Monday, December 31, 2012

18

Yesterday son turned eighteen.  It seems to be a pivotal point in a young person's life.  I started to reflect what that age meant to me.  My birthday was celebrated in a dorm room.  My roommate had borrowed a bunt pan and the recipe from my mom and made my favorite cake.  My aunt sent me a party in a box that included tied dyed balloons and chocolate chip cookies.  It meant I was legally an adult and had the right to vote.  I exercised that privilege via absentee ballot the next month.  And, and....... I could join the military and fight for my country but I couldn't go to a bar and order a drink.  And...that was about it.

For oldest it meant she could go live with bio.  She planned her running away for months with bio's help.  It wasn't very secret or well executed but it taught her many life lessons.  The horrible people she was leaving wished her well and threw her a going away party.  We prayed for her safety and well being and let her go.  I knew what it felt like to be that age.  There are some things one needs to learn on their own and the hard way.  We could not change her mind but send her off with as much love and support as we could muster so she would feel welcome to come home.  It worked.

For son it means he's an adult.  He is already committed to the Marine's.  That paperwork was signed over the summer.  It means he can buy a gun - a riffle.  And that was his plan.  And when asked why he answered, "because I can."  This scared the hell out of me.  I know he is a military buff and loves target practicing but.......  So after my talk with hubby.  Hubby had a chat with son.  The gun cabinet is full and you leave in July for boot camp.  Borrow my (hubby's) shot gun if you like but save your money and buy what you really want when you get out of the Marine's.  He was OK with that. 

{Now, my hubby was in the military himself and is a police officer.  Guns are a part of our life.  Everyone in the house has been taught to shoot and gun safety, gun safety, gun safety.  The gun locker is locked and hubby is the only one with access.  I, being a typical Libra can see both sides of the gun debate.  Each has very valid points.  I don't come down fully on one side or the other.  Not because I'm wishy washy but because each has a valid point.  Do we need to make some reforms?  Probably.  Do we need to take away my right to bear arms?  No.  Will I listen to your argument with an open mind and heart?  Yes.}

Son can now vote.  He can now leave to live with bio.  He has chosen not to.  I don't think he was pressured like oldest.  Bio worked on her for years.  He knows exactly what he wants in life and he is going for it no matter what.  Oldest was too worried about what others and especially bio thought.  Not so much any more.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year

For me the new year began with Winter Solstice and going deep within.  This week has been a quiet week of vacation - chilling at home, visiting, cooking, reading and reflecting.  I have long since given up the practice of New Year's resolutions.  For me change is a constant in life. If I detect something I want to add to my life, let go of or alter I don't wait until New Year's eve or Sunday to start.  That doesn't mean that everything I start sticks the first time but, I get right out there and try again.

It has been a somber time as the Newtown shootings, the Webster fire department shootings, the gang rape and murder of a medical student in India hit the news.  And I find all of these things heartbreaking.  But, these things are happening every day only a few make the news.  We hear what the media deems worthy and that drives me crazy.  And I ponder what I can do.  And not just a knee jerk reaction to make me feel good in the moment but what can I do in the long term. 

I sit with the brokenness and look at ways I can get involved.  I want to be the change I wish to see in the World.  I have taken a few small steps.  I'm looking into other possibilities.

Today we celebrate son's birthday.  Tomorrow he turns 18.  He is working tomorrow.  So, tonight we will have margarita chicken and a German chocolate cake.  Everyone in the house picks their own birthday meal.  He legally becomes an adult. He counts down the days until he reports to boot camp.  High school graduation is just a step in the process and holds little meaning for him.  April will be his last family vacation.  And in a few months youngest will be an/the only child.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My family

Some how related to a three ring circus.  We are a group of strong opinioned doers.  And by my family I mean those I was born to and grew up with.  My dear hubby, children and such have nothing to do with this. 

My mother-in-love cleaned house and brought books, cd's and puzzles Saturday night for me to bring to my mom and aunt.  I called my mom who was going to be leaving the following day and suggested I bring all of the books to my aunt.  She is 86, recovering from hip replacement and suffering from unrelated back pain.  She only reads free  books.  I am much pickier and in the 100 books or more found nothing of interest.  I find romance novels predictable and tedious but that is another story.  Mom agreed and said her and Dad were meeting my brother at my aunt's to do some last minute repairs before they left.

My cousin and her partner are here visiting for the holidays.  I arrived and one was cleaning out kitchen cabinets and tossing all out dated items.  I removed my shoes and my cousin insisted I put on slippers.  It was easier to comply than fight. My aunt was cleaning out drawers.  My brother soon arrived with both kids in tow.  Ladders were pulled out and Dad and brother set about cleaning out the dryer vent and who knows what else.  The kids were up, they were down, they were silly and noisy.  They did laps in the house and played the "miss me, miss me now you got to kiss me" game.  I complied with lots of kisses.  I'll take it while I can because I know too soon they will not want a hug never mind a kiss. And in the midst of this pictures were being taken, presents opened, drinks offered, books sorted and trash emptied.

It was a lot of activity in a small space.  And as quickly as we swooped in we departed.  Plans were made for a more quiet visit with my cousin and aunt.  I enlisted my brother in taking two trees down in my yard before spring arrives with bud and leaves.  I said one last good bye to my parents who will not return until May.  I hugged and kissed my niece and nephew again because I could.  And reveled in the peace and quiet.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last Week

I started last week in a council of Women.  We sat together, prayed together, held what was in each others hearts.  This deep meaningful time together sustains me, encourages me and opens me to new views, new options, new things to explore and nourish. 

In the deep sorrow of the tragedy at Sandy Hook I think of ALL our children.  All those that we don't talk about.  All those kids who are hungry, abused, isolated, falling through the cracks in our system.  The system needs to be fixed.  I have no answers.  I know I must find a way to help fix this brokenness.  And I pray that we sit with the brokenness, ponder it and grow from it.  I hope we don't just react quickly and with no help for the brokenness.

Monday morning I went to work.  This is unusual for me but I had work that needed to be done before vacation.  A huge project looming that my boss had me take over so that it would be completed. It has sat fallow for almost two years.  My boss was on vacation.  It was a jamming week for everyone with her gone, the payroll year coming to an end and the holiday just around the corner. Our newest AP clerk comes in and quits.  And as much as this is a blessing - her middle school drama, poor quality of work, etc.  this left everyone in a bind.  I ended up putting in over 40 hours as did my co-workers.  Lunches were brief.  Heads were down and keyboards humming. 

Thursday night I attended a Solstice celebration.  My hubby and youngest came.  It made my heart sing that hubby came.  This is so out of his comfort zone.  More than thirty of us gathered to pray, sing, delve into the darkness and welcome the returning of the light.  And as we sat in the darkest day of the year it was clear to me how much we need to sit with this darkness.  It is in the depths that we nourish the seeds we wish to grow.

I left work after lunch on Friday not to return until January 2.
Friday night we went to the fire department Christmas party.  It was good to sit with old friends and catch up.  It was good to be on a date with my handsome hubby.  It was good.

Saturday was our family holiday celebration.  My parents came for breakfast.  Sausage gravy, cheddar biscuits and streusel topped french toast.  We had time to visit and solve the problems of the world.  Monday they migrate south for the winter.  I am so blessed that they are healthy and able to enjoy life on their terms. 

They left and I prepped dinner and took a nap.  My in-laws came for dinner.  I made many of my father-in-love's favorites. I mentioned that he is very vocal about his likes but that I didn't know what my mother-in-love's favorites would be.  She said that is because she likes everything.  We started with crab cakes followed by a bacon wrapped beef roast, roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, corn a rhubarb pie and cookies. We had a really nice relaxing visit.

And now, all I have to do is relax. 

This week I will spend time with the kids.  We plan to hit a museum with a huge Lego display.  I will book our summer vacation.  I will putter and recharge.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cookies

Yesterday I baked cookies.  My taste testers were at the ready.  They would run for ingredients in the pantry or at the store (thanks hubby) but no one wanted to help create.  A tray went to the Torrington Fire House.  A tray went with hubby to the Winsted Fire House - he was standing by with others so that Winsted could enjoy their holiday party. A box is filled and ready to be mailed to our nephew.  A tray is hidden away for our holiday celebration with my in-laws.  And the rest are for us to enjoy.  I make favorites and ones that ship well.  They are not uber fancy - I'm the only one who appreciates that - but they are pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself.  At least that is what my testers said.  Tough job they have.

Snickerdoodles (nephew's favorite)
Cowboy cookies
Molasses crinkles
Reese's pieces peanut butter (for Phil at TFD)
Mint Chocolate Chip
Spritz (my favorite - and they must be in the shape of a tree)

While waiting for trays to come out of the oven so I could fill new ones I made a batch of fudge.  This has been my bosses Christmas present for more than 8 years now.  She still loves it.  The batch makes enough to feed a small village so their is plenty to go around.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tragedy

I woke up yesterday feeling good.  I keep fighting off all the illnesses going around work.  I went from errand to errand and had tea with a friend.  Mid afternoon I received a phone call from another friend.  I had not heard or seen the news all day.  That 27 people were killed, that 20 were school children and mostly in kindergarten.  What do you say to that?

What can one do besides cry?  My heart aches.  I can not imagine the grief the families must endure from their loss.  I can not imagine the horror the survivors must live with.  The horror that all the emergency workers found upon arrival burnt into their memories.  The surviving members of the shooter's family. 

My prayers to all.  I light a candle.  I cherish my children a little more (if that is possible).  I hold space and love in my heart for all children, for parents and yes, even for the shooter. 


My daughter, trying to wrap her mind around it asked what do the parents do with the presents.  All I could think of is maybe they could give them to a child who may not have any presents.  But, the pain is so raw....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Prep

The holidays are fast approaching.  My hubby wondered out loud last night why people were acting so crazy.  I said it was the December dis-ease.  I saw it a lot when I worked retail.  People wait until the last minute to do everything they think needs to be done, they believe they need to have warm cozy family time, and a whole host of other things.  When none of this happens they panic and take it out on those around them, the retail clerk and the police. 

I have mixed emotions on celebrating Christmas to begin with.  I have fond memories of it when I was a kid.  I remember the family, playing cards, visiting friends and leaving Santa cookies and a hi-ball.  I remember very few gifts that I received and I don't remember what we ate (which means it really wasn't out of the ordinary as I am all about the food).  I do remember my aunt's peanut butter fudge.  It was so good I would buy more at the holiday fair.  And my other aunt made these tiny little butter cookies that just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Now I'm more about celebrating Yule and the turn of the wheel.  The sun has reached the depths of it waning and starts waxing.  I appreciate those I love.  I indulge in present giving for the kids and baking for those I love.  Although any occasion really is cause for me to bake or cook for those I love.  What shopping I do I complete early.  I spend December wrapping presents and wrapping up in a blanket.  I go within.  I plan menus.  I make lists of every one's favorite foods and I incorporate those into the coming days and weeks. 

Last year I took another step off the crazy train.  When hubby was telling me we had to visit this one and that I turned the conversation around.  I called the kids in and asked them what they would do for the holiday if they could and how would they celebrate with their grandparents.  I then asked hubby what he would really like.  It involved food and a lot of making love.  Any way......  All three wanted to stay home, enjoy the day and my cooking. I just like to putter in the kitchen.  So last year we had MIL and FIL for dinner on a different night and played dominoes.  We were able to visit and enjoy each others company.  And that is what we are doing again this year.

Years before that we had started a breakfast tradition with my parents.  Until this year it was Christmas Eve morning breakfast as they  migrate south on Christmas day.  This year they are leaving a day early so breakfast has moved to the Saturday before.  The great thing about my parents is that they just want to get together - the calender date is not a big deal.

So, the menus are made and the grocery shopping will start.  This week end I will bake cookies and mail out care packages.

Breakfast:
Cheddar biscuits and sausage gravy
Struesel topped french toast
fruit

Dinner:
crab cakes
bacon wrapped beef tenderloin
roasted potatoes
glazed carrots
corn
rhubarb pie and assorted cookies

Christmas Day:
Pancakes & ????

Ham
Creamy Brussels sprouts
baked potatoes
German chocolate cake and assorted cookies

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Little Things

It's the little things in life that I celebrate and cherish.  I had a manager tell me once that if you can't get the little things right you could never manage the big things.  It relates to everything I think.

So, this week I am grateful for.....

A new beginning with oldest.  When she left almost two years ago she unfriended and blocked me on facebook.  This week she sent a friend request.  And when I looked at her info she had already listed me under family. I know how BIG this is for a teen age girl. 

I am thankful for friends.  For asking how my visit with oldest went.  For challenging my thinking and preconceived notions.  For the many hugs and lots of laughter.  For pretty handmade crafts - jewelry, oils, note books.  For love and support.  For time spent together.

I started the week in NYC with a few Goddesses from my herbal classes.  We convened from different corners of the land and enjoyed each others company.

I went to a friends house for a jewelry party.  The items hand crafted by another friend.  I indulged in  earrings for me and one for oldest.  I have my eye on a few more pieces when funds allow. 

I spent the evening discussing secrets with my foolish wisdom group.  Oh how I love them all.  I'm not a secret keeper. I keep some things private; I select what I divulge to certain people but there is nothing lurking in the recesses of my being that I haven't shared with at least one other.  And there are some things in my past that I have let go of.  They are not a secret but so far removed from who I am now that the details have become irrelevant to me. 

I am grateful for my healthy (in my humble opinion) self esteem.  For always dressing how I wanted and not worrying about what others thought.  And yes, sometimes it was/is a hot mess.  For owning who I am and rejecting what I choose of others opinions.  I don't have to be who others think I am unless I want to.  I know who I am and if others see me differently that is their issue not mine.

And I am grateful for my hubby who loves and supports me and gives me room to grow.

What are you grateful for this week?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Darkness approaches

      We are now in December.  The winter solstice and the darkest day of the year is approaching quickly.  I feel myself entering that space of deep contemplation, going within, seeing what seeds need nourishing and what seeds need to lay fallow for a time or forever. 
     I love the change of seasons.  I feel them deeply in my being.  I love that I visibly see them unfold before me in this New England landscape.  It is a time to be quiet.  I read more weighty books.  Not the summer beach read but things that nourish some part hidden within my soul; something that makes me think.  I pick up the needle point.  I change what and how I'm cooking.  I snuggle under the blankets and hibernate figuratively and literally. 
     For me the year is just beginning.  It doesn't start with the traditional New Year and a flip of the calender.  It is this time that sets the tone for the coming months.  I am in a good place this year.  I feel blessed and nourished.  I feel ready to start on this year's journey - fed and whole.  Yet, there is change lurking. 
     There is always change lurking.  It is good. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

What a difference a couple of years make

Did I mention I called my MIL to discuss our Christmas plans and see how her visit with oldest went?  I thanked her for the input on my mug and she said it was all oldest.  She said a few days into her visit oldest said she needed to apologise to me and hubby for her actions and all the hurtful things she said before she left. Though I never received her apology I did get the thank you card and gift and a girl with a new attitude.  She was pleasant and appreciative. 

I went shopping with my Mommy today and she said she noticed a huge change in oldest.  She said she was so pleasant and talkative.

Oldest also told MIL that she got her love of education from me.  She also stated she was born and raised in CT and doesn't think the southwest is her permanent home.

Ah, wonders will never cease. 

And, I'm getting a whole new attitude from hubby's family.  I said we had to let her go.  Not only could we not legally keep her here but, we needed to let her go in a way that she felt welcome to come back and that she felt we supported her decision.  I remember being her age.  I remember what you could tell me.  I know some times you need to hop that fence to see if the grass is greener.  She found a dust bowl and she found herself.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shopping

We have passed black Friday and are on our way to cyber Monday.  It gives me pause.  All the commercials, the advertising, the hype.  It totally infuriates me that more and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving.  And what drives me crazier still is that shoppers run to these establishments in record numbers.

When I worked in the stores customers would look at me and say, "too bad you have to work the holiday."  And I so wanted to scream, "if you weren't here I wouldn't have to work."  I run my own personal boycott of shopping on any holiday weather I celebrate it or not.  I get gas before hand so I don't even stop at a gas station.

What to do about the holidays and gift giving.  My family only gives gifts to the children (under age 18).  After that gift giving stops.  We get together, we eat, we talk, we laugh.  This is what the day is all about. My parents and my children look forward to our Christmas Eve breakfast.  Biscuits and gravy, baked french toast, sparkling cider, mimosas and coffee.  And no matter my hubby's work schedule it fits.  My brother hosts an open house on Christmas day.  We may head over then or the following week end.  My niece and nephew open presents and we visit.  And some times we go swimming.  With an indoor pool it's kind of neat to say you went swimming in New England on Christmas.

A few years back MIL asked if we would like to stop the family gift giving and just get together.  At this point we were buying gift cards for our niece and nephews and my BIL and SIL were doing the same.  It was the gift card shuffle.  I thought it was a great idea and so did my kids.  They just wanted to see their cousins.  Of course MIL didn't stop gifting everyone.  Instead of shopping she handed out crisp bills instead.  I don't mind her doing this for the grand kids but I feel really awkward accepting it.  I know how happy it makes her feel and yet I struggle.

But, for the few people I do buy gifts for where should I shop?  I want to support the small business person yet often times the gifts wanted are not offered.  So, I buy local as much as possible.  I buy from local crafters or Etsy if I can.  And I try not to get too caught up in all the hype. 

Instead of heading to the in-laws for the holiday last year we invited them over for a more intimate dinner and a family night of board games.  This year we are doing the same. 

And I must confess I did shop on black Friday.  It was mid morning at the local hardware store for my son's big gift. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Visit

My computer was down and out for the count while oldest was here.  I missed blog blast for peace and the chronicles of her visit.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  She was not a likable person when she left.  I was pure evil and mama was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It's been almost two years.  She has been in and out of bio's home - once an escape to grandma's and for five months for basic and AIT. 

I cleaned like a mad woman before she came.  The spare room is complete.  A fresh coat of paint, new bedding, diplomas hung, shelves put up for my herbal preparations.  It's function is reading nook, guest room, hubby's office, our dressing room and my apothecary.  My Grandmother's nursing diploma is on the wall along side a picture of her in her nursing uniform.  Hubby's achievements are on another wall.  Well, right now they are at the framer but hooks are on the wall and waiting for there return.  As I explained the room to friends they said it was perfect.  I had cleared the house and put her in the healing room.  And now the room is named - The Healing Room.

I made a lasagna (her favorite), a salad and dressings and a maple pecan pie the morning of her arrival.  I went to my shamanic dream group and left instructions to pop the lasagna in the oven.  I arrived home to a hot meal and a pleasant family.  The room and supper were appreciated.  I even had a gift waiting for me.


Monday we went hiking as a family.  We later learned that the kids were supposed to be in school.  I never received an updated school calender.  Oh, well.  We were doing something much more important.  Pork loin with cherry sauce being her other favorite dish was served for dinner.

She was able to meet up with some friends and do a ride along with hubby.  During their time she mentioned that the military was great because she knew she had a roof over head and food to eat.  Hmmm!  What is going on in Arizona. 

Saturday I took the girls to the outlets.  We were meeting cousins for lunch and the outlets were near by.  Oldest's Christmas list that I had her fill out had a few books and music CD's on it but it started with pants and shirts.  The jeans she was wearing were the ones I had bought her last year and were too big.  Well, she went home with a new wardrobe - three pairs of jeans and nine tops.  She was so appreciative and the deals were really good. 

And nothing like a little retail therapy to loosen the tongue.  Youngest fell asleep on the way home and oldest and I had a really nice conversation.

She thinks she'll be back in June with bio for son's graduation.  We'll cross that bridge when we have to.  But, what that says to me is that son has no plans to move to Arizona.  He is not planning his great escape when he turns 18 in December.  It will be the first time in four years son and youngest have seen their mom.  She has no clue who her kids are. 

And the thing I was most worried about with oldest's visit seems to not have come to pass - the backlash with youngest.  Oldest did not hype bio or Arizona like I thought she might.  But, I guess if you are in place where you don't know if you will have food or a roof you wouldn't hype it.  Oldest has grown up a little bit.  She is on her way.  She continues with her schooling and should have her associates degree this time next year.  She's looking for a job that would most likely put her out on her own.  She's looking ahead with her military career.  She wants to go places in life and no one is holding her back.  I can see fruit forming on the tree of my labour.  No credit will be given.  No credit is needed.  But deep in my heart I know I've helped raise an independent adult who sees opportunities around her.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Back from .....

I'm back or I should say my computer is back.  I've been pretty much off the net for two weeks.  I'd hop on my daughter's lap top here and there to pay bills and check e-mail but that's about it.

I've been cleaning.  At first I attributed it to being computer less but in reality it was stress induced cleaning.  The kind that puts your house and life in order.  A FULL truck load went to the dump - trash, recycling and many items for the tag sale room. 

Rooms were dusted, washed and rearranged from ceiling to floor.  Closets and drawers were gone through.  The spare room was painted and re purposed. 

The house looks good.

Ah, and the stress.  My oldest daughter is here for a visit.  The cleaning took place in prep for her arrival.  MIL flew her in for a two week visit.  This is our week to have her.  It's going much better than expected.  I have put my mask of love and compassion on with hopes to grow into it or at least fully embody it for the week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Party at My House

Tomorrow night I am hosting a pampered chef party.  Mine are like none you've ever been to before.  Why? Because I love to cook. For me this is an excuse to entertain and have my girlfriends over.  If they want to buy something fine if not I don't care.  This is probably why I wasn't ubber successful when I sold the stuff.  I hate pushing items on a person they wouldn't use or can't afford.  I only buy items I would use - and that is a lot over the years.  Now, my kitchen is pretty well stocked and I'm much more selective. But, back to my party.  Usually you go to a demonstration and the sales person demonstrates making a recipe or two and shows you the products and gives a big sales pitch.  At my house you had better come hungry.  I prepare food and lots of it (all from pampered chef cook books).  We eat, we laugh, the products and books are there for you to look at and the sales person is there to answer questions.  I've prepped most of the food today and will put the finishing touches on tomorrow.  Here's the menu:

Appetizers

Curry Turkey Meatballs
Mini Vegetable Quiches

Entree

Potato Chowder
Autumn Wild Rice Salad with Grilled Chicken
Spinach & Artichoke Ring
BBQ Beef Brisket

Dessert

Truffles
Confetti Crisps
Cherry Chocolate Coffee Cake


The confetti crisps - cracker crust spread with a home made carmel sauce and baked until brown and bubbly.  Chocolate is then melted and spread on top and sprinkled with nuts, pretzels, M&M's and raisins.  I made a second tray for my kids.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hiking

I love to hike.  I love being out in nature.  Yesterday I lead the hike for work's healthy challenge.  It was cloud covered when we started at 9AM but the sun soon broke through and we were hiking in beautiful 60 degree autumn weather.  Youngest joined me while the boys stayed home and power washed the house (hey my rail is white not green).

Two people showed up from work.  It turned out great.  They are both nature lovers and we walked and talked and spotted critters, birds and foliage.  The prehike took my family 2 hours and 10 minutes this time almost 4.  I liked this pace much better.

Youngest was a little bit not into the hike but once on the path loved it.  At one point she wanted to turn back.  No!  Once at the Indian caves she wanted to spend the rest of the day.  The view and peace were amazing.  The colors were past peak but that's OK.  Dragonflies were everywhere and one kept landing on youngest.


When we got back I planted all the new plants my mom gave me.  She's cleaning out her yard and I received butterfly bushes, cone flowers and unidentified bulbs.  I planted the mum I received for my birthday and discovered a rose bush in full bud and bloom.  How cool for near the end of October.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where do I go from Here?

This past week end was my last class at the beautiful Sage Mountain.  I now have my certificate signed by Rosemary Gladstar.  But, I have so much more than that.  I have a new confidence in my abilities, I have new friends, new knowledge that I am still assimilating and an experience to last a life time.

This past Friday we arrived amongst snow flurries/sleet.  We were able to get the camper set up in between weather bursts.  And I am so glad we had heat in the camper.  It was in the teens Friday night.  Saturday was much warmer getting into the thirties.  I came prepared with many layers, heavy sweaters and socks, slippers for class and a hoodie to sleep in.  (This is the view from our campsite)

Something up there triggered my allergies like crazy.  My sinuses filled up and were kicking my but.  I took a short nap in the yurt (classroom) at lunch time.  I was afraid if I slept in the camper I would miss class.  The first woman back to the yurt asked if I was OK.  When I explained the situation she asked if I had tried ......  She gave me a dropper under my tongue and in half an hour my headache was gone, sinuses clear and sneezing stopped.  I had another dropper after class and I felt like a new woman.  I will be studying and using this plant ally from now on. We broke out into small groups for the last time and then I had a massage.

Flower offers massage on Saturday evenings and I had signed up for October.  OMG, it was one of the best if not the best massage I've ever had.  It was an hour but I felt like she had worked on me for several.  I'm thinking it might be worth the four hour trip to see her again.  It was that good.

I headed down to supper which was in full swing.  I had a little to eat, a nice shower and headed to bed.

The teacher for the week end was Caroline Gagnon.  She was amazing!!!!  It was some lecture, it was inter active, she taught exercise and movement, she discussed the lymph and women's reproductive.  I was her model for a simple exercise for breast tenderness.  In two minutes my breasts felt better and the swelling was down. 

Class went a little late and then we had closing circle and received our certificates.  Rosemary gives out moon necklaces to her apprentices but not for this class.  Me and another woman did not take her apprentice class and asked about the moons.  She gave us permission to get moons and told us where to get them.  After the certificates we asked her to bless them before we put them on for the first time.  It was lovely.  Such a simple powerful symbol.


It was after dark by the time the camper was broken down and we were on our way.  I'm usually home by 9 and this night it was closer to midnight.

And now, I get to decide what I'm going to do with this experience and where I'm studying next.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mid Vacation

I'm somewhere in the middle of my vacation.  It occurred to me that this is the first year I have taken all of my weeks with the kids.  Hmmm!  What's up with that?  Hubby's been working and in class.  Son has no real interest in hanging out with me.  And frankly, at his age I'd be a little worried if he did.  Youngest has a vivid imagination but not when it comes to entertaining herself outside of the house or with other people.  She is content for me to come up with ideas. This drives me a tad bit crazy.

Saturday we hiked with people from work.  It was a beautiful day and we hiked to the Heublein tower which was actually open.  We were able to check out the view from the top of the tower.  Then youngest and I went out for lunch and a little coupon shopping.

Sunday I hit the gym long before she rolled out of bed.  The afternoon I spent hanging out.  And Monday I purchased paint for the spare room.  Hubby said he would paint if I picked up the color.  Jalapeno jelly it is.  It's much lighter than a jalapeno pepper so I'm not sure how they came up with the name but it matches the stripe in the new bedding I picked up.  My goal is to have the room finished before oldest comes for a visit.  After picking up paint we headed up to the newly refurbished Beckley Furnace.  It melted down iron to be be used commercially in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  It was really interesting.  We then took a short tour of town.  Youngest wanted to see her old stomping grounds.  This is where hubby and the kids lived before we were married.  Youngest moved just after kindergarten.

Yesterday she had her hair highlighted and by the time everyone met back at home it was too late to really do much.  This morning I puttered cleaning here and there and making piles of stuff to donate or bring to the tag sale room at the dump.  Youngest finally got out of bed.  And we've decided to catch a matinee this afternoon. 

The kids head back to school tomorrow and hubby and I have a date for lunch.  He has errands in the morning and I'm walking with a girlfriend.  Then Friday I am off for my last class in Vermont. 

I had a wonderful talk with my MIL this morning.  I called to see if she knew when oldest would be here.  She still doesn't have a date.  Oldest will know more after her first week end of drill (or whatever it is called) for the reserves.  FIL seems to think she will want to move back here.  I think not.  But, at least MIL is realistic about the whole thing and we were able to talk about all the possibilities, logistics, fears, concerns and hopes for this visit.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Disguises, Masks, Hats

This was the topic of discussion at my foolish wisdom gathering the other night.  One that caused a lot of reflection, thought and discussion and actually stayed on topic the entire evening. 

Some felt that the hats that we wear are one in the same with the masks that we wear.  Or at least that is how I heard it.  But, I think not.  For me the hats that I wear are my different roles in life, wife, mother, employee, friend, etc.  Sometimes I wear several hats at once.  These are all who I am.  Some hats look very different from other hats I wear but that doesn't make them any less me. 

The image of me at college with my black leather mini hanging next to my long wool skirt comes to mind.  They are both part of who I am at a moment but I don't feel like I am role playing or putting on a disguise (or mask).  They are each a facet of who I am.

My masks I tend to wear less and less as I get older.  I care less about how people judge me.  This is me - take it or leave it.  I'd much rather have people in my life who are there for me and not some mask I'm wearing.  And in part as I get older I grow more into who I am.

I find having to wear a mask very draining.  I wear many of them at work.  The I "really love my job" mask ( I don't hate my job but it is not my favorite place to be), the "I really care about your life" mask, the "I would love to stop working on my client and take care of yours first" mask oh, and the list goes on.  And I wonder why I come home with a headache and brain fog. 

Some masks I put on not because I have to (to stay employed for example) but because I chose to.  These masks are less draining.  These can actually be uplifting in a way.  The mask of love and compassion when I'm not really feeling it in the moment are this way.  Soon, I step out of my own box and actually become that love and compassion. 

And as I reflect some masks are what others put on you.  I believe often times we see what we want to see in others.  And we put a mask on them so that is what we see.  The truth of who they are may be to much for us to take or differ from who we are and so.....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Best Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. And it was a great day.  It started the day before at my balance group.  Our leader and friend brought me flowers with a sage marker.  Sage for my classes at Sage Mountain, sage because it's an herb and sage because I'm a Sage she said.  I just love her.
 

I'm the scheduler in the house and for years I've been cooking my own meal and cake.  I write the day on the calender and go from there.  I'm not looking for anything big just to be remembered.  This year with brain fog I just can't shake setting in I'm boycotting scheduling.  Well, as much as I can.  So, no reminders, no note on the calender, nothing.  And my hubby remembered.  He asked for my cake recipe (the silly cake I've had since I was a little girl) and he baked it.  When he asked what I would like for dinner I just said anything I didn't have to think about. Chinese take out would be fine.  And it was. I came home to a huge hug and kisses from youngest along with birthday wishes.  My day was made. And the gift certificate for a full day at the spa was icing on the cake.

But, back up.  At work they usually do cakes.  Sometimes bagels.  MJ my row mate in crime asked me the day before if I would prefer bagels.  She knows I'm not a huge cake fan.  Yes!  What a carb luxury.  One co-workers car broke down on the way to work and we had to send someone to pick her up.  My boss (the bagel fetcher) had an emergency with one of her dogs and was late coming in after a stressful time at the vet.  Pumba is OK for now.  So, she arrives at the bagel place later than normal and they don't have a single onion bagel in the store.  But, it's for the birthday girl.  I assured her that I could live without onion but I greatly appreciated that she remembered what my favorite was (and I did).  And my everything bagel was scrumptious.

I received several warm sweet birthday greetings from one co-worker who was concerned that I had no exciting plans for my big day.  I received lots of well wishes from other co-workers and love from my balance group.  I came home to a bazillion well wishes on facebook.  And many were so heartfelt it brought tears to my eyes.

This out pouring made me feel so blessed and grateful.  The night before I had helped a girlfriend move under less than perfect circumstances.  She had put a call out for help and more than a dozen of us showed up. 

My heart is full.  That is the best gift ever. 

And peace and love to my Grandma who crossed over 24 years ago on my 21st birthday with a smile on her face.  I love and miss you.  Though I still very much feel your presence in my life.

Monday, October 1, 2012

House to Myself

This morning the kids headed off to school; youngest with a new shade of eye shadow.  She's now matching the color to her outfits (day three of her experiment).  Hubby came home from work, changed and headed to a class at the fire academy for the day.  By that time I had already sorted through my CD's discarding some, finding hubby's missing ones and making sure they were all properly alphabetized.  My headache made it hurt to open my eyes.  On youngest's advice before leaving the house I went back to bed. 

I woke feeling better and realized no sleeping hubby meant I could crank the tunes.  So, music on I hit a few cleaning projects and watered the plants.  I then pulled out my soap supplies and started a batch.  I now have 8 bars of brown sugar and fig soap curing and 37 tubes of lip balm.  The last batch had rosemary in it which seemed to irritate my lips so this batch I made with lavender.  We'll see how that combines with the carrot seed oil once it cures.  I love what the carrot seed does for the skin but  the smell can be a little off putting to some.  It was also made with calendula oil so it should be awesome for the cold weather setting in.

Three more days at the office and I'm on vacation.  I didn't need to use any time for snow this past winter so I have vacation days still on the books.  I could take a day here and there but a whole week sounds so much more luxurious.  The kids have three days off for Columbus Day (OK one plus two teacher in-service days), hubby is off mid week but I think he has a class and the end of the week I head to Vermont for my last herbal class at Sage Mountain. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Diva Tomboy

My little girl is now a freshman and things are changing.  For the past few years she has strived for everything boy like (in her eyes) hair, clothing, interests.  And after wearing dresses forever refused to even come near one.  This summer she started looking at jewelry and picked up some new bracelets and necklaces.  As much as she likes earrings she decided they hurt too much.

{ Earring story - bio pierced both the girls ears at home when they were infants.  Oldest was into the jewelry from a young age - youngest was not.  Youngest always wore kid safety earrings and at one point wanted them off.  Before bio moved away she insisted that youngest wear earrings and gave her a cheap pair of bows to wear.  They soon started bugging her and she kept pinching her ears.  I didn't realize how much they were bothering her until one night.  She woke me up to say her ears hurt.  She had pinched so much the backings were inside her earlobes.  I'm not sure who was in more pain her or me as I used the tweezers to retrieve the backings.  Since then she hasn't been able to wear any earrings and it's been almost four years.}

Last time we went for hair cuts she asked if she could have red highlights.  I know red is a very difficult color to look natural and to last for any length of time.  As I come from a long lineage of redheads for a while I tried to follow suit.  It cost a small fortune even though I loved the look.  I had Stephanie, our hair dresser explain what was involved, how often she would have to come back and how much it would cost.  I then explained on the way home what she could do to earn the money for her new look.  She decided against it.

Yesterday we headed to see Stephanie again. Something about going to get our hair done is like truth serum for youngest.  On the way there she explained that life was great but she wanted a boyfriend.  We spent the rest of the ride talking about what she expected and wanted from a boyfriend and what type of girlfriend she would be.  When I sat down in the chair to go first she asked if she could dye her hair.  A little expensive I said.  Well, we could get a box at the store (this is what bio does and can I tell you how much money I spent fixing oldest's day glow orange mistake).  Uh, no!!!!   Stephanie explained that it would cost more to fix the box dye job than having it done correctly.  I didn't have to mention bio and oldest and orange hair though I did gently remind her of it later.  I want to go blond she said.  Stephanie then said she definitely didn't want to get that out of a box.  How about a few highlights I suggested.  Stephanie piped in that she could frame her face and it would look great.  That worked for youngest and I made an appointment to go back in a couple weeks.

So, then we stopped at Ulta (the make up store) on the way back.  I had a coupon and they sell the shampoo that works great on youngest's hair.  As we walked around looking at eye make up because I wanted some fresh stuff for my outing tonight she saw a case that comes complete with lip, eye and face products.  Can I have this?  You want to wear make up I asked.  Yup.  So after asking a few questions and thinking about it (and seeing that it wasn't very pricey) and remembering that I was experimenting with make up at that age I bought it.  I got a thank you and an I love you out of the deal. 

Hubby is sleeping as it is the middle of his work week.  Son is off to help the recruiter clean his office or something.  I think we'll have a little spa day.  Some facials and foot rubs.  I'll paint her nails with the polish she talked me into last outing and I'll show her some basic make up tips.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Aaaaarrrrgh!

And I'm not a pirate.  Because bio saw hubby this week and she now has someone home to make phone calls for her bio remembered she has more kids and called the house.  I should say oldest called the house and handed the phone to bio.  Son rolled his eyes and left for work.  Youngest talked to her mom.  She hung up in tears, hating school and us.

Bio promised to send youngest a present for her sixth grade promotion (never came) this year she promised to send her a gift card for her promotion from 8th grade.  It has never arrived.  She keeps telling her she hasn't sent it yet.  Yesterday she told her she sent it and hubby and I must have stole it. 

Youngest told her how bored she was here.  We had just arrived home from hiking. She also told her she hates school and can't take art.  She loved school on Friday.

Bio told her that she can't see her because of the court system.

Bio told her she could have a dog if she lived with her and that daddy & Kim are...... because we won't get a new dog.

I was out shopping with a girlfriend and came home to hubby a tad bit upset.

So..................  hubby started the ball rolling by asking youngest who gets the mail each day.  Me and son.  So, how could we steal it?  Have you ever not received your mail?  No.  Not to bash your mom but, does that make sense?

As he briefed me he was headed to the fire pit because youngest wanted a fire.  The two headed off to get it started and I surveyed what was for supper.  I then headed to the pit and in my best whining voice said, " daddy, I'm so bored you never take me hiking or to the go carts or on vacation or nothin'. "  Youngest smiled and said she wasn't bored.  Really, that's not what you told your mom.  "I'm just blowing smoke she says."

I checked your grades and you're doing awesome.  I also e-mailed your teacher to see if we can do anything about art for the spring.  And, you start the art club tomorrow. 

At dinner we explained once again why we are not getting a new dog.  Well, the reason hubby sticks with.  That if we had a dog we wouldn't be able to travel or go away for a full day without trying to find a sitter.  Do you like going on vacation?   The reasons we didn't mention as it that even though I like dogs I hate being a dog owner.  It was hubby's dog.  Sammy came with him, the four kids and the psychotic ex-wife.  I ended it up with most of the dog duties - feeding, letting out, nursing duties, etc.  The rest could say they own a dog.  Oh, and the tumbleweeds of fur that no one seemed to notice but me.  Sammy shed a new dog daily.  Sammy was a good dog and I do miss her but....I'm not ready for that type of commitment.

I asked if I needed to file a complaint with the post office.  After all her card was stolen.  She thought for a minute and said, "I get my Christmas presents and birthday cards."  Yes, and I would love nothing more than for you to get a gift from your mom.  It breaks my heart when she promises you things and doesn't deliver, I told her. 

Why does she say anything?  Congratulations over the phone would be enough.  Why say you'll send a gift and never do?  Then say we stole it.  Oh wait, because she stole her son's gift card from his grandmother.  MIL had sent one to oldest son for Christmas.  It never arrived.  She talked to the people at Walmart, they traced it and pulled up the video of the woman using it.  She had enough money to fly and see oldest graduate but can't send a card to youngest. 

And youngest is not stupid or quiet.  She questions her mother on everything and youngest forgets nothing.  It leaves bio scrambling for a new lie and youngest calls her on the carpet for it.

And the court thing - all bio has to do is come back to CT and file to have the restraining order lifted.  She has no intention of doing that.  It's much more convenient for bio to blame us for not visiting. 

And that is my vent for the day.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mabon

Hubby arrived home in the wee hours of the morning from the airport.  Like 1230 or so.  I woke early and sipped coffee and enjoyed the quiet.  Son was soon up and ready to head out with his fellow marines for a day at Catamount and the zip lines.  Hubby woke and we were able to visit before youngest rolled out of bed at 1010.  She just looked at me and said, "I told you I'd sleep until 10."  Tough life she has.

I headed off to finish grocery shopping and hubby headed off to complete his errands.

For supper I pulled the bounty of our CSA delivery and started cooking.  I made acorn and butternut squash roasted in the oven and then mashed together with a touch of butter and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I sliced some onion and added kale to a big pot until it wilted.  I add barley, broth and a hint of cream and simmered it covered low until the barley absorbed all the yummy goodness.  And I rubbed a pork loin with my homemade Za'tar mix and roasted it.  The fat was crisp and brown and the meat was juicy.  And with the drippings a brown gravy.  The meat really didn't need gravy but, I never pass an opportunity to have some.  

Ah, what a way to welcome autumn.  Today the four of us are off for a hike.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Long Week

I woke Tuesday with a slight fever and went to work any way.  I had a meeting in the other building and when I came back to my office the wind and rain were so strong that what wasn't covered by my raincoat was soaked to the skin.  I finished up what I had to and went home crawled in bed and let hubby worry about dinner.

He left the next morning to see oldest graduate from AIT at Fort Leonard Wood as an MP.  He made it  in time to have lunch with her, bio and LHNB.  BIO and LHNB rode in one car and hubby and oldest in his so they had some one on one time.  When he arrived she ran across the parking lot, jumped in his arms with tears in her eyes. He said that was worth it.  They had the afternoon and graduation the next morning before she shipped out.  He's on his way home tonight.

Last night was open house at the high school and I had every intention of going but....  it was from 7 to 9.  I was sound asleep by 7:20.  I feel much better today.  Maybe it's the sleep or the chiropractor or maybe the spa appointment.  Nothing like a massage and pedicure to do the body good.  While I was there the receptionist told me to check my e-mails for a special offer through living social.  Yeah, a massage, facial and paraffin hand treatment for a few dollars more than I usually pay for a massage.  I could only buy one offer and one gift.  I'm thinking my diva tomboy might enjoy that stuffed in her stocking.

She came home from school yesterday and asked if she could join the art club.  She wasn't able to get into the intro to art class which she needs to take any art classes but the teacher told her about the art club.  I'm off on Mondays when she would need a ride so it works out perfectly.

High school is going great for her.  She's even made a few friends.  Wohoo!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Still in my pajamas

and it's early afternoon.   I really do plan to shower soon and start making supper.  There has been some illness in the family and I'm not sure if I have something or I'm  fighting not to have something or I'm just really tired.  And tired in more ways than I need a little sleep.

Youngest started with some sniffles when the weather turned.  She took my elderberry tincture (a new concoction) skipped her fire department meeting and snuggled in.  She was soon over it.  Son started and pushed himself.  When he felt really yucky he went to PT with the Marine recruiter for a few hours and wondered why he couldn't breath the rest of the week end.  I arrived home late last night from Vermont and hubby was taking him to the ER.  Acute bronchitis.  And much to his dismay I kept him home from school, made him tea and took his pulses (more about that in a minute).  Hubby has a sinus thing going on and falls somewhere between son and youngest on the self care spectrum. 

I got home last night exhausted.  I slept in yesterday morning and missed the hike.  If class wasn't so good I would have run back to the camper and curled up for a long nap.  So this morning I've been puttering and pampering myself.  Laundry is done, minutes typed for the fire district, elderberry syrup made and chicken soup in the works for dinner. 

Kate Gilday of Woodland Essences taught class this week end.  She is a gracious, hope filled, light filled woman.  She is a deep listener and a keeper of stories.  She taught about cancer and lyme.  She also taught about reading pulses.  Since class began in May we were supposed to be taking pulses and see what we could find.  Take notes and such.  I did some reading on the subject and could see differences in different people.  But Kate is amazing and she took time after class to show us the Aryvadic understanding of the pulse.  There are six pulse readings in each wrist. And when she was done and I had practiced it made sense.  I could feel all 12 pulses. WOW!!!

I received a heart warming report from a woman at class that taught felting to youngest at the WHC.  And then I mentioned to one of my classmates what a love her daughter is.  At the WHC her  6 y/o daughter was full of hugs and smiles for me.  She cuddled right up as her mom took a picture.  And I was told her daughter only did that with me. That made my heart smile.  M said she must have sensed the good mother in me.  She sent me a copy of the picture. 

I have time left to take at work and I'm hoping my boss will let me take an October vacation.  The kids have a few days.  Hubby's days off overlap with the kids.  It could be a fun fall family week.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ordered In before the hike

When our new governor was elected there was a big issue with the state workers and many people lost their jobs.  The state police which has a mandated minimum number of employees has been working below that for years now lost a few.  They called them back later but most had already found new jobs.  Other states quickly snatched up newly trained recruits and saved themselves a bundle.  I realize that some over time is more cost effective than hiring an employee - you save on pay and benefits.  But at what point is that no longer cost effective?  Hubby could work double shifts every day.  Heck, he could work 24/7 if he wanted to.  We are called daily to fill shifts.  He's worked two of his three days off and just turned down another shift.  At one point when everyone is burnt out and refuses to work they start ordering people in to fill the shifts.  Hubby was ordered in yesterday.  He has 20 years on the job and that means they had already worked their way through those with less seniority.  This is only the second time in ten years that he has been ordered in but, he as well as his co-workers have been told to expect it on a more frequent basis.

The call came in as we were leaving for our hike.  We had time to complete the 4.4 miles but we hustled the last hour.  I'm leading a hike for work in October and knowing the level some are at, the knee issues and that a few bring their young grandchildren I wanted to preplan the hike.  (Gosh I've been in the fire department too long)  We walked to the Indians caves along the tunxis trail.  It was a beautiful hike.  There are some really old trees along the trail and I stopped and blessed them.  The smells were amazing.  You could tell the change in the path blindfolded.  The pine forest, the hardwoods, the field of ferns.....Son is great at finding critters along the way.  We stopped to inspect spider webs, millipedes, a garter snake and birds. 

The trail brought us out on top of the caves.  Having been to the caves via a  shorter route in the past we headed back so hubby could be to work on time.  25 feet from the end of the trail youngest gave up.  She laid down a big rock to rest.  Son asked if she was dead could we leave her behind.  I told him yes but, he couldn't touch her.  He usually hates having his picture taken but, he was thrilled with this shot.
Gotta love brothers.  And son is so like mine it frightens me.  I then handed the camera to youngest for her view of the world.

Pretty cool!

Hubby went to work.  Son went to a party.  Youngest and I hung out at home. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The last of summer vacation

Tuesday the kids went back to school.  They were ready.  I was in no hurry.  This summer flew by.  It was jam packed with travel and activities. 

We ended the last week of vacation on an up note. The Monday prior youngest and I did a little girly shopping and hit the movies.  We saw The Odd Life of Timothy Green. It was sad and sweet.  And I never buy popcorn and treats but this time said what the heck.  We got the tub of popcorn and two soda combo.  And after paying more than I did for the two movie passes settled in to munch and watch.  A tub will feed a small third world country by the way.  Youngest was over the moon.  Tuesday hubby took her out and they hit the go carts and mini golf. Son is past the age of wanting to spend time with us and his little sister.

The week end youngest and I went to the 25th New England Women's Herbal Conference and hubby and son had their annual manly man week end.  The conference was amazing.  We had great weather. We arrived a little early and set up our tent in no time (a first try with just two of us).  We registered and bought our pick of t-shirts before having a picnic lunch.  Youngest had us first row for opening circle and it went from there.

And what a difference a year makes.  Last year youngest clung to me.  I had to eat with her and bring her back to the tent early and stay.  She didn't hang with any of the girls.  This year she did her own thing.  She made some friends and hung out during free time and night time activities.  Her clothing style is taking on a new twist - she cares.  But, it really is her own.  I love it.  I was able to spend Saturday afternoon on the porch talking with a new friend.  I would get glimpses of youngest and it warmed my heart. 

A labyrinth was set up this year.  And the path was lit at night by LED candle light.  I walked that and sat on the swings with a woman I don't see much of.  This was truly a recharging week end.

I took the first day of school off.  I took pictures much to my kids chagrin.  I made them breakfast which they really enjoyed. It is a streusel topped french toast.  You soak cinnamon bread with eggs and cream over night.  In the morning you make the streusel topping and bake it.  The house smelled amazing.  Dinner was chicken corn chowder and peanut butter cup brownies. 

I had breakfast with a girlfriend for her birthday.  I then puttered joyfully in the kitchen the rest of the day. I started by cleaning the fridge. Then I processed the corn; some of which became soup - the rest frozen for winter.  I blanched and shelled the edamame.  I fried the variety of peppers and froze for later use.  I turned the cabbage into a filling for pork pie later in the week.  I made the brownies - a gooey confection made with bittersweet chocolate so they were not too sweet baked in a muffin tin and topped with a peanut butter frosting. 

This week end we have NOTHING planned.  I'm a little stumped.  And hubby is home and has turned down overtime to see me.  It seems like forever.  Though we did go for a date night dinner before I left last week end.  It was youngest's idea.  Hubby and I were joking at dinner the night before that we had no meetings and could spend a little time together.  Youngest turned to her dad and said, "I can stay home alone.  You should take Kim out to dinner."  When hubby asked if she was trying to get rid of us she rolled her eyes and said, "no, I'm trying to get you to be romantic."  I love that kid.

Any way, a hike is in the works to enjoy the amazing weather.  And I am blessed that 5 of my co-workers have agreed to fill out intake forms.  I'll be reviewing, researching and making recomendations. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reunion

Yesterday was the big family reunion on hubby's side.  The weather turned out beautiful.  His mom was thrilled because her goal was to at the very least get all of her mother's 10 grandchildren together.  That happened. Grandma who is really a great great grandma (but thinks that makes her sound old - like who cares at age 92) has four girls, 10 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.  A good number of the greats were there.  There was more than enough food.  This was the first I've met his cousin who now lives in London with his wife and two adorable little girls.  This was the first time most of the family met his wife and girls.  The girls are 9 and 6.  This is the entire crew that assembled.  I had suggested one of the out-laws take the picture and we settled on a girlfriend of one of the grandkids.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reentry

We were gone on vacation for a week.  I came home did laundry and homework and prepped to leave again when my three days at work were through.  I was in Vermont for class all week end.  It was a good week end.  We were there early enough to stop for a nice lunch, we set the camper up in no time flat (we're trained well now) and just before the rain came, classes were good.  And we were out early on Sunday and stopped at the Baker's Supply Company for dinner.  Monday I did more laundry and grocery shopped.  I spent the evening in good company honoring Hecate - the Goddess of the crossroads.

I was rather relieved when I realized son needed to be dropped off on Tuesday at the fire academy and hubby would still be working.  That meant I needed to take him and I would need to take time off from work.  So after leaving him at the academy I came home and typed the minutes from the fire district board meeting and distributed them, finished laundry, filled in school medical forms in triplicate for each kid and took youngest up to the high school to find her locker and fill in with supplies.  And then I took a nap before making dinner. 

This week end we have hubby's family reunion, a 150th anniversary fire department parade (son will be there too with the academy) and son's graduation from the academy.  Next week end youngest and I are off to the women's herbal conference.  The boys will have manly man week end.  This involves steak, army navy stores, guns and Hooters.  Then school starts.

What a whirlwind summer.  I'm not fully grounded yet.  I'm working on it. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This N That

Happy 35th Birthday to Eye Candy!  Just had to say that.

Son has completed MEPS and been sworn in.  He reports to boot camp 7/8/13.  He's not to happy this week.  Hubby grounded him.  Curfew is 11 PM by our standards and state law.  He's been just squeaking in.  The other night he came in 10 minutes late.  Hubby took all driving privileges away except to and from work.  Next week he's off to the fire academy again.

Rolled in from vacation - cleaned, laundered and prepped for the week.  Three long days at work (12 hours with commute) plus board of directors meeting for the fire department.  Friday morning I leave once again for Vermont and my herbal studies.  Homework is done.  Lots of reading for this class; urinary tract and cardiovascular system.

What a perfect week to come back from vacation.  Our company is hosting their semi annual food show at the casino.  Most of my clients are there so the phone lines are quiet.  Most of the office is there so the office is quiet.  I've managed to get a lot done.

When son was trying to reach bio to sign paperwork for the military we went through all the phone numbers we had and they'd all been disconnected.  He eventually got her number through his grandmother.  Less than a month later and that phone is shut off.  She sent a facebook message to youngest with the newest number.  Let's see, the last three messages you sent went unanswered, she never has any posts maybe you'd think that's not the best way to contact your daughter.  Here's a novel idea - call her.  You have talked to her once since Christmas and that's because son reached out to you to sign papers.  And youngest's comment about still not receiving the gift you promised - "I wish she would stop telling me things she doesn't mean. I think she just doesn't care."

A week from Saturday is the big family reunion.  MIL is SO EXCITED!  She has put a lot of time and energy into it.  It kinda makes me sad that hubby really doesn't want to go.  He's annoyed he has to take time off from work and is worried he won't be home in time to march in the fireman's parade.  I can guarantee we will be.  It's their 150th anniversary and hubby is not going to miss that. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vacation

I'm back. We spent a week in Island Falls, ME.  When I told people it was in the middle of no where I didn't realize how right I was.  It was a little farther out than I would like to be for more than a week. 

We started our trip in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  We had breakfast in Freeport and visited LL Bean before heading north for another three hours. We bought son a new pair of hiking boots which turned out to be very much needed. The resort was beautiful.  The suite was done in knotty pine that gave it a cabin feel.  We settled in and headed to the local grocery store for breakfast and lunch supplies.  The big (and only) grocery store in town is also the liquor store and hardware store.  I could buy any alcohol I could think of but could not buy orange juice except in a frozen concentrate. 

Sunday we visited the Lumberman's Museum.  It was very interesting.  After having a picnic lunch there we headed to Baxter State Park and bought a season pass.  We decided on a small hiking trail as the weather turned out to be nice.

Monday after making the mistake of following the GPS which wanted to bring us in the west entrance via logging roads that has been closed for years we finally made it to the south entrance and visitors center.  This brought us to Dacey pond and and a hike to Little and Big Niagara Falls.  It was a pretty hike and not to strenuous.  Whoever named the falls have never been to Niagara but that is another story.

Tuesday we headed back to the North entrance and tried our hand at some "real" hiking.  We headed to south branch pond and one of its peaks.  It was a two mile hike straight up.  OK it seemed like it was straight up with everyone trying to keep son in sight.  He's 17 y/o and runs six miles for fun - not an easy task keeping up.  We went from 1200 feet to 2600 feet.  The view was beautiful. 

Wednesday we headed into the big city - Houlton.  We started at the historical museum.  It is housed in an old Victorian that also has the chamber of commerce office.  We had to wait for it to be opened - didn't realize we needed an appointment.  Lee and his wife Sandy were there in no time and gave us a tour.  Lee is retired USPS and has an obvious love for the town and its history.  He made the museum a real high point of the trip.  We then hit the Houlton Dairy for ice cream and their famous awful awful (really that is the name).  It is a milk shake with a scoop of soft serve on top.  I had an awful awful hard top (hard ice cream).  They make all of their own ice cream from the local dairy. 

Thursday we headed to the Katahdin Iron Works.  We stopped in Milo at the cemetery first.  They have a beautiful veterans memorial.  Stones for each branch of the service.  Plaques for every war.  It was very nicely done.  Heartbreaking as well.  The iron furnaces have not been burning for over a century but you can still smell it.  Amazing.

Friday the girls rented kayaks and the boys a canoe.  We toured the south branch pond.  I wish I had brought my camera with me but I was afraid to get it wet.  I'm not sure a picture would do justice to the view of the mountains surrounding the lake.  After a picnic lunch we hiked the nature trail.  It ends with an overlook of the pond.  Stunning.

Saturday we made the return trip stopping once again in Freeport.  We did a little more shopping and had lunch at Jameson Tavern.  I must say it is some of the best clam chowder I've ever had.  A stop at the New Hampshire state liquor store and we were home. 

It was a great trip.  The kids enjoyed it.  Two of the nights the kids wanted to just hang at the resort so hubby and I had dinner dates to ourselves and brought take out home for the kids.  And take out was not from a chain but Craig's down the street. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Picnic Part 2

In all fairness I must say my Dad stopped by later in the day to drop off my homework.  I need to complete two health in-take forms a month and my parents were kind enough to help.  That was after I checked out their facial lines, tongues and pulses before the rest of the family arrived.  I know more than I thought.  I need to write up a conclusion - recommendations and get that in the mail today.  But, back to the point. Dad vented his side of the story in a much calmer drama free way (so him).  And usually with two sides of any story there is some overlap.  Not much here.  They both agree mom is mad at dad and not talking to him.  OK, there was a little more in common than that.  I listened.  I can see where they are both coming from and I chuckle. 

Yesterday I received week 3's basket from the CSA.  Squash, cukes, corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes (orange), snow peas, cabbage, purple onions, and scallions.   Sauteed up squash and onion for supper last night.  I also sauteed up some cabbage and caraway seeds and nestled the hot dogs in it.  I was planning to finish the Michigan sauce but son ate a bowl of it for lunch.  I'm determined to clean out the fridge before we leave tomorrow.  So, today I'm blanching and freezing the corn, making another batch of pickles and a batch of sauerkraut.  The rest of the squash and the tomatoes I'll take with us to munch on.  Yum!

This morning a little pampering with a manicure and pedicure.  Then packing.  I've already got the last batch of clothes in the wash.  And I need to go start a batch of blueberry coconut muffins for breakfast tomorrow.  Or more like an appetizer for breakfast.  I was planning on hitting Freeport in time for lunch but hubby wants to leave earlier to miss traffic.  We should be in Freeport for a late (for me) breakfast.  Then a little retail therapy (or more likely looking) at LL Bean.  I'm such the fashionista.  And then we're off North.  Points further North than I've ever been in Maine.  I'm really looking forward to the hiking and scenery of the mountains.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Picnic

Yesterday was my family picnic.  It went well.  Some laughs, some catching up and good food.  My niece and nephew were full of energy and auntie spent some time playing with them outside.  Following them for an hour is better than any gym.  No game lasts more than a few minutes.  And as much as the two of them fight they want to be near each other.  At one point nephew gave his younger sister a wedgie. I'll give you one I said and the chase was on.  Around the back yard, around the house, around the sheds we went.  We'd stop and start again.  I finally caught him and up and over my shoulder he went as I pretended to give him a wedgie.   Giggle, giggle.  Then he was off again.  "miss me, miss me now you gotta...."  Kiss you I said and scooped him up and smothered him with kisses.  Then my nieces turn.

Then my mom calls this morning to apologise.  For what?  Dad yelled at her because she gave leftover salad to my brother and not to me.  Really?!   I reassured her I wasn't upset, that I need to use all the food I have in my fridge by Friday so nothing spoils when we go away and brother could use it.  That was her thought  My SIL doesn't cook a lot and she only makes things she likes.  She doesn't like salad made with mayo so my brother only gets it when he comes to visit (which can be a lot sometimes).  So mom gave him some to take home and pie for the kids.  Hey, I would have done the same thing.  Dad was also tweaked that they had to spend ten minutes picking up some toys and smoothing out the blanket on the bed.  It didn't look like a museum.  He really needs to chill. So mom vented and felt better. 

Family - the only thing normal about then is a setting on the dishwasher.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Less than a week

You know vacation is close when I print out the packing list.  Everyone laughs that I keep an excel spreadsheet for our packing list.  And then.... they ask me to e-mail it to them.  I have a few tabs - one for family vacation, the woman's herbal conference and now one for my advanced herbal studies.  I change up the quantity for items needed depending on time of year and location.  I make notes on my list and revise as needed.  I don't pack for anyone but myself.  Everyone gets a copy and packs accordingly.  It makes life soooo much easier. 

So this time next week we will be in Island Falls, ME.  Hiking, boating, swimming and relaxing are the main activities.  A few museums - lumberjack and local history, a covered bridge or two, hopefully a moose.  And lots of local food.  Breakfast will be at the "resort" and I'll pack picnic lunches but dinner will be at different local restaurants.  No chain places - yuk!  And by breakfast I mean cereal and bagels or whatever the family wants to fix for themselves.  I LOVE to cook but, I'm on vacation.  A picnic lunch is the extent of my labor.  If I have to cook and clean I might as well stay home or go RVing. 

It will be good.  Youngest took Sammy's passing pretty good.  She said her good byes the night before.  Hubby is taking it pretty hard.  He had to make the final decision.  Sammy was his dog and was there through his ex stealing the kids and the nasty divorce. And he chose to bring her home from the vet to burry her.  Son wanted to go with him and father and son burried her together.  I was OK with it until they came home. To see (or not see) her wrapped in the blanket......I know she is no longer in pain but....

Today we are off to my parents for the family picnic.  I've made tortellini salad and Michigan sauce.  I'm bring a bag full of corn  from the CSA delivery.  I love tortellini salad.  So does my mom and SIL.  My family not so much.  They do not like any vinegar based dressings.  They love the mayo laden ones.  And their will be plenty of that at the picnic.  The Michigan sauce in a sorta chili meat sauce great on hot dogs and burgers.  I've also made banana nut muffins.  Those are for breakfast and snacks during the week.  I think they make me buy bananas just so they can go over the edge and be baked into something scrumptious.  Hmmm!

I'm picking up the canning pot from my mom today.  With the bounty of the CSA I want to try my hand at canning.  I've done a little bit in the past.  Mustard pickles are first on the list.  And Friday I will need to prep the entire bounty that arrives on Thursday before we leave on Saturday.  I'll also be making a batch of blueberry coconut muffins - our traditional traveling food.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sammy

With a heavy heart we decided it was best to let Sammy go to a better place.  She's lived a good life in her sixteen years.  She's been a good companion.  Peace on your new journey!

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm Back

Someone asked where I've been - they said life must be good or I'm really busy.  I answered both.  It's summer and it's hot and I'm lazy.  Well, kinda sorta lazy - lazy by my family's definition any way. 

Work has been crazy busy.  We have not signed on the new clients that caused the full time scare.  My boss has given them a proposal.  The more I learn about the client the less likely I think they are to use us.  So, I'm still working my three days a week.  Three nine hour days.  I leave the house about 530 and arrive home at 1700 hours.  It's a long day.  Then it's supper making, a few chores and crash time. 

In the past I have worked hubby's days off in the summer so the kids had someone home and awake when they were. Son is fine.  He has a working car.  I mean a manly man bronco.  And he has friends to visit, work to go to and PT with the Marine recruiter.  Youngest is not very social.  (gets it from her father but that's another story)  She spends her days in her room - napping, reading, playing on the computer.  She's writing a book.  She takes an occasional walk.  So, I try and make a point to get her out and about when I'm home.  The beach, the bike trail, the library - she loves them all.  She loves doing anything with Daddy. He takes her biking and shooting.  Monday we were all off from work and we went to the Southwick Zoo.  A girl at work had recommended it.  The place is spotless (even the bathrooms).  The Zoo is well landscaped and the animals are well cared for.  It was a fun day.

We met with the Marine recruiter July 3.  Son wanted to presign.  He thought his father wouldn't take an interest.  Hubby made the appointment.  They can't sign until after they finish their junior year.  He spent 90 minutes filling out paperwork that night.  He took a stack of paperwork home to complete.  Today he is off for an interview with the senior recruiter and Monday he goes to MEPS.  At MEPS he will have a full physical and take his ASFAB along with a few other things.  He will then be an official Poolee.  They monitor his senior year very closely including his grades.  He has to start boot camp within a year of signing so we will have a start date before most.  That means we will also have a graduation date that we can make plans to attend.  Paris Island here I come.  Son has been preparing for this his entire life.  I hope it's all he has made it out to be.

Oldest has finished boot camp.  They didn't have a graduation but went right into AIT.  She will complete that in September and I'm sending hubby to the graduation.  Some things you just do for your kids.  He hates to fly and is talking about making the drive - 21 hours (not including stops).  Hey, however you want to get there.  I'd fly.  But, I don't have to fly with my knees by my ears.  It pays to be a midget as MIL would call me.  Though I hate that.  And 5'4" is not a midget in my book.  But, I digress.

We are on week two of deliveries from the CSA.  I have fresh picked veggies in abundance.  I'm trying to get creative in how to use them all before the next delivery.  The corn on the cob I roasted on the grill.  What we didn't eat that night I cut off the cob.  I made my black bean and corn salad and served it up as quesadilla filling the first night.  I made a second batch with pinto beans and eating it as a side dish.  Tonight is roasted pork loin so I'll roast the beets alongside it.  The greens I will mix with the kale and saute.  The cukes I sliced into a salad.  The rest I might try my hand a pickling.  The HUGE head of cabbage looks like sauerkraut to me.  Then there is squash, green beans, swiss chard and more corn.  Yum!!!

Next Saturday we leave for Maine.  I can't wait.  We will be hiking and canoeing, swimming and relaxing.  Yeah!   And I will be unplugged.  Well, except for the kindle in case I need to download more books to read by the pool.  And it's an old school kindle - not a fire.  I can only read on it.   Maybe one day I'll upgrade.  Maybe not.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting Ready to Leave

This morning I leave for class three of six at Sage Mountain.  David Winston is teaching the class this week end.  After help from a friend of hubby's my printer is up and working again so I was able to print out homework. 

My group is making the potluck dishes for Saturday night and our theme is Mediterranean.  I experimented with a new recipe on the family and that is what I'm bringing.  Za'atar Chicken and Fattoush.  Za'atar is a spice blend which includes sumac.  I had picked some up about a month ago to try and here it is.  As hubby would say, of course you did.  Sumac is a little bitter and lemony tasting at the same time.  Here's the recipes.

Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush


Chicken:
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Za’atar
3 ½ lbs. chicken pieces

Za’atar Spice: makes ¾ cup
½ cup thyme
¼ cup sumac
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp oregano


Fattoush
2 pita breads
3 scallions, halved and sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
Bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
Bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ Cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt
½ tsp sumac

Chicken:

Mix oil and Za’atar together. Rub into the chicken pieces and marinate a couple of hours or overnight. Place chicken pieces in a roasting pan skin side up. Roast at 425ยบ 45 minutes. Chicken should be cooked through and the skin crisp and a burnt umber color.

Fattoush:

Cut the pita breads lengthwise and then into triangles. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook 5 minutes.
In a bowl mix the lemon juice, oil and salt. Add the scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint and garlic. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with sumac. Serve with the pita triangles.

I went down the checklist and I'm all packed.  Luckily I spent last evening with a group of Goddesses.  I was so frazzled from work and their deep thoughts and laughter made the stress all melt away.  Work has been really busy - really. really.  To the point that I'm not sure where to start and I have checklists for my checklists.  I think I'm going to bite the bullet and work a few four day weeks to catch up.  My three nine hour days are just not enough.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Only Child Week

Son has been at the fire academy since Tuesday.  He "graduates" today.  We will be there for the ceremony today.  Hubby and youngest will be in uniform and hubby gets to give him his certficate.  The students also put on a full demonstration of what they have learned and then a family BBQ afterwards.  Last night we went to the Broad Brook Fire Department carnival and parade as the students were marching.  Son was happily surprised to see us there.  He even came over with a new friend to see us.  He was all smiles. 

Youngest has been loving her week alone.  Tuesday I gave her a manicure and pedicure.  I didn't have any tan polish so she went with a bright magenta.  Yesterday I let her pick out some polish.  She now has gold crackle to try.

Thursday hubby sent me flowers at work for our anniversary!  Then Friday night we out dinner, took a liesurely walk along one of the bike trails, cruised the back roads and stopped for ice cream.  Youngest stayed home alone with her subway sandwich she asked for and we let her rent a movie - Ghostrider 2. She was over the moon and we were thrilled we didn't have to watch the movie.


Saturday youngest helped me finish up the grocery shopping and picking out birthday presents for my nephew then we headed to the Native American Pow Wow in Somers.  They had wonderful exhibits and music and tons of vendors.  I came home with some new CD's and she has a beautiful abalone shell for smudging.

Monday was our healthy challange kick off at work.  The committee I'm on has been working for months on the program.  I'm pretty proud of what we have come up with.  It's not just a weight loss competition.  You receive points for nutrition, exercise, smoking sessation, and wellness initiatives.  We have a schedule of soccer and hiking events throughout the five month program and I'm leading two of the hikes.  You have individual scores and team scores as everyone is on teams of four.  We split our committee into two teams so we can compete alongside everyone else  We just aren't eligable for the prizes. 

I don't have a problem if people don't want to join in but rumor has it one person has really been bashing the program.  I'll be addressing that when I get back to work this week. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

8 Years

Eight years ago hubby and I were married.  It seems like yesterday and forever all at the same time - both in a good way. To celebrate we are having a date night .... on Friday.

Today we dropped son off at the fire academy.  He will have his "graduation" on Sunday.  Hubby made a few phone calls for the drill he is in charge of tonight at the firehouse and then he went to bed.  I'll make sure he's up in time to get the pizza for the meeting.  It's the middle of his work week and he was up all night and will be back in again tonight making the world safer.

I took youngest to the post office (wohoo) to mail a care package to oldest.  She's in need of toiletry items.  She would love cookies but food is still not allowed.  We then went to the library.  The place I could stay forever.  She picked out three books - two comic and Sherlock Holmes four books in one binding.  I looked through the cookbooks.  My group is cooking Mediterranean for the potluck dinner at our next class.  I wanted a few ideas.  I'm trying out the recipe I picked tomorrow night on the family.

Youngest then received a manicure and pedicure because I'm such a meany.  Her nails are now a pretty magenta.

She's off to the firehouse tonight with hubby.  So, I'm watching Bridesmaids.  I was able to pick that up at the library.  I hope it lives up to all the hype my coworkers gave it.
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