Snow Sculptures

By on Jan 29, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Saturday morning was to be an afternoon of adventure.  Breakfast! And snow sculptures!  So we headed out to Yolk (our favorite breakfast place) and then to Navy Pier for some amazing sculptures made entirely out of snow.  Along the way, we also hit up the Children’s museum.  Like I said, adventure! We took the Brown Line to the Chicago stop to start our day at the Yolk at Chicago and Lasalle.  Now, I’m not saying that Yolk is the best breakfast in Chicago, but – well, yes, I’m saying it’s the best breakfast in Chicago.  Leah and I have been to literally several of Chicago’s hundreds of breakfast establishments, so I think we can safely say who has the best breakfast.  And, as an added plus, they are great for kids.  Tons of space and a nice kids menu. From Yolk, we picked up the 66 (Chicago bus line) which drops off right at Navy Pier.  When we got to Navy Pier, we were very glad we took the train and bus instead of driving.  I could almost smell the frustration wafting off of the endless line of cars heading into the Navy Pier parking lot .  And even without the parking issues, isn’t public transportation always nicer than driving in the city?  Lucy loves both the train and bus (Calvin seems largely indifferent), so the trip to the destination is as much fun as the destination itself.  Lucy is quite the city girl.  Plus, holy crap is it annoying getting the kids in and out of carseats.  An extra 40 minutes of commute time is worth not having to strap a giant, squirming marshmallow into a little baby-chair. The snow sculptures at Navy Pier were amazing.  There was…a lion and…Batman fighting a shark.  And…a bunch of C’s. Huh. Turns out it’s sort of hard to describe snow sculptures and make then sound cool.  Should have sent a poet.  But luckily Leah snapped a couple of pictures.  Voila: Anyway, yeah, they were really very nice. We toured around around until Lucy decided she’d had enough and had to pee, at which point we headed inside to check out the Children’s Museum.  As I said, this was a first for me and Lucy.  I felt really bad shoving her out of the way to get to all the exhibits.  Man does she cry a lot. Kidding!  But she did have a great time.  Her favorite was Tots Town or Tiny Town or Kids Town or Kids City or something along those lines.  There was a CTA bus for her to drive and a store for her to shop in.  Somehow she managed to navigate all the parents who were instructing their kids how to have fun (plus one parent who just kept walking around and cleaning up).  Parents setting up as cashiers in the grocery store, grabbing the money from their kids hands and telling them what produce to shop for and where to bring it.  It makes me wonder what the kids would have come up with on their own without direction from their parents.  Kids playing with other kids?  What a concept. The Children’s Museum at Navy Pier is a really nice place.  It’s well spaced so it doesn’t feel cramped and crowded and, for the most part, I didn’t feel that parents were being encouraged to walk hand in hand with their kids.  If nothing else, it’s a nice place to pass a winter day as we mark time until spring.    ...

Still life in Brie

By on Jan 24, 2013 in Writings | 1 comment

Franklin bounced up and down on the treadmill, jogging along at a comfortable 9:45 pace.  He checked his heart rate by grasping the machine’s silver diodes;  156, right on target.  He tried to pay attention to CNN correspondent Melba Valourez as she described the latest meetings on the “fiscal cliff”, but despite his best intentions, his eyes kept drifting back to the cheese. It was just sitting there on the window sill, right in front of the treadmill immediately to his right: a wedge of brie.  No plate and no crackers, just brie.  Who brings brie into a gym, Franklin thought.  And who leaves cheese on a window sill? Any window sill, let alone a window sill at a gym. Is someone saving it for after their workout?  Franklin hazarded a quick look around.  Nobody else seemed disturbed by the presence of a soft, sweating cheese.  In fact, nobody else seemed to notice it at all.  He returned his gaze to the cheese and waited.  Waited for 300 pounds of muscle in mesh shorts and a too-tight shirt to claim the brie.  The adonis would simply scoop up the cheese in one hand and bite into it like an apple, chew noisily for a a few minutes, working the soft cheese around with his tongue, and then finally wash it down with a swig from his Nalgene bottle.  He’sdstare at Franklin as he walked away, daring him to judge.  Franklin waited nervously, sweating more than his moderate workout would suggest. Twenty minutes later, Franklin finished his run and carefully stepped off of the machine, never having had an encounter with the cheese’s owner.  With regret, Franklin turned away and headed down to the locker room.  He never learned what happened to the brie, whether it was swept up by the janitor or claimed by a patron.  But Franklin was inspired, and the next day he brought with him a wheel of cheddar, set it on the window sill, and boarded his treadmill,...

Cooking with kids

By on Jan 20, 2013 in Cooking | 0 comments

Leah and I have recently decided to solidify our schedules.  For some time now, we’ve been alternating who picks up Lucy from daycare and who drops her off.  For example, Mondays Leah would take her in, Tuesdays I would take her in, and Wednesdays we would pick from between the local drifters and hobos to take her in.  It’s a bit confusing for everyone and life’s much simpler now that I always do pickups and Leah always does dropoffs.  And, as a side benefit, this schedule gets me home in time to cook. Of course, the kids aren’t going anywhere (well, not for 15 and 17 years, respectively), so cooking has to somehow involve childcare.  And, now that Rocky can crawl, it’s not so easy just to leave him in the living room with his toys and have Lucy entertain him with silly dances.  I’m pretty sure that would lead to a lot of chewing on electrical wires and other hazardous activities.  So, instead, I brought him into the kitchen with me where he can eat any number of terrifying things off of the linoleum. This last week of combining cooking and child rearing reminded me of cooking with little Lucy back in our old apartment.  But it wasn’t until he got to the cabinets and started pulling out the cookie sheets and pans that I remembered that there were ways of entertaining kids in a kitchen setting.  So out came the metal mixing bowls and brightly colored spatulas and Rocky was thrilled.  Just wait until he’s old enough to really drum on a metal pan.  Let’s make some music! Anyway, Tuesday (or Wednesday, I don’t know, weekdays confuse me.  Actually, I think it was Thursday), I was putting together a new recipe from my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook and the kids were roaming the kitchen.  It was to be linguini with a cauliflower pesto, which sounds sort of weird but is…well, it’s a little weird, but in a good way.  The best part is that it’s almost entirely free of cooking.  The magic pretty much all happens in the food processor.  Seriously, the only things that involved the stove were the cooking of the pasta and the toasting of the almonds.  Before the food processing, there was much prettiness.   Such a nice, orderly food processor.  Of course, the kitchen was less orderly.   But seriously, the recipe was so easy that the pre-chop food processor prettiness was chopped and turned into a post-chopped mix, combined with some ground up cauliflower, tossed with pasta, and done.  Speaking of post-chopped, would you say this looks the consistency of course breadcrumbs?  I dunno, I gave it my best shot.   Of course, I cleverly made sure to not take a picture of the final product, because that would give this post too nice a conclusion.  Also, I should point out that this meal never turned into baby food.  Too many things that aren’t baby friendly.  Rocky just ate some other random goo that night. I’m happy to be back to sharing the kitchen with my kids while cooking.  With the two kids, it often seems that these things can’t be as easy as they were with just Lucy.  And, often enough, they won’t be.  But, no matter what, it’s always more fun cooking a family dinner with a couple kids running around...

Inbound Zombies

By on Jan 19, 2013 in Writings | 1 comment

There were 41 passengers on car 3370 travelling inbound towards The Loop.  Fully 40 of them either sat or stood, hands down, staring at their smart phones as the city rolled by.  I was the only person who remained heads-up, staring at each person in turn as I stood, holding onto the overhead bar.  Nobody caught my gaze, however.  They simply stared at their devices, their only movements the occasional flick of the thumb.  As the train followed the track around a curve, each of the standing swayed in unison, first to the left and then back to the right.  They made certain to keep their phones a constant 18 inches from their eyes with a practiced ease. I turn to stare out the window.  I see two kids chasing each other, circling a plastic playground structure, mouths open in screams I can not hear.  The train moves on and we pass a raven perched on the ledge of a building.  It stares at me, unblinking.  The sky, a mix of pink, purple and blue with the setting of the sun, plays in stark contrast to the black of the raven.  Somewhere in the distance, the barking of one dog sets the neighboring dogs into a frenzy. I look back at the 40 smart phone zombies and think to myself, “My god, the outside world really is boring as hell.”  I fish my iPhone out of my left pants pocket and swipe it on.  With a flick of my thumb, my Twitter app is on and I stand, holding my phone a steady 18 inches from my face as the train makes its way through the city corridor. Ooo!  Wil Wheaton made a pumpkin bisque last night!...

The Excuses

By on Jan 16, 2013 in Fitness, Running | 2 comments

It’s like a title of a movie, right? Where maybe the lead role of the male is…oh I don’t know…The Excuses….Ryan Gosling? Bradley Cooper? The female role…hmm..Zooey Deschanel…but really I’m only thinking her because I have a girl crush on her…really on her hair. Can I pull off those bangs? But I digress. Keeping a workout regimen intact is difficult. Add to that a couple with two full time jobs and it gets tougher. Add to that a couple with a couple of kids and it can feel impossible. We are runners who like to run outside, so this time of year I hear a lot of, “It’s too cold.” or “It’s too dark.” or “It’s dark AND cold.” However, the main excuse that is present at all times in our household is, “I don’t have time.” “There is no time.” “I’m tired.” “It’s too early.” “It’s too late.” If we have a plan and it goes *exactly* as planned, we are pretty good. But the second that something throws a knife into the situation (common among the zoo here), then the workout will usually get pushed. The goal we have on a daily basis is sticking with the plan. Since I’m slightly type A personality, I used to get twitchy at the thought of a plan going awry.  But adding in the second kid fixed that problem and I’ve learned to roll with the punches. And so we do the best we can. Yesterday was perfect. Jason worked out at 5:30am. We both went to work. We came home. We ate dinner. We bathed the kids. Did the bedtime routine. After they were in bed I went to the gym. I got home around 9pm and we had a great time with a couple of beers laughing at the idiots on some HGTV home show (you are asking why we are watching said idiots on some HGTV after we said we would get cable again only if we DID NOT watch said idiots on HGTV…well it’s like a train wreck…seriously people? What is wrong with you?) and went to bed. Kids slept through the night and all good. But. But. But. We went to bed late. Therefore the getting up at 5 didn’t happen. Snooze happened. So fine, Jason pushes his run back till after the kids go to bed (I run at Fermilab at 5) and get home at bath time. But then something happened with dinner (two kids on your own, one of whom is sick, makes for a tough dinner situation) and he decided to push eating till after the kids go to bed. But dinner is left over chili. Waiting for that to settle then run 4 miles. “It’s too late. It’s too hard. It’s too cold.” Thus we try again tomorrow. The main excuse of “I don’t have time.” in my opinion is the weakest one (I’m not talking about those of you that work 80 hours a week, that’s a different beast). We have to be clever with when to workout. Early morning, going to they gym late. Running to do your errands. This last one is a huge one. I had to pick Lucy up last week from school (I drop her off in the mornings, but Jason ended up having to stay late at work for a meeting). The daycare is 4.8 miles from our house. Perfect run BECAUSE on that day I worked at home (I can work from home one day a week, which is very lucky). So I left around 4:15, got her and took the bus/train home. Yep. I was that stinky rider on the 77 bus/brown line. Luckily the train wasn’t too crowded. But it worked. I’m still nursing and so I’m dealing with some issues and so I had to cancel my weekend runs. But go with the flow. Roll with the punches. I’m learning how. The point is not that you are going to make all of your workouts. The point is to do your best and make a plan for the week or the day and stick to it the best you can. And that’s that. The train will go off the tracks. Just try again the next...