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I’ve been called the “black sheep” in my family so many times; I don’t even know where to begin.
Every woman in my family works in the public schools system, but I refused to go to school to be a teacher.
My entire family lives within a 10 mile radius from the epicenter of Monroe, North Carolina… I live 12 hours away in Wappingers Falls, New York.
I hate country music, but my family was raised on bluegrass.
I’m a progressive thinker even though my family is a bit old fashioned.
But, the one thing that really made me realize I was the black sheep early on in life is my love of sports, not to mention my sheer hatred for cheerleading.
One night before I shipped off to New York, my parents and I were watching my old baby videos. There was a video taken of everyone hanging out in the waiting room of the hospital on the day I was born. Everyone was joking around saying “If Nelson (my dad) comes out and says it’s a girl, it’ll be a boy.” My dad is the ultimate jokester.
Minutes later, my dad bursts through the doors announcing the birth of their new baby girl. My grandma shouted, “well, I guess we’ll have a cheerleader instead of a baseball player.” To which my dad replied, “we’ll see about that.” **It’s important to note that my dad was the local high school’s baseball coach, he actually had to leave a game early to come to the hospital for my birth, he was in his uniform during my delivery. **
Growing up, I didn’t have much of a choice as to what extracurricular activities I participated in. My mom did the only thing she knew to do with little girls and signed me up for cheerleading as soon as I was old enough to walk.
At one particularly painful cheerleading practice, I was punished for watching the football game when I was supposed to be cheering (hey, I was standing on the sidelines and got caught up in the moment). I don’t know what possessed me to talk back to my coach, but I said to her “Well maybe I’d rather be playing a sport than being a glorified fan.” She stood there agape. “It’s not like cheerleaders ever won a game for a team before, we’re just supposed to stand there and look pretty.”
I went home that night and cried in my pillow afraid that I had gotten myself kicked off the team. I just knew that my family would be so ashamed of me. After about an hour of sobbing, I realized… so what if she kicks me off the team, I don’t like cheering anyway!
I told my dad that I wanted to quit cheerleading and take up organized softball and basketball. He was elated. My mom wasn’t so happy, although she warmed up to the idea after she saw my enthusiasm.
The next day I made the announcement to my mom’s side of the family, cue the dirty looks and astonished faces. After some heavy guilt trips, I decided I needed to do what made me happy.
My first season as a softball player was great, my dad was one of the coaches and my BFF (laura)’s dad was the other coach. I was a natural pitcher and I don’t mind bragging on how awesome I was. I went on to play softball and basketball in high school. During my sophomore year, I began getting the attention of the local papers and colleges. When I was a senior, the scholarship offers started to roll in.
I think I made the right choice.
The point though, is what do you do when your child doesn’t want to participate in the extracurricular activity that you’d like them to participate in?
- Accept it. If you were a budding young artist, but your child wants to play football, accept it. Plain and simple. Your child isn’t trying to defy you; they just want something to call their own. You should be happy that you raised a child feels comfortable enough to go outside of their comfort zone and try new things. AND FOR GOODNESS SAKES, DON’T MAKE YOUR CHILD FEEL LIKE A BLACK SHEEP!
- Lay off the guilt trips! Just because you were a star athlete doesn’t mean your child has to be. Never make your child feel guilty for wanting to try new things.
- Research. If your child wants to play baseball and you’re not sure what the difference between a sac fly and a home run is… we have a problem. Go to your local library and check out some books on the activity your child wants to participate in, that way you’ll be able to help your child improve their skills. Not to mention, no child wants their parents screaming RUN on a foul ball.
- Give encouragement. Every child wants the approval of their parents. Once your child begins a new activity, encourage them to do the best they can and offer to help them practice their new skills.
Our beautiful Hudson Valley is in full bloom. Have you noticed? The roadsides are graced with the presence of Queen Anne’s Lace and periwinkle hued chicory. It’s a feast for the eyes and it’s one you can bring inside and have fun with! Any white flower can be changed with the assistance of your kids or grand kids, some food coloring, and water filled jars.
What you’ll need…
Glass Jars (from your recyclables) ~ Food Coloring ~ Queen Anne’s Lace ~ Daisies ~ or any white flower from the garden or roadside ~ Water ~ Children
This is a great project because not only is it fun and lovely to watch, but it doesn’t take any exact science or measurements.
This is a great opportunity to teach your children that
Red + Yellow = Orange ~ Blue + Yellow = Green ~ Red + Blue = Purple
Then if you really want to rock their socks, go ahead and put…
More Blue than Green to create Aqua ~ More Yellow than Red for Coral ~ and so forth, have fun!!
Squirt a bunch of food coloring into your jar of water and you will increase the intensity of your color, add just a little for pastels.
No need to fill the entire jar, only fill your jar or glass 2 inches full.
Let your children squirt away, don’t even worry about how much or how little they put in!
During the course of a day you will see your white blooms turn into a rainbow color! Daisies will become speckled and give off a somewhat tie dyed effect. Each year my kids are thrilled to see their flowers change before their eyes! nature’s magic
If you would like, when your flowers have reached their desired hue you can press them within a phone book. Cut them at the head and place between the pages. Put some weight on top and let sit for 4-6 weeks. When they are dry and crisp, frame and hang for a living memory in your home, or gift to a grandparents!
Note to moms: this craft can be used to decorate baby showers, weddings, and other summer parties! go ahead, make a bouquet of all your rainbowed hues. For intense colors use Wilton’s color gel from the cake decorating isle in ACmoore, or craft section of Walmart.
Just about one year ago (almost to the day), I blogged about a new recipe I’d discovered from a fun blog, for zucchini bread pancakes. This morning, as I stared at a surplus of zucchini, visions of those incredible pancakes stirred in my mind. Shortly after making those pancakes last year, my family became gluten-free. Slowly but surely, we’ve revisited special recipes, one by one, making tweaks and alterations. As a rule, it’s best to find a true gluten-free recipe for something rather than make substitutions to a traditional recipe. Many do not translate well due to different properties of gluten-free flours, wet-to-dry ratios, and lack of well, gluten. Certain recipes, however, are unique and beg for experimentation. I’m pleased to say that this recipe translated amazingly. Proportionately, there’s not much flour, which bodes well for its success.
A summery breakfast
If you’re not gluten-free, go straight to the original recipe. My only change is to use two cups of shredded zucchini. To make these gluten-free, substitute the one cup of flour for 3/4 cup plus 1 T brown rice flour, 2 T cornstarch, and 1 T tapioca flour. Make sure your oats are certified gluten-free, and use 1 t xanthan gum. Follow the recipe as posted above, and enjoy. We’re also mostly dairy-free, and the recipe worked well with almond milk in place of cow’s milk, soy-free dairy-free butter in place of butter, and I did use the sour cream because there’s no good substitute. Almond milk yogurt might work, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it might be too thin. No matter how you make them, they’re incredible.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray (or awry depending on whom you talk to).”
This phrase holds true in so many aspects of life… especially dieting! This week, I have been on my family vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It’s a great family-oriented beach with amazing amenities. I just love it here. I hope to one day retire here… it’s so peaceful.
The boardwalk at Rehoboth is like my own personal heaven. They have carnival rides, carnival games, arcade games, souvenir shops… oh yeah, and TONS of food stands and restaurants.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m on a diet; I’ve just changed my eating habits dramatically. Nevertheless, I’m still trying to cut back on my portions and eat healthy foods instead of the greasy fried foods I used to eat constantly… I guess that’s pretty much a diet, isn’t it.
I made a vow to myself that I would do whatever necessary to avoid gaining weight while on vacation. Last year, I gained 5 pounds while I was there for 2 weeks!!!!
I’ve been pretty good so far. One vacation night a year is always designated “eat ‘til you pop” night. We go to the Rusty Rudder, which is a really nice restaurant/seafood buffet. The entire family orders the same thing each year… the land and sea buffet. This year, I opted for the grilled chicken salad.
I was quite content with my salad, even though family members constantly tried to make me “taste” various things off their plate. I kindly refused and felt great about myself at the end of the night.I’ve been good all week and didn’t eat any of the local cuisine that I love.
Each day before heading to the beach, I packed a little cooler filled with fresh veggies, water and tuna salad so I would never be tempted by the boardwalk food. Everything was going great, I even lost 1 pound!
However, today was a completely different story. I leave Delaware tomorrow night and as soon as I woke up yesterday morning I started reaching for the Dollies Saltwater Taffy!
I made my way to the beach and plopped down in the sand. Around noon I started catching a whiff of Gus ‘n Gus’ famous cheese steaks. Then a group of teenagers sat down next to our umbrellas with a big box of
Grotto pizza, Thrasher’s boardwalk fries and a large gelati.
There were so many “native” Rehoboth foods that I didn’t even get to enjoy this vacation… I had to eat them all before I left or vacation just wouldn’t be the same! So starting at 12:15, (I resisted my urge for 15 minutes… that should count for something right?) I started my binge through Rehoboth.
First up was a small cheese steak from Gus ‘n Gus, then some fries from Thrashers. For a snack I had passion fruit polish icewater, then mango gelati for good measure (obviously, I ate over the course of the day… I didn’t go “hog wild” all at once). For dinner, I chomped down a slice of Grotto pizza and a Kohr Brother’s frozen custard for dessert.
Now, as I sit writing this, I’ve got my hair pulled back and a trash pale by my side. I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I guess my system isn’t used to all the greasy foods and the large portions anymore. Why, oh why did I do this to myself?!?!
I guess I’ve learned my lesson. I’m sure if I would have eaten the same foods in moderation, I would have been okay. It’s interesting how we can associate food with memories…. That’s my biggest problem. Food has always had an emotional pull with me.
From eating chicken ‘n dumplins at my grandma’s house every Sunday to eating Grotto pizza in Delaware, each dish represents a happy time in my life. It’s sort of sick if you think about it. I know this is something that I must continually work to overcome. Maybe I’ll get the hang of it one day. But for now… I’ll spend my last day in Delaware with my head hung over the toilet bowl.
So, there you have it… my cautionary tale of diets and vacation.
Remember: In this game we call life, moderation is everything!
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain, she’ll be coming ’round the mountain, She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).
Sing it! Sister and Brothers! The Catskill Mountain Railroad is coming round the mountain even after Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on part of its track along the Esopus Creek–All thanks to a cadre of dedicated volunteers who keep this vital piece of transportation history alive for us and our children.
Children are train enthusiasts: My son loves steamies, roundhouses, chanting “I think I can,” and singing the opening song for the PBS Kid’s show Dinosaur Train:
We’re huffing and we’re puffing like a hurricane…
Take a ride on the Dinosaur Train….
Well, maybe I’m the one who likes that song…it really loops around and around in your head…but ANYWAY!
Recently, we tripped the light “traintastic” on the Catskill Mountain Railroad.
The train is worth exploring. You can feel the wind sweep through your hair in an open-aired gondola car or bask in the antique lighting and seating of one of the 1920s-era commuter cars. Just make sure you watch your kids – the windows open wide unlike kid-proof windows of today.
Many Catskill Mountain Railroad volunteers loved trains as kids and just never grew out of it, so they love meeting their former selves– our train-loving kids! If you get chatty with the volunteers, you can learn a lot.
The train station’s ticket agent Peter Fluchere bubbled over with enthusiasm explaining the history of the railroad to us. Years ago, there were two ways to travel to the mountains, you could take a dirt road or the railroad. He asked us to look around at the tree-covered mountains and imagine them bare, as they once were due to the logging and tanning industries. We had no idea the landscape was once so different.
The conductor was, also, happy to give us some details about the train. He told us volunteers pitched in to buy the train’s cars and spent thousands of hours restoring them.
Sidenote- Even though it is an all volunteer operation, the Federal Railway Association monitors the line, so it is just as safe as any other train.
This is a scene from the spectacle that is ZARKANA, Cirque Du Soleil’s hypnotizing stage/circus now playing at Radio City Music Hall. It is only here, says their spokesperson Nicole Heymen, for the rest of the summer. The show then moves to Las Vegas for what is being called its “permanent home.” And what it show it was.
What we are seeing here is the high-energy and rather crowded trapeze performance with members flying and tumbling through air in a clever spider-web dance. Off stage, costumed band members keep a soundtrack of rock and roll and new-agey music carefully choreographed to the movements on the stage.
The 90 minute show flew by as a stream of really busy activities, from the silly clowns (who were very, very funny), to the nerve-wracking, some of which made me squirm and want to look away. Like the second act, a male and female team where he held the straight ladder, while climbing it at the same time while a lightweight ballerina stood on his shoulders. She then somehow turned upside down (!) so that one hand was placed on his head and her feet were in the air. All the while, the ladder moved about nervously, and the audience held its breath. (I was thinking, “oh no, you’re not going to do THAT are you!)
A few of the acts were so-so, and that is par for any circus. The tennis-ball-bouncing lady did some nice juggling with some cute angle bounces, and a team of flag throwers were just interesting. But that was okay. There was enough white-knuckle acts, like the two gentleman who ran around a spinning wheel, or the tightrope walkers who jumped rope (always a show stopper), and some really high flying gymnastics, above and beyond what we’d see at the summer Olympics.
There were two solo performances that stood out more for their quiet talent. A costumed girl came out and knelt before a sand table that projected onto the screen behind her what she was drawing in the sand. One by one, fascinating creations came to life, whether the New York City skyline to drawings of the members of the troupe, including the wild-haired clowns. Towards the end of the show, the audience uieted down for the performer I called, “yoga guy.” In a plain white outfit, on his own raised platform, this well-toned gentlemen performed poses that yogi masters can only dream about.
The stage was a show in itself with light shows, videos flying by, and backdrops that complemented the live acts. The one drawback was the circus’ leading man, in a top hat and tails (glittering and sparkling), with long hair, who sang very dramatically, in a language I couldn’t figure out. What was he lamenting about? Did he lose his magical powers? It didn’t matter; when he left the stage, another act came on to take our attention away.
And lastly, the clowns. Yes, they are silly; yes, some of the antics I remember seeing on the Ed Sullivan Show, but when one of them was shot out of a canon, carried above our heads, pretending to fly in slow motion was pretty funny. When he spots an audience member he’d like to know better he begins to flirt, then, well, let me not ruin the scene.
We are so fortunate to be able to do a day trip to NYC either by train or by car, and the shows in the city are just amazing. Check this one out as it’s still running until September 2, and despite the occasional lag in the production, it is still a very cool show to see!
If you’re planning a trip to a NYC museum with your kids, here are great ways to make it a great visit!
“People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife, but the rules are the same… Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing and allow for room to grow.” ~ Erma Bombeck
EEK it’s bathing suit season! But wait… I’m still pudgy and pale! I had dreams of losing my last 30 pounds before summer vacation, but alas… I still have 25 more pounds to go.
That being said, I can’t lie. My pants might literally catch on fire if I said I didn’t enjoy shopping for bathing suits this summer. For the first time in my life, I found a bathing suit that I was comfortable and not at all self-conscious in.
The day after I purchased my first bathing suit of the season, I started to think back… was there ever a time when I didn’t feel self-conscious in a bathing suit?
I thought long and hard. I wanted to blame my mom for my overly self-conscious mindset… I listened to her criticize herself year after year… I picked up on the way she talked about herself and found myself doing the same… after all, I look exactly like her.
I came to realize, my problem wasn’t because of my mom… it was just a matter of growing up and being more aware of social stigmas. I was never self-conscious about anything until the girl in 7th grade told me I was “fat.” I was blissfully ignorant before then.
I’ve always been a big believer in the fact that you can learn a lot from children. Whether it’s not being self-conscious, being a dare devil (to a certain degree) or by learning to let go of the past… children really do teach us.
I often find myself wishing that I could get back that “child-like” vigor and love of self. It seems as we grow older we focus more on what others think about us than what we think of ourselves. It shouldn’t be that way. If we are happy and healthy, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up to get from a size 12 to a size 2.
I began my weight loss journey not because I wanted to make others happy, I did it because even though my family and boyfriend thought I was wonderful and beautiful, I just wasn’t happy with my lack of energy and my poor health condition. Now, please do not get me wrong, I LOVE when people I haven’t seen in a while see me and are in total shock… but that’s not my goal. My goal is to be happy with myself so that one day when I have children, I can project a positive self-image and hopefully keep my kids from growing into a self-conscious wreck.
This bathing suit season, I challenge you (and myself) to let go of all the negative body image issues, relax and enjoy. Be like your children… care-free. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot more that way.