Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New York City Girls' Trip

After Christmas Little Miss Thang and I took a girls' trip to New York City. Our family travels fairly frequently and our kids have always been relatively good travelers, but my Little Miss Thang hit her stride on this trip. 

As I've noted before, traveling with just one child is a walk in the park. And while Little Miss Thang is {almost} always a joy, she is absolutely delightful with her twin brother 2,000 miles away! 

Even at midnight and after walking all day long! 

Me and Little Miss Thang in front of the Rockefeller Center tree
She honestly surprised me at every turn.

Adding up her American Girl purchases to ensure she was within her gift card amount. 
Insisting we must shop for clothes for me too. {Well, if you insist!}

Putting her napkin on her lap at every meal and using manners that would make the manner Nazi {the Hubs} proud. 
Waiting for tea at the Plaza {only picture without our coats}
Waiting in an excruciating long line in freezing temps to see the 9/11 Memorial without complaint.

Getting started every day by 8:30 am though we'd only turned the lights out at 12:30 am. {We'll sleep when we get home}. 
Times Square ~ way too late ~ and with a nice photo bomb.
Waiting patiently at dinner to join the conversation as six women inevitably jockey for the next word.

The whole gang - MIL and her daughter, Hub's Aunt and her daughter,
with  Little Miss Thang and me. 
Recognizing on her own that Rockefeller Center skating rink is overcrowded and overrated. 

Skating in Central Park {yes, I'm wearing two jackets it's so cold}

Managing long days and load and loads of walking, without complaint, as if we do it every day!

Lady Liberty
Marveling at the "snow fall" {read: sleet} that fell our first day.  I was miserably cold, but Little Miss Thang was in heaven!

Five years ago I was having a small dinner party when, sua sponte, Little Miss Thang announced to our friends: I want to live in NYC one day. We had no idea what prompted such an exclamation from a four year old, but smiled at her big city dreams. 

After visiting, marveling at the vastness {this is all Saks, all nine stories?}, experiencing the diversity {that's not Spanish!}, eating really good food at really nice restaurants, Little Miss Thang's four-year-old impulse was reignited. "Yes," she exclaimed, while busting ahead of the tourists not crossing at the crosswalk the millisecond before the light turns, "I am going to live in NYC!"  

I have no doubt. 


Favorites this trip:
Musical:  Wicked
Dinner:  Benoit
Shopping: The Muppet Workshop at FAO Schwarz


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Green Smoothie 101

My darling husband surprised me with a Vitamix for Christmas. I've eyed them for a couple years but could never justify the expenditure. Now that I've owned one nearly a month, however, I wonder why I waited so long. 

I do realize that many gadgets exist and that even the most basic blender is capable of making a smoothie, but this new addition to my kitchen is what got me into making smoothies.   

Maybe it's just a new gadget, but I can say quite honestly I have made around 20 green smoothies in the past 22 days. And that, my friends, is why it was worth the expense for me.

You can read as long as you'd like about the importance of eating more leafy greens and whole foods. I'd cite you to sources, but please tell this is not news!? 

And I'm not here to convince you or force my delicious green concoctions down your throat. I simply thought I'd share what I've learned and what I like. And perhaps, demystify the green smoothie for a few of you wondering how in the world I choke down so many vegetables in one sitting. 

I promise it is painless, quite satisfying as a meal replacement, and delicious! 

Basic green smoothie formula:

FIRST, choose your base / liquid
8-10 ounces of coconut water, purified water, or almond milk

SECOND, add your greens
2-3 cups of leafy greens such as kale, spinach, or chard

NEXT, add healthy fats + fruit
1 tblsp of coconut oil or nut butter or chia seeds + 1 cup organic fruit 

FINALLY, add a boost
bee pollen, raw cacao, or raw maca all have amazing health benefits. Add as directed.

I've found the key to making smooth delicious smoothies is keeping a bag of peeled, frozen bananas in your freezer. You need a stash from which to pull and the addition of a frozen banana creates a lovely texture and provides a touch of sweetness. 

I generally do not follow a specific recipe but simply utilize the basic green smoothie formula, experimenting with various combinations of fruits and vegetables. I've used cucumbers, celery, apples, pears, raspberries and more. You can use fresh or frozen fruit. If you use all fresh fruit simply add a few ice cubes before blending. 

Here are a few combinations I return to again and again: 

Kale * Pear
almond milk + kale + tahini + pear + frozen banana

Kale * Peach
almond milk + kale + tahini + peach + frozen banana

Spinach * Blueberry
almond milk + spinach + chia seeds + blueberries + frozen banana

Kale * Strawberry
almond milk + kale + almond butter + strawberries + frozen banana

Kale * Raspberry 
coconut milk + kale + chia seeds + goji berries + frozen raspberries + frozen banana

Kiwi * Strawberry
orange juice + water + spinach + frozen strawberries + kiwi + frozen banana

Pineapple * Mango
almond milk + spinach + chia seeds + frozen mango + frozen pineapple

Let me know if you have a favorite combination or any green smoothie tips! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twin differences.

I am a mother of twins and, as such, feel like a bit of a control group for nurture versus nature. I have treated them equally since birth. 

They were exposed to the same foods on the same days. They each slept the same amounts. I read to them both. Equally. I snuggled with them both. A lot. I sat on our playroom floor for hours upon hours and days upon days for years upon years. I was not a hurried mother with an older child pulling me in another direction. I was very, very present. 

One sat up earlier than the other. Of course, then the other walked first. 

One slept through the night effortlessly and the other gave me a run for my Baby Wise money. One lost four teeth before the other lost any.  

One began reading long before the other. And multiplied. And now reduces fractions quite well. 

But they started / tried sports at the same age. 

They were exposed to the same amount of television. The same vacations and enrichment. 

At a certain age their experiences began to differ based upon what they chose. Soccer for one, dance for the other. But they attend the same gifted and talented charter school. And otherwise live quite similar lives.

And yet, they are so very different now. Different not just in the activities they chose (though yes, those differ), but in their inner little beings. Different in sentimentalities. Different in sensitivities and resilience. Just so very different. 

And sometimes the differences break my heart. 

Because, I wonder, could I have done something different? Should I have recognized the differences earlier and adapted my behavior? Nurtured one more? Encouraged more social activities for one and more sports for the other? Was the convenience of equality a mistake?  

For this control group we shall never know. 

My duo at the Alamo ~ December 2013
But I do know this with all my heart, and all my soul: There is no greater calling in my life than having the privilege of raising these amazing little people. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Mother's Prayer

I'm a huge Tina Fey fan.  
This seals the deal. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

How to lose weight over the holidays.

I realize this post comes a little late for those of you who overindulged and now feel the pinch of your waistband in your side. I've been there. I remember the feeling as well as the glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe those pants shrank at the cleaners, which quickly fades as you put on the next pair which was not yet sent to the cleaners. I know your pain. And I know reading this does nothing to assuage those feelings today. 

But, there is always next year.  

So, here's the plan: 

First off, do not do any holiday planning in advance of the holidays. That will not help one bit; in fact, it will completely thwart your efforts.

Do, however, make sure there is plenty to plan. Don't scrimp on holiday details, decorating, cards, gifts,  entertaining, parties, or vacation planning. Make one hundred percent certain that your plate is overflowing with obligations. If it seems that it is only slightly overflowing, add more. Perhaps a dinner party for ten at your house, with no help. Perfect. Pile it on! And don't even think about using paper napkins. White linen is a must. Along with silver and crystal. The more labor intensive, the better. 
dinner party table for ten
Next, ensure that your husband does not in any way insist on helping with the holiday shopping. Don't let him raise a finger when it comes to gift buying or wrapping. Clearly, he is busy working and shouldn't be bothered. Even if "working" sometimes means "networking" with friends at a local pub. Networking is important too. Do not bother him as you want your plate overflowing.

Also, it is imperative that you are room mom for at least one of your kids' classrooms. If you can take on two, your success is nearly guaranteed, but for me, just one worked fine. Plan an entire day of festivities for the class's last day of school. Make sure there is baking involved. And lots of shopping and wrapping for the class gifts. Oh, and count on the mom who volunteered to bring drinks to arrive with no ice. Bonus, because now you can schlep a cooler full of ice up to school at the last minute on top of all the other supplies, home baked goodies, gifts, and craft supplies. The plan is working perfectly!  
Holiday Celebration fun!
It also helps to then plan a fun day for the kids when they are out of school. Yes, you could make use of this time preparing for house guests, but that would not add to the frenzy of the season. No, no, decorate gingerbread houses, make and decorate mountains of sugar cookies. We are making memories here! 

Making memories!
I may have forgot to mention it, but if you otherwise have household help (i.e., a housekeeper), you should ensure she develops a horrid staph infection or other such drama so you have no choice but to clean the toilets yourself. Truly, how hard can it be to keep the house clean with the kids home for the holidays and the in-laws arriving in a few days?!? Pish posh. 

Now we are truly experiencing the joy of the season! 

You may have thought it would get easier at this point. Most of the hard work is behind you now. Of course, now is when the in-laws arrive. Luckily for me, my in-laws are easy. They add very little to my plate. But, if they are here I'm not going to just serve pizza. No, I insist on three nights of painstakingly planned meals served on china {antique no less}, in the dining room {when else do we use it}, with the white linen napkins, sliver, crystal and the whole bit {Grandma would be so proud}. They do not ask for this. I'm pretty sure they think it is a bit over the top, but I insist. 

It's the holidays! 

It is also imperative to plan an incredible getaway for which you depart on December 26th at 5:20am. Truly, you can't budge on this last detail. You must leave town without having time to process Christmas Day, much less launder the now hundreds of linen napkins strewn about. You must instead, somehow find time to pack you and your daughter for temps at least fifty degrees cooler than that at home. And perchance sleep before the 3:00am alarm. 

Whisk daughter away for a four day whirlwind tour of one of your favorite places. I chose NYC, but there is some flexibility in this decision. I simply think it must be (1) cold freezing, and (2) hectic. This is not a time to get away and relax. No, this is a time to run around for at least sixteen hours a day without stopping. Start early. Skip lunch and make sure to change clothes at least twice a day. Do not skip Times Square just because it's nearly midnight and you are both freezing and exhausted. Get your butt down to at least 47th street. Take pictures. Enjoy the crazy crowds. And then repeat the next day substituting Rockefeller Center the next night. Have the time of your life; just don't relax or sleep much at all.

Talk about making memories!

Now, you must return home as your adrenaline supply cannot possibly keep up. You've managed to make it to December 29th running so quickly from one party to the next to the next that you forgot to sit down, drink the nog and eat the fudge. In fact, you discover upon returning home, there is nearly an entire batch of fudge remaining. How can this be? You always eat all the fudge which is clearly what causes the post-holiday pudge. 

Now here's the kicker: You have New Year's plans which require you to unpack, repack and depart 24 hours after returning! But wait, this is when the immune system finally gives way to the FLU! You felt it coming on the plane on the way home {though denial kept you going a few more hours}. Twelve hours later simply let the fever envelop you, cry UNCLE!, but insist the rest of the family depart as planned. 

Fall directly into bed and do not move for at least 30 hours. Okay, let the dogs out occasionally, but otherwise do not move. Do not eat. Do not drink anything but clear fluids. Take your temperature every time you wake from a fever-induced rest and marvel at how bad 102 feels. Stay in this state for as long as it takes to begin to feel human again. For me, it was around thirty-six hours in bed. At that point I was able to stand long enough to make a green smoothie which I drank lying back in bed. Yes, you could call a friend to bring you food, but food does not even sound good {craziest words ever said}. 

After a few days of refusing any food, start small. Don't shock your food-free system. It will take time to be able to eat a full meal again without feeling nauseous. Take it slow. 

A full week later, I promise your skinny jeans will not seem near as skinny as they were in November! 

And that my friends, makes for a very Happy New Year!

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