Bob has a deadline this week, so I am keeping things pretty simple.  Falling back on some trusty favorites, plus Taylor has been begging for Philly Cheese Peppers!

  • This past Saturday: Beef Mole Fajitas, with avacado (yum!)
  • Sunday: Grilled, mesquite-marinated pork tenderloin, baked sweet potato rounds, roasted mixed veggies
  • Monday: Philly Cheese Peppers
  • Tuesday: Chicken Parm Zucchini Gondolas
  • Wednesday: Fish Night, with Mac-n-cheese, and Brussels sprouts
  • Thursday: Spaghetti w. sauteed turkey sausage
  • Friday: Pizza & Movie Night

Something I have been struggling with lately is the issue of my children's nutrition.  For myself, as a mother, the feeding of my children has probably been my Number 1 challenge.  With Taylor, I struggled with feeding him since day 1.  Things went a little better with Stephen, but even though he tries more food and the eating is less stressful, he's always been a small fry, so we have been concerned about him getting *enough* food.

Add to all of these concerns my recent changes in my own fitness, nutrition, and daily diet (i.e., what I eat every day), and I've got a lot to think about.  I've been working really hard to cut out processed foods; some of those foods are the only things my kids will eat.  As I become more convinced that processed foods are not as good for us, I am less inclined to feed them to my boys; however, I am very conscious of the fact that they need to eat something.  Plus, I'm sitting here thinking, what do their little bodies need, nutritionally?  First and foremost, I need to be giving them what they need to grow and flourish.

To say all of this is a challenge is an understatement.  I am struggling.  A goal for me is to become more knowledgeable about children's nutrition and to put that knowledge into practice with my family.

Of course I've talked to the pediatrician about this, but haven't gotten an abundance of information.  I probably need a good book or two.  It might help to talk to someone who really specializes in this sort of thing.

For now, I'm doing what is easiest: I'm searching the Interwebs.

Here are some links I found that are at least providing some good, preliminary information:

Here are a few things I'm learning or figuring out for myself:
  • You've got to be careful not to overthink this stuff, which is something I often do.
  • We're already doing a lot of the things that are recommended: we offer the kids a ton of variety, including at least one thing we know they like at each meal; we keep a bowl of fruit on the counter, and they love fresh fruit; we let them pick out produce at the grocery store; we let them help prepare foods in the kitchen (which they love!); we try to keep dinner a pleasant and stress-free time; we don't argue or pressure them to eat...the list goes on.
  • One thing we are seeing from all of this -- Even though it has been a glacial process (meaning, it has taken a long damn time!), they are getting better about trying new foods and even eating and liking healthier foods.  Taylor has especially made a lot of progress.  It has taken years (years!!), but it is happening.  For instance, the other night, I was slicing green pepper, and he kept coming back to the counter and snacking on the green pepper slices.  This past weekend, I made kale chips and offered him one.  He took it, ate it, declared that it was "yummy!" and asked for more.  He has also done a better job of trying new foods, even if he then decides it's not for him.  I try to not make too big of a deal of any of these things.  I just try to act like it's all his choice and it's cool if he does and cool if he doesn't.  Inside my head I'm like, "Oh my freaking lord he just ate a kale chip!!  My son just ate kale!!"  But I keep that all on the inside :)

So there are some positive things happening.  But it is still a struggle every day, and it can be so frustrating, because I have so many fun, delicious, healthy things I can make them that they just totally turn their noses at because it's "new."  

I can remember my own mother saying "You love everything in this dish.  Just try it!"  Now I find myself saying the same exact thing.

They're not dying, they're not starving, they're not overweight, they're not underweight.  

It's just something I think about and want to learn more about, and as I continue to learn, I will share my discoveries!

A week ago, I had a horrible day.  The weather was awful: cold, semi-icy rain was pummeling my body (of course I didn't remember my winter jacket with hood, nor did I remember to bring a hat).  I, against all better judgement, decided to take *both* boys to their well-check appointments at the same time, wherein they turned into deranged monkeys and climbed the walls, making noise the entire time I tried (emphasis on tried) to talk to the doctor.

Needless to say, by the time I got into my office, I was exhausted and seriously grumpy.  I started to cheer up, talking to my friend, Sam, because she is the kind of person that just cheers you up by talking to her.  Then a lady (an angel, perhaps?) came in with Doubletree cookies.  You know the kind, with the chocolate chips and the walnuts.  And I said, "Oh, these were just what I needed!"  Sam and I split one, because they were huge, and I really did feel like it was just what the doctor ordered.

One or two days later, and I've got a sick kid at home.  Bob stayed home with him long enough for me to get the gym and have a workout with my fabulous trainer (still working on my chin up goal!).  Knowing that I was going to be home all day with a sick child, I definitely left the house feeling heavy with stress.  We had a great session, though, and my trainer left me with a few really positive messages that lifted my spirits.

As I went home, I felt myself grow lighter.  I let the post-workout endorphins flow through my body, feeling recharged, reenergized, renewed.  Again I felt like it was just what the doctor ordered, and it got me to thinking about the two different situations I faced that week.  In one instance, I felt like the cookie was kind of the thing that saved my day, and then in this other instance, I was starting out my day nipping the stress in the bud and refreshing my somewhat frazzled mind.  That morning workout felt as if I was creating something from within that was actively calming my spirit and would also serve as a bastion against the stressors of the day.

I'm not trying to say that one form of relaxation is any better or worse than the other.  I think there is a time and a place for both a good workout and for chocolate.  And I couldn't help but feel that no matter how awesome my morning workout made me feel, there was always the chance that life would throw some challenges my way that might have me turning to a chocolate-y treat by late afternoon or evening.  I mean, 10 minutes with either of my boys can take me from being totally at peace with the world to wanting to run screaming from the room.  I feel comfortable admitting that I can both love my boys and be driven totally bonkers by them at the same time.

All of that said, I do think that the physical activity has given me some very positive ways to deal with my stress and that the good vibes I get have had a deeper and longer lasting effect than something that seems to come more from the outside (such as a cookie, chocolate, massage, etc.).  The thing is, though, I have to have that physical activity every single day, and on the days when I don't get it, it also tends to have a pretty big effect on my mood.  So there's that side of things, and I have to be mindful to find lots of ways (constructive, affirming ways) to deal with stress.  Still working on that!  I should start a tab on this site that is just a running list of constructive, life-affirming ways of dealing with stress that include things you can do easily, on the cheap, from home, etc.

So those are my current thoughts on these ideas of dealing with stress, both externally and internally.  I don't have any major epiphanies, but it's nice to just think things through here.  And the pics in this post are just some of my pics that I thought sort of mirrored how I was feeling as I thought through these issues.

The plan for the week!

  • Past Saturday: Indian take-out
  • Sunday: Smoked boneless country-style pork ribs, sweet potato rounds, steamed green beans
  • Monday: Moroccan chicken and sweet potato stew, rice
  • Tuesday: Baked Chicken with sauteed zucchini & squash
  • Wednesday: Fish tacos with rainbow slaw
  • Thursday: Spaghetti primavera
  • Friday: Pizza and family movie night

I am not a sugar addict, but I must admit I do have a small sweet tooth, and I love love love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  I often enjoy a small piece of chocolate after lunch and after dinner.  My go-to sweet treat is often a mini Reese's Peanut Butter cup, although lately I have been eating the leftover cheapie chocolate I bought for the boys' Christmas stockings.

I feel guilty every time I eat the cheap bits of chocolate, because I know that if I'm really going to splurge on a sweet treat, it should be something really good that I am truly enjoying.  

I've also been interested in eating something that it a little less processed.  I've heard about the Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Peanut Butter cups, but they are so pricey, and they are pretty big (I don't think they make minis) and still have a fair number of calories, fat, etc.

So, I embarked on a journey to make my own (healthier) chocolate PB treats.  What I ended up with is an amazingly delicious sweet treat that you can enjoy without one gram of guilt!!

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls  (CPBP) are based off of this recipe, but I made one modification involving Chocolate PB2 to make it even less caloric.

  • 1 mixed cup of Chocolate PB2 (I estimated this used about 4 tbsp of the powder -- you can find the PB2 in the Health/Organics section of the grocery store -- it has 85% less calories than regular peanut butter!)
  • 1 cup Natural creamy (or crunchy if you prefer) peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (I was just shy of a half a cup)
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • sea salt, to taste (I used my Kosher salt, and it really makes all the difference!  I used just a dash of it, but it adds an awesome crunch and taste to the balls)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp because I always double the vanilla)
  • If you find the mixture is too thick, you can add a little water.  I did not need to add any water, since the PB2 makes it a little on the gooey-er side.  It was just the right consistency for me.
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix between dark and milk chocolate)

  1. Mix up your PB2.
  2. Mix all ingredients (except for chocolate) in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls (about 1 tbsp in size, maybe a little smaller).  I made 66 balls.  Place in a dish and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Once balls are chilled, melt your chocolate (I melted mine in the microwave using 15 second increments until it was just melted).
  5. Dip your balls in the chocolate.  Since these balls are pretty rich, I only dipped one side of the balls in the chocolate.  This also left a nice clean side for putting it back in the dish.
  6. I put these back in the fridge and then ended up transferring them into two small freezer bags (I basically had a single layer of balls in each bag) and putting them into the freezer.  They are sooooo awesome fresh out of the freezer, but they are also good after they've been sitting out for awhile.

I used caloriecount.com to calculate the calories on these and 1 ball has 27 calories, 1.7 g. of fat, 2.4 g. of carbs, and 1.1 g. of protein.  That's about half the calories, half the carbs, more than half the fat, and almost the same amount of protein as the original recipe.  An actual Reese's Pieces Mini PB Cup has 44 calories, 2.6 g. of fat, 5 g. of carbs, and .8 g. of protein.

I'm super excited about the meals for this week.  And I'm definitely going to be writing about some new discoveries I made this weekend.  Can't wait to share!

But first, this week's menu:
  • Saturday (last night): Baked mahi mahi with pineapple and mixed mini peppers, edamame, brown rice
  • Sunday: Beef Short Ribs (yum!), mashed cauliflower, broccolini
  • Monday: Smoky Stuffed Peppers with leftover brown rice
  • Tuesday: Zucchini Lasagna with whole wheat English muffins
  • Wednesday: Tilapia or or salmon, green beans,mac-n-cheese
  • Thursday: Baked chicken, squash & zucchini, leftover mac-n-cheese
  • Friday: Leftovers OR Pizza (my vote


  • Sunday: Pork chili
  • Monday: Taylor's Bday dinner at Sharkey's
  • Tuesday: Philly Cheese Peppers OR PF. Chang-inspired lettuce wrap salads
  • Wednesday: Baked mahi mahi, fresh pineapple, edamame
  • Thursday: Pesto Chicken Tortellini
  • Friday: Date night!
  • Saturday: my sweetie pie is making me some kind of pork dish!




Funny story: all last year (when I was 33), I thought I was 34 years old.  I spent almost the whole year thinking I was 34, and then as my birthday started to approach and I was considering turning a year older, I started doing the math in my head and realized, wait a minute!! I'm 33!!  

So basically, I got a do-over year!  How cool is that?!

I really want to take advantage of my do-over year and make the most of it.  I feel like, in some ways, it's an opportunity to reinvent myself.

So here are some things I'm thinking in regards to the "new me."

One of my dearest friends (who I really need to reconnect with, actually) once told me that when you're in your 30s, you get a new perspective on life and you start caring a lot less of what other people think about you.  

This is really start to resonate with me.  I've still got a long way to go, but I think that 34 is going to be the year when I start caring less about what other people think.


The year I stop worrying about what other people will think.

The year I start wearing bright purple and hot pink running shoes.

The year I master my pancake-making skills.

The year I get my feist back.  I'm bringing feisty back!!

The year I learn CPR.

The year I run a marathon?

The year I learn Tai Kwan Do?

The year I publish  book?

I am definitely going to have to continue adding to this list.  What else do I want to do this year?  

Who do I want to be at the end of my do-over year?
Big news: Bob and I registered for our first ever marathon!  I'm totally freakin' nervous and am honestly waiting to see if I can make it through some of our upcoming long runs before I fully let myself believe I'm really gonna do this thing.

The race is on May 5, so we have a tight training window.  I would have preferred more time to train, but we really want to do this race, so we have about 11 weeks to prepare.

We did our first long run this past Sunday.  We scheduled ourselves to do 9 miles.  It was SUPER COLD out yesterday.  Like, insanely cold!!  It was about 17 degrees and windy.

This is me as we got ready to start the run.  I am wearing 2 pairs of tights, my shorts, 2 longs sleeve shirts, plus my parka, my gloves, and a ski mask.  And I still felt numb for most of the run.  

About half-way through my entire phone just cut off.  My Jillian Michael's podcast, my Nike+: gone.  I actually handled it so much better than I have when this has happened in the past.  In the past, it has pretty much ruined my run to lose my music.  I thought for sure I was going to be dying on this run, because it was so grueling, especially running uphill, into the wind.

BUT, that didn't happen.  I don't know if it was because I super motivated to have the run over and done with, but I actually sped up.  And I felt great!  Minus the mind-numbing cold, of course.  We ended up running 1 more mile than planned, so finished at 10 miles, and I actually felt as if I could run an additional 3 miles to make it an even half.

It was a very interesting experience, that run.  There were moments where I sort of hated life.  My nose was a faucet, it was brutally cold, and Bob was so happy, which made it kind of even harder.  Him with that big ole grin on his face!  At one point, I was pretty sure I never wanted to speak to him again or anyone else on the planet for that matter.

But there were these other moments when my legs were just moving in such a complete rhythm and I felt like I was charging through space, charging the atmosphere.  The fact that I felt like I could keep going at the end sort of made up for all of the times in the middle when I wanted to give up.  I'm really not sure how in the world I'll do 26.2, but I'm really interested in finding out.

Bob and I had a brief email exchange where I referenced the idea of him "building a base" in regards to him gaining some knowledge related to computer programming and subsequent coding, and it just sort of struck a chord with me, this idea of "building a base."

The thing is, I started to think about how the notion of building a base is something that can be applied to all areas of our lives.  

We think of it in terms of running in the way that we can build a base upon which to train and progress.  You log a certain number of miles and then from there you add to that, working up to achieve a certain goal.

Well isn't this something that we can do in so many areas of our lives?  We build a base of knowledge in terms of technical or professional skills, whether it's educational degrees or hands-on, lived experiences.  We hope to grow from there, to build on top of that in order to reach ever-evolving goals.

We also build a base in terms of our relationships, both within our own personal development and our interactions with others.  

I don't really know where I'm going with this.  It's just so interesting to me how so much about running translates into metaphors we can apply to our entire lives.

Yeah, just another reason why I love to run!


Super tasty!

Leftover chicken pad thai -- rice noodles, thinly sliced chicken, sliced carrots & peppers, yummy sauce, topped with fresh cilantro and scallions.  I inhaled this lunch!  Also grapes and chickpea chocolate chip cookies.

So I am not entirely sure what we'll be having on which particular day.  Right now I've got tons of ingredients to make the various meals, plus we should have leftovers of tonight's stew, so I'm just going to list out the rough idea I have of how our meals are going to go down this week, with the acknowledgement that it all could change depending on what leftovers we have on hand and how much energy I have by the end of the day.

Saturday (yesterday): Awesome Chicken Pad Thai -- found the recipe on Pinterest -- wish I had taken a pic!
Sunday: Beef stew 
Monday: Chicken Parm Zucchini Gondolas
Tuesday: Sharkeys (kids eat free, woot woot!)
Wednesday: Fish night (likely salmon for me), mac-n-cheese, mixed veggies
Thursday: either leftovers or baked pork, sweet potato fries, corn
Friday: Pizza