Fadi Update

Fadi Quran has been released on bail, and allowed to return to his home in Hebron. Click here for more details from the Stanford Daily.

Details of next steps are still unclear, however, a sense of relief and gratitude for his well-being washed over me when I read the news.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who added their voice to the call for Fadi’s freedom. This is one extraordinary young man that I am so glad we have back in our midst!

Congratulations, Fadi and family.

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Reality Check + Free Fadi

Some things I learned/re-learned over the weekend:

1- Sometimes, babies will wake up in the middle of the night and cry for an hour (or 2), and no matter what you do to try and console them, IT WILL NOT WORK.
2- Sometimes, no matter how strongly you’ve made and committed to your weekend exercise/running plans, those plans get sidetracked (see point number 1 above) and you have to decide to be ok with it.
3- Sometimes, speaking out against injustice and bringing awareness to a cause will create backlash, and will polarize people who read/hear your message. (Even if it is a humanitarian, peaceful message).
4- Sometimes getting backlash is a strong reminder that you can never please everyone, and in light of that, it is even more important to stand up for what you believe in.

Free Fadi Quran.
Update on Fadi’s hearing proceedings here.

Free Fadi Quran – the latest Israeli assault on youth and hope

I decided long ago I would not make this a political blog. Frankly, there are others out there who are much more equipped to take on that endeavor than I am.

However, today, I will join the voices around the world that are speaking up on behalf of Fadi Quran, who was recently assaulted and arrested by Israeli forces during a non-violent protest in the West Bank. (Read more at The Atlantic and The Stanford Daily).

This post is not about being political. This post is about being human.

Fadi, who is a 24 year-old Stanford alumni and extraordinary young man, is also a colleague and friend of my own brother.
Fadi visited my home in 2010, where I had the chance and honor to meet (and feed!) him.

Immediately upon meeting him, I could tell that this young man would go on to make a difference in the world. Fadi has a peaceful, yet strong presence that can’t be denied, and a soul that immediately puts your own soul at ease. He comfortably and with ease was able to transition between speaking about issues of Palestinian-Israeli politics,internal American politics, world current events, and history. He has an opinion about everything, yet will never impose that opinion on you. He is generous with his thank-yous, and as genuine as they come.

At only 22 when I met him, Fadi was (and is) one of the most eloquent, well-read, intelligent, gentle human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. 
Fadi is one of the young men that I am proud to have a connection to, and someone whom I look forward to watching as he inevitably brings his vision of leadership and peace to the Middle East.

Fadi has been interviewed and quoted by TIME Magazine, the New York Times, the Guardian, and Al Jazeera, and recognized as the “face of the new Middle East”.

My words cannot do you justice, Fadi, but hopefully our collective words can help bring justice to you.

Please join me in signing this petition to call for Fadi’s freedom. It would mean a lot to me, my family, Fadi’s family, and the future of a new generation of leaders. Please also feel free to leave comments here as a sign of solidarity and unity. Thank you for your compassion and support.

For more information, go to http://www.freefadi.org/, and read this article on policymic.com. These links also contain video of Fadi’s assault.

Free Fadi.

Math

Husband: “Hey N, show your mama what we learned today.”
N barely looks up from under all that hair on his head, which loves to cascade onto his forehead and just sit there. I work hard to resist the urge to scoop him up in my arms and bear hug his little body.
Husband: “What’s 2 minus 6?”
N turns his face away, feverishly sticking different [adorable little] fingers up and down, up and down, then suddenly looks me squarely in the face and declares: “MINUS FOUR, MAMA! IT’S MINUS FOUR!”

Jaw and utensils drop, eyebrows disappear into the sky.

He’s 5. (FIVE)
I’m amazed.
His dad is amazing.

Hazelnut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello friends! It’s Friday, a day to indulge in the leisurely, the entertaining, the delicious. In that theme, I thought I would share a recipe for a cookie that has quickly risen to the top echelon of recipes in our household.
It is the go-to, default dessert request I get from my family (to the point where sometimes I ask “Are you SURE you don’t want to try something else????”

I’m not namin names here, but I HAVE had to wrestle trays of these cookies away from the hands of someone in this house to prevent them from eating the whole batch. (Ahem. Proud of youuuu!!)

It might be a bit of a challenge to find the Hazelnut butter for this recipe, (only 1 of the 3 Whole Foods in the city I live in carries it!) but once you get your hands on some, it’s SOOOO worth it. Trust me.

*Tip #1: Make sure you mix the hazelnut butter really well before using, since the oil tends to separate and sit on the top of the container. If you don’t mix the oil back in you will end up with a really dry cookie.
*Tip #2: You can use varying amounts of unbleached white and whole wheat flour for this recipe, depending on your taste!
*Tip #3: We don’t like our cookies very sweet, so feel free to use 1/2 cup of each of the sugars instead of 1/3 if you prefer a sweeter cookie!
*Tip #4: (Phew, last one, I promise!) I’ve also used 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed + 3 Tablespoons of water as a substitution for the 1 egg listed in the ingredients. It works!!

Hazelnut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies (or maybe a bit more – they seem to disappear before I can count them :)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened (I usually put it in the microwave for about 20 – 30 seconds, until just a little bit of it starts to melt, then take it out)
1/2 cup Hazelnut butter, stirred
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 egg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached white flour (you can also just use 1/2 cup + 2/3 cup unbleached white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can use more if you like more chocolate chips per cookie)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F, and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a hand-held electric mixer, blend the two butters together until well incorporated (about 2 – 3 minutes).
Add the sugars, and blend for another 2 minutes, or until the sugars have been incorporated well into the butters.
Add 1/2 cup of the flour (I usually add the whole wheat flour here), the egg, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and mix well.
Once the above ingredients are mixed, add in the rest of the flour, mix for about a minute, then gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon measure, measure out tablespoons of batter and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten the dough balls a bit with the palm of your hand.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown at the edges.

Remove cookies from oven, and place on wire racks to cool for about 5 – 10 minutes.

While cookies are cooling, chase your cookie monsters away with a large spatula as you practice sprinting from one end of the kitchen to the other (must incorporate some sort of fitness training into the process, OBVIOUSLY).

Eat. Enjoy. You’re welcome.

Oh, I lied. One more tip:
*Tip #5: These cookies are best enjoyed dipped into bitter black coffee (for the adults), or a glass of cold cold milk (the kiddos and kiddos at heart!)

Training Update

Quick one.

Legs not as sore as I feared they would be, so either:
1) The compression sleeves worked REALLY well after the accelerated Vibram boot camp yesterday, or
2) I am a super-bionic self-healing character in a Japanese animated cartoon show.

I vote #1.

I had planned to do some training at half-marathon pace today, but my legs were just beat, so I turned it into an “easy run” (that wasn’t that easy) day.

Tired Legs

A bit of a rough “recovery” run, but still left me proud to have dragged myself out of bed before 5 a.m. to make it happen.
On the topic of things that might or might not happen, the half-marathon I’m training for is still at jeopardy of even becoming reality. Amid a  big controversy last year regarding race vendors not getting paid, the entire organizational staff of the race resigned. New owners of the race are hopeful they will be able to get it back on track, but there is still a lot to be finalized.

Crossing fingers (and vibram-clad toes!) for you, SLC Marathon! Will keep training in the hopes that this show must go on!

Amy in my pantry

In my quest for convenient, quick-to-prepare foods that both my husband and 5 year-old will eat without gagging, I have recently discovered and included the following items in our weekly rotation. I try to cook with fresh ingredients as much as possible, but some nights I’m crunched for both time and ideas, so I need to make sure to have healthy (or semi-healthy) options at hand.

To give you some context, my 5 year-old son would happily go without food (probably for days) than eat something that has a “weird” or “yucky” texture or consistency. That would include rice. And beans of any kind. See this link to get an idea of what I’m dealing with here.

However, I still maintain a steadfast determination to get my kid to eat his beans! And other food that he will need to start getting used to so that I can stop cooking meat! (If you know me you know that I don’t really like meat.)

This Sunday, on our weekly trip to the mass-production, over-consumption mecca that is Costco, I came upon some samples of Amy’s Organic Lentil and Minestrone soups that the husband actually approved of!
Half the battle was won right there in the store. I decided to purchase said box of soup cans with the hope that I would be able to devise a plan to get the master of pickiness to SOMEHOW at least try some.

 

Two nights ago, I was home alone with my two boys, and I decided to make dinner a low-key, comforting event by heating up one can of minestrone and one can of lentil. I hoped for no more than a couple bites/slurps of each from our 5 year-old food critic, then I thought of something…

Enter the new IT-girl (boy? I can’t tell from the shape, what do you think? ;) and superstar of kitchen appliances:

Cuisinart Immersion Blender

This baby has become my best friend. I whipped it out (excuse the choice of words, I JUST COULDN’T HELP IT) of the drawer it had been hiding in for the past couple of months, and proceeded to pulse those lentils into a smoother version of themselves.
The resulting soup was smooth, creamy, and quite pleasant even to the most critical of palates, i.e. the palate of Mr. Picky Pants.

He ate the whole bowl, along with some Greek Yogurt on top as a garnish/added protein.

Of course, he ate it claiming “I don’t very much like dis, mama, but I’m eating it because it has protein.”

THANK YOU, father of my children, for teaching this kid the virtues of protein. Unfortunately, he’s now so good at reading nutrition labels that he will question my food choices vs. just taking what I give him, like he did the other day: “But MAMA, this has TEN GRAMS OF SUGAR! Why are you giving it to me?!?!”

Love that boy.

Pain Management

My official, 9-week half-marathon training plan was supposed to be kicked off yesterday with a high-intensity 5.25 mile run that included speed training as well as pace training, and was just going to simply be the best first-run-in-a-training-program anyone has ever had, because WE ONLY DO THINGS ALL THE WAY IN THIS HOUSEHOLD!

Phew. Sorry about the shouting. Things can get a little intense up in here.

So, obviously, since I was supposed to wake up at 4:17 am, Baby Z decides to wake up at 2:30 am, and keep me tethered to his bedroom for an hour, just rocking him and holding him, not wanting to be put down. I forgive him though, because I know he’s been congested and not feeling so great, AND I suspect he might be feeling the push push push of a little tooth trying to break free. (I really hope he gets a tooth soon because that’s the excuse I give him every time I can’t figure out what’s causing the fussiness. “Oh he’s teething.” “Oh, I’m sorry, he’s just teething.” “Oh he was crying? Yeah it’s because he’s teething.” So far, I’m a liar, because not even a little tip of a tooth has peeked out yet.)

Anyway, after much sulking and self-pity, I decide that I will take matters into my own hands, and modify the training plan to start TODAY, and then just cancel out the first rest day to make up for yesterday.

Everything leading up to this morning was perfect. I had a mellow and relaxing night with the boys. They went down before 8:30 pm, I got lunches ready, sat down to relax for a bit, then got myself into bed before 10 pm. I lined up my Vibrams and gym bag next to my iPhone, set the 3 alarms that go off at 4:17, 4:23, and 4:40 (just in case!) with their labels of “JUST DO IT!”, “GET UP YOU LAZY ASS!”, and “HALF. MARATHON.”, and had a great night’s sleep. No babies waking in the middle of the night, not too hot, not too cold, and I woke up ready to tackle the dreadmill!

The plan was to do the first mile of the run in the Vibrams, just to continue getting used to them, then strap on my regular running shoes for the remainder of the run. I strap on the Vibrams, gather my things, and run off to the car to get to the gym.
Perfection! I was on time, rested, READY!

I start running, then as I move my gym  bag out of the way I realize it’s lighter than it should be. Deep breath here… The reason my bag felt lighter than it should was because it was. Because I FORGOT MY OTHER SHOES AT HOME.
I stop myself short of starting to hyperventilate, and tell myself it’s ok. I’ll just work with what I’ve got. We’ll just call this the Accelerated Calf Training Program and roll with it! The show must go on! We can DO this!

I keep going, and made it to 4 miles before deciding that I should really stop before I lose my calves for the rest of the week. As I hobble off the treadmill, I realize that I need to attack this head-on in order to minimize the impact, so I devise a recovery plan that is work-attire friendly.

Here’s a visual breakdown of what went through my head:

+ 4 miles =

 

=================================================================================

Recovery Plan:

R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) =
Sitting at work for the next 10 hours +
Ice later on at home +

+  = RELIEF.

I will happily report, I am wearing those ugly white things (which are actually athletic compression socks) underneath my long boots, sitting at my desk at work, and so far, so good.
The compression REALLY seems to help with the recovery, or at the very least, reducing the amount of soreness and pain (so far!).
And the long boots do the job of disguising the socks, which, let’s be honest, there is just no way to wear white compression socks that is flattering, no matter who you are.

Ok maybe if you’re an elite runner that looks like a cheetah they can be flattering.

Here’s hoping my legs won’t fail me the rest of this week!

Daily Vibram mileage: 4 miles
Total Daily mileage: 4 miles

Long Weekends, Small Victories, and Lessons Learned

Long weekends are a time for reconnecting – with family, friends, the kitchen, and To-Do lists.
In addition to all of the above, this past long weekend ended up  being a test of patience for me personally, and from it came an unplanned and unexpected opportunity to learn a little bit more about my limits.
As in, how far you can push me before I start to break down. 

Seeing this weekend’s version of myself was…educational, and I am determined to use it as an opportunity to improve. I am not proud of my inability to deal with clutter – physical “stuff”-type clutter, idea clutter, speech clutter, emotional clutter.  I also know, especially now that I have two children, a 50-hour plus workweek, and this annoying need to sleep more than 4 hours a night, that I need to let go of my tendency to want to control every.little.thing.

Dishes can’t always be 100% clean and out of the way, floors and countertops and in between cabinets and appliances and corners can’t always be scrubbed and shiny, clothes can’t always be laundered and beautifully pressed as soon as they hit the hamper, spills can’t always be prevented, and children can’t always be 100% squeaky-clean. 
(Even as I’m typing these words my brain is going “WHAT?!! THEY CAN’T?!?! AND WHY NOT, HUH HUH HUH?!?!? You’re just not trying hard enough. Hey, change is a process, and I’m working on it!)

Sometimes life throws a wrench in your plans and messes with your head to teach you a lesson, and show you that you’re not really boss. Thanks, life.

Even with all the chaos, I did have a few small victories this weekend.
I was able to get in a run on Saturday, and it was one of those runs that just feels RIGHT. I then hauled the two little ones to a kiddie birthday party, which is parental torture at its best, and came home to a SPOTLESS home, courtesy of my amazing sister.
Sunday I successfully pulled off a breakfast of homemade manaeesh (za’tar flatbread, which I’ll post pics of later), and a dinner of roasted leg of lamb. I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my brother (who visited for about 32 hours) as I wanted, but at least I fed him! 

Here are some pictures I took this weekend of the two most important reasons why I get up in the morning (and barely sleep at night ;) I really need to get myself a real, GROWN-UP camera, but until then, bear with me!)

Cake! Cookies! And Green Smoothies?

As I attempt to up my activity level in preparation for the April half-marathon I told you all about last time, my body’s natural reaction is panic: Need! Calories! Bake! Carbs! Now!
So, obviously, I make excuses like “Oh poor husband, he was at work all day and then in class until 10:30 pm, I’ll bake him a cake as a surprise!” But of course, I have to find a way to lighten up the recipe, and friends, I DID! I am sharing this recipe with you because as a non-chocolate fan, this was one “light” chocolate cake recipe that is worth sharing.

First some visual context:

Chocolate Cake

Moist, light, and NOT SWEET – just right.

Ok, yes, I had some, but let’s be honest. I bake for other people’s happiness, smiles, and the occasional hug.

In actuality, I am on a bit of a health kick, and trying to get some more of those great dark leafy greens, healthy vegetables, and other “real” foods bursting with vitamins and antioxidants (I sound like an infomercial). Here is what was for breakfast (and snack) yesterday:

This was my second green smoothie since I set the be-more-healthy (and stop eating my kids’ leftover snacks) intention, and I LOVED it. It contained avocado, cilantro, spinach, kale, cucumber, blueberries, apple, banana, lemon, water, and a tiny bit of protein powder. I actually FELT healthy all day long.

The next day, and in preparation for Big Z’s arrival in the SLC (brother visiting us for a couple days!), I decided to double my batch of hazelnut-butter chocolate chip cookies. Here we go:

Saturday morning, I continued in my quest for additional mileage. Things weren’t going my way at first so I wasn’t able to get out as early as I would have liked to, and I almost gave up on the whole thing. Then I pushed myself to go, knowing that I always end up feeling better once I’m out there, and I did! No vibrams this time, as it was all on-road running, and I’m not ready to hit the pavement/asphalt with no support yet. Baby steps :)

Daily vibram mileage: 0
Total Daily mileage: 5.8

Recipes to follow soon!

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