Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

About two years ago now, HB and I began to talk about a void in our life that we'd previously disregarded:  faith.  Personally, not having grown up in a religious family or having any sort of spiritual expression, I'd only thought about the meaning of life or the "bigger picture" in existential terms, which worked for me.  But given the changes in our lives since 2006 when HB and I met, namely our marriage, arrival of children and my diagnosis, we began to wonder if there was something more than what we wanted to give the universe credit for.

Being self-identifying logical, rational and scientific people, it was a mental stretch to go from zero to GOD, but for this personal reason and that family value we opened the door for the possibility. Seeking a community of like minded, morals based people, a better acceptance of that which we don't understand and an avenue through which we can continue to pursue self-growth we methodically researched and discussed spiritual faith and organized religion.  Ultimately the right "fit" for our family became obvious and we made an active choice to open our hearts to the Grace and Love of God and our minds to the learning opportunities the Divine sets before us.

So, last night at the Easter Vigil, after months of RCIA preparation and personal prayer, I finally joined the rest of my family as an official Catholic.  We're so grateful to all of you who have supported us through this process and for the understanding you've freely given for the choices we've made for our life.  No matter what, if any, faith you practice I gratefully thank God for your kindness and compassion... I only hope that I may be increasingly grace-full in my actions and words so as to be to you what you've been to me.  Even if you randomly read this blog and don't know me from Adam, I appreciate your time and hope you find my blog to be helpful in whatever way it can be.

With that, Happy Easter to all!  





The Easter Bunny (who as we all know 
is a primarily benevolent pooka) visited
GW and GV while we were at mass.  He
left quite an egg adventure (which GW 
thoroughly conquered) and generously gave
the kids matching his & hers froggy friends.
Unfortunately he mischievously left some 
bunny droppings on the carpet, but hey, what can you expect from an invisible 
6 foot 3.5 inch tall rabbit?  


Friday, March 29, 2013

Lent Recipe #7: Pasta Alfredo

It's the last Friday in Lent (already?!) and that means this is my last abstinence inspired recipe for the year.  I've really enjoyed the last seven weeks of eating at home and, seeing as I've learned how to cook seafood I'd previously avoided, I think I'll be returning to several of these shrimp and fish recipes in the near future!  Although the recipe for tonight was incredibly unhealthy, it is obnoxiously easy and gets "I'd pay for this food" comments from Grandmama and HB -- which might in fact be the only compliment I actually accept.

Fettuccine (I use something smaller like girelle because it is bite size for GW)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 lb cooked shrimp
Parsley

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, mix together the cream and butter and bring it to a gentle simmer.  Add roughly 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (I typically do it to taste rather than measure, so this is an estimate).   Dump in about half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and whisk until the cheese is no longer stringy and is fully incorporated into the cream sauce.  Repeat with second half of cheese.  Add the champagne vinegar for a touch of acidity and add more salt to taste.  Finally, throw in the cooked shrimp just long enough to heat through (don't over cook them!!) and remove the sauce from heat.

Toss the shrimp and sauce with the pasta and garnish with parsley.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

USMC 26.2

It's official.  We're signed up.  We're running the Marine Corp Marathon in October!

I have been so reluctant to write about it for fear I'd jinx myself out of an entrance slot, but by the grace of God HB and I some how managed to secure two spots.  Sign ups were an overwhelming, exhausting experience -- and we haven't even started running yet!

Registration for active duty personnel opened a couple weeks back, but open public registration began yesterday at noon with the disclaimer that it was expected to sell out faster than last year (2012 registration closed in 2 hours 41 minutes).  As you can imagine, I sat staring at the clock waiting for my chance to spend far too much money on 26.2 miles hours before 12:00 rolled around.  Asking Grandmama to cover down on the kids so I had fewer distractions, I set multiple alarms on my phone and clung to my credit card for fear that I'd forget the number and absentmindedly miss my opportunity until October 2014 - which yes, is much too far away to satisfy my current motivation.

So with six minutes and 15 seconds left on their countdown widget, I held my breath in over excited anticipation of having something big to focus on and work toward... and then, just as the clock struck noon and I hit the "REGISTER NOW!" button my heart practically stopped when the "ERROR" messages immediately began.  Trying over and over and over again to access the sign in page the entire USMC Marathon page crashed, which apparently their "engineers [were] aware of the issue" and that I should "check back again in a short while."

Short while my eye!! I WAS NOT ABOUT TO WAIT PATIENTLY AND THEN BE STUCK ON THE SIDELINES UNTIL 2014!

Three times I managed to get to the form page, filled it out and burst into tears as their server crashed again and failed to let me purchase the entrance fee.  After one hour of furious cyber-warfare, repetitive prayers and multiple "Mommy needs to focus, don't touch the computer" comments to GW, HB and I decided to give up the ghost and forfeit the effort we were putting in when the "the race you have selected is no longer available" messages began.  Heart broken, I futilely hit refresh again and again and again waiting for the reality that we'd missed our chance to sink in.

But then... 1 hour 24 minutes after starting this battle, the form page miraculously reappeared in front of me.  Could it be?  I filled it out for me and the registration was added to my cart... I filled it out for HB and his registration was added to my cart... I put in the credit card info and hit submit...  and ...



Hallelujah!! So on October 27, 2013, for the first time, we're running a marathon!  Now that the "easy part" of registering is over, the fun part begins... TRAINING RUNS!

"If the ultimate goal is to reach heaven, the finish line, 
then we must train our hearts and our feet so as to win."
1 Corinthians 9:24

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bah, the inside joke.

For those of you who know me personally, you'll find this funny... for everyone else, ignore this and assume I'm hilarious.  

So my son, GW, really enjoys a game we call "BAH!" where he attempts to play hide and seek but fails to stay hidden because he would rather jump out and yell "BAH!" than wait to be found.  Last night, just as HB was arriving home from work, he was met at the front door by GW who was wildly yelling "BAH" as a combination greeting and game request.

Sweeping the child up into his arms and tossing him over a shoulder, HB walks into the kitchen where I am busily cooking and says, "He must get that from your side of the family."

To which I reply, "Yes, he bah's well, doesn't he?"



Friday, March 22, 2013

Lent Recipe #6: Rick Bayless' Chile-Garlic Shrimp

So this will be a quick post because it needs absolutely no ado, but let this warning suffice: this is not for the faint of heart!  I served this over plain home made pasta to cut the heat, but rice would probably have worked better.

Chef Rick Bayless' Chile Garlic Shrimp

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint fresh figs (our grocer didn't have these, so I had to use dried)
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
2 limes
2 cans chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained, seeded and cut into strips
2 lbs prawns, peeled and deveined
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1.  In a small saucepan, combine the oil, garlic and salt and bring to the barest simmer over very low heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic is golden brown. Roughly 10 minutes.

2.  Remove garlic sauce from heat and reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp oil  Add the fig and almond to the pan.

3.  Raise the heat to medium and squeeze in the juice of 1 lime and simmer until most of the juice has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chiles, taste and adjust the salt.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

4.  Cut the remaining lime into 6 wedges and reserve.

5. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the reserved oil over medium high heat.  Add half the prawns to the skillet, sprinkle generously with salt and gently stir or shake until the prawns are just pink and opaque throughout, 3-4 minutes.

6. Stir in half the cilantro or parsley.  Remove from heat and transfer to a deep serving plater. Repeat to cook the remaining prawns.  Toss with the sweet garlic sauce to taste and pass the lime wedges.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lent Recipe #5: Salmon with Shrimp, Mushroom and Brandy Cream Sauce


  • With some very special friends in town this weekend, HB did the cooking tonight and I am so so excited to share his recipe.  Originally this recipe was meant for veal cutlets, but it's a Friday during Lent and I am absolutely, ridiculously in love with salmon so he swapped the cutlets for fillets.  We served the fish along side a green salad and oh my goodness (!!) I want him to cook this every night!

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons brandy (get the best you can, the buttery quality of good brandy makes a big difference)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 6 ounce salmon fillets 
  • 24 cooked shrimp, peeled, chopped

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Once frothy, add the onion and sauté for 4 minutes until it becomes translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes until beginning to brown. Remove skillet from heat and add brandy. With the utmost care that you don't burn down your house or loose your eye brows, carefully ignite the brandy. When the flames subside, return the skillet to heat. Simmer the mixture until the brandy is almost evaporated - should take roughly 1 minute.  Add beef and chicken stock and let it boil for 5 minutes before adding the cream as well.  Let the sauce boil it coats spoon, about 14 minutes.  Toss the chopped shrimp into the sauce to heat through, then remove the skillet from heat.

In a separate skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil and 2 Tbsp butter until frothy.  Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the salmon fillets and place in the pan.  Cook the fish for roughly 2-4 minutes per side until the salmon has a nice sear and flakes.  Remove from skillet.  

Divide the salmon onto plates and top with shrimp, mushrooms and brandy cream sauce.  ENJOY!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

OWWWWWW!

Remember how I said I bought two new pairs of shoes? One pair of minimalist and one pair of normal running shoes? Well, I found out the hard way why they say to break them in slowly.

Seeing that it was the first beautiful, sunny day we've had in a while, we went up to DC for a run and picnic yesterday.  Intending to do only 3 miles around the National Mall and then a quite sandwich lunch near the Tidal Basin, I stupidly reminded HB that the last time we went up there we decided that the next DC run would include a trip up Capital Hill... which lengthens our typical route by 2 miles.  Ignorant of what the extra distance was about to do to my body, I was thrilled to be out for a run and the shoes felt fantastic as we powered up and back down the Hill!  I was moving easier, taking shorter strides and pushing off much harder than I had been previously - I remember at one point HB even commented that our running pace dropped down to 7:36!! Of course we haven't been running enough lately to hold that pace, but dang! These minimalist shoes dramatically change my gate and stride turn over!

About the time that we looped around the Reflecting Pool, I began noticing that my calves were tight and much more tired than normal.  By running on my toes instead of using a whole-foot strike, I was engaging my calves for essentially the first time, but I had no freaking clue how sore I'd be today.

AND OH MY GOODNESS.  I cannot move...  I look like a thoroughly broken, overly stiff old woman today!  Needless to say, I've learned my lesson: I will never again do long training runs in minimalist shoes!!

Oh, and thanks to Mommy Brain, I completely forgot
 about the marvelous invention of sunscreen.  OOPS.  At least they match.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lent Recipe #4: Seared Scallops with Oranges

So as a special birthday dinner for me and my Mom, I decided to go out of my comfort zone tonight and cook one of my favorite foods: scallops.  I've always been intimidated by scallops because it seems oh so easy to screw up the cooking of them so that either wind up undercooked and gross or overcooked and rubbery.  But taking Lent as an excuse to try something new that I'd LOVE to order at a restaurant tonight, I fond a great recipe from Chef Curtis Stone that I wanted to try.

Fortunately for me, saving myself from permanent cyber embarrassment, the scallops turned out perfectly and the family gobbled them up with several compliments.  I think this one will permanently join my cooking repertoire... hope you like it too!

1.5 cups orange juice
2 tsp heavy whipping cream
5 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
12 jumbo scallops
1 blood orange, peel and white pith removed
Curly leaf parsley

In a sauce pan over medium heat, simmer the orange juice for about 25 minutes or until it reduces to 1/3 cup.  Add the cream and return the mixture to a gentle simmer.  Remove from heat.  A few pieces at a time, add the butter to the orange and cream reduction by constantly whisking until thoroughly blended.  Once all of the butter is incorporated, season the sauce with salt and pepper and set it aside in a warm spot to ensure that it doesn't break.

Place an empty, heavy based skillet over high heat for 2 minutes.  Meanwhile season the scallops with salt and pepper.  Pour the 1 Tbsp of oil into the hot pan and add the scallops.  Sear the scallops about 4 minutes on each side until they are just opaque in the center and golden brown on both sides.

Transfer the scallops to your serving dish and garnish with segments of the blood orange.  Drizzle your orange cream sauce over top and add an extra splash of color with with sprigs of parsley.

Can't believe I made that!! Go me!

3 Month Check Up

So I am having a really hard time believing that it has already been 3 months since my last endocrinology check up, but since GV is already 14 weeks old and time just seems to be flying past I guess I buy it.  Originally, my appointment was scheduled for two days ago, but seeing as this is Northern Virginia and any sign of snow makes the entire region shut down, the "snowquester" got it pushed back to this afternoon.

With GW, GV and Grandmama in tow, I met with the wonderful Dr. Rogacz for a routine diabetes check-up for the first time!  Pleased with my weight loss and new HgA1C number of 5.8 (that is down from 6.2 mind you), she announced she wasn't concerned about my diabetes care in the slightest and that I am doing remarkably well.

Inquiring about my longer term plans for additional pregnancies and care planning purposes, I told Dr. Rogacz I intend to spend the next 12+ months training for and running in endurance races.  Since pregnancies, diabetes and running don't work together in the slightest, she seemed a bit relieved to know we wouldn't be putting my body through more of that any time soon, but it did cause her to use a term that I dread from endocrinologists: CGM.

Pump with infusion site on right; CGM on left.
CGM, Continuous Glucose Monitoring, is a technology that works with insulin therapy to keep a diabetics blood sugar as tight as possible.  As an additional attachment to the body, the CGM tests blood sugar every four minutes and logs the results so as to indicate the trending direction of your blood sugar and therefore making it easier to catch it as it goes up or as it goes down.  It'd be incredibly helpful for me on my training runs, it'd ensure my safety overnight by alerting me to lows before they happen, it'd help me keep my A1C lower by giving me constant readings and I'd generally be armed with much more information than I currently get with just my Free Style Lite test strips.  Essentially it is an extraordinarily handy tool and wonderful technology to have... I just don't want it.

Here's my logic:

Because I wear an insulin pump and have an infusion site adhered to my body 24/7/365, I constantly carry a 2" by 3" by 1" visual reminder in my pocket that I'm diseased.  Granted it is an extremely helpful piece of plastic to have and I'd be worse off with out it (multiple injections are so not my thing), but I resent the fact that I LOOK diabetic because I wear this tubed device everywhere I go.  Now, if I were to add a CGM, not only would I be attached to the insulin port that is necessary for my pump to operate, I'd have this transmitting device inserted into my subcutaneous jiggle that would make it all the more difficult to hide my disease under my clothes.

I understand that it is incredibly superficial of me to be concerned about "looking diabetic" and how this beneficial technology would impact the fit of my sweaters, especially since most people don't know what they're looking at anyway, but hasn't diabetes already consumed enough of my life?  I mean I can't even have a cup of coffee in the morning without needing to compose my little grey cells enough to test my blood sugar and calculate my bolus, why should I give another portion of my abdomen over to yet another accessory for my broken pancreas?

Don't get me wrong, that was an entirely rhetorical question and I understand the benefits of it.  I mean, okay, there is something to be said for having an HgA1C estimate whenever I want and, hypothetically, it'd protect me from severe hypoglycemia by averting it's onset in the first place, but I'm incredibly sensitive to lows as is and assuming my daily readings stay within a certain range I know my A1C is where I want it to be without knowing exactly where it is.  Perhaps I am being stupidly stubborn on this, but STILL.  I'm just not ready for that.  I feel diabetic enough as it is.

Maybe sometime down the line I'll come around and will willingly participate in the next level of self-care, but for the time being my answer is HELL NO.    Sorry to disappoint you, Dr Rogacz, I'd love to be your shining star patient with all the bells and whistles, but I'll take my low-tech stellar A1C and go on my way.  See you in June.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New shoes!

Well, I knew the day was coming and, sadly, it is finally here: my Asicis Landreth are officially retiring.

I've had this pair for longer than I ever expected I would thanks to my nine month, GV-requested exercise hiatus, but with broken laces, worn tread and innumerable miles they're starting to cause a new twinge here, straight up pain there and simply need to be replaced.

While I am sure there are those out there that could not possibly care any less about my foot wear issues, I am positive that the runners among you can appreciate the physical necessity of a good pair of shoes and can identify with the brand loyalty that develops one you find the perfect Cinderella-fit.  For me, Asicis Landreth have been my glass slippers.  They've been my s(tr)ide-kick, running-buddies for some of my best races and one-on-one ego challenges with HB: the time I wound up beating him after he coaxed/dragged me (and the stroller) through a 5k; the race where I fell on the backstretch, was passed by a competitor and came back to beat her and win our age group; and, of course, my first half marathon.  Bottom line is that I thoroughly loved this design and I'd wear them forever... if I could.

The unfortunate, big time bummer is that Asicis stopped making this shoe.  For whatever reason they got it in their pea-brains that it wasn't selling well enough and that people who don't need extreme arch support don't need these kick-butt neutral shoes... I'm not bitter, really.   Anyway, I was completely heart broken to realize I'd have to start over in my search for running kicks, BUT trying to optimistically take a look at the bright side (odd, I know) I figured this was a great opportunity to try something new: minimalist shoes.

For those who are unfamiliar with running shoes, most, typical shoes have an 8-12 mm rise in the heel that provides cushion when your foot hits the pavement.  By switching to a minimalist shoe - or variation there of - you loose that height difference and force your body to create it's own cushion and stability by reducing heel strikes and forcing greater turn over through shorter, toe-dominant strides.  Essentially, these shoes change your gate and train your body to run with increased efficiency.

So there we are, no shit, at the running store and I'm picking out a pair of my own.  I looked at a bunch of different brands, heel heights and scoffed my way through the ridiculously colored women's shoes that are currently available on the market (seriously, what's with the neon?!).   Since all of the shoes were ugly and that held absolutely no weight in my decision, the test runs back and forth in the parking lot helped me make my final choice -  my foot strike is quieter in the 0 mm rise Mizuno Wave than any of the other 1-4 mm rise shoes available.  Since that indicates better form, volia! I found my new shoes. As you can see in the picture they have ZERO tread on the heel and should be 100% different from my Landreth, may they rest in peace.


Of course the warning that comes along with swapping from traditional running sneakers to minimalist shoes is that you should NEVER use them all of the time and you still need a normal pair as you transition.  So despite my reluctance to shy away from Asicis, I wound up getting a pair of New Balance 1080V2 to try out.  Admittedly they are significantly more ugly than the Landreth were, but until I've put several miles under our feet I'm going to keep the jury out on their success as a replacement training shoe.  I'll probably wear these for all of my longer runs and save the Miznuo for three mile or less "off days."


For better or for worse, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lent Recipe #3: Tuna Casserole

With a refrigerator stocked full with massive amounts of meat-filled left overs - veal bolognese, pesto-steak sandwich fixings and sausage stuffing - my motivation to cook yet another dinner was minimal.  However, seeing that it is Friday and it is still Lent, I needed to come up with something that was more than cereal to feed the gang... finding the vegetable drawer nearly empty and the pantry fresh out of just about all of my go-to ingredients, I decided that we'd pull out one of HB's hot dish recipes from Minnesota - the good, ol' tuna casserole.

We've tweaked the recipe some to fit our tastes and give it more substance, but it maintains the intended flavors of the original in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook so I'll give it all the credit.

4 ounces noodles (I use fusilli or something like it)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups milk
5 cans tuna in water, drained
1 cup shredded cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

For sauce, in a medium saucepan cook celery, carrots and onion in the butter until tender.  Stir in flour, salt, dry mustard and black pepper.  Add the milk all at once; cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Combine sauce, tuna and cheese with the noodles.  Transfer to a casserole and bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.