Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vacation and Chillin with the kids

We've been on vacation this week.  Chillaxin as my daughter would call it. Christmas day we opened presents, had a nice breakfast, hung out and had a great dinner.  We checked via phone with a few and had a quiet day. Aaaah!

The next day we headed up to Vermont for a few days - a change of scenery.  We had dinner with hubby's brother and his family.  Stopped at the Vermont Country Store. The next day we checked out the Church Street market place and took a drive through the islands on Lake Champlain.  Heading home we took a tour of the Vermont Teddy Bear factory.  And the hay bale sculptures on the drive up were so cool I had to take pictures.




Since then it's been oil changes, chiropractor appointments, cleaning and grocery shopping.  The Christmas decorations are all put away.  We decided to leave the furniture we moved out of the living room out.  It looks so much more open.  I've been cooking in my new apron and splurged on a few items at the kitchen store with my Christmas money.  Hubby made a dump run and a box of items for the tag sale room went with him.  I'm really trying to bring something in only if something else is going out.  Hubby cleaned his man cave and now I really need to work on my office/pantry/craft room.  Although I look around and it's really not as bad as I claim it is.  It's been fun to just putter around the house.  We've been reading, napping and playing games.  I have a few needlepoint projects I want to start. 

Tonight we celebrate the New Year with the kids.  It's been our tradition to not eat supper but have an appetizer party.  Everyone plans the menu and I cook.  I'm happy and so are they.  It also helps me stay awake that long.  We have friends coming over with their kids as well.  I see a night of food, wii and laughs.
steamed clams and mussels
shrimp cocktail
peperoni bread
anti pasta bread
veggie platter and dip
mini veggie quiches
meatballs with chipotle sauce
buffalo wing dip & chips
buffalo wing won tons
pig in a blanket

Tomorrow we head to my brothers to celebrate the holidays.  I can't wait to see my niece and nephew.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yule Dinner

Last night a friend hosted a potluck Yule dinner.  She made a ham.  One girl made a pork tenderloin.  One made mashed potatoes and I made a potato and leek gratin and green beans with cranberries.  The food was yummy.  The company was great.
Our host made each of us a wine glass with our name, crystals and our favorite color painted on the bottom. I had picked yellow - how fitting for the return of the sun.

Her husband bought us each a wine pourer in the shape of a stag.  The picture doesn't really do it justice.

After dinner we played quelth.  It's a board game where you must do silly things according to the cards as you go around.  Sort of an adult candy land.  It was a lot of laughs.

May you dive deep into your own darkness and emerge as the sun shines brighter each day - refreshed, renewed and blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Part way through my menus

Dinner with MIL and FIL was nice.  Dinner went well and we played dominoes with the kids afterwards and just visited.

Yesterday I made soup from the ham bone in the crock pot for dinner.  Mini quiches were baked and brought to temple.  The questions what are you birthing? and what is dying? were held.

Today a friend comes for lunch.  It has been far too long since our last visit.  I need to get a few in before her spring semester starts and we are absent until summer.  I'm thinking wild mushroom risotto.  And hopefully the last of my cookies baked this morning.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Menus

I sat down with the family and pen in hand to determine menus for the up and coming holidays.  Or in our house feast days.  Everyone wanted to stay home chilax as my daughter would say and eat my homemade goodness.

Saturday my mother and father-in-love are coming for dinner.
Crab cakes
Ham
Scalloped potatoes
Brussels sprouts
pumpkin cheesecake

Sunday Women's Council gathers at Temple and each of us bring a dish to share.  I'm making mini vegetable quiches.

For the Yule dinner I'm attending I'm contributing green beans with cranberries and a leek and potato gratin.

For the Litchfield County Fire Chiefs meeting (and my boys at TFD) I'm supplying a tray of assorted cookies and fudge.
Chocolate Fudge
Peanut butter Fudge
Peanut butter and white chocolate cookies (for Phil)
Snowball Cookies (for the double meaning)
Spritz (my favorite)
Cowboy Cookies (for hubby)
Molasses
Double Chocolate Pecan (gluten free)
Treasure Chest Bars ( a throwback to childhood)

Christmas Eve Breakfast with my parents
Sausage gravy and cheddar biscuits (son's favorite)
Ham & Broccoli strata

Christmas Eve open house at my girlfriends - scalloped sweet potatoes

Christmas Morning
Pancakes (for youngest)
Baked French Toast (for son)

Christmas Dinner
Bacon wrapped fillet mignon
roasted potatoes
corn (son)
broccoli (youngest)
creamed spinach (me)
Maple Pecan Pie (hubby)
Apple Cobbler

New Year's Eve appetizer dinner - the kids hang and I just keep serving food throughout the evening,  Come join us if you are out and about.

buffalo wing dip
buffalo wing won tons
pigs n blanket
shrimp cocktail
steamed mussels and clams
pepperoni bread
veggie platter with spinach dip

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sometimes I do bite my tongue

Those who know me know how hard it is for me to keep my mouth shut when I disagree.  I belong to a group at work that discusses balance - diet, exercise, etc.  We have one member who listens to half of what is said and jumps in to turn the conversation back on himself.  Luckily this group meets twice.  Once in our building and once in another office building.  My solution to this annoyance is to attend the meeting in the other building.  I really enjoy these meetings.  Each group has a different dynamic.  I miss the rest of the people from the group in our building.  I tried once again to attend.  HE was late coming.  We were having a great discussion.  We were laughing so hard we were in tears.  Then HE came.  We went totally off topic, the laughter stopped and the judgemental comments began.

We were discussing someone who advocated a raw foods diet.  This person appears to be in awesome physical shape and we were discussing what we knew (not much - we must do some research). And HE says, he must be gay.  The looks on the group said it all.  HE missed that.  I did say something.

Then we mentioned the company Christmas party. HE was the only one to attend.  I mentioned that my husband and I were going for a quiet dinner alone instead.  It will cost you more money HE replies.  A night alone with my husband is worth it.  Well, I'd rather celebrate surrounded by friends.  HE says this in the most condescending tone.  (I'm thinking what friends - oh you mean your poor co-workers). 

Then in the middle of discussing food origins he brings up buying a foreign car.  And goes on and on even after one person asked how this became part of the conversation.   Then he goes on and on about how Christmas Eve service is the greatest thing for his kids and how they love it.  I'm glad they go to church and it fulfills them.  I do not deny anyone their beliefs.  What I object to is how he tones things, words things and implies that if you are not doing the exact same thing as him you are evil incarnate.

This is the same person who assumes because I'm an herbalist I smoke pot on a regular basis.   He assumes a lot of things about me and voices them at inappropriate times (during meetings) not that any time you accuse someone of something is appropriate.   And if I didn't work with him I'd give him a real peace of my mind.  I'm just not sure how to do it in a professional setting.  So, I will no longer be a part of this group.  I will continue to head to the other building to meet.

And I know it is not all me - at the end of the meeting one woman leaned over and asked me what day the other group meets. So here is what I would say in part (at probably to high of a volume).

Dear Mr Know-it-all:
You do not know it all.  In fact I think you know very little especially about me.  If during a conversation you would not only stop talking for a minute but actually listen to people you might learn something.  Our group meetings are not a free counseling session for you.  The meetings are about balance in all of our lives, they are not about you.  You don't need to explain your religion to me or shove it down my throat.  I spent years in the church and have a masters degree from seminary.  I understand.  And it is people like you that give organized religion a bad name. You are the last person I would discuss my religious beliefs with. I don't care if you have a problem with me doing what is best for me and my immediate family rather than bowing to what society would have me do.  Because I'm gathering in numerous small intimate groups for the holidays rather than one chaotic one does not mean I don't care about my family and friends.  In fact it might mean I care more because I want to spend more time with the individuals rather than getting lost in a crowd.  You are a huge reason we can not grow the balance group.  I have had several people express an interest but say they just can't do it as long as you are a part of the group.  I really understand why.
Kim

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Year's Holiday Letter

We hope this letter finds you well. This has been an amazing year and we are grateful for all that we are blessed with.


Oldest Son continues to live in Arizona. He has moved from his grandmother’s house and is now living with his girlfriend Delen and their son Hunter who was born in April. Their address is …..Oldest Son is playing Mr. Dad while Delen works.

Oldest took the train to her mother’s on her eighteenth birthday. Three days later she arrived in Kingman. She completed her senior year there and Hubby surprised her and flew out for her graduation. He was able to spend a day with her, Oldest Son and his family showing them the sites before flying home. She has enrolled in on line classes in forensics. Her address is…….

Son is a junior this year. He continues on the fire department and joins his Dad on the rope rescue team. He started ROTC this year and has his head set on the Marines. He has taken up running and I’m hoping to see him run a couple of races next year. He has completed all of his driver’s training and is just waiting for a test date to get his license. This will be great for all. He will have a little more freedom and we will no longer need to drive him to and from work.

Youngest continues to blossom. She became a teenager this year and is really coming into her own. She finished with Girl Scouts in the spring. She is waiting not so patiently for her birthday to arrive so she can join the fire department. School is going really well for her. She loves cars especially old muscle cars and plans to design and fix cars when she’s older.

Hubby is the deputy (assistant) chief at the fire house again this year. He continues to train having just completed instructor one. Now he can take the officer classes that he wants. He really enjoys his time there and on the rope rescue team. This April he will be going to the FDIC conference.

I’m serving my second year as clerk of the Barkhamsted Fire District. I continue to work 3 days a week at Bozzuto’s Inc. I spend a lot of time reading, cooking and making soap and potions. My soap is now for sale in a local shop and I am so excited. I’m even more excited about the class I signed up for next year. I will be at Sage Mountain retreat center studying advanced herbalism. The class is one full week end a month for six months.

We traveled a lot this year and that was great fun. Spring break brought us to Vermont and several day trips. This summer we spent a week in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. We did a lot of hiking and sight seeing and had a great time. In August I took Youngest to the New England Herbal Conference in New Hampshire. It was awesome as usual. Hubby and Son enjoyed a man’s week end while we were away.



May it be well with your soul,

Blessed be!

Love, Kim, Hubby, Son & Youngest

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas

I just want to stay home and relax this Christmas.  Last year's was not much fun.  OK, it sucked!!!!  Hubby was a little upset when I said I didn't want to go to his parents.  I don't want to go my brother's house either.  I'd like to get together on another day and enjoy the moment.  So, we had a family sit down.  What would be your perfect Christmas day I asked?

Son - get up have french toast - eat all day like we do on Thanksgiving - stay home and eat.  BLT's for lunch and ribs for dinner.

Youngest - open presents, pancakes, see my niece and nephew, come home for supper - Go to the open house on Christmas Eve at our friends

Hubby - (yes he said this) come home from work and make love to my wife, have breakfast, open presents, make love again

Well, then we stay home and eat well I said.  I pulled down the calender.  How would everyone like to celebrate with Grandma and Grandpa?  Son - can we call them?  Youngest - dinner and board games  Hubby - dinner  Well let's see what night works.  I'll make dinner and we can play a game.

MIL and FIL stopped last night for tea.  She thought it was a great idea.  And then she says, I don't want another Christmas like last year - it was awful.  Can you repeat that for your son?  She did.  See, I'm not horrible for saying it was bad.

And hubby, the kids and I have the whole week off for vacation.  I'm actually looking forward to Christmas again.  Yeah!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

The celebration of the event we call Thanksgiving starts way before the actual day.  Where will we celebrate? Who will we invite?  What will we have to eat?

I have hosted most Thanksgiving meals for my family since moving out of the house 20 years ago.  This pleases all involved.  I LOVE to cook.  My family loves to have someone else cook.  When I married hubby with his rotating schedule and only sometimes having the kids caused a hiccup in this set up.  But, now that bio has moved and we have the kids we are back on track.

The menu stays pretty much the same.  Sometimes I introduce a dish or two.  Sometimes they stay sometimes they're a one shot wonder.  Because I am a little anal I have a list of dishes and notes on quantities needed saved to the computer.  I also include the guest list each year.  It's fun to look back.  I print off this menu and go from there.  So, the final menu was
Turkey
Mashed potatoes & gravy
sausage & cranberry dressing
wild mushroom & cornbread dressing
roasted butternut squash
creamy Brussels sprouts
turnips (mom)
whipped sweet potatoes (Sister-in-love)
green bean casserole (sister-in-love {my brother's favorite})
cranberry & horseradish sauce
olive tray (black and green olives, pickled garlic, pickled mushrooms, pickled beets and herb cheese)
apple pie
pumpkin pie
maple pecan pie
homemade vanilla ice cream

Wednesday night I baked pies.  I talked to my girlfriend on the phone as I rolled dough.  She was coming by when her husband got home to collect some spices for her brine.  Her mom surprised her and made pies.  Her parents live in an in-law apartment at their house.  Her mom who was a great baker in the day is in early signs of dementia.  She arrived home and was asked to put the pies in the oven.  She had made a mincemeat and a pumpkin pie in thin tart pans.  The pumpkin pie had a top crust.  Apparently she put store made dough in the pan, spooned in a can of plain pumpkin and then topped it.  My friend did not want to hurt her mom's feelings but really wanted a piece of pumpkin pie for thanksgiving.  I just put one in the oven I said.  You can take that when you come and I'll make another one. 

It was a quiet day.  Family came.  The food was good.  The company was good.  At night hubby, the kids and I watched a comedy show. 

I read message after message on facebook of what people are thankful for.  It was sweet.  It made me think.  I give thanks every day.  That is my constant prayer.  Each day I say thank you and go from there.  I have a great husband, good kids, a home, a job, good health, both my parents, wonderful friends, and I have had the opportunity to do everything I've ever wanted to do. I'm comfortable with who I am and where I'm going.  I am really blessed. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday backwards

Mom already treated herself to salmon and she had my niece with her so I made glazed roasted chicken thighs, Armenian rice, corn and broccoli followed by Mexican brownies.  And no, they are not made with Mexicans as my son joked.  They have cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper.

Youngest and I went to the hairdressers today. I let her pick out feathers for her hair.  Gray and red - nothing subtle about her.  I was a hero for a nano second.

I started the cleaning ball rolling and everyone in the house got involved.  Ahh!  Much better.

 I clicked away and completed holiday shopping for half my list. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finding the up side

So, after blogging about gratitude my refrigerator dies.  The freezer is still working but the fridge is not holding temperature.  Luckily I hadn't been shopping yet, we have another fridge in the basement and the hatchway is cold enough for more storage.  The repairman is coming Monday.  I modified mt grocery shopping.  And I laugh - last year at this time a part went on my stove.  Maybe my appliances anticipate the holiday double duty and rebel.

The chiropractor's office called.  They had a cancellation so I was able to get in before my massage.  No way I was going after.  I can really feel the difference in my hip and shoulder though I'm not 100% yet.  I'm doing the exercises Doc gave me.  I'm just not fitting in that hour of walking a day yet.  I know, I know......

Hubby took my car in for some recall work.  At the same time he had them look at the undercarriage.  I bottomed out on something during the snow storm.  Very little damage, they had the part in stock and it was pretty cheap.  Yeah!

Last night was rotini, turkey meatballs, homemade tomato sauce and killer garlic bread.  Tonight son is making us fried BBQ bologna sandwiches out of the Diners, Drive Ins and Dives cookbook.  Unless my Mom comes for dinner - then he will cook Monday and I'll fancy it up a bit for her.  Dad is in Florida with a buddy for the NASCAR races.  Actually Dad hates when she cooks fish so I'll make us salmon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude

I was reading a blog the other day and the thought occurred to me that I try to live in gratitude not just have it.  What does that mean?  People have gratitude for people, things, places, circumstances and I have that too.  But living in gratitude for me means that I start from that place within me.   Oh, you may not see that side of me.  I come to this little blog to vent many times.  But, the vent over I can move on with life instead of holding onto whatever is bothering me.

Maybe that's why all the whining and complaining get to me.  The extended power outage for example.  I was so glad for what we did have.  We made it an adventure at home and had fun with it.  One woman at work who has a generator hard wired into her house whined and whined.  She didn't know if she could live through one more day.  And since then I've noticed that each day she comes in with some type of complaint.  Can't they fix the roads faster or at a different time?  It makes my drive to work difficult. I have no time or energy for these vampires.  They suck the energy and gratitude right out of life.

I was told yesterday that my blog has taken on a different vibe lately.  Maybe because I've taken on a different vibe.  A few of the major stresses are out of my life.  I spend more time contemplating what feeds my soul, that of my family.  If it is not nourishing I do not participate, invite it in or befriend it (and I'm not talking about just people here).  I have been practicing letting go.

During a council of women a month ago something shifted.  I really listened to each woman speak.  I didn't think ahead to what I would say or what my reaction was I just listened.  I've been trying to stay in that place more and more.  I also connected my head and my heart in the fact that my children's relationship with bio is no reflection on me.  They chose her for a mother to learn some type of lesson and it is not for me to stop that process.  What a freeing feeling.  And one more key to letting myself live in a place of gratitude.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Half Hour

You would think an extra half hour at work wouldn't be a big deal but....

A few weeks ago my boss held a departmental meeting.  Any pet peeve she's had with anyone in the department was brought up as a general statement.  We were supposed to know who we are.  I was asked to stay after.  My three days a week now need to be the same three days a week.  It seems like you put your family needs first. Yes, that was the point of me going part time.  And I need to work until 4 instead of 3:30.  My clients need to know when I am at work and set days and staying until 4 would be more professional. 

Now mind you I have been working part time now for 5 years now but anyway..... I did get permission to continue to come in at 6:30.  It would be easier than sitting around the house to go to work.  And going in for 6:30 my drive is 40 - 45 minutes.  Coming in for 7 at least an hour.  It is the same with the drive home.  So, now instead of getting home at 4:15 I'm getting home at 5.  Which is our usual dinner time. 

So, that extra half hour has pushed our dinner time up an hour or I spend Monday cooking and prepping.  I've done that the past two Mondays.  It works for dinner time but kills an afternoon.

Today I dry rubbed the pork ribs and baked them low and slow.  Tonight I will throw them on the grill with some BBQ sauce.  I made a baked potato salad to serve with it.   Tomorrow is beef stew.  I prepped all the veggies and I'll put that in the crockpot tomorrow morning.  And I made a lasagna for Wednesday night complete with instructions on the top so it will be done when I get home.  Thursday is leftover night.  I also baked two batches of cookies for hubby's fire department meeting tonight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

my life revolves around food

Hubby's birthday fell in the wake of the power outage.  It took three days over the course of the week to complete his celebration.  His presents were left in the dark with a card.  I couldn't find the energy to wrap them.  When the power came back and I had time to restock the larder I made his spaghetti with meat sauce and some killer garlic bread.  (I only make meat sauce for his birthday - I prefer meatballs and sauce)  By the time this was simmering away it was too late to bake a cake.  So, the next night he received his cake - a buttermilk cake with fluffy white frosting.

Son decided that the last person to eat the cake should make a new one.  He is my sweet tooth kid - just like his dad.  So, cooling on the racks is a maple walnut cake.  A new recipe I found.  It calls for a brown sugar frosting made with cream cheese, butter, brown sugar and confectionery sugar. 

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away.  It is a fairly small group this year - 11.  I picked up my turkey from work and that is thawing in the fridge.  My menu is printed off and grocery list made.  I'm working half a day on Wednesday (the kids have no school) so I can make my pies - apple, pumpkin and maple pecan.  Hubby gets off work Thanksgiving morning.  Something to be truly thankful for.  We get to celebrate with him and me and the kids have him all week end.

I asked the kids what food I needed to have to make it a real thanksgiving for them.  Son said pickled garlic and pecan pie.  Youngest said olives and pumpkin pie.  I need to have leftovers to make turkey sandwiches - good bread, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Yum!!!!

Friday hubby and I had a breakfast date.  Those are the best.  I haven't seen much of him lately and it was so good to catch up.   We discussed everything including Christmas.  I keep a budget and only spend cash.  The list is small this year.  The big thing - I have that week off from work.  I usually take the week after thanksgiving off to prep for the holidays.  But with the kids getting older there is less prep.  So, I suggested we go away for a few days.  We talked about a few places we could go.  I'll be looking into things and booking something soon.

I have a yule dinner to attend.  I'm deciding between making green beans with cranberries or a potato and leek gratin.  Hmmm! 

Christmas Eve open house I'll be making my scalloped sweet potatoes.

Celebration with my parents will be breakfast.  Dad has mentioned several (at least a 100 times)  how much he enjoys that.  Sausage gravy and cheddar biscuits,  ham & broccoli strata and baked french toast.

Youngest asked for pancakes on Christmas. 

Ahh, a stress free holiday season this year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Power Outage Blessings

Last Saturday youngest and I went to a Native American Sweat Lodge ceremony hosted by a friend.  It was a beautiful experience.  It was snowing when we arrived.  It snowed really heavy really fast and by the time we left there were many inches on the ground.  We arrived home safe and sound to hear the crack of branches falling everywhere.  Thankfully none fell on us, the house or car.

A few minutes after arriving home the power went out.  It came back Thursday late afternoon.

My husband was called in early to work.  He had an alarm sounding at the Sears store in town.  The Sears man mentioned he had 5 generators in house.  Hubby was able to purchase one as soon as he opened in the morning.  My hero.  Hubby worked late Sunday and had to work again Sunday night.  He did stay up long enough to hook the generator up for heat.  We rotated between the furnace and keeping the fridges running.

Son worked on building a model and youngest and I read.  I cooked on the gas grill.

Monday hubby hooked up the generator to the water pump.  I could take a hot shower and flush toilets.  A shower never felt so good.  I spent the day reading and making meals on the grill.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I went to work and hubby was home with the kids.  We rose with the sun and crawled in bed soon after night fall.  A lot of reading, drawing, model building and board games.  The kids got along great.  Electronics were not missed.  Water was a blessing.

I think I may throw the main breaker every now and then just to unplug the house. 

I was truly thankful for all we had.  I reached out to those less fortunate.  I feel bad that even today 8 days later some are still without power.  Prayers that heat is restored soon to those without. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

National Smoke Out

November 17 is national smoke out day.  The health & wellness committee at working is sponsoring an event.  You can pledge to stop smoking, donate to the cancer society and if you don't smoke you can take an empathy pledge and for this we get to wear jeans to work that day.  It is difficult to give up smoking (though I don't know myself) and you should give up something difficult as well.  I'm giving up seconds. 

I take a second helping at dinner because it tastes good or because everyone else is still eating.  I'm not really hungry still.  I've been getting better at eating slowly - putting the fork down between bites and chewing my food.  Much easier said than done.  I'm no longer the first one done at dinner.  And that has helped.  But, no more second helpings. 

The nutritionist that leads our balance meetings at work is an inspiration.  She sees the good in everyone and every situation.  I have only met a few people like her in my life and I feel really blessed to know them.  As some of us struggle with health, weight, stress and a whole host of issues she cheers us on.  She's encouraging and sees our beauty even on days we don't see it ourselves.

I can be really critical of people.  Learned in part from my family.  I try to see the best in people - the beauty they possess.  I know everyone has at least one beautiful facet - we are all part of the divine.  Yet I often let the flawed facet that annoys me loom larger than the beauty.  What does that say about me?  What lesson do I need to learn from that cracked flaw that I perceive in others?  I often ponder that and hopefully learn and grow. 

I mentioned to a friend that I would like to be more of a person that sees the beauty first.  She laughed and said you want to be nice and give up seconds at the same time? 

What do you need to give up?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cookies

My husband went to the area chief's meeting for the fire department last week.  If you don't send a member to the meeting your department hosts the next meeting.  TFD is hosting in December.  Because I often bring cookies to TFD for friends I've had since kindergarten my hubby volunteered me to make cookies.

One person asked if these cookies were any good.  Hubby said the room erupted in praise.  The chief of my former department said, " you live in the north west corner and you've never had Kim's cookies - you're really missing out."

Hubby was kinda proud.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two Sides and letting go

There are always two sides (at least) to every story. I've really try hard to hear both sides.  I feel the truth for me lies somewhere in the middle or where the stories overlap. 

This spring bio opened a facebook account.  I blocked her from youngest.  Youngest has nightmares the few times bio calls.  Bio has only called 4 times since January when oldest left.  Youngest has been doing fantastic hearing less from bio.  On one level this saddens me deeply.  A child should not be better off having no contact with their mother.  But life isn't always like I think it should be.

Long story short bio is now unblocked and friends with youngest.  And instead of using it to communicate with her daughter they play games.  If I couldn't see my daughter I would do anything to keep and touch and know her.  But, hey that's me.  And I would work whatever I had to so I could see my child but again that's just me and I'm getting off track.

So oldest posts on her FB account that I blocked bio.  True.  But then she claims that I don't let the kids talk to her on the phone, that I hang up on her when she calls, that I don't pass on phone messages......   I have NEVER hung up on her (well once but that was before she moved and had nothing to do with her talking to the children) , I have never not passed on a message - there are none to pass on.  If her number comes up I don't pick up I let the answering machine get it.  I don't want to talk to her.  I have NEVER told the kids they can't call her.  They just don't think to do it on their own.  Out of sight out of mind. 

Heck at one point youngest said to her mother, "Are you ever going to visit I forget what you look like."  And her reply was - "I'll send you a picture."  The picture never came. 

So, before oldest's post and when bio became unblocked I was sitting in temple for a council of women.  And what came to me is that I need to let go.  I knew this already but I was having a hard time putting it into practice.  I want to protect my children.  But, they chose to be born to bio for some reason.  It is some lesson they must need to learn in this life.  I need to let that go.  Let her be friends on FB.  Truly let their relationship with bio be what it needs to be and that it is NOT a refection on me or my mothering.  And I let it go.  It had been a long time coming. 

And I feel so free. 

If oldest needs to believe whatever bio tells her that's her issue.   If she wants to believe that I am evil - that is her issue.  I know in my heart I did the best I knew how and that I loved her as a mother loves a daughter.  If that is not enough for her (or too much) that is her issue.  I am letting go of the attachment, the fear, the out come of everything but my own actions and reactions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Soup

I've been on a soup kick all week.  We've had beef stew that son made, chicken noodle soup and a chicken, cheese and Brussels sprout soup out.  Today I'm experimenting with my version of minestrone soup.

olive oil
8 cups of chopped veggies
red onion
carrots
celery
parsnips
sweet potato
4 cloves of garlic sliced thin
fresh rosemary chopped
fresh thyme chopped
1 TBSP oregano
4 cups veggie stock
4 cups beef stock
1 can diced tomato with the juice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 astragalus root pieces
salt and pepper
handful or two of tiny pasta

       Swirl olive oil in large pot to coat bottom.  When it is hot add 8 cups of veggies and cook stirring about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and herbs.  Cook another couple of minutes.  Add everything but the past and simmer.  10 minutes before serving add the pasta.

Saturday

In the midst of paying bills a friend called.  She had a few stores she wanted to visit and a couple of tag sales to see.  Would I like to come along.  Give me an hour and it's a deal.  It was nice to get out with no kids and visit.  While I was getting ready to leave youngest asked, "What are we doing today?"  I'm going out with girlfriend. "What is her son doing?"  He's hanging with his Dad.   It is so frustrating that at 13 y/o my daughter has no social life and wants to be included in mine.

 And I'm at a loss of how to help her make friends.  I know her learning disabilities have hindered the process.  And the older it gets the worse it gets.  As youngsters kids could over look her social awkwardness but in middle school the gap has really increased.  And youngest just disconnects and doesn't care. This is good in a way because it doesn't bother her to have no real friends but, I see the long term consequences.

My girlfriend and I had a great morning and stopped for lunch before coming home.  I took son driving.  He has a few more hours left to practice before getting his license.  When we got home youngest was on the phone with bio.  Wohoo!  The woman remembered she has more kids.  First call since August.  She's supposedly sewing some clothes for youngest.  Asking her about her sizes and color preferences.  All I could her youngest saying is NO.  NO dresses, No skirts, No pink, No peach, No light colors - What is that - NO, NO, NO.  I like black and blue - dark colors. Ew NO!!   Well, if she actually finishes the project and mails it I will be surprised.  I'm sure she already bought the peach colored fabric.  Maybe this can be her long awaited birthday present.  It was only in April.  And the worse part is oldest is living there and can't tell bio that her sister is NOT a girlie girl at all.  Sad, she lived with her and never really saw her.

This morning I'm off to a breakfast date.  My girlfriend is in town briefly.  It's been since last winter when I saw her last.  Yeah!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mini Vacation

When you work only three days a week with one PTO day and perfect timing you can take a six day week end.  My kids were off for five of them.  The weather has been BEAUTIFUL!  Perfect October in New England.  Warm during the day, cool at night the crisp clean fall air with the smell of leaves in the air.  Orange, red and gold bursting forth on the hills.  Aaaah!!!

Friday I went for a five mile walk with my girlfriend.  Great exercise and an awesome visit.  I hit the grocery store and stopped for a visit with another friend as I delivered some soaps and potions. 

Saturday a group from work met early in the morning and hiked up to Hueblein tower.  I dropped son off at air soft and youngest and I had lunch at Passiflora tearoom.

This is the view from the hiking trail.
Sunday I took youngest to the garlic festival in Bethlehem.  Lots of yummy food and neat crafts.

Monday youngest and I headed to the bike trails.

Tuesday youngest and I headed to Kent falls for some hiking and a picnic.


And today youngest and I and a couple of Friends headed to White Memorial for some hiking and a picnic.  The chill is creeping in and the rain will soon be here but what a great week end off.


After hiking on Saturday son was through with us and decided to stay home and be a blob.  At sixteen who wants to hang out with your sister and step mom.  Oh well.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dreaming

I've been taking a class on shamanic dreaming with Susan Morgan.  There have been a few dreams in my life I really remember.  A fewer still that have impacted my life.  I've done the dream dictionary phase  and pretty much have ignored my dreams of late if I remember them at all.

What I've learned is stuff I knew at some level.  After all we all dream every night.  Our dreams are a way for our subconscious to work things out or speak to us if we only listen.  Susan lead us through a few journeys as we listened to the beating of the drum.  I was able to finally journey with the plants.  I had a wonderful visit with poke week.

I finally put a journal by my bed just to record dreams.  I have lots of journals filled with a whole mish mash of stuff - diary, dream journal and class notes.  It makes it really difficult to look things up later.  I've been really trying to make an effort to keep my journals and note books separate.  Especially now that I'm prepping for my advanced herbal class.

It really does help to write your dreams down before you get out of bed.  And what appears in my dream has a meaning for just me.  You could dream of the same thing and it would mean something entirely different.  You need to create your own dream dictionary. 

I'm enjoying my class, I'm enjoyed her book, and now I'm looking forward to navigating my life through my dreams.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where did September go?

September was a blip on the radar.  It was no sooner here and school started and it was gone.  October arrived with birthday's waiting and cards going out late.  Ooops!  I called my sister-in-love - the angel married to my dear brother - and she thinks the whole year blipped by.  Her birthday was Saturday.  Mine was Monday and she said my card was in the mail as well.

My brother took her and the kids to the Big E to see the circus and magic show.  He took her to dinner and didn't let her lift a finger.  He can be really sweet. 

I worked on my birthday.  The girls bought me an ice cream cake.  Yum!  I made my birthday dinner.  I love to cook so I don't mind.  Hubby cleaned up the dishes which was much more important. 
Glazed chicken, creamed spinach and bow tie pasta sauteed with sauerkraut.  And for dessert my self filled chocolate bundt cake.  I've had this as my birthday dessert since I was a kid.

Our nephew dropped by for cake and final hugs good bye.  He is off to work in Florida for the winter. 

And Sunday morning the boys went to rope rescue training while I slept in.  Next thing I know youngest is carrying in a tray - breakfast in bed.  Eggs and OJ.  Wohoo!  She was making her breakfast and thought I might like some as well.  I just love her!!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Night Sleep

I didn't realize how tired I was until I started sleeping really good. It's the new room.

In our old room all of the animals slept with us.  Sammy, our dog was on the floor and the cats Boo and Delilah were wherever they wanted to be.  They would sleep at our feet, next to us, on us. Delilah would walk up and down your body.  I never woke up like hubby but, it still must have affected me.

When hubby's allergies are bothering him he claims it's the cats.  So a few times a year he is allergic to cats.
OK, I know when your allergies are bad the cats can tip you over the edge.

Our new room has had the door shut all summer as I've cleaned and readied it.

I suggested we keep it that way.  An animal free room.  Let me tell you - no fur, not being walked on, no heavy breathing by the dog, no dog waking up in the middle of the night thinking it's dinner time is heaven.  I've slept through the night for a week now.  I wake with far more energy. 

Life is good.  And the animals seem to be adjusting fine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Room

By Saturday morning the room was painted and the lights were installed.  Youngest and I brought all of the dresser drawers upstairs.  Hubby had a friend coming over to help him move the furniture. 

I picked up my mom and went to my cousin's house for her wedding shower at noon. She's a little over an hour South of here.  We had to leave early so mom could go to her dinner party and I could go to a birthday party.  It was a nice time and we were able to do some catching up. 

Then I was home picking up youngest and driving North for more than an hour.  I was off to hubby's cousin's house.  Her daughter's first birthday party.  Everyone brought a dish to share instead of presents.  It was nice catching up there.

I love visiting family, mine, extended, others....  it really makes you realize that your dysfunctional family isn't all that dysfunctional. 

I arrived home to my new room.  All the furniture was upstairs and the bed was made.  Ahhh!  Once hubby and I are both awake at the same time I will take pictures.  I still have a few things to put away.  We need to move the clothes in the closet and hang pictures but..... I love it.

And just in time.  Our old room - the temporary master bedroom - is now our guest room.  And last night our adopted nephew moved in for the week.  I can't wait to spoil him and feed him for the week.  Then he'll be headed out of state for his new job.  I'm excited for him but, we'll miss him.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dinner Party

We couldn't make the family picnic so we invited MIL, FIL and aunt to come for dinner.  My MIL brought stuffed mushrooms.  Then called to say they were given a bunch of clams that they couldn't eat alone.  I steamed them in white wine, a fesh bay leaf and orange peal.

For dinner I made chicken cordon bleu with a shitake mushroom wine sauce, Isreali couscous and a huge tossed salad.  I made thousand island dressing - MIL's favorite.  For dessert I bought a bag of local peaches and made a peach cobler.  I served that warm with homemade vanilla ice cream.

I think the night went well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Almost Ready

I built my house almost 15 years ago.  I moved in December 24, 1996.  It's a cape.  At the time the upstairs was completely unfinished.  We were saving money and had plans to complete that ourselves and build a garage.  Six months later I was going through a divorce and completing two masters degrees that I paid for myself.  The house would have to wait.  My room downstairs was temporary. 

When hubby and I got engaged I received sheet rock instead of the usual rock (my request).  He moved in here with the kids because the school system is much better and the house is much newer.  He completed the upstairs and I planned a wedding.

My master bedroom became the girls room.  We split it in two with a set of closets.  When our oldest son moved out oldest moved into his room.  One side of the master bedroom became an office/guest room.  Then oldest decided to move in with bio.  Youngest moved into her room after a pretty remodel.  The master bedroom was left vacant.  Vacant of occupants anyway.  I've been cleaning out, recycling and giving stuff away.  It needed a new paint jib and lighting before hubby and I could move in.

This summer was too hot and humid to paint - I left it for a fall project.  And I continued to clear out the room.  Where did all of this stuff come from?   I'm really trying to eliminate in the entire house but that is another story.

Hubby is in no real hurry to have a new room.  Change is difficult for him even if it is a good thing.

Our adopted nephew called to say he would be visiting from Utah for a week.  His brother is staying at his Dad's and could he stay with us.  Yeah!   And he could have stayed upstairs but..... this was the push I needed to give hubby.  The paint was bought along with the new light fixture.  Yesterday hubby painted while I cleaned house.  A true fall cleaning - dust, vacuum, bathrooms, washing laundry, curtains and slip covers.  Six hours later the room had two coats of paint and the house was clean. 

I headed to the store for curtains.  I found a few throw pillows and throw rugs to match.  Today the lighting should be done.  Nephew will be here the 24th.  And I'll be in my master bedroom before I can no longer climb stairs.  14 years and 9 months but hey, who's counting? 

Now the garage..... that is another story. That will wait until all the kids are gone and we've recouped some of our monetary loses.  I'm not saying they're not worth it but, kids are expensive.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What about me?

I am in the balance program at work.  We discuss nutrition, diet, exercise, health - all to keep us in balance.  I'm also on the health & wellness committee.  I try very hard to feed my family healthy, nutritious meals.  We discuss these issues regularly.  My family is very healthy.  In three years the kids have only missed one day of school each for a sinus infection.

I'm healthy, my numbers all good and I'm rarely sick but the weight.  The doctor tells me to loose twenty pounds each time I go.  I really need to lose 40.  My diet is good and my portions are usually pretty good.  I've been training myself to eat slower.  The two horrible habits I picked up as a kid - eat fast and clean your plate.  It wasn't until I got to college and my roommate pointed out that I don't chew my food that I realized how fast my family ate.  I did start to chew after that but still....  And when you're the first one done and your son takes forever to eat you get seconds.  I'm no longer the first one done.  It has taken a long time to learn to put my fork down in between bites.

But, my biggest problem is lack of exercise.  I'm waiting for someone to walk with,  my husband won't show me how to use the equipment, I don't have the time...... the excuses stretch on forever.

Over the past few weeks some of us girls have been discussing the emotional side of weight problems.  I know my biggest issue is taking care of my family.  Husbands and children are the most fattening thing in my life.  Thursday something clicked.  I take care of my self more than many women.  I go for a monthly massage and pedicure.  I get together with friends on a monthly basis.  I meet with a spiritual group on a regular basis.  I signed up for classes.  But, when it comes to the day to day my family comes first. 

This is an issue in my mind, my make up.  My kids are old enough to fend for themselves.  I'm the one setting the dinner time.  They're not demanding what time we eat.  Something needs to shift in my thinking.  I came home that day and everyone was gone.  Son was at work and hubby took youngest for new glasses.  I laced up my sneakers, dragged out the treadmill, put on my headphones and started walking.  I use the rolling hills mode at a pretty decent clip.  It felt good.  I made supper when I was done.

Hubby and youngest got home just as I was finishing dinner.  Hmmph!  And why am I not doing this every night.  I know I feel better.  Do I like to feel like crap?

So, Friday I got home and walked first even with everyone sitting watching TV.  I warned son not to come downstairs while I'm on the treadmill.  That is unless he wants to see me in my bra.  I had that thing cranked and I was sweating like crazy.  A quick shower and then dinner.  No complaints. So, what have I been waiting for.

This morning I walked before anyone even woke up.  Time for me to feel good every day not just when I can fit it into my schedule.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

His Family

MIL is having her Labor Day picnic this Sunday.  It is a week late because her sister will be visiting from out of state.  When she called to tell me the change in plans I said that it was hubby's fire department picnic and that it would be up to him.  She told me she would lay a guilt trip on him.  As I told him that he rolled his eyes.  Oh, like I care he says.  We're going to the fire department.  When he called to tell her that she said - no problem honey their are a few people who can't make it including your brother.  (It's not a holiday unless brother comes)

And then she relayed once again her story. "I'll never be like MIL.  She would make you come or feel bad about not coming.  If you went to your family event one time (like Thanksgiving) then the next time you damn well better be with her (Christmas)."   If someone can make it fine but if not that is OK.

BULLSHIT!!!!!!

She can say that little speech all she wants but her tone, her attitude and her words to me are an entirely different story.  Last year I invited just my family for Thanksgiving.  The year before was so awful I vowed never to invite my in-laws again.  A week later she asked about Christmas.  When I said I didn't know what was going on yet (Hubby may have been working).  Her reply was, "you had your family for Thanksgiving so you WILL be here for Christmas."

And we were.  My family is not hung up on celebrating the holiday on the date and we celebrated at another time.  And the fact that my parents leave the next day for four months in Florida it is easier.  Well, that was the worst Christmas I've ever had for many reasons.  Worse than the Christmas I spent alone after my divorce.  Bad in so many ways it warrants an entire blog entry.  Needless to say when she asked me if I could believe nephew and fiance celebrated with their own families and not with each other I said yes.  Because I will NEVER be in the position I was in last Christmas.  If hubby and the kids want to go they are more than welcome.  I will be at my brother's house celebrating with my niece and nephew (the cutest kids on the face of the planet in my humble and very biased opinion). That is if we're not on vacation (still working on that).

The good news in all of this is that hubby sees MIL for what she is and does.  When she told him it was OK that we weren't coming his first thought was where is my guilt trip?  Why do you tell my wife one thing and me another.  He's not to the point yet where he can verbalize these questions to her but ....   His family would rather bury their heads in the sand, turn purple and have a heart attack than express their true feelings.  I witnessed that at Christmas too.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Swallow's Wings

Each year at the NE Women's Herbal Conference I see her, Agnes Adler.  She is a beautiful elder.  She's a tiny women.  I'd see her in class now and then or walking accross the field.  One year they asked her to speak.  She told a story of her coming from Hungary to Israel to America.  She gave a recipe for caraway soup.  She and her husband have worked hard jobs to do what they really love - create art.  She sculpts and works with other mediums as well.

Last year she had a vending booth with some of her art work.  This year she had a booth as well.  I stopped by to tell her how glad I am to see her each year.  In the past year she wrote a book about her life, On Swallow's Wings.  It is divided into three sections - autobiography, cookbook and artwork.  I bought a copy.  She was so thrilled and wrote a beautiful inscription inside. " As you go along the path of life, remember to be gentle to your fellow travelers."    Something I do need to remember.

I read her story this week.  I can hear her voice as I read.  Agnes turned 81 this year.  She survived the holocaust, prison and poverty.  She is well educated and continues to learn.  In her sixties she asked to be included on an educational trip to the Amazon jungle with Dr.James Duke.  This is where her herbal studies began. Her story is both heartbreaking and hope filled. 

I look forward to trying her recipes.  And she included the caraway soup recipe.

The book was published by Wordsmithy, LLC  I can't find it on Amazon.  It is definitely worth searching for.  Agnes I am grateful that you have touched my life.  Blessings on your journey.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soap

This morning was beautiful. 

The kids slept late and I caught up on my e-mail and virus scans.

I pulled the soap making basket out and set to work.  I now have a batch of mandarin orange soap and an experimental batch of lemongrass shampoo setting up.  My last batch of soap still has more than a week before I can use it.

Son wanted to practice driving.  He needs another 24 hours before he can test for his license.  He'll have way more than that by the time he can take his test on November 1 when the 120 day wait is over.  The time frame after getting his permit.  I'm counting the days even if he isn't.  No more driving him to work and back.  Yeah!  I must admit he's a pretty good driver.  So, today I had a chauffeur for all of my errands.  We stopped at the fire house to file the minutes at the meeting. 

We stopped at Aerie Mountain to buy soap.  One bar for each bathroom.  If I must buy soap because I didn't make enough to last it will be from Roxanne.  She taught me how to make soap many years ago and has wonderful product.

And we stopped to buy the beef tenderloin that son is going to make for us on Monday.  I also treated him to a mocha coolatta. 

We then drove up West River Road and back East River Road.  The air was clear and crisp.  Though warm you can tell that fall is in the air.  Aaaah! 

I posted on FB that I made soap and I had several inquiries about soap making classes.  I've taught a few friends as barter for goods and services.  I have friends coming in a few weeks for a class.  They gave each other a gift certificate for soap making lessons.  I'd definitely give more lessons to any one interested.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day

Today was the first day of school for son and youngest.  I took their pictures much to their chagrin.  Mother's prerogative. Youngest is decked out in her new knee high black boots, skinny jeans and transformers t-shirt.  Son dressed like any other day.

So off they went and hubby and I enjoyed a breakfast date.  The kids were ready to go back.  They miss a routine.  I was ready.  By summer's end and working on hubby's days off we really need to reconnect.  My days will change from his days off to his days on. 

Last week the four of us enjoyed a nice day at Six Flags.  I was able to ride the carousel.  We ate chicken wraps for lunch so we didn't feel weighed down by grease.  Youngest was thrilled to be without the girl scouts.  She got to ride the rides she wanted and their was no whining.  Son had a great time riding all of the scary rides.

MIL has changed her labor day picnic to the following Sunday.  Her sister will be visiting then.  It is the day of the fire department picnic.  Guess where we will be?  She said to tell her son she would lay a guilt trip on him.  Message was conveyed.  He rolled his eyes and said we'll be at the fire department.  OK, you call her.

Yesterday the kids were supposed to start school.  Hurricane Irene changed that up a little.  We lost power most of Sunday.  And the cable (TV, phone and internet) were out until Tuesday afternoon.  I looked at the few little things that were supposed to be done on Monday.  Needless to say I yelled, started cleaning, discovered new issues and yelled some more.  The chores were completed and I cleaned some more before heading to the grocery store. The cool crisp air and kids returning to school bring out my cleaning bug.  That and the total disregard for the house by the rest of my family.

I've been cleaning out cabinets and shelves the past couple of weeks.  I have a few closets and my office yet to do.  And my big winter project is updating and reorganizing my materia medica.

And that is what is spinning around in my head at the moment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

WHC 2011

This past weekend youngest and I headed to the New England Women's Herbal Conference.  My friend Rose joined us for the ride.  The forecast was thunderstorms the entire time.  That was not what I wanted for camping weather.  I called in the sunshine.

We left early Friday morning as the sun began to peak through.  We arrived at the camp in New Hampshire by 10 AM to a beautiful day of sunshine.  We registered, bought t-shirts and set up the tent.  We ate our picnic lunch and had time to explore before opening circle.  This was a new camp this year and it felt good to get the lay of the land before the week end kicked in.

Youngest took just as many "adult" classes as she did circle within a circle classes.  Rose loaned her a drum and she was able to take Mz Imani's class.  Latter that night and Saturday night she was able to play in the band. This was one of her highlights.  She also picked out a beautiful amethyst pendulum at the vendor booths.  Many kind souls taught her how to use it.  We had some one on one time and were able to talk.

I loved my classes as usual.  It is so inspiring to get different insights and perspectives.  I skipped one class to have a Mayan abdominal massage.  So worth it.  I really concentrated on taking better notes this year so I can go back to them later. 

We left to come home Sunday at 3:30 and the rain started a few minutes later.  Perfect.  We made really good time coming home.  And while we were away hubby and son had a manly man weekend.  It involved guns, army navy stores and Hooters.   And more importantly it involved one on one time between father and son.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Creation

For the first time in years I may have to buy soap.  My last batch did not cure right and melts away rather quickly.  And I have friends inquiring about purchasing items. So, today after a lovely morning with friends discussing books over tea I got busy.

I brewed up a calendula infusion for my toner. I set some oil and beeswax over a double boiler for my lip balm and prepared an ice bath for soap making.  Toner is done and labeled.  Thirty lip balms are waiting for labels and a batch of lavender & lime soap is setting up nicely. 

I need to pick up some more oil and start another batch of soap and experiment on my shampoo bars again.
It felt good. 

I then made hot wings for son, BBQ wings for hubby and mustard grilled chicken legs for dinner. I tried a new recipe - quinoa tabbouleh as a side.  Next time I use a little less vinaigrette than called for but all those fresh cukes and tomatoes with parsley and mint from the garden worked well with the quinoa.

Then we headed to the beach for a few. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer is flying

Wow, where has the time gone?

Since vacation, I've worked, played at the beach, visited friends, hosted and attended picnics and started buying school supplies.

I traded in my big Highlander for a Subaru Outback.  I no longer need such a big car with fewer kids at home and the really good gas mileage is wonderful.

Hubby's cousins came for a picnic.  It was a lot of fun.  I wish they lived closer.

Next week is the women's herbal conference.  Wohoo!!  I can't wait. It is always a good time.  Youngest will be coming again this year.  It's at a new camp so it will take a few to settle into the new surroundings.

Rosemary Gladstar announced her advanced herbal training class for next year.  And after some discussion with hubby I sent out my deposit.  It meets one week end a month for six months starting in May. It is in Vermont.  It just feels so right.  I really need something to challenge my brain.  I feel like mush lately. It will take some coordination with his work schedule and for planning next summer's vacation.  And MIL said she could take the kids if need be.

I've been reading like crazy.  And I've been meeting as often as I can make it with a book club on Friday's.

I've been steady at work since returning from vacation so that is really good.

And I had my niece and nephew spend the night a few weeks ago.  My brother and his wife were thrilled to have a night alone.  I got to be a really good auntie.  It was so much fun.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vacation

Vacation was wonderful.  No drama - no tension.  We spent the week in Virginia exploring the Shenandoah mountains.  We drove the skyline drive and hiked three different days in the park.  I took a ton of pictures of the wild flowers.  We saw plenty of deer and bear.  Hubby and the kids went horseback riding one day while I went on a ranger led discovery (weed) walk.  

We spent a day exploring Luray caverns and museums.  Another day we headed down to see the natural bridge.  We drove back via the blue ridge parkway.

We ate at little mom and pop places as much as possible.  I enjoyed some delicious fried green tomatoes.  And the beef brisket melted in your mouth. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Count down

One more day and we will be on the road.  Woohoo!!  Vacation!!!

We took the kids to the bike trail on the 4th.  We thought the beaches would be way to crowded.  They loved it.  So much so they have been back every day since.  I missed today as they went while I was at work.  The exercise feels good though.

Tomorrow I work in the morning and pack in the afternoon.  Try to make something for supper.  I've been emptying the fridge because we will be gone so it's slim pickings.  And I don't want any leftovers.

Tonight I baked muffins for the road.  I used my friendship bread starter.  There are chocolate with peanut butter chips and butterscotch muffins. 

And in answer to the map as a back up to my GPS.  My GPS hasn't failed me yet.  It is really helpful at times but, I'm old school.  I like maps.  I like to plot out my route and look at my alternatives.  The GPS makes you stay in the very present moment with only the name of the next turn ahead.  And I'm not one to follow blindly or hell I rarely follow at all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Today would have been my grandma's 105th birthday.  Perfect day for her to enter the world.  Not only is she the greatest woman to ever walk the face of the earth (in my very biased opinion) but she truly was a firecracker.  I know you are still with me.  Love you!!!

Yesterday was the family picnic.  It was a cool rainy day.  Son had to leave early so he could go to work.  We discussed taking two cars.  But, hubby liked my thought.  We all left early.  Son went to work.  I finished my needlepoint for my cousin's new baby, and he took youngest to see Transformers and then to the book store.  Son wasn't interested in the movie.  Youngest loves the transformer series.

I did my good deeds for the week and talked for a long time with great grandma.  The conversation changed slightly from the past but the essence was the same.  There has not been one good teacher since her mother taught school.  Not only did great great grandma teach school but she was the principal as well.  No one is hiring because they are too busy waiting to see what that awful president of ours is going to do.  And, why are so many cars going down her road - all there is are a couple of farms and the state forest.  These kids must be up to no good.   I nod and smile and let her talk.  There is no point in arguing or even discussing the matter.  It really is rather amusing.

I answered the questions about what do you hear from oldest.  Not much.  She answers her father's weekly e-mails and that is about it. 

I made my rhubarb pie which my father-in-love thinks is the greatest thing ever.  When he tries something new of mine he compares it to my pie.  My crab cakes he said were right up there with the rhubarb pie (best compliment ever).   My rhubarb pie is mixed with sugar and spice and chopped pecans.  It is topped with a crumb topping.  Not a strawberry in sight.

I also made my potato salad.  Youngest asked for that.  Son wanted to but he refused to say he liked the same thing as his sister.

Today we eat leftovers.  We leave on vacation Friday and we need to purge the fridge.  We have ribs and salad, manicotti and eggplant parm, lots of fresh fruit and a few other tid bits.

This morning is the town parade.  Hubby will be driving a fire truck in the half mile parade.  I get to watch one for the first time.  No more girl scout marches.  Yeah!

Hope you enjoy your day and your independence.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vacation

It is early Sunday morning.  The pie is cooling for the family fourth of July picnic.  The potato salad is chilling in the fridge.  Friday morning we leave on vacation.  I can't wait.  I love to travel.  And this area we are headed to is new to me.

Yesterday I printed out packing lists for everyone.  I keep an excel spreadsheet - check off list on file.  I just adjust the number of outfits and hit print.  I make notes on my list and update it when we return.  This really keeps the number of things forgotten to a minimum.  And, I don't have to pack for the kids.

I printed out maps for me.  I like a back up for the GPS.  I looked up coupons and discounts for the area.  Made notes of possible activities and prices.  I checked out restaurants. I updated the address sheet for postcards (oldest will miss her first vacation).  All in the comfort of my p.j.'s. 

The kids pulled out the atlases last night and tried to guess the destination.  The correct guess gets a little extra spending money on the trip.  I limit spending money.  This way I don't hear I want, I want, I want... they really think about it and make pretty good choices.

We don't tell them where we are going.  We made the mistake once early on and after talking to bio she slammed it so bad they didn't want to go.  So, all of our vacations have been a mystery destination.  Their clues this time.  We are driving, we will be gone a week, we do not have passports, they have never been to this city/town before and they will be in the car 16 hours (so it takes 8 hours to get there).  The packing list has the number of hours they must amuse themselves in the car.  I do not have a DVD player or  lap top.  This means MP3 players, books, sketch pads etc.  They also know from the clothing that they will be some place warm and that we will be hiking.

And just in case the stumble across this blog ..... I'll fill you in when I get back.

Friday, July 1, 2011

passing

So many things to blog about, so many things on my mind and in my life but.....

I got the call last night.  My friend Mare who has battled lung cancer and most recently brain cancer passed from this life.

A few months ago I saw her.  We sat on her porch in the sunshine.  Words would form in her brain but could not come out correctly.  She was frustrated.  But, then we just sat.  No words really need to be spoken.  She had greeted me that day with a hug and the few words that she could form and tumble out correctly - I may never see you again.  We parted with hugs and I told her how much I loved her.

I did see her again.  The radiation made her bloated and weak but her words were clear and urgent.  Our last day together she told me of her funeral arrangements that she had made.  She was putting her affairs in order.  We were on a trip to sell our unwanted jewelry.  She walked slowly, a cane in one hand and my hand in her other.  I treated her to lunch and we talked.  Surface talk and deep talk.  Smiles and laughter.  I knew and she knew the time was coming near.

And then the call.  I talked to her husband.  Offered what help and comfort I could through his tears.  I will be at the memorial service next week.  And today I reflected.  I could hear her laugh and see her smile.  I will miss you Marieann Halloran.  Blessings on your journey my sweet friend.  I love you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pickity Place

Last Thursday three lovely goddesses and I went on a road trip.  One friend wanted to introduce us to Pickity Place.  This is a place she had been introduced to some 19 years ago.  We gathered and I drove the 2 1/2 hours to New Hampshire down this dirt road to an enchanted place.

There are herb gardens surrounding the property.  There is a green house and garden shop.  There is an herbal shop and a five course meal waiting for you.  The little red farmhouse was used as the illustration in the Golden Book's Little Red Riding Hood.

The menu changes monthly to reflect the season.  Herbs from the garden are part of the treat.  June's menu was tomato herb spread on crackers, cream of broccoli soup with smoked Gouda, a black bean and quinoa salad with a lime vinaigrette, a choice of one of two entrees (we all chose the spinach flan) with sesame green beans and a chocolate tart with fruit. 

And even in the rain a good time was had.  We are plotting our next trip.  A great place, a great day and great friends.  Life is sweet!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stuff

The past two weeks have been filled with storms.  Our neighbors to the North were devastated by tornadoes.  My prayers to them.  Our dinner guest this past week end is a lineman for the electric company.  He has been working crazy hours getting the power back on.  He had to cancel on dinner and work all night.  His girlfriend was mad.  His family is annoyed that he went to work.  I understood.  Though if he apologised one more time..... Aaaarrgh.   So, I had already made the pies (3 - one for dinner, one for left overs and one for him to take home) and the salads.  He had asked for burgers on the grill.  So, youngest and I made a trip North and brought him a care package.

My kindergarten friend asked when I was swinging by with a batch of cookies.  So, tonight I will be delivering a batch to the fire house.

My kids think I should start a care package business.  Hmmm! 

Today is the last full day of school.  Half days until Friday and the kids are out for the summer.

On our trip North we stopped and visited with MIL and FIL.  Youngest asked if she could stay the night (along with son) for our anniversary.  So we will be childless during our celebration.  I'm in charge of dinner reservations.

She also asked if she could come for a week this summer.  MIL said that would be wonderful and we would work out when.

And why does youngest get what she wants and the other kids don't?  She is not afraid to ask.  Don't know where she gets that from.

I've been walking and weeding flower beds and reading a lot.  I'm looking forward to lazy days at the beach with kindle in hand. 

And that's what I've been up to.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No you Didn't part 2

So, Friday night was our last Girl Scout event.  We went to the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport.  They split all of the girls into two teams - 8 positions each.  The girls had to apply for the positions they wanted.  One team ran mission control and one team ran the spaceship headed to the moon.  Halfway through the teams switched positions.  Each of the two rooms were set up like either a spaceship or mission control.  It was great fun.

So, the event is about an hour and a half from home.  We met early enough to stop for supper on the way.  We stopped at this diner that had everything from burgers and fries to Italian.  I ordered a lush salad topped with green apples, cranberries, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts.  Youngest had a grilled cheese with onion rings and our leader had stuffed shells. HE came along and whined about wanting McDonald's.  Her daughter whined about wanting subway.  We had passed a subway and leader said we could stop their afterwards.  Because that was an option the one other girl to come opted for subway. 

Son ordered fries.  They looked really good.  He complained about the shape.  They were steak fries.  He offered sister and friend to try them.  When youngest asked if she could try one he said, "No, it's not like I'm going to try your onion rings."  (Not because she wouldn't offer but because he is so picky)  Leader made him give her one.  When we left over half the plate was still filled with fries.

We sat in a large booth.  I was on the inside.  Sister in the middle and HE was on the outside.  When he whined about not having enough room leader told them to move in that their was a foot between sister and me.  Sister claimed there was only 6 inches and HE said, "Don't worry I won't make you move down."

So, we left the diner and went to subway for the girls.  Then we went to McDonald's for him.  And we wonder why we have a problem with them eating.   My comment would be eat at the diner or not at all.

So, at this point HE realizes that this is an all girl event (Hello - girl scout event).  HE doesn't want to hang with the girls.  Leader said she would walk around the museum with him while I went with the girls.  Hey, do you really trust me with them?

Towards the end of the event HE came into the "spaceship" with leader.  He later said he wished he could have participated.  Oh well.  There was no room any way.

On the way home HE was eating pretzel rods.  He passed the bag to sister and her friend.  When youngest asked if she could have one HE said, "No, there are not enough."  Leader made him give her one.  HE was not happy.

And I managed to bite my tongue the entire trip.  And Leader, do you really want to know why youngest does not want to join Girl Scouts next year?  Two words - sister and HE

Friday, June 3, 2011

No you didn't

Last Sunday I went with the Girl Scouts to Six Flags.  It was me, the leader and the four girls.  Oh, and wait the leaders son.  He is in the sixth grade.  He will be 12 later this month.  His father was home that day so he could have stayed home but no... what he wants he gets.  I had actually been looking forward to this trip.  I don't ride very many rides but I'm content to wait for the girls to go on the rides they want (next time I'm bringing a book).

So, while leader and one girl headed to the coaster that looped I took the rest back to the snack shack because HE wanted fries.  On the way we stopped for a ride with no wait.  He wasn't happy.  So, we get to the snack shack.  The sell fries, cheese fries, chicken tender combos with fries and a steak sandwich combo.  Leader makes it back before it was time to order.  HE orders chicken tenders and a fries.  The girl at the counter asked if he wanted a combo.  NO, I want them separate.  It would be cheaper to get a combo.  No, I just want an order of chicken tenders and an order of fries.  I explained the difference and HE very strongly said NO, THAT"S WHAT MY MOM WANTS!  OK, I said to the girl give him what he wants.

His order comes and Leader is not happy.  She wanted him to get a combo and an order of fries.  I explained that he got just what he ordered.  And she says to me, "That is not what he ordered.  HE said you got involved and screwed everything up!" 

I actually bit my tongue - she was my ride home, my daughter deserved to enjoy the rest of the day and I wouldn't give that little .... the satisfaction.  

Leader got back in line for an order of fries.  Which by the way no one ate.  With what everyone else had ordered and shared everyone was full.  And these were probably the worst french fries I have ever had.  Soggy and limp with no flavor.  Like the oil wasn't hot enough.  She wrapped the fries and put them in her bag.  Really!  They were bad hot I can't imagine what they would be like later.

We were leaving at 5 and it was now 12:30.  From this point on HE wanted to know when we were going home.  HE whined the rest of the day (he was wining before this too - he's just a whiner) 

I am so glad youngest is done with girl scouts after tonight.  The leader keeps asking her about next year and she keeps saying - "No, I'm joining the fire department."  What she doesn't say is that she thinks both your kids are obnoxious spoiled brats and she's tired of doing what they want to do.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Graduation

Hubby flew out Wednesday morning.  Spent the day on planes, drove two hours and checked into the hotel.  He made it to oldest's graduation ceremony.  He was able to stand where the graduates entered onto the field for the ceremony.  He called her name and after the initial shock she just beamed.

Bio walked right by him without seeing him.  Understandable when not expecting him to show up.  He said hello and she was civil.  Introduced him to the new hubby and step son.  He said they were friendly and the step son was full of questions about police work. 

Nothing was planned for the next day so hubby took oldest and oldest son along with his girlfriend to lunch.  Afterwards he took them into the mountains for some sight seeing.  Neither kids had seen any of the sights since arriving,  And oldest son had been their over two years.  So, hubby spent the afternoon with his kids.  Oldest was thrilled to see him. 

Bio gave oldest her sims card from her camera and hubby was able to make a disc of pictures from the prom and graduation.  He also had his camera for graduation as well. 

Hubby needed to go.  And oldest needed him to come.  It was a win-win situation. 

And now she is looking at the community college in general studies.  She's not sure what she wants to be.  So, all the nursing talk is out the window.  That's too bad.  I know she really wants to work with kids so maybe something will come of that.  At least she's trying to continue her education. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gee, I wonder

Oldest e-mailed her teacher and said she was worried about youngest.  Youngest doesn't answer her messages on facebook.  Oldest really got along well with this teacher and they have kept in touch since she moved on to the higher grades and since moved.

Let's see - you tried to mother youngest - and mother in the sense of  bio type of mother - not the nurturing type of mother.  You made your sister lie for you and keep secrets.  You have not called the house once since moving.  Your messages claim that you and bio miss her soooo very much.  No phone calls, no letters, no birthday card, no birthday present, nothing but a rare facebook message.  Oh wait, the birthday present you told her was being sent on her birthday now a month later you tell her hasn't been bought yet.  But as soon as the town opens up for tourist season bio will be sure to buy her a gift and mail it.  Oh wait, will that be right after she sends son his present.  I mean after all his birthday was in December.  And bio herself told him she was sending him the boots he wanted.  (The ones we bought last summer) 

Let's see bio has called once since you moved.  That five minute conversation caused youngest to have nightmares for a week.

When you moved youngest sighed a big sigh of relief and said, "I'm glad she's gone.  I don't have to lie and keep secrets any more."   A week ago a teacher asked her if she missed you.  She came home to tell us.  And asked what her answer was she said, " Not at all."

So oldest, your sister is just fine.  Actually her and your brother are doing great since you left.  They are calmer, the stress you put them under is gone.  School is going great.  She loves her new room.  She loves being honest.  She loves being able to dress the way she wants, say what she feels and wear her hair the way she likes it without you tattling to bio.  You may miss your sister because you are alone in hell but, hey that was your choice.  If you want to believe all the lies bio feeds you go right ahead.  But, your sister isn't buying it from her or from you. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

care packages

Next week is our adopted nephew's birthday.  He worked in Florida for the winter and is now at his summer job in Utah.  So, we put together a care package with sunscreen and after sun, home made toner and lip balm and cookies - lots of cookies.  Milk chocolate chip with walnuts, white chocolate chips with macadamia nuts, peanut butter and Wheaties cookies.  He should be in cookie heaven for a few days at least. 

After a week of phone tag my J (EC) and I finally connected.  I can't believe it's been so long since he came to dinner.  We were supposed to have a family picnic in March and when that didn't happen time just slipped away.  So, he'll be coming in June for a cook out.  He said he wanted hamburgers on the grill.  So, I will be make a bunch of side salads he can take home in his care package.  Some home made vanilla ice cream (he loves that) and something else sweet for dessert.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PPT

This morning hubby and I went to PPT meetings for both son and youngest.  The reports were glowing.  Son is doing really well except in the classes he doesn't like.  He knows the material but doesn't put in the effort (he is so my brother).  But, he is the leader in group work, mature, professional and polite.  He is do for his testing for eligbility in the program next year.  The expect he will test out of special ed.  He is in two co-taught classes at the moment and the rest are general level.  He does not take advantage of any of his available resources now.  And next year he will be in class in the morning and ROTC in the afternoon.  He is determined he will be a marine.  He even runs every afternoon with an ALICE pack on. 

Youngest struggles a little bit but not from lack of effort.  Her teachers are impressed with the amount of effort she puts into her work.  They keep trying new techniques to help her with the subject matter.  Her reading level has come way up.  The fact that she reads all the time is a bonus to all of her subjects.  Like her brother she is not big on group work or socializing much.   We voiced some concern over a couple of the boys in her class that distract her - the same ones who pester her on the bus.  They said they would look into that.  But, they related that one of them made a comment she didn't agree with in class and she stood right up to him and the rest of the kids in class backed her.  Her teacher says she does participate in class and has no problems voicing her opinions (gee, where does she get that from?).  They said they noticed even at lunch she will give an opinion and back it up and that other kids are looking to her as a leader of what is right and wrong (in a very good way).

So, it was good reports all the way around.  And then hubby treated me to breakfast.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

priceless

Yesterday we received an announcement in the mail for oldest's high school graduation.  Hubby was in tears.  He wanted to see her graduate.  Then go I said.  But the money....  And some things are more important than money.  We will figure it out. 
Well, I just wanted her to finish and graduate here.  I know - but you fly out and surprise her.  What about my work schedule.  We checked the calender and he is not working.  I checked prices on flights and hotels.  By tomorrow night you decide if you want to spend one night or two I said.

So, round trip airfare $390.10, hotel for two nights (with a gym and breakfast) $118.10, car rental $65.91 for a total of $574.11.  Watching your daughter graduate high school - priceless.

And the fact that she doesn't know he's coming - even better.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Good and Bad

Sunday my brother and his family along with my parents came over.  My brother was taking a bed, two closets, a swing set and two trees.  It sounded simple enough.  Hubby took the closets apart for easy moving.  The swing set needed a little help as the bolts were hard to remove but a little WD-40 and two men with tools and it came down and was loaded into the truck.  Then the trees.  They fell right where they should have (yeah) and then branches were hauled to the burn area.  Logs were loaded onto the trailer.  Even the kids helped.  And when they were tired youngest made them lunch and kept them occupied.  Some five plus hours later the simple job was complete.  Sun was shining where once it was extremely dark.  This should help with the lawn.

It's been 4 months since son's birthday.  It's been three weeks since youngest's birthday.  The week of son's birthday bio told him should would send him the boots he wanted as a gift.  I guess he knew she wasn't serious because he didn't bother to tell her we had bought them the previous summer.  Still waiting on a card or a gift or something.  Oldest asked youngest what she wanted for her birthday in a series of instant messages.  On her birthday she posted a sweet happy birthday from all the family in Arizona.  She listed everyone.  She also stated her present was in the mail.  Yeah, OK.  I'm sure bio told oldest she would get something for youngest.  Oldest still believes her.  I think I'm more upset than the kids.  I just don't get it.  And if you are not sending anything - keep your mouth SHUT!!!  So, since January 19 the kids have talked to bio once.  She doesn't call, she doesn't write and yet, she is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  OK, I guess that is what really irks me.  I'm the one they expect to take care of them and spoil them and she is their hero. {and for the record the less contact they have the better off they are - you can see it in them} [and the one time she did call and talk for five minutes youngest had nightmares for a week]

But,.....  I'm the one getting hugs and kisses.  And I'm the one watching them grow.  And I'm the one molding them into productive adults.  And that makes it all worth it.

Today my mom and I are off to visit my cousin and her new baby.  I had fun picking out all kinds of cute baby girl outfits.  I finished the needlepoint last night.  We will stop and pick up a frame on the way.  I'll try and remember to take pictures.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book review

I just finished reading Julia's Chocolates.  I loved it.  I had a hard putting the book down.  Luckily last night was Friday and no alarm clocks going off in the morning and I read until the end.  It was a women's story, a story of abuse - child, alcohol, domestic violence.  It was a story about finding yourself, valuing yourself - living life on your own terms.  You felt the raw emotions of each of the characters and celebrated with their triumphs.
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