"Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Running Stuff

Took this picture while running a 10k in Orting a couple weeks ago--lovely!
In October I did a post called "The "Run"downabout my demented desire to run in the Boston Marathon to celebrate my 30th birthday.  (I thought this was a unique idea, but Doug came home one day and told me there's a whole chapter of a book called Stuff White People Like about women turning thirty, with little to no running experience, and big dreams of running in Boston.  He thought this was hilarious.)  Here's an abbreviated update: Training's going well, right on track to run my first full marathon in June, haven't given up the Boston dream yet.

Doug's a biker.  (Or perhaps bicyclist is more accurate if your mind conjured up images of him on a Harley.)  I used to give him a hard time about all the stuff needed to be a proper bicyclist--the pedals, the shoes, the clothes, helmet, bike computer to track miles, etc.  Running, I felt, must be superior, more pure, because all you need to do is throw on your shoes and run out the door.  No stuff!  Just running!  (Reminds me of Mel Gibson in What Women Want--no games, just sports.)

That was .... BEFORE.  Before I found RoadRunner Sports in Kent.  Before I got my Nike+ IPod Kit and heart rate monitor.  Before I started reading books written by other runners about all the ways I could improve and enhance my running experience (Marathoning For Mortals and Brain Training For Runners).  That's right--I needed stuff!! 

My two new favorite acquisitions:
6 inch Pro-Tec Athletics Foam Roller ($24.99)
I have IT band issues (knee/hip pain) that have plagued me towards the end and after my long runs.  I thought about making a doctor's appointment, but instead I went to the chiropractor for a neck issue and mentioned my training and IT pain...he's a miracle worker.  (Dr. Thompson in Auburn--go see him!!)  He showed me the proper stretches and strengthening exercises, and introduced me to this foam roller, which helps release tight muscles.  Pain gone!  Great stuff.

Nathan Sensor Pocket for Nike+ Sensor ($8.99)
This little gadget is designed so you can use your Nike+ sensor with your non-Nike favorite shoes.  I've been using Velcro to secure my sensor to my Asics, but I was thrilled to find this product--no more peeling off sticky Velcro backing so I can switch from Asics to Nikes.  YAY FOR STUFF!

I also thought I'd share some music stuff.  Who doesn't need fresh ideas for their workout playlist?  Lindsay mentioned this jam yesterday, but she introduced me to it and it deserves another shoutout: Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby" is my current favorite running song.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Another random addition is the French rap from the series finale of Sex And The City by MC Solaar "La Belle Et Le Bad Boy".  If you're a fan of the show you'll recognize it.  When it cues up on my Nano, I picture Carrie running breathlessly through Paris, trying to make it to her party on time, and Miranda simultaneously telling Big to 'go get our girl'.  Run Carrie run!!!

Glad I got to share my new stuff with you!  What's the workout stuff you can't live without??

Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Things I Love This Week

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen:
I read this book a couple years ago and loved it. The movie is being released next month with two of my favs Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. I don't normally choose the 'movie' cover of a book. But this one is especially delicious.

Wisteria halter dress by Anthropologie:
Can't afford it, but man is it adorable!

doo-wops & hooligans by Bruno Mars:
Purchased this a couple months ago and love it more & more every time I listen.
"You better run run runaway. Runaway baby. Before I put my spell on you" So good.

Mini Eggs by Cadbury:
By far, my FAVORITE Easter candy ever!

Metallic wallet by Gap:
Loving this...hmmmm...I do have a bachelorette trip coming up :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Real Housewives - Miscarriage

I've struggled with writing this post...I've had to walk away from the computer several times in the past couple of days and muster up the strength to come back. How do you talk about it? What do you say? Why talk if it is so darn hard? Well...because. Because it happened and it's a part of us. Because it's important to talk in order to heal. Because it makes our family what it is today. Because so many women experience it. Because no one talks about it. Because maybe it just happened to you or to someone you know. Because maybe if I share our story, others will know they are not alone. So, here it goes. This is me being brave:

I had a miscarriage.
Such a lonely word.

I will NEVER forget the days...hours...seconds really...that surround the moment we lost our baby. I will never forget the roller coaster of emotions, the disbelief, the utter sadness. I will never forget the tears flowing as I hugged my dear friend in our driveway after returning from the doctor. She pulled up just as we were getting home and excitedly pulled over thinking she'd get to see the ultrasound picture of a little bean and instead I just shook my head and lost it in her arms.

So, here's what happened a little over three years ago: We had a nine week ultrasound scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving. We had already told family & friends about the pregnancy since we were seeing everyone in person over the holiday. We waited much longer to share the news about our first baby, Logan. I was feeling a little uneasy about everyone knowing before we saw the doctor. I just wanted to see that little bean on the screen already! The ultrasound tech started the exam and there it was! Our little bean. I was so excited and relieved. Now this was really happening! Dan and I were holding hands and incredibly giddy over what we were seeing. Our joy was quickly interrupted when we noticed how quiet the tech had suddenly become. And then, the words that still ring in my ears, "I'm not finding a heartbeat"..."I can't find the heartbeat"... My head was spinning. I was struggling to accept what she was telling us. How could that be? I can see my baby RIGHT THERE. Check again...PLEASE check again! I had not experienced any pain, cramping, or bleeding in the previous weeks, so I didn't understand. She said the size of the baby was right on for nine weeks and that it must have just happened in the last day or two. With that, we were given some alone time and then shuffled into another office to hear that they had no idea why we lost our baby. The consensus was that my body recognized that there was something biologically wrong and terminated the pregnancy on its own. The doctor started giving me statistics about how common miscarriage is (I know she was trying to make me feel better, but it didn't work). I felt anything but common. I felt empty. I remember walking back through the waiting room of expectant mothers and being hit by a ton a bricks that I was no longer one of them.

So there it is, nine weeks along. Some people have tucked the word only in there... "only nine weeks", but those who have lost a baby know the number doesn't mean a thing. This baby was already a part of us...already a part of our family. We had plans, hopes, and dreams for this baby.

Lost a baby. Lost a piece of my heart. Simple as that.

What happens next is not pleasant at all. Here I am quietly whimpering on the way home with our 11 month old in the backseat and my husband, who is hurting just as much as I am, but has to hold it together for me (because let's face it, the husband often gets the raw end of the deal when grieving the loss of a child). He holds the prescription in his hand. You see, I had technically lost the pregnancy, but not physically. I opted to use drugs at home instead of surgery. I was thinking that I wanted to be at home with my family. The last thing I wanted was to be in a sterile hospital room feeling lonely and scared.

I would never choose that option again. The next two days of my body basically forcing me to "lose the baby" were excruciating. I won't go into further detail except to say that the moment I lost my baby was clear and horrifying and will never leave my brain. I only include this part because if you are ever in this situation, I highly recommend surgery (called D&C: dilation and curettage). No woman should have to go through that. Next it was back to the doctor only to find out that the drugs hadn't fully done their job and I had to take them all over again. After a week of agony, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and threw a first birthday party for my son. It was the absolute ONLY thing that could have brought me true joy at a time of such sadness. It was wonderful.

I wrote a journal entry a couple months after my miscarriage. Most of it was pretty raw, but here is a bit of how I was feeling at the time:

...the thing that keeps running through my head is that I never got to hold you. NEVER got to hold you. You were our baby and we never got to hold you. I feel so empty. So sad. It feels like a tiny piece of me is missing. You will forever be a part of this family...our little angel.

...I am beginning to hate the phrase everything happens for a reason. It's just what people say when they don't know what to say and every time I hear it I want to scream.

...I am having a REALLY hard time moving past this. Does everyone feel this way? I am not a negative person, but I just can't stop thinking about it. Can't get a positive thought in my head. Bad dreams. Guilt. Shame. Was it something I did...Maybe if I hadn't...

In search of anything that might help me move forward, I bought a book called I Never Held You.

As I continue to heal, I can delight in the loving people I have surrounding me. My amazing husband...He held me together. He knew exactly what I needed. I was curled up in retreat and he led me back to the world with the most delicate touch. He made the phone calls, he brought the blankets and the soup, he told me to keep crying. My friends showed up at the door with meals and hugs and open-ended offers to talk. My family waited for me to get my grounding and supported me every step of the way. My little man, Logan, gave the best sloppy, open-mouthed, toddler kisses a mommy could ask for. I don't know if you're ever completely "healed" after something so heartbreaking. But, I do know that I used to cry every minute, and then every day, and then every week, and now a couple times a year...so it does get better.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Two years ago I discovered a little website called Bakerella (created by blogger-baker Angie Dudley) that specialized in sweet confections, unique and beautiful.  Her most ingenious idea?  Cake Balls and Cake Pops, and she'd perfected the art.  The top picture is her original Cake Pop creation from January 2008--the Pop that started it all!  In April of 2008, Martha Stewart featured Angie's pops on her show.  Her readers have wholeheartedly embraced her creation (she shows off the best of their submissions here) and last fall she published a Cake Pops book.  See my post One Weekend, Two Desserts for the pops I made for our Halloween party!

I was surprised to discover cake pops last week in our local Starbucks store.  I didn't see Angie's book anywhere!--I just assumed they'd be promoting them together.  But the baristas had never even heard of Bakerella, so I had to do some investigation of my own.  I discovered this post on Starbucks website, posted March 17, which says this about cake pops...

"This has been an emerging trend popping up in specialty bake shops, on blogs like Bakearella and even touted by Martha Stewart."  ... and then they go on about how hard they've worked to produce them on a mass scale, yadda yadda yadda. 

Yep that's not a typo, they couldn't even spell her blog's name right!  Well it's true that other people have been making them, and that Martha touted them, but until now, Bakerella has been given credit where credit is due.  Starbucks is mass producing her creation and assuming that the public will remain ignorant of their greedy corporate misdeeds.

(Photo courtesy http://www.starbucks.com/)
Starbucks Im-POP-Sters!!

I'm not about to swear off Starbucks because they stole a dessert idea (I'm not crazy--no one makes my Venti Quad Nonfat Iced Caramel Macchiato like they do!) but I thought it was only fair to Bakerella, whom I love, to make sure our readers are at least aware of the situation.  And now all of you have the recipe (here it is again if you missed the first link) so you can make your own for just pennies.  Shame on you and your im-POP-ster cake pops, Starbucks!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Bunny: Friendly Frog

Decided something bright & cheery was just what the doctor ordered for those of us becoming a little pruney in the Washington rain...

The paper is Sun Kissed Adventure by Bo Bunny. All of the items on the bottom half of the page were part of the patterned paper with one exception...I added the frog sticker at the bottom. I used regular lined notebook paper for the journaling. I am trying to embrace my handwriting more. I also left a thin white border around the photos to really make them pop on this colorful paper.

Here's to some sunshiny memories coming soon!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If I Could Write A Letter (To My Daughters)

When Doug and I found out we were pregnant with our third daughter, I remember doing a little math, and then this thought left me absolutely breathless:

 In September of 2023, we will have three daughters in high school ... at the same time.  OH THE HUMANITY! 

Those years have the potential to be a full scale Chernobyl-style disaster.  But instead of curling up in the fetal position and preparing to wait out the storm, I've decided to take a more active approach.  My idea is to write them a series of letters, chronicling (in a gentle way) my own experiences, what I wish I'd done differently, and what I want them to know as they prepare to leave the nest.

"...I'd end up saying have no fear/These are nowhere near the best years of your life ... I wish you wouldn't worry, let it be/I'd say have a little faith and you'll see/If I could write a letter to me."

I'm left with a lot of questions and not so many answers.  (Good thing I have a few years for this project.)  What kind of people do we envision them becoming?  What knowledge could we impart to them to turn them into level-headed, conscientious adults?  Maya Angelou wrote Letter To My Daughter to reflect on 80 years of wisdom...do I have any wisdom after 27?  I'm totally unqualified to raise teenagers but maybe that's the case for everybody.
I struggled in high school (who doesn't, right?). Despite an amazing support system at home, somehow I was still hopelessly insecure.  Notoriously impatient.  Ruled by emotion instead of logic (as Doug would say, definitely not a Vulcan :).  So, like any parent, I'd like to spare them some of my trials and tribulations.  The thought of any one of my girls with a broken heart is almost too much for me to bear.  I'm not naive, I know they ultimately have to make their own choices and learn from their own experiences.  We can't live their lives for them--sMothering isn't my style. 

I have a long list of Wants for my girls:
I want them to be happy above all else.  I want them to be patient and know that God has a plan for their lives, and everything doesn't have to happen NOW.  I want them to be free to be themselves; to have enough confidence to be independent thinkers and speak their minds.  I want them to be kind to everyone with no exceptions, have empathy, be perceptive to others feelings.  I want them to be aware of the sometimes long-reaching consequences of their actions.  I want them to appreciate and take full advantage of the opportunities they are given.  I want them to be gracious to a fault.  I want to have an open and honest dialogue with them about their lives.  I want them to know they can come to us about anything, no exceptions, and they will be met with compassion, understanding, and honesty. 

I found some inspiration from other writers with the same desire. (Read a few of their letters here.)  A common theme jumped out at me: they all wanted, more than anything, for their girls to be happy and feel loved.  So I guess this post will be open-ended, and at the end of it maybe I'll have something worthy of reading with them, and if they can take away even one thing from it I'll call it a success. 

I'd love to hear from you, what you want for your children, and how you plan on sharing that with them.  Happy Tuesday, readers!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joyeux Kitchen: Meatless Monday - Pesto

Would you say my pesto is the best-o?

Parsley and Basil Pecan Pesto
adapted from "Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes"

This pesto is to-die-for.  The kids are gobbling it up as we speak; Hannah is on her second plate.  (That's right--Hannah.  The child who will only willingly eat strawberries or cold cheese sandwiches.) 

I've yet to fully embrace vegan as an option for our household so I modified this recipe to vegetarian.  I love cream.  I love cheese.  Although I haven't tried it, I have a hard time believing 'vegan cheese product' compares to the creamy mozzarella I used in the kitchen today.  But if anyone can make a believer out of me, it's Miriam at Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes.  Let's show 'em how it's done Miriam!

You'll need:
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 4-6 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup mozzarella (or vegan cheese of your choice)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ cup heavy cream or half 'n half (or vegan cream of your choice--Miriam uses Provamel)
And for the garnish:
  • ¼ fresh red pepper, cut into small squares
  • a little sprinkle of sweet paprika
  • Parmesan (or vegan-parm) cheese (optional)
  • freshly chopped parsley
Process the garlic and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. (See the picture of my teeny tiny food processor?  I've never had a full-sized model.)  Then add the parsley and basil – process also until finely chopped, then begin to add the oil, a little at a time. Next add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the water – add this in at the end, if you want to make it smoother.

After you have boiled and drained the pasta of your choice (I used Wacky Mac), set aside. Meanwhile pour a little olive oil into a casserole, heat, and add all the pesto. Allow to cook for a minute, then add the pasta. Continue to mix, and finally pour in the cream. Heat for a minute, then turn over into a serving bowl, and add the garnish.  I used LOTS of Parmesan.

Happy Meatless Monday!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Green Bunny: Our Boys

Just finished this one up a couple days ago. I love the idea of journaling about what the boys are currently doing. It will be so much fun to look back and remember the little quirks. I also email the boys all the little things they do and say. If you missed the You've Got Mail post, you should check it out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Gross Is it?

So, we've all been the NEW MOMMY who is insanely obsessive about the hands/items/animals touching our teeny little bundle of joy. The crisp, clean linens, the sanitized bottles, the scrubbed tables, the toys that have been sprayed with Lysol ten times in one hour. The hand sanitizer police in full-effect! Then, with time (and more kids), we start to shrug our shoulders a bit. Maybe it's a learning process, maybe it's pure exhaustion just trying to keep up, maybe it's SURVIVAL!

Eh...the binky hit the floor and the kid is screaming and I NEED these groceries.
Eh...the blankie is being dragged across the daycare floor and I don't have time to wash it before nap.
Eh...the table didn't get wiped between meals and I spy a smear of crusty ketchup being mixed with new goldfish.
Eh...the dog is french kissing the toddler, but I'm up to my elbows in the baby's poopy diaper.
Eh...three kids just licked my son's lollipop.
Eh...my little guy is eating dirt for the umpteenth time, but I physically can't bring myself to stop him ONE MORE TIME.

Let's face it: it is nearly impossible to keep everything spic and span with kids in the house. There are things we just have to let go. I'm not saying there aren't freak-out-worthy moments to be had...poop in the tub still grosses me out! So, when is it ok to shrug our shoulders and when should we be concerned?

Photo from Parenting.com

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joyeux Kitchen: White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Doug's not a big fan of traditional birthday desserts, so I have to think outside the box for his cakes.  This year's selection may very well become every year's selection.  He LOVED it.  I have a few recipe notes and recommendations:
  • As usual, use a good quality chocolate (I used Ghirardelli).  The cheap stuff will disappoint--no WOW factor.
  • It's going to feel like you're not putting in enough sugar.  And when you taste the batter, you might still feel an inclination to add more.  DON'T.  It's perfect.  It bakes up light and not overpoweringly sweet and delicious with the fruit.
  • I used raspberries and blackberries, which was super yummy, because raspberries were just so darn expensive and the blackberries were a little cheaper. 
  • Serve with strawberry sauce.  Puree two cups of strawberries and two tablespoons of sugar, pour it into a fine mesh strainer to get rid of excess juice, and store in the fridge.
♪♪ Happy birthday, Mr. Donovan ... happy birthday to yoooouuuuu. ♪♪

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Twirly Whirly Pizza

Let me start by saying that this is nowhere near the gourmet recipes that my co-blogger posts...(go ahead and pity me now). But it was fun! And, an easy Friday night meal that the kids liked, so that counts for something! I tore the recipe out of a parenting magazine a LONG time ago and just recently tried it. Logan had fun helping & giggled about the silly name a bit.

Twirly Whirly Pizza
1 tube of pizza dough
1/2 C pizza sauce
Italian blend shredded cheese
baby spinach

First time out, I used all store bought products and kept it simple with only the listed ingredients. You could definitely make your own homemade dough and sauce and add any toppings your family enjoys.

Roll out the dough. Add sauce, cheese, and toppings:

Roll pizza up like you would cinnamon rolls:

Grease baking dish. Cut into 8 even rolls. I used a regular butter knife:

 Bake at 400 degrees for 22-25 minutes:
Quick & simple & a big hit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!

Carter was all about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when he turned one in July. We hosted a backyard BBQ with lots of fun decorations and food...

I made the invites using the Cricut Mickey and Friends cartridge and two circle punches. I also downloaded a Mickey font for the inside info.

Amazing Mickey cake made by Sarah!

Specifically planned this party in the AM so we could have Mickey mimosas (a fabulous idea from a friend)! I found a small Mickey cookie cutter for a couple bucks on eBay and used it to cut Mickey out of cantaloupe to add to the mimosa glasses. I also used the cutter for fruity pebble treats (pictured below). Sarah created the deliciously adorable cupcakes...great to have a friend who bakes!

I framed an invite and placed it on a plate stand on the table along with a stuffed Mickey, sunflowers, and the mickey-shaped fruity pebble treats. Some of my bright Fiesta pieces came in handy for the color scheme.

This party was so colorful. What fun! I went with Mickey-themed supplies for the kids' table, but was able to purchase bright reds, yellows, and blues for extra plates, napkins, balloons, etc. Solids are much cheaper and more practical for future use.

I had saved this HUGE Disney store shopping bag (because I knew it would come in handy someday) and used it to decorate the play area with some multi-colored balloons. The sandbox was a birthday gift for Carter.

I made this banner that matched the invites for Carter's high chair.

The birthday boy with his banner & cake. I made the Mickey balloons behind him for the guests to take home. What a blast! I definitely suggest a Mickey (or Minnie) party if you have a young one. Look for great ideas on Disney.com and Disney Family too.