Cambridge Fall Classic 5K with Fit Flock

By Kristina

Last Sunday, I ran the Cambridge Fall Classic 5K with the Fit Flock team of chefs and bloggers.The Fit Flock is a joint effort between the American Lamb Board and BostonChefs.com to celebrate lamb as a nutritional and flavorful protein option. Fit Flock provided us with race bibs, shirts, a team tent, and an after-party at the Smoke Shop.

The Cambridge Fall Classic is part of a seasonal 5K series along with the Winter Classic, Spring Classic, and Summer Classic. It follows the same course as the An Ras Mor 5K and is easy to get to by T (Red Line to Central Square) or by car (because Cambridge parking permits aren’t needed on Sundays). The course is also easy for spectators to navigate. My husband and toddler cheered for me on Mass Ave at the start of the race and again near the end of the race.

Bib and shirt pickup went smoothly. I appreciated that the race staff allowed separate day-of pickup with teams. We spotted a Fit Flock member dressed in a full lamb suit on Main Street as we were looking for parking, and he was right next to the pickup table. Parker was a bit befuddled by the lamb though!

fitflock

withthelambI headed over to the start, where I spotted Nicco, Ellie, and Lexi from Commonwealth sporting their Fit Flock shirts. It was Nicco and Ellie’s first ever race! We chatted for a bit, and then we were off!

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The weather was surprisingly humid for mid-September, so the gradual uphill for the first 1.5 miles felt difficult. Seeing Ethan and Parker gave me a much-needed energy boost there!

running

Finishing felt great! I ran this race over a minute faster than I did the An Ras Mor 5K, so I was happy to see that improvement.

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Post-race, we headed back home so Parker could eat and nap. Parker loves the lamb tagine from the Baby Led Weaning cookbook (pictured below from meals earlier this month), and we look forward to making more lamb dishes for him (starting with the LEON Naturally Fast Food lamb and apricot balls!).

lambtagine

Thank ewe, Fit Flock!

Parents’ Night Out at Trade

By Kristina

In the past 13 months of motherhood, nights out have become a scarce commodity. When Leah invited me to a Parents’ Night Out at Trade, I jumped at the chance to enjoy delicious food and drinks with Dave, Debbie, Leah (and her daughter), Kim, Kimberly, Nancy, Phyllis, and Sharon. Bonus: no one threw their food on the floor, shrieked at the top of their lungs, or played peekaboo–though a toy fish did appear in one of the beverages!

Being out so late (7:30) on a school night made me feel like I did in the days before teaching and motherhood! So did the lively conversation, which was as full of sassiness as it was full of useful parent advice. My biggest takeaway: blogs, Twitter, and Instagram aren’t awesome just because of the information and pictures–they’re awesome because they help enable interpersonal connections to people with common interests (when you finally get to meet them!).

trade

We toasted to our night out with the Beets by Trade, then sampled the following from the dinner menu:

Raw Bar and Small Plates
Salmon Poke with serrano, red onion, avocado and plantain chips
Buttermilk Fried Quail with harissa aioli and pickled root vegetables
Falafel Pancakes with tzatziki, serrano and scallion
Chicken Meatballs with tomato vinaigrette, garlic cream and pine nuts
Fried Sweet Potatoes with salsa verde and orange

Flatbreads
Tasso Ham and Smoked Gouda Flatbread with roasted corn, pickled pepper and onion
Mushroom and Fig Flatbread with gorgonzola, sage pesto and walnuts
Lamb Sausage Flatbread with eggplant, Manchego, peppers and garlic yogurt

Entrees
Seared Salmon with shredded kale salad, lemon-tahini vinaigrette and pistachio
Oven Roasted Half Chicken with fried potatoes, lemon aioli and charred romaine
Painted Hills Bavette Steak with arugula, french fries and 540 steak sauce
Baked Rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, out came a Not a Cloud in the Sky cocktail and dessert:
Milk and Cookies: chocolate shortbread, buttercream and crema spressa
Ginger Ice Cream and TRADE Brownie with chili-chocolate sauce, candied ginger, and dukkah

#momsnightout at TRADE. Babysitters across the board…bartender, keep ’em comin!!

A photo posted by tradeboston (@tradeboston) on

Thank you, Trade for the amazing parents’ night out! Looking forward to visiting again on a girls’ night out or a date night!

#TradeParentsNightOut Bloggers

Trade
540 Atlantic Ave, Boston MA 02110
(617) 451-1234
T: South Station
Parking: Atlantic Wharf Garage at 280 Congress Street or valet
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LiveJournal throwback

By Kristina

A- Age: 35
B- Biggest fear: Heights/falling or ghosts
C- Current time: 2:46 p.m.
D- Drink you last had: decaf soy latte from Nine Bar Espresso
E- Every day starts with: the song “What Is Love” blaring from my iPhone alarm
F- Favorite song: whatever parody we are making up for snoop’s lullabies
G- Ghosts, are they real? yes
H- Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
I- In love with: husband and baby (aka snoop)
J- Jealous of: teachers who have figured out how to leave the job at work and keep the worry out of home
K- killed someone?: no, but why would I admit that in one of these surveys?
L- Last time you cried?: a few weeks ago
M- Middle name: Quimson
N- Number of siblings: 2
O- One wish: win ridiculous PowerBall jackpot for the purposes for paying off (and procuring new) family real estate as well as buying whatever I wanted for my school
P- Person you last called: mom and dad (on FaceTime with snoop)
Q- Question you’re always asked: why are we doing this?
R- Reason to smile: husband and snoop
S- Song last sang: the “good morning song”
T- Time you woke up: 7:02
U- Underwear color: striped
V- Vacation destination: next one is cabin with husband and snoop
W- Worst habit: procrastinating and impulse shopping
Y- Your favorite food: today, chicken pho
X- X-Rays you’ve had: teeth
Z- Zodiac sign: Scorpio

on mother’s day

By Kristina

While my students were working independently in math enrichment recently, I overheard some non-math-sounding talk.

Student 1: “I’m going to the mall later.”
Student 2: “Oh what are you getting? I want to get her candy and earrings.”
Student 3: “I can’t get Granny anything this year.”
Student 1: “You just spent all your money on food!”

Realizing that they were talking about Mother’s Day gifts, I thought about what I’d want now that I’m a new mom. Since you can’t box up “8 hours of continuous sleep a night + a magic genie that cleans the house while crafting impeccable lesson plans,” this is what I’d want:

1) Things that are Pretty and Relaxing
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 6.18.08 AMPampering-related stuff like this True Moringa Mother’s Day Gift Box would be awesome because it’s pretty, relaxing, and socially conscious. I received a sample of the all purpose body oil to try. It’s great for moisturizing especially since the weather’s stayed cold and gloomy this year. Theo dark chocolate is one of my faves to snag at Whole Foods while passing through the chocolate section. Prosperity candles are soy-blend, hand-poured by women refugees, and come in a variety of scents and styles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 6.24.48 AMI bought the bridesmaid versions as wedding favor gifts almost two years ago, and I think this Kate Spade Mom Idiom Bangle would be pretty sweet to wear now.

2) Coffee
Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts gift cards might seem impersonal, but they still help SO much in terms of caffeination and saving time. In spite of being an avid French press and cold brew coffee maker and knowing how much making coffee at home saves, sometimes I’d rather spend a little more time chilling with my son now than cleaning up all the coffee grounds and equipment.

3) Cute Things Made By My Child
I can’t wait for the cards with backwards R’s and the macaroni necklaces spray-painted gold (if kids even still make those)…look for me sporting those in a few years!

The Perfect Portion Cookbook

By Kristina

I recently received a copy of The Perfect Portion Cookbook to review. The Perfect Portion Cookbook includes 150 healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes with a 100-calorie portion system for counting calories and managing portion sizes. The website also offers helpful tips and videos. 

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As a new mom, I’m not into the “must immediately get pre-baby body back” attitude, but I really appreciate the simple, healthy takes on comfort food in this cookbook. It’s so refreshing to see mostly real, unprocessed food versus something like “three-ingredient protein pancakes” or a healthified version of rich food that uses non-fat, sugar-free “diet” ingredients. The familiar comfort food nature of the recipes offers a good base for making small tweaks or customization. The recipes don’t involve a ton of prep work or active cooking time either, which is great for getting back into cooking as a new mom. I made four of the recipes: blackened cod, 100 calorie biscuits, tuna melts, and cheese crackers.

Blackened Cod
codI’ve been finding great cod at Market Basket lately, so I was excited to try this out. My usual go-to cod recipes involve mayonnaise + sriracha + panko bread crumbs or butter + panko bread crumbs, so the blackening spice in this recipe was a much lighter alternative. On the first attempt at this, I served it with some pasta on the side and topped it with a squeeze of lemon and some chives. Overall, the flavor was good (though my husband found it a bit spicy). I wish I’d adjusted the spice amounts more better because the filets were pretty large. The second time I made it, I added some paprika and decreased the cayenne. I also tried to get a better sear on the fish and served it alongside jasmine rice with kale, garlic, and shallots. I will definitely keep this in my repertoire.

100 Calorie Biscuits
2016-02-28 08.18.32I’ve had yogurt biscuits on my to-make list for a while, so I was glad that The Perfect Portion Cookbook included them. I used a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour and Fage 0% yogurt, and served them with butter and strawberry jam. They didn’t turn out as well as the biscuits I have made with grated frozen butter and buttermilk lately, but I’ll give them at least another try to see if I can improve my dough-making or biscuit shaping or tweak the baking time.

Tuna Melts
2016-02-27 11.48.41I really liked these. I used Cabot 3 year aged cheddar, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, whole grain bread, and Bumble Bee light tuna in olive oil. I subbed celery for tomato. The bread I bought was small, so there ended up being enough to make one more tuna melt each the next day. If only I had a toaster oven at work…I’d be making these every day!

Cheese Crackers
fishI’ve been intrigued by Smitten Kitchen’s goldfish recipe, so I used a goldfish cutter on The Perfect Portion Cookbook’s recipe. I used a screwdriver for the eyes and a 1/4 tsp spoon for the smiles. I also added some Old Bay seasoning to the crackers. I took them to school with me and gave some to my students. Some said they were too salty (too much Old Bay?) but one commented that they tasted “just like pizza goldfish.”

Looking forward to making more recipes from this cookbook!

my favorite maternity leave activities

By Kristina

When getting ready to start maternity leave, I created a Google Calendar called “Parker” and promptly filled it with every single potential support group or maternity leave activity that I heard about from friends, my pediatrician, and Mt. Auburn Hospital. For example, I had bookmarked this post (from exactly three years ago!) and thought that I needed to attend multiple activities every single day of the week. Though Parker behaved better and I felt a lot happier on outings, I soon realized that having a few consistent activities and room for flexibility worked the best for us.

Class & Free Drop-In Groups

readysetkidsHaving spent most of my teaching life in very structured time blocks, I longed for the familiar comfort of school when faced with the prospect of unstructured maternity leave. I signed up for the JCC New Arrivals (0-3 Months) and Getting to Know You (3-6 Months) classes at Ready, Set, Kids! in Arlington thinking that parenting classes would help me figure out how to be a mom. Early on, we did check-ins and had a group discussion/lesson about pertinent developmental topics such as sleep, breastfeeding, or preparing for the return to work. As the babies got older, we got to do more activities with them (such as parachute play or the ball pit). I appreciated getting to learn in a small group setting from an experienced teacher and in the company of mothers who were facing similar challenges. Each week, our teacher Liz did an amazing job of focusing each week’s discussions so that we could make progress without getting overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of parenting information that’s out there. I’m sure a lot of the information could have been found via Google, but the filtering definitely helped me focus on Parker’s development. Similarly, the strong personal connections in our small group were worth so much more than the class tuition. Even though I’d come into the class not even thinking about creating a support network, I left with a lot of wonderful mom friends. We spent many a fall afternoon relaxing at Kickstand Cafe or Common Ground, and now we’ll meet up for small “reunions” when there’s a holiday such as Presidents Day.

1507764_10102458862122406_6691822064415066547_n I don’t have pictures of the Medford group because phones aren’t allowed…this is Parker at a pre-group lunch at Colleen’s.

Two of the women in my JCC classes recommended the Medford New Parents Group as well. This free group meets at Medford High School on Tuesdays, and it’s for parents of children up to 1 year old. Each week, members will check in with their highs and lows for the week and then have an open discussion (one conversation for the entire group). A few folks often meet up at Colleen’s for lunch and some social time before group. Though this group’s facilitator is just as excellent as the JCC one, it has a completely different feel than the JCC classes. It’s drop-in, so it’s a lot bigger with less consistent attendance. There are dads as well as moms (no dads allowed at the JCC classes), second-time parents, and working parents. The discussion topics don’t follow a developmental timeline–for instance, they often arise out of circumstances such as wanting advice for holiday travel. I really enjoyed learning from parents with older babies in this group. Even though they weren’t struggling with the same challenges I was, they often had great advice from having gone through those experiences already. Another bonus: seeing their babies sitting up, crawling, and walking gave me stuff to look forward to for Parker. I also really appreciated that Aine, the facilitator, has a way of making everyone feel welcome and like they can move forward from even the most frustrating of circumstances.

The Library: Cambridge Public Library Lapsit 

babylapsit

The library was always one of my favorite spots as a child, so I’d always planned to take Parker there for storytime and crafts. A few friends recommended the baby lapsit (with the caveat that the competition for tickets got so fierce that you’d have to arrive an hour beforehand). At first I thought that was crazy, and didn’t even attempt to go until Parker was 9 weeks old. I took a friend’s advice to go at 9:00 a.m. to pick up a ticket for the 10:00 a.m. lapsit and then go across the street to Darwin’s for a coffee. Parking in the library garage is cheap and easy to find on Monday mornings, which helps with early arrival. When the weather was nice, I’d stroll Parker around the neighborhood and check out the corgis playing in the nearby dog park. Sometimes I’d pick up books for myself in the new fiction section, read board books to Parker in the children’s room. I liked that the children’s room was so welcoming–it’s super clean, has ample bathrooms and changing tables, and lots of couches to sit on and nurse. It’s always hopping with parents, caregivers, and kids.

The lapsit itself lasts about 20 minutes. Julie the librarian (and her model baby Jake, a Curious George doll) leads the group in singalongs and finishes with reading a board book. The “good morning” song always starts, followed by introductions of the babies. The songs are consistent from week to week (to help the babies with language development). The lineup usually includes Pattycake, The Wheels on the Bus, Tony Chestnut, Kissing Frogs, Open Shut Them, Dump Truck, The Noble Duke of York, Trot Trot to Boston, Let’s Go Riding on the Elevator, Jumping Frogs, and Twinkle Twinkle. Even when Parker was going through fussy stages, he was always enraptured by all of the singing and the other babies. I grew to love it as a way to kick off the week.

Other Fun StuffPicMonkey Collage

We also liked:
– hanging out in coffee shops or restaurants (especially Diesel, Dwelltime–now Barismo, and Bagelsaurus)
– walking on the Minuteman Trail, Somerville Community Path, Alewife Greenway, Fresh Pond, and the Fells
Capitol Theatre Baby Matinee: only went twice, and realized that this is best for really young babies…at six months, Parker would want to be entertained constantly rather than just sleeping through the movie.
O2 Mommy Baby Yoga: only went once, and now I wish I’d been able to go once he hit six months because he doesn’t need to be held as much and would probably be happy exploring toys on the mat.

Stuff I Wish I’d Tried
I know it’s impossible to do everything, but I do wish I’d tried the following:
Little Fox Library Singalong
Jeff Jam Singalong
Museum of Science (esp. because I could go for free as a K-12 teacher)
Trustees of Reservations hikes
Hike It Baby

DIY Galentine’s Day mug candles

By Kristina

My husband and I don’t typically get into lavish Valentine’s Day gifts (for example, watching an iTunes-rented movie over takeout sushi from our favorite places is probably going to be the extent of it this year), but I like to make crafty Valentine’s Day projects for girlfriends and for school fundraisers. For example, I made hot cocoa mixes for a prom fundraiser sale a few years ago. I like to celebrate these occasions without breaking the bank, and was inspired to share my ideas after learning about Personal Capital. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look into their free tools to help with your finances.

This year, my craft of choice was homemade mug candles, which I originally did for a blogger GALentine exchange by Fitness and Feta, then extended for my teacher girl friends as a half Galentine’s Day / half “it’s February break!” gift.

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 4.24.37 PM Photo via Simply Gourmet in Southie

mugsMugs for my teacher friends. Parker’s on the gift tags as Cupid Me 🙂

Materials (mostly from Michael’s, where teachers get a discount. I linked to similar items below–none are affiliate links)
Mugs – we got some cute ones in the dollar section
Soy wax flakes (similar)
Wicks (similar)
Vanilla candle oil (similar)
Clothespins
Small pot from Goodwill for melting wax, though now I realize there are pouring pots for this
Old dish towels to do pouring on
Scissors

Process
My sister came over to hang out with me and Parker while we got to crafting. She’s made these candles before, so she had some tips and tricks. We set up the wicks in the mugs and used two clothespins to hold each wick in place. We melted soy wax flakes in the pot over low heat, then mixed in a few drops of the vanilla oil per pot. The pot held enough for 2-3 candles based on the mugs that I’d bought. We poured the wax into the mugs and repeated the process until all eight mugs were filled. After letting the wax cool overnight (recommended time is 12 hours), I cut the extra wicks off and they were ready for gifting.

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Atlas Coffee Club and Math Projects

By Kristina

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary sample of Atlas Coffee in exchange for my thoughts on the product. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.

I’ve written about coffee math before and recently got inspired again after learning about Atlas Coffee Club. After my beginning of semester poll on “what would help you do better in math?” some of the students in my math enrichment class said “real-world projects!” I love doing those anyway, so I got to thinking about topics that are relevant to them. My first period 9th grade class doesn’t seem to have the same coffee addiction as my past 11th and 12th grade classes, but that may change for them in the future. In past years, my early morning 11th or 12th grade classes often looked like a Starbucks (minus the hipster clothing and MacBooks) because of the sheer number of Frappuccinos, iced passion teas, and coffees. The teachers, however, still come in with various types of coffee (homemade in a travel mug, Dunkin iced, Starbucks, or local cafe) and often go out for a mid-day coffee break or use the Keurig machine in the teachers’ lounge.

Thus is born my new project idea: Have students do “market research” and create a “make coffee at home” plan for teachers who spend way too much on buying coffee out. Atlas Coffee Club offers a wide variety of coffees from around the world along with subscription options that suit different frequencies of coffee drinking.

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1) Interview a teacher about their favorite type of coffee and their coffee habits. For example, if they like Ethiopian reserve coffees at Starbucks, they might like the Ethiopian Sidamo. For coffee habits, find how often they drink it, how much it costs per day, and their habits (e.g., are they always rushing in the morning? do they have to make coffee for a husband/wife/signficant other? do they have patience for using a Chemex? do they even know what a Chemex is?).
2) Find a coffee that matches their flavor preferences and coffee-making style (clearly explained by the Atlas coffee brewing guide)
3) Price out how much related equipment will cost if the teacher does not already own it (travel mug for taking to school, French press, Chemex).
4) Price out their subscription (including if they use the 5% lifetime discount).
5) Figure out when the teacher will break even given the cost of the equipment and subscription versus the daily purchase.
6) IB bonus: research the coffee industry in the country of origin of the chosen coffee.
7) Extension: find a k-cup brand and price out how much it would cost for the teacher to bring those to school to brew in the teachers’ lounge machine. Assess the environmental impact and time savings of this option.

I’m interested to see how this plays out with the kiddos. I like that this problem is open-ended and that they’ll have to apply the skill of “reaching out to an adult and actually speaking to them” as well as using linear equations and systems of equations in a context that’s not just a math problem that comes out to nice integer answers.

MTBoS Week 4: sharing a lesson

By Kristina

mylesson

It feels good to be back at school! Here’s my 9th grade math lesson from day 2 (the first day of Coordinate Geometry), for the two 47-minute sections.

Day 1: 1-a Distance Formula
1) Name Graphs: Check off completion. [This assignment was to have students write their names on graph paper using only straight lines that begin and end at coordinate points on a grid.] Have 3 students draw a letter of their names on the board with points labeled.
2) Practice Quiet Coyote [my routine for getting attention–his ears are open but his mouth is shut]
3) Mini-Lesson: Distance Formula [taught using the 3 student examples]
– Look at how to solve for vertical and horizontal line distances.
– Look at diagonal distances to introduce the distance formula. Elicit the right triangle shape and Pythagorean Theorem.
4) Practice using Kuta worksheet (start with lines drawn on a grid, then ordered pairs). Introduce distance formula.
5) Formative Assessment: Plickers Exit Ticket (1 multiple problem with two ordered pairs) via Kuta multiple choice. Students turn their sheets and cards to the inbox.
6) HW: Haese & Harris Exercise 5A1 (answer key included)
7) Support for Math Enrichment: Extra WS practice. Give feedback on ET.

Reflection
Section 1: Students were slow to take out paper for notes and turn in HW. We need to make this process more automatic. I noticed that many needed prompting to label the notes with the skill and the date, or even to use their binders (which seem to have grown into a pile in the back of my room over the semester I was out on maternity leave). Some students do have some excellent, organized notes from the past semester, so I might start having students volunteer to share their notes for my “absent work” binder to help absent kids catch up. I forgot to practice Quiet Coyote explicitly but the quieting was better today. For the practice, students really had enough time for the first four problems (mostly because they got stuck with simplifying radicals–the answer key had listed the square root of 8 as 2 square root of 2). I had to write more directions for the close of class on the board to clarify what I wanted for the exit ticket (for example, students didn’t realize they had to turn in their work as well as the Plickers cards). I need to label the Plickers cards with the student names for both sections and make sure they go into a separate bin.

Section 2: This lesson went smoother overall because of anticipating cueing of the HW checking process (in which I handed Plickers cards out to save time later), prepping them to segway from a picture to two ordered pairs, and completing the exit ticket. More students completed the ordered pairs questions, but we will still review. A principal intern came in to observe my class, and it was good to hear this feedback: “Thank you for allowing me to come observe your class today and welcome back!! I liked that you put the answers on the back of the sheet so that they could self check, it fostered more discussion than I would have thought. The students were so engaged. It was interesting to listen to a couple of conversations where the student answer didn’t match the back and so the next step was to ask a partner about what they had come to and why. Plus those Plicker cards were awesome – such a great way to use technology without the lag time. I had never seen that before but I will be sure to remember it for a high tech/low complication formative assessment measure.”

Super Bowl Recipe Exchange

By Kristina

Though the Pats won’t be playing in Super Bowl 50 and we’ll have to be home by 6:00 p.m. for baby’s bedtime, I’m still excited for Super Bowl food! I’m participating in a Super Bowl Recipe Exchange with fellow food bloggers, who’ve created the following delicious recipes:

  1. Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ from Eat.Live.Blog
  2. White Bean & Chorizo Stew from LivinLemon
  3. Buffalo Chicken Empanadas from yours truly
  4. DIY Snack Stadium from Wife in Progress
  5. Homemade Pimento Cheese Stuffed Sliders from Aimee Broussard
  6. Taco Dip from Anchors and Bows
  7. Corn “Tamale” with Black Beans and more from Good Cook Doris

Not only am I sharing with you these great recipes, but I am also excited to offer an opportunity to win a $100 gift card courtesy of Wayfair! You could choose from one of their MANY slow cookers, or any one of a million other things that will make your Super Bowl Party the biggest winner of the night!

The giveaway is open until the winner of the Super Bowl is crowned.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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