Saturday, April 25, 2009

Get in Gear

Today was my first-ever road race, and it was pretty fun! See me there in the blue? Just kidding--that was the elite wave of 10k runners...the people who ran 6 miles in half an hour. I was in a little different league. :)

There were a ton of people there...7,000 runners for the 4 different events. You could tell the serious runners from the hobby runners from the weekend warriors, but it was amazing to see how many people came out to RUN. Not being a runner myself, I felt like I was stepping into someone else's world for a few hours.

I started out 2/3 of the way back, because I didn't want to get in the way of the people who were actually trying to get a good time. But I ended up behind a lot of people who were even slower than me, so I spent a good part of the first mile weaving in and out, just trying to get in a good space.

I could tell we were getting close when everyone kept saying, "There's the bridge! There's the bridge!" (where we had started). The goal in sight, I pushed on and stopped right after I pounded the time pad. It seemed a little anti-climactic, but I didn't have anything to compare it to. Then a guy on the sidelines said, "Come on! You can finish it out!"...and then I suddenly remembered that the finish line was farther up the hill than the starting place. Gaa! It was hard to muster up the energy for that last .2 mile, short as it was. I'm pretty sure I didn't push it to the finish line the "second" time. :)

It was supposed to be rainy and cold, but the sun came out just in time, and it was a beautiful day for a run. I came in 505th out of 1054 women, and 121st out of 221 people in my age-range. I definitely would like to improve my times, but for now I was just glad to have finished! Vance is already talking about me running a 10k next year...
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Sprouted Bread

Bread baking has been something I've enjoyed since I was in my early teens...I'm sure it's romantic connection to women for centuries past, the cathartic rocking motion of the kneading, and the praise from my family had something to do with it. In those days I was an occaisional, white-bread baker--now I bake (almost) all the bread for our family, and I try to keep it as whole-grain as possible. The recipe below represents my current favorite marriage of health food and yumminess.

If bread intimidates you, don't let it! I was raised in the meticulous, yeast-proofing, thermometer using, watch-your-dough-like-a-hawk tradition. But the more I learn about the science of bread baking, the more I realize that you can really throw most of that out the window. You can use cold water! You don't have to proof the yeast! You can throw your dough in the fridge and leave it there for days! And best of all, even if your loaf is a little dense or a little dry, your family will still inhale it. Just watch them.

Sprouted Grain Bread

3 c. sprouted grains, from 1 1/2 c. grain*
3/4 c. milk, heated (I use half water, half milk)
1 t. salt
2 T honey
2 T oil (I use half butter, half coconut oil)
1 1/2 c. flour**
2 1/4 t. yeast

*if using grains other than wheat, be sure that some of your mixture has reasonably high gluten content (such as spelt, kamut, etc.) I would reccommend 75% of your grains be higher gluten.
**You can use bread flour, all-purpose flour, or whole wheat flour + 2-3 T gluten, depending on how light you like your loaf. The loaf pictured is made with whole wheat flour and 2 T extra gluten.

Combine sprouts, oil, and milk in food processor. Process for several minutes, while you measure out your other ingredients. In the bread machine pan, pour all ingredients in the order suggested by your breadmaker. Set on "dough only" cycle or similar.

After the dough has been mixing for 5 minutes or so, check it. Interpreting dough texture is (to me) the trickiest part of bread baking. You want the dough to be soft and supple, but not sticky. If it seems sticky or wet, add flour 1/4 c. at a time.

When the dough has completed it's first rise, spread out on a floured surface, and shape into loaf. Place into greased 9x5 pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, and let cool on wire rack.

If you don't have a bread maker, I'd be happy to reformat the instructions for you. Just drop me a line or a comment, and I'll send it on :)

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hidden Falls

Vance proposed a picnic dinner out to a park tonight...who was I to oppose takeout? So we went to Hidden Falls, right on the Mississippi. The falls were nothing to write home about, but the kiddos had fun "hiking" the 1/3 mile up to the water.
See that shiner? It was much more impressive on Tuesday.

my little rockclimber
mmm..Quizno's by the river.

first exposure to soft drinks, I think :)

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Friday, April 17, 2009


Proof that my kids enjoy their food.

Look at who's growing up and using a spoon! She is very excited about her new talent...and so am I! I'm not a huge fan of spoon-feeding, so I'm more than ready for her to take over in the eating department. I know that other parents probably don't let their kids eat like this: oh, well. They're having fun, it doesn't hurt anybody, and I just don't care enough to try and keep mealtimes neat. Now you know what we're really like :)

Oh, and Claire has learned two new words: "Mine!" (the staple of every sibling's vocabulary), and "Please" (hooray!).
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Baked Oatmeal

In my quest for healthier, yummier, faster, easier, and longer-lasting breakfasts, I decided to play around with baked oatmeal. Before you try the recipe I've come up with, please know that I haven't really eaten anyone else's baked oatmeal, so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like. On the other hand, I suspect it's kind of hard to mess up, being oatmeal and all.

I wanted to find a recipe that used steel cut oats, since that's what I have and use. However, I could find no such recipe, so I made one up. Everyone here loves it, especially Isaac, who completely shuts out the world and focuses only on breathing and swallowing at breakfast time. Maybe I'm weird, but I like it equally well hot or cold, with a splash of milk. It is more expensive than straight oatmeal, but it's cheaper than cold cereal or granola, so it may be a mainstay of our summers, when a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal sounds less than appealing.

One more note: since oats are high in phytic acid, I start soaking my oatmeal the morning before...however, if that's not important to you, skip the extra soaking step and throw everything together the night before. I use honey in this recipe because it helps digest all these hefty carbohydrates.

Baked Oatmeal

4 c. steel cut oats
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir
1/2 c. oil (I use half butter, half coconut oil)
1/2 c. honey
4 eggs
1 t. salt
4 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine oats, water, and buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter for 8 hours or so. If that wigs you out, you can soak them in the fridge (it will slow the soaking process down, however).

Before you go to bed, combine remaining ingredients to oat mixture. Pour into greased 9x13 pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve with milk or cream and your choice of dried fruit.

Apple Nut Variation - Add one peeled, diced apple, 2/3 c. raisins, and 2/3 c. walnuts or pecans to oat mixture along with remaining ingredients

Coconut Variation - Substitute one can of coconut milk for an equal amount of liquid, add 1 peeled, diced mango (or other dried tropical fruit) and 1/2 c. shredded coconut with remaining ingredients (I haven't tried this yet, but I think it would be pretty yummy)

Almost any fruit would be good in this, such as dried cherries, craisins (or fresh chopped cranberries, just increase the honey), or frozen berries. Can you tell I don't follow directions very well? :)

For those of you who are waiting for a sprouted bread recipe, I will get one to you...I've just been experimenting with my recipe lately (see above). I'll put up the recipe and pictures soon, though...

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Look at Me!"

See what my son has been up to? Growing up--while I was upstairs changing a diaper! I was outside chatting with my neighbor yesterday afternoon, and went inside to quickly change Claire. When I came back, Dong Mi had put Isaac on her daughter's old bike. I was shocked! He took to it right away, and only wanted me to hold on for about 2 minutes.

Never mind that the bike is pink with "Pearls & Jewels" emblazoned on the front. Isaac is totally enthralled with it. Riding the "Big Boy Bike" is all he wants to do. Don't worry, I found the bike helmet I had squirreled away in the storage unit. He's safe now.

I'm the one you need to worry about...I wasn't ready for my son to become one of those speeding kids on bikes, going faster than I can run, getting huge gashes on his chin and knees, having fun without me... But, unprepared as I was, I have to get excited about this new adventure when I see that proud, excited smile on his face.
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pleased as punch

I was wanting to think of some non-bunny/egg/candy little gifts for the kids this weekend...I really do want the resurrection to be a big-deal holiday around here, and I've been trying to find little ways to make it special. Lo and behold, the dollar spot at Target had the two things I was looking for: buckets and sunglasses. Both gifts were a big hit with the little people around here.

Isaac insisted on wearing his sunglasses to church (he cut quite a figure with his sunglasses/suit combo), and told everyone he looked "like Mr. Whipple" (who also has yellow glasses). But alas and alack, he lost the sunglasses after the service. It was a great tragedy. Isaac decided that the best way to cope was to blame someone else. "Someone came and stole my glasses!" He could not be convinced that it might--just might--be that he lost them himself. Oh no. Someone stole them. All those jealous people who wanted yellow sunglasses. How early the blameshifting starts!

We weren't able to play with the buckets much on Sunday, due to the amount of feasting and partying that occured, but Monday was beautiful, and the kids loved playing with their new toys. I was surprised Claire was able to use the shovel! She promptly used the shovel as a spoon, and ate some sand. I think Vance convinced her that it wasn't such a delicacy, and she has since stuck to shoveling the sand into her bucket.

Boy, do I love spring!
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Monday, April 13, 2009

happy day II

Granny smocked this dress for me when I was little...I found out yesterday that I could make good money selling it on eBay, but I think it will stay in the family. It's one of my favorites (and on one of my favorites! what a sweetie)

There was an egg hunt, which included this scene beween Malachi and Hazel. There was a little tussle over the purple egg you see falling to the ground. Although Hazel got a boxing from Malachi, she stayed scrappy and ultimately made off with the egg. I got it all on film :)

Isaac stayed above the fray, preferring to burrow next to me with his treasured stash of candy. Yes, I let him eat it all in one sitting. No, it wasn't very much. Yes, he enjoyed it. No, he did not melt down when it was gone. He's growing up so fast.
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happy day!

Growing up, I often felt like Easter was not as important enough to me as it should be. I knew Resurrection Sunday was the highest holy day on the church calendar, but a lot of times, it just felt like another Sunday with a bigger family meal attatched. Since moving to Minnesota, however, that has changed. I love being in a church that really works a lot of powerful traditions into Holy Week. It has been a wonderful weekend--lots of unstructured time hanging out as a family, and lots of time considering the cross of Christ. I've been reading The Cross of Christ (Stott) lately, and I think that also really helped me worship more wholeheartedly.

In Children's Ministry, Ruth was asking the 3 & 4 year olds what holiday it was. Everyone knew that it was Easter...easy question. But when she asked what we were celebrating, Isaac was the first one to eagerly raise his hand. "It was an accident!" That's right have to really be active in teaching your children at home in order to get children as doctrinally sound as ours. Just do what we do :)

We had our annual Whipple Easter gathering, which was so much fun as always. Good friends, good food, good day = good times.
Isaac was really into the bunny napkins.
Claire and Hazel really liked the fruit tray. Claire napped for 3 hours in a room next to all us noisy adults--I was so proud of her! And Isaac skipped his nap completely and had a great time playing with the big boys without melting down--I was proud of him too.
The happy revellers. Note that Ruth is making fun of me at the moment, and our debonair host beside her is looking his classy self. Good times!
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Girly Girl

In honor of the first sandals of the season--and my favorite holiday--I painted my toenails today. Claire seemed really interested in the process (Isaac too, actually). I thought, 1) I wonder if I could paint toes that tiny? and 2) I wonder if she would hold still? Yes, and yes! Claire was tickled pink to have her tootsies done up, and we have our first mother-daughter matchy-matchy kitsch going on :)

Spring brings out the neighbors, and it's amazing how much will change over the winter. I have 3 neighbors who are either extremely pregnant or have a newborn...none of which I knew were expecting before we all went into confinement. Crazy! But talking with the neighbors lately has reminded me afresh the cultural differences between us. Since December I've been fighting my way back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, and my neighbors notice such things with very different responses. My Korean neighbors are, if anything, more obsessed than Americans about weight. So when my Korean neighbor sees me back to "normal", she exclaims, "You lost your weight!!" and is very excited. On the other hand, my Indian neighbor came out this evening and frowned at me, "Why you get teen?" I struggled to explain (she has a very limited English vocabulary) that I am not thin, I was just bigger before because of baby weight. She wasn't thrilled, but seemed to accept the explanation. It's like having an Italian grandma in the neighborhood.

Happy Easter, everyone!
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Meet My Sis!

Aaaand, my little sister has a blog now! Now you can keep up on all of us, Grandma & Granny! :)

Bits and Pieces

I haven't talked as much about Isaac's doings of late, but he's certainly been busy! Here are just a few of the things he's been up to:

1) Vance took Isaac on a special date to the zoo on Saturday--the lion and the tiger both roared, and Isaac thought it was the most special event ever...he talked about it all day, and told everyone about it at church the next. After they got home Isaac worked with Vance on a lego tower (see above), and when I tried to take a picture, he practiced his favorite silly faces. For some reason, he loves to cross his eyes while he's eating.

2) Isaac has been getting back into the alphabet with a vengeance...we sing the ABC's almost every naptime, and he loves an alphabet puzzle that he has. Lately he has been sounding out the words we use, trying to figure out what letter the word starts with. He's getting pretty good at it! He'll say, "Dog! That starts with duh, duh, D!" The cutest thing is that Claire has started imititating him...she'll go around saying, "duh, duh, DEEEE!" with a big grin on her face.
3) Make Way for Ducklings has made quite an impression on him of late. Do you remember the police officer who stops the traffic to let the ducklings cross the streets of Boston? Well, we were heading to the car the other day, and Isaac, upon seeing a student walking on the sidewalk, immediately turns on him, stretches out his hand in a weird, channeling-Harry-Potter sort of way, and mutters, "I'm stopping him." When the guy walked right on by, he found another victim, ran a few feet, and repeated the same stance. "I'm stopping her." Again, no luck. Finally, he ran out to the middle of the street to stop a car that was coming (don't worry, it was far away). When the car likewise refused to respond to his tactics, he said, "they aren't stopping!" I explained that only policemen had the power to stop traffic. "But I want to be a farmer!" he said. I guess the stopping of pedestrians and vehicles will be left to another man.

4) In general, I am surprised by how he holds onto quotes from books. Our dinner conversations will go something like this: Vance telling me about his day, relating conversations about stem-cell research and etc., then Isaac will start talking to himself, "the guests began to take off their party hats..." and then, "the fat policeman grabbed him by one arm, then thin policeman by the other..." We live our lives in between quotation marks around here.
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