Mother’s Day Recap

I’ll cut to the chase: the end of Mother’s Day found me in my too familiar spot, alone in a hotel room, preparing for a painfully early (6:15 AM) meeting that is a must attend situation.

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I knew I had to go, but I procrastinated as much as possible to spend more time at home before packing up and hitting the road about 5 PM. An 11 mile stretch of road construction also padded my drive by an extra thirty minutes, which soured the experience even more.

The day leading up to that moment wasn’t too bad, though, despite MGM (9) waking me up at 5:45 AM to try and find a lost iPad.

With the crisis averted, I was able to successfully doze until about 8 AM.

Spouse made breakfast tacos while Trixie (8) and I read outside, coffee in hand (me).

Unfortunately, I tweaked a muscle in my left leg on Friday at Orangetheory Fitness, and running – normally a thing I love to do on Mother’s Day (see below) – was out of the question. After breakfast, the whole family went for a walk.

It was a beautiful day but both kids vociferously complained about being outside. The dog quit after about 10 minutes and had to be carried most of the way home. 

For the past three years, I’ve spent Mother’s Day running my favorite race, the RunDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which is held in and around Disneyland. I’ve typically gone out to California on a Thursday, checked into my hotel and gone to the race expo, then spent Friday by myself at Disneyland, completing a 10K race Saturday and the half on Sunday, then flying home – renewed and refreshed, plus with new bling – Sunday evening.

With all of the changes this year, being gone even more from the family seemed rude, and frankly, I couldn’t justify the expense of a solo trip to Cali when we are sitting with an unsold house (nearly 50 days on the market and no bites, huge sigh), moving expenses, etc.

Back at the Ranch: Trixie and I read outside some more, I took a nap on the sofa (!!!), we went for another walk, made gluten free chocolate chip cookies, and then I really had to go.

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The kids made crafts at school for me, but Spouse also gifted me with this mantra band:

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Nevertheless, she persisted.

While an obvious nod to current-ish events and Elizabeth Warren, I think this is also appropriate given everything we’ve got going on in our lives right now.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to those who mother – in the broad verb sense of the word – in every possible way.

 

 

Our Home Chef Experience

As I’ve mentioned many times, I hate all domestic chores. 

Especially cooking.

When Spouse and I were first married nearly 19 (!) years ago, I frequently made ambitious but only semi-successful dinners, often inviting friends over to eat un-tested recipes cooked in the 1950s kitchen of our 600 square foot apartment.

The most famous fail was when I made salmon for friends and the directions said to wash fish, so I did.

With Dawn detergent.

The dish bubbled in the oven.

My subsequent strategy for dinner parties became this: get guests intoxicated enough to mostly ignore (and forgive) any missteps with the food.

When kids came along, we didn’t make a lot of effort to step up our game. Shame on us.

While I would assemble things for dinner (a salad, frozen veggies, maybe a sandwich), to say that I cooked often would be a stretch.

The creepy pizza delivery guy also became a little too familiar with our regular Friday night order.

With our pending move and the many changes coming with it (especially the fact that I am gone 3-4 nights per week), we decided that family dinners were more important than ever.

Enter Home Chef.

Spouse did the research on many of the home delivery dinner services available (so many!), and we selected Home Chef based on the fact that they can deliver to our town and have gluten free offerings (mandatory for Trixie – 8 – who has severe celiac disease).

Currently, we get two meals per week. Spouse usually ends up cooking one while I am gone and usually we make one as a family on the weekend.

Pros:

  • These meals are definitely better than what we would make on our own. Some I would describe as restaurant quality, like Cajun shrimp and cheesy grits.
  • Speaking of grits: this is something I never would have made on my own. Never. Having grown up in Wisconsin, grits were NOT a staple in our house. While I’ve had them a few times as an adult – both sweet and savory – they aren’t something I particularly like or crave. But with Home Chef, I found out they were pretty easy to make and grits with cheese and butter, oh my. Yum.
  • My kids have been introduced to new flavors. Last weekend we made a Korean inspired meal with pork and an absolutely delicious cabbage slaw. I don’t eat pork, but I went nuts on that slaw. So good.
  • Portions are large. We order meals to feed four people, but even when we eat a lot (see above re: going nuts on the slaw), there are leftovers.

Cons:

  • It takes us absolutely forever to make a meal. When we have plenty of time, like a leisurely Saturday night, this isn’t a big deal, but weeknights are a stretch to get dinner on the table before the kids’ (theoretical) bedtime.
  • It’s a lot more work than we are used to doing. There’s always so much chopping.
  • The kitchen is invariably a huge mess by the time we’re done.
  • The packaging seems extremely wasteful, especially the cold packs and lining materials in the boxes.
  • It’s not cheap. So far we’ve made every meal we’ve received, but there will be a time that we don’t get to one and have to toss the ingredients, and I will be angry at throwing away money when this day comes.
  • I can’t eat a lot of it. I eat seafood but not beef, chicken or pork. The rest of my family does. We did not sign up for vegetarian options, but we could have. Given the gluten restriction and our kids’ tastes (which tend to run meat-y), we opted to keep meat in the mix and nix the gluten rather than go vegetarian. I still like the sides that come with the meals, though, and I usually make something extra for myself (salad) and fill up on the sides.
  • While well-packaged, some of the meat has leaked. It did not seem spoiled, but it’s unappetizing and potentially unsafe to say the least.

Overall, Home Chef has been a good experiment for us. We’ve been using the service for about 3 months, and it’s still novel. There may come a time when it isn’t, but for now we’ll stick with it.

Final comment: while opinions in our family have generally been positive about the food, Spouse did find this note written by Trixie earlier this week:

 

P.S. This post is NOT sponsored in any way by Home Chef. We use them and I thought I’d share the experience, good and bad.

P.P.S. This blog does not, in fact, have any sponsors, although I would welcome an opportunity to shamelessly plug brands I love, like Louis Vuitton. So, Vuitton, if you are reading this, I would be happy to review your spring 2017 collection.

Trixie’s 8th Birthday

Trixie turned eight on Sunday.

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She was sooooo excited to open her presents that she woke me up at 6 A.M. to get the party started.

After being told that 6 A.M. was far too early to wake everyone up on a Sunday, she came back to check at 6:30 and 7:00.

At 7:01, I relented, got out of bed and fired up the coffee.

Through my friend M., we were able to secure a Hatchimal as a gift.

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Unfortunately, Trixie’s Hatchimal did not hatch, which appears to be a common problem.

We were able to open the shell ourselves, which prompted her to declare that her Hatchimal – “Pinky” – was born via cesarean section.

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After a birthday party with friends at a local bowling alley, the four of us headed home for her dinner of choice: sushi, followed by a (gluten-free) red velvet cake and ice cream, a round of a new game (Disney’s “Beat the Parents”) and a showing of “Garfield, a Tail of Two Kitties.” 

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She declared it the best birthday ever. Heart full.

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Glam Boutique

This isn’t exactly a Valentine’s Day-related post, but this made my heart swell on multiple levels. 

Last week Trixie created a doll store from a cardboard box.

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Welcome to Glam, ladies and gents!

I love her creativity, especially the wall displays (catalog images) and the cash register (??) made of legos bricks. The counter is stocked with accessories. This is *exactly* the kind of thing I would have made when I was her age. Heart.

Spouse created an elaborate backstory for Glam, namely that it’s such an exclusive boutique that it’s appointment only.

Late in the week, he sent me this text:

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Made me laugh. So much love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Cities Women’s March

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided that the Women’s March was so important that we needed to attend.

My mental Pro/Con List looked something like this:

Pros:

  1. This is an incredibly important, once-in-a-lifetime event
  2. As an OBGYN, I am all-in for equal rights and women’s rights, especially reproductive freedom
  3. I am a feminist
  4. As parents, both Spouse and I thought this was a tremendous opportunity for the kids to see activism in action
  5. I could go on with about 100 more points like this…

Cons:

  1. I’d already driven the 200+ mile round trip between our current city and the Twin Cities twice this week. With my new job I’ve been staying in a hotel from Monday to Friday, but this week I had an early morning dentist appointment on Friday and drove home Thursday night after work (in terrible fog and icy rain) and then did the whole round trip Friday. Going to the March meant I had to do it again on Saturday, too. In the best case scenario, I hate driving. In this case, I really detested the nail-biting road conditions.
  2. I thought that parking and the crowds might be a hassle
  3. While I believed that things would be peaceful, I had a tiny worry that some nut job might do something crazy and I didn’t want to put my kids in danger
  4. The real reason: I hate being even *slightly* physically uncomfortable in the cold. My temperature comfort zone ranges from approximately 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit, and this March was taking place in January in Minnesota.

Even in my head, I knew the Con List was totally lame and the right thing to do was to go. Sometimes I grumble about things, but in the end I almost always Do The Right Thing, and the March was something we could not miss.

MGM (9) and I set off on Saturday morning. [Trixie (7) had a birthday party to attend and Spouse brought her later in the morning. MGM and I never saw them, but we knew they were there].

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Proof

The temps were in the mid 30s and there were periods of rain on our drive to the March. We had zero issues with travel and parked without a problem in the parking garage of the Minnesota Science Museum, which was about a half mile from the organizing point for the March. We joined the crowds walking to the starting point. The mood was upbeat. People were incredibly friendly. It felt great.

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Shortly after we got to the organizing point, I got a call from my friend and work partner, P., who had arrived with her daughter. We met them and then the March started. The crowd was estimated to be more than 60,000 people.

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There were so many witty signs along the way. This was MGM’s favorite:

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Pizza rolls, not gender rolls.

This one is even harder to see, but I loved it:

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You can’t comb over misogyny.

One speaker I was excited to hear at the rally was Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States.  She was elected in November to the State Congress. She received huge applause and was very inspiring.

The funniest thing I saw all day was a dog wearing a Donald Trump wig. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it was so hilarious. This is NOT the dog, but I googled this and found an entire costume from My Best Friend Boutique:

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Remarkably, the rain held off during the rally and with temps in the mid-30s but appropriate winter gear, I was never cold. Not even a bit.

In the end, I couldn’t have imagined Not Going. The spirit, camaraderie and energy were incredible. I was lucky to be a part of this. I think my 60,000 new friends would all agree it Felt Important.

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After we left the rally, we had lunch and I told MGM we could go to the Science Museum if he wanted. He did. This was a bit of quid pro quo on my part, since the March wasn’t his top idea for a Saturday.

They had an interesting exhibit about medical quackery. This is a “brain tester” from the 1920s:

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MGM and I also did an experiment to extract DNA from wheat germ. This took about 20 minutes to complete.

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The last step was a show-stopper: DNA floated through a layer of alcohol to form a swirly cloud in a test tube. We were both impressed.

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We drove home without incident, cooked a meal together as a family and called it a night.

It was a successful Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend At The Children’s Museum

We were lucky enough to spend all of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with our dear friends T., A. and their daughter K. at my mom’s lake house.

Overconsumption was definitely the first order of business, but we also managed to put together two 500 piece puzzles (an activity that the adults were surprisingly into; next time I’ll bring two more puzzles or ones with more pieces) and play a few rounds of Not Parent Approved, which is basically Cards Against Humanity for the entire family. Top tip: this is a great holiday gift if you have kids somewhere between 8 and 13.

[Don’t worry: once the kids were out of earshot, we got a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity in, too.]

My sister and her husband came over for post-Thanksgiving dessert and brought an ice cream maker, which was also kid-approved and kept them enthralled for long enough to mix the ingredients, watch the churning and make outrageous sundaes.

One of the most popular outings over the long weekend was to the local Children’s Museum, which featured a traveling exhibit about Japan.

There was a portion dedicated to Japanese street culture and all things kawaii (a.k.a. extremely cute).

They even had costume props to dress up:

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There was also a pretend sushi bar, which got a lot of attention from Trixie and K. but made me supremely hungry, since it was well past lunch time.

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What’ll you have?

My order:

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I loved the Shinto shrine. You could write a wish and hang it on the tree.

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K. graciously wished that everyone would have a home.

Trixie wished for toys. 

Some of the wishes were hilarious (“I want to get mared [married]”), and others heartbreaking (“I wish mom and dad would stop fighting”).

There was also an area where you could get a fortune for a penny.

Here’s mine:

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I vehemently disagree with that LOVE section.

To quote my friend A.:

I never thought I’d be disappointed for something that only cost a penny, but I am.

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By the end of the weekend, I think we were all slightly diabetic and exhausted, but even now, I’m ready to do it all again, and better.

Takeaway thoughts from spending a holiday vacation with another family:

  • I should have done a better job with meal planning. In the end, we had way too much food. Our friends brought a lot and so did we. They also very generously contributed a lot of cooking. In the future, I’d assign different meals to different people to avoid food duplication.
  • The games were a lot of fun. Many kudos to A. for bringing Not Parent Approved. We all thought this was hilarious, and it’s hard to find something that 3 kids and 4 adults agree on.
  • Puzzles were a hit. They could be set up and people could randomly work on them for a few minutes at a time. This is an especially perfect, quiet activity for kids who wake up early.
  • Get the kids to cook. I gave them a pass on this, but in the future I’d consider planning a taco bar or panini station where kids had to at least assemble part of their meal.
  • Find enough places to sleep. While my mom’s lake house is well-suited for entertaining and general vacationing, the kids had to share quarters, which prompted late night whispering, giggling, arguing and eventual separation. If possible, I’d keep all of the kids together during the day but apart at night, which maximizes quality sleep and pays dividends the next day.
  • Plan active outings. The weather wasn’t terrible, but obviously it was too cold to swim or go tubing, two activities that historically have burned off a lot of energy while we are at the lake house. Kids + Pent-up Energy = Meltdowns.
  • Booze. Self explanatory.

The best news? T. and A. have a beach condo and we’re going there next!

I am so grateful for good friends and the opportunity to spend time together.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

This cracked me up:

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How are you celebrating the holiday?

We’re heading out of town to my mom’s lake house, and our dear friends are joining us for the weekend.

Hopefully we’ll wake up to views like this:

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Except possibly with snow.

Since I can’t cook and hate all domestic chores, I’m mostly phoning it in for the meal, which I pre-ordered from a local grocery store and just need to re-heat.

I’ll contribute a few things (quinoa and squash gluten-free stuffing, pumpkin pasta), but mostly I’ll stick to my usual strategy, which is to get the adult guests intoxicated enough to forget about the quality of the food.

Kids are generally more forgiving, so it’s sugar sugar sugar for them.

For my part, I hope to be able to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and check out “Turkey Confidential” on NPR, which is always a fun listen.

For the rest of the weekend, I’ve planned a trip to see holiday lights and have hot chocolate at an old-fashioned sweet shop, a private dinner in a boutique hotel, completion of a 500 piece puzzle and a potato chip taste test, wherein we try exotic chip flavors (example: biscuits and gravy) to decide what works and what is gross.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. The crazy bummer is that my mom’s lake place is a fully furnished house, yet it’s completely off the grid, internet-wise. Given that it’s Black Friday, this is probably a fiscally favorable thing for me.