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Preview: Paved with Good Intentions

Paved with Good Intentions

The little trivialities that make up my life

Updated: 2017-12-11T01:01:07.785-08:00


Mommy Mondays: Holiday Reading


Both of my kids still do bedtime stories, and if we're being perfectly honest, I do too. Something about being curled up in bed and reading just seems like the perfect way to end the day.

And this time of year,  seasonal reading arms very appropriate.  I can't wait to get my hands on Hiddensee, Gregory Maguire's take on the nutcracker story.

Until then, here are some favorites we're sharing in our home!

For the little guys:
The Hanukah Bear -  I love this story of the best that wakes up from his hibernation and follows the scent of latkes. Because I would do the same thing.

The Night Before Christmas - It's a classic for a reason.  I mean, it gives us the iconic image of Santa.

Just Enough Is Plenty - A family in a Polish shtetle find a way to make their latkes stretch to feed the mysterious stranger who shows up on their doorstep the first night of Chanukah.

The Polar Express - On the cusp of believing? Take a ride on the Polar Express to the North Pole!

Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah - a good introduction to the Hanukkah celebration. Plus Clifford saves the day,  as usual.

For the slightly older:
The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screamed - I can't help it.  I love Lemony Snicket.

A Christmas Carol - the original Christmas ghost story. I still remember reading it in school!

A Little Princess- Technically not a Christmas story,  but since the Christmas scene is so magical, I think it counts.

For the kids at heart:
The Gift of the Magi - This introduced and sparked my love for O. Henry.  It's a classic Christmas story, so sweet, and bittersweet.

Matchless - I love the story of The Little Match Girl. Even though it makes me cry.  Gregory Maguire is wonderful at yakking classic stories and retelling them.  This is no different.  And the retelling still makes me cry.

Sunday Runday: Jingle Bell Run


My town has a Christmas parade.  It's supposed to be a pretty big deal.  Basketball was cancelled the day of the parade because people would have a hard time getting there.But we've never had a chance to see it, because it is always the same day as the Jingle Bell Run.  Every year I think about skipping the run, rolling out of bed, and going to the race.  And every year I think about the fact that we've been running this race since before Thatkid was born,  and I don't want to break the streak.And then we get there, and I remember why we return year after year after year.  It has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.We dressed up in our festive best and loaded the children in their wagon.As soon as we got there, Thatbaby spotted Santa.  Thatbaby is obsessed with Santa this year and couldn't wait to go say hi.The kidzone was, as usual,  filled with fun things for the boys, like cookie decorating, coloring,  and home depot projects.He also wanted to run the race this year. So we started the race together, with Thatkid running ahead and Thatboy trailing behind with the wagon and Thatdog.It didn't last long before he wanted back in the wagon, and Thatdog and I took off to catch up with Thatkid.As usual there were some great costumes.By the turnaround we were all back together again.Right before mile 3, Thatkid was ready to take off again and we made a final race to the finish.Then we turned around and headed back so we could run across the finish with Thatbaby.After the race Thatboy headed to the beer garden while the kids did some more coloring and ornament making.See?  Something for everyone.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips


We're very equal opportunity with holidays around here.  Partially because we're an interfaith family.  Partially because we live in an area with various cultures.So in addition to Halloween,  we also partake in Dia de Los Muertos festivities.  After participating in the Carrera de Los Muertos we headed over to Old Town San Diego,  where they go all out in celebration.Everywhere you turned there were calaveras and calacas, symbols of the holiday.There were all sorts of vendors, like Juanita's, who were handing out samples of their delicious soup and frozen hot chocolate.   We already love their Mexican hot chocolate and keep it in our pantry.There were stages with dancers and performances.  And we sat and watched for a while.They also had crafts for the kids.  The boys sat and made their own Day of the Dead masks!If your kids are like mine then you know that most outings like these are filled with requests for snacks.  Or maybe I'm just lucky.In any event,  my Mary Poppins bag always holds the answer and I throw some snacks in there. Pretzels, granola bars,  or homemade potato chips!Sour cream and onions are one of my favorite kinds of chips, they seem a step up from regular ole potato chips, but still kid friendly.  And really,  all it takes is a mandolin. Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips  (from Cooking Light) 1 large russet potato cut into 1/8 inch thick slices1 1/2 tsp dry ranch dressing mixArrange one third of potato slices on a large microwave safe plate.  Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the ranch dressing mix. Microwaved, covered, for 4 minutes.  Turn over and microwave for another 3 minutes until dried and crisp. Remove from plate and cool on a wire rack.  Repeat with remaining potatoes and ranch dressing mix. [...]

Mommy Mondays: Here We Come A Wassailing


Happy December!

Are your kids as excited about the holidays as mine are? December is the best with kids and we take full advantage.

Holiday music starts playing as soon as Thanksgiving ends.  And my children love to sing along. 

There's nothing that makes the season more magical to me than holiday music.  I have so many playlists, and make more each year!

With that in mind, here are my top 10 holiday songs for kids.  Or,  my kids' favorite holiday songs.

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Sunday Runday: OC Turkey Trot Gobble Wobble Kids Dash


This year Thatkid has been requesting a lot of races.  One of those races was the turkey trot he did last year.

The great thing about this turkey trot is that it has kids races,  divided by age.  Which means I didn't have to drag him through 5 miles.  Since there was a separate division for 2 and under I signed Thatbaby up to run too - his first actual race he would run himself!

We arrived early,  and it's a good thing we did,  because the race was much more crowded than last year with lines backed up trying to get in the parking lot.  The nice thing about doing a race near where we would spend Thanksgiving is that we missed all traffic getting there.

All the trouble getting in,  and the extra crowds meant that many of the racers started late,  which meant there were too many on the course to start the kids races on time.

We kept the kids occupied as best we could with the photo booth,  but even that lost its Allie and they got antsy.

Finally it was time to line up.  Except the divisions were totally different than what we registered for. Instead of 2 and under , Thatbaby was placed with the 2-4 year olds.  Which made him very overwhelmed and he turned to me and said "mama you run with me?"  And so I did.

When he finished, we hurried over to see Thatkid off as he started his race.

Success for both my little turkey trotters.

Success and pie.

Crave Wednesday: Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Which is the perfect time to recap Halloween, right? Well whether it is or not, here we are.I wanted to do a special breakfast, but weekday mornings are hard since I get the boys ready for school.  So I incorporated them in breakfast making.  I used Trader Joe's pumpkin rolls and popped them in the oven while the boys and I whipped up some cream cheese frosting.  A little food coloring and we were on our way!This is the first year that Thatkid was allowed to wear a costume to school, and he took full advantage.His school had a Halloween parade and it was the cutest thing ever.  I seriously get such joy out of Halloween.  Seeing all the kids dressed up fills my heart with joy.After school we got ready for trick or treating.This year we decided to join forces with the kids' best friends and all go out together.Thatbaby started out with his little friends.  He got so into it.Eventually his being so into it meant he didn't wait to wait for his slowpoke friends (someone inherited his dad's long legs and quick stride) and he joined the bigger boys in their candy quest.After we'd hit a fair amount of houses we retired back to home base where the kids sat around and indulged in their spoils.It was a pretty successful night.Believe it or not, the boys have barely made a dent in these buckets.  Thatkid donated a pound of it to send to the troops, and neither of them gets more than a piece at a time, usually on a weekend afternoon.  So we'll have leftover candy for the foreseeable future.And speaking of leftovers, are y'all ready for Thanksgiving leftovers?  For me, this is way better than candy.  In fact, I love Thanksgiving leftovers so much, I made my own!  Last year TMIL spent Thanksgiving with us, and our usual weekend with my mom turned into just spending the day and heading home after dinner.  So no leftover turkey the next day. No leftover stuffing. This year we're doing the same thing.  But this year I'm prepared. Last week I made a turkey, stuffing, the works!  And I have leftovers! Last night we even had burrito bowls made with leftover turkey.  In preparation for our feast I had bought pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes...that I ended up not using.  It seemed overkill to add to the mashed potatoes I had already made for the four of us.  So I also ended up wit "leftover" sweet potato.Luckily sweet potatoes are easy to use.  A side that goes side just about everything.  A meal in itself with panfried with some sausage or stuffed with ground turkey.  When cut super thin and baked they turn into the perfect crisp accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers.  A great fall alternative to your regular potato fries!Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries (from Cooking Light)3 Tbsp orange juice2 tsp vegetable oil1/2 tsp ground ginger1/4 tsp salt1/8 tsp ground red pepper2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick stripsPreheat oven to 400. Combine orange juice, oil, ginger, salt, and red pepper in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.Combine juice mixture and potatoes in a large bowl, tossing well to coat.  Remove potatoes and discard juice.  Arrange potatoes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes.[...]

Sunday Runday: Carrera de Los Muertos 5k


When I ran this race last year, I remember thinking what a great, family friendly race it was.  But October is a busy race month for me, so I didn't think much of it until Thatkid, fingering my medal in the early part of the year declared he wanted to run the race.I can't really blame him.  Seeing your mom get all dressed up with face tattoos is a surefire way to pique interest.  A super cool skull medal doesn't hurt either. So I signed him up.And the morning of the race, I painted his face so he would fit in.My reviews on the race had also piqued the interest of some of my friends.  We met up before the race for a quick picture, before splitting up once the race starts.  Because in general, you run faster when you're not running with a six year old.There were giant stilt skeletons entertaining the crowds.  And the lady one saw us all off at the start line.  Along with the mariachi band.Her partner in crime was further along the route.I want to reiterate that Thatkid asked to run this race, because you would never guess it from his constant complaining during the race.  It wasn't long before he had shed his hat and his cheerful, excited attitude.The gorgeous views of the boats and bay, and the fun dancers and music didn't even distract him from his hunger, fatigue and legs that were going to fall off.We walked for most of the 5k.Until we got close to the finish, when I gave him the cue to run run run.Finishers!And while we were running Thatboy had taken Thatbaby to get some face painting of his own.He met us at the finish and snuck into our picture.The more the merrier, right?The whole family reunited, we went to listen to the band and watch the dancers.It wasn't long before the band had the whole crowd on its feet.With a last goodbye to our skeleton friends, we were on our way.Thatkid is so hit or miss with his 5ks. Some days he runs the whole thing happily, other times it's nothing but complaints.  But no matter if your mini-runner is happy or whiny, this is a good course for them.  Its flat, and despite what Thatkid will tell you, it's nice and easy. There are beautiful views and things for the whole family to enjoy.And of course, there's the kickass medal.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries


There was only one thing left to do to prepare for Halloween, and we had purposely saved it until last -pumpkin carving!One year we made the mistake of doing this too early and it resulted in moldy, decomposing jack o'lanterns by the time Halloween rolled around.  Which might be the look you're going for, but it's not for us.  So we save it for the weekend before.Trash bags taped to the floor, Nightmare Before Christmas on television, we were ready to go.Thatkid has never been a fan of the scooping out of the pumpkins, but my Oppo-baby couldn't wait to get in there and clean his out.Both kids got a little carving help from us, but they were the creative directors and project managers.  Thatkid wanted a Frankenstein monster.Thatbaby wanted a "pumpkin patch" face with a grumpy mouth.  And he added his own special touch by coloring it after.Thatboy and I waited until the kids went to bed to carve ours.But there's more! We had such a good time at the pumpkin carving contest last year that we did it again this year. Once again we let the kids control the design and Thatkid wanted something related to Dia de los Muertos.  He decided on a skeleton horse.This year we convinced our friends to join us, and they also put the kid in charge of design.  Their finished spider!Last year there were very few entries and we made it into the top 6.  This year? There were a lot more pumpkins.Our little horse, all lit up.I was pretty surprised when we made it into the top 3.  And when they announced the winners, I was sure we came in third, but nope.  We won first prize!It was a great start to our Halloween-ing.  And it made me so happy.  I love pumpkins so much.  Even now that Halloween is over, we've got pumpkins on our stoops.  And I have a mini pumpkin farm as our table centerpiece.  But it's really not just pumpkins,  I have a thing for squash.  I may not use all varieties for decorating, but I'm always happy to consume them.  This week's meal plan alone includes pumpkin french toast, butternut squash salad, and parmesean crusted zucchini fries.  It's one of those foods that's filling, tasty, and feels healthy.  Even when you coat it in cheese and bake it until it's crisp!Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries (from Cooking Light)1/3 cup Parmesan cheese1/3 cup panko1/2 tsp garlic powder1/2 tsp basil1/8 tsp cayenne1 egg, slightly beaten3 small zucchini1/2 cup tomato basil saucePreheat oven to 450. Combine Cheese, panko, garlic powder, basil, and cayenne in a shallow bowl.Place egg in a separate shallow bowl.Trim ends from zucchini and cut in half crosswise.  Quarter each zucchini in half lengthwise to make 24 zucchini sticks.Dip zucchini in egg, dredge in panko mixture, pressing to coat.Place zucchini on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of zucchini with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.Serve with pasta sauce.[...]

Sunday Runday: Vista Beer Half Marathon


When I first heard of the Vista Beer Half Marathon I was intrigued. I like beer, Vista isn't too far away, and there's something fun about inaugural halfs.  After the Vista Strawberry Run I was sold.  The race was so well run, and the beer garden at the end was the best I'd ever been to.  I figured the half would be the same, but bigger!Now, the thing about inaugural races is they usually are a bit of a mess. A lot of logistics to work out, so expectations on the part of the runners needs to be low.  And with that in mind, I'm going to keep this review as constructive as possible, because although the race was a disaster, I think it has promise.Before the race began, the first signs of trouble began.  There was no information anywhere about hydration, which is worrisome on it's own, but even moreso given the fact the race was taking place during a serious heat wave. I logged onto the event's facebook page where there were several questions regarding whether there would be water stops along the route, with no answer.  The morning of the race I packed as much as I could carry on me comfortably, unsure as to whether anything was going to be provided.The morning of the race is also where I picked up my bib and hoodie.  One of the perks people were excited about with this race was the promise of a hoodie.  Most races give t-shirts, but few give sweatshirts and they are in high demand.  Except "hoodie" didn't take on its usual meeting and in this case just meant a t-shirt with a hood.  Which further solidified my belief that you should run races for the race, not the stuff you're going to get.So let's talk about the race.  It was a small and informal start line. Although not as small as the planners anticipated given that there were only 3 portapotties.  Right before we started, it was announced that the medals hadn't made it on time.  We were really running this one for the glory.  This race was almost the opposite of the Strawberry Run, which meant that trail I loved at the end of the 10k was where we started with this race.My gps alerted me that I had run a mile just a smidge before the first mile marker.  Which isn't all that strange or unusual, but it ended up being a big deal as those little bits continued to add up until I was almost a full mile ahead.It's probably not good from a psychological standpoint, but I had pretty much decided this was going to be a miserable half for me. The course was hard.  Both the Craft Classic half marathon and the Vista Beer  half marathon had courses that ran by local breweries, and there must be some correlation between hills and hops, because both courses are incredibly hilly.   I knew that going in, and just figured I'd sit back and run it, without worrying about time.  Especially since my training was ridiculously subpar.At mile 9, the impact of the hills became evident when my IT band decided it was done.  This was especially bad because although my tracker had me at 9 miles, I had just passed the 8 mile marker. Which meant I had 5 more miles to go.  I'd been keeping a fairly consistent pace, but I dropped it down.  I told myself if I could make it to 13 miles, I'd walk that last mile in.But with all the hills, I ended up walking a lot more than just the last mile.   Especially the long hill down to the trail, which I had to walk down backwards.Right before the finish, Thatkid was waiting for me, he ran me in, joined shortly after by Thatbaby.  We crossed the finish and I headed right to the medic tent, who told me there was nothing they could do or give me to help with my injury. So I headed to the beer.The beer was one of my main draws for this race.  I was a little disappointed that only 5 breweries were present when there wer[...]

Crave Wednesday: Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos


I hope you all had a great Halloween, I know we did.  But really, we've been celebrating all month.  I think we got more use out of our costumes this year than any year prior.We started out with our annual trip to Legoland for Brick or Treat.  This year Thatbaby wanted to be a kitty cat.  So I got him a cat costume. Then he wanted to be superman, then ironman, then a host of other things.  I finally convinced him to wear his car costume if I dressed up like a cat too. Thatkid was easier this year.  He wanted to be a vampire for a while, and didn't change his mind.And Thatboy was very eager to join him in the costume theme.We also met up with the Ks who joined us in the costume contest!The next weekend we tried  a new experience - The Haunted Aquarium!It wasn't really haunted.  Just filled with fun Halloween activities.Like the slime lab, where Thatkid made his own slime while Thatbaby felt all the slimey things.There were Halloween decorations galore.Even in the tanks!There were also stations throughout to learn about various ocean animals and phenomena, like squid or bioflouresence.For Thatbaby the highlight was the band. He spent a lot of the evening singing and boogie-ing down.And interviewing his family members about their costumes.It was another great Halloween adventure.  We have been less adventurous with food lately.  Maybe it's like that saying "lucky in life, unlucky in cards," if you're getting your adventures in outside the kitchen, you won't be getting them in the kitchen?  These adventures have us eating out more than we usually do.  Which usually involves foods I don't make at home often, or ever.  But that doesn't have to be the case.  Like the night we grabbed dinner and ended up making a meal of  jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and bacon, drizzled with a bourbon maple reduction. I never make stuffed jalapenos at home.  But I was inspired. These grilled jalapenos aren't as unhealthy as the fried variety, and possibly more flavorful.  In addition to the cream cheese and bacon, these also have cheddar, making then extra cheesy.  Meal worthy.  An adventure.Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos (from Cooking Light)2 center cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled1/2 cup cream cheese, softened1/2 cup fat free cream cheese, softened1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese1/4 cup minced green onionsjuice of 1/2 lime1 garlic clove, minced14 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro2 Tbsp chopped tomatoesPreheat grill. Combine bacon, cheese, green onions, lime juice, garlic, and salt to taste.Divide cheese mixture among pepper halves.  Place peppers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned.Place on a serving tray and sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.[...]

Sunday Runday: Fit Foodie 5k 2017


There were a lot of differences in this year's Fit Foodie 5k. New date, new location, new running partner...We got there early, having missed registration the day before, and there were loads of people already there.  Both runners and vendors.I got a bunch of friends to run the race this year, so before it started we took the time to take some commerorative pictures.And then we started running.  This was a new race course for me.  I had run a race at NTC Park back in 2011 when I was pregnant with Thatkid, but it was just running around the park itself.  This one had lovely views of the bay.They've also done a lot to the area in the past 7 years.  Like I do not remember the bridges! The race promised bites at each mile, so I was curious as to what was going to be meeting us at mile 1.  It was a prune.Shortly after mile 1 we turned around, and the rest of the course was downhill or flat.At mile 2 there was no promised "bite," but we did meet up with my friend and her daughter, which turned into a mad dash to the finish for the last mile as the two of them competed to cross first.He barely stopped at mile 3 for a sip of protein drink which he passed off to me so he could get that last .1 mile done.We caught up with him after the race, where we learned those pineapple medals? Not really pineapple.And then Thatkid and I went around collecting goodies.  We ate, drank, got sunglasses, chapsticks, and a ton of other stuff.  Thatkid wasn't thrilled with standing in line, but he loved all the stuff he got.The haul: (my bag, Thatkid had his very own bag)All my new runners had a great time at the race this year, including this guy.  I really do love sharing these moments with him, in fact, we're doing another race together today![...]

Crave Wednesday: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Roasted Jalapeno Butter


One of the great things about fall is that there are fall festivals just about every weekend.  And they're all so different.The first one we went to was at Thatkid's school.  Basically we hardly saw home all night as he ran off with his friends.  Which is a little nerve-wracking when you're talking about a 6 year old and hundreds of children.There were lots of games and crafts for the kids to do and the adults kind of hung out together as our children wreaked havoc.The following weekend was the town street festival. Lots of vendors and spin-the-wheel type things for the kids.  The bonus of this one was we got to see a bunch of new restaurants that have opened on our main drag.  And we've tried all of them since that time!Last weekend was our last fall festival that I know of.  A friend posted about it on Facebook and it seemed like something that would be a lot of fun, so we decided to bring our kids.  It was great - all the things that you love about fairs offered for free!There was face painting with one of the most talented face painters I have ever encountered.A caricature artist.  Thatbaby was all in from the start.  Thatkid didn't initially want to do it, but then came up with the idea of doing it with his friend.They also had great photo spots set up for all your social media needs.One of the initial draws was the train ride, which turned out to be a pretty big train!The kids snacked on apple juice and cookies and then posed for a couple silly pictures, which were taken by a photographer who emailed them to us.The only thing that would have made these festivals better is if we had gotten fall weather to go with them.  It was almost 100 degrees during the daytime festivals.Upshot is there is a perfect food to bridge the gap between summer weather and fall activities - corn!  Corn is one of those foods that transitions seamlessly from summer salads to fall mazes.  It straddles the seasons.  Grilled corn is sweet, topped with jalapeno butter makes it less so.  Just like this weird mix of seasons, the mix of sweet and spicy straddles two taste sensations.Grilled Corn with Roasted Jalapeno Butter (from Cooking Light)1 jalapeno pepper7 tsp unsalted butter, softened1 tsp grated lime rind2 tsp honey1/4 tsp salt6 ears shucked cornpreheat grill to medium high heat. Place jalapeno on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill 10 minutes until blackened and charred, turning occasionally. Place in small paper bag and fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes.  Peel and discard skins, cut jalapeno in half lengthwise. Discard stem, seeds, and membranes. Finely chop jalapenos. Combine jalapenos, butter, lime rinds, honey, and salt in a small bowl. Stir well. Place corn on grill rack.  Cover and grill 10 minutes or until lightly charred, turning occasionally.Place corn on serving plate and brush with jalapeno butter.[...]

Mommy Mondays: Guardians of Six


I honestly thought we were heading to a great birthday party this year. All summer Thatkid talked about a sports party in the park. I was excited.  And then, about a month before his birthday, he decided he wanted a Guardians of the Galaxy party at Chuck E Cheese.As you may recall, last yer he had a Ninjago birthday party at Chuck E Cheese,  despite having never seen or expressed any interest in Ninjago.  Well, looks like that's become the new theme, because I've never heard him mention Guardians of the Galaxy before this declaration.But it's his birthday, so he gets to pick.  So Guardians of the Galaxy at Chuck E Cheese it was.He also requested a homemade cake - strawberry cake with chocolate ice cream.   I had a hard time figuring out how I was going to Guardians that thing up, and finally came up with a pretty good solution.The kids spent the time playing arcade games and dancing with the mouse himself.During the birthday show, he got called up to lead everyone in singing to him.  And then that cake got candled, cut, and eaten.One of the highlights is always the ticket blaster.  Last year he couldn't really figure out what to do. This year, he had it down.As much as I hate these Chuck E Cheese birthdays, Thatkid really loves them.  And I love seeing him so happy.  Even still, let's cross our fingers that next year he decides he's over it, or interested in something cooler.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Macaroni Salad


Like I said, October is a busy month. So much to do! So little time!  We started in the very first week, with a little help from Thatkid's school.  This is the first year the kindergartners had a field trip, and it just happened to be at the pumpkin patch.For the very first time Thatkid boarded a school bus with a bunch of his classmates.Because it was close, and his first field trip, and a pumpkin patch, I met up with them at the patch.Then hung back and let him explore and enjoy the time with his friends.They all got to go on a hay ride and explore the corn maze.And they got to pick out a pumpkin to take home.The pumpkin patch they went to is the same pumpkin patch we usually visit as a family. So last weekend we returned with everyone.  Going as a family meant we got to do different things than with Thatkid's class.  Like take goofy pictures.And feed the goats.  I love that my boys love animals so much.But eventually we stopped playing and got down to business. Pumpkin business.We traded in these two little pumpkins for the more orangey kind.We hit up the pumpkin patch in the morning, trying to beat the heat.  Because even though it's October, the heat wave has returned. By noon it was 95 degrees.  By the time dinner rolled around it was 98.  I'm really trying to embrace this fall season, but when the weather feels like summer, sometimes you got to do what you got to do.  Like make macaroni salad. It's a summertime staple, but its cool tang is welcome when the temperature keeps climbing. And the fact that it takes less than 20 minutes to put together is always appreciated.Macaroni Salad (From Cooking Light)1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni1/2 cup canola mayonnaise1 Tbsp cider vinegar1 1/2 tsp sugar3/4 tsp dry mustard1/3 cup thinly sliced celery1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper1/4 cup finely chopped red onions1/4 cup grated carrots1 Tbsp chopped fresh chivesCook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.Combine mayonnaise, sugar, cider vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.Stir in pasta, celery, bell pepper, onion, carrots and chives.[...]

Mommy Mondays: Thatkid Turns 6!


October is always a crazy month here, although one of my favorites.  And of course this is the month my computer keyboard decided to go kerplunk.  I'm currently debating whether I've got the skills to replace it myself, if I want to pay someone to do it for me, or just splurge on a new computer.  Y'all love my inner musings, right?

So where were we. That's right, during my hiatus, Thatkid went and got another year older.   He's 6!
This is the first year he's been in a "real school" on his birthday, so it was a little different than years past.  We went out to breakfast the day before, since his favorite place is a little too far, and too sit-down for a weekend morning.

On his actual birthday, Thatkid requested pancakes.  I though I would make them extra festive by making him funfetti pancakes. He approved. He opened gifts while I cooked and was so thrilled with his new hatchimal that he insisted it join him for breakfast.

After breakfast came school. Although I offered to pick him up right after class, he wanted to go to the afterschool program.  So instead, Thatboy came home early and we picked the boys up at regular time and headed to his dinner choice (after stopping at home to get his hatchimal).

He chose pizza for dinner, I think mostly because they have arcade games, and he knew we'd let him play on his birthday.  Whatever the reason, we weren't going to stop catering to him, it was his birthday. And he had a great night, even winning at the claw game.

I asked if he wanted a cake, or cupcakes to celebrate. His request? "Ice cream. And mom, not frozen yogurt. Real ice cream."  And so we ended the day at Baskin Robbins.

It was a very mellow sixth birthday, but it was a good one! And we're looking forward to a pretty great year!

Mommy Mondays: Fall Bucket List


I don't get overly excited about Christmas, although I do love the activities surrounding the winter holidays, and I love the family time and the music.

But you guys, the calendar switched from Summer to Fall last week, and I feel like I've been floating on a cloud.  Just the notions of fall is enough to lighten my mood.  The weather this past week has gone right along with it, shuffling off the oppressive heat that marked the end of the summer hear.  And while word on the street is that oppressive heat is returning this week, I can still look at my calendar and remind myself of what this season really is.

I've already brought out some decorations for the tables, and am plotting turning my window box into some form of graveyard (fake - I'm not going to bury anything living above my sink).  And every time I walk past, I smile.

We went for a walk as a family last weekend and started brainstorming our Fall Bucket List.  And we've already started knocking things off!  My biggest problem is that there is always too much to do, and our weekends are packed.  And some of these events overlap with each other, which means we're going to have to do things like choose between going to see Nightmare Before Christmas and the Spooky Aquarium.

*Apple Picking
* Drink lot of apple cider
*Visit a Pumpkin Patch
* Go on a Hay ride
* Cook with pumpkin (pumpkin bread and pumpkin pretzels are first on our list!)
* Halloween Events (Legoland's Brick or Treat, Haunted Aquarium)
* Decorate the House for Halloween
* Watch Halloween movies (at home and at events)
* Carve Pumpkins (at home and at our fave pumpkin carving event)
* Trick-or-Treating
* Attend one of the many Oktoberfests in the area
* Explore Old Town San Diego's Dia de los Muertos
* Take family photos
* Attend a football game
* Attend a Fall Festival

What am I missing?  What's on your list?

Sunday Runday: On My Own


I joined "Moms Run This Town" because I was running a lot of half marathons.  Which meant a lot of long runs.  And a running club allowed me to meet other people to run with.  The group, full of moms, was ideal, because no one understands the schedule complexities of a mother, like a mother.

And I met a lot of great running friends this way.  Which made my long runs so much more enjoyable.

When I got pregnant with Thatbaby, I wasn't running long runs anymore, but I was still able to find people to run with at my new, slower speed who became great friends.

But the pendulum swings both ways, doesn't it?

I'm currently training for a half marathon next month, and I've purposely headed out on many of my long runs by myself.  I'm so used to running with people, it's almost novel to have my thoughts to myself during this period.  Yesterday I ran for 9 miles with a smile on my face the entire time.  I got to run at my own speed without worry about faster or slower companions.  I listened to podcasts and became so engrossed, the miles flew by.

I don't think I'll ever give up on running with friends.  I love the companionship, and the time to catch up.  But going back to the beginning, when I only ran by myself is also refreshing.  And even after this half marathon is over, I might keep up with these long runs on my own.

Crave Wednesday: Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges


Early in the summer I had mentioned to Thatboy that we should plan a beach trip.  We discussed that fact that it had been so long since we'd been to the beach that Thatbaby didn't even remember what the beach was like.We live in Southern California.  This is unacceptable.So while we were still battling the heat wave, we escaped to the coast.  After a brief dip in the water with Thatkid, Thatboy abandoned us to get some surf in while I entertained the kids on the sand.Thatboy had tried to coax Thatbaby into the water, but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Thatkid was antsy to get in, so while Thatbaby and I stood at the very edge of the white water, Thatkid bravely splashed in the waves.It wasn't long before I had Thatbaby jumping over waves while holding my hand, which gave him the confidence to actually go in the ocean, as long as I was holding him.When Thatboy got back, he brought Thatkid out with his boogie board, so he could do a little surfing of its own.Thatbaby wasn't quite brave enough to go in the water with the board, but he was just as happy to be pulled along in the sand.The beach was an excellent way to escape the heat, which has finally passed.  Now the weather is PERFECT.  It feels funny saying that since it is usually still in the 70s, which is warmer than I like for the fall.  But with temperatures in the 90s and 100s for so long, I'll take 70s!It means I'm back to actually using the oven again.  It means as much as I love salads, roasted vegetables are back on the menu.  It means our french fries?  They're baked.  Coated in Parmesan cheese and baked.  This recipe calls for both Russet and Sweet Potatoes, although you should feel free to use just one or the other if you want.  I like the mix of both.  These are especially good with some spicy sriracha dip!Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges (From Cooking Light)3/4 tsp salt1/3 cup flour3 egg whites1 Tbsp water3/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese1/2 cup panko2 Russet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges2 sweet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges Preheat oven to 425.  Combine salt and flour in a shallow dish.Whisk egg whites and 1 Tbsp water in a shallow dish.Combine cheese and panko in another shallow dish.Dredge potato wedges in flour mixture.Dip in egg white mixture.Dredge in cheese mixture.  Divide between 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes, rotating the pans after 20 minutes.[...]

Mommy Mondays: A Night at the Theater


Friday night, Thatkid and I had a special date night.  We went to see "In the Heights."  It was our annual trip to the summer program run by the Moonlight Amphitheater which performs outdoor theater.  Every year they do one production especially for kids.  This was not that production.The kids production this year was The Little Mermaid.  Which Thatkid is going to see with his dad through Broadway San Diego, so it didn't make a lot of sense to send him to see the same production twice in a matter of weeks. "In the Heights" may not seem like a production geared for kids, but we've been expanding our theater selections this year with Thatkid.  Which brings me to the point of this post - how to raise a theater lover.In short, like most of my wisdom, I have no idea.But I feel incredibly lucky that Thatkid loves theater so much. I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that his parents love theater so much.  Which is also lucky.  I grew up in a house where both my parents listened to, and sang, musicals on a regular basis.  There wasn't a show they didn't know.  My father even auditioned for the original Broadway cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.  And while Thatboy did NOT grow up in a similar household, he loves live theater, especially musicals.He doesn't have the same background as I do, but he gets enough of the references that I teased him yesterday morning as he tried to tune a guitar that he sounded like he was starting the opening of Rent. And he didn't look at me like I was crazy.  He smiled and nodded.And then there's exposure.  Thatkid loves theater, because is exposed to lots of theater.  My very first Broadway show was Peter Pan and so when NBC did their "Peter Pan Live" we tuned in.  I thought he would love it. Love might be strong.  But he didn't mind it.  He was very confused that Peter was a girl, but he was definitely interested.  He had just turned 3, which we thought was a good time to introduce him to live theater since he was finally able to sit through a movie....earlier that day.This was also the period when he started watching Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all the time, both of which are full of singing.  And that's when we started bringing him to live theater, beginning with the Moonlight Amphitheater production of Shrek - one of his favorite movies.We play musicals at home, Thatboy and I take turns bringing him to shows, and so far, he hasn't found one he doesn't like.  His current favorite is either Into The Woods, which Thatboy took him to a couple weeks ago (seriously, hearing a 5 year old sing Agony might be a life changing moment) or Hamilton, which he hasn't seen yet, but requests to hear the cast recording all the time  (And if you're not won over by Agony, then you should hear his "Hear Comes the General.")Neither of those shows is especially kid friendly.  There's sex and death in both of them - themes we avoid in most movies he views.  But a lot of that goes over his head, which makes me feel a little better about bringing him.  And why I thought he might like In The Heights, which is far from a fairy tale.  (He asked if there was a bad guy in the show during the first act, to which I replied "Only the heat and life.")And although he is much to young to sit through a production, I think we're bringing Thatbaby right along with us.  He doesn't have all the lyrics to Hamilton memorized like his older brother, but he "da da da da daaaaaahs" with the best of them in "You'[...]

Sunday Runday: San Diego Heart and Stroke Walk


I wish I could say I had super altruistic reasons for participating in this year's Heart Walk.  I mean, it's a cause that's near and dear to my heart, given that my father, grandfather, and cousin all had deaths related to heart disease, and my father-in-law had a stroke-related death.  But I've never participated before.This year, however, I've got a new job.  And part of my job requirements include participating in community service.  And my company had a team participating in the heart walk.  Joining them would count towards my requirement.  Community service AND participating in a walk AND that walk actually having personal meaning for me?  Sign me up!I also signed up Thatbaby, so Thatboy would have one less kid to deal with in the morning.  It was Thatkid's last day of basketball, so this gave Thatboy the ability to focus on him.Now that all the truth is out of the way, let me tell you how much I enjoyed this walk.  Firstly, it was the old Balboa Park route, which I haven't run in years.  Lately, Balboa Park runs have you run on the outskirts of the park, mostly in the neighboring (VERY HILLY) streets.    This one had us actually walk through the park.And then we headed down onto the freeway!  I think it has literally been 6 years since I've gotten to do this.Once we were down on the freeway, Thatbaby wanted out of the stroller to stretch his legs.   And this is where another great aspect came in.  This was a walk.  Not a run.  I know, why write about a walk on Sunday Runday?  Because this is my blog and to quote Eric Cartman "I do what I want."I haven't done a walk in ....longer than 6 years.  And there was something very freeing about not worrying about time, or getting it over with.  I just sat back and let Thatbaby in and out of the stroller at his pleasure.  He walked beside the stroller, pushed the stroller, and even ran down the freeway himself.  And when he was tired or done, he just climbed right back in.  The walk was 4 miles, and whenever we finished we finished.There wasn't a ton of on course entertainment, but what they had was really fun.  There were bagpipes.Cheerleaders, someone who left their car playing music, and a band.  It was fun to go past the band and see all the kids looking back, trying to watch the musicians.So I may not have gone into the walk for the right reasons, but I embraced everything about it and really enjoyed myself.  I spend so much time racing - running for the sake of running.  Forcing myself to be fast, to push.  Sometimes you need to sit back and just take it all in, walk instead of run.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Orange Cream Pops


One of my favorite fall traditions is going apple picking with LO and her family.  One of my least favorite fall traditions is going apple picking when there are no apples left on the trees.  Which is almost every year.Every year, without fail, by the time September rolls around, there is only one orchard that still has apples.  And those apples are small and hard to find. This year, I planned early.  I knew this would mean going in August, opening weekend!  And luckily LO was available, and so we met them at our new favorite orchard - Apple Starr.We like this place so much because last year, when we went the first weekend in September and they were out of apples, they did have pears.  And those pears were delicious.  So we knew that even if the apples were weak, the pears would be strong.  But we had pretty high hopes for strong apples too.We also love that they have wagons for dragging your kids through the orchards.Opening weekend meant the trees were full of fuji, gala, green, and jonagold apples.  There were even a couple of yellow apples.While we were warned that the pears weren't quite ripe yet, we found green and red pears, soft and ripe, bursting with flavor.We had no problem filling up a couple of bags to bring home.On the way home I asked the boys what they wanted to make with the apples and pears.  Thatbaby requested apple pasta, and so last week we had pasta with goat cheese and apples.  And both boys picked out the apple pieces, gobbling up the goat cheese and pasta.  Thatkid requested apple and pear muffins.  But you guys, the problem with apple picking in August?  It's HOT out there.  It seriously might have been the hottest day of the year while we were there, the sun beating down on us.  And it has barely let up since.  So the idea of baking anything isn't highly appealing right now.  Instead, we've been eating pears and apples like crazy - just as they are.And instead of baking, we've been whipping up more frozen treats.  You may have heard the saying "comparing apples and oranges" as a way of describing two very different items.  So it makes sense in this post about apples and fall I would make something very orange and summer.  Right?50/50 bars were one of Thatdad's favorite Good Humor treats, and he passed that love on to me.  The flavor is unmistakable, and probably one of the reasons I was such an Orange Julius fan, which seemed to capture that orange cream in drink form.  Thatbaby also loves orange flavored anything, so he falls right in line with his mom and grandfather in loving orange and ice cream.  These orange cream pops capture that flavor from my childhood in a way I love sharing with my kids.  It's a new summer tradition - less nutritious than apple picking, but way cooler!Orange Cream Pops (From Cooking Light)4 1/2 cups vanilla light ice cream, slightly softened1/4 cup thawed orange juice concentrate1 Tbsp grated orange rind1 drop orange food coloring1 drop yellow food coloring1/4 cup whipping cream1 tsp vanilla extractCombine 3 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, orange juice concentrate, orange rind, and food coloring in a large bowl, stirring until colors blend.Beat whipping cream in an electric mixture at high speed until soft peaks form.Fold vanilla into whipped cream.Fold whipped cream into 1 1/4 cups vanilla ice cream.Divide half of the orange flavored ice cream among 20 popsicle molds.  Freeze 30 minutes, or until set.Top [...]

Mommy Mondays: Choosing Chores


I touched on this very slightly when talking about how Thatkid's newest job around the house - making dinner, but CHORES!

We're not fantastic at them, and I think we go against all the recommendations, but this is where we are.

We started chores for all the wrong reasons.  Thatkid started being really interested in money and how he could earn it, so we started a chore chart.

He was 4 at the time, and I used this chart as guidance for what he could/should be doing.

He also wasn't able to read, so we started with pictures of the chores he was expected to do.

Things like making his bed, washing his face and brushing his teeth, putting his clothes in his hamper, putting away his toys, putting his dishes in the sink, setting the table, and getting dressed need to be done every day.  Cleaning his room and the coffee table only had to be done once, on the weekend.

He got a star every time he completed one of these tasks, and if he filled an entire week of chores, he'd get an allowance.  We never really decided on how much he would get, which didn't matter, because never got a full chore chart.  It was the room cleaning which killed him every week.  And after a few weeks, he wasn't even interested in the stars.

Nowadays there is no chore chart, no set chores, no allowance.  We tell him things he needs to do, and he does them.  He still does most of the things on the original list, without the expectation of stars.  And every now and again he steps up and offers to do things like put away his clean clothes.  I don't know if we'll start up a chart again, and he hasn't asked about allowance, so for now we just keep on the track we're on.

Crave Wednesday: Double Chocolate Ice Cream


Going to UCLA for undergrad meant I developed a profound respect for book festivals.  Until 2010, the LA Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the country, was held on the UCLA campus.  And it was everything you could want  - authors, readings, a celebration of the written word.  It was the very definition of an "event." So when I saw that San Diego was going to start its very own festival of books, I was all in.  And last weekend we checked it out.  In its first year, it definitely doesn't have the size or gravitas of the LA Times, but hey - everyone has to start somewhere.The first part of the festival was "Author's Row" where local authors were there to meet, greet, sell, and sign.  The boys were instantly drawn to Laura Knight, who was there with her book "Spot: The Sea Pup's Survival Guide."  She walked them through the book, showing them both the illustrations, as well as the actual pictures the illustrations were based on.Although most of the festival was really geared to older readers, the Children's Pavilion had children's authors reading and interacting with the little guys.   Like Salina Yoon, who read several of her stories, and even had some of the audience come up and create their own illustrations.  (And yes, that couple stood right up in the front, so that all the kids had to crowd to side and peer around them.  Which is why there's like 20 kids piled on top of each other on the bottom right of the picture. And they stayed there for several authors.  So sweet and considerate of them, no?)Thatkid quickly got sick of not being able to see and having to be pressed up against so many hot sticky bodies, so we went for a walk to check out the vendors.  Which is how we came across the San Diego Public library's booth where they were helping the kids make monster bookmarks.  He made one for himself and one for his little brother.I made a quick stop back at Author's alley to pick up a book of my own.  "101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up" has been in my Amazon cart forever, waiting for Thatkid to be old enough to be part of its target audience. But finding out the author was local, AND there, I decided today was the day.   Suzette Valle couldn't have been nicer as she filled me bag with stickers for my boys, and signed the book for us.  We're really looking forward to introducing the boys to some of these "classics."We bounced home for some homemade butter pasta and some homemade ice cream.  Both were actually great for a summer night, since the pasta doesn't require heating up the whole house with the oven.  And ice cream?  I mean, I don't need to explain that one, right?  Chocolate ice cream is not really my thing.  I much prefer a good vanilla ice cream.  But chocolate is the flavor of choice for the rest of my family.  In fact, Thatbaby calls all other flavors by their color ("orange ice cream" "blue ice cream") except chocolate.  That one he knows by name.  And requests.  So chocolate it is. My concession to me is to stay away from milk chocolate - or even semi sweet, which can be too sweet for me.  Cocoa and bittersweet chocolate make this a dark chocolate ice cream that will please chocolate lovers and chocolate tolerators alike.Double Chocolate Ice Cream (From Cooking Light)1 1/3 cups sugar1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa2 1/2 cups 2% reduced fat milk, divided[...]

Sunday Runday: A Run with a View


 Don't forget to sign up to join me at The Fit Foodie Run.  Use code KAYTORADEFF to get $10 off.  Prices go up September 5!It started with a text:"I kind of want to climb a mountain on Saturday.  It is supposed to be cooler."Climb a mountain.  You guys, these are the kinds of friends I have.  Friends that want to climb mountains.  By all rights I should take that as a compliment to myself, right?  Because I choose ambitious and adventurous friends.  Even if I, myself, am not ambitious and adventurous. To continue on with my tale, Saturday was not, in fact, cooler.  By 3pm, temperatures by me were 105 degrees.  And while Saturday morning wasn't quiet as hot, it was warm enough where the mountains got downgraded to a hill.  And there we were in Torrey Pines, hiking beside the ocean.The most challenging part of the hike is always getting up to the top of the hill where the trails start.  From then on, it's easy.  The allure of the hike is not the difficulty, but the view while you weave your way through well maintained trails.  So it wasn't the strenuous hike that had us all sweating.  It was that warm weather I previously mentioned.We explored every trail that was open, and debated the closed ones.  Overall we decided that the $300 fine for getting caught on them wasn't worth it when there were plenty of other trails available.   We ended the morning by taking the beach trail down to the beach.It was a little cooler down beside the water, and we ventured along the rocks and sand as far as we were able as the tide continued to creep in.  Fearing we may get stuck somewhere, we headed back towards our cars along the beach.  It was almost a toes in the sand kind of morning, but really, who wants to put wet sandy feet back in their car?  We may climb mountains, but we're not reckless![...]

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Pudding Pops


Earlier this summer when Thatkid and I were running the San Diego Fair 5k I remarked to him that we were running on the same track the horses run on, and he had no idea what I was talking about.  It had been a couple years since we'd been to the races, Thatbaby hadn't ever been.  And I remember how much Thatkid loved it when we took him when he was little.   So we made plans to make sure to attend this summer.The first weekend we had free, we headed over to Del Mar.  Thatkid was a little disappointed the fair wasn't there, or more importantly the rides and games weren't there.    We got settled into some seats and the lack of rides and games was quickly overshadowed by the fast running horses.Just like his brother, Thatbaby loved watching the horses run fast.  And Thatkid loved picking the winner...after the race had ended.On the weekends, the Del Mar races has a kids area, which is awesome.  Not rides or games, but bounce houses, inflatable slides, face painting, and pony rides.Thatkid made it his mission to experience every inflatable they had.Thatkid was a little intimidated at first by the big slides, but there was a smaller one for little guys.  And by the end, he was going down the blue slide just like his big brother.The line for ponies was a little long, so the boys went and got their faces painted while I waited in line for them.Thatkid has ridden a pony/horse twice before, but this was Thatbaby's very first time!Thatkid was so nervous his first time on a pony.  I thought Thatbaby might be the same, but as always he proved to be my oppobaby.  Not scared at all, he jumped right up on that horse and rode like he was born on a salad.I thought for sure the pony rides would be the highlight of the day.  But on the way back to the car both boys declared their favorite part was watching the races themselves.  Such a successful day!What made it even more successful was the weather cooperating.  It was cool and overcast, which has been especially unusual for this summer.  It has been a hot summer.  With no signs of cooling down this week.  I even tried to get the kids to play in the sprinkler after school today, but Thatbaby just wanted to stand in his swimsuit and whine.  One thing they are completely embracing is popsicles.  Every moment of the day.  Thatbaby wakes up asking for popsicles.  In fact, over the weekend I found him trying to set up a folding step stool to get to them on the top shelf of our freezer.  Never trust a quiet child.We make most of the popsicles in our house.  It's easy enough to pour juice or a smoothie into a popsicle mold.   Chocolate pudding pops are a little more labor intensive, because you have to, you know, make pudding.  But pudding pops are such a nostalgic part of my childhood, they have to be made.  I grew up on the J-E-L-L-O variety, but homemade is so much better!Chocolate Pudding Pops (From Cooking Light)2 1/2 cups reduced fat milk1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa1 Tbsp cornstarch1 egg yolk1 tsp vanilla extract2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely choppedCombine milk, sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, egg yolk, and a dash of salt in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisking.  Cook 8 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Remove pan from heat.Stir in vanilla and chocolate and stir u[...]