Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today's Five Highlights

Today moved a little slowly, so I thought I'd share some highlights.

Upping my workouts for the second day in a row! I really haven't been pushing myself over the last few months, for whatever reason. I've been consistent but pretty mellow, and I've done very few HIIT workouts overall. We're just starting to get back into running, but my body aches a lot when I run now, so I'm trying to keep my workouts super balanced--more yoga, more strength training, lots of stretching, and plenty of rest days. So anyway, yesterday and today I enjoyed some long walks (about six miles yesterday and maybe three or four today), yoga both days (yesterday and today), and a solid lower body workout today:

- 50 squats
- 50 plie squats
- 50 plie squat pulses
- 25 one-leg squats (each side)
- 25 one-leg glute bridges (each side)
- 50 stationary lunges (each side)

My legs were burning for sure, and yoga today felt amaaaaaazing to stretch everything out (luckily it was a lot of hip openers and stretching). Rest day tomorrow for sure!

Pumpkins! At Trader Joe's today, I impulse bought these pumpkins, and then Marshall spent most of the morning playing with them. He tried SO hard to stack them! 

Walking with Jenn! Truth be told, at this point we're just trying to get her labor moving along, so it was almost an hour of walking. Definitely a highlight to hang out with Jenn, but I can't wait for her baby to get here so we can walk with him, too!

Also, Marshall stared at this construction site for about seven minutes with his mouth wide open.

THIS PIZZA. Usually, I live my life by a very strict rule: Low expectations. Especially for meals, because then they can't disappoint you. But I couldn't follow my own rule for this pizza. It just looked too good. The flavors made too much sense together. And three cheeses? Come on, folks. I never stood a chance. But it did NOT disappoint. The Brussels sprouts were perfectly cooked, the cheeses melted perfectly together, and the end result made me super happy I had enough ingredients to make a second pizza. We'll be enjoying this meal the rest of the week!

And finally, just hanging out with Terry at the end of the night. We watched some of The Office while we did our workout and then caught the newest episode of Mindy on Hulu. I always look forward to our evenings, and I guess I don't apply my low expectations rule there, either. But the evenings never disappoint. Hanging out with my husband in our sweaty workout clothes while watching TV? Not a bad way to end the day.

Also, side note: I love this post from Monica. She gets real and says things I wish I could say. 

What was a highlight from your day? 

What's your favorite pizza? This one might be a new contender for a favorite!

Monday, September 28, 2015

First Vegan Restaurant, First Wagon Ride

Hello and happy Monday to you! I am up early this morning because last night's planned post just didn't happen. We actually enjoyed a long weekend because Terry had Friday off, and we took full advantage.

Friday morning we all took a long walk and hit the store for some essentials, and then once Marshall went down for his nap I headed out for lunch with Jenn, who is still patiently awaiting her little boy's arrival. We celebrated her due date with lunch at Cafe Gratitude, a new-to-me vegan restaurant. When I told Terry I was going to a vegan restaurant, he said, "Well, that's something I never thought I'd hear you say." Ha. True, but actually I really enjoyed our meal. Jenn and I split two entrees--an eggplant wrap and a black bean burger--and I thought they were both really tasty and super hearty. We even skipped the delicious-looking desserts because we were full (which of course I later regretted--always get dessert, Julie!).

Best of all, we are really having fun taking advantage of Jenn's maternity leave and enjoying all this time to hang out!

Originally Terry and I thought of going to the LA County Fair on Friday afternoon, but we decided it would be too hot and probably just a huge hassle with a toddler (it's pretty far from us, and traffic on a Friday would be miserable). Maybe next year. So we hit up Marshall's for a few items (I had a gift card, so we scored a lot of stuff for only $5 out of pocket!) and called it a day. We also intended to eat a Blue Apron meal that night but accidentally forgot the beef in the freezer, so we trooped out to dinner and loved every second. Happy accident, indeed.

We finally made the Blue Apron meal on Saturday for lunch!

Saturday afternoon, after an awesome three-hour nap from Marshall, we headed up to visit our friends for some UCLA football! First we took the kiddos to the pool.

Marshall got to enjoy his first wagon ride, which was the CUTEST moment ever. He was so happy! (Kayla was a little uncertain about this dude in her wagon, though...) I think Santa might bring a wagon this year...

Then we hung out at Heidi and Edward's house for the game and a delicious meal. They are such generous hosts!

The whole group minus me and Heidi!

Not many photos, but you get the idea. And the game was AWESOME!!! Go Bruins!

We got home late but Marshall did great, even if he was a little tired Sunday morning. We all headed to the park for a little fall fun.

Lovely, right?

Pretty balanced.

And today--since I failed to post earlier this morning--Marshall learned how to climb into a cardboard box. (Here he's signing "more" to ask me to pull him around in the box, which I did once around the living room and was a huge hit.)

Marshall also treated us to an inordinate number of meltdowns today. I wouldn't let him hold the stick, I wouldn't let him bring the stick inside, I didn't feed him fast enough... At one point, the only tool that would calm him down was looking at a photo of the air vehicle Terry works with. The kid was fascinated. Who knew?

And now I'm pretty beat. I walked a TON today--two miles round trip to the park, plus a trip to campus AND a walk to the grocery store. We rounded out the day with a quick yoga session and I'm totally wiped. Off to enjoy some TV before bed! Hooray for fall shows!

Hope you enjoy the last two days of September! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

16 Months!

Made it through Wednesday! Ours involved a lot of down time because Marshall slept until 8:30 (my hero of a husband somehow managed to convince Marshall to go back to sleep at 5:15) AND took an almost-two hour nap. I had no idea what to do with myself. Our house is spotless, though, and I got around to a few chores I had been putting off.

The rest of the day didn't involve anything spectacular; we took a short walk, and I did some Pilates-style stuff after Marshall was in bed. For dinner we all ate a squash salad:
- 3 zucchini
- 2 delicata squash
- 1 head Romaine lettuce
- Burrata cheese
- olive oil and balsamic

I chopped the squash(es?) and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes, tossing once. Then I just threw everything else together for big salads!

Tonight Terry has some work to finish, so I'm hoping to head to bed early. By the way, special shout out to Ann from Pittsburgh! Thanks for the e-mail today!

And now...Happy 16 months to Marshall! Here, 16 fun facts:

- Marshall weighs 25 pounds and is 32 1/2 inches tall. He was 33 inches at his last appointment, so something is off, but he's somewhere around there. Lots of people comment on how tall he is! I agree; he's a big boy. Lifting him up and down--especially carrying him plus some groceries upstairs--makes me feel like I can skip my upper body workouts. Plus, he's really looking like a boy now. I am a bit in denial, because in person I still see him as a baby, but looking at photos I really can't deny he's a total toddler.

- He can walk backwards! It's hilarious to watch him practice. He'll randomly stop in his tracks and just step back a few steps, then forward, then back, over and over.

- Books are still a huge hit, but we're noticing that he really has some favorites. He'll continue to pull the same ones down from the shelf for us to read, even if we put them in different places (he even knows which book is which based on the spine, not just the covers!). Current favorites: Down By the Bay; Go, Dog. Go!; 10 Little Rubber Ducks; Goodnight Gorilla.

- I guess it's pretty cliche, but this boy loves his trucks. He loves hearing them outside, loves to watch the garbage and recycling trucks on our street, loves pointing out trucks when we go for walks, loves playing with his toy trucks. He says "truck" ("jruh-jruh!") at least 50 times per day.

- Stacking was a huge hit all month! Blocks, mostly, but occasionally he would find random objects to stack on each other!

- Sleep is a dream at the moment. For nap time, I tell him it's nap time and he points to his room, sticks his thumb in his mouth, and walks to his crib, then goes to sleep on his own and sleeps 90 minutes to three hours (though there were a few very short naps this month, too). At night, we've really whittled down the bedtime routine to bath, pjs, story, brushing teeth, family pictures, then one song as Terry walks out of the room. He sleeps through the night (11-12 hours) most of the time, but again we've had several midnight wake ups this month, too. None of this is to say it's been a breeze: Getting to this point in our sleep routines took a LONG time (as you know if you've been reading along!) and lots of adjusting to find what works for Marshall. Now that we've got a good rhythm, I'm sure something will come along to throw us for a loop!

- Eating was great this month! Last month he seemed to be a little less enthusiastic about eating and would spit out a lot of foods, but we're back on track now. He eats a TON, too, though some of that may be a growth spurt. Favorite foods: fruit, yogurt, smoothies, and bread.

- Words he can say (that Terry and I can understand, anyway): mama, dada, truck, cat, dog, JanJan (my mom's name), that, bus, shoes, ball, baby, bowl, walrus, whale, moon.

- Shakes head for "yes" or "no" (although he really doesn't exactly answer yes/no questions--we can just tell him to say yes or no and he will do it); signs "more," "all done," "again".

- Marshall learned to call for me from his crib when he wakes up. The good news: he doesn't cry when he wakes up! The bad news: He repeats "mama" over and over and over again until we go in there. It's so sweet at first, and then I want to throw the monitor out the window.

- Tantrums are still relatively tame, but he gets upset when someone takes something from him that he wants (duh, Julie), or he's super tired. Oh, and usually the moments before a meal (when I'm prepping something in the kitchen), he's a bit of a nightmare--lots of fussing, impatience, whining, sometimes full on wailing. He's still easily distracted, though, so we're using that to our advantage.

- Marshall's favorite part of every day: anytime we see a dog.

- Other favorite activities: bath time, going outside, playing at the park, MyGym classes, and experiencing anything new.

- Crawling up on the couch, then standing on said couch, and now vaulting off the side of the couch are all new stunts this month. I'm thrilled, as you can imagine.

- Yesterday Marshall walked over to Jenn and gave her a hug, completely independently. It was such a sweet little moment! He's never voluntarily hugged anyone before, including his mama, so apparently Aunt Jenny has a magic aura.

- Marshall LOOOOOOVES Scout. When we read a book about a cat, he points to where Scout is. Whenever possible, he tries to pet Scout, which is more often than I would have guessed (Scout acts like he is miserable around Marshall, but he really doesn't make much effort to stay away from him, so I think he secretly loves the baby). Most of the time, if we need a distraction, we can ask Marshall to "find Scout" and he'll go on a little hunt!

16 months...crazy! I'm overjoyed to see this little boy growing up. He is by far the best thing I have ever created, and I could not be more proud to be his mama. Here's to the next month!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Important Questions about Dessert Temperatures

Hello hello! If you're reading this post on Wednesday, happy first day of autumn! Yay! I'm eager for cooler temperatures and the ability to wear clothes that aren't just items I throw on knowing I'll get sweaty immediately.

After our quick trip up north, I enjoyed a productive day yesterday during Marshall's three-plus-hour nap(!). Jenn and Justin joined us for dinner to give them a night off from cooking as they patiently await the arrival of their little bundle. I'm so excited to bring them some freezer meals and other goodies once baby boy makes his debut! And I swear it's not only because I want to snuggle a newborn again. :-)

So I told Jenn that if she wanted to bring something for dinner she could, and she brought over these super delicious and surprisingly nutritious muffins (the recipe apparently called them brownies, but that was a lie; still, they tasted fantastic). Jenn tried them right out of the oven and didn't care for them, but then liked them once chilled. I actually find myself feeling that way about most desserts, believe it or not! I might like a piping hot berry pie with some ice cream, or a warm croissant, but overall I think baked goods taste best around room temperature or even cold. Frozen-and-then-mostly-thawed brownies are THE BEST. Cookies cooled for about 20 minutes out of the oven (so they're barely warm but the chocolate chips are still melty) are awesome. Room temperature cake is the only way to go. Is it something to do with letting the steam settle down? Has this phenomenon been studied?

If you need any more advice about the temperature at which to eat your desserts, please contact me.

More photos from the beginning of this week:

My lunches the last two days have been a lettuce-wrap burger with guacamole. YUM.

Marshall enjoyed one of the aforementioned muffins Jenn brought us.

Then he brought Scout two coasters. As one does.

We spent the morning with Jenn--a walk plus a stop at Dunkin' Donuts (we resisted the donuts!)--and then another LONG nap from Marshall. This afternoon we made these brownie bites from Fitnessista--SO good! They were our dessert tonight with some milk.
My little helper! As he gets older it's so fun to have him "help" in the kitchen! We mostly make smoothies together, because he loves pushing the buttons or holding the lid to the blender. 

Once Terry came home we all headed out for a family walk/jog. We walked maybe ten or fifteen minutes, plus six rounds of 2 minutes jogging/1 minute walking. At the end we let Marshall out of his stroller to walk on his own, which he loved!
Almost running!

Daddy and Marshall

After Marshall went to sleep, Terry and I tackled Day 7 of 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene, which was one of my favorites so far. Challenging and a bit faster paced but still only 30 minutes so not too crazy. Then we ate nachos for dinner. Balance.

And now we're settling in for some down time before bed. The nights go so fast, don't they? Happy first day of fall to you; hopefully it's cooler where you are!

What's your preferred dessert temperature? Don't worry, we can still be friends if you like your food fresh from the oven.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sentence Per Picture Weekend

Our first stop along the drive, so we let Marshall stretch his legs in the front seat. 

Terry explaining the origin of the days of the week.

Morning reading time with PopPop.

Marshall spent about ten minutes lining up all these bottles. 

Big dogs, little boy. 

Swimming! Marshall laughed the entire time.

Except when he had to chase the ball, because that's no laughing matter.

Photos with the three dogs (from left: Tango, Achilles, and Eiger--my brother and Ashley's dogs and my parents' new puppy).

Exhausted puppy (he's only 5 months old!).

Time to go home!

But first, a stop to see some animals!

Baby chicks!

A goat, roosters, geese, and a pig!

Then we made it home (I even got a little snooze in the car!), ate Chipotle for dinner, and watched Marshall plunge headfirst into a tub of yogurt.

Some other (unpictured) highlights from the weekend:
- Lots of crossword puzzles and Sudoku with Terry.
- A really tough workout! I'll try to remember to share details tomorrow. 
- Delicious meals, as always, including killer burgers and beer can chicken.

Time to start another week! Here we go...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Running Workout and Soup Galore

When the entire house woke up before 5:30 this morning, I worried what the day might bring. Exhaustion? Certainly. Cranky toddler (and mama)? Almost guaranteed. Lots of outings to distract said toddler (and mama)? You bet.

I did not, however, expect to enjoy a few really fun moments, some solid time alone in the kitchen to cook a full meal, and a great workout with the whole family. It's nice to get surprises like that on a random Wednesday.

The really fun moments came in waves throughout the morning and afternoon when Marshall had pushed all my buttons and was about to drive me insane. He has been rather fussy lately, and I don't deal well with fussy, but I decided to just take a breath and try to make the most of it, so we played. We practiced walking from one wall to another wall (he thought this game was hilarious). We rolled the big yoga ball back and forth. We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 83 times. And then we headed out for a long walk to the store and back. And wouldn't you know it--we had a lot of fun. Sure, my sink is currently overflowing with dishes right now because I didn't tackle them throughout the day, but it was worth it today.

Our workout this afternoon was a spin on one of my very favorite workouts of all time. We don't have access to a treadmill anymore, so we grabbed the running stroller and hit the road; our workout looked like this:

- Walk 5 minutes
- Jog 5 minutes
- 25 walking lunges

- Walk 4 minutes
- Jog 4 minutes
- 25 walking lunges

- Repeat with 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute (we stopped the lunges after 4 sets, for a total of 100 lunges)

--> 30 minutes total, not counting the lunges

It was a great way to enjoy this cooler weather and to challenge our muscles, and Marshall always seems happy as a clam in his stroller. My legs are already pretty sore despite lots of stretching tonight!

And when we came home, Terry and Marshall headed to Marshall's room to play while I turned on some music in the kitchen to make dinner: Ina's Easy Tomato Soup with grilled cheese croutons (she gave me the idea, but I made the grilled cheese with Manchego and pepper jack cheeses, and I regret nothing), plus sauteed green beans on the side.

Marshall ate a full serving of soup, probably half a grilled cheese sandwich, and a couple of green beans, plus milk. I'd call that meal a success! I'm already looking forward to tons of soups this winter since Marshall loves them so much--and they're now some of my favorite foods!

Here are some of my favorite soups (I highly recommend making homemade chicken stock and freezing it---it's easier than it sounds and it changed my entire perspective on soup!):

- Winter Minestrone with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Curry Condiments -- probably our favorite soup ever!
- Pappa al Pomodoro - comfort food at its finest

A few other notes...

Did you watch Mindy Project last night? I thought the first episode was hilarious. JGL did great as a guest star!

I loved this post from Pregnant Chicken: To My Pregnant Sister (Because I Scared the Sh*t Out of Her). Lots of it rang true for me, especially:
"...the hardest part of all was the reality setting in that life was never going to be the same. That I was a mum now and nothing was going to change that. I couldn't go back.
But I eventually realized, I don't want to go back. Every day I learn something new from this little person. Every day I understand myself as a growing human better and more fully. Every day things get easier, and harder, and that's ok because I made it this far and I can keep going. Helping this baby live and grow is such a selfless crazy experience and it makes my heart swell with pride every day at least once."

 I'm just now realizing that I only have one photo on this whole post, but it's 10:30 and time for bed. More tomorrow!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


4 weird things my son does:

- When we are grocery shopping, sometimes I'll rest my elbows on the cart when I talk to him. Lately, he pushes my arms off the cart! He sometimes won't even let me put my hands on the cart to push. Um, Marshall, let me explain how this whole cart thing works...

- He's super into sitting down on stools, curbs, chairs, our laps. He approaches the place he wants to sit, turns around, and backs up to sit down. It's sweetest when he's backing up into our laps with a book he wants to read, and it's funniest when he misses and plops down in the wrong place.

- We have an air conditioning unit in Marshall's room from when it was too hot to live last week, and Marshall now walks into his room, points at it, and says, "Ahhhh..." It took a while to realize that he's probably imitating us, because every time Terry and I walk into his twenty-degree-cooler room, we breathe a huge sigh of relief at how good it feels!

- Speaking of imitation, the other day Marshall heard me say, "Ow!" at the dinner table (I must have bumped my knee or something as per usual). The rest of the meal he kept repeating, "Ow! Ow!" and we couldn't stop laughing. So it's pretty adorable that he can say it, but he has no idea what context to use it in, so he randomly just says it and gets this huge grin because he's proud of his new word.

3 fun facts from this week so far:

- It's raining in LA! I woke up at 3 am to a huge downpour, and it continued until around 8 or 9 this morning. We needed it, and we can still use a lot more, but I hope Northern California gets a lot too to help with the crazy fires up there.

And someone got to try out his rain jacket for the first time.

- Last night Amanda and I went to happy hour! We only went out for maybe an hour or so, but it was a really fun treat to start the week. Then we came back to have dinner with Terry, who had so generously put Marshall to bed. Terry also took care of dinner! Such a great guy. I'm so happy to have Amanda nearby again!

- I found this article summarizing the recent study comparing honey to high fructose corn syrup fascinating! Another indication that it's not only what we eat but also how much. I have to admit I'm still one to favor honey over corn syrup--and, for that matter, pure maple syrup over honey. And of course it's only one study, so we should take it with a grain of salt, but at least more studies like this one are coming out to teach us more about what we're eating! (Also, it's important that we are careful about the words we use when it comes to food, like healthy and natural. I don't think many people would argue that honey is healthy in large quantities--or maybe at all--and I would say the same for any sweeteners.)

2 fitness-related things:

- We're progressing (at a remarkably slow pace) through the 30-Day Challenge from Yoga with Adriene. I really like her style! She's super down to earth, not too over the top, and easy to follow. I'm excited to keep going, even if we're ridiculously inconsistent so far.

- If you need a really good workout, consider using a watermelon as a kettlebell. Marshall can show you.

(He actually picked it up a few times!)

1 recipe I want to try:

- Ina's pecan bars. They look insane and perfect for a holiday gathering (and I should probably make a test batch or two before then, right?). Maybe Ina will come if I invite her and promise to do justice to her food?

Any recipes I should try?

Have a wonderful Wednesday! Halfway through the week!