Friday, July 13, 2012

Food Friday: Let them have cake

I had grand plans for Miles’ first birthday. Grand, Pinterest-inspired, Etsy-fueled plans.

I was going to throw Miles’ First Rodeo. We were going to have bales of hay and bring down his wooden rocking horse. We were going to have baked beans, chili and corn bread. There would be Texas sheet cake. Bandanas would take the place of napkins and red-and-white checked cloths would line the tables.

It was going to be fabulous. Up until the point when I had to do all the work. The more intricate my plans got, the longer the to-do list got, the budget ballooned and the cleanup became daunting.

As I talked to a friend while cleaning up a June cookout, I realized that I didn’t want to go through it all again. I needed to keep Miles’ party simple – just cake and ice cream.

Well, a Pinterest-inspired cake and ice cream party.


I did a sundae bar with assorted toppings – homemade chocolate sauce, homemade strawberry sauce, coconut, pecans, crushed Oreos, pieces of Reese cups, cherries and whipped cream. I picked up mix-and-match dessert dishes at Goodwill during a 50 percent sale instead of getting plastic bowls. Let’s pretend that it was me being green and not being cheap.


I also dipped cones in chocolate and sprinkles, and I had a station for floats – diet and regular varieties of orange soda and root beer, straws and the requisite Mason jars.


Of course, there was cake, too. Cupcakes, cupcake cones and a smash cake for Miles. I did take it very easy on myself – I used a box mix and just made the icing.


Miles had no idea it was his birthday, naturally, and enjoyed playing with cups and eating far more sugar than I would have imagined.


It’s hard to believe that little guy is one already but he is. It was such a joy to celebrate his first year (and our survival.

That and to watch him eat the cake.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Baby (not) on board

Miles has been a runner from Day 1.

Running the W.O.O.F  just a day before I found out I was pregnant to keeping up with a regular routine until 37 weeks pregnant, it's been "our" thing.

Sure I had to stop for a couple weeks before I delivered and the requisite six weeks post-partum but as soon as I got the green light from my doctor, Miles was strapped into the BOB via the car seat adapter and we were on the go.

In the early days, running allowed him (read: me) to break up the monotony of the day and catch a quick rest from our nurse, cry, nurse, cry, sleep routine.

As he grew older, the run still offered a nice break in the day but it also gave him a chance to get fresh air and see new things as his world grew.


Running was also a nice activity we could do as a family, and it offered Mark and I the opportunity to do things like talk without a baby crawling up your leg or interrupting the other one to scream, "NO FACE!"

While much of our running admittedly was about my sanity, I knew - really knew - that Miles enjoyed it. He babbled and cooed in the beginning and eventually began squealing and screaming "dog" with excitement for nearly 300 miles (and that's a conservative estimate) over the past year.

But times ... they are a changing.

We have gone from screaming "dog" to just screaming and the number of whines even during a short 3-mile run are notable. He no longer kicks his legs up on the safety strap to play with his feet; he just kicks. And though he does get into the stroller willingly, he is so antsy to get out that he practically flings himself on the floor.

It's frustrating to say the least. Not only has the BOB been my life line - literally at times - but I really enjoy these times as a family and I think it's important to set a positive example in terms of exercise. I know he can see me leave for a run and will be able to recognize those efforts as he gets older but I want him to feel included in the sport.

I always thought that by acclimating Miles to the stroller early on and keeping a routine that I would be able to avoid dissension and get what I hoped for. There have been few toys or distractions included, as well, in that vain as for him to believe the run itself is entertainment.

Now? Well, if it keeps him happy in the stroller, I'm willing to try it. He's not at an age where a cup of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies or a graham cracker could keep him occupied and he definitely does not have the dexterity nor attention span to watch Elmo on an iPod. I could try to sing to him or play games but Miles merely laughs at my musical attempts and, to be honest, I need my breath.

So a loss, I am at. I want him to enjoy the stroller again and I want to encourage it in a cruelty-free way. Help!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In a New York minute

To call my trip to the Big Apple a whirlwind might be the understatement of the day: I landed at LaGuardia at 7 p.m., sat on the tarmac for an hour, got into the city about 8:45 p.m. and left the city for LaGuardia a mere 16.5 hours later.

I was undeterred, though, and determined. I was going to see the city and make the most of my time there.

I left my hotel, which was right across the street from Radio City Music Hall with my walking shoes on. OK, they were TOMS.

I quickly found Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed the lights and sounds of a city still bustling with activity at 9 o'clock Sunday night.

I peaked in store windows. Just peaked as (lucky for Mark) most of the retail establishments were closed for the evening.

I did stumble upon one place that was open.

The famed Magnolia Bakery.

As I was in the city to celebrate my weight loss, it might have been appropriate to bypass the cases of treats but  I was in New York.

And there's just something about New York that screams, "Eat Me!" Maybe it's the Big Apple moniker?

I opted for a decaf iced coffee with Splenda and a Carrot Cake Cupcake.

The cupcake was good but not that good, and I almost stopped at just half. My emotions, just as shattered as my laptop (thanks, Delta), got the best of me, and I ate the whole damn thing.

I woke up Monday morning, groggy after a fitful night's sleep but with one thing on my mind: running in Central Park.

My runs last week were less than stellar but I promised myself that I would really take the time to enjoy the miles as they ticked away.

It was so invigorating to catch glimpses of the city through the trees and to be surrounded by athletes. The bonus was the inspirational messages that were no doubt written in chalk for a previous race but I used them as my own personal motivation. I logged just over 6.5 miles Monday morning, as I looped the outer edges of the park, and they were some of the best miles I've had in a while.

I walked more blocks than I anticipated back to the hotel, my sweaty body navigating between busy city dwellers, and felt at peace with my short time there.

Had I planned better, I think I would have taken public transportation down to Union Station for the farmers market but it was just as fun to watch people gawk at Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie knowing that soon (maybe) they'd be gawking at me.

What are your must-hit spots in New York?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Living for 'Today'

I clenched my teeth, took a deep breath and smiled. I heard a "go" and the door in front of me opened. I took a step and then another.

And then I stopped. It all stopped. For what felt like hours and nanoseconds all the same, the world stopped.

And then it began again.

I said quick goodbyes and accepted congratulations before being ushered (nicely, I promise) off set. Twenty minutes later, I was in a cab back to the airport and back to reality.

But it happened. It really happened.

I was on the "Today Show."

◊ ◊ ◊

I was first contacted by someone affiliated with "The Joy Fit Club"/NBC just after my Woman's Day article appeared. She wanted me to apply to be a member of the club - but offered me no promises. I might not ever make the show and, if I did, it might be months down the road. Regardless, I filled out a lengthy questionnaire, attached photos and sent it on its merry way.

And forgot about it.

In fact, I'm not sure it had so much crossed my subconscious until I got the email last Monday afternoon - a mere week before the segment would air - asking if I was interested in being on the show. I was tired and had just walked in the door from our Colorado vacation. A trip to New York? In a week? Did I want to?

Uh ... Uh ... YES!

Of course, it required some logistical planning and complete support and pure awesomeness on the part of my husband as well as my colleagues but I was in.

Over the course of last week, I talked to producers and editorial directors, scrounged up photos, recorded a voiceover and received travel information all the while doubting that this was actually going to happen. Maybe it was because Miles' birthday was just days away and a  dreaded 12-miler was scheduled for Sunday but I was only consumed by the work and not the thought of the trip.

◊ ◊ ◊

9:15 a.m. - it was my call time.

I bullied my way through photographers waiting to grab shots of celebrities exiting the studios (Queen Latifah, Ray Romano and Pink were there) as I made my way into the studio.

I was ushered back to a green room where snacks and drinks awaited though there was no time for that. Hair and makeup awaited.

I can only hope that everyone is so lucky as to experience professional hair and makeup. The queens of New York gush about your hair and looks as they curl, tease, smooth and curl again. They deftly dab away your undereye circles and line your lips with the same skill that they do celebrities. It is absolutely amazing and I would die for someone to do it every day.

I resisted the urge to take pictures at this time. It just didn't seem cool - ya know. Oh, and Piper Pearabo was walking behind me. Talk about awkward.

◊ ◊ ◊

It all looked so pretty. From the perfectly sliced avocado to the uniformly cut carrot matchsticks, the food that I eat so often was now TV ready.

Joy, her editorial director Johannah and "Today" producer Amanda gave me a quick tour of the set, introducing me to the production people who were all going to make the segment work. They told me where to stand, how to walk out and when to look out at the camera.

And they told me to smile. All I really had to do was smile, they said.

That, and hide from Hoda. Apparently, she likes to be just as surprised as the viewers are by the big reveal. Mark, one of the production folks, ushered me to the side as the hosts walked on. They closed the set door and put me in position.

You look great, they said. Just smile.

◊ ◊ ◊

The segment was over more quickly than I imagined, and Hoda and Kathie Lee rushed off set as if someone screamed "Happy Hour!" I think Kathie Lee touched my hand - sadly, it's been washed - but it's hard to say.

I took some photos on set with Joy, went back down to hair and make up to grab my bag and hugged the Js goodbye. 

I walked out of the studio, hair and make-up done. My dress still on. I slung my bag, with a map for Mark and a onesie for Miles inside, over my shoulder and walked the three blocks to the hotel.

I had been on TV but home was calling.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marathon Monday: Snack on this

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training.

This week in running:

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy with strides at end

Wednesday: 4.03 miles, with 3 at goal pace (sort of)

Thursday: 3.5 miles, easy

Friday: 6 miles, negative split

Sunday: 12 miles

Total miles: 29.5

◊ ◊ ◊

I could talk about how much I hate this weather.

I could talk about how much I hate running in this insane weather.

I could tell you about how much my body hates running in this insanely hot and humid weather.

But I'm not.

I am going to tell you about my new fueling strategy.

I've always been sort of a Gu girl. I've tried almost every flavor and can use most of the flavors with no problem though I'm not a fan of the Roctane varieties. My most recent favorites have been the Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavors (whodathunk it) but I recently found myself buying the Strawberry Banana.

For two weeks, I have carried a Strawberry Banana Gu on my long runs. And for two weeks I have failed to take it. Why? The thought of something sweet when it is 80 degrees out makes my stomach churn.

Instead, I want something salty. Something salty like cheese crackers.

I first got the idea - or craving, I should say - when I was running with Jess in Colorado.  For some reason, I had stuffed a bag of Cheese Nips that I had gotten on the plane in with my stuff for the run. When we stopped just after 6 miles for fuel, the Gu sounded gross and the Cheese Nips good. Jess encouraged me to go "rogue," and I didn't look back. They were salty and easy on the stomach though they do require stopping to chew.

This week on my long run, I faced similar circumstances (albeit with far less exciting company - sorry, Mark!) and again went for the Cheese Nips (yes another bag from the plane - I accept free food of all varieties). I carried the bag with me, munching at crosswalks.

And while it seems crazy, it's not entirely unfounded. The Cheese Nips offer the same amount of calories (100) as Gu and 250 milligrams of sodium (compared to 50 grams in Gu). The only place where the fall short is in the carbohydrates - Cheese Nips have just 15 grams as compared to 25 grams. And while it can't be said for most things in life, in running and fueling, carbs is where it's at.

It might be easily concluded that the feeling of death at the end of both my recent long runs could be because I haven't had enough carbs during the middle and not any of the right kind. But what's a girl to do? Choke down a sickening sweet gel or go with her gut?

If only Gu made a pretzel flavor ...

What's your fuel of choice? Do you find your tastes change with weather?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No day but 'Today'



LGA --> Midtown NYC

Midtown --> Rockefeller Plaza

Rockefeller Plaza --> NBC Studios

Watch me with Kathie Lee and Hoda at 10:45 a.m. Monday - no matter what time zone.

P.S. Sorry for lack of pictures - Delta baggage handlers ruined my laptop and I'm blotting from my Kindle.