Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On feeling better and being fair

For nearly 4 weeks, I grew more and more tired each day. My nausea came and went, but mostly came. I had no motivation to do anything. All I did was worry and sleep and try to escape feeling sick.

I had a few OK days in there, but if I pushed to my limit on those days, I was useless on the next.

I'm wondering now if the tides have finally turned. I'm on day 4 of feeling not too bad. I'd say yesterday I actually felt good. Three days in a row I've made dinner -- a feat I would normally consider a necessity and not an option, but one I have not achieved too many nights over the past month.

Now is time for organizing, prioritizing, getting things in order, and putting together the life I want to bring a new life into. Which is to say, I'm pulling together the life I want to live anyway.

And, of course I want to write about it.

I didn't really write while pregnant with Bear. I tried to write some when he was a baby, but I don't even know where I kept that. I was in such a fog. So, I wonder if writing about this one is being unfair.

But, it occurs to my that very little is fair between siblings. I could start out trying, but it will never happen.

One will always have had the undivided attention of having been an only child for nearly six years, while the other will get the benefit of having parents who have already been through each stage. One will always be the first child and the other will always be the youngest. One will always get the love of an older sibling and the other will always have the admiration of a younger sibling looking up to them.

No matter what, they will both always have all my love.

And, right now, I feel myself wanting to pour even more love and attention unto Bear knowing that when the baby comes, he or she will need me constantly.

(Almost) 40 and Pregnant

This post was written a few weeks ago, but I couldn't publish it because I wasn't yet sharing the news. Now, the announcement has been made and I want to write more. So, here it is ...

Life has been turned on its head.

Mostly, I'd given up any hope for a second child. Bear was an only child and would reap the benefits of all his parents' attention. Dan and I would enjoy the relative easiness of dealing with just one child - no sibling rivalry; no juggling the needs of two different children; no more diapers.

I felt a twinge of desire a few weeks ago. I knew Bear wanted a sibling - a brother specifically, but I suspect he'd take one of either gender. And, I wanted another baby. Just one more.

And, out of that hope came a new life.

I was clueless at first. I didn't feel well. The symptoms were there. I just didn't pay that much attention. Then, more than a week passed of feeling this way.

I sat and thought. Suddenly, I had to know.

Taking the test, I really had no doubt. It was just confirmation. A formality, really.

That was five days ago. Now, yesterday it started, I can feel my belly tightening. It's not getting bigger, but it's filling up. It's filling with life.

At first, I was so worried something would be wrong. That feeling in my belly makes things clear. Now, all I can imagine is a healthy baby. The perfect addition to our family. This is how it was meant to be.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Locavore & No Sugar Challenge: Days 1 & 2

DAY 1:

I started my day with black coffee and peaches with locally-made yogurt (I have homemade yogurt, but I was gifted some, as well). I thought I was off to a great start, but things kind of crumbled later in the day.

We went to a gathering at my sister-in-law's. I was happy to see everyone and I was prepared to resist temptation. I cut up a watermelon, which I figured I'd snack on and share. Sadly, it wasn't very tasty. I made peach cobbler to share, but packed myself a plain bowl of peaches. The peaches were so delicious, I thought I'd be happy with them. But, when everyone oohed and ahhh'd about the cobbler, I had to try. And, I packed myself a huge salad, figuring that would help me resist the non-local veggies and meat. But, I was worried I was causing too much of a stink, so I ate packaged sausage and mac and cheese.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

DAY 2:

The second day was much better. I had five delicious meals and all of them had almost all local ingredients and no processed sugar  -- well a touch, but I'll get to that.

Breakfast: Eggs from KFF scrambled with tomatoes from my garden and a bit of feta. The feta wasn't local, but it was in the fridge and I figured it was better to eat it than toss it.

Second Breakfast: Oatmeal with peaches and maple syrup. The oatmeal was organic and from the coop. I don't think they were local oats, but I feel good that they were locally source. The peaches were from the bushel I purchased from the corner veggie stand and came originally from Germantown - maybe a bit too far south to technically be called local, but they seem local enough to me and taste out of this world.

Elevensies: Yogurt with raspberries. The raspberries were from my yard.

Lunch: A salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden.

Dinner: Hamburgers from Grazin' Acres in Argyle; corn from Pleasant Valley and potato salad made with potatoes, onions and eggs from KFF. The mayo was not homemade, nor were the burger buns -- it's kind of a busy week.

For dinner, I splurged and let myself have homemade pepper relish on my burger ever though it has sugar in it. I figured the tiny amount of sugar in that spoonful of relish shouldn't stop me from enjoying something I made myself. And, I'm sticking with that rule. But, only for very small amounts of things.

Now, for another day.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cutting the sugar

For a long time now, I've been thinking about my need to cut the sugar out of my life. I've become increasingly addicted.

As much as I love fresh fruits and vegetables, and eating healthy foods, I also have ridiculously powerful cravings for ice cream, brownies, cookies and cake. And, if quality versions aren't available, I'll dive right into the crappiest convenient store varieties and end up feel disgusting afterwards.

It needs to stop!

For the month of September, I've decided to cut out all refined sugar. I'm making my own rules here. I know I'll be miserable if I completely deprive myself, so I'm not cutting all forms of sugar. Honey, maple syrup and fruit will be acceptable. But, table sugar, anything baked with sugar, and any packaged products with corn syrup are out.

This means no sugar in my coffee, no ice cream, no store bought breads and no jam. It also means no chocolate. Don't be surprised if you find me trying to mix cocoa powder with honey to get my chocolate fix without breaking the rules. I might resort to straight up cocoa if things get really bad.

Besides an attempt to break my sugar addiction, I think this is an appropriate way to kick off Locavore Month. As I've done the past two years, I again signed up for NOFA-NY's Locavore Challenge. During the month of September, it's pretty easy for me to eat a mostly local diet. I wouldn't consider getting any vegetables, fruit or meat that weren't local. Most of my dairy comes from local sources. So, if I'm going to make this a challenge for myself, I needed to up the stakes. Using only local sweeteners seems like the way to go.

Now, I have double motivation to meet this challenge.

It's only 8:20 on the first day of the month, but I'm off to a good start. Breakfast was local peaches topped with Argyle Cheese Farmer yogurt. The super juicy peaches satisfied my sweet tooth. The vanilla yogurt was sweetened with honey. And, the black coffee went down just fine.

Tomorrow morning, I'll let you know how the rest of the day went.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicken and Cucumber Crepes with Plum Sauce

Friday night is usually pizza night in our house. I normally find pizza to be a good way to use up the random vegetables in the refrigerator before I gather more Saturday morning.

This week, when I went into use-it-or-lose-it mode, pizza was not going to work. There was grilled chicken from the night before. Sure, that could go on pizza. There were quite a lot of cucumbers. OK, we could have a salad with the pizza. There was Chinese plum sauce. Ummm ... Need a different plan.

I made and canned the plum sauce two summers ago using a recipe from Pickles & Relishes by Andrea Chesman. You're really not supposed to keep your canned condiments for more than a year. But, I find that most things keep about two years, and I was on the verge of losing that sauce. It was quite tasty, but for some reason, I hadn't found a lot of uses for it. I don't think I tried hard enough.

I stumbled upon the sauce while searching for some kind of barbecue sauce for my grilled chicken. It worked quite well for the chicken, and that used up one half-pint. With the leftover chicken, I figured I could use another half-pint, and I was considering just putting it on the table for dipping.

Perhaps there was a more interesting use, I wasn't thinking of. I googled "recipes using Chinese plum sauce." Somewhere in that search -- I think it was on -- I came across the suggestion to use it with crepes.

Aha! Things were settled. Sounded good to me and sounded like something the boys would like too.

To my surprise, my pancake loving boy resisted the crepes, but I really never know what will please him. All three of us enjoyed the chicken and cukes with the plum sauce. Now that I have a use for it, I need to decide whether I should make another batch this year.

Chicken & Cucumber Crepes with Plum Sauce

  • 1 batch of crepes (I used Alton Brown's recipe on and swapped gluten free flour for the wheat flour, but use whatever recipe works for you)
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup Chinese plum sauce
Mix up your crepe batter first. It should chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before cooking. (I neglected to do this and managed to get a few decent crepes, but I'm sure I would have had fewer tears if I'd followed this step.)

Shred the chicken and dice the cucumber before you start cooking the crepes. 

Cook the crepes according to your recipes instructions.

Lay a crepe on a large plate. Layer about a 1/3 cup of chicken and a couple tablespoons of cucumber down the middle of the crepe, then top with a tablespoon or so of sauce. Roll it up. Repeat until all the crepes are used. 

Serve with extra sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


It's hard to believe I hadn't been camping in six years.

That means for six years I haven't spent more than half a day disconnected from the Internet. I've been at this point where I'm almost afraid to be away from the World Wide Web. I worry, something is going to happen and I'm going to miss it; it will be too hard to catch up. Yet, as I write this I already feel it's all wrong.

My fear of being disconnected has waned. In fact, I now want to spend more time away.

Camping meant something different for each of us.

For the boy, it was his very first time. We asked him what he liked the best, and he didn't have an answer. But, he did like it.

I'm pretty sure his favorite part of the weekend was the 4-wheeler rides. Not exactly my idea of what camping is about, but I happen to be a bit of a thrill seeker, so I won't complain about the experience. And, the boy was thrilled.

He also loved the big mud puddle with the frogs. He almost lost his favorite Phineas & Ferb Crocs trying to catch one of the slippery critters.

As I watched the boy, and now reflect on his experience, I am most happy for his time outside. For two days, he was allowed inside only to sleep. He had no TV, no computer, no tablet. He seemed at times like he might be bored and he had to just accept it. Not a bad thing for him to learn. And, he fell asleep in front of the fire.

Camping was a special time for the dog. Our mutt, who will normally bolt the second she sees freedom, stuck around our camp unleashed without issue. If she wandered too far, she came when we called her back. I loved spending time with her that way. It makes we want to spend more time working with her at home so that we can enjoy her in the same way in our backyard.

I can't exactly say what camping meant for Papa Bear. He is his own grown up person. I know he, too, enjoys being away. He talked about wanting to join the club where we were invited to stay, so surely it was a weekend he would like to repeat.

Camping for me means PEACE.

The time in the canoe was the best. My boys were in the back uncomfortably shifting and worried they would fall out. No, I didn't like that they were uncomfortable. But, I was in front taking in the quiet sounds of nature. The feeling of drifting on the water, the gentle rocking of the canoe soothes my being even over the griping of the uncomfortable boys. I happily fell into the job of keeping the canoe on course as we drifted along the shoreline. Every now in then I put down the paddle and picked up the camera. I could have spent the entire day -- days even -- drifting in the canoe.

To be honest, even the 4-wheeler rides were peaceful in a way. Riding through the woods with the wind in my air, watching the scenery and very few other people for miles around. It was a bit of a thrill and felt like freedom.

And, of course, nights by the campfire will always help to bring me peace.

Perhaps, tomorrow, I will tell you about one last highlight, Spring Pond Bog.

For now, it is time for me to bring the peace I found camping into my productive life and get my day going.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fresh Beginnings

I'm setting new goals.

Fall -- back-to-school season -- has always seemed to me like an exciting time. Even for the many years I wasn't in school, and didn't have a child in school, it has seemed like a good time for fresh beginnings.

This year, with the boy headed to Kindergarten and with my work life changing, the fresh beginnings vibe is as strong as ever. It might be right there at the same level is was as I headed off to college. Choosing what I will do with my time, is like choosing new classes and then buying books.

The possibilities seem endless for me. There are so many things I want to do and could do. I need to make some decisions and stick to them. That is goal No. 1: Decide what my goals are.

I'm working through some and have settled on a few:




I realize the write more goal has come up about 50 times before. And, here it is again. It won't always be good writing, but I'll write something every day.

Packing awesome lunches can be for the whole family. I'm focused on the boy, but there's no reason hubby can't get awesome homemade lunches, too. I want both of them to WANT the lunches I pack over what they can get at school and work.

So, I'm a little obsessed lately with food blogs that focus on kids. Weelicious and Red, Round and Green are two of my favorites, but I'm finding many others.

I need to make sure this goal is fun. There's no reason it shouldn't be. I love feeding people, and these are the people I love. As long as I leave myself enough time and have enough fresh ideas, it will continue being fun. I'm sure I will write more about lunches very soon.

Waking up earlier is just so I can get a jump start on my goals before anyone else gets in my way. If I feel I've been productive before anyone throws me off course, I'll have a good day no matter what else happens.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

As This Chapter Closes

Last night, after working at the paper, I drove home thinking about that chapter of my life coming to an end. I have no regrets. I don't regret my stint as copy editor/page designer at two different papers. And, I don't regret the decision to move on.

I think the most important thing I've gotten from working in news is a broader world view. When my job was producing TV listings, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the news beyond the headlines. I didn't want to get involved in the divisiveness of politics, and I couldn't wrap my head around world issues. I knew a little about local issues through word of mouth and gossip drenched in opinion.

Working at the paper has forced me to read stories about civil wars in Egypt and Syria, dismal working conditions in Bangladesh, failing economies in Europe and human rights issues in India. Every time I read these stories, I think about how lucky I am to live where I do. Some of them, especially stories such as those about collapsing garment factories, make me think about how my choices affect people so far from me.

While I feel lucky to live in this country, I worry our government is taking us in the wrong direction. Working in news has forced me to gain a better understanding of how our Legislature works. I'm not sure I could have had an intelligent conversation with my peers about politics before. I still tend to avoid those discussions, because I still despise the divisiveness of it, but now I know the issues.

I doubt I ever read a story about a sewer system before my job required it. Maybe I never will again. But, if I lived in a municipality with a sewer system, I might. I will definitely continue reading the stories about the issues in my town. I now have a far greater appreciation for local politics, our elected officials and all our public servants. It's hard for me to believe how little I knew about our community before working for the paper.

That brings me to my appreciation for the news media, especially the local paper. The media has a bad reputation in our society. It's thrashed for being one-sided, hiding the real news, sensationalizing, never reporting good news, reporting too much fluff, and on and on. There's probably truth in all those criticisms, but one fact remains: without the media we would be living in darkness. I probably could have written this whole post on why I value our local newspaper. My goal, though, is to just tell you why I value my time working for it. One big reason is the appreciation I've gained for its existence.

Now, I move forward. As I do, I will carry this experience with me. I will make an effort to stay up on world, national and local issues, even though my work doesn't require it. I'll do it, because being a citizen of this world requires it.

Monday, July 22, 2013


He's already five.

He's still just five.

Five years to give him strong legs to run. Five years to give him arms to hug and a heart full of love.

In five years, he's learned so much, but he's only just begun. His curiosity keeps him asking questions and experimenting with new things every day. His enthusiasm keeps him eager for new adventures. His smile helps him find his way into the heart of nearly everyone he meets.

Oh, my boy! He turned five nearly a week ago and I watch him with amazement.

So independent! He figures out how to find his way. He moves chairs to reach when he's not tall enough. He finds the scissors to open his own packages. He's put together Legos, following instructions, without help - although he still prefers working with Mommy or Daddy.

So curious! He asks me about birds' ears and how our ears work. He tells me about an animal he learned about that walks on water. He watches my plants grow and learns with me about the insects that eat them. He experiments with mixing together anything he can think of. And, my boy, who doesn't like to eat anything unfamiliar, will sometimes "give it a try" because curiosity wins.

So creative and imaginative! He paints, he glues things together, he builds things without a plan or directions. He tells stories while playing with his toys on his own. He sets up performance and then calls us in to watch.

Still so little! All his independent curiosity and imagination must take its toll, because there are days he just can't pull himself together. He cries and can't find words. He asks to be carried in from the car, sometimes after just a short outing to the store. And, as trying as whining is, I remind myself, he's still just five.

At the end of the day, he longs for snuggles. He may have pushed me away a million times one day, but in the end he finds comfort in my hugs and kisses, and I have an infinite amount to give him.

Oh, how I love being Mom to five!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Seeds of purple

I didn't order very many new seeds this spring. I ordered a ton last year, then life got away from me and not much got planted. So, this winter, after taking stock of the seeds I had, I decided those 26 varieties were quite enough.

Then, I read somewhere that kohlrabi is easy to grow, and my family loves it. I decided I really didn't have enough carrot seeds. I couldn't live without cherry tomatoes. Wouldn't the bean tee-pee I want look gorgeous with scarlet runner beans? And, as long as I'm ordering, I wouldn't mind trying a different type of kale.

I'm not sure exactly what led me to Hudson Valley Seed Library, but there's a few things I like about it. First, they are the most local source I know of to buy seeds. Secondly, since I'm a visual person, I love the art on their seed packs. And, most usefully, I've been finding a lot of helpful tips on their blog. So, that's where I decided to order this year's seeds. It didn't really matter to me that they only have 60 varieties of seeds compared to the hundreds other seed supplier have. I only needed five.

So, a few weeks ago, when I decided I couldn't live without five more types of seeds, I clicked them into my shopping cart. While doing so, I picked up on the library's membership. Not only would the membership save me a bit on my order, but it would also get me in on their community seed saving project. Yes!

As if a project to teach me about seed saving isn't cool enough, the community seed is the Purple Podded Pea. Did someone just say I could have PURPLE and PEAS in my garden on the SAME plant? Let's just say, I couldn't sign up fast enough.

Today, my seeds came. I can't wait to put them in some dirt! If my garden turns out half as beautiful and bountiful as I'm dreaming ... wait, dream garden is the next post ...Pru

Sunday, April 7, 2013

{Recipe} From a dream: Potato, Corn and Sausage Chowder

Sometimes while I lie in bed drifting off to sleep, I think about meals I might make the next day, or later in the week. I think about what ingredients I have on hand, and what I might need to buy. Frequently, this just leads to frustration, and may even keep me awake worrying.

On a good night, though, I come up with a great creation. Admittedly, my standards for "great creation" are pretty low. But, if I can come up with something that doesn't require a trip to the store and all three of us are willing to go for seconds, I think that's pretty great. That's what happened the other night.

I was thinking of the beefalo sausage I picked up at the farmers market last Saturday. I kind of wanted a soup, so I thought about what veggies I had and remembered the large amount of corn I froze in September. (Blanching corn, cutting the kernels from the cob and freezing the results has become a harvest-time ritual for me.) I also had a quart of corn cob stock left, and some Russet potatoes from KFF. 

OK, it was starting to come together. I just had to start with some sauteed onions, and decide on seasoning. By the time I needed to start dinner the next evening, I had a whole recipe in my head -- only there were still additions as I cooked. Here's the results:

Potato, corn and sausage chowder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds beefalo sausage (or whatever sausage suits you), either use bulk or cut links into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 small to medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 sweet red peppers (I pulled these from the freezer)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • 4 cups corn stock (I'm sure vegetable stock would work fine)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded

Brown the sausage, stirring occasionally, in a large skillet. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the sausage is cooking, heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add potatoes, peppers and seasoning and stir it all together. Add corn stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook about 15 minutes until potatoes are just getting tender. 

Add cooked sausage and milk, and adjust seasoning. Cook until the soup returns to a simmer. Stir in cheeses until melted and everything is heated through. 

Ladle into bowl and let cool slightly before serving to children.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

{Grow Write Guild} My gardening roots

Note: This is the first in a writing prompt series call Grow Write Guild I've decided to write along with. The prompts come from Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl, one of the gardening bloggers I enjoy following. The first prompt is "write about your first plant." My story is quite loosely based on Gayla's questions, but I'm taking the word "prompt" literally. I will be using her suggestions as a means to get writing with little attention to whether my direction has anything to do with what Gayla had in mind. I'm looking forward to this writing journey through the gardening season and would be honored to have you join me.

I grew up with gardeners. When I was a baby, Mom would put me down for a nap in my crib and go work in the garden at the bottom of our backyard hill. Once I was old enough, I was down there in the garden along side her.

When I recall specific memories of that garden, they aren't particularly fond. To be honest, none of my childhood vegetable gardens conjure specifically good memories, but I am nonetheless thankful for them. And, if I don't try to zero in on any particular moment in time, the thought of my childhood gardens bring an overall warm feeling of happiness.

Our neighborhood was built in an old apple orchard, and our backyard had several too-old-for-good-fruit apple trees. It seems the steep hill from the house to the garden was always littered with half-rotten apples regardless of the time of year. Incidentally, the swing set was at the bottom of the hill, too, so it wasn't as if I could avoid that walk even if I didn't want to garden. The trees may have shaded the hill, but at the bottom it was hot and sunny -- perfect for growing zucchini the size of a small child. Next to the garden was a raspberry patch. I loved raspberries, but bees and prickers made the berries nearly undesirable.

My grandparents, who we visited frequently, had an even larger garden. Grandma tried to get me to eat the Brussels sprouts she grew, but, thankfully, no one forced me, because Mom didn't like them, either. Grandma, grew beets, too. I didn't even realize Mom didn't like beets until I was an adult. I guess, when you're a kid you just gobble up the food that's yummy and don't take much notice of what others eat.

Later, my grandparents moved from Rockland County to their "camp" in the Adirondacks, and I think the garden got even bigger. In the new garden they grew potatoes, which have given me my absolute least favorite gardening memory -- picking potato beetles. To this day, I despise beetles of all kinds, and I'm not sure I'll ever have it in me to grow potatoes. I hated picking those potato beetles, but I managed, as a preteen, to do it with pride. There we were, three generations of gardeners, walking along the rows throwing those nasty creatures into coffee cans of turpentine, so we could eat the most delicious potatoes I've ever tasted.

So, why, if my earliest memories of gardening coincide with memories of rotten apples and potatoes beetles, would I want to garden as an adult? The answer is very simple: we had fresh veggies on our table all summer long. Unlike many of my peers, I love vegetables of all kinds (Brussels sprouts remain my one exception). If you need a second reason, I got to play in the dirt a lot, and I love the smell of dirt. Perhaps most importantly, that overall warm feeling of happiness is something I long to pass on to my son.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Lunch Box

Now that Bear eats lunch away from home three days each week, I've been putting more effort into packing lunches that a) I think are interesting and nutritious and b) I'm guessing he'll eat.

The first part of this is to not ask him what he wants. At 9:30 or 10 in the morning, he really isn't hungry for anything -- he just ate breakfast. So, at 4, it's hard for him to imagine what he might like to eat two hours into the future. 

Instead, I just pick three or four things I think might appeal to him. I just have to realize that when he brings half of it home, it's OK. (At least it's OK as long as I remember to unpack it and don't end up with cheese or eggs that have been neglected when I pack the next days lunch.) Some of his lunch items this week have been a carrot and daikon radish mix, yellow and red peppers, hummus, cucumbers, cheese cubes, and salad.

I've also decided that I'm going to occasionally sneak some things in that he's never tried before. Maybe at school, he'll give them a try. I won't go overboard, but it's worth a try. Earlier this week he got some whole grain chips and he said he loved them. Today he's getting freeze-dried raspberries. I'm not very hopefully about those, but since they're packaged in an Easter egg, maybe ...

Oh, yes, the Easter eggs! Thanks to this post on, I decided to pack today's lunch, the last before Easter, in plastic eggs. I know, I know, the plastic can't be good. But, considering, I generally stay away from plastic for packing lunches, I figure one day isn't going to hurt.

Here's what his lunch box looks like:

I can't wait for him to see it. I wish I could include a mini-camera so I could spy on him. 

Inside the purple egg is shredded chicken, one of his favorite foods. The other eggs have red pepper, carrots and bunny grahams as a treat. Oh, and the dried raspberries. Enjoy, buddy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Random updates

Received in the mail today: The first, but certainly not the last, correspondence addressed to "Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of Bear Nusskern" from Queensbury Elementary School. It was our appointment for Kindergarten Roundup. Another reminder to have all sorts of fun with my boy before he gets swept into the wave of school.

In the category of difficult challenges: Getting outside every day is not so easy. But, with the exception of Tuesday, when it was pouring, we've done it every day this week. Some of those we weren't out for long. But, 20 to 30 minutes is better than not at all.

Tiny things to celebrate: My first seedlings have seen light. I planted these leek seeds at least three weeks ago. The seeds were two years old, so I was very unsure of how well they'd do. Then, I had a bit of trouble figure out how much water  I needed

in the bottom tray and everything dried out. Finally, I got enough water in there and, three days later there were the first bits of green. Now, out of about 100 seeds, I have a bit more than 20 tiny plants. It would be nothing short of a miracle if they were all to mature to full-sized leeks. We have months ahead to find out.

Lastly, in the battle with Daylight Savings Time, I win! Not only is Bear not going to bed later, but he's actually started to go to bed at a reasonable (before 9 p.m.) time. It's probably the fresh air. Maybe a little bit of it's my determination. Whatever it is, it's adding to my positive outlook.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Climbing out of the winter slump

I'm not sure exactly when this slump started, but I've been eating horribly lately. I'm so conscience of what the boy is eating, but I've been chowing down on bowls of ice cream for lunch when I think no one is watching. And, I'm constantly refilling my coffee cup to the point the caffeine no longer keeps me from falling asleep. Although, I know it's preventing me from getting the best sleep possible.

Forget about exercise. I started the winter thinking we would cross country ski and sled and build snowmen. But, when the little bit of snow we had came, I just hunkered down inside. Not only am I suffering from this, but so is the boy. He needs outdoor time and exercise more than anyone, and it's up to me to make sure he gets it.

Yesterday, we went for a family walk. It was that first beautiful March day. The kind of day when just because it is warmer than 40 and the sun is shining, people in the north country think shorts and tank tops are appropriate attire. We went to Hudson Pointe along with river in Queensbury.

It's not a long walk, and it felt great to be out. Hubby and I both felt great to be walking. Along with the dog, our legs were itchy to move briskly. Sadly, our out-of-exercise little boy was dragging his feet and asking to be carried. This is not the boy I know from the summer and fall. It may partly have to do with wearing snow boats instead of comfortable sneakers, but still ... I've got to get this boy moving.

I've got to get this mama moving. And, the papa -- he wants to move more too.

And, I've got to cut the junk food.

It starts today!!!

Bear and I will be getting outdoor exercise time EVERY day. Dan will join us when he can. Starting today, daily exercise for Bear and me will get the same priority status as getting dressed. I don't have an exact plan for the eating, but there won't be anymore ice cream for lunch and a much bigger focus on healthy snacks.

Here we go ...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Unfair Fight or Tears in the Snack Aisle

Every parent of a child old enough to speak has been there. In the grocery store, they've turned down the wrong aisle and instantly their child spots a beloved cartoon character. The child gleefully points to their TV pal on the box filled with sugar and artificial colors.

If it's early in the day, mom (or dad) has had a good night's sleep, is amply caffeinated, and understands how unhealthy the contents of the box are, she might escape the store without caving to the child's request. But, that's not without a huge scene, kicking and screaming, and the intended grocery shopping likely incomplete, if not altogether abandoned. And, this is the best that might happen.

The story might end differently for the mom who is shopping after working all day, or (as I've experienced) the morning after working beyond midnight and still waking before 7 a.m. Despite our shopping needs, we want to enjoy a little time with our children. We want smiles, hugs and happy children. We don't have the energy for a fight. So even those of us who know better may turn a blind eye to the health risks, toss the sugar and artificial coloring in our cart, and accept our hugs.

It's really not a fair fight. The food industry knows how this scene will play out. They know that after mom and dad lose this battle over and over, the child will grow up addicted to sugary easy-to-eat food in brightly colored packages. Then, the adult will be easily swayed by advertising for grown up junk food.

The fight might not be fair, but it's not futile. I walked down said “wrong aisle” last week. Our list was less than a dozen items long, but one of them – coffee, I think – shares an aisle with the fake fruit snacks. Down on the bottom shelf my son spotted his favorite turquoise platypus and I got the request. I gave him a look followed by, “Do you think I'm going to say 'yes?' ” to which he quietly responded, “Oh, man!” and on we went.

It was a small victory. He still asked, but he knew no amount of arguing would win his case. We've been the object of many turning heads before. We've done the kicking and screaming. We've abandoned a couple shopping trips. And, yes, I've even caved a few times. But, over the past four years, I've said no – even through my haze of too little sleep and too much caffeine – enough times, he knows the answer.

Stay strong, parents! Big food is not going to give up targeting our children, but they don't have to strike. We can be the shields that keep our kids from heading down the path of obesity and diabetes. Shop the farmers market as much as you can, but when you have to head down that grocery store aisle, stay strong. Remember, when your child's pleading starts, and the heads turn, all those bystanders are your cheerleaders; most of them have been in your shoes.

Beginning again

After a long time away, I've decided to start posting here again. It's not that I all of a sudden have extra time on my hands. It's that I have things on my mind and moments of life I want to remember.

I've been writing a recipe column for the farm, which appears on the KFF blog and on the Saratoga Wire. I love writing it, but it doesn't cover nearly all the things that I want to say.

I want to write about food issues, and possibly other social issues, not related to the farm. I have recipes to share that don't necessarily highlight veggies. I want to record what's to come in my garden and other projects around the house. And, most of all, I want a place to hold the memories of raising the most wonderful boy on the planet. How did I get so lucky?

Chances are there won't be any consistency here, but I'm going to shoot for one post per week -- even if it's just a single photograph. I'd like to think each week of my life has at least one little thing worth remembering. Here are just a couple February examples.

To the left, my boy is celebrating Blue Bear's birthday. It was a snow day and he spread out a tablecloth, and passed out plates, cups and straws to all his stuffed animal friends. We even hung a banner.

Below, he's making Valentines for his classmates.