Saturday, May 30, 2009
The course wasn't quite as flat as I'd thought, but we were making pretty good time.
Mile 1 @ 9:25. Mile 2 @ 18:30, Mile 3 @... where'd he go?
B1 and his long legs had kicked into the next gear just before the Mile 3 marker, and he zoomed past me for the last tenth of a mile. His finish time was 27:01, close to a minute ahead of me. All those weeks of short runs to build mileage for the ING Challenge at school have turned my video gaming string bean into a runner! I finished at 27:45. Not as fast as I hoped, but about 4 to 4-1/2 minutes ahead of last year, if I'm remembering correctly.
We grabbed water and food and settled in to watch for the other two. Before B1 finished his blueberry muffin, Dad and B2 were coming along the last stretch. The completed the course at 46 minutes. That was a little slower than B2's 44:41 at the Big Peach 5k, but quite a bit faster than his first 5k of the year (53:00-Run the Reagan 5k) , back in February.
I'm so very proud of both boys. And, I've never been so pleased to lose $5.
It's taken a week for the kids to get past thinking they have to try to stay up past midnight each night. The Exercise + Reading +Chores = Video Games is not something new, as it's in place each weekend throughout the school year, but it took few days of reminders that it still applies. The battles over helping with housework are coming to a middle.
The kids are getting adjusted, so now it's my turn. Been exercising, cooking, biking the grocery shopping and errands like normal, but computer time has been limited. There are a couple of maps to wrap up before my summer officially begins, so the available time has been for work, not reading and blogging.
Without the camp weeks which have helped keep mom sane in the past, I'm going to rely on a schedule. Nothing too strict, as long as general goals are met. These things, along with a good try at dinner, make evening movies, deserts, and video games possible.
- Up, done with breakfast, dressed, and beds made before cartoons or video games. This is when I run/ride.
- [Roughly] Two hours of reading and play - board/card games, legos, barbies, etc. This is computer time - work or otherwise - for mom.
- Music practice & housework help
- Exercise! Can be taking a packed lunch with us for an afternoon of swimming, hiking or general running about at the park. Yardwork, gardening and washing car and/or dog get to count for exercise, too. (If you've seen three children try to get an 85-lb dog into the outdoor tub when he'd rather be rolling in the veggie patch, and they're chasing each other with water guns, you'd see the exercise value.)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The federal government does entirely too much snooping and mucking about in the daily details of our shopping lives. In addition to being meddlesome, government agencies are constantly gathering data. Not that this is all bad. Data about population and crime statistics fall squarely into planning for the government to do it's main job - protecting life, liberty and property. But then there's all those other little details of our lives. Like that census question everyone likes to use to point out the ridiculous - about how many flush toilets are in a house.
In this case, the data has been collected by the US Dept. of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, and is related to weekly grocery spending. It's broken down by sex and age, and has been conveniently categorized as Thrift, Low, Moderate, and Liberal. It's updated monthy. As unhappy as I am to find my tax dollars used to snoop in grocery baskets, the data is current, answers a question I had about how our food bills compare to others, and was easy to find. I'll swallow my grumbling and use it. After all, I paid for the @#!* stuff.
My question: How does our average weekly grocery spending of $142.89 compare to the national average?
According to the January 2009 data (link to PDF):
Family of four, with children in the 6-8 and 9-11 range:
Great, but I also have a teenaged boy. The recommendation is to reduce the weekly amount for the age/sex by 7% when adding to an existing family group. I used 10%, to avoid needing a calculator.
Male child, age 14-18 (less 10%):
Add the two sets together, and here are the USDA amounts for the weekly food spending of a family of five, with children aged eight, nine and fifteen:
The average weekly spending for my family is $30 less than the Thrift level of spending. Many weeks come in below the Thrift level for a family of four. Even my big stock-up weeks, with gourmet cheeses and fancy coffee, come in between the Low and Moderate levels.
I have lost just about all sympathy for anyone who says it's too tough and too expensive to buy healthy food. For people with access to only the inner city convenience markets that may be true. But for everyone else... Really?!
I do most of our shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joes, both considered to be at the high end of pricing. Buy organic when I can, especially if it's an item where we'll be eating the skin. Free range chicken. Grass fed beef. Eggs from birds with hormone free, vegetarian diets.
Sure, I could do more to lower the bill. Using only bulk dry beans, rather than purchasing canned, is a big one, given how many days they're mixed into our meals. If I were to make the drive out to the Super Walmart and Farmers Market each week, I could probably drop the bill even further. The only reason I don't is one of time and effort. I get far more enjoyment out of the ride to the store on the bike than I would from driving around the suburbs. It's worth an extra $10-15 each week to stay within a 3 mile radius of home. (Actually, if you figure in gas, it's probably more like $5-10 each week I'd save.)
I get that it's a convenience and personal preference thing. I bake oat muffins for breakfasts, and always make extra waffles during weekend breakfasts, to keep in the freezer for another day. Our granola is homemade. (Not cheap, once I add all the nuts & fruits, but still less than if I were to purchase the premium packaged stuff at the store.) Lunches are made with homemade sandwiches, not pre-packaged lunchmeat & cheese combos. Meat, poultry and fish are parts of our dinners, but rarely the main part.
I'm not saying everyone should do what I do. What works for us is far more difficult for someone who works full time. Heck, I read several Mom & Food bloggers who do far more from-scratch cooking than I do, plus gardening and food preserving. There are families out there who eat diets far healthier and greener than ours. In comparing the numbers here though, I have a pretty good idea that those families' grocery bills might not be much, if any, higher than mine.
Week 20 Shopping:
Whole Foods (Bike) - $62.14
Kroger - $6.17
Trader Joes (Bike) - $25.14
Euro. Bakery (Bike) - $4.75
Farmstand (Bike) - $9.25
Total - $107.40
Year to Date - $2,857.86
Average weekly spending - $142.89
There's around $80 not included with this week's shopping. Made the decision to pull all of the food for school parties and cooking for the international festival out of the regular shopping. I have a monthly item on the budget tagged "Misc-School" which covers things like yearbooks, field day t-shirts, teacher gifts. I felt the foods for the Swedish and Australian tables fell squarely in that category.
Week 21 is the final week of school, so there are a few more party items to purchase. Nothing like this week's shopping though. I'm looking forward to seeing what Week 22 does for the shopping budget, with lunches at home and juice by the half gallon, instead of 10pk drink packets.
Supper Wars -
Butter Chicken, Basmati Rice, Green Peas
First time with no complaints, even though it was the official tangy version. Used greek yogurt, rather than coconut milk. For the kids, chose breast meat, instead of thighs. Kept the biggest critic of the dish involved in the cooking process. B2 & I decided to use sweet vidalia onions, instead of the usual yellow or white, and that I should keep scoop some of the curry paste to the side. That way, I could make the servings as spicy as my evil tastebuds desired.
Cheese Flatbread Pizza, Salad
Baked Pasta (w/Bison), Salad
The kids who make faces about meat if they know it's not coming from the big three of farm animals are continuing their exploration of other protein sources, such as bison and lamb. And by exploration, I mean being kept in the dark by mom until after they've eaten a meal and pronounced it a winner. (Yes, the same strategy used for sneaking in veggies.) Had leftover pasta, salad and fruit a couple nights later.
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pears and Root Vegetables
Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potato, red and vidalia onion, pears and garlic; tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, sea salt and red pepper. The kids tried the sweet potato and carrot, but weren't at all impressed. Was okay, as this was completely expected, and already planned as the night of the leftover pasta. One of my favorite dishes, but not one I'm going to force on the kids. My memory of childhood brussels sprout traumas are still too vivid.
Baked Ginger Sesame Tofu, Sticky Rice
Stir Fried Veggies
Kids ate green beans and carrots from the stir fry, but left all the squash, onions, peppers, etc., untouched. Sigh.
Cornmeal Waffles, Bacon, Fruit & Yogurt
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars coming soon, along with nifty data from the USDA about family food budgets.
I'd also like to take a minute to mention one of the audiobooks I've been listening to while working. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. I downloaded it from Audible after hearing a friend mention it in a discussion where old odd medicinal cures brought up Mellified Man. Wasn't sure about it, but it turned out to be a fascinating - and fun - read. (To be more accurate, it was a listen, not a read.) From the forensic body farm in TN, to the early history of body collecting for anatomy classes, to crash tests, to how a body is embalmed, to organ and even the potential of whole body transplants, to the evolution in thought as to where the soul resides in the body... it was never dull. Though I'd not recommend listening while doing your grocery shopping, unless you're trying to work toward vegetarianism.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
This morning's clean up at the middle school marks the end of the busiest four "mom" days of the year. With next week being the final week of school, next Wednesday thru Friday should be just as insane. Will be enjoying a frosty beverage when I get home to celebrate the next two days, where the demands on brain power and time will be limited to immediate family.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It's now only one month until the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile up in Manitou Springs, Colorado. It was my idea to sign up for a vacation race in a beautiful destination for my birthday. It's a stop on our cross-country trek this June. It will be gorgeous, but if there's going to be a hope of surviving hill after hill at higher elevations (6,210' up to 6,530'), it's got to be all about the hills here in humid ol' Atlanta for the next few weeks.
Will be keeping photos like this in mind while lacing up the shoes, even though the course elevation map (see below) will be right there with it.
The trip to Harry's Farmers Market was with one of the children, so the bike wasn't an option. 20+ miles round trip, in traffic, with the one child in the house who hates being on a bike to the point of actively sabotaging the balance of the adult in the front seat is not on my To-Do list. I would consider hooking up DD for a trip to TJs or Starbucks though. It would have to be early on a weekend morning, when there's very little traffic, but I think she'd be great.
Anyways... the numbers:
Week 19 Shopping:
Harry's (Whole Foods) - $50.69
Publix - $15.94
Trader Joes (Bike) - $22.93
Euro. Bakery (Bike) - $1.75
Trader Joes (Bike) - $25.72
Total - $117.03
Year to Date - $2,750.16
Average weekly spending - $144.75
Good week on the food front. Only one day where there was any big conflict. It was over a dahl curry with couscous. I may need to give up on that one for a while, other than as a small side dish for the kids when I want it for the grownup supper. Did a bit of convenience cooking this week, by combining prep for two suppers at a time. Made enough lemon-pepper marinade one night to take care of the tuna for that night's meal, and to zip into a baggie with chicken breast for the next night. Then, the little bit of lemon pepper chicken which was extra got used the following evening in fried rice.
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Honey/Maple Turkey Sandwiches, Apples, Baby Carrots
Dahl Curry & Couscous, Salad
Lemon Pepper Tuna, Oven Baked Mac & Cheese, Green Beans
The lighter color of the lemon pepper didn't make it as easy for the kids to think of the tuna steaks as "steak" instead of "tuna" as with the dark soy/honey/ginger. Will need to stick with the darker marinades until they forget tuna is fish.
Lemon Pepper Chicken, Basmati/Wild Rice Medley, Salad
Veggie Fried Rice w/ LP Chicken, Sliced Pears
Mini Cheeseburgers, Roasted Garlic Russet/Sweet Potatoes, Corn on the Cob
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
- Bank - Deposit - at the Drive-up window, of course
- Little Thai - Lunch date - Basil Noodles & Roti
- Vegetable Stand - Obvious reasons
- Fleet Feet Sports - Small water bottle/strap, but ended up getting a Nike skirt and singlet, too.
- Little European Bakery - Bread & 3 Beehive cookies for kidlets
- Trader Joes - Regular groceries, including milk, 5-lb bag of flour, wine & flowers
Including today's 4.5 mile loopy route, this week's mileage so far:
Whole Foods - 3.9 (would normally be five, but there was the frozen wheel & rescue)
"Date" Ride - 21.5 (leisurely pace)
"Hooray! It's Not Raining" Ride - 17.26 (16.6 mph)
"Oops - Supposed to be Running" - 2.3 (9:24/mile)
Errands for the Day - 4.57 (lots of stops)
*Hill Run (when the teenager/babysitter gets home) - 3.7 miles
Total (so far) - 57.79 miles
It'll slow down after today, as there's Field Day, TAG End-of year Party, 4th/5th Guitar Concert, 8th Grade Dance, International Festival, all between Wednesday and Friday, followed by After-Dance Cleanup at the middle school on Saturday morning. Now that I think about it, the grocery budget is likely to be out of whack this week too, as one child volunteered me to fix fried rice for the TAG party and Swedish meatballs for the International Festival, though I haven't heard a confirmation from the teacher on that second batch of food yet.
If you exercise to improve your metabolism and prevent diabetes, you may want to avoid antioxidants like vitamins C and E.I don't take handfuls of vitamins like I used to, but can't quite wrap my head around skipping them entirely.
That is the message of a surprising new look at the body’s reaction to exercise, reported on Monday by researchers in Germany and Boston.Exercise is known to have many beneficial effects on health, including on the body’s sensitivity to insulin. “Get more exercise” is often among the first recommendations given by doctors to people at risk of diabetes.
The Jena team found that in the group taking the vitamins there was no improvement in insulin sensitivity and almost no activation of the body’s natural defense mechanism against oxidative damage.
The reason, they suggest, is that the reactive oxygen compounds, inevitable byproducts of exercise, are a natural trigger for both of these responses. The vitamins, by efficiently destroying the reactive oxygen, short-circuit the body’s natural response to exercise.
“If you exercise to promote health, you shouldn’t take large amounts of antioxidants,” Dr. Ristow said. A second message of the study, he said, “is that antioxidants in general cause certain effects that inhibit otherwise positive effects of exercise, dieting and other interventions.” The findings appear in this week’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The effect of vitamins on exercise and glucose metabolism “is really quite significant,” said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a co-author of the report. “If people are trying to exercise, this is blocking the effects of insulin on the metabolic response.”
The advice does not apply to fruits and vegetables, Dr. Ristow said; even though they are high in antioxidants, the many other substances they contain presumably outweigh any negative effect.
I am learning more about bicycles than I ever though I'd need to know. Something tells me learning the differences between freewheels and cassettes (Duchess = freewheel) is just the beginning. Thanks to Sheldon Brown, the Bicycling Guide to Bicycle Maintenance & Repair - which may become a most read book in this house, given the number of bikes - and other internet sources, I have the information for dismantling the freewheel and putting in a new one, if that's necessary. But, I also found out how to flush out the grime and drip a middleweight oil into the space between the center and the cogs. So far, that seems to have done the trick, but I'll know for sure after today's run to bank, bakery & store.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
After several hours with wire brushes, oil, degreaser, brasso, bronze wool and rags, both wheels were back on the bike, sporting black 27 x 1-1/4 tires. (I learned while buying the tires the 1-1/4 is important. Even though you'd think 1.25 is the same thing, it's not. I took the fellow at his word, but... really?)
Headed over to the LBS to get a safety inspection before riding. Was given the all clear for commuting, along with a short list of items I should have done before going on any really long rides, and a suggestion I stay out of the lowest gear. At least until the rear derailleur's been adjusted.
General consensus in the shop was that the frame is in great shape, it's amazing the original lights are both working, and that for the $175 put into it so far, it's a heck of a deal. I'm happy with this, as the rust removal, polishing and mini-overhauls will be going on for a while. Plan to put the bicycle maintenance and repair book to good use, and do as much as possible myself.
Back home, I handed my traveling companions over to Dad, strapped on the panniers, and headed to the bakery, then to Trader Joe's. Bike rides beautifully. It sounds a bit rattly on the bumpy bits of pavement, but I really don't feel it. The seat is comfortable, the weight balances so much better over the rear wheel than the front, and... well, it's just so much FUN to ride. The upright position made my jaunt in tan skirt quite easy.
Was a fairly light load today, while getting the feel of the new bike, but doesn't she look great?
Friday, May 08, 2009
I can't embed the teaser video clips from ABC, but here's the links:
Activists fight over how to save tigers
Stuck on a cliff? It should cost you
What if pregnancy came with a pink slip?
Thursday, May 07, 2009
She's mine. I'll have the fellows at my LBS take a look at her and make the list of what I can do and what I'll need their help with. Will see if I can pick up replacement tires tomorrow but, other than that, I think I can ride it as-is, while I'm scrubbing off the little bits of surface rust and doing the other work.
This style bike rides completely different from my hybrid. Even though I thought I was sitting up straight on the store trips, it's only in comparison to the road bike. On this, I'm sitting up completely straight, and looking at head on.
If B2 (the official bike maintenance helper) and I have the new tires on, I'll be riding the riverside paths with some combination of children this weekend. Super excited. Will need to pack a snack basket for a mini-picnic, wear a skirt... and maybe a hat. (Not to be confused with ballcap.)
Just need a name. Since I have Peppermint Patty (hybrid - minty green), and Blooregard Q Kazoo - Bloo for short - the kids' name for my blue Bianchi road bike, I think a color related name is in order. The color is a rich coffee, but Nutmeg leads to "Meg", and Cinnamon is the name of the princess in one of the bedtime stories my daughter thinks she's outgrown.
On a tangent... with eight bikes for five people, plus two trail-a-bikes, storage is now officially an issue.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
14.6 pounds of fuel for the family. Tuesday's trip went so much smoother with the lighter weight of the basket. I need to keep the majority of the weight on the back of the bike. There were none of the wobblies, like when the basket was carrying 25 lbs last week. I found a slightly less congested route home from Whole Foods. It's a mile longer, but I'm more comfortable without as many fast cars. Plus, it's a section with a shoulder wider than a gutter.
B2 & I went to Harry's Market (farmers market bought out by Whole Foods) Sunday afternoon, so there wasn't a big list. Didn't get a whole lot of stuff, so I'll still be shopping my regular days this week. There are just some things I can't get without being at a farmer market, and we were in the neighborhood. Harry's isn't far from the theater where we saw X-men Origins: Wolverine. We ground our own peanut butter, and a little of the chocolate almond butter, to try on toast for breakfast Monday morning. (Won't be getting that often, as it would prove irresistable.) The cheese sampling around the market is always fun. My fave was a habanero cheese; B2's was a Cheddar... not to be confused with all the cheeses made elsewhere in the world.
We also ground flour at this nifty mill, which I will be using tonight in baking bread for tomorrow's lunches. This trip was the hard white spring wheat. Next time we'll try the red.
No grocery bike trip today, but managed to get in a quick 8.9 mile ride before the stormy weather rolled in. Worked out well, since it started right about the time I needed to pick up the younger kids from school. It was a windy ride, but great. Made the return trip into the wind the higher intensity portion of the workout. Ended a little winded, but very happy for having worked in the 30 minutes of exercise.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
My mind keeps wandering to bikes. Must be a Spring Fever kind of a thing. Found this on Craigslist for $150. I'm a bit smitten. Sure, she's not perfect, but maybe she's the one. (Well, the intown commuting one, at least.) Can't help but wonder if I could handle most of the cleanup & repairs myself. Replacing tires (dryrot), chain, general cleaning and touch up... I think I could do that. (And adding a chain guard, so I wouldn't have to roll up pantlegs.)
Waiting for an email back, though since it's a woman's bike labeled "vintage" the week before Mother's Day, I don't expect it to still be around.
Of course, the budget-friendly option of iced latte and two hours of sunshine with my trusty old pal of a bike would also work quite well.
In addition to the organic rolled oats, cinnamon and maple syrup, we added:
- English Walnuts
- Cashew Halves & Pieces (salted, so no salt was added to recipe)
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Flax Seeds (only had 1/8-1/4 cup left, so is not much)
- Golden Raisins
- Chopped Dates
- Diced Apple Bits (added 1/2 way through cooking, as they tend to toast quickly)
It. Is. Amazing.
It tastes decadent, yet is healthy. Had to force myself to eat something other than granola for lunch and dinner.
I don't want to make the simple version anymore, but will, at least until I build up enough of the little ziploc baggies in the pantry again.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Have two photos from the week. First, Tuesday's cargo from a trip to both Trader Joe's and the bakery:
And, Thursday, which was another combined trip:
I think it's time to get one of those handy racks and basket or panniers for the rear, if I want to keep doing this. The balance on the trip back home felt a bit... wobbly. I weighed the grocery bag & backpack, to see how much weight I had added to the front basket. Total weight of shopping bag & backpack was 28.7 pounds, which shouldn't have been too bad, until I realized 26 of those pounds were resting on the handlebars. That's probably not the best idea.
Ooh! The sun just came out. Time to make my shopping list and get pedaling. We're expecting thunderstorms this afternoon, and again tomorrow.
Trader Joes (Bike) - $19.74
Publix - $15.43
Trader Joes (Bike) - $26.43
Euro. Bakery (Bike) - $6.25
Trader Joes (Bike) - $44.41
Total - $112.18
Year to Date - $2,633.13
Average weekly spending - $146.28
The total could have been lower, but I gave in to a couple of special requests from the kids, like the Gouda w/Walnuts and the chocolate filled shortbread cookies. Oh - and I restocked cashews and pecans for salad topping and granola. Most shopping was done by bike this week. If weather permits, I'm planning to do the same thing this week.
Good stuff this week, but nothing fancy. The big win for the week was getting zucchini into the children successfully! (Hid it in lasagna.)
Chicken Breasts, Potato & Onion Pierogi with Butter-Onion Sauce, Peas, Tomato Salad
The mashed potato texture of the pierogi filling disturbed B2, but everyone else enjoyed. The tomato salad ended up being all mine. (I didn't mind - I'm a big fan of the tomato.)
Sweet Potato, Spinach and Chickpea Curry Brown Rice, Leftover Chicken
Knew the kids wouldn't eat much of the curry, even though it was mild, so served up the leftover chicken on the side. I think it's growing on them. Or the lack of complaints just means they've abandoned hope.
Lasagna (Turkey Italian Sausage & Zucchini), Salad, Ciabatta
Had the leftovers the next evening, along with salad and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Veggie Stir Fry, Fried Rice
Was just B2 & me. Bacon, garlic roasted potatoes, slow-scrambled eggs (super creamy) and fruit.