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 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
ground giner
crushed garlic
olive oil
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".


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

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!