The Week I Did a Nighttime Race

I’m not a nighttime runner. I pretty much always start my day with runs. I don’t even like running after work. So, when B told me that there was a 5k race on a Friday night that was a fundraiser for a board he is on, I was hesitant. I had run the race last year for fun after LM was born. But, I was home on maternity leave. This year, I’d be working all day and well – as I said – I’m not a fan of nighttime running.

But who doesn’t love a good 5k fundraiser? So, I signed up on Wednesday and ran it Friday. Here’s how the week looked:

Some highlights:

The race of course! Strollers weren’t allowed (dogs and walkers were…), so B watched the kids while I ran. I admittedly start the race with a cramp but felt like I was flying the first mile.

The second mile included a big uphill, and the last mile had a downhill. I ended the race with an official time of 25:43. The race was along the beach, so we had a great view. And we got some beach time afterwards.

Was it a PR? No. Was it the fastest I’ve run in a while? YES. Was I glad I ran it? Of course!

Questions for you:

  • Do you notice a connection between how much rest you get and the quality of your runs?
  • What are you training for?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Crockpot Chicken, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

I love easy slow cooker meals that can be prepped ahead of time, are healthy, delicious and don’t take a lot of preparation. Slow cooker meals that require no cooking ahead of time (what’s the point of that?!) or browning of meat. Kid-friendly slow cooker meals. And, slow cooker meals that are just as good in the summer as they are in the winter.

That is why I love this dish. My husband, baby girl and I all love it. (Confession my picky toddler won’t eat any of it but the sweet potatoes) I can make it ahead of time AND it tastes good 1-2 days later! If you’re looking for an easy, healthy weeknight crockpot meal, here it is.

Crockpot Chicken, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 15 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 whole cauliflower, chopped (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Optional; for serving: Rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa

Here’s what you do:

  • Combine coconut milk, chicken broth and curry powder and add to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Add chicken breasts, cauliflower, onion, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Gently toss together to make sure everything is coated with coconut milk/broth/curry.
  • Cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
  • OPTIONAL: Depending how much broth/juice you have after cooking, you can take out 1-2 cups of broth mixed with cauliflower and sweet potato and blend until mushy (yes that’s the technical term) before putting back in. I love doing this as it adds a nice thick sauce.
  • Stir in peas 5 minutes before serving. I like to serve mine over cauliflower rice for even more cauliflower goodness. But, you may enjoy it over regular rice, quinoa or even just with a side of naan.

Some questions:

  • What’s your go-to slow cooker meal?
  • Do you like curry?

Summer Weekends Outside

What a FUN weekend in Cleveland! We had such a good time hanging out and doing ALL of the things OUTSIDE. That’s right, we had pretty much perfect weather and hung out outside from Friday through Sunday.

First, I was able to take off early on Friday and surprised FW at daycare pickup early. We hung out for more than an hour at his favorite playground and it was glorious.

Then, on the way home from the playground we picked up pizza and ate it on the porch for dinner. 

LM chewed on her crust for a while. She has been teething for …  months now? We’re still waiting for one of her top teeth to pop. She has had 3 teeth forever it seems!

Saturday morning, FW helped me make some muffins. 

Then, while B mowed the lawn, FW and I did some weeding.

That afternoon, we headed over to my friend Emily’s house for her son’s first birthday! LM loved the food. 

And their dog!

FW loved the kiddie pool.

After the party, it was nap time. Which meant it was time for me to do some more baking!

And when the kids woke up, it was pretty much time for dinner. We ate it once again on the porch.

After dinner, B built a fire and we roasted marshmallows. 

And since it was such a nice night, B and FW decided to camp out in the backyard. 

Sunday ended up being super low-key.  Nobody slept well Saturday night (in the tent or not), so we were all a little grumpy in the morning until nap time. The day included some meal prep, naps for all, and more meals on the porch.

And, a stroller run for the entire family! We hadn’t all run (the 4 of us) in AGES and it made me so happy to be out with everyone.

And per usual, we spent the night at B’s parents’ house, enjoying dinner with B’s family. They have a swing set, so FW got in some more swinging before we ate.

And here we are, back at our week. Weekends go by too fast, don’t they?

Questions for you:

  • If you had the chance to take a half day of vacation, what would you do with your time off?
  • Have you ever camped out in your backyard?

Running the Miles with Nothing to Train For

Another week of running, but nothing to train for.

And that’s okay with me. I’m kind of liking running whenever I want, however much I want and not having to worry about getting in a certain number of miles during the week.

Not training doesn’t mean I’m not running – here’s a look at last week:

Some highlights:

Sunday morning I got in my runs around family activities. We decided to go out to brunch, so I jogged the 1 mile there. Then, after brunch I took a long route home and got in an extra 3ish miles. No running photos, but instead a pic of our brunch 🙂

Tuesday, I wore my new Skirt Sports capris and got in 5 miles before work. These capris have SO many pockets – they’re the best.

My runs have been pretty slow lately, but I also haven’t been sleeping enough or taking many days off. I wonder if I got more sleep or took a few rest days if I’d notice an improvement? I did finally take Saturday off (as you can see) after more than a week of no off days so hopefully that will pay off.

Questions for you:

  • Do you notice a connection between how much rest you get and the quality of your runs?
  • What are you training for?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Reentering the Workforce After Maternity Leave

It’s been a year since I went on maternity leave for the second time. I’ll be honest with you — reentering the workforce was not easy. At least it never has been for me. After 12ish weeks way, I am rarely emotionally ready to come back to work; however, the second time around, at least I knew somewhat to expect. And after re-entering the workforce two times now, I’ve learned from my mistakes.

Here’s what NOT to do upon your reentry to the workforce after maternity leave:

Try to fit into your old work clothes

Unless you are one of those people who somehow fit miraculously into all your pre-pregnancy clothes within just a few weeks, you may need to go shopping for a few essentials. Even if you are back at your pre-baby weight, your body may look different. A stellar new “first day of school work” outfit (or 2) can make all the difference as you re-join office life. 

1 month before baby — clearly I wasn’t going to fit into the same clothes just a few months afterwards

Expect things to be the same 

You just had a baby. You were home for (if you’re lucky) several weeks. When you come back, cut yourself some slack – it will take some time to get back into the swing of things. But things may not be the same. For example, you may no longer be able to stay at the office late whenever you want; you may need to leave right on time to make sure you don’t arrive at daycare pickup one minute past 6. You may longer be able to be in all-day (or even 3-hour) meetings.  No, you may need to find time to pump. You will probably cherish weekends a whole lot more. Things won’t be the same, but as long as you realize this in advance, it can help you prepare. 

weekends with your family after reentering the workforce = the best!

Expect things to be different

At the same time, things won’t be much different. Your coworkers/clients will still expect you to be at the top of your game, to make those meetings and to keep your usual hours. You may need to set some boundaries as you figure out your new schedule. 

Feel guilty

The fact that I was going back to work made me feel guilty. Then, when I couldn’t stay late or go to as many work happy hours I felt guilty. At night, if I was doing work after the kids went to bed, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending time with my husband. Mom guilt comes in a variety of forms, but it doesn’t make any situation better. Cut yourself some slack – you’re doing the best you can. 

Go at it by yourself

Being a working parent isn’t easy. And it’s even harder without someone to confide in about the everyday dilemmas (being 15 minutes late due to a potty training accident as you were leaving the house), hardships (having to take off unexpectedly due to your kid’s stomach flu) and milestones (preschool graduation). If you have other working parents in your office, grab coffee with them. Talk to friends outside of work. We’re all in this together and it’s better to have a support group. And find something that makes you feel like you — for me, that’s running. Without my support group and running, re-entering the workforce would’ve been much harder!

Question for you:

  • Did you recently come back from maternity leave? What would you add?
  • Have you reentered the workforce from maternity leave or another leave (sabbatical, etc.)? How did you handle it?

Note: In all the pictures above, I’m wearing Skirt Sportshangout jacket, jette skirt and redemption run shorts. They’ve been with me through pregnancy AND beyond! I’m a brand ambassador, so if you end up purchasing anything, feel free to use the code SSA791Mel for 5% off.