Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Hello! My dad tried to make me feel bad about not blogging this week (by which I mean he said, "No blog today?"), so here are some updates on our Christmas. 

Christmas Eve was a busy one and included a couple hours in traffic before celebrating with family in Orange County. 

We all enjoyed the festivities and still made it home at a reasonable hour to put out cookies and milk for Santa and finish Christmas prep. I assembled my mom's famous Christmas morning casserole (it's always fun to make it knowing that my sister-in-law and mom are doing the same in their houses!). This year I kept it simple with frozen chopped spinach and frozen bell peppers, plus cheddar-Gruyere cheese. Delicious!

Then Christmas morning was upon us. We woke up pretty late for us--Marshall slept until at least 6:30--so we enjoyed a slow morning. We did stockings in bed and then meandered out to the tree for gifts. 

Terry got a fire going, and Marshall and Scout both loved the cozy setting. That cat barely moved the entire time that fire was going (not pictured). 

Our little Christmas morning setup.

We followed the same route as last year, where we gave Marshall something he wants, something he needs, something to wear, something to read, but Santa brought some gifts, too. And I sent Marshall and Terry on a scavenger hunt to find their joint gift: swim lessons! (Marshall took swim lessons for several months when we lived at our old place, but we hadn't signed up for new ones since moving.)

We needed a little outdoors time, so we headed to the park for a bit. Lots of kids were there playing with their new toys; Marshall mostly stuck to the swings.

The big gift from us this year was a play kitchen for Marshall. We had fun shopping (online) and checking out all the ridiculous kitchens out there for kids. Like this one. And are you kidding me? Do kids need a stainless steel kitchen? Ours looks downright simple compared to some of the ones out there, but it fits perfectly in our dining room.

While Marshall played (cooked) and Terry tidied up a bit, I got started on our Christmas dinner. We started the tradition several years ago of making this dish every Christmastime, and this year we went for it on Christmas Day itself. 

I usually use the version from Julia's 1989 book, The Way to Cook, but Terry gave me her original cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for my birthday, so we gave that version a go. The big difference: the original includes bacon. Normally, I'd always be for adding bacon to anything, but honestly, we didn't notice a huge difference in flavor. It was still delicious, though!

The last few days have mostly involved family time, walks to the park, 

cooking a bit more,

beginning the sad, sad process of taking down Christmas (and taking photos to remind myself how to decorate next year), 

and relaxing as much as possible. And some workouts thrown in for good measure. I'm also trying to cut back a bit on the sweets and wine, so for tonight's family dinner I offered to bring a lighter dessert:

Apple crisp! I mostly followed my original recipe, but I omitted the honey (I told you I'm sweet-ed out!) and just stuck with a bit of maple syrup. Instead of ice cream on top, we opted for homemade whipped cream (Terry and Marshall made it!). 

Also, here's the workout I did this morning (since I'm failing to post my long-promised workout roundup post):

20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Squat jumps
Squat jacks
Jumping lunges
Push ups (note: I did 10 push ups each time, and if I had extra time leftover I'd just take more rest)

Cycle through those five exercises, working for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes. 

I thought I'd also mention that I'm a huge fan of adjusting workouts as necessary to make them work in the moment. If I get too tired, I don't want to lose my good form. So in this case, when my jumping lunges were feeling pretty pathetic (as in, I was doing about two within the 20 seconds), I switched to stepping lunges instead. I was still working the same muscles, and my heart rate was still up, but it allowed me to use proper form. There is NOTHING wrong with toning it down mid-workout! It's much better than the alternatives (getting injured, passing out, quitting altogether--which is also okay if things really aren't feeling right), so I always have an idea in mind of what I might do if my planned workout ends up feeling too rough. 

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and joyous. Please enjoy the new year celebrations safely, and get excited about all those resolutions!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Week

It's Christmas week! And happy Festivus to you! I've been MIA lately thanks to Christmas errands, a little holiday party, and time with my sweet family. I'm here tonight to play a little catch up before the big day arrives!

Sometimes you go for a walk and need to rest a moment. So you plop down, right? 

After that photo, Terry walked away a bit and said, "Bye, Marshall!" Marshall rolled onto his side and waved. Silly kid.

We've been dealing with some crazy teething over here as Marshall's canine teeth make their way down. Thankfully, M has only had one or two mid-night wake ups, but we do notice some moments through the day where he seems uncomfortable. Poor guy.

In food news, I've made a heavy effort lately to incorporate lots of greens and vegetables into our meals, especially since sweets and holiday treats are everywhere. I've loved enjoying some light meals interspersed among all the holiday classics. And my workouts have been on fire lately! A jog (I may or may not have fallen in the middle of the street), some HIIT action, and lots of heavy weights. 

Last weekend we had some friends over in celebration of the holidays! We hosted open house style, where people come and go at their convenience (or stay the entire time!), which gave us extra time to chat with our guests. While small, we had a blast hosting our first Christmas party in our place!

And of course, getting into the Christmas spirit means lots of family time. Now that I'm back at work I really soak up my time with Marshall and Terry. Some photos from lately...

Checking out our shadows at the park.

Watching a drone!

Family outing to check out Christmas lights in the South Bay.

A gorgeous sunset on our drive.

A walk to the library, and hanging out watching the librarian unpack the returned books.

Supervising the construction work, just like his Uncle Chris.

Unpacking my entire Tupperware drawer (perfect, since I needed to reorganize anyway!).

More hair! 

 And some recent Christmas prep!
Baking tons and tons of cookies! Here: oatmeal pecan raisin (from Ina), and oatmeal coconut, which was just Ina's base oatmeal recipe with coconut instead of pecans/raisins.

Assembling goody plates for Marshall's sweet teachers.

Daddy building Marshall's big Christmas gift!

...while we drink hot cocoa by our first fire!

Off we go to to finish up some wrapping and watching Miracle on 34th Street. I can't wait to watch our little guy enjoy all the Christmas traditions! Here are the ones we've already squeezed in:
- Check out Christmas lights
- Donate toys (a new one, but definitely a keeper)
- Wrap gifts while watching a Christmas movie (technically M didn't participate, but next year he can help!)
- Listen to Christmas music ALL the time
- Watch our favorite Christmas movies
- Bake Christmas cookies

And still to come:
- Leave cookies and milk for Santa
- Make egg casserole Christmas morning, and egg nog!
- Create a scavenger hunt for one gift 
- Open stocking gifts in bed
- Make a special Christmas dinner (although this one is TBD because Costco was out of stew meat today)

Time for bed! Merry, merry Christmas to you. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Milestone Week

This week was a milestone marker for our family: Our first since I started work where all three of us were scheduled to attend work (or school) all five days. And we made it! Granted, Marshall was well on his way to being sick by the time he got home Friday evening, but we still survived the week itself. Friday night was rough, but by Saturday we all felt chipper enough to head out to the Grove to see Santa, just like last year.

Honestly, the wait was ridiculous, but we had a wonderful time. We walked around, took some photos, laughed a lot at Marshall's antics, checked out the decorations, grabbed a snack at the farmers' market, and eventually made our way in to see Santa. Best of all, Marshall gave us a really great smile for the photo! We came home, let the little one settle in for a (very late) long winter's nap, and got to work on some Christmas gift baking and assembling.

Today, we had a voucher for brunch for four at the Beverly Hilton that needed to be used, so we left Marshall with family and headed out with our friends Amanda and Jenn, who weren't about to turn down free brunch! The deal came with unlimited trips to the buffet (including an incredible assortment of desserts), endless prosecco, and a side entree.

Thanks to my mom for gifting us the voucher! XOXOXO We also wandered around the lobby to spy on the Christmas decorations, including a 13-foot gingerbread tower!

Some other happenings lately:

Some awesome workouts! I'm thrilled about that because it feels like it's been awhile since I've really pushed myself. Yes, I've gained consistency in my 18 months postpartum, but "consistency" doesn't always translate to intensity. I've enjoyed cranking up the challenge lately!

Here's a tough leg and plyometric workout from PB Fingers. I did it yesterday before the Grove and I was huffing and puffing (Terry was concerned...shows how out of shape I am for that kind of workout!). I'm trying to compile a post with more recent workouts, but it's slow going. They're good, though!

Obviously we're all decorated and loving the cheer of our cozy apartment this season. I'm currently watching Love Actually (second time so far) as I write.

Marshall's shown some interest in writing on paper, so we let him try crayons. He's really awful at drawing so far. ;-)

In preparation for the holidays, we're doing our best to eat healthy and have lots of easy options for meals at home. (Full disclosure, I also recently saw my doctor, who told me he'd like me to lose a few pounds to get back to my pre-baby weight, so that's helping me stay motivated.)

So yesterday I made this butternut squash soup from Giada (my mom made some and let us try it over Thanksgiving, so I wanted to make some, too). Marshall LOVED it. (I added peas to his, which was a wise choice, apparently.)

Speaking of the little dude, I mentioned that we're trying to find ways to get him involved in the kitchen. He likes playing with real kitchen tools, like measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoons, bowls, etc., but I think he's excited to help with actual tasks, too. He can take potatoes out of the bag and put them into a colander for rinsing. He can kiiiiind of stir. He can shake up a bag of vegetables to get them coated with olive oil. And this weekend we tried a new one: separating the silicone baking cups into the muffin tins!

Another favorite: wearing oven mitts.

He's also working on mastering chopsticks. (He actually managed to get three or four bites of food into his mouth with chopsticks!)

And though it's rare now, we do still go to the park. Here are some photos from today:

And with that, I'm off to fight the cold that Marshall gave me this weekend. Here's hoping we can make it through this week, too!

I hope your holiday season is starting off beautifully. Be sure to enjoy some time to yourself and cherish the time you have with others. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and to-do lists, but it's important to keep the spirit of the season alive, too. Enjoy in whatever way feels best!