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My Three Sons

…hiking with Dad.  (While Mom, sick, rested alone at home.)

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Pumpkin Smoothie

Pumpkin Smoothie

1 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt

(plain will yield a tarter flavor)

1 cup pumpkin, chilled (fresh puree or canned)

1 banana, preferably frozen (sliced or in two halves)

1/2 cup crushed ice (or cubes)

1/3 cup water

2 T brown sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1/8 t ground nutmeg

dash of ground cloves

1 scoop protein powder, optional

honey to taste, if desired (for a sweeter flavor)

 

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It has been a busy, fun-filled Fall ’round these parts, and as I have had many aspirations…yet few actulizations…of blogging, here is our Fall summed up in four photo collages:

FALL HARVEST

Although we planted four pumpkin plants (one jack-o-lantern and three pie), only one plant survived and only one solitary pumpkin on that plant thrived.  As pictured above, the boys had quite the time trying to decide just who that one pumpkin belonged to; in the end, I took possession of it for cooking purposes.  It was just a medium-small jack-o-lantern pumpkin, but we made the most of it, and it yielded pumpkin cream sauce (over ravioli), a pumpkin roll, baked pumpkin seeds (for an Autumn salad), and two pumpkin pies.  Surely, just one pumpkin for the season wouldn’t do, so we bought many more and made:  more pumpkin rolls (x2); pumpkin soup (x2); pumpkin muffins (x2), pumpkin bread (a lot); pumpkin smoothies (look forward to the recipe in a later post), pumpkin ice cream (recipe here); pumpkin cookies (many).  And I still have FIVE pumpkins to cook through!  It’s a darn good thing I love pumpkin, and my family does too!

FALL FESTIVITIES

Cleaning out pumpkins for cooking and carving, sugar cookie decorating…the pictures say it all.

FALL RUNNING and RACING

There has been a lot of running and racing in this family of late.   I kicked it off for the season with the St. George Marathon in early October (a long overdue post probably to come…), which didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I followed it up with three PRs (personal records) in three different distances, so I’m feeling great regardless. 

I had my boys “training” whenever we went to the park.  I registered them for two races this season (at their insistence, mind you).  I want for them to learn while they are young that running is fun and doable.  I don’t want them getting to their first “mile” in middle school P.E. and having a dreadful experience, as I did.  I don’t want them to have a preconceived notion that running is too hard and horrible, as I did.  I want them to remember that they RAN their first mile when they were only 5 and 7 (in a race last June), and that they did GREAT!  They will decide on their own if they really like running; my objective is to simply keep them from hating running.  So far, they love it…or at least the racing aspect of it.  The first race they were to run was in conjunction with my half marathon, and they were supposed to wear their Halloween costumes.  They were SO excited, but unfortunately it was canceled as the vineyard they were to run through was too muddy and rocky.  No matter, their dad and I took them to a deserted stretch of road near the vineyard and had them run a quick point to point race from him to me.  It was a short and spontaneous substitute, but at least they felt like they got to run their race and that they earned their medals.  The second race was a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving that the whole family (even Dad, 5K) participated in.

As for me, after the marathon I ran a local 5K (3.1 miles), a GORGEOUS half marathon (13.1 miles) through the vineyards of Sonoma Valley, and a 10K (6.2 miles) Turkey Trot in San Jose.  I set new personal records in all three distances:

5K:  22:59; 10K: 48:51; 1/2 Marathon: 1:51:04

The 10K Turkey Trot was the easiest course of the three, the only problem being the thick crowd of runners to navigate through (nearly 15,000 runners between the 5K and 10K, which partially shared a course..holy cow that’s a HUGE field!)  The local 5K was actually a very poor course, and I think I could have run it faster had the course been one good loop or a straight way out and back.  Instead, it was two laps of a really weird loop, with short out and backs included and far too many turns, some particularly sharp ones.  For a short race that is meant to be run fast, this course was NOT helpful…I felt like every time I gained some good momentum I had to slow way down to make a turn without taking a spill, and I had to focus far too much on simply making sure I stayed on the course, period.  The half marathon was hands down the most beautiful California race I have run thus far…picturesque, as in post card/calendar worthy.  It began at a really cool winery and wound it’s way along this old rural road that took us past 23 family owned wineries, ending at Lake Sonoma Receration Area.  The weather was perfect, and the course was nice…neither difficult nor easy, with gently rolling hills the entire way.  I LOVED this event.

FALL HIKING and EXPLORING

 

Our three-year-old was having a very hard time at first with his two older brothers starting school and leaving him behind during the day.  Soon though, he discovered that being the lone kid home does have some good perks.  One (unfortunately hot) September day his dad had the morning off work, so we took him for a hike up a local iconic mountain…sans the brothers.  He loved having both Mom and Dad to himself for such an outing, and he still talks about hiking up that mountain with us whenever he spots in out the car window.  I took all three boys to a nearby creek/recreation area for some easy hiking and great exploring the day before Thanksgiving.  One thing about boys I know:  they love to be outside where they have plenty of space to run and explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell, my favorite season, until next year…

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This year marks my husband’s and my tenth Thanksgiving together, and this was the first we’ve shared with no extended family or friends (we’ll be spending Christmas the same way this year).  It was just us and our boys in our little home, in our own kitchen, at our uncrowded table.  My original plan was to go out to eat, but after consulting our budget…and to the delight of my hubby…we decided to stay in and cook ourselves (er, myself).   Actually, we were amazed at how well and with little work or fanfare it all came together.  And also at how well we enjoyed the intimate setting of just our usual five.

The one thing I really missed was breaking out the fine china.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort to dig it out of boxes in the garage, wash up, eat off of, wash again, then put away for just my hubby and me (the kids won’t be eating off of it for a few years yet).  But, if we had had but a single guest, I would have brought it out!  (I just noticed that whoever set the table put the spoons in the wrong place…again, if we’d had even one guest I would have double checked to make sure the table was set properly.)

Little Helpers

…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..—–…..

We went ’round the table and each spoke of one thing we were particularly grateful for on this Thanksgiving day.

Our five-year-old answered “turkey,” and he got some….

I answered, a healthy body that is capable of running, because running makes me happy.  It was on my mind, as the whole family had run in the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot earlier in the day.  Hubby: 5K, Me: 10K, Boys: Fun Run

I set a new PR (personal record) in the 10K (6.2 miles) distance: 48:51

How I placed:

525 out of 4,118, overall

80 out of 2074, women

18 out of 370, age division (F 30-34)


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I had a few people say that they wanted the recipe to my pumpkin ice cream from this post.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get it up.  I had actually just improvised my ice cream on a whim, combining a simple vanilla recipe that I really like with a pumpkin recipe that I don’t really like.  Mine came out great, but unfortunately I didn’t write anything down as I went along.  Weese really wanted to try making it, so I gave her my improvised version to the best of my recollection, then she gave me the exact proportions that she used (as she was smart and actually wrote them down during the process).  So, without further adieu, pumpkin ice cream!  Thanks, Weese.

2 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
3/4 C sugar
1 C pureed pumpkin
(I prefer to use freshly pureed pumpkin)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
1 drop red food coloring
2 drops yellow food coloring
I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker with the freezer bowl.
It’s simple, fast and easy!

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Smarty Pants

We’ve known for years that our eldest is a smarty pants.  What isn’t clear is just how long he’s actually known this about himself.  My boy came home from school one day last week and asked me what a “nerd” is.  He said a kid at school had said he was a nerd because he’s smart, and nerds are smart.  I told him the next time someone says he’s a nerd becuase he’s smart, he should reply, “Don’t you know that it’s cool to be smart?”  He smiled and let the discussion end at that, but I know he wasn’t completely satisfied because later on that evening he asked his dad what a nerd was, looking for a better explanation than I had given him.  At his parent/teacher conference the other day, his teacher told me that she lets my son and a couple of other boys work on more advanced math at a special table while she teaches the rest of the class.  She said that she and some other teachers like the saying, “There’s no substitute for gray matter.”

Just yesterday I was checking my son’s homework and I realized that not only does he know that he’s smart, but he is apparently quite comfortable with being so.  The issue, it seems, is no longer convincing him that being smart is cool (regardless of name calling), but that humility is also an admirable trait!

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Straddling Seasons

We’ve been straddling seasons here in the Bay area.  In the midst of another heat wave this week…and with a little bit of leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge that I wasn’t sure what to do with…I decided that the best solution to both problems (heat when it should be cool, and leftover pumpkin) was to whip up a batch of pumpkin ice cream.  Seriously, we’ve reached the low 100s here in mid October, and in the summertime here it’s necessary to wear sweaters in the morning.  I am convinced that the “perfect” California Bay Area weather that I heard all about before moving here is a total farce!  (The climate is actually just confused.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pumpkin ice cream was delicious, though!

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Lake Powell

As promised, more Lake Powell pics.  Sure, these are a month and a half after the fact, but whatever

Could there be a better place for building brotherly bonds or exploring?

Cousins, anxious to play…


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Please don’t be alarmed by the title of this post; my husband and I are madly in love with each other and have a great marriage.  But I just stumbled upon this other blog post We All Married the Wrong Person, and I was so intrigued by that title that I read on.

When my husband and I were engaged we traveled to Colorado, where he had grown up, for an engagement party.   While we were there we spent some time with one of my (then) finance’s old high school buddies.  It was the first time this guy and I had ever met, and after about an hour he looked at my finance and me and asked, “Do you two have anything in common?”  I think he may have been wondering what on earth had brought us together and if our marriage would end up lasting very long.

True, my husband and I had far less in common when we met and married than we do now.  In fact, there were some things about him that drove me positively crazy.  He may have had similar feelings about me, but if so he was far too kind to ever mention anything.  It was after we were married, in that glorious First Year, that those things we didn’t have in common…those issues that we each came down so far apart on…came out into the open.  From the article:

Dr. Haltzman says even if we think we know a person well when we marry them, we are temporarily blinded by our love, which tends to minimize or ignore attributes that would make the relationship complicated or downright difficult.”

My Honey and I just celebrated our ninth anniversary.  And as a simple matter of fact, the ninth year of our marriage was the hardest year for us yet (closely edging out year eight), excepting of course The First Year.  I take some poetic license in capitalizing The First Year because it was such a stand apart year in our marriage, in terms of difficulty, as I am assuming it is in most marriages.  Am I wrong about that?  Or am I right?  You may think I am crazy for saying that becuase your first year of marriage was pure bliss.  I don’t want to give the wrong impression here:  I am not saying that there was no bliss in our first year…it was a paradox really; it was on the one hand purely delightful…a bed of roses, and on the other hand so terribly difficult and emotionally draining.  It was knowing that I had chosen the perfect man for me, and the next moment plagued with doubt…wondering how I had ever gotten myself into this thing called marriage, and was it really forever?

The last couple of years were nothing like The First Year.  Our marriage was very strong by the time we stumbled into all that year eight and nine held in store.  These years were difficult for us not so much becuase we were unsure of each other or how we were supposed to properly mesh our interests and reconcile our differences.  They were difficult because we happened upon trying circumstances that simply came our way, external forces that had nothing to do with he or me or our relationship with each other.  Together we worried and cried and vented…and laughed, not becuase of each other but with each other.  We were a well oiled machine that worked through the difficulty with a single purpose, we were one at this point in our marriage.  That is not to say that all of the crap we endured did not test our relationship.  To be sure, it did.  But our marriage passed that test with flying colors and came out the stronger for it, and the machine kept on plowing through the crap without its different parts doubting each other, the parts working together rather than against each other…which is the most efficient way to deal with crap.

If we believe we must find the right person to marry, then the course of our marriage becomes a constant test to see if we were correct in that choice,” says Dr. Haltzman, adding that today’s culture does not support standing by our promises. Instead, he says we receive the repeated message, “You deserve the best.” These attitudes contribute to marital dissatisfaction, he says.

Dr.  Haltzman shared some research with me about the negative effects in our consumer society of having too many choices—which may lead to increased expectations and lower satisfaction…I’ll cut to the chase and reveal that people are happier with the choices they make when there are relatively few choices from which to choose. With too many choices, we can become overburdened and regretful and constantly question our decision. Today, individuals may feel they have many choices of mates, and fear lost opportunities with potential ‘right’ partners. This may happen even after a person is married, as he or she questions the decision to marry with each bump in the road.”

It is funny when I think back to the observation that my husband’s high school buddy made of us as an early couple.  The truth is, I totally know where the guy was coming from.  There were a lot of things that we didn’t have in common, that we were the polar opposites of each other on, really.  Maybe we were blinded by love at first.  I don’t know.  Or maybe it’s just that opposites do attract (lest I lead you astray, we had the most important fundamentals in common:  religion, our familial backgrounds, etc.)  The observation that I have made through the past nine years is that marriage can close more than a few gaps.  My husband and I have so much in common now that I doubt if we weren’t made for each other.  We have pulled each other towards the other and met in a very agreeable middle.  We prefer each other’s company  to that of any other.  We have such good, fun, quite frequently boring…no, perfectly comfortable…times together that we just can’t get enough.  And we are happy.  We are happy with each other.  We are happy with our life together.  In short, life is hard, but we are happy to be plowing through it together.

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Elusive Escape

I was relaxing on a lounge chair.  It was a beautiful yard and a beautiful day.  I had my camera with me, and as I looked up at the sky I also saw the tops of trees and the tops of the surrounding structures.

I framed a few perfect shots.  I’m going to post these on my blog, I thought.  Just because they’re pretty.   And then my phone rang.  Subconsciously, I knew I shouldn’t answer it.  But I had to, because it was the only way to make it stop…the only way to stay in my perfect moment.  It was my husband, and that’s what jolted me back to reality.

I thought it was my alarm and that if I only opened the phone I could have my peace.  But I heard my husband’s voice, and in that moment I realized that I had been sleeping, dreaming.  It was just like that dream I’m sure we’ve all had…the one where you’re about to take a bite of the most delicious looking chocolate cake you’ve ever seen, and then you take the bite and it’s in that bite that you realize that it’s not real, that you’re only dreaming, because you can’t taste it.

So ironic.  That is how disappointing it was for me to wake up from my afternoon nap to a dissolved dream, to reality.  I really liked those pictures I took; it’s just too bad I didn’t really take them.  Alas, here are a couple that I really did take, on a different day at a lake near our home.

In the end, I think they’re better.

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