Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Happy holidays! (<-- I always love the day each year when it becomes acceptable to greet random strangers with a "Happy Holidays!")

We made the trek up north early Thanksgiving morning, stopping twice to refuel the car and ourselves. Marshall did great, and it was our first trip where neither of us parents hung out in the back seat with him. Normally, we take turns sitting with Marshall, reading to him, playing games, singing songs, etc. This time, we decided to see how he would do on his own, and he was awesome! We need to give the kid more credit. He looked at some toys, "read" a book or two, slept about two hours, and chatted to himself quite a lot. I do think the two stops to let him stretch his legs and wander a bit helped, though.

Road trip snacks: Sprout pouches (I love the simple ingredient list), crunchy peas from Trader Joe's, sourdough bread, water.

Then we found ourselves at my parents' house for Thanksgiving! My brother and his wife were already there, and we got the turkey going right away. We made one in the oven (truly a team effort, as you can see)

and one on the BBQ (entirely my dad and brother). The BBQ one took longer than we expected, but was significantly more juicy and flavorful. But the oven turkey was awesome, too, so we felt pretty happy. Somehow we have no photos of the meal itself, but we had the two turkeys, stuffing, green bean casserole, crispy Brussels sprouts, a big salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranTerries (Terry made cranberry sauce!). We ate well.

On Friday, we took a family outing to a nearby Christmas tree farm in lieu of our traditional journey to the Santa Cruz Mountains to cut down a tree. Unfortunately, pre-cut trees cost hundreds of dollars (my family likes big trees), so we didn't buy anything and just enjoyed the train, animals, and boutique shop. Chris and Ashley left that day to cut down a tree after all, so at least the tradition continued a bit (we felt it would be a little rough on Marshall to drive another three hours round trip with all the other driving we're doing this weekend).

(Gorgeous views, right?)

Feeding the goat!

Chris and Ashley seemed to have a good time playing together--er, with Marshall. 

And we attempted some family photos. 

Not so great.

(We did capture one that we're using for our Christmas card, so I'll share that once we've sent them.)

And late Friday afternoon, after we said goodbye to Chris and Ashley, my parents, Terry, Marshall, and I headed out for a long walk in the very chilly air. We covered four miles (Marshall was bundled in the stroller for most of it) and got to enjoy some gorgeous fall views!

(We don't get that in LA! Photo credit to Terry :-)

Saturday (after a pretty good night of sleep!), we played it close to home. Mom and I went out for some Christmas shopping--we aren't Black Friday shoppers, but the Saturday is perfectly quiet in most stores. We ordered pizza and enjoyed some beers during the (sad) UCLA-U$C game and drowned our sorrows in Thanksgiving leftovers afterward. We head out early tomorrow morning, so I'll stop there with our updates.

Another Thanksgiving on the books (Marshall's second!), and a wonderful one. It's fun to see how each year evolves; this year was our first in my parents' new house, and we didn't go to my aunt and uncle's house like we usually have in the past. It was Marshall's first trip up north for Thanksgiving, and we think it was the first time we've done a Thanksgiving with just us six adults (plus M). Traditions have given way to whatever works for that year, and I think we're all okay with that. I love watching our family grow and change, and I'm excited to see what's in store for the years to come! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

One Fewer Meal and Friendsgiving 2015

Hello! A surprise visit in the middle of the week for me, since my new schedule keeps me pretty busy in the evenings. Tonight, though, the dishes are done and Terry's working a bit, so I'm taking a break to catch up on what's happening around here.

This weekend was really lovely, although the spike in temperatures in the middle of November made this Nor Cal girl pretty unhappy. Still, we got a lot done around the house and enjoyed a bit of time together. But then I realized I need to back off a little on the crazy weekend cleaning and meal prep. Yes, it's good to do some planning for the week ahead so we're not scrambling or eating out all the time, but I feel like the last few weekends have centered almost entirely on working around the house, and of course I'm feeling worn down and definitely not feeling like I've gotten enough time with Marshall. So we agreed to make more of an effort to enjoy some outings and to really be present with Marshall and each other on weekends. If it means I prep one fewer meal, so be it!

On Sunday, we hosted our annual Friendsgiving feast! We usually get together with our friends (and now the kids!) to celebrate Thanksgiving, and somehow this year we managed to find a date before the holidays even start. I opted not to make a turkey this year (blasphemy!) and instead chose a new family favorite--boeuf bourguignon--along with peas, green beans, and some hummus and veggies. Our friends brought a delicious cream cheese dip with crackers, a gorgeous salad, a butternut squash/farro dish, and cheesecakes. We feasted, the kids played, and I even felt like the adults got to chat a little, so I'd say it was a success. We're already looking for excuses to host more gatherings in our new place.

(lots of these photos were taken by Heidi!)

And now our short work week is already almost done! We head out Thursday morning to visit my family up north, and we'll enjoy the real holiday there. 

Oh, I wanted to share one other thing: At the beginning of this month, I created a workout calendar focusing on cardio and core work. As expected, our month has been a huge adjustment, and especially with the time change we haven't been able to get out for runs as often as we'd like. So to finish up the month, while we'll still get out for jogs when we can, but we're also going to add in 100 reps of a different exercise each day. Yesterday it was push ups, and today we did jumping lunges. Basically we just do as many reps as we want to build up to 100 (so maybe 4 sets of 25, or 10 sets of 10, whatever works). 

Okay, off to bed to gear up for tomorrow!

Friday, November 20, 2015

We Survived Without Eggs

Happy Friday, my friends. Friday means:

(That Jumping Cow ale is $1 at our Trader Joe's!)

Somehow, we survived the week, even though: Marshall got sick Wednesday afternoon through Thursday; I had my first full week of work; and we ran out of eggs on Sunday. I mean, a full week without eggs in the house--I didn't think I would make it.

Other highlights from the week:

I'm still loving my walks to work! I mostly love the coolest mornings, but even a warm day like today was pleasant. I average about 2,700 steps each way, so it's great on busy days to still feel like I've gotten some form of movement into my routine. Work itself has continued to be awesome. I'm learning a lot every day, loving my coworkers, and even enjoying the time away from my family to realize my career goals.

Oh, and we squeezed in some workouts this week, too: mostly walking, some upper body/core work, and then a full body workout. We're doing our best in this crazy time!

Marshall has been the highlight of the week, as always. He still loves playing with the chickpeas I gave him. He pours them between bowls and boxes, scoops them with his trucks, spills them all over the floor.

He's also getting pretty good at his shape sorter box.

We've had some great meals this week, too. I have enjoyed meal planning and prepping so far, and the homemade meals feel awesome. The best meal this week was BBQ pulled pork (in the crock pot), sweet potato casserole, and peas. We wrapped the pork in Romaine for lettuce wraps, which was awesome.

I did have a tough day or two this week. One night I just felt really down, and I couldn't put my finger on why. I felt on the verge of tears the entire evening and finally had a good cry before bed. I'm still not totally sure what was going on, but I think it was mostly related to missing Marshall. For the first two weeks of work, I was focused almost entirely on making sure we had a meal plan and that everyone was organized. Then I think this week I relaxed a little about the meal planning and realized I missed my little boy. I know this situation--me at work, Marshall in day care--is a good thing for all of us, but it's not easy. Being away from Marshall, balancing work and home life, figuring out how to be an employee and a mom and a wife...I'm just beginning that whole journey. It'll take a while to learn it all. 

But now it's 9:08 and apparently that's my bedtime now, so good night, friends! Have a wonderful weekend; hopefully I'll be back before the next week begins!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Healthier at Work and Meal Prep

Happy weekend! Or end of the weekend. Which I guess is universally known to be less happy than the beginning. So...sorry about that.

A big focus this weekend was stuffing myself full of nutritious foods. I’m only two weeks in, but I can already tell that one of the biggest challenges I’ll face (health-wise) as a full-time employee is controlling my sugar intake. I’ve never been one to shy away from sweets, but I can usually keep it in check at home. I mostly eat what I make, and I mostly limit my desserts to one treat at night time.

But now I’m suddenly in an environment where generous strangers offer me cupcakes and cookies and donuts at random intervals throughout the day. I work in a fairly large department, so it’s always someone’s birthday or first day. Or there’s a staff event and we’re offered leftovers. Or there’s a student awards ceremony and we attend to congratulate the students and enjoy a refreshment. (No joke, EVERY ONE of those things happened in my first eight days of work.)

I need to rein it in. I bring healthy, satisfying lunches, so there’s no reason to have multiple sweets on top of that. And if I do have sweets during the day, I should omit my evening dessert and have something healthy (or nothing, if I’m not hungry--hahaha). But apparently I have zero willpower. So I’ll keep you updated on how I solve that problem.

For now, my boss and I agreed to bring in a bunch of fruit, carrots, celery, and other healthy snacks next week. If we need to munch on something, we can grab those instead of sweets. And I may stick to some more nutritious desserts at night for a while, too, just to get my sweet tooth in check.

We also spent a lot of time at home this weekend, just relaxing. We took long walks to the park, played with new objects (I gave this kid a small bowl of dried chickpeas and he was busy pouring them back and forth between bowls for almost an hour), caught up on a few TV shows, and cooked a whole bunch of food for the week (more below).

Saturday night, I wanted to try a new recipe that I actually discovered last year and never made. It's a bit more time-intensive, so I decided a weekend night would be best. The dish was amazing, and now the problem is that we're going to want to make it a whole lot more often! Terry already plans to bring it to his office potluck this week, and I want to make it for Thanksgiving. Good thing it's got a lot of healthy ingredients! (Here's the recipe!) We ate the sweet potato casserole with salmon (cooked in the cast iron skillet a la Ina) and sauteed green beans.

(By the way, at first, Marshall was not into the salmon, but once he devoured his first serving of the sweet potatoes and asked for more, we stirred some of the salmon into the sweet potatoes and he gobbled up TWO more servings, which is kind of cheating but still healthy, so we rolled with it.)

This morning we played a game of "find the corks" where we hid wine corks in plain sight and Marshall had to find them all. He thought this game was awesome, and it took very little effort from us to have a blast!

Later we walked to the park for some climbing, swings, and running through the grass (Marshall is now entering the age where he seems open lawns and just RUNS and I think it's adorable).

Back at home, I continued meal prep that I had started yesterday. Here's our meal plan for the week:

Monday: Overnight oats // Frittata and fruit // Zucchini soup and leftover sweet potato casserole

Tuesday: Frittata // Leftover soup // Fish - Quinoa - Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday: Oatmeal // Frittata (sandwich for Marshall) // Leftovers from Tuesday

Thursday: Eggs // Sandwiches or quinoa + veggies // BBQ Pulled Pork salads or sandwiches

Friday: Eggs // Leftover BBQ pulled pork // Shop the fridge!

Saturday: That's too far away to plan!

Here's what we did this weekend for prep:

- grocery shopped for the week (and forgot a whole bunch of stuff, so we had to go back to the store TWO more times)

- roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes to reheat throughout the week (and also to use in the frittata

- made the frittata--onion, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, cheese

- cooked the quinoa

- made the zucchini soup

-packed up lunches for Monday and made overnight oats for Monday morning

Truth be told, I love spending time in the kitchen during Marshall's naps on the weekend, so all this prep work is fun for me. With less time (or if we ever actually have weekend plans...), I won't be able to do as much, so our menu plan will change accordingly. I'm also trying to use these free weekends to prep ahead; for example, this weekend when I made the zucchini soup, I doubled the recipe and froze half for another time. We're working a LOT harder on weekends and evenings than we used to, but so far it feels like a good balance between productivity and play. We'll see how it goes on busy weekends or--heaven help us--weekends when we travel (like in two weeks for Thanksgiving). 

I was a little under the weather at the end of last week through this weekend, so we've been taking it easy on the workouts, in case you're wondering about that. We're trying to walk a lot, and tonight I threw in a few upper body exercises, but hopefully I'll be back to 100% soon to kick the workouts back up.

Hope you have a wonderful start to the week! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Technically Two Weeks Down

We're almost through week two of our new routine, except that I've had a day off each week. The real test will be next week when we actually attack a full work week. 

Anyway, to get through the week we've been doing our best to prep as much as possible on the weekends and to get organized for the next day each night. For example, on Sunday Terry chopped the leeks and onion for this soup, and then on Monday night I did the cooking in about 20-25 minutes. Here's the recipe.

And my boys hung out with me.

Wednesday I had the day off for Veteran's Day. Marshall's day care was closed, so we got a bonus mommy-Marshall day! We went for a walk with Jenn, then I let Marshall walk around the block while I tagged along on his adventure.

Later I let him try hot chocolate (recipe from 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook), but since I had to wait for it to be way cooled down, it kind of turned into chocolate milk. Still, he seemed to enjoy it.

And to get some more fresh air, we stopped at the park to pick up leaves, point at dogs, and RUN!

I did have to break it to Marshall that I'll likely never bring him to the park in a Rolls Royce.

Last night's dinner: pizza (dough was made on Halloween and frozen for later) and salad.

As for fitness, we're working through another monthly workout calendar, which we dubbed "Cardio and Corevember" because we're super creative. So every other night we do some core work, and then approximately three times a week we try to do some moderate to intense cardio, like jogging, walk-jog intervals, and maybe a HIIT thrown in here and there. We definitely missed a few last week when Marshall was sick, and the early dark is making it tough to jog after work, but we're doing our best. 

Some other notes on the new situation: 
- I'm walking to work and so far I love it. I feel like the walk energizes me for the morning and then for the evening when I get home. Of course, the last two weeks have been lovely, cool weather. Talk to me again when it's sweltering 10 months out of the year.
- They say half of loving your job is who you work with, and I've been so happy to meet such great people in my department.
- Terry has to do drop off and pick up for Marshall's day care, and I am so grateful to him for already being awesome about talking to the teachers when needed, making sure he has all Marshall's belongings for home, and creating a good routine for saying goodbye to Marshall for the day.

So anyway, we're doing alright over here. There are easier days and tough days, and we're only two weeks in. I am starting to get a sense of what this new life is going to be like, but we still have a lot to learn about being working parents.

Hope your week has been a good one! Happy Friday to you!