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This is Jeff Daniels.  He plays a news anchor in Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO drama, “The Newsroom.”  The show’s trailer has been playing on youtube and facebook of late (I can’t include the link here because it has an expletive in it, and this is a family website.)  But the gist of this character’s rant during a Q & A, listed all the things wrong with America.  Asked why America is so great, Jeff Daniels’ character stepped onto his soapbox, much like President Bartlett did on “The West Wing.”  But this speech was negative at the core, how we’re down on the list for literacy, about our international hypocrisy, and present state of political affairs.  I guess it hit a nerve, evidenced by its posting on social media.

I spent this morning as a volunteer recruit at West Point, and I have to say that I left feeling pretty good about our country.   I saw an amazing group of dedicated twenty-somethings, some older, some younger, but all sharing a common goal.  Was every trainer pitch perfect in his or her speech, no.  Was every line moving at the speed desired?  No.  But it was the comraderie that was evident despite the need for salutes and the occasional  “Good morning, Sir”  Or “Madam,” as officers passed on by.

The day began in the auditorium at Eisenhower Hall for a brief intro, and then we were ushered into buses that would take us to Thayer Hall.  We were there, all 200 of us or so, to help the trainers practice “processing” pretend recruits for the real day, with real candidates for cadets coming this Monday.  At Thayer, we were instructed to stand in line, follow the tape on the floors, enter and exit rooms for pretend medical tests, a review of vaccinations, the volunteer handoff of contraband, i.e., drugs, weapons, hate material.  The girls were led to the female room for the ladies garments, and the guys were sent to the guy room.  We pretended to get our complimentary hair cut.  We were ordered to drink water.  And then we stood and took the oath which said that we’d do everything in our power to protect this country, and give allegiance to no other. 

And once we raised our right hand and promised to be honorable and true to the corps, we met our drill sergeant; a serious third year cadet named Price.  He hesitated a bit before commands, clearly he’d spent time memorizing them, but still halted  between his words, but he never faltered.  We were then led out, about 7 of us who were his “rank” for the session, and formed a line.  Price demonstrated the salute, the about-face, the at-ease, how to march, and how to turn left and right while marching.  And before we could leave for the day, we had to recite our introduction, a statement of our purpose to the ranking cadet “with the red sash.”  I was caught up in cadet fever, especially since it felt about 110 degrees in the shade (we lost one kid who fainted from the heat), plus, I was trying NOT to get disciplined.  During one march, I turned my head, distracted, and out from an alley way came a strong repimand:  “Eyes front, cadet.”  My head snapped back. 

“Sir, Cadet Goff reporting to the cadet with the red sash for the first time as ordered,” was my introductory speech. But I had to stand at the right spot near the tape, sweaty, hungry, thirsty, and be nose to nose to my superior, all the while giving a proper salute.  I only needed one take, and was then welcomed into the corps., a place where I’d become part of a family of like-minded patriots, and despite the imperfections of our coutnry, who would still lay down their life for it.

I know “The Newsroom” is only a show, and that our country and our military could always use improvement, what good does it do to simply state its imperfections?  When that student asked “what makes America great?” I think a better answer would be, “Because we believe it is.”

(We follow Sergeant Price.)

(MJ with an officer known as James Brandt..not sure of his rank.)

I made it my goal this week to try a variety of “quirky” health foods. I’ll have you know I was a bit worried at first. I thought I’d spend my nights gagging at the dinner table rather than enjoying my home-cooked meals. I divided the oddities up into two categories: Beverages and Food. Below are my VERY scientific findings.

Beverages

1. Kombucha: I’ll be honest… I was afraid to drink kombucha. Not because of the look or odd texture – it was the smell. There was a pungent aroma filling the air as soon as I opened the bottle – VINEGAR! Surprisingly enough, I loved the Kombucha. I only bought one bottle to start, but went back to the grocery story last night to buy a few more. I’ll definitely keep kombucha in my arsenal of healthy foods.

2. Yerba Mate: I love tea, but being from the South, I’m more accustom to sweet tea. HOWEVER, I liked the Yerba Mate tea. I was expecting it to taste like dirt and grass (only because that’s what I imagine when someone describes beverages as earthy). I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and didn’t even have a desire to add a few heaping tablespoons of sugar!

3. Pu-erh Tea: The same can be said for Pu-erh tea. It had a strong earthy taste that was quite pleasant. I was expecting it to be a dense tea, but found it to be rather refreshing and light.

Food

1. Chia Seeds: It took some searching to find these chia seeds. I was almost to the point of just buying a chia pet and taking out the seeds for myself, BUT I didn’t. I found them at this great organic market near my house. I tried the seeds 2 ways. I popped a handful in my mouth, which wasn’t the best idea in my opinion. I had a lot of seeds stuck to the inside of my mouth. Then I used the chia seeds as an additional health source in my morning protein shake. The seeds didn’t change the texture of my protein shake at all. They’re pretty much just like flax seeds.

2. Marmite: I will NEVER eat marmite again. This is another thing that I had to do some searching for, but  I unfortunately found it. It’s a nasty thick paste with a fishy, dirty, yucky flavor (Please pardon my child-like review).

3. Kimchee: I tried kimchee at local restaurant. The way it was described to me (fermented veggies) made me a bit nervous to try it, but it wasn’t bad. I don’t think I’d willingly order it again, but if I had to eat it, I think I could.

What oddball health foods do you like? Let me know by commenting below!

 

I admit… I haven’t been as strict with my diet since I started working here at Hudson Valley Parent.

I have one can of soda in the AM to wake me up (I’m not a big fan of coffee) and my breakfast usually consists of something I can grab and eat in the car like a breakfast bar or fruit. This week I event opted for *GASP* a poptart!

I’ve decided I need to stop spending money on unhealthy food and get back on track… although I wouldn’t say I’ve really fallen off track, I’m still loosing weight (I just have a difficult time with breakfast… and lunch the couple of days I forget it at home).

I’ve always been a “water snob.” I only drink certain brands/types of water. I know this may sound irrational, but I like my water to be at a pH balance of 8.0… that’s right, I test the water I drink just like you would test pool water!

I’m really into “new age” health things, from 8.0 pH balanced water to tofu soup recipes. I like to try new “healthy” things to broaden my horizons and make my diet less boring.

This morning after discussing an odd drink called “Kombucha” with our guest Art Director, Jackie, I decided to experiment with health food “oddities” and report back next Friday.

And now for the details:

I’ve divided my oddities up into 2 categories. Beverages and Food. I’ll test each item in each category over the next week and report back in my next blog.

Beverages

1. Kombucha: A fermented drink with slimy texture and odd slimy seeds floating around throughout the drink. It is said to improve digestion, lowering cholesterol and even fighting cancer.

2. Yerba Mate: Great coffee replacement, it has as much caffeine as coffee. It’s a very earthy tea.  It is said to suppress weight gain and cholesterol.

3. Pu-erh Tea: A malty type of tea. It’s refreshing and earthy. It is said to significantly suppress weight gain, levels of triacylglycerol and total cholesterol.

Food

1. Chia Seeds: Yep, the same seeds you put on your chia pet in the ’90s.  Chia seeds are apparently an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, a good source of calcium and omega-3 fatty acid. These can be sprinkled on anything, devoured by the handful or blended in a smoothy.

2. Marmite: A spread that is made from yeast extract with a salty and bitter taste. Marmite is a great source of protein and vitamins. It is usually eaten as a spread on crackers.

3. Kimchee: A blend of  fermented vegetables (generally cabbage or radishes). Kimchee is a great source of vitamin C, carotene and dietary fiber. It’s eaten like a thick stew.

I’m inviting all of you to join me in testing out these new products… let’s see how this goes!

Be sure to leave a comment if you try out one of these odd health foods or if you have a suggestion of your own!

~Brit

This is a fun project full of hands on and parent/child collaboration. There are a lot of parent steps, but your children will be more than happy to assist you and watch as the project goes on. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Make these now so you are ready for your 4th of July weekend! it’s coming faster than you think 🙂


Step # 1  Rubber band both sides of your shirt as to define a bottom, middle, and top. Cut both ends off of a walmart bag… the handles and the bottom so that you have an open plastic “tube”.

Place tee inside the tube so that only the middle is inside with both bottom and top of tee hanging out.

Roll your tee inside the bag up tightly. Fold down ends of bag so that they are directly over the rubber banded tee area and rubber band again over top. This insures that no dye will get into the middle section of your tee.

Step # 2 rubber band the top of and bottom of the tee in any way you would like. You can evenly space the rubber bands one after another which would make stripes, or you can pinch pieces of your fabric up which would make firework type patterns. You may be asking at this point what your children are actually doing… I had my children count with me each time I wound the rubber band so that they felt involved and could practice their numbers. My 6 year old could do the rubber bands himself with just a little assistance. I also had them hand me the rubber bands and choose weather they wanted stripes or firework patterns.

Step #3 pour half your container of RIT dye into a bowl, if you have powder only use half of the box. Add 1/2 cup of salt to each bowl. Mix these with hot water and stir. Let your child do the stirring.

Step #4 Let your child hold their tee like a upside down “U” shape and put the bottom in the blue bowl and the top in the red bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Step #5 Pull tee out of the dye carefully and squeeze out on an open laid out trash bag, then move over and lay onto another trash bag as to not put it into the colors you have squeezed out.

Take care here not to mix colors.

Your children can wear plastic gloves and help squeeze their tees. I used another walmart bag.

Step #6 Rinse in warm water each side separately until they run almost clear.

Step #7 Do not cut off rubber bands yet or your plastic bag. Hang on a line to dry. When mostly dry (damp) cut off your rubber bands, open tee, and hang to complete dry. When completely dry wash in your washing machine each separate tee on cold.

Step #8 Optional Step… if you want, here you can cut a sponge into a star shape and let your child puffy paint stamped white stars onto their shirt. This is great if your child wasn’t able to participate enough in this project or if you wanted to do this ahead of time for your younger children and then present them with the tee to decorate.

Don’t forget to praise your children as they help you with this project. Completing projects and helping out, builds good self esteem. Smile, laugh, and have fun!

This time of year is my absolute favorite.  I got a feeling for most parents, it is, too.  For one thing:  NO MORE MAKING SCHOOL LUNCHES (for those who do).

I remember being so tired of making sandwiches for my kids by mid-June, and relished the thought of not thinking about creating a “nutritious, but appealing lunch for a 10 year old whose peers are eating Ding Dongs.”   At least for the next two months.

I love the barrage of artwork and projects and other schoolwork that the teacher held onto so she or he could measure how far my child had come.  These art pieces came home in a folder in such a condition that surely a bear had grabbed it on the bus and began flinging it around.  “How beautiful,” I’d say, as I unrolled each picture created by my child using pastels, or small snippets of paper; eyeballs glued way back in January now falling off from whatever creature they had created. But despite the mangled work, I treasured every item.

I love that our days are longer.  In winter, by 4:30, the sun has already gone down, creating a night that is way too long.  Now, the sun is still bright at 7:30.  It allows for the next best part about this summer.  Getting ice cream after dinner.  My daughter brought me to the Bellvale Creamery over near the Warwick/Greenwood Lake area this weekend, and if there was ever a place to travel to for ice cream (sorry Monroe’s Wally’s and Mr. Cone..we still love you guys), this is it.  The little white house, chilly from all the refrigeration, is the perfect spot to stand in on a hot day or evening, and the view of Warwick Valley is the perfect backdrop to scarfing down a cup of their low fat Chocolate Chip with walnuts.

And being that I can sit out until 7:30 or later, I enjoy the critters who walk through my backyard to the creek that runs down at the end of my property.  The neighborhood deer walk through it as if they own it; they stop and stare at me as I exit my garage to my car.  Their look says, “Who are you?  This is my territory.”   And I try to look back in an animal-worldly way that says, “Hey, I pay the taxes on this property.  This is mine.”  But my heart melts when I see a new momma and her brand new baby, and I almost want to hand them the keys to the front door.

We’d love to know what summer delights you look forward to.  Walking, biking at your local hiking or bike trail?  Do you take time off from work in summer especially to take day trips?  Do you have summer traditions like visiting as many firework shows as you can?  Signing up for the town pool?  Doing absolutely NOTHING?

Need a few ideas?  Visit hvparent.com.

Write us at editor@excitingread.com.

Some times it’s the small things that make a big difference in life. Other times, it’s the big things that make a bigger difference. Allow me to explain…

The last day of  8th grade, the entire graduating 8th grade class went on a field trip to Carowinds,  a local amusement park. I was having a great time riding all the roller coasters and drop towers.

Cue the bully that called me fat in 7th grade… “I hope your restraint doesn’t break on the way down. You’re so fat, can you even fit in the seat?” she said to me (in front of the guy I had a major crush on, no less).  I was embarrassed beyond belief.  I acted like it didn’t bother me and continued walking.

As my friends ran to get in line to ride “Drop Zone” a 100 foot drop tower, I peeled off and went to the bathroom… where I faked being sick so I could call my parents and go home. From that day forward, I never went to an amusement park again.

I understand the irrational thinking, but I was a teenage girl… give me a break. Of course I would have fit and my restraints would never break, but I was humiliated.

“Before picture” Here I am with Bill in 2009, right before I began my weight loss journey. I was at my highest weight, 300lbs.

Fast forward to 2010.

I began my weight loss journey on May 5th. I was determined to change my eating and exercise habits. I was sick of being overweight. I was sick of holding myself back from things I wanted to do in life.  After meeting with a nutritionist and health guru, I had my plan…

  • Eat 6 small meals a day that are 1/2 cup to 1 c up in size (about the size of a fist).
  • The first, third, fifth and sixth meal should be all protein (aim for about 100 grams of protein a day).
  • The second and fourth meal should be a combination of protein, veggies and fruit. (1/2 veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/4 fruit).
  • Drink 1/2 gallon of water for every 50lbs of fat (so, if you weigh 200 lbs, drink 1 gallon of water a day).
  • Exercise 2 hours five times a week– aerobic workouts and weight training.

In addition to these rules, I also began taking a host of vitamins, minerals and got very picky about the water I consumed. I’m really into “new age” type things, so I only drink distilled water with a pH of 8.

I lost a whopping 120 pounds under my nutritionists’ plan. I didn’t need a trainer at the gym because I was always into sports and lifted weights religiously… so I knew my way around.

Now, fast forward to June 9th, 2012.

My wonderful boyfriend, Bill, is a big roller coaster nerd. He’s been trying to get me to go to amusement parks with him since we started dating in 2009. I’ve refused… I’ve even cried to get myself out of going.

Last Saturday, Bill woke me up at 6am. If I wasn’t so tired I would have yelled at him for waking me up so early on a weekend. “I’ve signed us up for ‘Coasting for Kids.’ You have to go, I’ve already paid.”   He had been talking non-stop about this charity for weeks. I knew exactly what he was talking about, I knew there was no getting out of it.

So off we went to Allentown, Pennsylvania at 6am. We arrived at Dorney Park  about 3 hours later, where I was supposed to ride roller coasters for 6 hours non-stop… all for charity. As we entered the park, I made a beeline for the ladies room. My heart was pounding. I needed to think of a way to get out of this park without getting on a ride.  For 10 minutes I stayed in the ladies room trying to think of a way out. My mind was blank. I new I had to face my fear.

I would fit in the seat… right? I mean, I weight less than my 6 foot, 5 inch “beanpole” boyfriend. I just don’t see it when I look in the mirror. I still feel like that 300 pound girl, but I’m not. After almost having a panic attack while standing in line for my first ride of the day, the train came into the station and the gates opened.

I wanted to run, but Bill was conveniently behind me shoving me into the train.  I sat in the seat. “Okay I fit in the seat… now what about the restraint?” I thought to myself. I pulled down the harness and buckled myself in. “WOW I fit!” I said out loud… unable to control my happiness. Bill looked at me like I had three heads. “Of course you fit. I told you would, now relax,” Bill said.

The ride quickly departed and I soon found out that my restraint was not going to break. It was the happiest day of my life. I finally faced my fear of not fitting in the rides that I loved so much as a child.  I always knew my weight held me back in life, moving forward I’m determined to “re-discover” the joys that my struggle with weight took away.

~Brit

Here I am 120 pounds lighter in the wonderful
HVP office in Newburgh, NY

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, HcG Pills, B12 Shots, South Beach Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Phentremine, Hydroxycut, Nutrisystem….

Been there, done that. 

The day I started 7th grade was the day I started my first diet. Prior to that day, my diet consisted of pizza, fried chicken, candy, soda, potatoes and lots of pasta. In my family, the way you showed someone you loved them was by cooking them a great meal. Every Sunday my entire family would meet at my grandma’s house to eat a huge meal and play cards… only we’d eat so much that we would fall asleep after the meal and forget to play cards.

I was always big for my age… I just never realized it until 7th grade.  My problem was not a lack of exercise; I’ve played organized sports all my life (my first word was baseball for crying out loud)!  My problem was that I had a family that showed love with food. My grandma would keep me after school until my mom picked me up. I’d eat a snack that was probably big enough to be a meal, then go home and eat a large dinner.

The day I realized that I was overweight was when one of the girls I cheered with said to me, “WOW I can’t believe you can touch your toes, you’re so fat.”  Thus began my journey through yo-yo diets and failed attempts at losing weight.

I literally tried every single diet out there. At one point, I was starving myself on the “lemonade” diet and only drinking a nasty concoction of hot water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey. I’d lose 5 lbs after dieting for months, get discouraged and start eating again.

Finally, it clicked for me (Stick around for my next blog to see what my new “diet/lifestyle” is all about).  I got serious about losing weight and lost 12o pounds in a little less than 2 years. But there is still one major problem… Even though I’ve lost 120 pounds and I’m at a weight I would have died to be at 4 years ago, I just don’t notice the difference.

I’ve had body image issues since middle school. The teasing and constant nagging about dieting has taken its toll on my mind. My parents were great… don’t get me wrong. They loved me unconditionally and always encouraged me to be the best person I could be. We very rarely talked about weight (except when my mom and I dieted together). The ridicule came from other kids.

Here’s the take home point I’d like to make: If you’re a parent of an overweight child, don’t make a big deal about their weight. Don’t over analyze everything they eat. Don’t criticize them. Trust me, they get enough teasing from other kids, they do not need it from their parents. Take all the junk food and unhealthy items out of your home and start cooking healthy family meals. Don’t say you’re going on a diet, just say you’re trying new recipes (better yet, say nothing at all). Take family walks together or play a family game in the back yard.

Most importantly… THINK ABOUT HOW YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT AND LOOKS IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN. If your child hears you saying you’re ugly, need a face lift, need to go on a diet, etc. they’ll soon be saying the same things. Be positive about all the great things that make you who you are. If you’ve got laugh lines that you want to get filled in, don’t complain about the laugh lines in front of your children… be thankful that you’ve had a lot to laugh about during your lifetime.

Please check out our health section for more information on body image, dieting and encouraging your children to exercise. In my next blog I’ll discuss how I lost 120 pounds!

Thanks for reading, 

Brit

Opening gates to the Millbrook Tribute Gardens

Sometimes it’s nice to experience the finer things in life.

Sometimes you just want to take a trip to where the rich and famous live.

Where we live is great.

I love the creeks, the daisies, and the rough country view of the Gunks, but sometimes I crave grey poupon instead of spicy deli mustard. Sometimes instead of rockclimbers, bicyclists, and hippies, I like to see men in plaid cardigans swinging golfclubs, meticulously pruned hedges lining wimbledonesque tennis courts, sprawling mansions with gate and guesthouses, and let’s not forget old women with surgically altered necks and giant sunglasses walking show poodles. When you have a child that screams at you, “I’m a monster!” It’s nice to visit a place where wild things are tamed. You can sit back and relax, observe and reflect a bit, learn maybe.

I grew up on Long Island, where you drive out to the Hamptons to see these sights, but now our replacement “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” destination is Millbrook, a town that has been coined the Hudson Valley’s lowkey version of the Hamptons.

In Millbrook, there are polo fields, country clubs and there is even a Sotheby’s. The men hanging outside the local deli are dressed in very good taste. The entire town is in very good taste, charming, very gentle, genteel, and loaded.

So it makes sense that Millbrook has the most impeccable park I have ever visited. We’re talking sand that literally sparkles below the swingset, two waterfalls cascading into a Koi pond, tall beautiful shading trees honoring fallen soldiers from WWI, and most impressive of all –pristine public bathrooms with teak side tables and artwork on the walls. Millbrook Tribute Gardens is a great park for any family to visit with its beautifully landscaped grounds and upscale playground equipment.

Just make sure you tell your husband not to change your kid’s diaper in plain sight in the parking lot. Mine started doing this when I wasn’t paying attention, and while the man walking by in the purple polo shirt and white shorts didn’t say anything, he must have thought we were unrefined, ill-mannered, let’s shout it out to the rafters “poor” out-of-towners. But who really cares? It’s a public green space. All can go and enjoy no matter your socioeconomic bracket. Is that spicy enough for you, white shorts?

Anyway, I shouldn’t really be angry at white shorts because he is the one paying what must be astronomical taxes for a place like the Millbrook Tribute Gardens. Let’s face it, most playgrounds are pretty boring for adults. Millbrook Tribute Gardens stands out as being a nice destination for the whole family.

Millbrook Tribute Gardens
3257 Franklin Ave
Millbrook, NY 12545
Open Dawn to Dusk

When you’re in Millbrook, make sure you check out the Trevor Zoo too. Read my blog about the zoo‘s newish parking lot. What’s with me writing about bathrooms and parking lots…?

Goodnight. I love you “M” & “R”. Big Kiss.

– Hudson Valley Kim

Waterfalls and koi pond.
Millrook Tribute Garden honors fallen soldiers. This plaque lists these soldiers’ names and shows where each soldier was honored with a tree in the park’s Court of Honor. Visitors to the park benefit from these trees’ shade and beauty. Take a moment and reflect.

Upscale playground equipment

See my family in the center. See upperclass yuppie parents to the left. My husband would NEVER EVER wear lime green shorts – but you have to respect how a buck gives some men the
confidence to experiment. You go Millbrook men!
Just look at this sink!
See the immaculate well-appointed and here is the real shocker MEN’s bathroom.
Swinging good fun.
Sand that sparkles
Poetry
Shady areas for picnicking.
I’d never seen this playground digger before our trip to Millbrook. My husband had them growing up and said that was because he was from Port Washington and I was from Ronkonkoma. Ahh the class wars continue!
A little sad when you think that all of these trees are symbolic of fallen soldiers….
Good inexpensive local deli. Their competition offered a pint of fruit salad for $15. I bought a meal for the family here for the same price.

When you think of Newburgh what comes to mind?

For many of you who live outside the City lines you think of a place you wouldn’t think of visiting…at least not too often.  For me, Newburgh has been my home for the past 25 years. When I use to give directions to my home, I would say, “When you are in a place you don’t think you belong you have reached your destination.” But, believe it or not, things are changing.

Down my street you see moms sitting on their stoops while their kids play on the sidewalks. When I come out to get my morning paper I enjoy wonderful chalk designs on the sidewalk left by the kids from the previous evening’s play.

I am a book nut and the Newburgh Library is the place to be. Except for their summer hours, they are open 7 days a week and weekdays til 9. Many times after dinner, my husband and I end up at the library browsing the shelves, me for mysteries and Clay for art books.

Many of you know about our wonderful waterfront, with its great restaurants, a promenade somewhat reminiscent of my young years of walking the boardwalk in Coney Island, and tucked in a tiny corner is our own Newburgh art theater, the Downing Film Center.

But when you think of the Newburgh Renaissance the name of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh might not come to mind. They are changing Newburgh one house at a time.

Recently I watched an entire volunteer crew create two homes where once stood two dilapidated, boarded up houses. Habitat takes homes in key areas that become the building blocks for new neighborhoods.  The families that will live in these houses form the nucleolus of the NEW Newburgh. A place where working families can enjoy great schools for their children and neighborhoods where it is safe for children to go out and play.

Feel free to come and visit me. I am here to share the wonderful city of Newburgh.

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