Thursday, November 11, 2010

Removing Amazon From Advertising on This Site

Occasionally we bloggers partner up with big business to advertise. Its usually win-win. The blogger gets a bit of cash through readers clicking on ads and the advertiser gets face time with our readers.

I allowed to advertise on this website. As of this morning I have removed all of their publishing rights and cancelled my accounts.

As the web rages with the recent Amazon Fail, I want to let my readers know that Amazon ads and promotions will no longer appear on this blog. Period.

I actually forgot that Amazon had ads on here.

If you are one of the many boycotters and have a blog with advertising - please be sure to do the same.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Independence? Maturity? Or Is It Something Else?

It started maybe a week or so ago.

My little girl was growing up. As she went to bed each night, she would tell me that I didn't have to check on her. I listened and gave her the space she wanted to that would prove to me she was growing up. Night after night, she would go off to bed and I would not see her chipper little face until morning. I was proud of her. I had no idea what spurred the sudden quest for her independence but was a proud mama bear nonetheless.

Yesterday while doing laundry I made mention that I needed to change the sheets in her room. She sprung to her feet from her TV induced coma and offered to do it herself. She insisted she knew how to change sheets and her words were, " I can do it mama, you don't feel well. I want to make it easy on you."

Wow. How did I manage to raise such a responsible and thoughtful little girl. She was suddenly independent and matue. My little girl was growing up. I felt the tears coming on.

As I thought about this over my coffee this morning, I gushed with pride and just had to go sneak in to look at my now 'big girl' who was surely slumbering away proudly.

Yeah, not-so-much.

Apparently her room was victim of some great natural disaster that even FEMA could do nothing for. A natural disaster so strong, it snapped off one of the posts on her four post bed.

She figured that if I saw what used to be called her bedroom, I would make her clean it. So the best way to avoid cleaning it is to avoid me seeing it.

Guess what she is doing today?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Do You "Boo"? A Halloween Tradition

We do!

Booing is a fun and super easy way to spread early Halloween cheer around your neighborhood. Its a lso a great lesson in doubling that can be translated into many ideas such as how germs spread. (Not a pleasant thought I know...)

What is Boo-ing?

You "boo" a neighbor by leaving them a bag filled with candy and treats annonymously on their doorstep. When the open the bag they receive a poem which explains that they have been "boo-ed" and that they now need to "boo" 2 other neighbors. As people in your neighborhood get Boo-ed, they hang an included sign on their door to let people know they have been Boo-ed . Slowly your neighborhood will light up with these signs on everyone's door as it exponentially spreads each day.

So what do you do?
  1. Fill a small bag with candy and seasonal treats.
  2. Attach 2 empty bags and two copies of a Boo-ing Poem so the recipient knows what to do.
  3. At an unsuspecting time, leave your Boo package at the doorstep of a neighbor.
  4. Wait and watch it spread.
You can make your own Boo-ing poem or use the Hershey's one available HERE or the handmade version available from available HERE and a printable poem HERE.

My kids and I always enjoy being the starting family--doing our first Boo-ing on October 1st. Each day we count the number of houses it spreads to--it's both exciting and easy fun.
Have fun and go out and Boo someone today!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chicken Auto Watering System

I love DIY projects and was more than excited to tackle my latest one. I wanted to make a water system for my chickens that would basically take relying on me out of the equation.

This system keeps water super clean and refills as needed. In all, I spent about 45$ on this project and it was really easy.

The bucket is connected to a low flow adapter to the garden hose, reducing the psi. Inside the bucket is a float flow regulator- like the kind in toilets; when the float drops, more water is added until it rises again.

The pcv piping holds an additional 2 gallons of water and includes an air vent and overflow as well as two screw off ends for easy cleaning and debris removal.

Super satisfying project and no sooner did I put it into the coop, the chickens figured it right out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fruits and Veggies Lead to ADHD

They do if they aren't organic.

New research compels parents to offer only organic fruits and veggies to kids as the levels of pesticides in conventionally farmed fruits and veggies double the chances of kids being diagnosed with ADHD.

Read the about research here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shopping Fun

I got a great opportunity to team up with to do a review of their site and products that might interest my readers (you!) and while I am not easily impressed, I was blown away by their seemingly endless supply of all things related to the home and then some. Comprised of over 200 stores, they offer everything from track lighting to BBQs to cookware to home furnishings. I suggest checking them out if you are shopping for your home.
I'll be posting my full review in the week to come. Stay tuned. In the meantime--go shopping!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Want Tips on Natural Living??

Check out my article over on to read all about it.
Go see it!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I have finally finished my new website that will be my basis of operations for my freelance writing. While I still need to get my new domain name and all that full stuff I would love if you would chick it out and give me your thoughts....
check it out here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Sweet Home: The New Chicken Coop-Phase 1

We finally began construction for the chicken coop this weekend and despite having only started on Saturday afternoon, the girls moved in on Monday.

The interior of the coop is 10 feet by 6 feet by 8 feet with a 6 foot roosting pole. The two windows are floor level so they will be used as "chicken doors" once the pen is attached. The walls are double layered for added insulation and all painted and sealed to facilitate cleaning. The kids also added artwork to the walls so the chickens would have something to look at.

Here are the pictures up to this point. We will begin the landscaping and beautifying of the area this week, as well as the pen construction.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


As I emerge on this new path of freelance writing it is encouraging and joyful to see my first article in print in Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine.

Want to read the article? Click here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chickens Meet the Outdoors

Finally we had (unusually) warm weather here in Syracuse and the chickens got to meet the outdoors. Since we had no pen ready or coop for that matter we made a temporary pen that was so easy it was ridiculous! How??

We took the base of our trampoline and ran chicken wire around it securing it with zip ties. Then we covered the top with bird/deer netting. Total cost: $21. So this will be the daytime home for the chickens as weather permits until the coop is ready.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Basket Rescue: Organic Candy

It is easy to succumb to the commercialization of Easter-- the push of Marshmallow Peeps and all the standard candy coming in Easter themed wrappers and shapes.

But you can make a choice. A choice to give your kids less chemical laden candy. Less artificial food dyes and flavorings.

Many of the candies I suggest are available at higher end grocery stores which contain an Organic Section. Wegmans and Whole Foods are especially helpful here. You can also order many organic candies online. Amazon carries a wide range. There is also Pure Fun with a wide selection.

Green and Blacks Chocolates are wonderful and offer large bar like chocolates. Godiva is almost all natural on their basic chocolates. Yummy Earth makes the yummiest organic lollipops.

There are organic gummy bears and m & m like candies. Seek them out. Avoid the toxic food colorings and flavorings such as vanillin. Most of us don't want our kids feasting on candy, but for those special times like Easter, at least it could be natural.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feathered Friends: Building our Backyard Flock

(Plymouth Rock 10 days old)

A few weeks ago I wrote about our desire to raise chickens in our backyard, for egg purposes. Well now that we are well underway I figured it would be a good time to fill you in on the details of our choices.

We are currently raising 6 chicks, which we purchased through My Pet Chicken. They were wonderful with a big selection and a healthy arrival of 6 chicks. We chose Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpinton, and Red Sex-Linked. I have to say that the Plymouths are the sweetest and just really want to be held all day long, which my daughter has no problem doing.

During the first week, we housed them in a 110 quart clean Rubbermaid tote with pine chips as the base. It worked well. But as we entering week 3, they needed more room so we built a cardboard coop for a more spacious habitat for them until they can go outdoors. We also let them get some extra exercise free-ranging on the kitchen floor.

So far we have had no issues. The kids love them. They aren't that messy or stinky but I am on top of keeping the coop clean. My cats are scared of them-- which is kind of funny.

We are still in the midst of figuring out the backyard coop situation. Our thoughts at this point are to get a roughly 8x6 shed to house them in and build an enclosed pen roughly 6x4 attached to it. I am not one to skimp on space as my first concern is their human treatment. I have read that the recommended size of the total coop plus pen should equal a minimum of 4 square feet per bird. Well this is more than triple that which makes me much more comfortable. Especially here in Syracuse where they will spend much of the winter in the indoor coop for weather reasons. Inside the coop I will also have perches and several "shelves" they can walk on to further maximize the square footage. I will get up some pictures once construction is underway.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Heart Faces: Angles

Here's my entry for I Heart Faces Angles. Go check out other entries here.


Its one thing to be 6 turning 7 and have a crush on a girl.

You offer to pull her chair out, you partner up with her when you get the chance, you even ask her to dance with you. You hold her hand during a party.

She is sweet and kind. She dances with you, partners with you when you ask, and holds your hand back.

But then one day, she makes you smile like never before when you get a birthday card from her and she tells you in her way-- that she likes you too.

Since his party, I have noticed him several times, pick up this card and look it over with the sweet sweet smile on his face.

Check out other Tuesday Moments Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reliving The Past

Today begins a hard week, actually month for me. Seven years ago, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. It was my first official day of maternity leave and I reveled in my new found freedom while mopping my kitchen floor midday.

The day itself was uneventful. I remember eating a bowl of hot oatmeal while sitting on my front porch watching the school busses go by--thinking I should be at work already. My only physical complaint of the pregnancy was my swollen ankles. The air was warm and it was sunny. The windows were open and I was in nesting mode.

It was shortly before dinner that I received the phone call. It was my OB and she had a very strange tone in her voice as she spoke with me. She asked if I was home alone. She asked if I was ready to listen to something important. I was loading laundry while we had this conversation as she had my latest sonogram results from a few days earlier and I kept loading while she talked not fully grasping what she was saying. Then I remember sort of dropping the handful of laundry and asking her to explain it again. We had already lost the twin of this pregnancy. How could this be getting worse?

I remember walking into the nursery while waiting for my husband to get home to take me up to the hospital as the doctor ordered and looking around. It was painted but not fully decorated. I looked at the layette outfit waiting on the dresser. I noticed the lack of diapers and wipes, bottles and equipment. I was no where near prepared for a baby--I still had 9 more weeks.

The hospital visit was a blur. IUGR was mentioned several times. My baby weighed 2lbs 12 ounces and was not only not growing, but it was shrinking. The size of a 25 weeker, the baby for some reason was below the 3rd percentile and failing.

They ordered bed rest and continued daily bio-physicals and ultra sounds. They added a team of specialists from a hospital with a advanced NICU. My days blurred into nights laying on the couch eating as much food as I could while wishing the baby to grow.

Four days later, due to signs of extreme fetal distress a C-section was ordered immediately. He was born in a near standing-room-only OR in a blur of controlled chaos.

He would spend the next 28 days in the NICU and I would spend those same days mostly split between the hospital and on my shower floor crying.

Last week I read a study where mothers of premature babies, especially those who had extended stays in NICUs, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. It make so much sense to me now.

So here I am, as I always am on March 17th feeling like I am trapped in the movie Groundhog's Day. Reliving every moment. Seeing the clock and knowing exactly what I was doing 7 years ago to the minute on some days. I can hear the sounds and smell the smells. And this will stretch into April, as it does every year.

He will turn 7 on Saturday. He is healthy and fine, argumentative and strong willed. Brilliant and funny. But somehow I get stuck right back in this place every year.

And each year I expect it to be different.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dispelling Homeschool Myths

Today my article on Dispelling Homeschool Myths is featured on Go check it out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Cricket Azima- Child Nutritionist and Chef

I spent my morning chatting with Cricket Azima, Child Nutritionist and Kids' Chef and author of Everybody Eats Lunch. First of all, she is delightful :) Seriously. We spent last week with her cooking on Bridge Street on 9WSYR. She's super smart when it comes to kids nutrition and cooking and a fellow mom, so we love her. Read the interview and you will too become a fan.

What made you decide to write Everybody Eats Lunch?

For about 10 years I had been teaching kids cooking classes while getting my Masters at NYU in Food Studies and Food Management. I saw how to teach traditional curriculum through food and saw how it could translate to any age. Teaching Science and Math through food really engaged kids. I am a big fan of Montessori learning and saw how children, when using all of their senses retained more information.

What is your favorite or most popular recipe from the book?

It is the yummy Pumpkin Fritters. Kids love them.

Which "camp" do you belong to-- the "hide-the-veggies-in-the-food" or openly offer them?

Don't hide the veggies!! Foster a healthy relationship with fruits and vegetables by frequent exposure. When cooking with kids, I often use repeat ingredients. So maybe on the first time they don't want to try the green peppers, but the third time they are more likely to give it a try.

What are your suggestions for the moms of super picky eaters who feel they have tried all the "tricks" with little success?

Get the kids involved from the beginning of the process. Have them help plan the menu. Take them to the grocery store and give them a simple task like locating some of the ingredients. Offer them a choice- but without setting yourself up. For instance, offer the choice of broccoli or cauliflower. Let them help in preparing the meal- washing the vegetables, tearing off leaves, or cutting up fruits depending on the age of the child. What I have found is the more invested the kids are in the meal by planning and cooking, the more likely they are to eat it.

You have become the Spokesperson for Fruit Simple. What made you make that decision?

The sad fact is less than 10% of kids are getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Fruit Simple is great because it is 100% all natural with no sugar added. Sometimes it is more convenient that fresh fruit, its portable, and often more economical. If you were to make your own smoothies it can be pretty costly and often you would end up with some waste. Fruit Simple is great because you can throw it in a bag whereas a pear isn't always as conducive for that. Its also a "treat" for kids. All of my desserts are fruit based and Fruit Simple can be used the same way, as a easy and healthy treat.

What are the two messages you want parents to take away from this conversation?
  1. Balance. Balance is key-- for kids and adults.
  2. Get the kids involved and start forming that healthy relationship with food while they are young.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

$50 Target Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Everyone could use $50 at Target right??

Ok so here is the giveaway. On March 20th I will select one person randomly from the comments to win a $50 Target Gift Card. You can enter several times. Here's the rules for entering:

1. Leave a comment for an entry.

2. Become a follower for an additional entry.

3. Follow me on Twitter for another entry.

4. Tweet this giveaway for another entry. (Feel free to tweet each day for additional entries--add the tweet to your comment)

5. Add me to your blog roll or add my button for another entry.

6. Become a fan of our Facebook page for another entry! Fan box is in the side bar

Be sure to leave a comment for each entry that you do above.

Good luck!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Arrivals

They will surely have sore legs after sitting on the floor most of the day inspecting our new arrivals in the brooder.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Date with Cricket Azima, Chef and Child Nutrition Expert

We spent on morning over at the local news studio filming a live cooking segment with Cricket Azima. It was fun and exciting and she was fantastic! I'll be featuring a full interview with her here later this week as well as a Fruit Simple Giveaway! Stay tuned...

Until then here are the behind the scenes photos I managed to squeeze in.

What are they making? Her amazingly yummy Fruit Simple Fruit Salsa. I'll post the recipe later this week with her full interview.

Wanna' see the full video? Watch it here

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Necessary Evil of Rewriting History

I can't be the only person ever to find themselves in this position....

: Mama, how did you meet Daddy? Where were you? Tell me what happened.

Me: [long pause]... Well it happened one day in Albany where Daddy went to college. My friend went there too so I went up to visit her for the weekend. She wanted to take me around to some of her favorite bars bookstores. So at our 3rd or 4th bar bookstore, she saw her friend, Pete (Daddy). He was sitting there on a date with some girl with friends. We drank talked a lot. After many shots, Daddy and I ended up back at his apartment... to... ummm, study. Yes we were studying. And I spent the night there. And then I went back to my friends house at 8:00 to go to bed.

The next day I flew back to my college in Pennsylvania and I was surprised that Daddy called me he wanted us to get together for a playdate again real soon. This time he would come down to my house in Pennsylvania.

And so we began dating.

Meagan: Oh, what were you studying with Daddy?

Me: Ummm, Anatomy. We were studying anatomy. Yup. Anatomy and Biology.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Heading Down a New Path

Path in the Woods

Here I am standing at the beginning of a new path. Not sure where it will lead or what lies ahead but stepping onto the path with a bit of blind faith and lots of encouragement from friends.

I have started freelance writing, something I have always wanted to do but never had the courage to make happen. The idea of setting yourself up for rejection wasn't the most appealing thing to me. And there is a lot of rejection.

But there is also that rare instance of acceptance. And that brings an elation so great that it makes the rejection that much easier to take.

It started on New Years Eve. I have submitted to magazines before maybe once or twice. Never tracking what I did. So I was beyond amazed (and taken way by surprise) when I got a call from a magazine that they would be publishing something I wrote. It is about our whole voyage into eliminating artificial food coloring. To get even better, they will be using some of my photos as well.

A few nights later, sitting with my husband I decided to make a goal- a commitment to myself that somehow I would get 4 things published this year. Lofty as it may be, I would work hard for it.

Ironically, the very next day, signed me up to write 4 articles for them.

It seemed like this was finally happening.

A dear friend offered me all the encouragement I could get and she gave me that final push I needed to really commit to this new endeavor.

So here I am stepping onto this new path with some trepidation. Hoping it isn't going to turn into some wild haunted Halloween path but remains peaceful and pretty and full of wonderful things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Its the Little Things

Sometimes you miss something that was right in front of you the whole time. When you notice it you wonder how it was that you never saw it.

I have this Starbucks coffee mug. It's large and shaped just so that it fits in my hand perfectly. It's made of blue glass and it holds just the right amount of coffee for me. I have had it for almost 7 years. I drink out of it very often-- at least 3 times a week when it isn't waiting patiently for the dishwasher.

This morning I set it down just as I always do while watching the news. The sun was somewhat shining through the clouds- just a bit. And it appeared.

How have I never seen this before in 7 years?
How have I missed this?

What else am I not seeing?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why My Son is Way Cooler at 6 Than I was at 12

Let me take you back.

1986. A middle school cafeteria. 300 or so 12 year olds danced around in the first real dance. The air hung heavy with Love's Baby Soft and AquaNet Hairspray. Whitney Houstan's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" vibrated through the room.

There I was in a black and white dress, permed hair, and a smidge of makeup. Surrounded by my girl friends I whined and contemplated about how much I wanted to dance with a certain boy. A boy I had a crush on for months. We planned and talked and giggled and ran until one of my friends dragged me out of the girls room and over to him and asked him to dance with me. He did.

We danced for about 3/4 of the song--until he politely said he should return to his date since it was the last song of the night. I think I nodded. The girls and I ran back to the bathroom and you could hear the "oh-my-God-I-cant-believe you danced with him" all the way down the hall.

Yes. Pathetically uncool. That was my first dance.
Oddly enough I would dance with that boy again, as his date to the Junior Prom--but that was a long time away from that night. That night I was so uncool. I was 12.

Flash forward 24 years later.

My son stands in a banquet hall dressed in a shirt and tie. We are there for him to receive an award. He spies a girl out of the corner of his eye that he just adores in his karate class. He says to me--without hesitation or shyness or the patheticness I displayed years earlier--"Mom I going to ask her to dance with me." And he quickly turn and follows after her.

They emerge on the dance floor and dance with wild abandon. Smiles fill the room. There is no hesitation or awkwardness. Just dancing. For 20 minutes.

He accidentally falls- smashing his head on the wooden floor. He starts crying but pulls himself together for a split second to hug her goodbye as we dash out the door. Blood oozing...head swelling.

He ends up in the emergency room with a concussion. But all he can think about is those magical 20 minutes on the dance floor.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Michael's Karate Award for Effort

Michael's Karate Award for Effort
Originally uploaded by jenafermedina

Friday, January 29, 2010

Before and After-- Playing With Photo Editing Software

As I continue to play with Flickr 's editing software (the premium version) I am in love with the Orton-ish feature. Having so many capabilities, I can edit software almost as if I could understand Photoshop.

Still a bit more learning to do but so much fun!

Here's the before shot:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meg Contemplating


Im playing with some new photo software and loved editing this picture. Theres something about the look in her eyes...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcoming our House Guest: Change

It's 5am and my doorbell rings.

Good Morning Change and welcome to your new home. Let me get your bags for you…you sure did seem to bring a lot of baggage with you.

As Change moves into our home and gets comfortable I realize that he brought more with him than I was really expecting to deal with at one time. While his main suitcase is filled with my husband’s new job—you know the one located in Chicago, the Chicago that’s in another state, another time zone for that matter; he’s seems to have brought much more.

There’s the duffel bag stuffed with my neighbors’ and dear friends’ impending divorce. I was really hoping that he’d decide in the final moments not to bring that bag.

And on top of that is the small round case that has the moving of a dear friend, and it seems that this was more of a last minute item he packed for I really wasn’t expecting to see that suitcase here.

Laying on the floor is the small birthday package wrapped and addressed to me with the shiny numbers “36” written on them. Oh, I seemed to have forgotten that my birthday was amidst all of this baggage.

I open a dingy brown suitcase to find all of the elements that will put a toxic waste dump in my backyard—1850 feet from my home. The case is filled with petitions and letters, emails, and posters. (Maybe we can just stuff this suitcase in a closet for now?)

Sitting in the shadows in the corner is a book on peri-menopause. Why the hell did he bring that?? I am only 35—er, 36 years old!

In a clean new shiny pink suitcase there is a bunch of paperwork and leads on writing for magazines. Oh yeah, I forgot he was bringing that. I’m actually glad to see this suitcase.

Change settles in for the day and makes his presence know.

He isn’t that kind of houseguest that you rarely see and forget is there. The kind that is quiet and courteous and cleans up after themselves. He reminds us often that he has moved in; at dinner by demanding to sit in Pete’s chair at the table, he is in my yard as I glance over the melting snow at my neighbors’ house, he stomps further behind my house where I can glimpse through the leafless trees the place where the toxic dump is planned, and of course one of his most annoying habits seems to be making my kids sad. He doesn't seem to be completely satisfied until he makes one of them cry.

They really don’t want Change living here. They don’t really like him (Neither do I really but I need to keep that to myself). However, I explained that while he may have come in stiff and disruptive, we must give him a chance. A chance to show he really isn’t that bad at all, maybe even misunderstood. He could be a great friend, eventually.

We just need to be patient.

I ♥ Faces: Texture

Here's a great texture shot. My daughter with her head and arms in stocks while we were on a local history tour.
Check out more great entries at I ♥ Faces

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Oven is On the Fritz

There are those people who can cook limitless little buns without so much as a thought and always get great results. Then there are those who one day peek in their oven to be astounded at the fact that there is a fresh warm bun baking without the slightest idea of how it got in there. My oven has never been that reliable but has turned out some great products—with some intervention from some really proactive oven specialists.

I had to test my oven daily to see if it would be ready to bake anything. And when it would finally show that it was ready, it was a rush – a mad dash of sorts- to combine all of the ingredients and a wait-and-see approach to see if the oven would actually bake it.

As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, there was the time that I was baking two little buns simultaneously. They began to cook for a while but then suddenly the oven decided to only bake one.

Or the occasion when I put the timer on for 40 weeks with one little bun and the oven decided to crap out around 30 weeks, having cooked my expected little bun to a mere 3 lb 4 oz. little loaf instead of the anticipated 7lb version.

Or the time when the oven was cooking but somehow kept adding sugar to the recipe hourly. I had to combat this by injecting anti-sugar ingredients several times a day.

After all of these episodes I decided not to bake anymore because it was just too risky to put anything in there.

So its really never been that reliable which is why the newest development doesn’t surprise me much.

I was speaking with a general appliance repairman and happened to mention that the oven was turning on at night and running for a few hours really hot—for no apparent reason. It would get so hot I‘d have to open the windows to cool down the house. And seriously from what I read in the owner’s manual this shouldn’t be happening until the appliance was about 50 years old—still a good 14 years away.

The good appliance repairman explained that every oven is different and some go through this “breakdown cycle” staring after owning it for 35 years. He said that this seemed to be the early stages of the cycle and that it won’t be completely “kaput” for about another 10 years.

Strange. I know I hadn’t planned on baking really ever again. But at least I *knew* the oven was there should I ever get a strong hankering a nice warm little 7lb loaf—an undeniable urge to throw caution to the wind and bake something. Strange to think that this is slightly a bummer.

My oven still wears its age pretty well. Of course there are a few surface crevices showing its age and the passage of time, and the couple of repaired cracks from trying to get the previous baked goods out. But all in all, to look at it—or my whole kitchen for that matter you wouldn’t think that it was on its way out. But it is. It’s entering the stage when it goes completely on the fritz. Circuits will start doing their own thing- misfiring and whatnot. It will run these hot cycles, especially at night. Eventually, over time, it will stop working all together.

But I look at my previously baked goods and revel in the marvelousness that they did cook and are the yummiest things ever turned out of anyone’s kitchen. I can’t ask for more than that.

At least I won’t have to run that annoying cleaning cycle anymore!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Homeschooling Rant

There are days when I really think that I can’t hear one more repugnant comment about homeschooling from people who just can’t seem to grasp the fact. There are days when I see my tolerance of such to be a glass full of water and one more drop will lead to over spillage and a mess to be cleaned up. There are days when I’d seriously like to sling comments back in their direction full of judgment and speculation about their parenting styles.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been collecting a sort of ridiculous list of homeschooling comments that seriously make me contemplate saying, ”Oh yeah, school, my kids go to school…love it. We’re TOTALLY into public schooling” and then try to conceal my obvious gagging on my own words.

I hosted a party not so long ago. Its normally like a neighborhood event where you know most of the people, some better than others, and its all talk about sports and weather. Good times. Good non-confrontational times. But this year I really wanted to invite some of the homeschooling families in our group because I enjoy them. I should have seen the writing on the wall that sports and weather would not be the main topics of conversation.

Some of the neighbors assumed this party was neighborhood exclusive—I really don’t understand why but anyway, when they (God forbid) didn’t recognize some of my guests they had to ask, “How do you know Jen?” The common answer was “From homeschooling”. As this crept from my friends lips, you could hear the worms slithering on the floor as the open can lay there. There were some in my neighborhood who didn’t know I homeschooled. Ok—who isn’t being “socialized” now? I practically wear a banner on my chest declaring I’m a homeschooling mama. Then there were those neighbors who somehow were ok with our homeschooling since, after all, I was a TEACHER. That somehow makes it all ok. So my homeschooling friends were grilled the usual questions as they slowly side-stepped towards the open bar. Were YOU a teacher? How do YOU know what to teach? What will YOU do when your child learns more than you know?” Needless to say, the wine flowed heavily that night as I shot apologetic looks to my friends.

The latter of those questions got asked to me and I took a l-o-n-g sip of my wine while I carefully crafted my response since my initial knee-jerk response was to ask this man if he thought I were some kind of idiot or something. His question was how will I teach my children once they are in like 6th grade. So am I to presume that this man-a guest in my home, drinking my wine and eating my food thinks my education is limited to topics under the 6th grade? Trust me it was a really long sip of wine.

Then there was the gentleman who said how I was depriving my kids of great events like (wait for it) SNOW DAYS. He said my kids would not know the joy of waking up to find out that they do not have to go to school because the weather is so bad. He’s right, my kids will never know that joy because they have never been forced to attend school in the first place. And while his kid is whopping it up on that rare January day when its so cold outside; my kids are reveling in the parks when its sunny and warm outside on a weekday in the middle of Spring all day long. How sad for my kids. And by the way--what about kids in Florida or Arizona? They too are deprived of snow days. Maybe we should lobby for their rights.....

Then there was the person who asked me HOW my kids ended up getting sick. I stood there totally puzzled thinking I needed to give a lesson on how germs get passed on from one person to the other and she completed her thought with “I mean since you guys are homeschooled you don’t come into contact with other people.” Wow. I had no idea we lived in some kind of germ-free isolation bubble. I wonder if that would bring down our health insurance premiums? A discount maybe?

A few days after the party I was commenting to someone about what time the party actually ended—which was around mid-night. She asked who stayed that long listing a bunch of possible choices. I told her it had been the majority of the homeschooling friends I had invited and I went on about what a great time we had. Her response: “That’s so weird that the homeschoolers stayed late. Maybe its because they don’t get out much so they were excited.” Umm, they are homeschoolers, not social-leapers thank-you-very-much.

Then there is the random comments that all end with “ because they are homeschooled.”

Your son is good at karate… because they are homeschooled.

Your child is so sensitive….. because they are homeschooled

Your children are_________ (insert ANY adjective here) because they are homeschooled.

Who will your child invite to a birthday party? They must have no friends because they are homeschooled.

Or another one of my favorites is the whole “WOW I could NEVER do that (the word “never” comes along with feverish head shaking and hand waving) OK—sorry you are apparently incapable of parenting your child for more than a few hours a day. But I’ll have to take your word on it.

And lastly, If I misspell something on Facebook—it is not an opportunity to ask how I will teach my child spelling. It is the result of a stupid tiny phone keyboard not an evaluation of my education. And this is doubly true if it is the middle of the day on a weekday—I know why I’m home but shouldn’t YOU be working NOT Facebooking??

If you are a homeschooler- you know ONLY too well. If you aren’t a homeschooler but somehow come face-to-face with one in a (gasp) social setting, please realize that it is an educational choice almost akin to that of going to a private school. It does not make us freaks, or shut ins, or cult-living people.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Planning for Spring Additions

I had chickens when I was younger. Though I admit having them during a winter on Long Island as compared to winter in Syracuse is very different.

I've been researching both coops and chicken breeds, hoping to find just the right friendly happy little egg-layers to join our family, even if only from Spring to Fall.

I found a coop which is both inexpensive (compared to others) and cute in addition to highly functional.
And with this type of coop, should I decide to keep them through winter, I can do so simply by adding a lighting fixture and water heater.

As for the breed of chicken I am inclined to get I really would like a strong egg layer, as I will only be raising 4 chickens. I'd like to bet on a solid dozen eggs per week. I also need a breed that will tolerate my kids curiosity without trying to peck them to death, as well as being winter hardy.

This has led me to the following breeds: Ameraucana , Deleware, and Brahma.
These three varieties are all characterized as tame and friendly, good to very good egg layers, and tolerate both winter and confinement well. Also the only one that can tend to be a setter/broody is Brahma. Below is a Brahma.

So this is where I am in the planning or preliminary planning stages of our feathered friends who will provide us with yummy breakfasts for the summer and beyond. AS I figure more out, I will update more :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snowed In

We received about 36 inches of snow in 36 hours leaving our out of town visitors stranded here for another day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

We rang in the New Year with wine, and pool, and dancing in the snow in our jammies, and of course-- passing out on the couch.

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