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Friday, November 5, 2010

Breeders Cup

Ok, its been a while since I've sat down and looked at the ponies.  Its hard to take time out of your evening or weekend with the kids, to do some serious handicapping, but with the Breeders Cup coming up this weekend I thought I'd get back on the horse - so to speak.  The Breeders Cup will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Friday, from 4-8pm EST; on Saturday it will be broadcast live on ABC from 130-330pm and ESPN from 330-615pm.

So here are the divisions:  Classic, Turf, Ladies Classic, Mile, Sprint, Filly & Mare Turf, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Dirt Mile, Juvenile Turf, Filly & Mare Sprint, Marathon, Juvenile Turf Fillies, Turf Sprint.

This year the Breeders Cup is being held at Churchill Downs, a return to dirt, after 2 years on Kitty Litter at Santa Anita.  Say what you will about synthetics... it does have a place IMO - I'm just not sure synthetics are the solution to breakdowns and injuries.

But I digress... that's a whole other post. We're here to discuss the Breeders Cup.  That said lets get down to business.  And business revolves around two horses Zenyatta in the Classic and Goldikova in the Mile.   These Ladies of Racing are each going for a 3rd consecutive win in a Breeders Cup race, we have the potential to look at history in the making.

So let's break down the race everyone is waiting for the Classic, which happens to be the last race of the card on Saturday. Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Quality Road/J.Velazquez/5-1;
2/PaddyO'Prado/K.Desormeaux/15-1;
3/Haynefield/R.Dominguez/12-1;
4/First Dude/R.Albarado/15-1;
5/Blame/G.Gomes/9-2;
6/FlyDown/J.Leparoux/15-1;
7/Musket Man/R.Margh/20-1;
8/Zenyatta/M.Smith/8-2;
9/Pleasant Prince/J.Rosario/30-1;
10/Etched/A.Garcia/30-1;
11/Esponir City/T.Sato/20-1;
12/Looking at Lucky/M.Garcia/6-1

How do you argue with perfection?  Zenyatta is 19-0 and going for 20 against the toughest field of horses she's ever faced, even though she's the biggest of all the field. Bet against her at your own risk - she knows how to win, and win with style.  Her Jockey Mike Smith says he's never had to ask her for everything in the tank to win.  That's dangerous...but she is facing a tough crowd with Blame, Haynefield, Looking at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado and Quality Road.

In my opinion Quality Road should have been pointed to the dirt mile which he's better suited for, but he's in the Classic.  He's got good tactical speed, but his ability to get the distance is still a question and he can be a bit mental - when he's on good luck running him down, but if he's checked out expect antics in the gate like last year.  Blame and Haynesfield are the top older horses in the handicap division.  They keep trading punches.  Blame's a grinder, and Haynesfield can steal a race on the front end when every one else is sleeping.   Then come the 3year olds. Paddy O'Prado, Looking at Lucky, First Dude, Fly Down.  All are good - But I think Paddy O'Prado is the most versitle. He's got wins on dirt, turf, synthetics, and he can get the distance.  Looking at Lucky is probably the most talented of the 3yo -but trouble follows him where ever he goes.  His last race wasn't the most stellar, but it should help him move forward.  First Dude - some people love - meh he's not one that strikes my fancy and Fly Down is a good horse - but I'm not confident he's in the right company... I think he's better suited to the Marathon.  Etched is my long shot. I've always liked this horse.  He's a bit of a grinder who's got some tactical speed. As for every one else - yes they can hit the board but I don't think any of them will give Zenyatta a true run for her money.
Easy bet - Wheel Zenyatta with the field. My picks Zenyatta, PaddyO'Prado, Blame Looking At Lucky, Quality Road and Etched.  I think Zenyatta will win the Classic in heart stopping fashion, keeping the public on their feet or edge of their seats!

Let's look at the Mile. Goldikova has won this race for the past 2 years at Santa Anita.  The turf course there is hard and firm.  With the drought in KY - the turf course will set up hard and firm - and for most Europeans that's a big drawback, as the European horses tend to like a softer going in the turf.  Yet again Goldikova has an outside post.  Can she make this a 3-peat?
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Beethoven/J.Murtagh/20-1
2/Society'sChairman/J.Leparoux/20-1
3/GioPonti/R.Dominguez/4-1
4/Court Vision/R.Albarado/12-1
5/Delegator/F.Dettori/12-1
6/PacoBoy/R.Moore/6-1
7/The Usual QT/V.Espinosa/15-1
8/Get Stormy/J.Castellano/20-1
9/Sidney's Candy/J.Rosario/10-1
10/Goldikova/O.Peslier/6-5
11/Proviso/M.Smith/12-1

Looking at the field the top choices are Goldikova, GioPonti, Court Vision, Sidneys Candy, Delegator, and Paco Boy.   I think the biggest threats to Goldikova's 3peat are Gio Ponti - he's going shorter, and has recently showed he excels at a mile, though a 1 & 1/4 is probably his best distance - he can get the job done.  Court Vision excels at this distance, and when he's on, there's not a horse that can catch him, but when he's off he's beaten going away.   Paco Boy has faced Goldikova 4 times this year and each race was closely contested with Goldikova the winner all 4 times.  If he can transition to going left, instead of right he's got a shot - though his previous attempts at running left didn't turn out as well.  Sidney's Candy is a good horse, good tactical speed that should be out on the lead, if he gets off easy he could steal the race, but there are other pace makers in this field that should press him, I expect him to hold on for place or show.   Delegator - good horse with high crusing/tactical speed, that can lay off the pace, with a good late kick, I expect him to be in the fray. My long shot is Proviso - I've always liked this horse, he might be a little below the 6 I've commented on - but when he steps up he steps up well...  I expect him to be on the lead or rating close behind it. Mike Smith in the saddle helps his chances.

My picks: Goldikova, Gio Ponti,  Delegator - with a battle between Court Vision, Sydney's Candy, Provisio and Paco Boy for place...

Now on to the rest of the races in order:

The Marathon 1 3/4 miles - the marathon is an endurance race for the dirt horses. Its pretty much a wide open division, since its not a distance US horse race at,  and while the Europeans do race longer distances, for many this is their first start on dirt.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Attoned/R.Albarado/20-1
2/Prince Will I Am/J.Castellano/4-1
3/Million Seller/J.Rose/50-1
4/Eldaafer/J.Velazquez/12-1
5/Romp/M.Garcia/50-1
6/Gabriel's Hill/J.Leparoux/20-1
7/Awesome Gem/D.Flores/7-2
8/Giant Oak/G.Gomes/4-1
9/Bright Horizon/J.Murtagh/10-1
10/Alcomo/R.Bejarano/6-1
11/Precision Break/J.Spencer/15-1
12/AU Miner/C.Borel/9-2

You can't go wrong with Awesome Gem, Bright Horizon, AU Miner,  and Giant Oak.  Bright Horizon is bred to run all day, and has show a preference to go longer,  Awesome Gem grindes away and can get the distance.   With AU Miner - he's got potential, and with Calvin Bo "Rail" on him - anything is possible.   My longshot is Attoned - I like this horse, and I don't think he's found his niche, maybe the distance will suit him... if he steps up he can easily make your day.

My picks: Bright Horizon, Awesome Gem, Giant Oak, with AU Miner and  Attoned fighting it out for place.

If you've seen my picks from last years BC - you know I don't handicap the 2yo.  They're just starting to come into their legs, and most still are green.   So I'm skipping breaking down the Juvenile fillies turf, the Juvenile fillies, the Juvenile turf & the Juvenile.  If I have to pick someone for the Juvy fillies turf I'll go with More than Real.  If I have to pick for the Juvenile fillies I'm going with Awesome feather.  And for the Juvenile turf I'll go with  McGaughy's Air Support. For the Juvenile I'm sticking with Jacito. Now back to your regular program.

Filly & Mare Sprint

You could call this wide open - but lets be honest - this is a throw down between Sara Louise, Informed Decision, Evening Jewel, Gabby's Golden Gal, Tidal Pool & Champagne d'Oro.  My long shot is Switch.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/My Jen/J.Velazquez/15-1
2/Sara Louise/F.Dettori/15-1
3/Secret Gypsy/R.Albarado/12-1
4/Informed Decision/J. Leparoux/7-2
5/Evening Jewel/V.Espinoza/15-1
6/Moontune Missy/A.Garcia/30-1
7/Gabbys' Golden Gal/M.Garcia/15-1
8/Sweet August Moon/M.Smith/30-1
9/Switch/J.Rosario/20-1
10/Rinterval/R.Bejarano/20-1
11/Jessica is Back/J.Castello/12-1
12/Dubai Majesty/J.Theriot/6-1
13/Rightly So/C.Velasquez/3-1
14/Champagne d'Oro/M.Mena/6-1
15AE/Tidal Pool/M.Smith/30-1
16AE/First Passage/G.Gomez/30-1

Filly and Mare Turf
out of this bunch of classy fillies/mares I like Plumania, Harmonious, Midday, and Forever Together. Hibaayeb is my long shot, if you can call her one...
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Plumania/O.Peslier/8-1
2/Eclair de Lune/J.Alvarado/15-1
3/Miss Keller/J.Castellano/8-1
4/Keetana/J.Lezcano/30-1
5/Shared Account/E.Prado/30-1
6/Harmonious/J.Rosario/6-1
7/Midday/T.Queally/6-5
8/Hot Cha Cha/J.Graham/30-1
9/Hibaayeb/F.Dettori/8-1
10/Red Desire/K.Desormeaux/8-1
11/Forever Together/R.Napravnik/10-1

Ladies' Classic
THis is a very nice field, but for me it going to come down to the following four: Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle, Blind Luck, and Havre de Grace. With Persistently as my Long shot.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Life At Ten/J.Velazquez/7-2
2/Its Tea time/J.Leparoux/15-1
3/Malibu Paver/G.Gomez/8-1
4/Milwaukee Appeal/R.Bejarano/30-1
5/Acting Happy/J.Lezcano/20-1
6/Persistently/A.Garcia/12-1
7/seeking the Title/C.Borel/30-1
8/Unrivaled Bell/K.Desormeaux/8-1
9/Acoma/R.Albarado/20-1
10/Blind Luck/J.Rosario/9-5
11/Harve de Grace/J.Rose/4-1

Sprint - this is just one big mele to the wire.  Big Drama and Girolamo are two you can't go wrong with, and you can't skip Smiling tiger. ad Riley Tucker.  My long shot(s) are Atta Boy Roy and Warriors Reward.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Big Drama/E.Coa/7-2
2/Girolamo/A.Garcia/3-1
3/Wise Dan/R.Bejarano/10-1
4/Hamazing Destiny/J.Rosario/20-1
5/Smiling Tiger/R.Baze/6-1
6/Pashito the Che/J.Castellano/15-1
7/Kinsale King/M.Garcia/8-1
8/Cash Refund/J.Velazquez/20-1
9/Supreme Summit/G.Gomez/15-1
10/Riley Tucker/R.Dominguez/8-1
11/Atta Boy Roy/C.Borel/12-1
12/Warriors Reward/J.Leparoux/12-1

Turf Sprint:  another Mele to the finishline.  The best horse in the field is Rose Catherine, in my opinion. I'm also liking Silver Timber, Bridgetown, Grand Adventure and California Flag.  Grand Adventure and California Flag will most likely be bet down from their current odds so don't expect to get them for 12-1.  I'm taking Stradivinsky as my longshot.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Chamberlain Bridge/J.Theriot/6-1
2/Central City/R.Albarado/12-1
3/Stradivinsky/J.Velazquez/10-1
4/Unzip Me/R.Bejarano/8-1
5/Silver Timber/J.Leparoux/4-1
6/Waveline/F.Dettori/20-1
7/Bridgetown/E.Trujillo/12-1
8/Quick Enough/P.Valenzuela/-1
9/Roase Catherine/J.Castellano/6-1
10/Due Date/G.Gomez/15-1
11/Grand Adventure/P.Husbands/12-1
12/California Flag/V.Espinoza/12-1
13/Tropic Storm/D.Flores/15-1
14/Canadian Ballet/K.Desormeaux/20-1
15AE/Yield Bogey/J.Samyn/50-1

Dirt Mile: Toss up between Gayego, Here comes Ben, Crown of Thorns and Morning Line.  I like Gayego and Morning line as my top 2.   Tisway is also in the hunt on this one as well.  For the Long Shot I'm going to go with Vinyard Haven I'd love to see him return to his 2yo form, but he just hasn't shown his brillance recently.
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Dakota Phone/J.Rosario/30-1
2/Tizway/R.Maragh/6-1
3/Aikenite/J.Velazquez/50-1
4/Mad Flatter/J.Court/12-1
5/Here Comes Ben/A.Solis/6-1
6/Gayego/F.Dettori/6-1
7/Thiskyhasnolimit/J.Theriot/10-1
8/Crown of Thorns/R.Bejarano/4-1
9/Hurricane Ike/C.Borel/20-1
10/Morning Line/J.Castellano/7-2
11/Mine That Bird/M.Smith/20-1
12/Vineyard Haven/A.Garcia/10-1
13/Cool Coal Man/J.Leparoux/20-1

Turf: This big story of this week has been the hard going of the turf course, at least from the European perspective.  With the drought, Churchill Down's has been watering the turf course every day to ensure it isn't concrete.  The course should be fair to both the American and Europeans, though probably not as firm as the American horses prefer and not as soft and the European horses like.   That said...there's be rampant rumors that Arc de Triomph winner Workforce might be scratched due to the firmness of the turf course.  We'll see if that happens.  Regardless if Workforce starts or not here's my picks: Telling, Debussy, Behkabad and Al Khali.  That's right I'm not picking Workforce, he's a good horse, but I don't think he's the best horse for the Turf this time out. 
Post positions/horse/jockey/odds are the following:
1/Champ Pegasus/J.Rosario/10-1
2/Winchester/C.Velazquez/8-1
3/Telling/J.Castellano/20-1
4/Debussy/W.Buick/10-1
5/AlKhali/J.Leparoux
6/Workforce/R.More
7/Behkabad/C.Lemaire/9-5
8/Dangerous Midge/F.Dettori/12-1

There it is folks.  my Breeder Cup picks... now go place your bets.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sadness and Loss: Farewell good friend, I'm glad to have known you Chuie

Two years ago, the girl was almost 7 months old when we had to euthanize our yellow lab Ella after she suffered a life threatening stroke. Here we are another child, another October, and another dog. This morning after serious deliberation John and I had our vet euthanize Chuie.  He was 10yrs old.  Chuie was our "special needs" dog.  He always required more attention than Ella, he had separation anxiety - such that he'd break out of his airline approved kennel during the day, he ate my favorite couch and love seat after escaping one day. He ate my roommate from hell's 400.00 pair of shoes. He ate my well worn Uggs - right before Ophra declared they were the best thing on earth and caused a run on them in the store and it took me 4 years to replace them!

Chuie and Ella - peas in a pod.
After extensive "boot camp" Chuie turned into a great dog.  He would walk off leash, listen to voice commands. He'd do anything to please us for some love.  He made grumble sounds when you hugged him. When he'd get excited and would bark - he made the wroo-wraa-wroo sound, that made him sound like Chewbacca.  As much as we'd like to claim we named him after Chewbacca - we can't.  We rescued him and his name was Pickachu - after the pokemon cartoon character.  So we shortened it to Chuie.


We thought we were going to lose Chuie 3 years ago when he suddenly became so ill he spent a night in the emergency vet for fluids. After many blood draws and tests, our vet discovered he was diabetic.  Out of the blue our "special needs" dog became very special needs.  We had to take blood glucose readings two times a day and administer insulin.  It took a while for us to find the right formula but we eventually fixed it and it kept him alive and happy.


Though after Ella's passing Chuie started to deteriorate. He just wasn't the same dog without Ella. His diabetes became harder to control.  He'd have good days, he'd have bad days.  On the good days he'd find a way to sneak out of the yard and take himself for a walk around the neighborhood.  On the bad days he couldn't last a whole day in the kennel without an accident while we were at work.  Hunger always drove Chuie, especially with the diabetes, he'd try to open doors to get at food, we couldn't leave things on the counter because he'd pull it down and eat it.  One time he ate a whole stick of butter.  He's eaten loves of bread too. He's been caught taking steak off the counter.  He's also been known to steal tomatoes straight off the vine, eat kale and collard greens off the stem out in the garden. I could never figure out why my tomatoes never ripened, when the were always so close.  Something kept stealing them, a raccoon I figured but I found out one early morning it was Chuie!


So, it shouldn't have been a surprise when two Saturdays ago, the chow hound that Chuie is, found and ate a 1lb bar or dark chocolate.  I really didn't think he'd make it.  All that sugar coursing through him, as well as the chocolate didn't make for the best combination for his diabetes.  He became extremely sick and our house smelled like hot coco mixed with bile - not a pleasant smell...I don't know when I'll ever be able to eat or smell chocolate again.

snoozing with John
Eventually he began to recover from his bender.  By last Tuesday - he was his old self again.  He was bouncing up and down, demanding his food, demanding to go out.  He was interactive.  Then suddenly this past Saturday - he started to slow down.  He didn't eat all his food.  So we put bacon fat in his next meal and he at that willingly.  On Sunday he only ate once.  His blood sugar was sky high, even with his insulin.  By Monday - he wouldn't eat or drink water and he needed help to get out of his bed so he could go out side to go to the bathroom. The realization sunk in yesterday afternoon that it was probably time.

A girl and her dog
So John and I had a long talk about Chuie.  Of course we wanted more time with him - but at what cost? How would making him comfortable bring value to the remainder of his life while he starves to death because he won't eat?  So we made the decision, as hard as it was for us, we know it was in the best interest of Chuie.  Coming to this decision was harder with Chuie, than it was with Ella. I'm not exactly sure why.

family fun!
Besides making the decision to let Chuie go, the hardest thing will be trying to explain to the girl that Chuie is gone.  How do you explain to a 2.5 year old their beloved dog is gone, died, won't be coming back, is in heaven?  How does a 2.5 year old grasp the concept of death?  John and I will do our best to explain it to her. I'm sure for the next week she'll ask about Chuie.  Where is he? Where did Chuie go?  Is Chuie still sick? Will Chuie get better, will Chuie come back?  She'll probably always remember Chuie, but will soon forget that he's gone.  Life and death.  It's all a circle.  Everything that lives eventually dies, even though we don't want it, it happens.  We'll figure out how to get through this as a family.

I love Chuie mommy
This morning we told the girl to give Chuie and big hug and a kiss, then we loaded  up the kids in my car and I took them to day care, while John got Chuie ready and loaded him into the truck.  We caravaned to the vet.  Dr. V met us as we brought Chuie in and we discussed all the options.  She felt we were making the right decision, especially since Chuie wasn't eating or drinking.  Our Vet and her staff took us back to an exam room, and helped us make Chuie comfortable. He laid down, and put his head down on the blanket - the old man seemed tired and weary of life.  He was ready to go, he only needed our permission. Dr V administrated the drug and Chuie's breathing slowed and he peacefully drifted away.  He's now playing with Ella in the summer-land of doggie heaven.  He will be cremated and we'll bury him in the back yard with Ella's remains.


The question now is when will we get another dog?  I'm already to begin the search for a new dog.  I know it will take time to find another labrador to rescue who's 3years old, good with kids under 2, who's active, and likes to run and retrieve.  I'm not sure how long I'll be able to last without a dog in the house but it will probably be a while given our criteria, and its probably best to wait to ensure we can incorporate a new dog into our life and home.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rockin' Green Give Away

22 people entered into my Rockin' Green Give Away.  The random  generator at Random.org picked #22 as the winner and that is Jessica Blood.

Jessica congratulations! 
 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

P90X week 6 done; Week 7 Started

Do you know what that means?????   Mama's got a new pair of shoes! When I made a commitment to myself 6 weeks ago I gave myself a little extra incentive to push play and Bring It - a brand new pair of Wave Creation 11 running shoes.  Why running shoes? Well as I've gotten older, I've discovered I love to get out and run.  I love being outside. I love the way I feel during and after a run.  And nothing raises my low resting heart rate like running the HILLS around my house.

Sorry, Tony - no matter how hard I Bring It during Cardio X, or Kempo X - I just can't get my Heart Rate above 120bmp...and I'm working my ass off, I'm sweating buckets and breathing hard, unable to hold a conversation.  Now, when I do Plyo X, I can get my HR super high, I can actually get it into VO2Max range - but I have yet to get through a whole Plyo X session, I'm working up to it. And the point of the cardio sessions are to burn fat, which I have a hard time doing if I'm up in the 165bpm - 185bmp range or below 130bpm for the work out.  I guess having a low resting heart rate and all that distance swimming I did through High School and College makes me have to work that much harder to really get into the fat burning range.

So my new trainers came last week. And I took them out for their first spin on my Kempo X day.  It felt awesome getting out and hitting the pavement.. Since this was only my second time back hitting the pavement in over a year I took it slow, and ran about 3miles in 45mins, and averaged a 135bpm for the whole run.  Burning fat, breaking in new shoes, and getting my running legs under me.  I can't wait til the boy can sit up un-assisted and we get a Cougar 2 Chariot, so I can take both the girl and the boy running!  That's 20lbs for the chariot, 20lbs of boy and 25lbs of girl! Running with both kids in hills around my neighborhood is Bringing it.

So far 7 weeks into P90X (Classic) I've lost l3 lbs! The size 16 pants/jeans/shorts I fit into after delivering my son 6 months ago are falling off!!!! I don't need to unbutton them - they're like sweatpants that I can just pull on! Time to dig into my closet and dresser to see if the size 14's I've got fit.  I'll be honest I haven't taken a before picture - b/c I can't stand how I look right now - When I started I was the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  Two back to back pregnancies can do that - especially if you haven't lost the pregnancy weight from the first kid, when you get pregnant with the second.  Now 7 weeks into P90X I've lost all the pregnancy weight I gained with the boy, plus a little extra! Now I just need to loose another 17lbs to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight before I had the girl. And then I only have another 30lbs or so to loose to get to my ideal weight, as established by my doctor.

I'm giving myself 1 year to bring all this weight off.  I'd like to drop 2lbs/week - but I realize that's not going to happen every week, because as I get further down the P90X cycle I'm going to start building muscle and muscle weighs more than fat.  And more muscle means a greater ability to burn more fat.

The first 6 weeks were not a breeze.  Every day I showed up and Tony kicked my butt.  I brought it...well accept during week 4, when I got rolled by a migraine that kept me non-functional for about 4 days.  I shook it off the best I could, then started week 5.  In the 6 weeks, the hardest work outs are PlyoX (which I'm not ready for - I could barely get through 20mins week 1, so opted for Cardio X for the remainder of this 90-day excursion) and Ab Ripper X..  PlyoX is hard,  because its hard, and I was out of shape after being pregnant for 9 months.  The most I could do while pregnant was walk - anything more and my boy would ensure I got dizzy and nauseated if I pushed it too far.  Walking is great and all but it just doesn't do it for me.

Now Ab Ripper X is my arch nemesis. Do you want to know why?  Try being pregnant and have a C-Section. Your abs are shot.  They've been pulled apart so your Doctor can deliver your baby.  My Abs are no where near the strength they should be. So I do what I can, and modify the rest.  A lot of the time I'm doing crunches but I'm Bringing It the best way I know how.  I think I can maybe do 1/2 the moves.  Here's what I can do, in and outs, bicycles, crunchy frog, scissors, tilt rock and raise, heels to heaven, oblique v-ups, and mason twists.  On each of those I can get between 15-20 reps in on all of them and I'm slowly building to 25 on each of them.. The rest of the Ab Ripper moves are non-existent give my poor, weak little abs...but I'll get there.  Just Like I'll eventually get through PlyoX too.

Overall the biggest challenge I face with P90X is finding the time, between working full time, nursing the 6 month old boy, spending time with my girl and John, and trying to balance getting a healthy dinner on the table, getting the kids stuff ready for the next day, staying on top of cloth diapers in the wash, before falling into bed exhausted from the day.  So I fit in a work out during my lunch hour -if I can.  I'll be honest - there are some days I'm just not able to squeeze in a P90X - So I take that day call it a wash, but I don't let that day stop me! I get up the next day and make sure I find the time to Bring It and I press play.

If I can find the time to Bring It, can you Bring it as well?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who Says Customer Service is dead? Its Rockin'!

In August, I mentioned that we recently switched laundry soap.  This change was driven initially by cost. Our old laundry soap brand "C" cost $.20/load and the laundry soap we switched too Rockin' Green, cost $.13/load.

Now saving money is always a good thing.  Saving money on a product that works is even better, IMO!  However, the icing on the cake of savings is the customer service Rockin' Green provides its customers. I haven't received customer service like what Rockin' Green served up for me since I left Japan back in 1999!  Kim and her staff worked tirelessly to help me figure out the right Rockin' Green for washing my diapers and keeping my kids bums baby butt soft!

How did Rockin' Green do this?  Well, first things first.  Rockin' Green comes in three formulas: Soft Rock, Classic Rock, and Hard Rock.  Each is designed for a specific type of water.  So if you have soft water or have really sensitive skin Soft Rock is for you. If you have regular city water or moderate hard water Classic Rock is your formula.  And if you have hard water Hard Rock is for you.  Rockin' Green Classic and Hard Rock also come in scents that make doing laundry "scent"sational! Rockin' Green even has a water hardness map on their site to help you figure out what type of water you have so you can buy the right formula!  Here's the map they've got on their website - very helpful!

So, How did Kim and the Rockin' Green team win my unbridled loyalty?  When we switched from brand "C" I followed the directions for Rocking a Soak  with Classic Rock Bare Naked Babies (no scent) to strip my diapers and washed out the ickies, and the stinkies left behind by brand "C".  The Journey with Rockin' Green began with a bang!  Within the first two diaper changes the girl ended up with a horrendous rash, the boy on the other hand had no problems.  So, into 'sposies the girl went, and I contacted Kim via email for help.  She gave me some tips and pointers and I began again.  I tried everything Kim recommended - and initially I wasn't successful.

Finally I stripped all of the girl's diapers with dawn and lots of HOT Water. And Kim sent me some Soft Rock. Low and behold Soft Rock was the key for my little girl's sensitive bottom.  Kim and the Rockin' Green team are now replacing my bags of Classic Rock Bare Naked Babies for Soft Rock.  Through this entire process, which took me about 6 weeks to figure out, Kim responded quickly to my emails offered suggestions, and provided me loads of samples to try to figure out what formula would work for me.

It so nice to see a company that is concerned about their customers, as well as make a quality product, while making money at the same time.

I'm going to give away one Rockin' Bundle of Rockin' Green because I had such a great experience with Kim and the Rockin' Green team and because the product is amazing - it got out gentian violet. Since I just have to share this product, I'll be sponsoring this give away.  I haven't asked Kim or the Rockin' Green for product to give away, nor has Rockin' Green asked for this review.  This is me sharing a great product with others.  Since I'm a working mom, and don't have oodles of time here's what you need to do to enter: follow my blog via google friends and post a comment at the bottom of the post stating why you love Rockin' Green!  I'll be using a random generator to pick the winner.  The contest will be open until 1 October - so share with all your friends! I'll pick the winner on Saturday 2 October!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's for Dinner? Cilantro Lime Shrimp and Sausage

Weekly meal planning is how I stay sane and keep everyone fed during the work week.  We don't always do the best job meal planning from week to week but when we do - dinner is super easy because we're not trying to figure out what we're going to make while the girl is telling us she's hungry!  And our dinners are at least 4 star worthy!

So last night Cilantro Lime Shrimp and Sausage was on the menu!  This is a modified Weight Watchers recipe - that has more meat in it to satisfy John!  And you don't hear me or the girl complaining...as for the boy - he doesn't have any teeth - yet, so he just gets mama's milk.

So here's what you need:
2 limes
cumin
ground giner
crushed garlic
olive oil
cilantro
1Lb precooked shrimp
1Lb sausage of your choice


Step 1: cook sausage in the oven at 350.  This cuts down prep time and helps get dinner on the table much quicker.  I threw the sausage in when I got home from work, then I went and picked up the kids from daycare.  By the time we got home, got everyone in the house and unpacked the kids bags - the sausage was done so I just turned off the oven and left the sausage there until I needed it.


Step 2: squeeze the juice of 1 lime into a bowl

Step 3: Garlic!

Add as much or as little garlic as you desire!  I love garlic as does every one else in this house so I put in a generous dollop of the crush garlic from Trader Joes. (I'm a fan of easy prep!)
 

 Step 4:  zest the second lime then juice it!




Step 5: Add cumin, powdered ginger (you can use real ginger if you have it - it seems I never do when we make this!), salt, and olive oil. 


Here's what all that looks like when you mix it in with the lime juice, lime zest and the garlic!


Step 6: Time to chop up and add the cilantro.  This is one of my favorite herbs.  Its right up there with sage, mint and rosemary! We even grow it in our garden!



Step 7: Its time for the Shrimp to bathe in this lovely and tasty marinade!  I used cooked shrimp so it wouldn't become ceviche - that's not what we're going for here!


Stir in the shrimp, and then pop it in the refrigerator until you're ready to toss it together with the sausage in a saute pan.

Step 8: pull the sausage out of the oven and transfer to a cutting board so you can cut it up into little disks - makes it easier for little fingers to sneak nibbles while mom's back is turned!



As I was warming up the saute pan to toss the sausage and the shrimp together the girl snatched several bites!

Step 9: Combine the shrimp (marinade too!) and the sausage into as saute pan to heat up.

First minute in the pan

After about 10mins!

Close up! Yum!

Step 10: Serve!  Last night I served this over pasta.  I think rice would actually complement this better though. So, next time I'll sever it over rice and see how it is!  We had sauted green beans as our vegetable - which you can never go wrong with.

Usually I make enough so I have enough for lunch the next day.  Saves money, as I won't be buying lunch and ensures a healthy lunch!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I want to be a cowboy

When you watch your children, and by watch I mean pay attention to their interest and actions are you reminded of your own childhood?

This past weekend, as I was putting diapers in the launder for a wash I spied the girl out of the corner of my eye pretending to ride a horse, using a clothes hanger as her horse.  She yelled giddy'up horsey!  And proceeded to gallop her horse around the basement, and as she did this memories of my own childhood crystallized in my mind.

My grandmother, Mary Lou -made me my own horsey out of an old broom stick and a tube sock stuffed with batting. It had eyes, nose, ears, a mane, and a bridle.  Oh, how I loved that horsey.  And I remember fighting over it with my cousin Jim to use it when I visited the farm.  I rode that horsey all around the farm using my imagination.  We won olympic medals in dressage, and the 3-day event.  We won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont -  my horsey was faster than Secretariat! Memories.

So I asked the girl if she'd like her own horsey. She said YES! We took a tube sock and stuffed it with plastic shopping bags because that's all we had to stuff the sock.  Then I attached the horsey's head to the little broom the girl got last summer to sweep like daddy.  Then we sat down and made a nose, eyes, ears and a mane with a permanent marker.  The girl promptly named her horsey "Neigh".

"Neigh"

Now the girl has her own style - she's got her own ideas about what a cowboy is or isn't.  She's placing her personal style cowboy. She's actually a cowboy who rides horses and hunts for dinosaur bones!

 I've got the best cowboy hat!

I'm a cowboy with a flair for style! 
(She's wearing her T-Rex Shirt from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History)

After a long day on the range hunting dinosaur bones!


I love that her imagination is taking hold of everyday house hold items and she's developing it in her play.  The hat is mine, but I haven't been allowed to wear it since she discovered it.  It is now her cowboy hat!


Here the girl is getting ready for a ride out on the range!  I'm hoping its enjoyable, even though its going to be hard work!

Boy, that Bronco sure is feisty!

Yehaw!  Giddy Up! Neigh!

What I find amazing in all of this, is I did the same thing!  There must be something genetic that is making her Horse crazy!  Especially, since she's thinking up this play all on her own.  I'll continue to encourage it, because it keeps her away from Disney princesses that set a bad example for little girls: if your pretty enough, a handsome man will sweep you off your feet and take care of you the rest of your life...well life isn't like that.

So keep on being a cowboy! Keep building an interest in horses and dinosaurs. And continue to use your imagination and build your own world of play little girl, enjoy the outside, enjoy the inside and cultivate your mind.  The world is yours to imagine!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do I Remember...

Where were you?  What were you doing?  Do you remember where you were? Many people are asking and answering those questions today as we mark nine years since the United States was attacked in the worst act of violence since Pearl Harbor.

I don't talk about that day, and I won't if you ask me.  Someday I will sit down and tell the girl and boy about it because they will need to know about it.  The rest of you who lived through it, don't need to hear me tell you about my day, and for that matter I don't need to hear about your day either.  It was hard enough as it was, getting through it myself  - I don't need your baggage, I've got enough of my own to sort through. 

On this day, nine years ago, I worked at the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), which at that time was part of the Department of Health and Human Services.  I was responsible for the logistics of deploying the National Medical Response Teams (NMRT).  There are three kinds of these teams Weapons of Mass Destruction(NMRT-WMD), Disaster Medical Response Teams (DMAT) and Disaster Mortuary Teams (DMORT). 

I walked to work like any normal day, as I lived only a block from my office - I had planned to go home for lunch.  I was at my desk at 730am and began my monthly update of my emergency response check list for activating the logistics contracts I helped the government negotiate with Emory Expedite, FedEx Custom Critical, and UPS.

Sometime after 8am, my boss charged into the office with his hair on fire and told me to get my ass in to the Emergency Coordination Center.  "Bring your book - we're going to need it.  This is the NO SHIT REAL DEAL."   Ok. I grab my stuff and head into the ECC, wondering what's going on.  Only to arrive and see the entire OEP Staff standing stock still staring at the TV listening to Matt Lauer and Katie Couric discuss reports of an airplane crashing into the tower one of the twin towers.

A pit drops out of my stomach, this isn't good.  As we begin to assemble to get down to work figuring out what we need to do next, the second plane flies into the tower two.  This isn't a fucking accident, its terrorism - I remember saying this to my co-worker.  He's in shock just like everybody else - "Naw, couldn't be, no way man."  he says.  "Dude, one is an accident, two is deliberate." I reply.  

Minutes tick by - I'm not really sure how long it was before we had our initial operations brief.  But in that brief we were told there's at least 2 more planes, fighter aircraft have been scrambled and Air Traffic Control out at Herndon is bringing everything in US Airspace down, regardless of final destination.  The staff jumped in to action, contacting teams, finding out who's available, and who's not. We're lining up our response team to go to one site, the World Trade Center.

Then the news the Pentagon has been hit comes through. What the fuck - the Pentagon?! Half the team working in the ECC breaks off to assist first responders there.  As they are mobilizing, we receive confirmation there is a fourth plane - and we don't know where it is. Its not even 10am yet and this day's gone to hell in a hand basket.

Time stood still. The cell network was down, the landlines were jammed, and the internet wasn't high speed any more. If some one had a working cell phone - that was the phone we used to coordinate with the teams.  Chaos.

I found myself opening my checklist, that I recently updated that morning, and began calling Emery Expedite, FedEx Custom Critical, and UPS to see which one could help me move the NMRT, DMAT, and DMORTs  from the west coast to the east coast.  I was able to get 3 lear jets at the ready, with pilots on standby -waiting for thumbs up to launch.  The problem was I had 20 people to move from all over the western US to the East Coast, and airspace was closed. I did have in my back pocket a FAA approved call sign used specifically for this type of incident. I just needed to get to the right person to get approval to use it to move those critical personnel.

By the time I had my 3 lear jets waiting for the word go.  The fourth plane had crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and 1/2 the team that had gone to the Pentagon split off, and began heading to the farmers field in Pennsylvania and I began my efforts to get to the right person who could accept my call sign, and give my 3 lear jets the opportunity to launch to pick up those critical personnel so OEP could mount an appropriate response to this disaster.

It took me about 6 hours to finally get the right  phone number to the right person at the FAA Herndon Center, for me to call so I could get clearance to launch those 3 lear jets.  It ended up being a Colonel, USAF - who was working side by side with the regular FAA guys.  I gave him my call sign, the number of planes, their tail numbers, the pilots specifics, and the itinerary for each of the planes, and the number of passengers that would be embarking at each stop.  The first plane was airborne by 6pm est that evening.  The other two launched an hour later. I had to maintain hourly contact with the operator of the lear jets and Colonel to follow progress of these aircraft, and at times we had to change routes, and final destinations due to changes in final deployment locations. 

During all of this chaos, as the head logistican for OEP I was responsible for feeding everyone.  I called around and one local eatery made up soup, sandwiches, roasted chicken and pasta for the team, they also donated all the food.  The eatery manager wouldn't let us pay, because we were responding to what was going on. Some how I was able to find the time to get all this food delivered, and set out for my co-workers so they could eat.

My day ended at 540am on 12 September, when I made it home to fall into bed for a few hours of sleep before getting back up and going back to work to continue working on moving people and supplies to support the recovery response at the three sites, New York, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. I remember checking my voice mail, and having a message from my parents.  I think it was a week or two before I even had a chance to talk with them.

For most of America September 11, 2001 was one day, for me and the other emergency responders it was more than one day, it became a week, then a month, then 3, and 4 months of non stop work, no days off, 12 hour shifts. It blurred together.  The photographs from the sites that I saw as part of the federal investigation were horrific - things you'd never want to see, but once you see them they're always there.  So, I hope you'll understand next year, and every subsequent year why I don't want to talk about where I was, what I remember about September 11, 2001.

I've been to the chapel in the Pentagon, and I've seen the burn marks on the B-ring, but I have yet to actually go to the memorial site.  I'm not sure if I every will, I'm not even sure if I can.  At some point I know I will have to go.  I'll have to take the girl and the boy so they can understand the history of that day, but until then don't ask me about that day, don't ask me to talk about it, don't ask me to go with you to a memorial site. I still see those images you never saw on national TV, they still haunt me, and probably always will.

Like Pearl Harbor, this day will forever be a scar upon the history of the Republic of the United States.  The costs of this day, have yet to be counted.  Each day the members of our Military serve their call to duty to defend the Constitution, our Republic, and each and every one of us.  Remember them along with the men, women and children who lost their lives in one act of hatred, keep them in your prayers.

Thanks to all the men and women who serve, be they military, police or firemen - you have calling that few are capable of answering.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gluten Free High Fiber Bread

If you're gluten free like me, you long for a taste of wonderful warm bread straight from the oven. And in that longing you've tried numerous recipes to make your own bread that doesn't taste like cardboard.  Go ahead and raise your hand!  There are several wonderful blogs out there with great gf bread recipes; however the best one I've found is from glutenfreegreenmommy.blogspot.com

I did modify Kim's recipe to fit my taste buds, which I think you've got to do if you want to find the right gf bread for you.  The first time I tried the recipe I used 1c of Living Without's High Fiber Blend and 1c of brown rice flour - but something was missing.  So I continued to experiment.  Next up I use garbanzo bean flour instead of the brown rice flour, I love the flavor but it can be a bit heavy.  So the next time around I used 1c of millet and OMG! The best GF BREAD I've had since going GF!  Even the girl will gobble this up and John thinks its my best tasting bread - even though it doesn't taste like wheat flour.  I'm using a breadman bread machine on the GF Cycle.

Without further ado - here it is!

Gretchen's GF High Fiber Bread
3 eggs
1tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4c canola oil
1&1/3c hemp milk
1Tbs & 1 tsp agave nectar
3Tbs brown sugar
1c High Fiber blend*
1c millet flour
1/2c tapioca flour
1/2c potato starch
3tsp xanthum gum
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
2 packages of Red Star dry active yeast

*High Fiber blend recipe: 1c sorghum flour, 1/2c teff flour, 1/2c millet, 1/2c tapioca flour, 1/2c potato starch (make in advance and store in an air-tight container)

Step 1: Proof yeast.  I heat the 1 & 1/3c of hemp milk in the microwave for about 1 minute - you want the milk to be a little warmer than body temperature.  Then I add some sugar, a tablespoon or so, to the milk and dissolve it.  I let it sit for about 5 minutes to make sure its not too hot - then I add the 2 packets of yeast and set it on the back of the stove & I turn on the oven to provide consistent heat.  I've found my gf breads rise better when I proof the yeast and I get a really good yeast flavor in the bread.

I just added the yeast to the hemp milk

The yeast beginning to proof

oh...I see bubbles!

Well look at that!

Step 2: Lightly beat eggs.  Add eggs, apple cider vinegar, canola oil, agave nectar and brown sugar directly into the bread machine pan.  Make sure you've got the paddle in the bottom!  I've forgotten it a couple of times - TPITA!


Step 3:
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, makings sure the flours, xantham gum and salt are blended well.

Step 4: Add proofed yeast to the bread machine pan, then add in flour. (don't forget to turn off the oven if you were using it to provide a warm location to proof your yeast)

Now its ready to dive into the mix!

Step 5: Plug bread machine pan into the machine and press start.  On the breadman I'm using the GF cycle for 1.5lb loaf on medium color.  You will want to use a spatula during the mixing cycle to ensure all the flour is incorporated into the bread while the machine is mixing.  You can also add flax seeds, sunflower seeds, or any nuts your interested in adding at this point.  Some people like to remove the paddle after the bread is done mixing - but I'm too lazy to do that.  To each their own.

In the mix

Beginning to rise!

Fully risen bread - ready for baking!

Ohhhh its done!!!

 Now you have to wait til the bread is done.  When it is done remove it form the loaf pan and eat after its cool - if you can wait that long. The smell is amazing!  And the taste and texture is like taking a bite into a fresh baked slice of bread from the bakery down the street - only it came out of your bread machine (or oven)!

Experiment with this recipe as I have done - you may find you like to use different oil, a different type of milk, or egg substitutes.  Find the GF bread you've always been looking for.  The key to this recipe is the millet flour, the hemp milk and agave nectar.  Now if I could only figure out how to make a sourdough - I may play with this and make a starter from it...but I'm not that adventurous yet with my GF baking!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Devestation

I didn't think it could happen to me, but it did.  A nursing strike. Last Saturday, the boy refused to nurse.  Every time I tried he screamed in pain.  I was devastated as I had to haul out the pump to express milk so he could eat. I didn't want to go there.  I've already been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, don't want to do it again.  Now I would never take away the 14months of love I expressed for the girl on a daily basis - but to go back to that after successfully nursing the boy for 4months - had me crying as I pumped.  I would do anything for my kids, but staring down that long road I'd already traveled terrified me.  Like Dorthy traveling through the forest to get to OZ. It was dark, foreboding, filled with feelings of inadequacy, and failure.  I couldn't fail the boy, as I had failed the girl.  I couldn't stomach failing at breastfeeding again.  This is the perspective of an un-rational woman, who is functioning outside reality, scaring up imagined realities that don't exist.  The refusal of your child to breastfeed is devastating - even if its only a strike.  The reality is that I didn't fail the girl - she received expressed breast milk for the first 14mths of her life; and I'm not failing the boy either - he's still nursing.  We finally figured out his reflux was bothering him, making it painful to nurse.

As a society we place a lot of responsibility on women, mothers to choose the best for her child. Breast is Best! Breast feeding is normal, natural!  We've set the bar high, not only for ourselves but for other women as well. What makes it hard are the women who run around and boast of the ease they've had breastfeeding.The comments such as: "I didn't have a problems, I don't understand why you are.  Breastfeeding is natural, its easy."   Ok, I'll give you the point that breastfeeding is easier - in that I don't have to sterilize anything, don't need to make up a bottle or buy anything to give my baby food.  But let's have an honest conversation.  Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I've done! It requires cooperation from two individuals to make it work.  You just don't put the baby to the breast and tada he nurses.  Well, at least I don't. It's a learned process for both mother and child.  It's amazing when it works they way Mother Nature intended.  It's devastating  - at least for me - when it doesn't.

I'm fortunate.  I've got a wonderful support network of women who have helped me through my breastfeeding journeys.  My midwives, my lactation consultant, the ladies at the "barn", my eping friends, and the women at the Old Town Alexandria La Leche League.  I couldn't have survived the journey without them.  They supported me through months of exclusively pumping for the girl, and they cheered when the boy first latched and nursed immediately after delivery.  They also supported me through the boy's nursing strike - giving me encouragement, and advice.  I hope we don't go through any more nursing strikes in our nursing career - but it's always a possibility.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Saving $$$

So Thursday, the 28th of July, I re-negotiated our cable bill.  This is an effort to help us spend our hard earned money wisely.  Compared to John, I don't keep an eye out for bargains like he does. Shellie always did say I have champagne taste on a beer budget (that's a PBR budget not a GF beer!)   But I was on the ball that day.  I received an email from Cox Communications touting their newest cable-internet rates.  We'd recently paid our cable bill and what Cox was advertising could save us money.   So, I called them up and secured a lower rate saving us $21.98 a month for the next 2 years. After those 2 years the price will go up - but I'm going to be on the look out for another opportunity to get another good rate once those 2 years are up.

So, Now I'm looking for other ways to save $$$!

Now, we use cloth diapers with the kids. We're not doing it to save the environment but to keep the kids bums from wallowing in a chemically designed pad to absorb pee and avoid spending $$ on disposables.  My mom used cloth- it was good enough for me- its good enough for the kids.  And really with all the laundry we do - we're probably not "saving" the environment with all the water we use to wash diapers. But by using cloth diapers we're saving $$$ because we're  re-using the diapers the girl used with the boy.  Though we did need to replace several of our covers recently - but they should get us through until both kids are potty trained.

Recently we switched laundry soap/detergent.  We were using a cloth diaper soap that was $.20/load and now we're using a cloth diaper soap that is $.13/load.  What's amazing is the diapers are now cleaner, they don't stink as much when dirty (the stink is disappearing the more washes the diapers get in the new soap), and we've stopped using bleach - which degrades the diaper and we're running less wash and rinse cycles.

One thing I'm not keen to skimp on is organic fruits and veggies.  If we can figure a way to buy organic fruits and veggies I'm all for it.  One thing we did this year is we joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) that only grows organic produce.  It's been awesome.  Every week we pick up our veggies and they are farm fresh, and taste amazing.  Store bought just doesn't compare.  We'll join the same CSA next year - the fruit and veggies are really good and the cost of $27/week for the entire summer season is a great buy considering all the food we get.  We have a pick up today, and we still have TONS of tomatoes and corn left from last week, and we've been eating the stuff like mad!

I really wish we could afford to buy all our meats as free-range hormone free and antibiotic free. But, we really can't - so occasionally we splurge - but it isn't often. So, we buy antibiotic/hormone free chicken when we can find it.  The same goes for pork and beef too. Turkey thighs and cutlets are a part of our regular rotation, and we buy those at WFM, because its the only place that sells them on a weekly basis, and the cost is reasonable for WFM.   It's nice that COSTCO is now starting to carry organics and some of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free.

So, now I'm on the hunt to figure out ways to save...and I think I found a way to eliminate my paper towel addiction.  It's called Skoy Cloth  - 1 Skoy Cloth replaces a roll of paper towels.  Here's the great thing about them, when it's dirty - you throw it in with your laundry and they are also compostable once you've used up their life expectancy.  I haven't tried them yet - but I'm planning on getting some once we exhaust our paper towel supply. Once I give it a try, I'll let you guys know how I like 'em and we'll see if it breaks my paper towel addiction.

What are you doing to try to save $$  in this economy? Any tips? Ideas?  How do you plan to buy gifts for this coming holiday season?  Are you making gifts or buying smaller/less expensive gifts?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Grillin' - Peaches and Pork

Its summer time. That means HOT & MUGGY weather here in the DC Metro area. And for many people summer time means meals made on the grill. However, for us grilling is a year round thing! We were grilling food during Snow-pocalypse & Snow-maggedon this past winter. BTW, I was not one of the masses wishing for summer during all that cold and snow - since winter is my favorite season! Ahhh, winter how I long for you - but I digress, back to grilling!

Right now Peaches are in season and they are cheap! So, I threw an idea to John when we were meal planning on Sunday. I told him I wanted to modify our usual pork and orange marmalade recipe, and use peaches and peach preserves and cook it all on the grill. All I can say is that was a DAMN GOOD MEAL!

Sorry - I don't have any pictures - didn't think to take any, as I was too busy trying to eat, and ensure the girl ate before she fell asleep in her high chair, while John was occupying the boy, who also was hungry & wanted his momma!

Here's the recipe I whipped up, that will become a permanent fixture in our summer time meals from now on.

Ingredients:
Pork chops (preferably  1-2" thick)
Fresh peaches
Peach Preserves
Apple Cider vinegar
Olive oil
agave nectar

Now, I'll be honest I'm not the measuring cup/spoon type of cook. That probably explains why I've only recently started to learn how to bake, as that requires precision measurements to pull off good baked goods!

So, here's what I did: In a cereal bowl I combined the peach preserves, the apple cider vinegar and olive oil & agave nectar. Initially I just had the preservers, vinegar and olive oil in the bowl - but I had put in too much vinegar and I needed to cut the tartness of the vinegar, but I didn't want to add more preserves so I added the agave a little bit at a time until the sauce wasn't over powered by the vinegar - but still tart.  I'm a taster, if you can't tell. We separated some of the marinade to baste the pork with while it on the grill, leaving the rest for topping the pork after it comes off the grill. Next John cut up the peaches, then he put the pork and peaches on the grill.  He basted the pork with the marinade.

Meanwhile, I worked on a quinoa side dish. If you haven't had quinoa, you need to go out buy some and begin adding this grain to your whole grain repertoire! This is considered to be an ancient grain and was cultivated by the Incas. Its high in fiber, it tastes amazing - it has a nutty flavor and amazing texture, but the most compelling reason to eat it, is it has the highest protein you can get in a non-meat food. It's a complete protein - meaning it has all 9 amino acids.  It's also gluten-free!  WHOOHOO!!! 

Ingredients:
Quinoa 3/4c
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)  1 can
dried cranberries
chopped raw almonds
salt, garlic powder, paprika, old bay & olive oil

Cooking quinoa is just like cooking rice 1:2 ratio. So how ever much quinoa you're making double the water.  I toasted the quinoa before cooking it over an open flame - this brings out a nuttier flavor.  Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then cover the pot and turn down to simmer. The quinoa will take about 30 minutes or so, about the same time as brown rice, depending on how much you're cooking. Once the quinoa was done, I moved it into a Pyrex bowl and added the garbanzo beans that I drained and rinsed. I then added the dried cranberries and chopped up almonds, enough to thoroughly mix throughout the quinoa and the garbanzo beans. Then I stirred in the olive oil, and began to add the seasonings to taste.

By the time I'd finished making the quinoa, John pulled the pork and peaches off the grill. We served the pork over top of the quinoa and drizzled the peach marinade, that we reserved, on top of the grilled pork and peaches.

As you can tell, we love to cook. Before the girl and the boy came along, one of our favorite things to do together is to make a 5-star gourmet meal! We'd finally gotten back in the habit right before the boy was born and last night was one of the first nights in a long while that we've had a chance to make a meal together, since the boy came home. I love cooking with John, its so much fun. And I'm bettin' that we could throw down a meal as good as any the Neely's could whip up, and we've got a smaller kitchen than they do!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Commitment to Myself

So...I've got some baby weight to lose, well maybe not some but a lot!  I also need to get in shape so I can start chasing around 2 kids and keep up with John.  It looks like I've got some work cut out for me.  I'd also like to be in shape for when we visit my parents for snowboarding in late winter-early spring.  I'd also like to be able to fit back into all my awesome work clothes.  I DO NOT WANT TO BUY ANY MORE NEW SUITS - they're to effing expensive!

I'm going to make a commitment to myself, to John, and the Kids.  I'm going to work out every day - beginning today.  I'm either going to get up at 5am and work out, or work out after the kids are down for the night.  So, that means my work out opportunities are 5am or after 10pm.  I don't like either of these options but options are what they are.

If I want to loos the baby weight, and get in shape - only this will help me lose the baby weight.  I'm not one of those women who can just modify my diet or go to weight watchers and lose weight.  I require muscle building and cardio to drop weight. Now - I've "hired" a personal trainer to help me get motivated and to kick my @ss! No, it's not John - though he will be joining me.  I found my personal trainer last year, when I was trying to loose the remaining baby weight i gained with the girl, right before I got pregnant with the boy.  All I can say is he kicks my @ss daily, when I show up.

Who is this mystery man?  He's Tony Horton, and I'm doing P90X.  I've been feeling like such crap lately and I only recently realized I'm going through Tony-Withdrawal.  I need my Tony fix.   So, I'm re-dedicating myself to dailies with Tony.  And I'm bringing John along for the ride.   We both need to get back in shape, because having two kids is a killer on staying in shape.  Its seems you never have the time, you're too tired, and you've got too much to do.  Yada, yada, yada...we all know the excuses. But we have to get it done.

So, I'm re-dedicating myself to a better life, for me, for John, and for the kids.  I'm going to get back on the exercising bandwagon. And I'm going to use an additional incentive: a new pair of running shoes! (Its always shoes isn't it!)  What a great incentive: a new pair of Mizuno wave creations!  But there's a catch.  I need to make it through a minimum of 6 weeks doing P90X before I can purchase those new Mizunos.  The nice thing about that is I'll have 6 weeks of P90X under my belt getting me in shape, and by the time those 6 weeks are up the weather around DC will start turning towards fall, which means great running weather.

The next time you see me face to face I'll have lost some of the baby weight. Maybe not all of it, but some will have been melted away and exchanged for Rock Hard Muscle.  Within the next year I'm going to be in the best shape I've ever been.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Supermom my @ss!

Who are these women that say you can have it all?  It's easy to balance the chaos of life.  These women have time to be wonderful wives who take care of their husbands.  They're magnificent mothers to their children.  They meet all their requirements at work without breaking a sweat.  Dinner's on the table by 6pm and it's a 5 course meal.  The laundry is done, the house is clean.  And sometime in the middle of all of this they find time to work-out, getting in shape for a triathlon or marathon and read several top best sellers!

I call bullshit!  These women must have help!  A cleaning lady, a nanny, a chef - someone must be helping them pull this off!  And it's not just their husbands.

I'm back to work full-time now and I'm trying to figure out how to balance everything!  Initially I was trying to get up, nurse the baby, work out, get ready for work, help John get the girl ready for daycare, have breakfast as a family and commute into the office..needless to say that's a lot to fit into a 2 hours before work!  When the boy's night wakings became hourly the working out feel to the wayside and I'm struggling to get myself out of bed - let along the girl!

So, now we're trying to set a morning groove - but I really think we need to get up earlier - but it seems more and more we're going to bed later and getting up earlier.  I just don't know how we're going to balance this all out!  Some days I feel like I'm burning the candle at both ends and my body feels like it's taking a beating!

Not enough sleep, not enough exercise, too much time sitting on my butt at work and at home isn't going to make this any easier.  How do I find time to take care of me so I can take care of my kids and my husband?  I'm exhausted by 9pm and still have 2 more hours to go, finishing laundry, packing lunch, making bottles of expressed breast milk for t boy, preparing juice and milk for the girl, clean-up of dinner dishes!  I'm sure John's feeling the same way, because a lot of the time he's the one doing all of this while I'm feeding the boy.

The house is a disaster - I've decided to bring the cleaning lady back - at least it will get a good cleaning two times a month and to me that is worth the cost because I hate to clean.  And if I'm gonna' clean its got to be white glove clean - I can't half-ass it.  It would take an entire Saturday to just get 1-2 rooms done to that standard.  And I don't want to be spending what free time I have cleaning when I could be spending it with the kids and John.

I also need to purge the office -yet again. Didn't I just do that?  I need to purge clothes, shoes, books and crap we don't need or use.  Actually, I have the urge to burn everything in the house we don't use on a regular basis, guess its actually time to "clean sweep" the whole house.  When can I find time to do this?!? I'm going to have to call in my professional organizer pretty soon to help with the de-cluttering of the house before it explodes with crap!

Thankfully I no longer have to try to balance school any more too!  Somehow I managed to finish my last masters class for my masters program during the last trimester of my pregnancy, while on bed-rest, and having the baby.  I graduated!  I have a masters degree! There's something those wonder women didn't do!  Work full time, have two kids and have a decent relationship with their husbands.  Score: Wonder Women: Gazillion, Me: 1.

Eventually I'm going to have to figure this out.  I have to. I need to be able to be present when I'm with the girl and the boy.  I also need to be present with John.  I need to be present with myself.  If I'm not present it's not fair to the kids, John or me.  Life isn't about showing up, its about participating and sharing the experience with the people I love

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Free Ride

Time - its amazing what a little bit of time to yourself can do for you, especially when you're balancing the demands of two kids. Wow! I'd forgotten what it's like to have an hour or so without them.  On Saturday, 7 August, John and I had the opportunity to go for an afternoon bike ride - thanks to Grandma Minnie watching the boy and the girl.

We went out and enjoyed the afternoon.  This wasn't a hard ride - just something enjoyable, since neither of us are in the proper shape for a hard ride.  We tooled our bikes down to outskirts of Old Town Alexandria.  The sun was shining and it wasn't too hot.  It was just enjoyable.  Its amazing what a recharge getting outside and doing something for yourself and your relationship with your husband can do for both of you.  There's less stress, you get a chance to clear out the cobwebs and encourage those muscles you haven't used in a year or so to remember how to ride a bike!

If only we could do this every weekend. Ah Dreams...  Eventually, both kids will be able to join us for bike rides on the wonderful bike trails we have here in the DC metro area.  We'll just hook up the chariot and tow them along for the ride.  But that's going to be a while.  So, we'll just have to settle for the time we do get.  One things for sure, I love having the kids, and while I don't want them to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to the day they both can enjoy going for a bike ride with mom and dad.  The future holds so much promise.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Sun Valley Soul?

So,why is the title of my blog Sun Valley Soul?  Have you ever been somewhere and the moment your feet touch the ground you know you're home?  You could be under amazing amounts of stress but in that special place it all melts away? In my life, Idaho is that place for me and Sun Valley is the calm in the storm of life.

Every time I go home the closer I get to Boise I can feel the madness and chaos of life slipping away.  As the aircraft makes the final approach to the Boise airport a feeling of peace washes over me when I see the foothills and Bogus Basin.  The moment I'm on solid ground I can feel myself grounding and drawing nourishment from this sacred place.

Memories of childhood flood back.  My summer visits to Karl and Mary Lou's. Me and my cousin Jim helping Karl move irrigation pipe on the farm.  Going down to town to the laundromat with Mary Lou to do a week's worth of laundry.  Every afternoon picking up Jim and Carie to go to the pool for a summer swim with Mary Lou.  Frozen strawberry fights.  ROAD HOG!!!  I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time with Megan and Matt in Boise on my way out of town.

Idaho - this is home.  Moving around with my parents as a child and as an adult I never really thought I had a place to go back to.  But I realized I did when I returned from Okinawa to get my feet under me and figure out my next direction in life.  Idaho seeped into my soul, warmed me like a cup of hot chocolate, a good blanket and a roaring fire in the middle of a blizzard.

There's something magical about Idaho, and especially Sun Valley.  It calls to me.  The beautiful Wood River, Baldy, the Sawtooth Range to the north, the Boulder Mountains to the east, the aspen groves, Warm Springs - all nestled in that little valley, it's home.  Just thinking about it takes me there - a great peacefulness settles over me.

Payette does the same thing for me as well.  I don't get out to the gateway to Hell's Canyon country that often any more but when I do, peace washes over me crossing the singing bridge over the Payette River.  Some of my favorite memories linger from Christmas and Winter Solstice Celebrations.  Sitting at the dinner table with Karl and Mary Lou, cremated lamb chops, baked potatoes and salad spread before us. Singing the 12 Days of Christmas, sledding down the rolling hills of the farm as a young girl, Winter Solstice bonfire circles burning out of control at the Trail's - all memories that bring me home - to Idaho, even if I'm not physically there.

I may live in Northern Virginia, and I love my life here - but in my heart home will always be Idaho.  I'm just a Sun Valley Soul waiting for the next opportunity to go home to Idaho and feed my soul, drink in the mountains, rivers, aspen and high desert scrub.