Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Short and Sweet

Today: morning run, summer band, cub scouts, 4 swimming lessons, 2 soccer practices, piano practices, visit to dad's work, new batch of cookie dough, reading time, taking the kids (solo!) to a play tonight (Jeff's busy)... What ever happened to lazy summer days!? (I'm pretty much exhausted)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bul Go Gi - Korean Food for today's thoughts

No ruminations, just food for my thoughts today. This was our Father's Day/Jeff's birthday meal. He spoke Korean on his mission and fell in love with the food (and the people). It's absolutely delicious and super duper easy. The cake is obviously not Korean, but it's also really really good. But the cake is not super duper easy (it's kind of time-intensive, but worth it).

Bul Go Gi (Korean Fire Meat)

This is the very best thing in the whole world. I'd even pick Bul Go Gi over cookies, that's how good it is! It melts in your mouth. Yum. I usually buy a 2 lb. oven roast (eye of round) which would technically double the recipe, except I really like the sauce so I actually triple everything else. Have the grocery store butcher slice the roast as thinly as possible - just barely thick enough to hold together.

1 lb. beef, thinly sliced

4 Tbs. brown sugar

2 Tbs. sesame oil

6 Tbs. soy sauce

few grains black pepper

1 green onion, chopped w/tops

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

4 Tbs. sesame seeds (you can toast these lightly in a skillet for extra flavor & crunch)

1 Tbs. flour

Combine sugar & oil in a 1 gl. zip-top plastic bag & mix well. Add soy sauce, pepper, chopped onion, garlic, sesame seed & flour and mix well in bag. (I just mush it around) Add meat and mush it around to coat as much as possible ("mush" is a word, isn't it?). Seal bag and lay on plate or place in large bowl and marinate overnight or at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. You can grill the meat, but it's so thin that it sticks to the grill and cooks really fast (ie, burns easily), so I prefer to cook ( working in batches) on a skillet in a small amount of oil until tender. Don't overcook. Any left-over marinade can be used to cook chopped bok choy, spinach, kale or other veggie of choice. Serve with sticky rice, mandu (we just use pre-made frozen pot stickers), and - if you have a steel stomach - kim chi. Home bottled peaches are really tasty with this meal.

German Chocolate Cake

A friend gave me this recipe years ago, and I've been guarding it as a secret family recipe ever since. Guarding it, that is, until I noticed one time that the recipe was a verbatim copy of the one on the back of the Baker's German Chocolate bar (find it with the chocolate chips). So I'm not going to re-write the recipe. It's on the box. I would just say that if you use cake flour, it makes the batter rise too much for 2 cake pans (9"), so use three (work in batches if you don't have 3 pans). I also frost the outside with a buttercream chocolate frosting because, well, you can never have too much chocolate.

Back in the Saddle Again

Ruminations and Almost Running:
Three weeks ago I finished a 20 mile run by stepping wrong and twisting my back just around the corner from my house. Then I spent the morning washing floors, vacuuming, and cleaning bathrooms. My back took issue with that, and by the time I was done I was sweating - not from housework, but from back pain. I learned my lesson: housework is evil.
Over the next two weeks I hobbled through two uninspiring runs and two pointless swims. I found myself at the chiropractor on an almost daily basis. He was very helpful, but there was no quick fix. I went to a physical therapist a couple of times which was awesome. He found out things that were wrong with me that I didn't know about. And those things all tied into other things (muscles) which pulled me forward and to the right and ... well, let's just say there was a lot of work to be done.
My second marathon of the season was just days away when I went to the physical therapist again. He refused to give me the go-ahead to run. I begged, I cajoled, I bribed, but he wouldn't say yes. No running. Dang it. So I tried something else. Housework, I said, really should be put on my do-not-do list. He refused to say "No housework." I begged, I cajoled, I bribed, but he wouldn't say no. No getting out of housework. Dang it. I thought about grabbing some letterhead and forging my own doctor's note excusing me from vacuuming, but my conscience overrode my good idea.
So with housework in my future and running not in that future, I walked out of the office a very gloomy lady. When I went to pick up my race packet the day before the race, I mumbled the news that I wouldn't be running. Ugh.
Well, they said, we can transfer your registration to next year. Shock! You mean all was not lost, just merely delayed!? It was like a lightbulb turned on. I could still do it - just later! And, they said, you could stand at the finish line and hand out finisher's medals. Delight! I could still be part of the race-day atmosphere! Things weren't how I'd planned them, but this new path I was taking wasn't so bad after all.
One week ago now, the race was held, and I was there, handing out medals to half-marathon and full-marathon runners. The coolest part was placing the medal over a friend's head, welcoming in another friend, and getting a big hug from yet another running friend. As I watched the runners come in I knew they had worked hard and it was gratifying to finish. I also knew that I had worked hard, but although I wasn't running I was grateful to be there. Besides, the pain on their faces made me think about how much more fun I was having at that moment than they were. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. But of course, when I got home, housework was waiting for me.
I should've stayed at the race.
It's been three weeks now since my injury. Friday my Physical Therapist sort of said I sort of could try a run. So I sort of covered three miles by walking, jogging, stopping to stretch, and repeating. I was sort of happy. It would've been much nicer if it hadn't hurt at all, but it didn't hurt too much. I ran the last 1/4 mile barefoot, which made my back actually feel better than ever (probably because I was so focused on every little rock I stepped on, wincing at my tender feet instead of my tender back).
While I struggled with three miles Saturday I couldn't help remember almost exactly one year ago struggling with my first run after a tough miscarriage. I know this is a story many women can tell, and it always amazes me what strong, tough, and resilient creatures women are. We make it through one pain or heartache or another, and keep on moving. Running was my out, my way of dealing with the trauma, and I wanted my body to be strong again. But with three miles being almost insurmountable a year ago, I thought I'd never be able to do a marathon again. But work and patience gets you far. This spring I've run marathon distances at least four times, with at least that many 20+ mile training runs. Now once again, I'll have to work and be patient and get through another setback. Every time I have a setback, I lag a little, then pick myself up, and finally get going again, all the while singing to myself, "Back in the saddle again..."
Speaking of saddles, with this injury I haven't even been able to bike outside - I can only bike sitting straight up. My bike trainer has been my best friend lately. Hooray for cross-training! And, interestingly, although walking and running hurt, I can go up and down stairs without pain. So I've been climbing up and down the local university's stadium stairs. I've spent only about 30 minutes on the stadium each time, but HOLY COW! There have only been two other times in my life that I've been so sore - the first time up the Grand Teton (an entire day) and my first marathon (4+ hours). Thirty minutes on the stadium is awesome. I LOVE the soreness. It means I found a weak spot that I can work on.
Swimming, which I generally love, hasn't saved my sanity. My Physical Therapist said to avoid the front strokes (I always do the front crawl) and to do backstroke instead. B-O-R-I-N-G. And, for me at least, dangerous. I don't swim very straight, I splash water up into my nose, and I hit my head on the edge of the pool. Hmm, I guess there's something else to work on.
By the way, this past Saturday afternoon after my sort-of-3-mile-run, while I was washing the floors with the hard-floor washer/scrubber/vacuum thing, I noticed something: it wasn't sucking up the dirt. I took it apart and guess what? It's broken. Hee-hee. :) Until my husband fixes it, I've got my excuse from at least part of the housework. (I think I'll hide it from him). Besides, when I'm on the trainer or at the stadium or swimming in the water, I don't see the spots on the floor anyway. I only see that I'm recovering...that I'm back in the saddle again.


ABC Soup Mix - Spiffied up

This uses the dry lentil & ABC pasta soup mix available in bulk from places like or the LDS Church Cannery.

2 C. Soup mix

8+ cups water (add more as it cooks off)

Simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until lentils are well cooked. Stir frequently, especially near the end to keep from burning on the bottom.


1/3 to 1 can diced tomatoes w/chilis (a whole can makes it really spicy - too much for my kids)

2 Cans Italian Stewed (diced) tomatoes

1 Tbs. Salt (or less, to taste)

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 lb. Kielbasa, sliced into bite-size pieces, and browned in skillet.

Simmer up to 1/2 hour longer.

Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

From www.

1 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat, uncooked (the wheat berries)

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. oil

2 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbs. honey or sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Put milk and wheat in blender. Bend on highest speed for about 2-3 minutes (to have bits of wheat crunch) or 4-5 minutes (for no crunch) (I like having bits of wheat :) it's yummy). Add eggs, oil, baking powder, honey, and salt and blend on low. Bake on pre-heated griddle (low heat works best). FOR WAFFLES: add one additional Tbs. wheat, increase oil to 4 Tbs.

And Family

Picnic Lunch. When the sun shines in Rexburg we rush outside. I can't imagine what the neighbors must think as I sit in the driveway folding laundry. We usually eat out on the grass, but since this was a soup lunch we needed a flat surface to avoid spills. It was sunny, but a little chilly. Thankfully it has warmed up since this photo was taken two days ago. I LOVE SUNSHINE!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Happy Thoughts! Mickey Cake, Pudding Cookies

Recipes, Swimming, and Ruminations all bundled up together:

So I'm feeling guilty for my last post. It was pretty gloomy. Thankfully a little time, a few cookies, and a morning swim have pulled me through. Plus the sun is shining. That makes me happy. I am planning on being outside this entire day. No housework (except a little laundry), no cooking (oh, dang, we still have to eat. Hmm, cereal, anyone?) no nuttin' but enjoying the sun. Oh, please, please, please don't let my grand plans of doing nothing be thwarted by my compulsion to always be doing something! :)

Today is going to be a wonderful day.

Yesterday, however, was another story. Sundays are always a little tricky, and are both great and dreadful. Jeff spends Sunday mornings rounding at the hospital and going to choir practice. I'm okay with that. But it also means that I spend Sunday mornings getting our kids up, breakfasted, bathed, dressed, and occupied (well, the boys mostly take care of themselves but I'm still Sole Supervisor). I feel pretty good when everyone is washed and dried, has their church clothes on (and especially if they keep them on and keep them clean), everyone has eaten (and the food isn't on the church clothes), nobody is fighting (anymore), and all shoes are matching and on (doesn't matter if shoes are on the right feet). I feel REALLY good when the kids then play quietly together. We've had some pretty good magic shows, music shows, and lego creations the past few Sundays.

No matter how well things go, though, the last ten minutes before we leave for Church everything falls apart. It makes me laugh, sort of. "Mom, I'm hungry!" (we just ate!), "Where's my other shoe, Mom?" (where'd you leave it?), "Oops, I spilled, Mom." (ugh), "Mom, he's yelling at me!" (DON'T YELL!!!).

Yesterday it was especially bad because my sweet, five-year-old little Eleanor - who looked lovely with her hair finally grown out of her last unfortunate own haircut - walked into the kitchen just before church started with a big chunk of hair cut from her bangs. Again. I was not happy. Now I laugh, but I didn't laugh yesterday!

We made it through, got to church on time, and managed the "Sit still" and "Be quiet" pretty well. After church, everyone was starving. I opened the fridge and, oops, there wasn't anything made to feed the fam.

Time to work a miracle. In five minutes I had dinner on the table. While not gourmet at least it was good and healthy!

Nachos Grande

In 8x8 pan, combine in order:

2 cans chili

2 cups shredded cheese

(warm chili & cheese in microwave until cheese is melted)

Shredded lettuce

Cut chives

Diced tomatoes


Serve with salsa and chips. We had a bottle of peaches with it to complete the meal.

I know, nothing fancy. But it worked. I did make the following tasty (not-good-for-you) cake Sunday morning, so I figured that fulfilled my cooking duties for the day.

When we first moved into this home, our sweet neighbor brought us this coffee cake/cinnamon cobbler. It was so good that we devoured the whole thing, then called her for the recipe and made another right away. They call it Mickey Cake in honor of Mickey from Maurice Sendak's rather odd book, "In the Night Kitchen."


1 ½ c. flour

1 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

Pinch salt

Mix together the above ingredients in a mixing bowl. Put one egg in a one cup measuring cup and lightly beat. Fill the measuring cup with milk to 1 cup line. Stir into dry ingredients and then add 3 tbls. melted butter. Stir until blended. Pour into a greased and floured 7½ x13 baking dish. Sprinkle over the top a mixture of ½ c. brown sugar and 1 to 2 tsp. cinnamon. Put in oven for 25 to 30 minute at 350. When cake is removed from oven pour 2 tbls. melted butter over the top. Serve warm.

I had to top off the day with cookies, of course. While Jeff had the kids occupied, I made myself very happy yesterday by making these. If I can't run, at least I can still bake! (I wonder if there are any zero calorie cookie recipes for cookie monsters, like myself, who can't run off the cookie...? Hmm, I may have to change my eating habits!)

Chocolate Pudding Cookies

1 1/2 C. butter/margarine (you can use shortening to substitute for up to half of the butter/margarine)

1 C. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

1 large or 2 small pkgs instant pudding (pick a flavor - for these cookies pictured above I used chocolate; pistachio is really good, or vanilla, or mix vanilla w/pistachio. )

1 1 /2 tsp. vanilla (or use other flavoring of choice - about 1/4- 1/2 tsp. mint or cherry or whatever)

3 eggs

3 1/3 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 pkg (12 oz) chips (or mix flavors - I used white & semi-sweet chips; use mint chips or peanut butter chips for different flavors)

1 1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional.

Cream butter, sugar and pudding mix. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and soda. Stir in chips (and nuts). Bake at 350 about 8 minutes or until just barely brown (you can't tell if they're brown when using chocolate pudding).

I'm so glad Saturday is over, and Sunday eased me out of my gloom, and that today is a good day. Not running my race Saturday was the pits, and my dad knew it. My dad is my hero. He is the kindest, gentlest, most considerate dad in the world. He brought me this rose and card Saturday afternoon. He knew how disappointed I was with missing the marathon and how frustrated I am with my back injury. Somehow running, although still up on my list of favorite things, doesn't seem so globally important anymore. Not when I have a dad's love like I do. Thanks, Dad.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Recovering. Recipes: Crustless Quiche, biscuits, rolls - what, no cookies!?

This is a pretty healthy dinner, I must say. Except the cookie, of course. This would pass as a hearty breakfast or brunch, too.
Crustless Quiche
1 dozen eggs, beaten until the yellow turns pale
a whole bunch of veggies & stuff: For example, this Quiche has the following, which I sauteed before adding to the eggs: onion, red bell pepper, shredded carrot, diced baby bok choy, canned mushrooms, chopped tomato (just squeeze out the juice after first slice, then continue cutting), chopped olives, chopped broccoli.
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 + cups of shredded cheese of choice (mild or medium - or even sharp - cheddar, colby jack, whatever)
I had extra half-and-half I had to get rid of, so I added that, too, but I usually don't add it.
Mix everything together, pour into two pie pans, and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until browned and the center doesn't jiggle.

Talk about high protein packed full of veggies! My kids eat it with ketchup/catsup (whatever). My husband uses Sriracha hot sauce to spice it up.

Whole Wheat Biscuits (okay, make it with white flour if you like. They taste really good either way).
2 C. Flour (wheat, white, or combo)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar

Cut in:
1/2 C. butter flavored shortening (regular is okay, too)

Stir in:
3/4 C. Milk

Form into dough, turn out onto floured surface, knead and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick, adding more flour if necessary. Cut with biscuit cutter or glass cup. Bake on glass or metal pan at 450 for 10-12 minutes.

The Easiest Rolls Ever
These use a bread machine for the mixing, but there's no reason you can't just mix it yourself, let it rise about 40 minutes or so, punch down, and let it rise again about 40 minutes before forming.

Put in bread machine in order, or in the order your machine suggests (wet first or dry first)
1 C. warm milk
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp. salt
4 C. flour (bread flour is preferable)
1 Tbs. instant yeast

I usually warm the milk, dump in, use the same cup to soften the butter, dump it, then use the same cup to beat the eggs lightly.
Set machine to Dough cycle.
To Form: divide dough in half. Roll the half into a circle, about the size of a medium pizza. Cut into 12 wedges (like pizza). Working from the wide side, roll each wedge in towards the center point to form the rolls. Repeat with other half. Line on greased cookie sheet, three rows down with 8 rolls across. Cover with dry clean light cloth. Let rise about 1/2 hour. Bake at 375 10-12 minutes.

This dough is so versatile. Just up the sugar to 1/2 cup. and you have perfect cinnamon roll dough.
I use it also for Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, (pictured at left along with sauteed baby bok choy, long grain white rice, hamburger stroganoff, and applesauce made from Grandma H's apple trees) which is sooo good.
Melt 2 Tbs. butter in skillet, saute 6-8 minced garlic cloves for about 3 minutes.
Roll about 2/3 of the dough into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread garlic mixture over top of dough. Cut into 4 strips vertically, then horizontally to get 16 (3x2 inch) pieces. Place pieces in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. (The arrangement will look like an accordion pleat.) I tip the loaf pan up a little to help stack the rectangles, turning each one with a corner up opposite to the rectangle before and after so it alternates. When I'm done, I set the pan down and move everything to fill the pan evenly. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until slices fill pan, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown, placing foil on top after 10 minutes. Immediately invert bread onto a wire rack; cool slightly. Serve warm. Makes 1 loaf. Serves 8.
Reading: I am loving Magyk. What a fun book. Once again, I find myself carrying the book around with me all day long with the hope that I will have a moment to read. That moment never comes until all the kids are asleep, of course.

Running: Ugh.

Ruminations: Sometimes you lose yourself. It just happens. I guess it's okay as long as it is only temporary. The problem with having lost myself this time is that it feels pretty permanent. Writing always seems to help, so hopefully by the end of this post I will either find myself or have spotted myself waiting for me up ahead.
Wish me luck.
It's my injured body that triggered the Lost Person's Alert this time. With a crazy domino effect, everything else just seemed to cascade away with me - including my identity. I was a runner. I was a triathlete, also, but mostly a runner. Two weeks ago I injured my back on the end of my 20+ miler. Since then I've run (with great pain and less speed than any turtle) only two times - 10 miles and 5 miles. I went swimming twice - 2 miles and 1 mile.
But that's it. In two weeks I've done practically nuttin' but sit, sit, sit. And sleep, sleep, sleep. Oh, and visit two different chiropractors and go twice to the physical therapist. I've used muscle relaxants, pain killers, hot baths, ice packs, and spent countless hours stretching. My back is not getting better. The physical therapist disclosed to me also that it isn't just the acute muscle strain at the base of my back, but it is also the chronic muscle contraction all the way up the right side of my back and shoulder and into my neck, that is causing my problems.
After having a headache every day for three years, I probably should've realized there was a greater problem at play. I guess its good to know the root of all evils is my back, but I'd feel a lot better if we could fix that root. So far nothing.
It's crazy how unbelievably tired I've been. Doctor Husband says I've been burning the candle at both ends and am sleep deprived, so the rest is good. Physical Therapist says my body is trying to heal and recover, so the rest is good. Ex-Runner Me says I'm getting really lazy and if things don't change soon, one of these days I'm just going to end up staying in bed and die there. Oooo, I am such a bundle of positive energy right now.
Resigning myself to the inevitable, I went to pick up my race packet yesterday and to inform the race director that I'm not running today. As I write this, I should be one hour into this morning's marathon. It was going to be a good one for me, maybe a PR (personal record). I'm in almost the best shape I've ever been and have learned how to fuel properly to get me through a race in good form and good time. Almost the best shape I've ever been? No, not now. Two weeks ago I was in almost the best shape (two years ago was the best). Today my body is a lazy bag of bones with no focus, no goal, and no me inside.
I just had a thought - my first glimmer of hope. When I wrote just now that "two years ago was the best" I realized something. Every time I have had a baby (and this includes miscarriage), I have had to start all over. I have done it five times. It is hard to go from running 26 miles with ease to struggling through 2 miles, but I've done it. And I can do it again. I can recover myself. I can. Now I just have to want to.
Do I want to? Do I want to go through all that again? Has it been worth it in the past to slowly get back to where I want to be?
This is where I need to scrunch up my face, close my eyes, search through my brain, and look for me. Ahh, there I am, way back there, fading in and out - a picture of me in bed, a picture of me panting up the hill, a picture of me smiling on a fast run. Right-oh, that's who I want to recover - the smiling me. The me who can do things because she chooses to work for it. It doesn't have to be running, but it has to be something. Swimming, biking, writing...anything, really, that I work for and makes me smile.
I am feeling very selfish. Is it all about me, me, me? No. It can't be. I'm in charge of four little ones, bound to my husband, and a member of a community. It's for them that I get out of bed. But I don't get up early. The getting up early is only for me, and I'm not doing it anymore. So I guess I'm taking care of the things around me. Now I have to get around to recovering myself or I won't be able continue getting up at all.
The race director wouldn't sympathize, which was an eye-opener. I realized what seems so traumatic to me is something he sees all the time. I realized that to him, this is no big deal. Inside I pout, "He's not the one hurting every step he takes!" But then a part of me says, "Maybe he knows you'll heal and this really will pass." Oh - a part of me! I just found a part of me!
The race director also transferred my registration to next year's race. That was a bit of a shock. He thinks I'll be running again. He's already assuming I'll be back in the game next year. He also said that I can now focus on the August race I'm signed up for (a triathlon). He's assuming I'll be going again within weeks! And wow, part of me says, maybe he's right. Oh! That part of me I found is just getting stronger and bigger as it begins to emerge from the recesses of my head! (No, I am not crazy and hearing voices, just having fun with the imagery).
He (the race director - not a voice in my head) invited me to help hand out medals to finishers this morning. I'm leaving to help in an hour. I'm really excited to do that. Despite not being able to run, and not being a recipient of a finisher's medal that ought to have been mine, I get to be a part of the race anyway. That was very, very kind of him - very therapeutic, too, in terms of healing the inside hurt.

Speaking of voices, here is my cheering squad:
My husband, who thinks I overdo it, but supports me anyway. He might be right, but I like overdoing it. I like pushing myself. He's given me the go-ahead to get treatment, slapped on some pain reliever patch when it hurt too bad to sleep, and made a late-night trip to get some muscle relaxants just to help me out. I know he thinks my running is silly, but he knows how much it means to me and lets me do it anyway. One of these days I'm going to run my best and make him proud, and then he'll decide my running is a good thing.
My kids, who think their mom can do anything, and I don't want to disappoint them. Ever.
My little brother (who is only thirteen months younger than me and much taller, but I like to call him little anyway) spent quite a bit of time chatting with me yesterday. He just ordered his own pair of barefoot shoes (Vibram Five Fingers) and is in the middle of reading, "Born to Run." His enthusiasm was contagious, his information intriguing, and his ideas compelling. In other words, I want to read the book now. As he deals with running injuries right now, he can commiserate and encourage me that maybe this isn't the end of my Running identity.
My older brother is also dealing with injuries. He either needs new shoes or no shoes (depending on your take on barefoot running). He was going to run today's marathon in my place, but shin splits took him out of the game. He tends to think I'll get better, too. I'm trying to believe him because I've always believed him.
My oldest brother is quadriplegic. He deals with acute and chronic pain all the time. To him, it's just life. Yeah, it is just life. My back makes it hurt to walk, but at least I can walk. To him, I am not a Runner, I am Family. Besides, he's also convinced I'll get better.
My parents, who probably would be delighted if I stopped running and stopped getting hurt, but are proud of me nonetheless.
My little sister-in-law, who made me do yoga even though I just wanted to sit. It was good to do something at least. My parents-in-law, who would have been at the race if I had run today...
My friends who have given advice and sympathy, pointed me to the right chiropractor and the right physical therapist, and baked me my very own plate of cookies. I feel spoiled with all this love.
The voices of those that matter most to me...they believe. Not necessarily that I'll be running, but that I'll be my best at whatever it is I set out to do. I just need to get out of bed and set out! And, in the setting out, take them along. I think as I start the journey with them and with the little part of me that I've found, that I'll recover the rest of me and find joy and satisfaction in my roles and my goals.
I guess the first step on the journey to recover is to know where I'm going. Time to set some goals. Time to wake up and do something more than dream... Time to find Me.

I have a black toe on my left big toe from my last marathon. Running is so much a part of my life in a positive way, but it also impacts me negatively when I'm injured and running hurts, or when I go through withdrawal when I can't run at all. I don't want to give it up, though. I won't.
When I find a shoe I like, I stock up. Especially if the shoe is on sale. Then I just alternate days so the shoes get the same wear. That would all change if I became a barefoot runner, I guess. Except winter. I wouldn't go shoeless in winter.

LATER: I just got back from handing out finisher's medals at today's marathon. I couldn't help thinking how much more fun I was having cheering on the runners than the runner's were having pushing through the pain... But, of course, I know they're accomplishment is gratifying and I would love to be in their shoes. Well, there was one barefoot runner - I guess I should say I'd love to be in his feet?
Dang it, my back hurts. Back to my quest to find the rest of me.
Again, wish me luck. A hug wouldn't hurt, either.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scottish Shortbread YUMMMM!

Running: Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch OUCH. I managed to put 5 miles in but it was a struggle. How in the world am I going to run a marathon on Saturday???? Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll start and not finish - and get my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish). And that's okay. I'll do what I can.

Recipes: This has got to be the easiest dessert in the world. And probably the tastiest & unhealthiest. Oh, well.

Scottish Shortbread w/Chocolate

4 C. Flour

1 C. Granulated Sugar

2 C. Butter (no substitutes)

Mix flour and sugar. Soften butter and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter - or knead and combine with fingers. Pat dough into large jelly-roll/cookie sheet until evenly covered. Prick dough with fork every couple of inches. Bake 25-30 minutes at 325.
As soon as it comes out of the oven, you can dust with powdered sugar or drizzle chocolate (which is the way we like it).

Chocolate: Melt 2-3 cups chocolate chips (we like semi-sweet) and 1-2 Tbs. shortening in microwave until melted completely (about 2 minutes). Stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate by the spoonful over the shortbread in a lattice pattern - or however you like.
If you use white chocolate or vanilla chips, you will have to add quite a bit more shortening to make it smooth and runny enough to drizzle.
Let cool for several hours for chocolate to harden.

Reading: Today I started Magyk, by Angie Sage, because my son Samuel (age 10) recommended it. If he likes it, then that's good enough for me to give it a go. So far so good (all 15 pages I've read so far).

Ruminations: Another busy but good day, despite the continual rainy weather. I took the kids to the local University's indoor track during the open-community hour at lunch time. They had fun running and playing and getting out their wiggles. A trip to three stores (including a bookstore) filled our afternoon, and we came home bearing the spoils of our travels: five new books. I love books. I love that my kids love books.

But, since the sun decided to shine right when we got home, we put aside the books and played outside. I love the sun. I love when my kids play outside.

We're joining some friends for a Family Night dinner and hike tonight. Even if the mountainside is muddy, we're going to get out and enjoy the wildflowers, by golly! I'm tired of being stuck inside. The husband, by the way, is my old geology professor from about 18 years ago. I followed him down the Grand Canyon for a three-day trip, and up in the Tetons, and through various other National Parks (Arches, Canyonlands, etc) to learn hands-on about geology. That was really cool, although I don't remember much of the science. It's been a long time. But I do remember the experience - and it was definitely one of the highlights of my life.

Talk about a walk down memory lane! What a fun time. There is just a tiny sting, though, every once in awhile when I remember the neat things I've done. I'm not doing them now. Not traveling to exotic places, summiting any peaks, or experiencing different cultures. I'm not getting graded, or finishing big projects or practicing law. But I am in charge of the lives of four very wonderful, very amazing, real live people. Living my life for them is hands-down more challenging and more satisfying than just living life for myself. And who knows? Maybe someday I'll lead them - or maybe just cheer them on - up the peaks, down into the canyons, and to the other side of the world...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ruminations - as an addendum to yesterday's venting:
So to make peace with this week, I forced myself out of bed at 5am and took off on the trusty treadmill (I didn't dare go outside in case my back seized up 5 miles from home). I managed to trudge out 10 miles, although I had to stop every couple of miles to stretch my back. Still, it was 10 miles with an average 9-minute-mile pace (not nearly my best or even normal pace, but good enough). I spent a long time stretching and icing afterwards, took some pills, aimed the hot water on my back in the shower, and then I was prepared to meet the day.
It was a good day.
After picking up my basket of fruits & veggies from the co-op thingy (Bountiful Baskets), I sent Jeff & the boys off to mow lawns. The girls and I played Memory and pieced together puzzles, then I cleaned all the whole main level floors. No more spots. Phew!
My very cool mom was all set to babysit the girls so I could leave, but my guys came home just as I set out the last lunch plate - perfect timing. I left Jeff with lunch and the kids to drive out to Rigby Lake for a mid-day swim (THANK YOU, JEFF!). I'm pretty sure the water temperature was below 50 degrees F. It actually felt like 50 below. My wetsuit is pretty good, but it still takes a while for the water inside the suit to warm up. I bet I swam a good 25 yards with my head out (too cold to put it in, plus I was hyperventilating, which you can't do with your face in the water). I really couldn't breathe for a while. Finally I either got numb or the water in my suit warmed up, and then I was good to go. (Sad news - there's a tear in my wetsuit from the last time I put it on. I filled it with super glue, but it's just not the same).
I had a tentative swim date with some friends, but they both couldn't make it, so I swam alone. I know, you shouldn't swim alone. BUT!! Our good friend (who wins all the local triathlons and is an amazing athlete) told me that sometimes he swims alone and just stays along the shore. Duh - how come I never even considered that!? So today I felt empowered to swim alone (plus there were campers along the lake edges). I swam around the lake, sticking close to the shore. I could touch bottom pretty much the whole way around. I think it was a mile or so swim, based on the time it took me.
I love open water swimming - when it's close to the shore :) Every breath I took was wonderful. I didn't turn my head and see the side of the pool, instead I got to see clouds, opposite shore, water, and - drum roll - I got to see the sun (YES! The sun was there! Off and on, of course, but still I saw the sun!). I practiced sighting and got in a good rhythm of sighting every 4th stroke, so I wasn't zig-zagging like I usually do in open water.
My arms felt strong. I think it was the wetsuit that gave me that feeling, but I'm going to pretend it really was me (it was the wetsuit). I'm pretty sure an ice-water swim was good for my back, too. At least, that's what I kept telling myself. I was so cold I didn't feel my back hurting, anyway. :)
I managed to leave the water without freezing, get the wetsuit off with numb fingers, and hop into my warm car with very little trouble. I shivered the whole way home, but a long, HOT shower warmed me up. Jeff & the kids were at the store, but they came home just as I finished dressing. Perfect timing, again.
I folded the laundry, played with the kids, then I got to putter in the kitchen! Wow - is this a good day, or what? I started roasting the turkey breast, then went outside to watch the girls jump on the tramp while I shucked corn. Very pleasant, except for the wind and too many clouds, but at least I was outside.
Dinner was roasted turkey & gravy, corn, sauteed baby bok choy, and black berries. Oliver (8 yr old) took charge of dessert and made (from scratch) his delicious brownies.
We served brownies with ice cream, caramel, and chocolate syrup for dessert. My Oliver (8 years old) made the brownies all by himself.

Oliver's Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x9 (or 8x8 for thicker brownies - or double the recipe and use a 9x13).

In microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt together the following (about 2 minutes):
1 Cup butter or margarine
3/4 C. baking cocoa powder (or 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, and reduce butter/margarine to 3/4 cup)
2 C. sugar

Stir well until completely combined. Add and mix well:
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla.

Stir in:
1 C. flour
1 C. walnuts, chopped (optional).

Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs.
Things keep getting better! Jeff decided to treat the kids to a double feature in our basement after dinner. I'm not big on movies, so I was delighted when Jeff said his mom had an extra ticket to a play at the University (actually, two plays - a double feature!). I went a few minutes early and sat outside in the SUN!!! for like, two minutes (yes, the sun was shining AGAIN! - but for only like, two minutes...I'll take what I can get!).
The plays were both written by Brome. Abraham & Isaac, followed by Everyman. I really enjoyed both plays - especially Everyman - and I enjoyed the company. My mother-in-law is, like my mom, also a very cool lady.
So then I got home, tucked the kids in, spent some time just hanging out with Jeff and talking about the plays (he'd taken Oliver to them last night; next play it's Samuel's turn). My back locked up before the play, but I stretched it as inconspicuously as possible when the lights were off, and by intermission it was relaxed again. It's getting better!
I haven't read today, but I did listen to my scriptures while I ran and I count watching the play as at least something similar to reading. Works for me!
It's amazing what a difference a day can make. I like today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bad Weeks Happen

Recipes: Haven't cooked all week (no time to with doctor's visits, swimming lessons, etc). Hooray for left-overs!
Running: Ugh. I "ran" 5 miles yesterday on the treadmill. Or hobbled, is more like it. I did swim 2 miles two days ago, so at least I got a little exercise this week. Double ugh.
Reading: I think there is a disconnect between my eyes and my brain, because although I know I looked at the words, I don't ever remember really reading.

It's been a bad week.

Ruminations: I'm bored. I can't believe I just said that. Bored was a bad word in my family growing up, and I still feel guilty saying (or writing) it. There's so much to do, so much to be done, but I'm not doing it. Besides, it makes my back hurt worse to do anything. Wow, am I whiney today or what?
I visited two different chiropractors this week and one physical therapist. If my dumb insurance deductible wasn't so high, I'd be back at the PTs clinic in a heartbeat. I figured I could afford one visit, then do chiropractic stuff (which is cheaper). The PT's visit was sooooo good. First chiro was fine, second was good, but honestly, the PT topped them all. Sigh...
Okay, I shouldn't complain. Who wants to read an I'm-bored boring post anyway? Nobody. I should quit, but blogging gives me something to do. Something to do sitting down, I should say. My back can handle this.
You know, it's really disturbing how disoriented I've been this week. School ended, I got my boys back from school and my oldest girl "graduated" from preschool. It's really great to have all four home with me. But we're getting bored. Our schedules are like my back: out-of-whack.
It doesn't help that somebody stole the sun. Whoever did that is in such big trouble! RETURN THE SUN PLEASE - or else this is going to be a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g summer. Two days ago I took the kids to the music store to browse electric guitars (that's my boys' new fettish) while the girls banged on all the drums, then we went to feed ducks at the nature park, then they rode their bikes or picked dandelions at the skate park, then we played at a playground, then we went to a different playground, then we went to swimming lessons. We got a month's worth of activities done in one day. I guess we could always do it again. And really, all the outside stuff was fine, but it was windy, cloudy, and chilly. Not the best conditions to be out for too long. The library is closed for renovations or we would've gone there. Blah blah blah. So begins our summer vacation, amidst this very March-like weather, and the coming days look just as bleak and boring.
The kids have their daily chores and work-books and music practice, which helps the monotony, but they finish everything by about 10am. Maybe I need to give them more chores and work-books...
I am not fond of an untidy or unclean house. Thankfully, the kids are pretty good at tidying up when told, but the cleaning part (at least the parts that I do) isn't quite up to par. I want to wash the floors, vacuum the carpets, clean the bathrooms - all of which aggravate my back. So blame the spots on the floor on my back - but don't say anything to me about it or I might just start to cry.
And cooking, which I love, has had to take a back seat to swimming lessons. The lessons take up my afternoon - from 3:30ish to about 7. Doctor's visits have taken up the mornings (after my kids finished their chores by 10). No time for puttering around the kitchen.
How can I be so bored and so busy at the same time?
What's really messed up my balance is not being able to run. I know I get grumpy when I taper, but tapering isn't supposed to start until tomorrow afternoon. With my marathon one week away, I'm feeling more than a little worried about my inability to exercise. Plus, I really miss it. I'm going to try again tomorrow. Maybe that'll help.
It's okay to vent, isn't it? At least it alleviates the boredom temporarily. Now that I've blogged, the question is again, "What to do, what to do...?" There's always laundry, I guess. Boring.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Celebrating Memorial Day (children's style)

Ruminations: Sometimes your kids just have a way of making you proud. We visited cemeteries for Memorial Day. My kids thought it was really interesting to look at the names and dates and ages on the different headstones. But they were just names and dates and ages to my kids, not people. How could I expect them to extract stone-written information and translate that to "this was a real, live person"? I made an attempt to explain why we don't romp around the cemetery, that although the people buried here probably didn't care, there were those of us walking about above ground who needed the respect and reverence in order to deal with the solemnity of death and the acceptance of loss. Of course, children don't want to deal with the solemnity of death. They want to celebrate life!
And so they did, in their own reverent way. After they understood the function of cemeteries, they brushed off the gloom so often found in such places and on such days, pushing it away like they would brush off irritating cobwebs. Suddenly the headstones represented people, people who had lived, not just died, and were waiting there for my children to pay attention to them. The kids were happy to oblige as they flitted from one headstone to another, greeting the people's names and dates and ages with as much enthusiasm as when making a new friend. It was as if they said, "Happy to meet you!" each time they stopped at a headstone.
The kids were proud to be part of putting flowers on the headstones of their relatives. They liked giving gifts to honor their family members, most of whom they'd never met. Their delight in sharing a present with the dead reminded me of their delight in giving presents at birthdays. If death is but a birth into the next life, then my kids wanted to make it a festive celebration - of the life lived and the lives still living.
It was a happy occasion as my children connected with their family. There was birthday-like cheer in the air during this one-sided family reunion. Well, perhaps it wasn't one-sided. Perhaps the spirits of our ancestors smiled at the children who hadn't learned to feel the deep sorrow of loss yet.
My oldest son showed his emerging understanding of death, and dealt with it in a pleasantly mature and sensitive way. He noticed headstones that were bare, unlike most of the other headstones that were adorned with real or artificial flowers. And he thought it wasn't right. He thought that all the Dead deserved some honor on this special day. So he put a flower on a bare, very old, headstone. Then he found another naked headstone and clothed it with another flower. It wasn't long before all my children had followed his example, and the Hancock Children's Society to Provide Flowers to All People's Headstones was unofficially formed. The "flowers" my kids were gathering were pitiful-looking dandelions found in the grass around the cemetery. I'm sure the Dead didn't mind, but I wonder what the Living will think when they see shriveled old weeds adorning the headstones of the cemetery.
Maybe they'll see the weeds, smile, and think, "Ah, children must have been celebrating here."

Running: Not. I hurt my back and spent the long holiday weekend wishing the holiday would hurry up and pass so I can get into a chiropractor or physical therapist! No running. So I'll call this,
Hiking: I did hobble after my family on a hike into Piney (Pine) Butte, a place Jeff and I went to during high school as part of our Outdoor Club fieldtrip. It was fun to share it with the children and to relive old memories with Jeff.
It's a crater, a sunken old volcano steam vent, that is shaped like a bowl with trees lining the inside edges of the bowl, and a flat, grassy meadow on the bottom of the bowl. Outside the bowl, the edges slope gently away into miles and miles of relatively flat sagebrush-filled land.
It is so odd to have a forested crater in the middle of all that sagebrush. From outside the crater you can only see a few of the Douglas Fir trees sticking up on the hill like lost strangers in a foreign land. They just don't belong. When you crest the hill and finally look down into the crater, it just surprises you to see moss-covered rocks, bent old fir trees, snow patches, Quaking Aspen, and grass. Where's the sagebrush? It's a different world, an oasis in the desert of sagebrush. We had fun exploring the forest. My boys (ages 8 & 10) claimed various rock piles as their own new forts, and proceeded to have snowball fights. My oldest girl (age 5) examined all the different mosses and lichens, searched for bugs, picked flowers, and basically practiced her already-chosen occupation as a Naturalist. My youngest daughter (age 2) had fun climbing over rocks and around tree roots.
Jeff and I took turns watching and exploring with them.
I read a book once called "The Geography of Childhood" and it mentioned that children don't see the end of the hike as the goal, but the hike itself as the purpose - the flowers beneath their feet instead of the view up ahead. I saw my kids today approach the hike not as a destination -not as a thing to be attempted, accomplished, and left behind, but as a journey - an experience to be examined, enjoyed, and thought about. It was fun to watch. It would have been more fun if my back wasn't killing me, though!

Reading: Horatio Hornblower is growing into quite the sailor and officer. Good book, and I do like the stories (each chapter is its own new adventure), but I don't know if I'll read all eleven in the series.

Recipes: No cooking today. Too busy with hiking and swimming lessons.
Okay, so I did make chocolate chip cookies... Actually, I just made the dough. It's waiting in the fridge for me to eat it. :) I like to bake only what we'll eat in one day, save the rest of the dough in the fridge or freezer, and bake new batches when we run out. I don't like old cookies. Fresh-baked are so much better.
But I did make some enchiladas the other day, cheating by using canned green enchilada sauce (sometimes you're just in a hurry...).
Brown 1lb hamburger with diced onions, drain, stir in about 1/4 cup flour. In a separate bowl, mix 1 can green enchilada sauce with 4 oz. cream cheese. Combine cream cheese mixture with hamburger. Add about 1/4 cup. salsa and a can of drained & rinsed black beans. Warm GOOD tortillas for 1 minute on high in the microwave. Fill with hamburger mixture, a handful of cheese, and pour a little of the remaining green enchilada sauce. Wrap, place in pan side by side. Pour another can of green enchilada sauce, a bunch of salsa, and tons of cheese on top. At 350, bake covered (tent the tin foil so the cheese doesn't stick) until warmed through and cheese is melted (about 45 minutes). Serve with rice, cut tomatoes, avocados, chips, whatever floats your boat.