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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day everyone! A leprechaun visited my house in the wee hours of the morning. He left shamrocks and little green pots of “gold” (quarters) for me and the kids to find.

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My kids have always known the true identity of the leprechaun-bunny-fairy-claus but still enjoy playing along.

After our treasure hunt the leprechaun made us all some green eggs. I politely declined artificial green food dye so Mike came up with a creative alternative. He made his own natural green dye from water and a crushed leaf of swiss chard with the stems removed!

It's extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

It’s extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

Once he strained out the crushed leaves, it made a beautiful bright green dye:

eggs with natural green dye

and some delicious green eggs!

green scrambled eggs

Speaking of greens, I love this graphic from No Meat Athlete on seven healthy, tasty greens that are often overlooked in favor of spinach and kale:

Seven greens graphic info

Obviously I’ve had swiss chard, and I’ve tried arugula too. I haven’t had turnip greens but I have had beet greens (sautéed in olive oil with garlic and salt – yum!) The rest I will search out the next time I make it to Whole Foods!

Are you Irish? Yes, I’m a whopping 1/16th Irish!
Did you run the L.A. Marathon or any other St. Patrick’s Day race today? How did it go for you? I have heard many good things about the L.A. Marathon and hope to run it someday.

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January represented the last month in the off-season for me. I took it relatively easy as I tried to heal from shin splints and an adductor magnus groin strain injury.

January Miles

Note that my triathlon training positively requires me to write up the miles in swim-bike-run order, followed by other miscellaneous workouts.

Swim: 1 mile in 40 minutes in 1 workout

Bike: 98.12 miles in 7.5 hours in 8 workouts

Run: 82.55 miles in 14 hours in 14 workouts

Weight training: 2.67 hours in 11 workouts <— That is a new personal record of strength training workouts in a month

Snow Skiing: 4.5 hours in 1 workout

House cleaning: 11 hours in 2 workouts <—- Not just your average light housework

Yardwork: 40 minutes in 1 workout <—- turning the compost and shoveling in the garden

If you count the one yardwork and two big housework days, that constitutes 28 workout days out of 31.

Random January Photo

My husband celebrated his 42nd birthday in January and I threw him a surprise party at our house. If you’re a loyal reader of this ol’ blog you know my philosophy on birthday cakes: grab any nearby children to help you decorate your homemade cake so that no matter how it turns out, it is “cute” and “fun” and, at a minimum, what could kindly be called “remarkable.”

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Random fun fact of the day: the hole in a guitar is called a “sound hole.” If you want to be accurate in your cake decoration, the sound hole should be placed in the upper portion of the sound board. If you want children to help you make a sound hole out of yellow Smarties 15 minutes before the guest of honor is expected to arrive, then you let them put it wherever it fits on the cake. And then you order your guests to help cut yellow guitar “strings” out of licorice. Again, do not feel the need to be accurate in the number of strings that belong on a guitar (typically, six).

February Goals

Eat less cake.
Run the Brea 8K and earn a PR at that distance.
Start training for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon.
Do not injure myself (a perennial goal).

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Making your own trail mix could not be easier or more forgiving (have fun with the ingredient choices and portions below to make it to your liking)! I threw some together for a preschool class snack and it took less than five minutes and, best of all, I could prepare it the night before and not have to fuss with it in the morning before school.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Homemade Trail Mix

Ingredients:

1 large container of organic raisins
1 small packet of organic dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your liking — chopped apricots, pineapple, mango or dates would be good)
1 tub of salted or unsalted peanuts
1 tub of salted or unsalted sunflower seeds (or pepitas, almonds or cashews)
2 cups or more of dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, carob chips or M&Ms

Optional:
2 cups or more of plain stove-popped popcorn

Instructions

Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together. Package into serving sizes or serve in the bowl.

This homemade trail mix is high in calories (which is what you want in a trail mix, right?) but if you want to reduce the calories for a healthier snack, add in the plain stove-popped popcorn and that cuts the calories per serving significantly.

Survey: Do you call it trail mix or GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”)? I called it GORP as a kid but I’d forgotten all about that!

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If you’re looking for a pretty side dish for brunch, a fun preschool snack, or something for the kids after school, try these simple pear cups with cheese cubes!

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Pear Cups with Cheese Cubes

Ingredients:
1 organic pear per two people (Tip: if your pears are not quite ripe, put them in a paper bag with a banana overnight and the ethylene gas will help ripen the pears)
blocks of cheddar cheese and colby jack cheese (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, or this would even work well with Brie or cottage cheese too. If you use Brie, spoon a little honey mustard on top and the combination will taste like heaven and look pretty too!)

Tools:
Knife

Preparation Time:
5 minutes for each set of two pair halves (Note: try to prepare these cups just before serving. I made mine about an hour before serving and that was fine, but any longer and the pear will brown and the cheese might get soggy from the pear juice).

Instructions:

Rinse and dry the pear. Slice it in half vertically (from stem to bottom). Cut out the core and a little bit extra in the center to create a pear “cup.”

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

Cut up the cheese blocks into small cubes and arrange the cubes inside the pear cups, piling the cheese as high as possible. Serve ASAP but you can refrigerate them for an hour or so before serving if desired. You can either eat the cheese and the cups separately, or enjoy them together for a tasty treat!

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You know you’re part of a Fit Fun family when the Christmas stockings are ski boots:

Ski boot stockings

and the big present is a new (to us, via Craigslist) mountain bike for the 10-year-old and hand-me-down bikes for the 8- and 4-year-olds. It’s a coincidence that they’re all Specialized bikes:

Three Specialized Bikes

And the Fit Fun Mom gets a new bike helmet, a white and silver one that was chosen not because it matches Bullet but because it is more visible (and thus safer) than the potentially more fashionable black one (thumbs up on that choice!):

New Giro helmet

The whole family got out for a bike ride today around the regional park. All three girls did well in spite of some challenges learning the new brakes and gears on the bigger bikes. We rode for over an hour by the time it was all done. I froze my fingers off in the 60 degree weather (wimp) and hopped in the hot tub when I got home. If you can’t have a white Christmas, you can have an (Angela White) Christmas in the jacuzzi.

Did you get anything fitness-related this holiday season? Happy Holidays!

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My middle daughter turned eight this month (How? How is this possible? She was 2.5 when we moved to California. Where did the time go?) In the past we’ve been able to convince her to go skiing for the weekend to celebrate her birthday, but this year she wanted a full-on party. December is a tough time for birthdays, but we made the best of it and had an 8th “brrrrrthday” party, complete with a winter wonderland theme.

I love to get the kids involved in the decorations. My oldest girl suggested getting these:

Crayola Washable Window Markers with Crystal Effects and they turned out to be super cool (no pun intended). While they take a while to dry and crystalize, it’s amazing to watch the designs come to life on sliding glass doors and windows. My girls drew icicles:

The California icicle

The California icicle

and snowflakes:

snowflake drawing

and I attempted some snowflake designs of my own:

Snowflake from template

For the birthday cake we made a dense two-layer chocolate cake from Baking Kids Love (from Sur La Table), along with this buttercream frosting except we substituted powdered sugar for regular refined sugar. It’s not an easy frosting recipe but it’s worth it to avoid the corn syrup in tub frostings. Tip: when you make the milk-flour roux, strain it through a sieve to eliminate any lumps, and then let it cool completely to room temperature so that the frosting does not separate when you combine the milk-flour roux with the whipped butter and sugar and vanilla. It makes a light, fluffy frosting that’s not sickeningly sweet. Tip #2: let your child decorate the cake herself. That takes away any pressure to make it perfect. My 8-year-old painted her snowflake on the cake this year:

Snowflake cake

and made this winter scene last year:

Oh dear, the moon and star have fallen from the sky to the snow below!

Oh dear, the moon and star have fallen from the sky to the snow below!

and this lighthouse the year before (what, you couldn’t tell that’s a red-and-white striped lighthouse??):

Obviously this is a striped lighthouse on a beach by the ocean!

Obviously this is a striped lighthouse on a beach by the ocean!

For party favors this year, I made Tanya’s Snickerdoodle cookies in the shape of snowmen, and packaged them in Ziploc winter-themed bags:

snowmen cookies

I printed winter-themed coloring pages for party crafts, and let the kids decorate some of the other sliding glass doors with the crystal markers.

My daughter loved her party and having all the guests over to play. Her favorite gift turned out to be one that fit right in with the theme:

Crazy fluffy earmuff fun. My 8-year-old is sleeping in them as I type this....

Crazy fluffy fun. My 8-year-old is sleeping in them as I type this….

Cherokee Girls’ Earmuffs from Target (no affiliation).

Birthday cakes: buy or make your own? Frosting: tub or do it yourself?

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Earlier this month I got to experience a race from the sidelines as I cheered on my 10-year-old and husband at the LJEF Family Turkey Trot 5K. It felt strange to be up at 6 on a Saturday morning and not going for a run myself (I got in eight miles later on that day as my last long run before the marathon the following week).

Race starting line

And they’re off!

As I watched my two loved ones line up at the start, my heart rose in my throat. I get nervous before my own races, but even more so for my children’s races. I feel more vulnerable and exposed when I have no control over the outcome. If I do not do well in a race, that’s all on me. If one of my children has a bad experience, it hurts in a different way. Will this affect her self-esteem? Will she want to race again?

I had encouraged my daughter to sign up for the race, but by no means did I force her to do so. In fact, we had several discussions about how if she did not commit and follow through on the training for the 5K, I would not allow her to run it (and furthermore she would be required to work off the $20 entry fee we paid on her behalf). She assured me she wanted to run. She had done the race the year before and wanted to do it again. In the end, I can’t say she dedicated herself to the training as I dedicated myself to marathon training (what, you mean not everyone takes such joy in checking off a training run?), but my husband and I deemed her ready to put in the 3.1 miles.

In retrospect, we should have put as much work into the mental preparation for the race. Yes, it’s “only” a 5K, it’s a turkey trot, it’s for fun and fitness, it’s not life and death. But as many runners can attest, a race can be torture if you’re head isn’t in it. The mind-body connection is never more evident than in a running race. My daughter had trained enough that she was fully capable of running the whole race and beating her time from the previous year. Instead, she struggled physically and mentally. After lots of congratulations and hugs at the finish line, and after a few days passed, I talked over the race with her. Why did she think she hadn’t done as well as the year before, in spite of the fact that she trained harder this time? “Because I didn’t want to be there.” You said you wanted to run. Why didn’t you want to be there? “Because I didn’t want to keep running the whole time.” Ah. Turns out that my daughter ended up being so concerned about the possibility of being told to keep running when she wanted to walk, that she psyched herself out of running well in the first place. (Trust me, that says more about my daughter and her personality than about her dad, who certainly does not push her hard and only wants to support her). I told her I had the perfect solution for that problem. The next race, if she wanted to do one, she would run by herself without her father/pacer at her side. She can run or walk, her choice. Completely up to her. How much do you want to bet she runs the whole way?

Do you have children who participate in races? How do they (and you) handle it? My two oldest have done some 5Ks and a junior triathlon. They tell me they want to do more.

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