Wednesday, June 29, 2016

two day pass

as far as weekends go, this one had all the essential elements:
family, friends. freedom and fun.
friday the boys were at teddy's game while the girls plus jessica went out for pedicures.
he pitched a complete game, had 9 strike outs and they won so i was sorry to have missed it but...
but i really needed a pedicure.
we all enjoyed an impromptu birthday dinner for jess of grilled tenderloin, portobello mushrooms, sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus.
and a sweet little birthday cake lily luckily made at camp that day.
saturday ted played in a tournament with the varsity team.
good experience, but no wins.
the rest of us rested and readied for a belated father's day celebration for my father-in-law that eve.
it was another seasonally correct feast of wings and burgers and grilled vegetables and s'mores.
the kids played wiffle with their cousins until they could scarcely see their hands in front of their faces.
we got ready for the week ahead on sunday.
the day involved lots of laundry and work in the kitchen.
we made ghee, mayo and a crustless quiche.
banana bread and a peach crisp for my two too as they are still eating sugar.
i haven't much missed the sugar until i smelled these baking.
then we all set out for a bike ride on the beautiful afternoon.
when we returned, the boys went to golf 18 and lily and i watched joy.
we both gave it a thumbs up.
i made myself finish mothering sunday before bed.
i wasn't ready for monday, but i was eager for a new book.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2 day pass

i'm just not finding the time or the inclination to muse lately.
life is full.
full is the word i choose instead of busy.
it sounds more positive.
positive is the mindset i want to embrace for all the people in my life who need me.
these are the people that make my days and nights full.
think of it as an intention.

mother nature flipped the switch and it's summer, but the days feel shorter not longer.
saturday the middle of the day simply seemed to evaporate.
one minute i'm enjoying my coffee and coconut milk, and the next it's already 4 o'clock and almost happy hour.
usually that would make me happy.
it did not make me happy.

the weekend was front-end loaded with baseball and back-filled with family.
lily more than survived her first softball tournament saturday in the grueling heat and teddy had a game, which is the better part of the day affair when away.
it was away.
we packed up for a quick visit to windmill beach where there was swimming and s'moring and once again too little time.
lake michigan was 10 degrees warmer than 2 weeks ago and; therefore, refreshing.
thank you southerly wind.
the sky was showy again, but the best parts about looking up this time were sighting the bald eagles fishing at gloaming and the flock of prehistoric pelicans flying single file through the balmy morning air.
yes, there are pelicans in wisconsin.
the cotton candy clouds were a bonus.
teddy even enjoyed the beach this time because he used it as a giant sand trap and that was a bonus too.

yet sunday morning he was the one motivating his dad and uncle to the links.
they met grandpa for 9 holes while the girls enjoyed the woods and the beach a little longer.
we gathered for father's day dinner prepared generously by my dad, the grillmaster.
or one of them.
saturday eve my sister-in-law and i were vying for the title when we fired up the grill for chicken.
we didn't do half bad either.

i collapsed in bed after the weekend a little sandy, a little sunburned and mostly full. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Whole30 Week 1...Better Than Xanax

It's true. Who knew that taking all of the toxins out of my diet could have such a sudden and welcome effect? I would actually expect to be more irritable while keeping cravings at bay not more calm and balanced. Patient and unflappable too with my kids, at work and even on the road. I have more energy throughout the day, and then at night I crash and sleep like a baby as I should. My eyes are bright, my skin is soft and I just plain feel better.

So far Whole30 has been a success and I'm not going to prattle on here about the specifics because if you're interested, you should read the books. There are also countless blogs that offer a wealth of helpful information. This is not a health or fitness blog, but I do have a few tips for getting started.

1. Preparation is key. Read about the program and understand what you are committing to and why. This is science people.

2. Plan at least a few days worth of meals and shop in advance. I generally plan our dinners and shop once a week, and even I was surprised by how much extra time it took. I know it didn't help that I was often preparing somewhat separate meals for the kids, but I tried to just do riffs on one concept. I made stops at Trader Joe's, Costco and Pick n' Save over the weekend. Also be prepared for shopping trips to take longer as you read labels, and to cost more as you stock up on healthy oils, herbs and other staples.

3. Read labels. Claims like 100% fruit, all natural and no additives are loose. It's best to make as much as you can (salad dressing, ketchup, taco seasoning) homemade, but that's always my MO. The two times we didn't read labels we ended up with sparkling water with sucralose and a beautiful bag of dried cherries that had added sugar. Eventually, you'll hash out compliant products and the best places to buy them. After a week, I already have a handle on it. Whole Foods has a number of compliant products like dressings and even bacon, but I haven't stopped there yet because the only thing on my list is coconut aminos, and I know I'll come out of the store at least $100 poorer.

4. Don't skip breakfast and every time you step foot in a store, buy a dozen eggs. They're whats for breakfast. I usually combine them with egg whites in an effort to be careful of cholesterol, but I'm not even sure that's necessary any more. I feel like there have been so many mixed messages about whether eggs are a super food, or on the do not eat list. I know they are an excellent source of protein so we're having one each morning without guilt because I haven't had cheese in 7 days people (and I haven't missed it). My favorite way to enjoy them is sunny side up over a bed of wilted spinach, but they're tasty over roasted potatoes (yes, you can eat potatoes in moderation) or in a veggie frittata. Throw a few avocados is your cart each time too. It's important to eat healthy fats and they taste good. On everything.

5. Put some love into your food and be creative. There are more things you can eat than you can't. Family dinner is an end of day ritual in our house so it's important we savor it. I enjoyed all of these meals. I never felt deprived. Below is a sampling of the meals we enjoyed for dinner and then lunch. Leftovers are key on Whole30.

 Deconstructed chicken fajitas with guacamole (Trader Joes). 

 Cauliflower soup with potatoes garnished with crispy prosciutto and green onion.

 Roasted spaghetti squash with homemade red sauce with ground turkey and a salad with homemade vinaigrette.

Sauteed chicken Italian sausage (Trader Joes) with pan fried (in coconut oil) potatoes and cider roasted cabbage and carrots.

Deconstructed kabobs with sauteed riced cauliflower.

Grilled flank steak. grilled sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and roasted prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

6. This is your Whole30 so make it work for you. The program doesn't advocate snacking, but Saturday I was starving mid-day and I knew dinner was 5-6 hours off so I snacked. I just made sure it was compliant. Let me tell you that was the best apple I've had all year. I love Trader Joe's crunchy almond butter. Also put your snack on a plate and sit down and enjoy it. Be mindful.

7. Find ways to treat yourself, but beware of whatever your "no brakes" foods may be. Skip them. I craved a glass of wine a couple evenings so instead I made an iced coffee with coconut milk and I put it in a pretty glass. I was satisfied. Better yet treat yourself with a walk, a pedicure or a little retail therapy.

I know I won't be this strict forever, but there are many changes I've made this week that I see sticking going forward. I'm already seeing this more as a lifestyle than a 30 day commitment and I sure wouldn't be saying that if I didn't feel great.

Two Day Pass

we celebrated the first weekend of summer vacation.
there was lots of baseball.
2 games for him and 2 games for her.
i sat in the shade where it only felt about 92 degrees.
it seemed rather blasphemous to have such heat when it's not even summer yet.
there was also lots of golf.
ted played friday and saturday evening after his games.
sunday he played with his generous aunt and uncle.
i spent the better part of sunday in the kitchen feeding family and prepping for whole30 week two.
i got out of my apron only long enough to sneak in a quick workout.
i would just clean up and then someone would wake up or come in hungry.
my brother in law came with a chain saw and a kind helping hand.
he stayed for sunday dinner.
mike grilled steak and sweet potatoes while i sauteed shrooms and roasted the prosciutto wrapped asparagus.
everything on my plate was my favorite. 
we sat around the island reminiscing and it felt exactly as a summer evening should.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It Was the Best of Times...It Was the Worst of Times

Well, maybe best and worst are a little extreme, but beautiful and challenging certainly fit. And I ask if that isn't so often the confusing case of this messy life: to relish in the undulating joy of the moments and be simultaneously pierced by their jagged edges? This weekend before last left me feeling empty and full. It's possible...I assure you. So many times this past week I thought to come here and muse, but I wasn't yet prepared to do so. I needed time to process. Time to reflect. It was time well-spent.

I'm far enough away now to have a little more objectivity and ownership where family dynamics are concerned. My cousin was visiting from Colorado so it was a whole lot of family in a single weekend. If her doctors are right, it may be the last time we see her, but I'm not ready to believe that yet. I believe it's called the practice of medicine for a reason, and only one entity truly knows what the future holds. Suffice it to say it was an emotional visit peppered mostly with highs, but also a few lows.What it comes down to is a number of strong, stubborn personalities and plenty of rather poor communication. It's not a good recipe. In the moment, I like to think that I'm excluded from the mix, but I'm not. I'm right in there with the rest of them...a spicy stew of fiery Irish, German and Polish roots. 

While looking back, I also realized we're all coming from good places because that passion we all possess means we love fierce as well. All we wanted was time with our colorful, charismatic cousin, but we're just not that good at coordinating and connecting. Feelings get hurt, egos bruised and tempers flare in the planning and posturing. There was too much he said she said and so on when all that really mattered was being together in the given moment. What Carol is enduring is living proof that tomorrow is not guaranteed for a single one of us.

I'm grateful I realized what was important before it was too late. The only thing Carol wanted to do Saturday was to go riding with Lily. I didn't know if it would be possible first because of her waning strength and second because of the weather, but when I pulled up to my Dad's in the rain, she was raring to go. The skies cleared and we headed to the stables. 

The picture above is of the little chapel that overlooks the stables. My Grandma's name is Rose and she was pretty much a saint, but I don't think she cared much for horses. She did care for all of us despite our flaws and imperfections. It's no surprise that I saw it looming above us more as a sign than a structure. A sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be blessed to be making the best of the time at hand.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Teddy getting called up to varsity as a freshman because he's worked so hard to always give his best. My #17 is as big as the older boys, but there is a sizable difference between 15 year olds and 16-18 year olds. Case in point. After the game the other eve during which he made the plays he was expected to make like the seasoned player he is, he rode his bike to the far end of our subdivision and then coasted home hands free the whole mile. Hands free and free of proper shoes and helmet. I hope he hones his risk assessing abilities before it's legal for him to get behind the wheel of a car because that is in the purview.  

I have a 7th and a 10th grader. I'm equal parts grateful for another successful school year for my kiddos and verklempt that the passage of time seems to speed as we age.

 I may have failed to capture his last day of 9th grade photo because his ride was in the driveway as soon as he sat down for breakfast. He's good at many things. Time management is not one of them. The last day eve I snapped a quick shot of him at short. It's not a good one because I was trying to be quick and sly sensing how uncool it is to have your own momarazzi especially when you're playing with juniors and seniors. And yet it is good because it reminds me that he's forging into a whole new world and phase of life, and it's time and he's ready and I'll always be there on the sidelines no matter what. 

She posed for the last day photo, and after she left I looked at it stunned by what I saw. I saw a young woman with just the slightest trace of little girl lingering, and I have to concede that years are minutes and wonder how I can even be nostalgic for yesterday?

After practice, before dinner baseball fundamentals in the yard...just the two of them and a bucket of balls.

Team Pony Tail. They have yet to win a game, but this is brand new to all of them. They are trying their best and having fun. Lily pitched tonight and pitched well. She also had the only hit of the game.

Rainbows reminding me that storms bring beauty too ala no grit no pearl. This one appeared after a charged weekend with extended family.

Spending time with my Cousin Carol. Despite all that she has been through, she looks great and has the same bright shining spirit.

Happy Trails and Grandpas who chaperone the girls despite the fact that he's not particularly enamored with horseback riding.

Spending time with my family. Kinky Boots and dinner at our favorite old school Italian restaurant were entertaining and delicious.

Kinky shoes not boots for the occasion.

When my husband plans, shops for and cooks dinner. He served us a grill sampler. Not pictured is corn on the cob, Brussels sprouts as big as your head and toasted ciabatta. 

Whole30. We started on Monday and it's going great. It deserves a post of its own so I'll be working on that.

Trader Joe's for having so many fresh, organic and fairly priced items that are Whole30 compliant.

 I'm also grateful for their Spindrift seltzer water, which tastes like such a treat. The grapefruit flavor is the best seltzer I've ever had. The cold brew coffee is another must-try product.

I'm a retired lunch lady. No more packing lunches for the next few months.

Fresh-cut peonies.

Alleluias and Amens

School's's summer baby!