Miles, Meals & Motherhood

From the farmer's market to the finish line

Grief 20 Years Later: Part Two, The Last Year

The Last Year

The last year: there is no way to make that sound less awful, less final. It was the last year of my father’s life and the last year I had a father. This is important to note because I view my life in two distinct parts, when I had a father and when I did not.

Despite the cancer diagnosis I still did not think of my father as sick. To me, he was still my strong athletic father. He was rising at five and reading several newspapers before most people stir. Surely this man would endure. There were visits to Dana-Farber in Boston and consults with doctors in Rhode Island.  Our new normal began, chemotherapy and radiation were now on the calendar along with golf lessons and PTA meetings. Cancer became real.

Before long, the treatments would take their toll. Hair loss, vomiting and constant pain.  I would sometimes drive him to his treatments and I would irritate him with my driving because of the nausea. He become short with me on several occasions. That was not him.

News inevitably spread of my father’s illness. I encountered pitiful looks almost daily and it made me retreat. It was my senior year of high school and I was withdrawn, I did not care about anything. I applied to a single college by early acceptance,  was accepted and enrolled because I thought I should stay close to home. The rest of the year I was on autopilot. My memory from that time is painfully selective.

I turned eighteen in February of 1996, around that time my father started giving me a lot of seemingly random advice.  He told me to make sure I did squats so that I wouldn’t have knee problems. He told me to never get mixed up in drugs especially heroin. He made me promise to never ride a moped. All solid advice, but to a slightly nerdy student, it somehow seemed a little unnecessary.

I realize now that he knew he was dying, and was trying to give me all the advice he could in the time he had left.  In those last few months he grew sicker, but I never saw a hint that he felt defeated. There were setbacks, hospital stays and isolation rooms as the weeks went on. Still I did not see a man ready to leave this world. My father’s illness progressed, and as all too often occurs, nothing could contain or stop the cancer any longer.

My graduation day arrived but my father was not there. He was alive but could only watch my graduation on public access television from his bed. Those last few weeks following graduation were horrible. My beloved grandmother died. My father died almost two weeks later on July 8, 1996, the day before he would have turned fifty years old.

Grief 20 Years Later: Part One, The Diagnosis

I am going to be writing this as a series over the course of the next few weeks, I decided to begin chronologically because it makes the most sense and will give context. Thank you again for all the support and feedback.

The Diagnosis

My father was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of my junior year of high school. It was May 1995. He had been working in the garden and thought he might have ingested something because he didn’t feel quite right.

Tests were ordered, a diagnosis made. He told me at the kitchen table. He talked, I listened, but the gist was lung cancer, small cell, chemotherapy, radiation and we’ll go from there.

It’s cancer, this is the treatment, end of conversation. In that moment I felt like his peer, not a child. I didn’t hear despair, I didn’t hear panic, I only heard there is a problem and we will fix it.

That is what I remember of my father, he was a fixer of problems. A litigator and a champion of people, he didn’t waste time on non-sense. My father was exacting and he cut to the core of problems. So cancer was like anything else in our house, except that it wasn’t like anything else and I was not prepared.

Reflecting back on that day and the days thereafter, I wonder if he knew that would be his final year with us.

 

 

Thank You To The Truth Tellers, Grief and Other News

I mentioned in my last post, that I spent the past year having conversations with many people. Some people are mirror images of myself and others couldn’t be more different, but we all shared something and that was getting honest about how life had beaten us up.  Without naming names or sharing tales out of school, I want to thank these truth tellers because their raw honesty helped me make sense of life. They helped me become a better wife, mother and friend.

In that spirit, I have decided to write about something that I’ve thought about for a long time but couldn’t find the strength to do.  In a series of essays I will write about grief. This July will mark the passing of my father, 20 years ago. If you know me in real life or my online life you know that I will sometimes discuss the effects of losing a parent to cancer when I was 18, but in this blog I am rather vague.  In writing about this topic I hope to ease the pain, demystify grief and maybe help someone feel less alone.

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My father owned boots like these, sometimes simple items like shoes can transport you back in time to a life that was lived long ago.

 

On a slightly more uplifting note, I am a Women’s Health Action Hero for 2016! I’ll write a more detailed post about the Run 10 Feed 10 race series and what you can do to participate. But in the meantime, if you are interested check out www.run10feed10.com and if you are feeling extra motivated sign up today and use my discount code: R10HERO08.

I also want to thank the people that read this blog, I know I can be haphazard in posting and you are inundated with things to read daily, so know that I appreciate the time that you take to open the link.

Life is Short, Life is Messy, Buy the Flowers

I took an extended leave from blogging the past year, life had gotten unbelievably messy and it was hard to focus minute to minute let alone write. Someone had told me around New Year’s that “some years are answers and some years are  questions.”  It was prescient, because 2015 was a question year. I spent most of the past year reading, having discussions, questioning everything and preparing for a child. I’m not sure if 2016 holds the answer but here is what I learned in the last year:

  1. Life is messy, trying to analyze and categorize it into black and white will drive you insane. Accept that most of life is grey and that is okay. Know your boundaries and what you are and are not willing to compromise and also know that circumstance and time can change those too.
  2. Speak with people, really talk about life and their experiences. I learned that almost all experiences are universal save for specific details. I also learned that everyone handles life’s trials and tribulations differently and that is okay.
  3. Life is short, too short to have inauthentic relationships with people. Some people have left my life and some people have entered. Those that remain are authentic, they are real, they are flawed and they are beautiful.
  4. Buy the flowers. Buy what makes you happy, not what you think will make you happy.

Finally, I learned that when everything crashes down around you it is freeing. Perfection, appearance and expectations of what life should be are a prison.

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New Baby and Updated Thanksgiving Traditions with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

I got my Halloween treat with the birth of my son.  It has been amazing, thrilling, tiring and abrupt being transformed into a family of 5.  We were lucky to have my mother stay with us during the initial transition, but now it is business as usual and that means preparing for Thanksgiving with a baby in a carrier and two school aged children.  Oh, I forgot to mention my 7 year old is in a cast which means I am looking for a few shortcuts this year.

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Lucky for me I have an Albertsons five minutes from my home and I can walk there with the baby and get everything I need for a Thanksgiving feast.  I was asked by Albertson’s and Pillsbury to share a recipe using Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls and the timing was perfect.

My family is of Armenian descent and at every holiday we work our favorite foods into traditional holiday menus. We usually incorporate our favorite Armenian foods into the appetizer selections.

Our Favorite appetizer is called Cheese Boreg and it is traditionally made with layers of phyllo dough brushed with butter and stuffed with a mix of cheese and parsley. I simply do not have time to make it the traditional way and decided that Pillsbury Crescent Rolls would be the perfect substitution. It was so easy that Cheese Boreg may earn a regular spot on our menu.

Pillsbury Cresent Cheese Turnovers (Boreg):

2 Cans Pillsbury Cresent Dough
1 Cup Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
4 oz. Cream Cheese
4-6 oz. Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 Egg
1 Handful of Parsley, Chopped

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1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Mix cheese, egg and parsley together thoroughly with a fork.

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3) Unroll crescents, place a small spoonful of cheese at largest end of crescent dough.

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4) Roll up dough, form crescent shape and pinch ends closed.

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5) Bake in oven until golden brown, about 9 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature. These are perfect for a holiday, cocktail party or a light lunch or supper with a salad.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons . The opinions and text are all mine.

What is something unique that is always on your Thanksgiving table?

Lemonette Dressing on Amazon, Best Find On Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day has been kind of a bust for me, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but tubs of Eucerin and socks? Really, Amazon?

If you were looking to score an amazing deal on something unique, try looking for and purchasing Lemonette Salad Dressings. For a limited time, enjoy FREE SHIPPING with the purchase of 2 or more Lemon-Garlic and/or Creamy Mustard dressings.

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Lemonette Salad Dressings is the first of its kind, a line of exclusively lemon-based salad dressings and marinades inspired by classic Mediterranean recipes.  The creator of Lemonette Salad Dressings is  an Armenian mother of 3 and is passionate about putting out solid products with real ingredients. The products are FDA-approved, gluten-free, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, and use only expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil.

I have had the pleasure to sample all three flavors of the Lemonette Salad Dressings and my favorite is the Cumin-Curry, tonight I am marinating some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in it for a quick and easy dinner.  All three flavors work as salad dressings, marinades for chicken and fish and as finishing sauces. The Cumin-Cury flavor also works for non-green salads, like a chickpea salad, carrot/raisin salads, as well as for grilling vegetables and fruit.

Lemonette Salad Dressings are sold in 14 independent markets all over southern California and 4 stores up in the Bay Area. Look for it in Orange County stores this fall.

As I look for ways to simplify my life, having Lemonette Salad Dressings in my pantry is a great shortcut that I can feel good about serving my family.  A portion of every sale also goes to The Heart Foundation.

Blog Posts, Running, Eating and Baby #3

First, sorry about being MIA.  I did run the LA Marathon. It was hilly, ridiculously hot and I was indeed pregnant.  Also, like pregnancy, I can’t wait to do it again, I am scouring race calendars daily.

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Now that my belly is beyond big, my running looks more like a shuffle and I am choosing pool workouts, spin and modified Barry’s Bootcamp classes.

Eating has also been interesting, I was lucky that morning sickness did not set in until after the marathon, but when it arrived I was feeling it all day.  For a few months I relied heavily on smoothies and protein powder because the thought of eggs, turkey or meat was nauseating.

Now that morning sickness has subsided along with extreme exhaustion, I am able to focus and write again. Pregnancy brain is real.  So as I wrap my brain about becoming a mother of 3, nesting has started way earlier, I’ll be sharing some new shortcuts and products that are easing the way.  My new favorite shortcut is a lemony salad dressing called Lemonette Salad Dressing and Marinade which is gluten-free, sugar-free and made with real ingredients. I’ll have a whole blog post dedicated to the dressing in a week or so.  It is a great product and produced by a mom!

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Staying In Motion

I don’t recall whether I was a still child, in adulthood I remain in constant motion.  I cannot sleep in.  I cannot sit.  I move, I move all the time. On foot and by car I am constantly on the go.

When I opened my box of Eddie Bauer Motion goodies, the name resonated with me.  These are products made for me, an almost 37 year old wife and mother, who is constantly moving.  I am moving forward, eyes fixed ahead and no time to waste looking back.

I learned a long time ago that if you want to be an active participant in life, then you need to be dressed for it.  If you were wondering, Eddie Bauer’s Motion Series, is up to the task.  I have trained hard this past week: running, spinning, yoga, Pilates, barre and countless sprints to the bus stop.

Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t have a proper gym bag, my car was littered with sneakers, spin shoes, jump ropes and sports bras and I was constantly running to and fro. Eddie Bauer changed that when they gifted me the Zen tote. Now when I look at that bag I see all my lives together in one place. The frenzied Soul Cycle addict, the runner, the yogi, the mother, the volunteer, the wife, the friend, the blogger and even sometimes the lawyer.

It is okay if I can not sit still, it is okay that I am always in motion, my zen is the motion.

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Training for a Marathon: The Good, The Bad and The Clothes

Just under six weeks until I run my first marathon, the LA Marathon. Training has been ok, I was sick for the first chunk of training and coming back has been demoralizing.  All the gains I had made were lost due to the flu, and working hard to get them back is just tiring.  I am tired, tired ALL the time.

I don’t know if you hit a wall when you are training for a marathon, but I felt like I hit a wall.  I resolved to train and finish the marathon but I wasn’t necessarily happy about it.  Fortuitously, I got an email from the Women’s Health team and they wanted to know if I would be interested in working with Eddie Bauer’s Motion Series on my training mission.  The answer was YES.  This is exactly what I needed, a refresh, a restart to marathon training.

Eddie Bauer graciously allowed me to pick out a new outfit complete with new shoes and a workout bag.  I don’t care how old you are, but when you get a package delivered you are giddy.  I unpacked my box of goodies and started to feel the excitement for training come back.

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My new outfit and me have been to Soul Cyle, YAS for yoga and spin and they will be powering me through my next challenge a plyometrics class at The 12.

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Me and my Eddie Bauer Motion Series Pants take a spin at Soul Cycle.

Running is great, but I need a variety of activities to get me through training in one piece and keep me sane.  That is why I am beyond thrilled that Class Pass has finally made it to the OC.  Look for a separate post about that later, but if you love taking classes but have commitment issues and don’t like to get locked into a crazy contract Class Pass is the way to go.

If anyone is thinking of training for a marathon, I would recommend a little workout clothes upgrade half way through, it was a nice morale boost and gave me a push to keep moving forward.

What motivates you to move forward when you hit a wall? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beet Salad

Chickpea and Beet Salad With Lemony-Tahini Dressing

I have been slacking on my recipes, but my boxful of produce has me clamoring to cook.  This recipe is perfect for Meatless Monday and provides protein, iron and good fats.  The dressing will keep and tastes excellent on steamed or roasted vegetables as well as chicken.

Chickpea Beet Salad Recipe:

1 Bunch Washed Baby Spinach
2 Bunches Roasted Beets, cleaned and diced
1 Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Place all ingredients in a bowl.

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Lemony-Tahini Dressing

1/2 Cup Tahini
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Lemon Juice, fresh if possible
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 tsp. Salt
Water

Blend all ingredients together except water, you will have a thick paste. Add small amounts of water up to 1/2 Cup until you get a desired consistency. Pour over salad, keep extra in a jar and use over salads, vegetables and chicken over the week.

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How often do you eat salad?

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