Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SLC Half Marathon & Utes Spring Scrimmage

I'll be perfectly honest: I am not one of those people who has a lifelong goal of running a marathon. Or a half marathon. Or really anything with -athon at the end. It's not that I'm not goal-oriented or driven in any way, I'm just not really driven to run. I think it's high time that I admit this to myself, and I'm recording it here so that the next time I'm tempted to sign up for 13.1 miles of torture, I'll remember how I really feel.

Okay, okay, I'm making it sound much worse than it actually was. Even though it's Wednesday I am still in a little bit of pain from my run on Saturday (I think it's achilles tendonitis), it did feel really good to cross that finish line, and I am proud that I can count "running a half marathon" as an accomplishment.

By the way, when I say "run", what I mean is "jog/walk". Just so we're clear.

Last Saturday, the 16th, my mom, our friend Heather, and I met in the lobby of the Sheraton at at bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed 5:45 am along with our friend Sarah and her sister who ran the 5K. We took the TRAX train up to the University of Utah where we joined 8000+ people for the Salt Lake City Marathon/ Half Marathon. The energy at the starting line was palpable, and it was really fun to take part in such a big event.

My mom broke her arm in a skiing accident a couple of months ago and just got her cast off last week, so we agreed to take it easy. This was also my first (and probably last) half marathon-- the greatest distance I'd run until Saturday was a 10K back in November '07. Needless to say, I was glad to have a partner in taking it slow!

I actually felt really good (not fast, but good) through mile 10-- so good, in fact, that I took a little picture of the mile marker and thought, "hey! Only 3 more miles! I can do this!" I'm pretty sure those were my thoughts about 10 seconds before I completely hit a wall. Those last three miles felt like another ten! After what seemed like an eternity of robotic slow-jog motion, I finally reached the finish line, finally crossed it, and finally got my little medal that proves that I did it. Yay! Whew!

I'm purposely not sharing my time-- if you've run a half marathon, you'll laugh, and if you haven't, it won't mean anything to you anyway. Let's just say that slow and steady will probably not win the race, but it does finish. Eventually. :)

After the race was over and I had guzzled two little chugs of chocolate milk, we hurried back to the hotel so I could shower and meet up with my boys for our traditional Utah Spring Scrimmage day.

We met Gramm & Gramp at Hire's, then went up to Rice Eccles Stadium to watch next season's Utes. I didn't watch a lot of football because I was busy watching these little stinks:

Grammuh let Gordon use her camera-- brave!!-- and he was so excited to take pictures of the players.

After the game, Tom and Chris went down on the field (Neil was asleep in my arms, I was too sore to move, and Gordon was in trouble) and had fun seeing the field up close.

We visited Chris' grandpa that afternoon, but I was with a sleeping Neil in the car most of the time and didn't get any pictures. I'm hoping Gramm will pass some along!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Family Dinner: Nannified

I am a big proponent of the family dinner.  When everything works out right, there is nothing better than sitting around our square table, three little boys, one big boy, and me, eating something tasty and talking together.  The dinner table is almost always a place of smiles, laughter, and satisfaction, and rarely sees arguments or tears.  I am also pretty sure that 90% of the compliments I receive as a mom are given to me because of something served at that table.  (The other ones come on Sunday mornings when Chris says, "tell Mom that she looks pretty" when I'm ready for church.)  And, to back up my love of dinnertime, studies have shown that children who eat regular sit-down dinners with their families enjoy a better sense of belonging and fewer instances of drug, alcohol and promiscuity.  I'm in!

But, read the above paragraph with that little caveat:  when everything works out right.  That's the hard part.  Life is busy, our budget is tight, someone is going here or there, and I haven't planned the menu enough to shop for it.  When that happens, it's either running to the store at 5:30pm to grab something quick and easy, or worse, running by a fast-food place for takeout.  You know you're not on the right track when one of your kids says, "McDonalds again?!"  (By the way, the kids getting sick of Mickey-D's hasn't actually happened since we lived in Logan and I was working full time, but still-- I remember the sting well!)

I tend to shy away from books and sites that help with meal planning, mainly because I am not wanting for recipes.  In my cookbook cabinet, along with my selection of favorite cookbooks, I also have a folder full of recipes I've gathered over the years, plus three + years subscription of my favorite food magazine, Everyday Food.  My wonderful maternal grandmother, Nonny, who is an equally wonderful cook, is sending me her recipes so that I can compile them for posterity.  And, in case you haven't noticed, this blog has links to some incredible recipe sites, including Culinary Collie Sue, managed by my sister-in-law, Emily, and Bex Box, where my delightful friend Becca shares delicious recipes and fabulous recipe cards.  So, recipes are not the problem.

For me, the biggest challenge with family dinners is the planning.  For some reason, even with my abundance of recipes, when it comes time to plan for the next week or two, I tend to draw a blank.  Even though there are plenty of things we love and would love to try, I often end up making the same old stuff because that's all I could think of at the time.

Enter the Food Nanny

When we were in California, my sister-in-law, Heidi (also an excellent cook-- see, I have inspiration everywhere!), introduced me to the idea of meal-planning, Food Nanny style.  The idea is pretty simple:  each day of the week has a theme, and you plan your meals accordingly.  It seemed pretty elementary-- almost too elementary, in fact-- but then Heidi mentioned how the idea is actually working really well for her family.  So, I decided to give it a try myself.

Last week was our first week, and here's what we (I) came up with for our nightly themes:

Sunday:  Family Traditions  (meat & potatoes, traditional Sunday dinner stuff)
Monday:  Mexican
Tuesday: Italian
Wednesday: One-dish/ Crock Pot/ Simple
Thursday: Asian
Friday:  Fish
Saturday:  Kid's Faves (pizza, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, etc)

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I think it's funny.  I guess I could say that Neil is so excited about dinner that he jumps down the stairs?

I was surprised at how easy it was to come up with a menu, and in fact, I came up with weekly menus for six weeks.  That's 42 different meals without a single repeat.  If I didn't have the little paper in front of me, I wouldn't believe it myself.  The ease came from narrowing down my thought-process into a single category-- instead of trying to brainstorm everything I could possibly make, I just focused on the one theme.  Mexican: enchiladas, fajitas, sweet pork salad, white chicken chili, shredded beef tacos, etc.  You get the idea. 

I can also see how flexible this schedule is-- I kept some of my themes pretty generic to fit around our lives.  Wednesdays, for example, are always a little crazy around here, so it makes sense that our dinner would be easy to prepare and serve.  And we sometimes go out on Friday nights, so I put "fish" there, since I don't have quite as many fish recipes as some of the other categories. 

Here's how it worked last week:

Sunday:  Glazed salmon with Rice Pilaf
Monday:  Chicken Fajitas with oven-roasted vegetables
Tuesday:  Spaghetti (I tried a new homemade sauce and added sweet onions) with breadsticks and peas
Wednesday:  Pulled Pork Sammies
Thursday:  Sesame Chicken
Friday:  Dinner out at Morenita's (I was tempted to get something with pesce, but I can't resist their tacos carnitas!)
Saturday:  homemade pizza

It was a really good eating week, and even though nothing major happened at any of our dinners, it just felt good to be together.  We're trying this system again this week and I find myself looking forward to our themed nights.  Yum yum!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

These boots were made for walkin'

Or dancin'...

Neil loves my knee-high boots.  The past few days, the first thing he does when he wakes up is ask "where my boots?"

I usually say, "those are my boots," to which he replies, "no, they MY boots."

Once he puts them on, he'll say "I'm Woody" or "I'm Spiderman" (pronounced pydoman) then walk around the house.  He's gotten pretty good at walking up and down the stairs and even dancing.  You go, Pydoman!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Our Mini CA Vacation

Even though the drive was way too long and our trip seemed to go by way too quickly, our visit to California last week was just wonderful.  Since we planned the trip with pretty short notice-- Chris was there for four weeks for work, and the kids and I decided to visit him when he got the assignment-- and because we weren't there for much longer than an extended weekend, we didn't really do anything really touristy.  We were mostly just excited to be with Chris and to enjoy a little bit of warm weather. 

Here's the abbreviated travel log:

Friday-- early, early, early getting on the road.  My mom came along, so there were two adult drivers, but the kids still had to quiz us on what either of us would do if we felt tired.  We had an uneventful drive, including a safe but snowy passage over the Sierras.  The most annoying part of the trip was being stuck in traffic when we were just five minutes away from my grandparents' house.  We dropped my mom off at her dad's, then drove to Livermore to meet Chris at last!  Hooray!

Saturday-- rainy and chilly.  We dropped the boys off with my mom and Poppa and Sue, then Chris and I went up to Folsom to the Sacramento Temple.  It is absolutely beautiful and I'm so glad we got to go.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating, so I missed getting a nice shot of the two of us there.  Still, I think this one is kind of cool.

After a short but sweet visit with my mom and grandparents, we took the kids and headed South on I-5, where we made a very sweet little stop.

Mmmm... Ghirardelli.  They have an outlet just south of Stockton, so we stopped for sundaes and a pound of those yummy chocolate squares.  Thomas discovered his new favorite candy:  Ghirardelli milk and caramel squares.

Saturday night-- pizza and root beer in our hotel room, just the five of us.  It was so fun.

Sunday-- church with the Myers family, a delicious dinner from Heidi, and cousins, cousins, cousins.  We're lucky to have such great kids in our family!

Monday-- Sunshine!  Capri Pants!  Hooray!!!

It was such a beautiful day, so we spent a lot of time outside.  We had a delicious breakfast with Heidi and her boys at Denica's, then took our boys to Oakland to see the Oakland Temple.  We toured the visitor's center and enjoyed the beautiful view of the city and the bay.

My parents were married in the Oakland Temple in 1978, so it's kind of cool to visit.  

It was so lovely outside, so we decided to have lunch at a park in Danville.  It was perfectly warm, without being hot, and everyone was in a good mood.  The boys played for more than an hour and I took picture after picture of warm, smiley faces.  It doesn't get much better than this.

We spent Monday afternoon and evening with the Myers family and went to a cool shopping center in Danville with a pond and lots of ducks.  Heidi had containers of bird seed for everyone and the kids had a great time.  It made me excited for summer, when it's warm enough to feed the ducks on the riverbank here in Idaho Falls.

Tuesday-- time to head home.  We said our good-byes to Chris (luckily for only a few days!) and headed to Elk Grove to pick up my mom.  It was fun to spend a little bit more time with Poppa and Sue and we took some fun pictures of everyone together.

I was able to meet up with some of my Creative Team members for lunch in Roseville, then we drove to Elko, NV for the night, then back to Idaho.  The warm weather had melted nearly all of the snow, so our passage through Northern CA and Nevada was smooth. 

So, there you go-- our short but fun trip.  Luckily, we're planning another visit in July for my grandpa's 80th birthday and a lot more cousin time.  We can't wait!

Chris flew home on Friday and we spent a lovely relaxing weekend together.  It's so nice to have him back.