23 December 2011

Who-Knows

My Auntie Bev always made these yummy treats for Christmas.  I just finished up my batch for this year.  If you're looking for one more little something to fill up your goody plates give these a try.  I promise you won't be sorry.


WHO-KNOWS
Mix together in (very) large bowl:
2 cups Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch
2 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups shelled, salted peanuts
2 cups mini marshmallows

Melt 2 lbs. almond bark and pour over contents of bowl.  Mix until coated.  Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper and let harden.  Enjoy!

22 December 2011

Filled with Christmas Spirit

We may not have any snow, but you can't dampen our Christmas spirit.  That's what I love about my house this time of year.

Merry Christmas!

15 December 2011

Seeing through the fog

It was a foggy day, and I only had my cell phone camera, but oh this house!  The porch, the woodwork, the turret, the dormers....and it's in an old, very wealthy, seaside town.

12 December 2011

Fitness Report

Last week I didn't check in with my fitness report.  To be honest, Monday came and went and I completely spaced weighing in or writing my post.  And now here it is, another Monday and I find myself remembering what I should do.....but I'm not going to.

I'm giving myself the gift of taking the month of December off.  This does NOT mean I will be eating uncontrollably, but rather I will be enjoying the treats of the season (within reason) and starting anew in January.  I'm also hoping this break will let my body get used to my current weight (I've lost just shy of 20 lbs in 5 months folks!), and then it will be ready to start losing again when I kick into gear.

So there it is.  But, stay tuned in January--I always get a good start with a new year.

08 December 2011

02 December 2011

Life can be so hard

Do you ever have those weeks when you realize how incredibly easy your life is?

This week the father of Goosey's classmate passed away after a long battle with Parkinsons Disease.  He had been in the hospital for a year.  An eight year old losing his father.  It makes me physically hurt to think about it.

One of Lew's classmates has been in the hospital all week.  He should return to school today.  The teachers haven't been given permission to tell us his diagnosis, so we're all anxious for today when he will return and the mom can update us.  We're crossing our fingers and hoping it's something manageable, and not something terminal.

And then there's the little sister of one of Lew's classmates.  Her mom told me yesterday that she's having brain surgery next Wednesday.  Two years old, and having brain surgery.  I could tell the mother is scared to death, but was trying not to break down as she told me about it.  

Hug your families and count your blessings.

30 November 2011

NaBloPoMo

It's the last day of November, and I have successfully participated in NaBloPoMo.  As Halloween slipped away into November I had no intentions of posting on my blog every day.  I have friends who have been doing NaBloPoMo in the past, and I always told myself, "There's no way you can do that.  You don't have enough to say that anyone would want to hear."  But this year, after the first week of November I realized that I had been posting every day and would give it a whirl.

There have been days when my mind had to stretch and reach for something to post.  There have been times when I had posts lined up for the next several days.  There were even a couple of posts that, in the past, I had not been gutsy enough to share with the world.  It was a good month.

29 November 2011

Swastika Sighting


A couple of weeks ago Dogger taped a new decoration to his bedroom door.  Craig and I were a little curious about the design, so we asked him where he came up with the shape.  He told us he had seen it in a movie.

"Which movie?" I asked, interested to learn where my 6 year old had been introduced to a swastika.

"On all those submarines.  In that movie, you know, The Great Mr. Limpit.  And, in The Sound of Music.  It's on the new Austrian flag, the black spider."

Turns out I introduced my kids to a symbol, that today, is most often used to represent Nazism, Fascism and White Supremacy.  Huh.

28 November 2011

Fitness Report, Week 12

DIET
Truth:  I didn't even attempt to stick to my diet plan this week.  Between Thanksgiving and an AWOL contractor who has left us with one bathroom I was otherwise occupied.

EXERCISE

Three days.

HEALTHY CHANGE

In addition to not sticking to my caloric intake I didn't make a snack plate.  I'll be tackling that and Healthy Change #13 this week.


GENERAL
Let's talk motivation.  In theory, the end result--feeling better, being in shape and weighing less-- should sufficiently motivate me to stick to my plan and keep going.  But, that's not human nature.  I need little incentives and celebrations along the way.  Before I began my fitness challenge I made a list of rewards.  Every five pounds I lose I get another reward.   The rewards, for the most part, start off small and get bigger as I drop more weight.  So far I've made an iTunes purchase (5lbs), bought a book on Amazon (10 lbs), and a bought a new shirt (15 lbs). Just a sampling of my future rewards: pedicure, new jeans, boots, massage, night out at the movies, and when I hit my goal weight, a weekend away with no kids.


Your rewards can be anything that motivates you.  I purposely didn't choose anything food related.  Most of my rewards are little pleasures and pamperings that I don't normally treat myself to.

THE DETAILS

Weight change from last week: +.4
Total Weight loss: 10.6 lbs
Neck measurement: no change
Waist measurement: no change

Hip measurement: no change



27 November 2011

Weekend Highlights

 This time of year we get beautiful sunsets.  Friday night was extra gorgeous.  I only wish I had a wide angle lens at my disposal.

Toward the end of last school year, and again this fall, Goosey mentioned that she can't always see what's written on the board.  I took her for an eye exam last week and her glasses came in on Saturday. When she  put them on she expressed surprise at being able to see distant words clearly....and then spent the rest of the afternoon reading every sign we passed.  Isn't she cute?

26 November 2011

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

If you're starting to get a little tired of Thanksgiving leftovers, but don't want to be wasteful, I've got an idea for you.  I'm not sure why turkey pot pie never occurred to me before last year....maybe because my mom never made it.  It's easy, and really yummy.

Ingredients
1 cube butter
1 lb baby carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 lb frozen peas
2 cans new potatoes or 2 baked (peeled) potatoes, cubed
1.5 cups leftover turkey, cubed (the pieces that are getting a little dry work wonderfully)
2 cups leftover gravy
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 package phyllo dough or 4 pre-made pie crusts

Melt butter in a large frying pan.  Add carrots and onions, sautÄ— until tender.  Meanwhile, warm gravy in a small sauce pan.

Add peas, potatoes and turkey to carrots and onions.  Reduce heat to warm and stir together.  Let sit while preparing crust.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with half of the phyllo dough*.  Brush egg white onto phyllo dough every 2nd or 3rd sheet.  Cover the dough, filling the pan with the veggie/turkey mixture.  Pour gravy over top.  Layer remaining phyllo dough on top, brushing with egg white as you did on the bottom.

Bake at 350° until gravy bubbles up on the sides.

*If using pre-made pie crusts line two pie pans with crust, then top with remaining crusts.  Finish edges and cut slits in top crust.

25 November 2011

Black Friday, get thee behind me

I didn't know what Black Friday was until I was in high school.  No one I knew got up early to go shopping.  I didn't even know that there were big sales the day after Thanksgiving.  Combine that with the fact that I inherited my mother's aversion to malls and the result is my absolute refusal to participate in mob shopping.

To be truthful, I've shopped on black Friday three times.  The first, I accompanied my high school best friend to Fred Meyer.  Every year her grandmother bought socks and underwear for my friend and her seven siblings.  As the oldest, my friend had the assignment to accompany her grandmother and to approve all purchases.  It was my first Black Friday experience and I was a bit overwhelmed.  I couldn't believe how many people were in the store (surely the majority of the 30,000 people who lived in town, and many from the surrounding rural communities).  When we arrived the grandma already had a cart full of underclothing and socks, and we began sorting through it and deciding what to keep while waiting in the check out line.  Rather than miss out on something good, she grabbed and piled, then waited for us to weed out the good ones.

The second time I was in my married, pre-children life.  My friend Suzanne asked me to accompany her.  We hit Walmart in Springville, UT just before it was due to open, only to find that it had started snowing, so they let the shoppers in early.  They had been allowed to fill their carts, but not to check out.  I stood in a check out line while Suzanne flitted around the store finding items from her list.  She had some specific things she had hoped to get, but they were gone by the time we got to them.  I think we hit one or two other stores, but the highlight of the morning was having breakfast with my friend.

The last time I went shopping on Black Friday was when I was pregnant with Lew.  We had travelled to Spokane for Thanksgiving since Craig's brother had just returned from a LDS mission in Ecuador.  I had a big list of baby items that I wanted to sew and was hoping to use my mother-in-law's serger.  Rather than hit the first thing in the morning sales, we woke at our usual time, showered and left for the fabric store.  There was plenty of flannel (which I was after) on the shelves and I loaded my arms...and my mother-in-law's.  As we were chatting with the lady in front of us there was a commotion immediately behind us.  We turned to find a young woman, unconscious on the floor.  Her mother stood, staring at her, mouth open.  Everyone else just stared.  I realized that no one was going to do anything for this girl.  I handed off my bolts of fabric and lowered my 8-month pregnant body to floor to check her vitals.  Just then she awoke and informed us that she was lightheaded and dizzy.  Turns out they had left home at 4am without eating breakfast and had been shopping for five hours straight without stopping.

That day I decided that I would never again venture out on Black Friday.  I can do without the crazy hoarding, the disappointment, the bodily harm.  There's nothing I want that badly.  I'm happy to stay at home and decorate for Christmas (or if the weather is fine, like today, do a little yard work).

24 November 2011

A Home for Thanksgiving

Cute dormers and a red door with an autumn wreath.  I'd eat Thanksgiving dinner here.

23 November 2011

Praise God, From Whom All Blessing Flow

I love that we have a holiday to focus on gratitude.  As we discussed during our family night this week, it's important to feel grateful, but it's even more important to express thanks to someone, our Heavenly Father.

This year I am especially grateful for my darling babies, Craig's job, my children's school, a new nephew, and an amazing summer trip.  As always, I give thanks for my savior, Jesus Christ and for the power of the atonement.  

Truly, we are all blessed.

22 November 2011

Stress free holiday?

Today our contractor decided to come rip out our upstairs bathroom....the one we called him about mid-October.  I'm really looking forward to the updates, but I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.  My day of a first-thing-in-the morning errand at the school, then pie baking now needs to include purchasing a bathroom mirror, sealing a slate floor and painting the walls where the toilet and vanity used to stand.  Before 11am.

I just want to make pies.

21 November 2011

Fitness Report, Week 11

DIET
I logged and stuck to my diet goals really well the first half of this week.  Then, Craig came home from NYC and it was a little harder to stick to.

EXERCISE

Three days.

HEALTHY CHANGE

When Skip first posted his challenge relating to fats last March I was so excited.  I really love butter and was happy to have a reason to switch my family from the yogurt spread we've used the last few years to butter.  Butter is holidays at Grandma's house--who wouldn't love butter when the taste accompanies fond memories.  Several years ago we also began using olive oil more.  This was an easy (and enjoyable) challenge for me.

GENERAL
Last Friday I finally went to the doctor to address the cough I've had since August.  Turns out I've got bronchitis and an ear infection.  I'm on an antibiotic and am hoping I'll finally be feeling back to myself by Thanksgiving.

THE DETAILS

Weight change from last week: -2.2 lbs
Total Weight loss: 11 lbs
Neck measurement: no change
Waist measurement: no change

Hip measurement: no change

20 November 2011

Wants and Shoulds

I always feel conflicted when I come away from stake conference.  If you know me, you know that my fondest dream, hope and desire is to move back to the Pacific Northwest.  It's where my heart is, and where half of our family resides.  I want to be there.

When I attend stake conference I am reminded of how needed we are in this part of the world.  We listen to speakers who remind us of our daily circumstances.  The northeast has the lowest percentage of Latter-day Saints in the country.  We are few and far between.  Many of our members are new converts, still adjusting to a new way of life.  Our church attendance is low in numbers and the burden of keeping our ward and stake functioning generally falls on the shoulders of a (young) few.  And it's hard work.

There are many, many times when I wish we could move back west, not only to be near family and surroundings that are comfortably home, but to rest.  Yet, at the same time, I feel like we are doing good here.  Our service is meaningful and needed and I wonder if we should just make a go of it and plan on staying here.  And then I'm reminded of our friend, Brother Lam.

When we were first married Brother Lam once told us, "Someday you will live in a place where you're the best the Church has."  Sometimes I think Brother Lam must have the gift of prophecy.

19 November 2011

Just a little homesick

Today I was reminded how just how different my place of residence is from where I grew up.  Occasionally, I'm still surprised that I deal in things like leaf bags, winter wardrobes, oil heat, snow pants, snow plows, toll roads and February vacations.

I miss my mild weathered, laid back, low maintenance Oregon.

18 November 2011

If I were in charge

I have an idea that will make someone a fortune:  refinance responsible homeowners who are underwater and whose mortgages are not Fannie/Freddie backed.

I'd love to refinance, but because we are not F/F backed we don't qualify--we're underwater.  There is a program for homeowners like us, but the lender has to voluntarily participate.  I think we all know that mortgage lenders don't voluntarily do anything.

What I'm proposing is that someone with lots of capital (Warren Buffet, do you read my blog?) start refinancing homeowners who have never missed or been late on payments, and whose homes can't appraise high enough to refinance.

Why would this work?  First, you know these people are reliable.  They're making their payments, on time, despite higher interest rates and even bouts of unemployment.  These homeowners like their homes and their neighborhoods and want to stay put.  Second, in refinancing only the amount remaning on the the loan, the homeowners can even more easily make their payments and have a little extra to spread throughout the economy (win/win).  Finally, the new mortgage company would MAKE MONEY.  It would be collecting interest that is currently going to another mortgage company.

Overly simplified, maybe.  But logical, no?

17 November 2011

Relaxing of an evening

It's all about the porch, my friends.  A place to sit in a rocker and drink lemonade on hot summer days.

16 November 2011

Allowing others to serve

My visiting teachers came to visit this morning.  When I make time for them to visit me I usually feel that I'm allowing others to do service; being gracious enough to let them fulfill their assignment.  I don't really need visiting teachers-- I'm capable and confident and have things under control.  Rather smug of me, no?

This morning, as I was doing last minute clean-up before they arrived, I pondered the ladies who visit me.  One has children my age, and the other grandchildren my age.  I like that.  I think too often we surround ourselves with women who are much like us, and by doing so we miss out on opportunities and perspective.  I value these women and the experiences they share with me.

I also thought about past visits and how I felt when they were in my home.  As I remembered I realized that these two women are always building me, never tearing down.  There is no judgement, no preaching.  They praise me and my efforts, my children, my talents and abilities.  They are kind and sweet and always leave me with a kiss on the cheek.

Today was no different.  They shared and discussed and lifted me a little higher.  They praised and encouraged and loved.  They visit taught.

They might be a couple of quirky "old ladies", but I love those old ladies and I love how they serve me.

15 November 2011

But Mortimer, Niagara Falls!



The fam taking the obligatory "we've been there" pic.

We spent the long weekend taking a road trip.  Downtown Niagara Falls still had some gorgeous autumn colors.  They lined the median that ran the length of the main street.  So pretty!

 American side view of the falls.

The American side isn't quite as scenic, but it's a better view of the majesty and intensity of the falls.  There's lots to do on the American side, lots of it at no cost.  And, of course, it doesn't require a passport.

The falls from the Canadian side.

The Canadian side gives a better view from a distance.  The road along the river is called the Niagara Parkway.  It's a nice drive, or stroll, but there isn't much in the way of museums or information.

Niagara Falls!  It does?  Well, let it.


14 November 2011

Fitness Report, Week 10

DIET
I was on the road several days this week, so I didn't faithfully log.  However, I did try to keep a running estimate in my head.

EXERCISE

One day, but it was a big day.

HEALTHY CHANGE

I love the idea of eating foods, especially antioxidant rich ones, in their season.  And, eating berries--yum!  In the past I didn't buy a lot of berries.  I grew up in an agricultural area where it was affordable to "you-pick" most fruits.  In addition, blackberries, plums and apples grew, unattended, on our ranch.  When I see the berry prices I get lightheaded.  Last year I finally accepted the mantra "buy what you like to eat because it's cheaper than eating out."  Since then I have been buying lots of berries.  Yum!  Love them.  I am obsessed with raspberries right now.

GENERAL
My mom was in town last week and we were constantly running around, sightseeing.  I've been tired and out of my normal routine.  I'm hoping to settle back into things this week.

THE DETAILS

Weight change from last week: -.6 lbs
Total Weight loss: 8.8 lbs
Neck measurement: no change
Waist measurement: no change

Hip measurement: no change

13 November 2011

5 Things

When road tripping, Craig usually needs a little help staying awake and focused.  This weekend he came up with the "5 Things" game.  He and I would take turns asking each other to name five things.  It was successful enough to keep us entertained for four hours.  Occasionally the categories were weak, but often they made us think and discuss further.  Here are a few from yesterday:

Name 5

  • subatomic particles
  • wives of Henry VIII
  • rivers in Europe
  • scientific principles
  • U.S. presidents who were assassinated or survived assassination attempts
  • ways of saying "Hello" in different languages
  • songs whose lyrics include numbers
  • signers of the Declaration of Independence


There were, obviously, many more to fill up four hours of driving.  What "5 Things" question would you have asked?

12 November 2011

11 November 2011

New England Quilt Museum

On Wednesday Grammie, Lew and I ventured to the New England Quilt Museum.  I had only heard negative things about the city of Lowell, so I was pleasantly surprised when I drove around the downtown area.  It was beautifully clean and updated while maintaining its 19th century charm.

This is the darling innercity park we were near.  Love it!

The museum is small, but had a beautiful exhibit; Patience to Raise the Sun.  The exhibit showcases quilts made by Hatian women who are trying to support their families.  The amazing thing?  Quilting is new to Haiti, since the earthquake.  It is being taught to women so that they can export their quilts to the United States to be sold.  Photography was not allowed, but the quilts are vibrant works of art.

The museum changes its main exhibit every 6-8 weeks, and I'm looking forward to going again when the next one opens.

09 November 2011

New Hampshire Children's Museum

The kids had yesterday off school for voting (don't get me started).  We wanted to do something fun with Grammie, so we went to The Children's Museum of New Hampshire.  The drive took about an hour, but it looked like this...
...so no complaints.


We've been to the Boston Children's Museum, and I assumed this one wouldn't compare.  I was wrong.  It was smaller, but all the exhibits were hands on and it wasn't crowded at all.  There were so many things to do!

Lew putting paint on an apple to do some stamping.


 Goosey playing postwoman in the old timey post office.  This was definitely her favorite, 
and she wished we could've gone back and done it again at the end of the day.


Dogger racing a car he built.

There was so much more--digging for dinosaur bones, learning how to weave, hoisting the sail on a boat, exploring a yellow submarine....  It was fantastic.

08 November 2011

My civic duty


It's voting day.  I believe so strongly that we need a new mayor that I took the early morning shift, 6-8am, holding a sign at my polling place.  I stood in my warmest, comfy shoes for two hours and greeted voters.  Crossing my fingers things will go our way.

Also, we have a winner for the Paper Culture giveaway:  #1-- Queen Scarlett!

07 November 2011

Fitness Report, Week9

DIET
I didn't even attempt.  I obviously need to get back on this.  This week--I'm doing it.

EXERCISE

On day.  Blah.

HEALTHY CHANGE

Eat bread with more fiber than sugar.  That's not as easy as you might think.  Take a look at Skip's posts on the topic.  And, we don't have the all same brands in the East that he talks about.  But, I did okay because I didn't eat bread-- I used Lavash Bread this week.  It did reinforce to me that I need to get back to baking my own bread.  I haven't done it for a while, but I like being able to control what goes into it.


GENERAL
I haven't been motivated the last few weeks.  I'm too easily swayed by challenges-- "Oh, it's our third snow day in a row?  I guess I won't exercise again."  Bah!  I can do better than that.

THE DETAILS

Weight change from last week: +.2 lbs
Total Weight loss: 8.2 lbs
Neck measurement: no change
Waist measurement: no change

Hip measurement: no change



06 November 2011

Plimoth Plantation

 Last month we attended Family Archeology Day at the Boston Museum of Science.  While there I entered a drawing for passes to Plimoth Plantation.  I was thrilled when I learned I had won the drawing.  They sent us five passes, and since Lew is young enough to be free we decided to use them when Grammie came to visit.

The Plantation has two main features:  a 17th Century English Village and a Wampanoag homesite.  In addition, the Mayflower II, a ship modelled after the original Mayflower, is associated with the Plantation.

The pilgrim village is meant to be very authentic.  It's only 1/3 the size of the actual village, but they have taken great pains to use tools and materials that the pilgrims would have used.




The setting is quite lovely, overlooking Plymouth Bay.  It was very blustery and cool, but worth braving the weather.



The kids had a chance to beat some bedding.  I'm pretty sure they're appreciating their mattresses tonight.




Lew loved the chickens and roosters that wandered freely in the village.  He would've loved to have taken one home (me too), but our town doesn't allow us to keep chickens.





The absolute best part of the village is interacting with the staff.  Each staff member is a particular person who lived in Plimoth during 1627.  They are completely in character, and can only answer questions as they would answer them in 1627.  We learned about sewing, cooking, farming, political views and frustrations of the time.


After the pilgrim village we walked to the nearby Wampanoag Homesite.  In 1627 the Wampanoag chief asked a trusted man to move his family near the English settlement so they could keep an eye on what was going on.  We visited a recreation of his homesite.



While everything was very interesting we were disappointed that there weren't many native americans for us to speak to, especially compared to the English Village we had just come from.  It's possible that some of the staff were at lunch since it was that time of day.  But, we felt like we didn't learn as much as would have liked to at the Homesite.



We did get to watch and learn as a Wampanoag artisan was making a mishoon, or boat, by burning out a tree.




One of the few staff available to speak with was this woman who was weaving beautiful things.  In contrast to the English villagers, the Wampanoag staff are Native American who are free to talk about their history and culture from today's perspective.  I especially loved hearing this woman tell a couple that the Wamponoag belief in the afterlife is that you go to the sky to be with your family who has gone before you.


After leaving Plimoth Plantation we had some lunch then drove the 3 miles to the Mayflower II.


 The ship was beautiful, and again there were a few "Englishmen" on board who could answer questions about the voyage and their lives before they came to New England.  The dock alongside the ship has many displays and placards explaining the building of the ship and aspects of the voyage.  However, I really would've have loved a tour guide to show us around.  Again, I felt like we didn't get as much out of it as we could have-- especially with 4 & 6 year old boys who don't want to stand around reading displays.



About a block from the Mayflower II is "the" Plymouth Rock, engraved with the year the pilgrims landed.

And, of course, we had to document the fact that we had really and truly been to Plymouth Rock.

05 November 2011

A quilt for Fritz

My sister-in-law is quite the seamstress, so I'm sure she didn't need a quilt.  But, I like to send a little love to my nieces and nephews.  I'm hoping this will serve well as a floor quilt for little Fritz to roll around and play on.  Now, if he'd just make an appearance!

04 November 2011

Paper Culture Giveaway

Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, which means Christmas is just around the corner!  I'm already thinking about my holiday cards, and I'm sure you are too.  It's your lucky day because one of you is going to win a $50 voucher to Paper Culture.   Here are a few of my favorite designs available from Paper Culture:

This little girl is so darling.  Imagine how cute your little one would be on this card.

 This card is customizable--you can decide which circles to fill in.  Super cute.

I love the classic design of this one.

There are many more designs to choose from.  You don't even have to purchase holiday cards--there are invitations, announcements, stationery.  You choose, it's your $50.

In addition to being beautiful, Paper Culture strives to be eco friendly.  Their high quality paper is 100% recycled and they plant a tree for every order.  Seriously, they're a class act.

HOW TO ENTER
1. Visit Paper Culture and browse the products.
2. Leave me a comment telling me which one you love the most.

Entries will be accepted until midnight on Monday, November 7th.  The winner will be drawn at random.  Best of luck (because I know you really want it).

* I was provided the $50 voucher for the giveaway.  I was not compensated in any other way.



03 November 2011

All the Shingle, Ladies


Such a sweet little entry on this home.  I love the grid on the window and the flower box.  So welcoming.

I'm also a fan of shingled homes.  I love the way they age.  I'm also liking the trellis on the side of the home.....I think I need one of those.

02 November 2011

Let's talk politics

I'd like to share some wisdom that a former co-worker shared with me: vote liberally at the local level and get more conservative as the elected official moves farther from you.  Over the years I've come to recognize the logic in this wisdom.

Our locally elected officials will be deciding matters that affect our day to day lives-- school policy, city development, property taxes....the list goes on.  Our national leaders attempt to make sweeping decisions they feel are in the best interest for the entire country.  When national leaders try to get involved at the local level things tend to get messy (case in point: No Child Left Behind).  Local matters are best left to local leaders, with few exceptions.

Next Tuesday our city will be electing a mayor, aldermen, and school board members.  The nature of our local government makes the mayor a huge player in education, he even sits on the school board.  Not only that, but our school budget is a part of the city budget, making the mayor even more influential.

Did you know that our current mayor has no children?  He has never been a parent within the school system nor has he worked in education.  For a city whose mayor is so heavily involved in the educational system, I find this ridiculous.  If you ever listen to him talk about education he frequently references his time in the public school system.  He graduated high school in the late 60's.  They didn't even have computers in classrooms at that time.  He has no personal frame of reference for IEPs, No Child Left Behind, overcrowded classrooms or cyber-bullying.  And, as we know, he is fond of making mountains out of mole hills.

How, you might be asking yourself, did he get elected?  Unfortunately, there are many people who vote solely on party affiliation.  Our current mayor is a Republican, and I strongly feel that is the only way he was elected and the only thing he is relying on to be elected again.  Please understand this:  I am a registered Republican, but will not be voting for Ted Gatsas, nor did I last time.  I prefer to align my vote with my hopes and convictions rather than the bubble next to the word "Republican".

I'm asking you to do the same.  Take a minute to examine your ideas for the needs in our city.  Do we need a new city plaza, or do we need smaller classroom sizes?  Do we need to shut down fire stations in the name of the budget or do we need someone who is willing to work on the budget in order to maintain city services?  Do you think that kids today are disrespectful?  Do you really think continually shrinking educational resources is going to help the situation?

Please, I beg of you, be an informed voter instead of a box checker.

01 November 2011

Where did you go, Halloween?

Halloween 2011
Halloween was stolen from us this year.  To be truthful, I feel like it is stolen every year, but this year feels like a complete loss.

We live in an area where the local government decides the day and time trick-or-treating will take place.  For nearly twenty years our town has trick-or-treated on the Sunday before Halloween, no exceptions.  If Halloween falls on a Saturday, trick-or-treating is still the Sunday prior.  Due to our religious beliefs we do not participate in recreational activities on Sundays, which we hold sacred as the Sabbath.  For the last few years we have trick-or-treated with some friends whose town observes Halloween on the 31st of October.

This year our mayor and police chief spiced things up by moving trick-or-treating to Halloween.  The actual day, the 31st!  My kids have been so excited to go house to house in their own neighborhood and to interact with their friends.  And then it snowed.

It didn't just snow.  It snowed A LOT!  In one storm we got seven times the amount of snow that had been the October snowfall record.  We lost power for a little while and many of our friends are still waiting for power to be restored.  Despite the fact that the storm was 48 hours before Halloween night, we are still dealing with the consequences.  One of those consequences was trick-or-treating being postponed.....until next Sunday.  Not only that, but our friends' town also postponed until next Sunday.

So there will be no trick-or-treating this year.  There were no school parties since school was cancelled.  The kids did get dressed up, but it was in snow clothes instead of costumes.  It just doesn't feel like November without having had Halloween.

31 October 2011

Fitness Report, Week 8

DIET
Huge fail this week.  I not only didn't track, but I didn't stay on track very well. 

EXERCISE

Six days, thanks to the snow shoveling I did on Sunday morning.  I've also changed up my workouts a bit.  Since I've been at the same weight for almost a month, I thought that perhaps I've cardio-ed away all the unstubborn fat I can.  I decided to add more strength training.  I'm now doing 15-20 minutes of cardio and then the remaining 10-15 minutes are used for strength training.  I'm trying to build some muscle in hopes that I'll burn more calories on a daily basis.

HEALTHY CHANGE

I failed here too.  It's Halloween--was I really not supposed to bring any bags of candy into the house?  There are exceptions to rules, and this was one of them.  Yes, I brought bags of candy home.  Will I do it again? No.

GENERAL

I'm not trying to use it as an excuse, but I do think that if I could get all of us healthy it would make a big difference. Craig's coughing had been keeping both of us up most of the night.  We've been tired and sluggish.  On Thursday he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a respiratory infection and pneumonia.  He's on meds now and is slowly improving.  As a result, I've been sleeping better.  So, I'm hoping things will look up this week.


Occasionally I have to remind myself that my goal isn't merely to lose weight, it's to feel better.  When I remember this I can find accomplishments to celebrate that don't involve the scale.  Take a look at the waist and hip measurements-- they're moving in the right direction.  Toning my muscles and feeling good are definitely important, so I'm going to consider this week a success.

THE DETAILS

Weight change from last week: +.2 lbs
Total Weight loss: 8.4 lbs
Neck measurement: no change
Waist measurement: -2 inches

Hip measurement: -2 inches



27 October 2011

Asian Flair

I was driving around a neighborhood full of Colonial and Victorian homes when I suddenly came upon this beauty.  A craftsman with Asian details.  I love the multileveled roofline, the woodwork around the front door, the decorative roof braces.  Please also notice the bust and decoration on the ridgepoles.  I am seriously in love with this house.

25 October 2011

Autumn in My backyard

Four years ago I planted these two trees in our backyard in hopes of future shade.  I purposely chose maples that would provide brillant Fall colors. This year the trees grew like crazy and gave lots of shade.


The colors are brillant, covering the range from green, to yellow, orange and red.






Some of them have fallen and made pretty pictures on my lawn.



I don't even mind when they turn crisp and brown....

because these guys love to rake them into piles and have fun.



Autumn is the best!
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