when our stash runs out.  I was a bit concerned that because of our road trip I was going to miss peak season when you can buy the bulk boxes of blueberries but was relieved to come home and find boxes and boxes of blueberries still available.  

I bought 15 lbs of blueberries and froze about 12 lbs, but I'm afraid I didn't freeze enough.  I am storing them a bit differently this year.  Past years I've always used Ziploc freezer bags, but this year I decided to use the Ziploc disposable containers.  I'm not wild about using the plastic, but I haven't found a better solution yet (I thought about trying glass canning jars - does anyone know how that would work?).  At least this way I can reuse the containers from year to year (because to be honest, I'm just not a wash and reuse my baggies kinda girl) plus the containers are BPA free.
I start by washing the blueberries and picking out the yucky ones.  I place them on a towel lined 9x13 glass dish, pat them dry with another dish towel, and put in the freezer for about an hour.  Between the towel and the freezer, the berries are usually dry and partially frozen at that point.  I filled the containers and put them back in the freezer until we are ready to use them for pancakes or muffins or just as a cold snack.  I also did a bunch of raspberries. Hopefully we have enough to last until next June!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Road Trip - Day 16 - The last day!!

We woke up fresh and clean in Custer State Park, had breakfast and drove the wildlife loop again on our way to Wind Cave National Park.  I wish we had planned more time in Custer State Park as it would have been fun to hike, do a jeep tour, go horseback riding, and eat a cowboy dinner, but we'll go back again.

Part of the buffalo herd was very near our lodge and all over the road.  The kids thought it was a hoot to be in a "buffalo jam!"  We also ran into our old burro friends!
Buffalo Jam
Big Guy
Mommy and Baby
Feeding the Burros Again
Wind Cave NP is only a few miles away from the Custer.  We bought tickets for one of the cave tours, and the kids worked on their Junior Ranger booklets while we waited.  The cave tour was really interesting.  Kate was a little nervous for the entire hour tour, but says that her favorite part was when they turned the lights out.  Coulda fooled me with her grip on my hand!
Dressed up to go underground
Down, down, down
Scary faces in the cave
I would also like to go back to Wind Cave NP when the kids are a little older so we can do some of the more involved cave tours.  They also had some above ground activities that looked great.  We finished up our Junior Ranger work, got the kids' badges, loaded up in the car, and headed towards home.  The last driving leg was the longest of the trip, but it went by pretty quickly.  It was good to be home after being gone so long.

Overall?  It was a great trip.  So good that I am already thinking about a trip for next summer.  I'd like to keep going to see my grandma for as long as we can.  A friend of mine is trying to run a marathon in every state and wants me to do one in Minnesota with her next spring.  I also have a grand plan of driving across North Dakota and visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We'll see what I think next spring.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Road Trip - Day 15

Let me start by saying that we were pretty dirty and gross by this point in the trip.  None of us had taken a bath for several days plus we had been hiking and camping, so after breakfast and breaking down camp, we took a nice long swim in Horsethief Lake.  The water was a bit chilly but so refreshing.  And there were little bits of mica all over which made the bottom quite sparkly.
Feeling better, we started the drive to Custer State Park.  The original plan was to drive the wildlife loop there and then head to Wind Cave National Park to camp.  However, by the time we got to Custer State Park, we were all overly tired and cranky (I admit I was the worst plus I had a raging headache!).  The idea of another night on the ground sounded horrible. Fortunately, we snagged the last lodge room in the park at the State Game Lodge where Woodrow Wilson once stayed.
Matt took the kids swimming at one of the lake beaches while I took a long nap.  Early evening we set out to drive the wildlife loop.  We saw deer and mountain goats plus...

Buffalo
Pronghorn Antelope
and wild Burros!
(my favorite photo from the trip)
Burro Breath

Burros love carrots and bread
Baby Burro
I still wasn't feeling great on our drive, and I wish I had felt better because the scenic photography opportunities were innumerable that evening.  I felt much better the next day after a shower and a good night sleep.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Road Trip - Day 14

We woke up early after our first night in the tent (is it just me or is the ground getting harder every year?!?), broke down camp, and went straight to Badlands NP visitor center to get Junior Ranger badges.  We set off to see the rest of Badlands NP thinking it would go pretty quickly, but we were seeing so much and having so much fun that it took much longer than we expected.
Breaking down camp
First we stopped to listen to a fossil talk by one of the park rangers.  Jack volunteered to help and was so sweet and earnest answering questions.  I even learned a lot.




We stopped at a few more viewpoints
Family shot
Kate's photography
Jack's photography
Matt's favorite trip photo
And checked out the prairie dog town.  I have a new found appreciation for prairie dogs after being in South Dakota!
See the prairie dog?
We opted to take the longer, scenic route out of Badlands towards Rapid City.  The kids and Matt all fell asleep while I drove.  We didn't really know where we were going to camp that night, and fortunately we found a great little campground not far from Mt. Rushmore called Horsethief Lake.  We picked a little walk-in site that was relatively private with a great view of the lake.  After setting up camp, we headed to see Mt. Rushmore.

I admit that I thought Mt. Rushmore was something that we *should* see, but I wasn't really expecting to like it.  Honestly, I thought it would be pretty cheesy.  I am happy to report that I was wrong.  It is really well done, really interesting, and a great experience.  We did the walking loop, saw a mountain goat with baby, did the program for our Junior Ranger Badges, found our state flag, and learned a bit about the presidents.  Both kids can even name all four presidents on the monument.  



Mountain goat and offspring
New Mt. Rushmore after Jack becomes President
The nightly light show at Mt. Rushmore is supposed to be impressive and very patriotic, but it was a little late for our family.  Instead we grabbed some hot dogs and s'mores fixins and headed back to our campsite.  I think we were all asleep before the light show even began.
Roasting marshmallows

Monday, August 03, 2009

Road Trip - Day 13

After a good night sleep at the hotel in Sioux Falls (this hotel had a waterslide also!), we started driving west across South Dakota.  We had joked the whole trip about stopping at the Corn Palace with no true intention of going, but with no agenda and a need for a break as we approached Mitchell, South Dakota, we decided to check it out.  I always thought that the Corn Palace was 100% made out of corn, but it is actually a big building that is decorated with corn. We arrived during decorating season so it wasn't completely covered in corn yet.  Not much to do there other than look at it and go to the gift shop (where, of course, I bought a few things... a popcorn bowl and some Little House on the Prairie books).  We stopped a grocery store to stock up the cooler with some items for lunch and got back on the road quickly (actually a little too quickly... got pulled over for speeding.  Fortunately the officer let us off with just a warning. Phew!) so we could get to Badlands National Park.

When we finally arrived at Badlands NP, we quickly set up camp, grabbed a bit of dinner from the park's diner, and set out to explore before it got dark.  We stopped at a scenic overlook and then did a quick hike before heading back to camp to work on the kids' Junior Ranger booklets and get ready for bed.

Setting up Camp
Views from the Overlook
On our hike


See the bunny in the grass?
Working on Junior Ranger booklets at the campsite
Sunset from the tent