Monday, January 31, 2011

Warm Snuggly PJ's

AA has been wearing warmer PJ's during our "cool" winter nights.
These are adorable from L.L. Bean (gift from Nana). I took these pictures at night and all AA would do is cover her eyes from the camera's flash - too bright she said!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Restaurant - South of Julington Creek Bridge

Check out the new Mango Mangos. Here's the link to the St. Augustine restaurant; this one is located in the Publix plaza south of Julington Creek.
Our daughter's sister works there. We had a great meal last weekend with Christa's Mom and Dad (C&W). Thanks Christa!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Playground Fun - Volusia County

Not far from I-4 near Enterprise/DeBary (exit 108, just north of Sanford, on Dirksen Road) is a newly discovered park by hubby and AA.

Gemini Springs has a lot to offer in addition to the canoe launch at the springs. The park is large, very scenic and had a huge dog park. Hubby and AA enjoyed the playground. This passes muster for the great restrooms, pavilions, swings, walking trails.....

Just across from the US Hwy17-92 is a "Memorial Park" that we did not explore. Lots more parks in the area, too, just waiting to be discovered on our next trip through the area. Great places to let a little one stretch out the wiggles!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Certified Organic

I was thinking of Granddaughter #2 this morning as I was packing AA's lunch. Let's just say that AA's lunch would not be a big hit at Liv's school. In fact, I am pretty confident in saying part of the lunch would be returned home if not immediately disposed of on the spot. And just to be sure a similar infraction was avoided, a friendly note would be sent home to mom and dad announcing - No more BACON.

AA loves bacon and while we do limit the number of times we enjoy it, when we do - her eyes light up like a kid getting cotton candy at the county fair. To ensure she had a sufficient amount of fat in her diet, I included a cheese stick this morning. I think they would allow a cheese stick at Liv's school. Then again, that might constitute being a fat enabler. I'll have to ask Leaa. I finished packing AA's lunch with fresh, chopped tomatoes, the kid loves fresh tomatoes and some natural, unsweetened applesauce. Oh yes, and a thermos of organic 2 percent milk.

I've been tempted to buy some of the small Certified Organic stickers and give them to Liv's mom. The action plan would call for stickers to be placed on anything the food police at Liv's school might object to. I know Leaa tolerates the school's intrusion because she otherwise LOVES the school curriculum and staff. So to take that happy walk one step further, I'm thinking stickers. Certified Organic. On EVERYTHING.

I was thinking about that this morning as I was packing AA's lunch which got me to thinking. On our next regular Thursday visit to Liv's house, I need to prepare a meal with bacon in it. I bet Liv loves bacon. Organic bacon. Just like the sticker says...

When practical and affordable we purchase organic products, even those deemed unhealthy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evening Visitor - Black and White Wednesday

I came home from work late last Friday evening and Hubby spotted this bird, sitting on top of one of our "freeze" protectors (an upside down garbage can over an outside faucet - it works!).
He grabbed the camera and the bird patiently waited until he snapped a few pictures from a far. Now to research what kind of hawk he is.

View wonderful black and white photos here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Every Monday Matters And Just Do One

I am always thinking of things to do to make a difference; not in a big way; I can't seem to get out of my own way most of the time taking care of daily family & work commitments. Then something comes along that grabs my attention. It's the old saying about taking that first step to make a change.... if you start something today and take a little at a time, you can accomplish much and the same items won't be on your New Year's Resolution list. I have time to do new things (I have tasks I wanted to start years ago that I still carry over on my list each year - how bad is that?!!).

So I have found two inspiring movements going on. Here's the first:
So when I read this I knew it was a way to motivate me into beginning some of the activities/tasks I keep postponing.

Every Monday Matters Video

It started with a piece of trash.

Matthew Emerzian, a successful music industry executive in Los Angeles, was walking back to his office with a co-worker one afternoon in 2004 when he stopped to pick up a plastic fountain drink cover from the sidewalk and put it in a nearby garbage bin.

"My co-worker quickly asked me what I was doing," Emerzian recalled. "I explained what I thought to be the obvious, but apparently I was wrong." To the co-worker, litter simply belonged to the litterer, not to the population as a whole.

"I explained to him that litter and pollution are everyone's problem not just the person who couldn't find the trash can for their cup lid. He profoundly responded with 'Dude, you're weird.'"

Emerzian, now 38, walked back to his office both angry and sad.

"I couldn't believe that someone could remove themselves so far from the greater good of our world."

Matt began to think, 'what if everyone in the country picked up one piece of litter on the same day.' Or 10 pieces! The math was easy, yet so powerful. He then began to think of a few other easy things that 300 million Americans could do to make a difference.

From this, a great idea was born. He called his friend, Kelly Bozza, and told her that he wanted to write a book about how all of us can make a difference with our lives. Within a week, they had over 100 items on their list and were ready to start writing.

Their book, titled Every Monday Matters...52 Ways to Make a Difference, has sold 120,000 copies. The ideas are simple - small acts that collectively add up to an enormous impact for the greater good.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, "Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service."

If you view the book, some of the topics are things we may have done in the past, but could easily have a book club, Sunday school class,work team, family activity time.... all get involved with just the encouragement and organization from one of us, take one step towards your goal each Monday. As you can tell I have several things I have wanted to do but never start..... Next Monday....

The second movement is called Just Do One. It is an effort to change one behavior into a "greener" choice.
I was inspired when my sister in Maine, with 40 degree, windy weather was using her outdoor clothes line to dry her clothes (yes, in the winter! It is freezing in Maine!). So here's a link for the clothesline. Your local hardware store probably has retractable clotheslines - they are not expensive and come in a variety of lengths.

So I chose one idea to do from now on. I am into the convenience of the water bottle and drink at least one a day. So at work now I will refill from our filtered water system rather than throw the bottle away each time. I also use travel water bottles (remember the old style thermos; they have come a long way baby)! So I will use travel/exercise/reusable bottles from now on and fill them with our great tasting tap water (we have really good water from our artesian well).
That's my new habit change... no more buying and throwing away plastic water bottles.
What's your green idea or resolution?

Thanks to 5 Minutes for Mom for this topic and many more on the Around the Blogosphere list each week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baking with Alyzabeth

I don't always bake each weekend, but when I do I have my little helper with me. We were given some Apple Butter this Christmas and decided to look for a recipe to use it in addition to spreading on toast, bagels, biscuits and other breakfast breads.

Other uses for apple butter: swirl some in your favorite vanilla yogurt, in your breakfast oatmeal, swirl in some cottage cheese, spread on a ham or turkey sandwich and add brie cheese; replace some of the oil in your fruit cake recipes (such as carrot cake, spice cake), use on pork chops, warm it with pecans and use as an ice cream topping, on pancakes..... anytime you would use apples. Enjoy!

AA stirring the sweet pecan topping:

The Apple Butter we were given:

Sifting the dry ingredients:

Finished baking:

They were yummy and moist. I did substitute two ingredients: it called for bran cereal, I used old fashioned oats; substituted one fourth of the white flour with whole wheat flour. A good recipe to use when you wish to include apple butter in your breakfast bread!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Visiting Grandpa and Nana in Florida

We visited Grandpa (also known as Big Pop!) and Nana this past weekend. It was a sunny weekend, in the 60's to low 70's so enjoyed the outdoors. It did POUR rain on us during the drive home; a pretty nasty storm.

Their gated neighborhood has lots of short, quiet streets, so we rode bikes and enjoyed the slower Sunday pace. I rode Nana Joy's bike so she watched and kept the photographer company!
After the shock of the Patriots losing, we are having a good week! Only three football games and then it is Daytona 500 week! Hope everyone is having a great week!

Friday, January 21, 2011

How Did You Sleep Last Night?

Ours could have been a little better Wednesday night. It started well. Alyson was able to get home in time to catch part of the season premiere of American Idol. We shared a light dinner together. Baby girl was sleeping snugly in her bed. Life was good.

At 11 PM things started to go south in a hurry. Alyson was struck with another bout of vertigo. Off to the bathroom she hurriedly departed, complete with the nausea and another night of sleeping on a cold tile floor next to the commode.

At 1 AM baby girl pierced the stillness of the night with a wailing call for "DADDY!!!" Complete with tears. After a quick potty stop we stumbled our way to the living room couch with the ever present Nana Joy blanky firmly in hand. Quiet was soon restored with AA falling asleep on my chest. OK, we both fell asleep but I'm pretty sure she fell asleep first.

At 2 AM the house phone rings. You have to be kidding me and then I immediately start thinking something has "happened". You know what I mean. I don't answer the phone. I'll listen to the message to grab a little time to better compose myself before calling back. Except, no message is left. Still on my chest, baby girl continued to snore away. I'm left wondering who just called and if Aly ever made it back to our bed. Already I'm thinking how dead tired I'm going to be all day.

At 2:02 AM the house phone rings again. Uh oh, surely this isn't a wrong number calling back. Something must be wrong. I get up with baby girl. Once again, no message left. I take AA potty and put her back in her own bed. She's out like a light and I'm hoping the wrong number doesn't call a third time.

At 2:05 AM I check on Alyson. Still in no condition to get up, she lays back down. I turn on the bathroom heater and consumed with guilt for leaving my wife on the bathroom floor in a fetal position, I climb in bed. All's quiet as I close my eyes.

At 2:10 AM three loud raps on the front door nearly cause a heart attack. I bolt upright and check the baby monitor. Baby girl still sound asleep. No sound coming from the bathroom otherwise known as Aly's spare bedroom. Apprehensive, I make my way to the front door.

At 2:11 AM I cautiously flip on the outdoor light with my right hand. In my left hand, visibly held low and slightly away is a loaded 38. I'm thinking, if this is a neighbor I just may scare them to death. Oh well, such is life.
And then things got interesting.

Standing a few steps back from the door with a hand resting on the handle of a holstered but untethered gun is a sheriff's deputy. Our eyes meet. I see the badge. Once again I make eye contact with the deputy. Slowly I raise my right hand up and motion to the deputy that I am backing away to put the gun in my left hand down. His nod seals our non-verbal communication and who is in control. Never out of his sight, I placed the gun on the counter behind me. I stepped back to the door with both hands in front of me and slightly raised before slowly and deliberately unlocking the door. At this point I have zero intention of playing any part of the alpha male. "Is everything alright here?" the deputy asked upon my opening the door. To which I answer yes as best I know. He asked if a 911 call had been placed from the residence. Not that I was aware of I respond.
It seems that a 911 call had gone out from our house. When the line went dead the 911 call center made a return call only to get a busy signal. Trying again, their second call to the house went to our answering machine. An officer was immediately dispatched.

I think I invited the deputy into the house but I can't be sure. I also don't think it would have mattered. The deputy came in the house. I motioned to my gun. He asked if he could remove the bullets. I quickly gave my approval to his request while informing him I had a little one sleeping in the bedroom and a sick wife in the bathroom. He followed me as I peeked in on AA and followed me but didn't come in to the bathroom as I gently roused Alyson to convey we had a visitor. Let's just say calm, clear discussion does not follow after waking a sound sleeping sick person lying on a cold bathroom floor to explain a cop in the house at 2 in the morning and oh by the way, you haven't made a 911 call have you? Stepping back into the bedroom, the deputy skips any questions he may have had for the wife. I can't say as I blamed him, Aly really wasn't much up for company. Deputy and I retreated to the living room.

The deputy said the cold weather could have inadvertently caused the 911 call to go out but a call to our service provider was in order. We awkwardly shook hands, I thanked him for checking up on us and as quickly as it began, it was over.
Aly shuffled in from the bathroom. I filled her in on what little I knew as to what just happened. We each expressed mild surprise that the deputy had not politely insisted on physically seeing her. I remember asking if he wished to do that. I'm a guy and unfortunately (disgustingly) an alarming number of husbands and boyfriends abuse the women in their lives. An all too often fact of life. The deputy asking to "speak" with Aly would not have offended me in the least. I expected it.

I checked once more on AA. Alyson made two calls to work to say she would be in later than usual and crawled into our bed. After making sure the bathroom heater was off, I loaded the .38 and slid in beside her. I was wound tight as a spring. Both exhausted, we went back to sleep. Sort of.

Morning wake-up came way too soon. What a night. And now to call the phone company. How I look forward to explaining what happened and would they please schedule a visit as soon as possible to check things out. Then again, making the call to the phone company should be a piece of cake. It has to be better than an unexplained 911 phantom phone call followed by a sheriff's deputy knocking on your door at 2 in the morning.

So, how did you sleep last night?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Practice for Chinese New Year

We attended the first practice for the little ones to sing and dance to the song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in Chinese. AA did very well. Everyone is to learn the Chinese words to the song (which include twinkling eyes rather than like a diamond in the sky).
Here's the words that you can read and hear being spoken; and our instructor's homemade YouTube video with the arm movements.

Kids of all ages were there to practice their Chinese routine:

Our instructor, Shannon, doing the introductions and teaching the words:

The young boys group practicing:

We moved to a different corner of the gym and continued our "dancing" to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!

Hope AA doesn't get stage fright - this is her first time "performing"!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daisy Cat - Black and White Wednesday

Visited cousin Carolyn and AA fed her cat, Daisy, a snack. Daisy is cute, tiger stripes with white paws, much like a Maine Coon cat.

Linked to 5 Minutes for Mom's Wordless Wednesday, Live and Love's Wordful Wednesday and check out all the great Black and White photos at The Long Road to China.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stubbornness.... Visiting Nephew A. and Miss B.

We had a brief visit with my nephew while he and girlfriend, Britney were on vacation at her Grandparents (thank you to the Ward's for their hospitality!).

AA managed to be happy and sociable, plus Miss Britney gave her lots of attention. What were we rewarded with when I took the camera out? Stubbornness. Brit and Andrew resorted to tickling.....

What a frown.....
All we needed was a tiny, little smile.....