Thursday, December 31, 2009

December in Photos

December has been an extremely busy month so I figure it's best to just show lots of photos. Above is Nikolas in the red and gray sweater waiting for his turn to sing in the winter concert with his class.
I couldn't resist this is two of my 'boys' Dasher and Vixen, they are too sweet!
Here's Ariana at the middle school on concert night showing off her artwork! Great Job Ariana I love it!
Here's Ariana on concert night, sporting her first 'high' heels and new outfit. She was so proud and she LOVES to be part of the chorus!
Zach, Nikolas and Ariana building a snow fort in the backyard! They love to play in the snow!
Second night of Hanukkah having a big Latke dinner with family and friends. It was a great night. Thanks all for coming and sharing with us!
Here's my family and I on the first night of Hanukkah. We were fortunate to have mother-in-law here to visit and take the photo of all of us!
A few nights into Hanukkah it was Nikolas' 8Th birthday I can't believe that my baby is 8 years old. He is growing so fast. You can see on the table his very favorite things. Mac and cheese, bionicles and chocolate anything, all by his request!!!
Zach sporting his new guitar, he was very excited! Can you tell? He is almost 14 so what do we expect!!
Nikolas also excited to have his new guitar. Anyone want to come and teach these two lefties of mine how to play!!??
Ariana opening gifts, Look at the look on Nikolas' face, he didn't think he was getting a gift! Oh boy! Then out came the guitars!
Nikolas saying the prayers while Ariana lights the candles. The all love to do it and we have to set up a rotation for them to all get a few turns!
Caught Zachary with his glasses on... hum.. how did I manage that, I barely remember that he has them!
After Hanukkah was over we put up the tree for Christmas and Brian's family to come visit. We also had a great time making gifts for the kids teachers and soon we will be able to relax!
Nikolas laughing about candy that Fl Gramma sent, It's called Toxic Waste. I didn't try it, it smelled disgusting.
Zachary laughing as he was trying to figure out how to get the gift card OUT of the puzzle box!! He loved that and can't wait to try it on one of his friends!
Nikolas loving his new guitar sweatshirt!
Ariana wearing her new vest and showing off her new PJ's. We have had a great and busy month. After years of thinking about it I will be taking my ACE personal trainer certification exam. I hope to find more time to relax and write on the blog in 2010. I will continue working on my master's starting mid January. I am confident it will be a good year!
I am excited to clear the slate and start a new. I love the idea of a fresh start. Continuing to work on goals, and become a better person each year! I hope for all of you. A happy and healthy 2010. Eat your peas, hug your kids and enjoy every day...

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I have recently been immersed in studying, family, the holidays, and life. I yearn to blog and write and connect however there just isn't always time. I am still reading my favorite blogs although it seems all of you are busy with other things in life too and not posting as much.

I have recently began running again, for the umpteenth time, it clears my mind and is nourishment for me in every way. Some days I run with a friend (or two) others I run alone. Alone, I challenge my myself, my mind that always doubts what I am capable of and my body that always says it's too old and too tired to keep going. Somehow, I always remain the victor. How? Not so sure, but nonetheless a reminder that no matter my age, size, or how much I slept the night before I am always capable of much more than I believe that I can do. I have been taking some steps to accomplish things that I have had fears of doing and I will share that at a later time.

I came across a most wonderful blog post this morning on the student message boards at Hawthorn, here. I can not recommend enough taking the time to read this article, if you are a regular blog reader of mine, or human, some part of this article will touch your heart. The photos and words are simple yet heartfelt and true. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did...

Monday, November 9, 2009

What I have been eating lately... and what's on the menu

Here's my first pasta sauce that I have made from fresh tomatoes and my first canning project. Yummy.. it didn't last long.
This is acorn squash with Jenny's apple (link to her site) pie filling. I just put a scoop in each half and baked it that way... Yummm!!! Thanks Jenny!
This is great spaghetti squash recipe. Not the one the I posted yesterday, this is a mexicana one, the salsa on top is pineapple, tomato, and avocado. The squash has black beans, onions, and corn.
One my menu this week:
Monday: black bean burgers, potatoes, and salad
Tuesday: Homemade chili (sorry no recipe I just throw it all together)
Friday: Left overs or something else creative I come up with, maybe breakfast for dinner
Saturday: Dinner with friends, it will be a surprise!
Wednesday and Thursday dinners are from a new(to me) website called Eat Better America, I have not tried either one yet. So far so good for a few others I have tried from there. I love to find new recipes, however I am really not good at following them exactly, unless I am baking. I love to just start cooking and see what happens, recipes are a guideline for me and I love to add my own touch to it. If I like the recipe I will put it in my binder and take note of what I did, liked etc.
Let me know if you try any of them or what you are eating these days!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Weekend!!!

The photos are all wonky tonight... but it was one of those weekends... here's the carved pumpkin. Loverly isn't it!?
And my wonderful and fun c25k group, plus a few new friends! What a great Halloween morning it was, despite the hills and the wind. I had a great time!
Nikolas digging the 'ick' out of the pumpkin, which we roasted the seeds later on he said they tasted like cardboard. Darn...
Ariana in her eagle costume. She loved it and was so proud of being 'patriotic'. It was lots of fun making her costume!
Brian and the two littles taking the seeds out of the pumpkin. I love the expression on Ariana's face, and Nikolas thinks this is too funny!
Captain "Nikolas" America... What a great time he had!
Ariana at the school parade. She loves it and we were fortunate enough that the rain held out at least for the school portion of the festivities!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get Off The Couch!!!

Meet Comet, He really isn't a couch potato, however I sure laugh every time I see him sitting like this, which these days is often. I think he learned it from me some years ago before I realized how much I enjoy exercising. Here we were renting a camper in the Finger Lakes of NY while traveling on PCS orders, fun NOT.

Anyhow, Comet doesn't really have anything to do with what I am about to write about, but he sure is cute!
The couch, it's comfortable, cozy, and has a warm blanket I can snuggle up to on a cool day, (and some days when it's hot and I am loosing the air conditioner wars also), so why in the world would I ever want to get up off the couch. There are so many reasons but today, I specifically want to talk about Couch to 5 k program. I started this class at my local YMCA and we are in week 6 right now. The program is phenomenal, I am having a lot of fun challenging myself to get out and run again.
When we lived in WA, which seems like ages ago now, I ran with a group. I have so missed the camaraderie and friendship that comes along with it, that was two years ago. I must admit that even though I have been exercising regularly since arriving in NY, I have not done much running mostly because I missed my group, my friends, and even the familiarity of the roads(mountains) that we ran on out west. I have to say that when I was asked if I ever thought about taking this class, I thought, why would I pay for a class when I can go out and run for free. Well, I decided that I would jump in and see what it is all about. I have become a complete die hard advocate for the Couch to 5k (c25k) running program.

This systematic program can literally get just about anybody with the ability to move off the couch and running in a short matter of 9-10 weeks! (even me) How about that? The program starts out slow and works its way up into longer paced running periods. Right from the starting line, everyone can feel success after the first day 1 workout! I suppose that it helps that the class has a great and supportive instructor (Thanks Laurie) and lots of supportive running mates (you know who you are!) The class meets once a week and we have homework 2 more times a week! Can you believe it, a fitness class with homework? Well I am certain that it is what makes the whole process a possibility! It also helps that I have a running buddy, thanks Alison, to do all my homework with and help keep me on target!

If you don't' have a class in your area you can just follow the plans listed on, linked above. I have been using these podcasts (ipod and mp3 format) and it makes it so simple, no time keeping necessary as Robert (virtual timekeeper) does all the hard work for you and gives you some music to listen to as well!
There is more information about c25k here.
So what are you waiting for? Running (and any exercise) is good for your heart, sanity and much more. So get up get off the couch and start running!! Go! Go Now! Then come back and tell me all about it!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's that time of Year again... Filling the Lunchbox

It seems that every year when the kids go back to school that the old dilemma comes back up. What in the world can I give my kids to eat for lunch. These days, the school lunch line is not always a healthy or tasty place to be. Schools have cut back and frozen and overly processed foods that are just being heated up in the lunchroom, nothing is cooked from scratch anymore.

So here's some ideas that you can try to beat the boring thoughts of spreading peanut butter and jelly everyday. Not to mention my youngest decided that the day school started that he 'hated' peanut butter, so I myself have had to get creative with his lunch.

First and easiest thing to do for lunch is serve leftovers! Yeah you heard me, good old leftovers. My kids love it. They have thermos' that I can put hot chili, lasagna, or soups right into. I heat them very hot in the am and then cover them up. Be careful not to twist your container too tight as it may form a seal very hard for a child to open! (ask me how I know) My kids love to have their favorites warm for lunch! They love it and many times they are proud to bring it to school because they have helped in the process of making the meal the night before.

Another thing is to get out of the thought process that every lunch has to have a sandwich. Why? Sometimes we are creatures of habit. My kids enjoy different types of breads, zucchini breads, apple breads, carrot breads, corn bread, generally I bake them into muffins so they resemble 'cupcakes' and they gobble them up. How about baked blue corn chips with black bean dip. Hummus and cut up vegetables for dipping, or celery and peanut butter (or other nut butters) with raisins/ dried fruit. Yogurt (vanilla or plain) with some mixed berries or fruit and a bit of granola or muesli to put on top for a bit of crunch. If your child really likes sandwiches how about rolling up your sandwich fixings on a tortilla and slicing (it will kind of look like sushi) and put little toothpicks in them to hold them together. Mini bagels(whole grain preferred) are great, how about slicing a few, giving the child a little container of sauce and another with grated cheese. (their own 'lunchables') There are so many things that you can do with your child's lunches.

Cute stylish containers make food more appealing to kids. I still use the laptop lunches that I wrote about a few years ago and I bought about 4 yrs ago! No buying sandwich bags and tons of prepacked foods with lots of garbage coming home everyday!

Most important put something fresh in the lunchbox everyday and avoid processed junk foods. Fresh fruits, even frozen fruits go over well with kids. Put the frozen fruits into the lunchbox it will help keep your foods cold and will be thawed by lunchtime. Try to introduce new foods with other foods that you know your child really likes. They wont starve themselves and they may be more likely to try new foods when you are not looking!

Other little tips, every once in awhile, cut your child's plain sandwich with cookie cutters to make them more interesting and exciting to eat. Homemade puddings can be a great treat and healthy too. Whatever you do, make the best choices of foods for your child as possible, whole foods are best, and give your child a healthy start to a lifetime of good eating habits!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Few Days of School and the sunflowers

The sunflowers are growing but with the cold weather I don't know they will get much bigger. Nikolas is excite to see these red ones.
Here's another it is really tall hence pretty hard to get a good photo because it's way over my head.
Here's a perspective shot sitting next to the Durango. The tallest ones are probably over 7 ft tall right now.
Second day of school with her new haircut!
Here's Ariana very excited about her tie die skirt which she loves.
Here's another shot of Ariana, she loves to have her photo taken.
Here's Nikolas with his new haircut on the 2ND day of school.
Ariana loves her new converse shoes!
Nikolas and Ariana on the first day of school!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting Creative with Dinner and a Little Treat from the Garden

My friend (thanks Sara) brought me the biggest Zucchini that I have ever seen in my life! It must have weighed about 6 lbs (just a guess and not necessarily as good one) So I cut on the curve to make it easier to cut in half. Scooped out the seeds and then I had to figure out what to do with it. I got creative with the goodies that I had picked up at the farmers market. Sauteed onion and fresh organic leeks with garlic, basil (grown on my windowsill) with diced red pepper, sun dried tomatoes, black beans and brown rice. Seasoned it kind of spicy, and sprinkled a little cheddar cheese on it. The corn was picked this morning and so juicy and fresh. So delicious!
The green beans were a great surprise from my garden, especially since it was what I thought destroyed by the hail storm a few months back. It's been slightly neglected, and I was very surprised to see anything growing from it. Yeah.. the beans were delicious! yum.. and they didn't last long!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Relaxation and The Digestive System

I have just finished another class for school. In this class we discussed dietary direction of foods (which I am not going to discuss right now) and a lot about digestion.

Many things we know already however some we don't really think about on a regular basis. Almost every diet book I have ever read talks about chewing your food, eating more slowly and they also say to stop eating before we are completely stuffed. Why?

The digestive process is controlled by the autonomic nervous system specifically the parasympathetic nervous system. In order for this system to work we need to be relaxed and slow down. Response to stress, anxiety or similar feelings shut off this system and activate the autonomic nervous system which is the system that protects us (example fight or flight) in high anxiety, it also turns off our parasympathetic nervous system thus shutting down our ability to digest our food and absorb our needed nutrients! There is more to it, but this is a basic synopsis of it.

Anyhow, thinking more about being relaxed before eating. I started to be more aware of my patterns while preparing and eating food. Generally I am in the kitchen preparing food, rushing around trying to get everything ready so we can get to where ever we have to go that night, and hollering to get kids to come inside, help set the table you know the drill.

So in the last few weeks I have been more aware of this, being more relaxed while preparing food and enjoying the whole preparation process, the textures of the food not only while eating but while preparing it too. Also enjoying the smells, as this is where digestion starts, when the smells get you salivating it releases enzymes that will begin the digestive process as soon as you begin to eat. I have started to just sit down and just take a few deep breaths before eating to help myself relax more.

I have noticed a difference in how I feel during and after eating, I am enjoying my food more and feeling better after eating on a regular basis.

How about you, how do you feel when you prepare foods and eat?

Friday, July 31, 2009

This Makes it all worthwhile.....

Here is a photo of Nikolas at camp. He is watching skits and performances by the other scouts. This made all the waking up early and dragging 35 min away several times this week worth it all! Nikolas tends to be so serious, and getting him to really laugh and enjoy himself is not always easy... I am so happy for him to have had such a great week at camp! It was truly healing for my heart to see him having so much fun! The absolute favorite of all scouts... The archery range! Nikolas even gave up a turn so his sister could have a turn. Maybe I am doing something right after all!
More laughter from the scouts....
The skit that Nikolas' den did, invisible spaceship!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Last weekend

Here in NY we have a nice few miles of biking/walking trails. We decided to start here this time at one of the locks here on the Mohawk River. The kids rode their plasma cars in hope to avoid to whining of how much longer do we have to go.
Here the lock is opening to drain and let the boats down. The kids really enjoyed seeing how that works and seeing the boats too.
Pausing for a break so the kids can see where they came from, that's the lock back there. You can see the plasma cars here too. They are kid powered, using their arms... we have a great time with them. They can hold up to 250 lbs so we happily get on and try to race the kids around the driveway and such.
And off they go!!! Of course you notice that our oldest was not with us, he didn't want to come. Imagine that! Life of a teenager!
We did get to see a little wildlife. Note I said a little.... cute little guy huh?
Nikolas got tired so if you look closely you can see the stick he is holding on too and Brian is pulling. Sorry it's a bit blurry but you can get the point!
Ariana showing off her muscles after going over a few miles on the plasma car.. All in all it was a great day and we were all so happy to spend some time outdoors.
There hasn't been much of a summer this year so far.. so it was great to take advantage of it!!
After the walk we picked up out oldest and his friend to go out and launch the rocket we got for Brian for Father's Day. Here they are setting it up!
This is the last time that we saw the rocket....
I believe that if you can see the rocket if you see it here.. sort of...