Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ally's Homecoming at SHS

Last weekend was homecoming at Salem High School. We enjoyed being involved in Ally's fun activities. Her homecoming field hockey game was at 10 in the morning and although they lost to Pinkerton, they played a great game. Ally is a tough little goalie- always inspires me with her athletic talent.

That night was the "Freshman Reception" or fall semi-formal dance and Ally looked beautiful. We shopped for her dress a few weeks ago (when the girls need dresses, they always come to me because I have been the one to take care of that for the last 7 years or so.) Isn't that one of the most fun parts of having girls???

So Ally and I surprisingly agreed on a few dresses and then we weighed the pros and cons. She knew she wanted leopard but a dress that was entirely covered in leopard was not the right choice....then there was another close one which had leopard on the entire skirt portion...but the one we chose had just the right amount...a black dress with a little leopard across the top..tasteful with just enough flash. She ended up buying her shoes..patent leather pumps...and the look was delish.

Lisa came over for pictures and it was fun...we relaxed over some caramel apple martinis and apps and enjoyed catching up.

Enjoy the pix!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Diana at 13 Months!

Dear Diana,

You are walking! You took your first steps this month. We were impressed when you did two steps at Zack's very first high school football game but then you did four on Friday night for Mimi and Mama and then on Saturday, with Zack's help and Mama and Daddy watching, you did six steps in a row! You are a big girl!

In case I have never mentioned it before, I want you to know about our special song- Summertime- the old classic from the musical Porgy & Bess. Since you were born, it is the only song that has helped you to stop fussing. I started singing it to you when you would first start fussing in the car...especially when we were stuck in traffic..you hate traffic more than Mama and Daddy do.

You became still and silent every time I would sing the song so I knew it worked. Now when I am rocking you to sleep and you are extra fidgety, I will sing the same song and you look up at me and smile and immediately calm down. The whole family has noticed this and it is completely adorable.

We went to your one year appointment and we got some great news! You are growing and you are healthy- you are back up to the 67th percentile for weight...weighing in at 22 pounds! You are up to the 44th percentile for height= 28.75 inches and your head is still huge (big brain!) at the 93rd percentile!

The doctor said we can take you off of the Prilosec and see how you do. We are at the four day mark and you seem to be ok although you have woken up the last few nights (which I think is either a food or teething issue though)

The doctor also gave Mama and Daddy homework and said you can be on all milk now AND he wants you to eat all table foods- whatever we are eating. Sounds easy right? NO! For breakfast, we were off to a good start, because you enjoyed your first scrambled egg with some bananas. It was downhill from there though. You did not like chicken we ground up for you or the green beans (and you LOVE those foods when they are the Gerber brand)...dinner proved to be even more challenging and we are still working through these issues.

What I don't think the doctor realized is that you only have one tooth so it is still very hard for you to chew chunky pieces of food...so after talking it through with Daddy and Mimi and Papa...we have decided to keep the foods soft until you have more teeth. Because of chunkier food this week, you have choked six times and Mama can't handle that stress!

So...we are going to do eggs a few days/week with some fruit and on the off days, we will do cereal and fruit. For lunch, we will continue with a Gerber veggie and either Gerber fruit or our fruit. For dinner, we will combine Gerber and our foods to make sure you get enough protein, starch and veggies. In between, we will continue with the Graduates snacks as you love them and they are very nutritous!

Oh some more good news...you are becoming a pro with your Sippy Cup!!! We are so proud of you. It is heavy and you do a great job drinking from it AND now tipping it just enough to get your milk :)

You enjoyed your 2nd (even though your first trip you could barely see last year!) Apple Picking and Raspberry Picking adventure with Mimi and Papa last week! You were biting into apples like you had been your whole life...just precious. Mimi and Papa also told us how much you enjoyed the raspberries (as if we couldn't tell with all of the stains all over your clothes! Daddy got them out with Shout though of course)

You continue to love Sesame Street and Elmo and your favorite thing to do is climb all over the place! You are keeping us all on our toes but we wouldn't have it any other way!

I love you my Baby Bird!

Fall Dinner

So when Mimi said she was coming over last Friday night, I got excited. I love cozy Friday nights and I love sharing them with those I love most.

I got all inspired and decided to whip up a fall meal. I knew my mom would love it (which was my goal) but I was also excited for Zack to come home after football starving and for Rob to come home after his gig in the same condition. I accomplished two out of three...so here it goes.

I made a Martha Stewart recipe that I had made my mom and grandmother years ago (during my short and first marriage).....Pork Chops with Shallots and Apples...my mom had never stopped talking about that meal and for the longest time, I could not find the recipe. Thanks to www.marthastewart.com I was put back in touch with this culinary classic and I got the reaction I was looking for from my mom.

To accompany the pork, I went to my favorite "boy chef" Tyler Florence and pulled one of his recipes- Overstuffed Pumpkin with Sausage, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing. The stuffing recipe included several of the same ingredients that were in the pork and the tastes seemed to blend together well.

I also included my wild green and goat cheese salad to finish up the main course.

At the last minute, I decided, even though my mom probably will be mad that I am even serving dessert (as she avoids wheat and sugar), I have to put something out. So I whipped up one of her faves, gingerbread...this of course, took me the least amount of time. I frosted half of it with the "Funfetti Halloween" frosting that Betty Crocker puts out.

I was actually proud of myself and even more pleased when my mom complemented the meal and indulged!

I was so excited for Zack to come home and eat and when he walked in the door...all sweaty, I pounced! I made him a big plate of pork and stuffing...when I checked back in a little bit, I saw he ate one pork chop (not impressive) and really didn't care for the stuffing. He did, however, eat 3/4 of the pan of gingerbread and couldn't get enough...became completely obsessed.

Well..that is my life...so unpredictable and keeping me on my toes!

My husband and my biggest fan, loved every last bite of everything but he knows what I am going to say here. My mom whipped up a batch of her famous molasses macaroon cookies (she has been making them since I was little) and Rob pretty much ate the entire plate...with some help from Zack. ;)

The highlight of our night, too, was not the food (believe it or not all of you Italians)...it was Diana! She took four steps to Mimi and me! She was trying to face her fears* (story below) and walk at the same time and she accomplished both!

*While at Old Orchard Beach this summer, I exercised each morning by jogging down the beach and walking back through town. Most mornings Ally Bean accompanied me. On this particular morning, Ally decided to sleep in so Papa Pete and Rob agreed to come with me and we would bring the baby...we skipped the jogging part but walked up and back instead.

While walking through town, we met up with my mom, who was running back. She would never stop running before she was a grandmother but one quick glimpse of baby Diana and her workout could be interrupted! ha ha...Anyway my mom "Mimi" suggested we check out a few of the cute little jewelry shops and so we did. In one shop, a woman who could barely speak English took a liking to Diana. She then handed my Dad "Papa Pete" a stuffed monkey for her. When my Dad asked, "do you want us to give you some money for this?" The woman merely shook her head. We thought, "how nice!"

Well Papa Pete, gets outside with Diana and realizes there is a pull-string to the monkey and by pulling it, the monkey vibrates and so he made it vibrate. Did Diana like it? Oh no! She was completely scared to death...cringing, crying and tossing the monkey as far as she could. We laughed so hard, we were crying.

When we finally composed ourselves and started to head back, my mom showed us the earrings she picked up in the store. She was also reviewing her receipt and guess what? The woman charged her $8 for the freakin stuffed monkey that the baby hated!

Well that sent us into another laughing fit and it took us forever to get back to the house.

Anyway, the kids now, will occasionally pull the string and scare Diana. On Friday night, we did the same and although she was afraid at first, the monkey was the thing to make her curious enough to walk to Mama!!! My mom and I joked and laughed and said that this monkey was meant to be!

More Football Pix

Well Windham is still in a building year...they won their first game and one other game since the season started...and they have had a few losses. As they go, they are learning the game and what it means to play at the high school level.

Zack is a true leader....we wouldn't expect anything else. He is learning what it is like to pick up the slack for some injured teammates...he is also learning how important community is..especially when a fellow teammate's family is facing the scariness of cancer.

He is willingly stepping up to volunteer for different community service opportunities, and as he is doing that, he is teaching me a thing or two.

Although this kid makes me laugh on a daily basis, he also inspires me. Two weeks ago, he did a Jimmy Fund walk with his mom. Last weekend, he volunteered with some other kids to help clean up the Cross Country trail in time for the first home track meet at the high school. Later that day, he helped Rob and I deliver some meals to a family in town that is dealing with cancer.

I decided that I would try and do good things each week too...they may be small but my goal is to do some little things that will either makes someone's day or add some convenience to a situation or brighten someone's dark days.

It started with giving the grocery clerk my pen so she wouldn't keep having to ask her co-workers for one...then it continued with the brownies I made for Zack's best friend and fellow football player who is injured. It is amazing how good you feel when you solely focus on the needs of others and not your own. I hope I continue coming up with creative ideas and also recognizing the opportunities right in front of me on a daily basis.

Here are some more recent football pix of Zack. These are taken by a friend in town- thank you Scott!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Windham Rail Trail

We enjoyed a "mini-fam" power walk along the Windham Rail Trail today. It was a perfect day, weather-wise and we enjoyed every minute. Monk said hi to so many passer-bys and she continuously entertained mama and daddy while she put her legs up to stretch and leisurely snacked on her "yogurt-melts".......here is some info on the trail...another hidden jewel in our town!

Trail Background

During 2003, the State of New Hampshire formed a Citizens Advisory Committee to involve the communities and regional planning agencies in the Salem to Concord Bikeway Feasibility Study process. Comprised of state agencies, consultants and citizens, the purpose of the committee was to study three options of developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian path along the Route 93 corridor. This path would provide an alternative mode of transportation, diverse recreational opportunities and increased commerce to the communities along the trail.

The recommended approach was to develop such a path using the abandoned Manchester and Lawrence, Concord to Portsmouth rail beds, and segments of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail, as the foundation for the trail. The consensus for surface choice was paved, as it was determined that a paved path would best serve anticipated users (bicyclists, pedestrians including walkers, runners) and because of the nature of a smooth surface, would allow easier use for strollers, wheelchairs, and elderly. Additionally a non-paved path has proven to require more frequent maintenance. With adequate shoulders, a non-paved area along the path would serve for those who would benefit from that availability such as equestrian users and joggers. For the detailed results of the feasibility study, please read the “Salem to Concord Bikeway Feasibility Study” available through the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

Rockingham Trail - Windham

This paved 4.1 Mile section starts from the intersection of Routes 111 and 28 in Salem continuing to a point on North Lowell Road, Windham.

The Manchester and Lawrence Branch was constructed in 1847 to 1849 when the industrial revolution expanded to cities north of Boston. The first train ran the entire length in November 1849. A 3-mile section in Windham proved the most expensive to build because of extensive cutting through ledge and filling of lowlands.

The last train ran in the early 70’s with abandonment occurring shortly after. The rails were removed for salvage in the early 1980’s.

This section of rail-bed was used as a multi-purpose trail for about the past 18 years managed by NH Department of Resources and Economic Development. As of September 3, 2003 legislation was passed which allows for OHRV use only when the trail is snow covered (per DRED definition of snow covered/when the gates are open.) As well, the same law applies from the Windham Depot east for about a 1.5-mile section (part of the Worcester/Nashua/Portsmouth Branch) to Route 28. The parking lot in Windham is open from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 hour after sunset.

This is a scenic stretch of trail, which traverses by a farm pasture, apple orchard, two ponds and marshes, and is predominately wooded. There are two bridges that the trail crosses. One is built of New Hampshire granite as an archway and provides a unique architectural significance. Two high stone cuts provide a cool section of passing on hot days, and in the winter support multi-colored ice flow “sculptures.” The trail also passes several stonewalls, and a cellar hole from an 1800’s sawmill.

Wildlife is abundant along this stretch, as deer, upland animals and birds, owls, turtles and fisher cats have been observed. Heron and beavers have established themselves in the wetland habitat along the trail; various species of duck, and geese nest as well.

The Windham Depot buildings and surrounding town property has been designated a historic district by the Town of Windham in 2003. The Depot building and freight storage building remain intact, however in need of rehabilitation. The WRTA believes that the restoration of the Depot buildings and parking lot plays an important part of the overall trail development project. The Town of Windham shares the similar vision, chartering the Windham Depot Buildings Advisory Committee to develop recommendations to site improvements. With the award of a Transportation Enhancement Grant in May 2006, that project is well positioned for a 2008 start.

Last Trip to the Beach...

well for awhile anyway...I don't know why but I am having an extra tough time this year with this one...

Last summer I only went to the beach a few times because I was pregnant and very uncomfortable.....this year, I ceased every moment to get there. From our week long trip to Old Orchard Beach in Maine to our daily trips to Plum Island, Wingaersheek and my girls trip to Rye Harbor...I endulged in the New England ocean.

I will miss it...may take a fall trip or two but CANNOT WAIT for the first hot weekend next Summer...I will be back!

On Labor Day, we had a very nice family day and you will see those pix. It was a bit chilly to start but quickly warmed up :)
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