January 29, 2009

Funny Friday

I copied this while blogsurfing...

Pyzam Family Sticker Toy

Get your own Family Sticker Maker & MySpace Layouts.

This is a partially accurate depiction of our family....However, Greg really is taller than me in real life. I think Shadow is being cut out on accident. Reagan is way cuter in real life. I don't like my outfit and although Dan is a fireman, he is an assistant chief and I don't think he has suited up to actually fight a fire in a long time. but hey...Happy Friday.

January 27, 2009

Coyote Den

Behind our house on the power pole line there is a coyote den. My father knew that the Den existed because he has seen a coyote sitting on top of it during hunting season. He was reminded of it by the kids because they followed coyote tracks all through the woods with me one day. The little guy's tracks (I am hoping he is little) would have led us right to his front door but we turned off the trail to head back home before that happened. Phew! So, on a separate trip with just my mother and father, we set out to find the opening to the den and look at it closeup.
The round indentation at the bottom of this picture shows another snowed in opening. If you look closely, you can see tracks leading to where my father is standing, which is basically right at the opening of the den. This a closup of the den entrance. As you can tell, it gets pretty narrow and takes a jog, making it difficult to see INTO the den. I was pretty nervous getting this close even though I know they are afraid of people. I was concerned about becoming a candidate for America's Funniest Home Videos, should a coyote pop out and scare the begeezus out of me. I snapped the picture quick and got the heck out of there. My mother played it safe and waited for us about 150 feet away. She wasn't sure the 6 hiking poles between us would be enough to fend off the whole pack if it came to that.

This picture shows the tracks coming out of the woods. This was a snowy day. On clear days the tracks are much more numerous. I wonder which dog has to go out and do the hunting on stormy days.....

January 24, 2009

URINE Good Hands...

If you told the naive college freshman majoring in criminal justice back in 1990 that she would be having regular contact with heroin addicts....I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT WAS CRAZY. My first thought after I was told it was no joke..would be....what the hell am I going to do with them. How am I going to stay one step ahead of these masterful~ addictive thinking~ manipulators. ME? asking to see arms to check for "tracks", me conducting observed drug tests, SEARCHING people for synthetic urine. ME talking about sponsors, higher powers, steps, giving back, getting people into rehabs and methadone clinics. AND finding reward in all of this. This is tough stuff. Just as the addict needs support, so do the service brokers and providers. I am lucky to be able to unwind from an eventful day in the trenches of addiction with some understanding friends and positive activities. My very first post about climbing the high peaks talked about finding solace in hiking at a time when I most needed it. Proof that we are lead by the "higher power" to what we NEED, not necessarily what we WANT. As it turns out, I am rewarded and humbled by the work I do with drug and alcohol addicted people. In some cases, it is apparent that their path was meant to cross with mine. Especially when the stuff I am saying seems to be coming from somewhere other than myself. I am not suggesting that I am transcendental, or psychic or anything of the sort, but often, the information I am trying to impart seems to come from a foreign place in my brain....giving new meaning to pulling something out of thin air. For most, the acknowledgement that the person is getting what they need (often in the form of a consequence) won't be realized until much later. At the end of the day, I can live with the satisfaction of that. Sense of humor works too. On Friday our director was contemplating a move to California where he would wax boats all day and I had almost convinced myself that my previous job of seating elderly people for dinner had actually been my calling.

January 22, 2009


My Son has his own little cheering section at his basketball games.
His team is now 8-0. At the end of tonight's game I asked his coach to check in with his English and Science teachers to make sure all his work is handed in so that there are no surprises in a couple weeks when report cards come out. Of course, my son was mortified that I did this but the "bad mother" did not apologize as it seems to have rekindled some urgency where his school work is concerned. Recently, his attention has been mostly focused on the pretty girl holding the sign. His coach said "I'll find out about English and Science tomorrow, but it definitely looks like he's got a 100% in Cupid".

January 21, 2009

Especially Poignant Remark

Rev. Warren said during his opening prayer, "we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven". That sums up the entire day for me. What a miraculous event....... the Inauguration of our 44th President.

Click here for the "out of the mouths of babes" opinion of President Obama's journey.....

January 19, 2009

Brave Bees

While we had our snowshoes on yesterday we trekked over to the part of the field where the beehive sits. Even in these -22 degree temperatures, the bees generate enough heat inside the hive to stay warm and alive. The snow had accumulated in front of the "door" at the bottom of the hive and that needed to be cleaned away. You see if it happens to get warm enough, they will want to leave the hive for a bit to go to the bathroom, but they can hold it the whole winter if they have to. Unfortunately, a little bit of banging on the hive caused two of the "guard" bees to come out and have a look at what was going on. These little protectors probably ended up sacrificing themselves at our expense, unless there were paramedic bees that came down to provide medical attention to them?
Strange how working in cooperation with these bees actually makes you sad to see two of them die. I am going to suggest to the grandfather who knows everything that he should put some R-19 insulation around the hive. Or maybe there is a reason why he didn't already.
Of course, there is a bit of selfishness in hoping these guys stay happy and healthy all winter; a double batch of their glorious golden honey.

"follow grampa, he knows everything"

my nephew's advice to reagan during our sunday afternoon snowshoe

This confirms that our father is to our kids what our grandfather was to us.........

Thanks Dad

January 17, 2009

Game Night and Asparagus

this recipe has been requested from a die hard reader in Waldorf, Maryland....

Also, I am itching to post about our "game night" at Mark and Jennifer's house. I, however, was not the one with the camera and I was not the host. Therefore, I will wait and see what the other's come up with. It was a lot of fun.

OK.....Some observations.

  • Dan cannot go to anymore game nights if he is to follow his eating plan....people, places and things goes for everyone. I ate a pork empanada...see no will power.
  • the two year old and the 18 month old played the nicest of all of the kids..On the other hand, reagan did decide that rather than fight with her 6 year old cousin over who was going to be the waiter while playing restaurant, she would probably make out better playing the owner. Not surprising.
  • gramma can beat the pants off anyone is scrabble but you really don't want her on your Taboo team. Although we did laugh the hardest when it was her turn.
  • Apples to Apples is a game that all ages can enjoy.
  • Another game night is definitely in order, especially if we are going to keep having extreme cold. 10 degrees on the digital thermometer tonight.

New Tradition....*first annual* Saturday of Martin Luther King Jr. three day weekend GAME NIGHT............Thanks Guys~

January 15, 2009

meatless for the majority

I wish it didn't take posts like this to totally gross me out in order to make me stop eating meat. This happened to me about 6 months ago when I became more informed about the slaughter practices and the inhumane captivity of animals. That time, I went 11 days in a row without meat. I love BLT's too much to go totally vegetarian and sometimes it is just easier to eat meat, especially when you have a whole family to feed. Meanwhile, I can't tell you the last time I ate a hamburger which was a direct result of my son getting sick from ecoli at the Washington County fair (which had nothing to do with hamburger but hey my thought process runs wild). From that point, I began ordering fast food meals with NO MEAT for my kids. I currently consume red meat an average of once a month and eat white meat less than 3 nights a week. Since I know I am not capable of complete vegetarianism, I am proposing a 3rd alternative to being vegetarian or vegan. I am calling it majority meatless. (Maybe something similar already exists and quite possibly it is labeled non committed slacker?)

Regardless, this week, in another concerted effort to lay off of meat I bought Tempeh. Last night I made my standby tempeh recipe which is a tempeh reuben. I cubed the other half of the package and soaked it in a marinade overnight and for dinner this evening I sauteed it with peas, added angel hair pasta and topped it with peanut sauce. Wow, was it rich and extremely tasty. Greg watched me eat it and shook his head in disbelief that it could actually taste great. I did get him to try a bite that did not contain the tempeh which he said was "not bad". He's the other one in the family that already eats "majority meatless". I will have to stay on top of his conversion to tempeh eater. For myself, recipes such as this make it all the more attainable for me to eventually abstain from MEAT. I need some bacon flavored tempeh.

Tempeh Marinade
8oz of Tempeh
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon water
I added 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup of natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup water

while the marinated tempeh and peas were sauteing I sprinkled them with cayenne pepper and then tossed them with angel hair pasta before spooning the peanut sauce on top. A little spicy because I forgot that I added the cumin to the marinade, but overall a good first attempt. I was impressed with the ease of both marinating the tempeh and making peanut sauce from scratch.

Just another example of the rewards of trying something new. I am so enjoying this creative cooking. Reagan was again the big kitchen helper, even though she happily ate just angel hair with butter and cheese. Dan made his own pork stir fry with mrs. dash bottled marinade before he left for his union meeting. Greg ate pasta with red sauce. We might as well be running a diner.

January 14, 2009

I'll have a medium coffee?

I just wanted to mention the new study that is out. Apparently researchers are trying to show that drinking large amounts of coffee has the potential to cause people to hallucinate, hear voices and smell things that aren't real. Some participants in the study reported also feeling the presence of dead people. I tried to keep track of how many cups of coffee I drank today at work, because I am clearly becoming a huge caffeine addict. Some of which I can blame on nearly freezing to death everyday in my office. Holding and drinking a warm cup of coffee is like having a space heater that works on the inside and out. I am sure that it would be best if I slowed up on the intake of coffee but if it has the potential to put me in contact with my Grandfather then hook me up to an IV.....

January 13, 2009

"testing" some new recipes

Reagan has her 4th grade state english test this week. They spread the exam over 3 days. The school sent home a checklist of things that may help your child have a more positive testing experience. Reagan, being the second child in our house to go through this round of testing, basically got herself ready. Greg was so afraid of taking his 4th grade tests that he was in meltdown mode by the morning he was scheduled to take them. The only thing that calmed him was a call from one of his little friends who assured him he would do fine. It helped Greg hear that his counterpart in a different school was not worried at all. The confidence of that little boy spilled over and Greg of course did fine. Thankfully Reagan's experience has been better since the school has pulled itself out of academic jeopardy and has not been so focused on the performance of the students on this nefarious way of measuring teacher success. Anyway, Reagan packed a snack bag, filled her water bottle, dressed herself in layers, gathered #2 pencils and went to bed on time (not early, but without me nagging her). Day one went off without a hitch. Tonight, she said her teacher did not assign homework but told them all to relax and enjoy their evening. As I began cooking dinner, she said she wanted to help because "cooking relaxes me". Huh? Okay. She helped chop onions and garlic, measured out spices and stirred them as they simmered.
I was trying out an Artichoke and Chick Pea Stew recipe. She said she liked the taste of the broth but turned her nose up at the finished product. Like most kids she mostly enjoyed using a knife and stirring hot stuff. We used sweet potatos instead of white potatos and added some orzo pasta and a little asparagus that I had leftover. We topped it off with grated fontina cheese. It was great, and luckily for me no one else wanted any and I have a huge portion for my lunch tomorrow. Reagan has a kid's Better Homes and Garden Cookbook that she likes to sift through now and then, so she broke it out and picked another treat for us to make. Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese spread for apple wedges (reagan loves the apple corer we have and before I knew it had almost a whole bag of apples wedged). This was a good choice because it called for the use of the honey our own bees made. We used natural peanut butter and extra honey. It was a very tasty dessert. We played RACKO and off to bed she went. We did indeed spend some nice relaxing together time tonight. I guess those tests are good for something.

January 11, 2009

taking it easy

I had a rough (read sad) appointment at the end of my workday on Friday. All I could do was throw myself into the weekend and forget about work (read- had the wisdom to know the difference of what I cannot change).

So I.....

  • watched 10 kids pour their heart and souls out on the basketball court as they earned their coach (my husband's baseball coach, my third grade teacher and a big time family friend) his 300th career win. We sat with old friends we don't see very often which topped off the moment.
  • got to watch my own son play his game
  • got my hair cut and highlighted (self care, literally)
  • played dice with my parents while listening to the Eagles on my dad's birthday. very appropriate.
  • celebrated my neice's birthday with extended family
  • took reagan and my nephew snowshoeing. we had fun following the trail of a coyote all through the sun sparkled snowy woods.
  • cooked a nice dinner for dan who is doing awesome on his healthy eating plan.
  • watched my son go off on a movie date with his new "friend". Yikes.
  • snowshoed my usual canoe trail hike behind my house, with my father, by headlamp. not the dilly dallying type of trip with the kids. the kind that actually burns the 600 calories an hour "they" say that snowshoeing burns.
  • read a little from my library books
  • checked in on my blogger friends. we have a newbie on board and one finished her first full marathon.

I'm recharged for the week! Bring it on......

January 9, 2009

obama likes elvis

The word is out. Obama has tapped Elvis' "If I Can Dream" to play some part in the inauguration in 10 days. Quite an appropriate theme song for the optimism our (nearly) President is trying to be about. Now, interestingly my family members who you know are not big fans of Obama, are truly fanatical followers of "the king" so I have to thank our new leader for pulling out all the stops to possibly ingratiate himself to the rest of my people. If Elvis is re-entering the building on January 20th why not invite the gipper as well....

If you clicked on the fanatical followers link you will see that I didn't make it to the celebration of Elvis' 74th birthday Thursday evening. I was enjoying Enchiladas and Chile Rellenos at El Mexicano with Jen. We were overdue for dinner thanks to the holidays. Elvis will have more birthdays.

January 7, 2009

my return to the library

I used to take the kids to Crandall Library all the time when they were little. The library had a neat children's play room next to the children's book section and in it was a shelf of big people (mostly parenting) books to peruse while the kids played. Normally, I would find something that interested me from that collection and then on our way out I would usually have just enough time to quickly choose a fiction novel from near the book check. Well back in 2003 I took out some books and didn't make it back to the library before owing about $23 in late fees. At one point I snuck up to the free standing drive thru book drops to return the children's books, but for some (irresponsible) reason kept the two adult books I had. This is the same reason I no longer allow myself a blockbuster video card. I am terrible about returning material. So, 6 years have passed and the Crandall Library has gone through a major renovation. I was assured by a frequent visitor of the library that the slate would be clean and I should go back and check out the new and improved, updated library. Reagan had asked about going there several times during the construction phase and since school vacation was upon us I decided it was time we made the trip. We marched up to the desk and told the lady that we once had cards but probably needed new ones. Oh no, she quickly found us in the system and delivered the bad news. I owed $23 in fees but because books were categorized as lost, I actually owed the value of the books which was $80. I had joked with my friend that I was sure there was a "wanted" poster of me hanging somewhere in the place and that I couldn't possibly go back. At that moment it was no joke. Although I am surely not the worst overdue book offender I was wishing this new state of the art building had a trap door I could fall through. I casually asked how long ago these books had been taken out and did my best impression of shock that I had "forgotten". Of course I would bring them next time as I assured the woman that they must be somewhere at home. Where, is the question. Lucky for me, Reagan has a clean card and could check some books out for me. We both came out with 4 books. Reagan read her first chapter book from start to finish in 4 nights. We have enjoyed our reading time together in the evenings. It has been a nice break from what has become my nightly routine of "reading the computer".

I chose this book.

I had learned of the Movie that preceded it months ago and it caught my eye.
I was pleasantly surprised that it not only spoke of the poor nutritional quality of fast food but went into great detail about marketing and advertising ploys and gimmicks directed at winning over children at very young ages to certain brands of fast food, junk food, and of course soda. Reminded me of when we were running the little league. We were so happy that by signing a 5 year contract with Pepsi, they donated a $5,000 electric scoreboard for the fields. This was big stuff in our small town little league which never had any type scoreboard. I quickly found out that the Pepsi Corporation does that as a PR strategy to win over our littlest members to Pepsi (over coke) as soon as they possibly could. Attracting customers early (from the cradle) is more cost effective than changing a persons preference later on. Hence, the McDonald's line of baby clothes sold at Walmart (of course they are in on it). Another point made in the book is that fast food and fast casual food joints often use school promotions to attract customers. I have been stubborn over the last few years about the Pizza Hut Book It program. My philosophy has always been that I don't need the prize of a personal pan pizza dangled in front of me to make sure that my kid reads at night. We read just to read, not to earn pizza. I was catching on that the corporation only wanted to attract a family that would spend an average of $25 dollars in their restaurant over and above the measly $3 free pizza they were handing out. Turns out that Pizza Hut along with McD's and Wendy's and Burger King could give a rats ass whether my kids read, do well in school or become fat and unhealthy. The last time we ate at McDonald's after a school basketball game, another mother marveled at my "will power" to eat only a salad (before reading the book). Believe me, if you read this book you won't ever want to eat anything but a salad at that place. Who needs will power.

Gotta go, I have 3 more books to read before their February 1st due date!

January 2, 2009

My New Adirondack Reads

Today I got my first subscription of:

It's one of two awesome Christmas gifts from my in-laws. I am still waiting for the first delivery of this one:

January 1, 2009

Spruce Mountain Snowshoe

We did the house party scene for New Year's Eve. Each year someone in our small circle of friends hosts a gathering that is kid friendly (hopefully the hosting family has a basement). Dan of course had to work this morning so we actually left the party at about 11pm. The party was pretty subdued yet I did partake in the ceremonial shot out of one guy's glasses that are shaped like a .12 gauge shotgun shell. I was in bed by 11:30 and totally missed the ball dropping. I have to say that I didn't miss having to go around the room kissing everyone at the stroke of midnight. That kinda creeps me out, depending on who the attendees are of course. I don't mind the normal group of friends but depending on who hosts there are straggler invitees that I don't want to have to obviously skip! Anyway, my point is that I was kinda glad to get home and get to sleep in anticipation of the first snowshoe of the new year. I knew my father really wanted to go and without his prompting I would have missed starting the year doing something amazingly awesome; snowshoeing under a bright blue (almost purple, I know crayola has a color that is close) sky, surrounded by fresh powdery snow so glittery in the sun that the the snow sparkles seemed to be jumping and playing beneath our feet. Spruce Mountain is in south Corinth, in the most southern part of the Adirondack Park. It is a couple of turns off of the main road, route 9N going out of Corinth toward Saratoga. At the dead end of Spruce Mountain Road (a right off of Wells Road) there is no parking lot, just parking on the road. You see a gate which is signed for a snowmobile club and beyond the turn around for the snowplow is the foot trail that allows you to climb the mountain far from where the snowmobiles are allowed. We only actually saw two snowmachines and that was because we chose to return via their "road". The foot trail is a gradual climb through nice forest, steeper toward the end. At one point you are cautioned that private property lies between the trailhead DEC sign in and the destination. After crossing the posted property (everyone else appeared to have done so) signs told us we were on Saratoga Plan Land. Then, back on posted land before making it to the summit. Apparently there is a big issue going on about the ownership of the land and it may be transferring to state land in the near future. At the sign in, DEC has made a special request for people to be sure to sign in to show the powers that be that this little mountain is actually being used and appreciated by hikers. The mountain has a Fire Tower that is in very bad condition. The bottom stairs have been removed to prevent people from climbing the tower. A committee has been formed to try to save it and possibly restore it. Until that occurs, this is a fire tower summit that doesn't offer any sort of real view. We ventured a bit to the north of the tower and found a spot that allowed us to look North and we did see a pretty snow covered mountain view. Beyond the tower is a building owned by National Grid and a communication tower bearing all kinds of satellites. All in all, this was not the BEST mountain for asthetic value- I prefer not to see power lines where I am hiking, my new cell phone didn't even work directly in front of all this communications stuff but the beautiful day and the chance to be out in nature as a kick off to the new year was worth a million. Also noteworthy were the six or so deer we saw as we pulled up to park. The deer are all over this mountain. I thought it was cute that they use the foot path as a means of getting around. I felt like I was helping them out a bit by further crunching down a path for them. I followed deer prints all the way up. There were really matted down runways going between the foot trail and the snowmobile trail. We also saw coyote tracks and a lot of rabbit tracks. Even in the 20 degree air I was warm and toasty thanks to the effort it took to climb. I was feeling a little out of shape as this was a bit more strenuous than Goodnow Mt. We couldn't help but throw ideas around for the upcoming hiking season; figuring on what combination of day hikes and backpacking trips we will shoot for this year. I like that kind of New Year's Resolution. Forget the old boring standby of losing weight. The 17 high peaks we plan to bag by October of 2009 is a challenge I will work faithfully at and enjoy every minute of doing it. Umm..I guess that is not a resolution (which means you will resolve something or change something...most likely a lifestyle change) so I am happy that I am not still at the point where I am making a resolution to hike MORE. This is a continuation of the change I have already made and maintained. A real resolution would be that I would like to live more "green" (thanks to hiking in nature), I could do more on the preserve and protect idea. While I'm at this contemplative stage of change...I really need to be better at checking the kids homework at night. That's a resolution that brings you back down to earth...Ugh. I'll let you know how that one goes. Happy New Year all....