Sunday, March 28, 2010

We had ourselves a staycation

A few months ago the husband stated that he was going to take off work while the boy and baby girl were on spring break. Since both of us left the country (separately) this year we knew that this week was not going to be spent at some posh beach resort, but most likely laying around the house. Then Grandma called. The husband lives in fear of when my mother calls. They are rather similar individuals and can both convince me to do things a tad too easily. Grandma convinced me that a weekend skiing was in order. So I let the husband know that we would be skiing, he pouted until he realized it involved skiing. S0 we piled up the ridiculous amount of luggage required to take a family of five to a nice mountain cabin and skiing, let's just saying I was discussing the idea of purchasing a Suburban on the way up. (We had a Yakima but it met a untimely death.)

A few days before the departure we decided to ask Grandma if we could, perhaps, borrow the very nice cabin for a few extra days post skiing since the oh so darling grandchildren were on spring break and all. It felt like asking if I could please oh please stay home by myself while the parents were on vacation, I promise not to have any boys over, drink beer, and I will clean up after myself, please please please. Not unlike the time when I was in high school and Grandma (then just Mom) went to Chicago leaving her precious children home alone. There was a party, bathroom door off the hinges, flower pots broken, smoking in the house (yikes!) and I may or may not have driven backwards across the front lawn and hit the neighbor's car while driving a friend's car without a license. oops. I wasn't even drinking, that was the truly sad part, I was so nervous about the house getting even more messed up that I couldn't even drink my illegal underage beer. We won't discuss my husband's high school antics they are so much worse than mine they involve plants that grow beer and professional cleaning crews. Anyhoo...Grandma actually let the family of five have the cabin.

It was a glorious day on the mountain. Warm, sunny, not at all windy. The boy skied with us all day, and even skied a blue/black run. We were all quite amazed. Plus the child is like the Energizer bunny and would not stop for anything. Baby girl went to her first lesson. She was supposed to only go out for one hour but because her mama bear bitched about the ridiculous price they were charging for an hour worth of lesson with the rest of her "lesson" being glorified child care she got two hours of private instructions. Generally I am not that mom, but lately I am getting fed up by people half assing things. Sometimes it pays to complain. After her lessons were finished we all skied a run together, and let me tell you baby girl is a natural. She has a lot of balance and no fear perfect for skiing.

The next couple days were spent sledding and relaxing at the cabin. It is so nice being up the mountains. The Jenniehousehold likes to camp, but at 10,000 feet with three small kids a cabin fits us a bit better. The boy thought we should just camp on the snow, but since we only have three season gear he had to deal with a heated cabin. The poor child. Sitting out on the deck with the kids, husband, perhaps an adult beverage, and the sun was so relaxing and wonderful. The staycation was quite nice indeed, even though it was cut short. Baby girl began to get raspy sounding. She has such a horrible time with croup that we carry steroids with us and at that altitude I don't play around so we headed home. It turned out to be a snotty nose and pink eye the next day. (um, ew)

The rest of the week has involved either us acting like complete sloths or training crazily for the triathlons this summer. More on that fun to come.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My husband was hit on his bike and Tony at ESPN radio thinks that's awesome.

I'm on twitter. I have been for over a year. I mainly follow news, a few friends, and naturally Lance Armstrong. I may tweet something every now and again. While doing my daily once over I noticed a kerfuffle regarding an ESPN radio show and Lance. There was a youtube link, so I watched.
Now you can watch:

This hit a nerve with me, a very raw nerve.

What started out as any other day turned into one that still gives me a knot in my stomach. The husband left for work early because he had to be there at 7 am. I was up getting ready. It was October in Las Vegas. It was still hot by normal people's standards. It was bright and sunny out. The phone rang. We didn't have cell phones at the time. It was the husband.


"Mr. Man you sound strange, what is going on?"

He started talking really fast. He was hit, the bike was totaled, there was an ambulance, people all around, a borrowed cell phone, and a lady cop. He sounded pretty nuts, obviously it was his adrenaline talking. I basically hung up the phone and drove like a bat out of hell. When I got there I saw my husband with his cycling jersey shredded. The bike was a mangled mess. The palm pilot (it was the days of the palm pilot) was smashed, it had been in his backpack. What was not there was the guy who hit him. It was a semi. Vegas had a lot of construction going on then and it was one of the double trailer belly dump construction semis that hit him. We saw those trucks everywhere, the drove on all the roads very fast. They carried dirt and construction waste. We are not sure to this day if the guy even saw the husband.

Mr. Man broke his collar bone. He needed surgery. The muscles in that shoulder have atrophied. When he was hit, he was riding on the right side of the road and the bike went under the semi while he flew up in the air and landed by a gas station. Other way around, three kids would not be here today. That is why when people talk about PURPOSELY hitting cyclists I go insane!

Tony Kornheiser's rant on March 11th was obnoxious to say the least. He stated such things as "its all you can do not to RUN THEM OVER "just give them a tap" "get the hell out of my way." He is mad about lanes in DC turning into bike lanes, which obviously is a good reason to hit someone with your car. They (there is another man and a woman in the discussion as well) were going on about them being granola, the outfits cyclists wear, basically trash talking cyclist to somehow justify this deranged thinking. My favorite quote, "I have a large powerful car, compared to your stupid little bicycle!"

What gets me is that these people on this radio program are saying oh yeah we are all for sharing the road, when obviously their comments prove otherwise. How hard is it to be patient and drive AROUND a cyclist? Are you an ambulance driver? Is your wife in labor in the back seat? No, then relax for 25 seconds and then pass. Now, I am not saying that all cyclists are saints. Some are really nasty, but when you are driving something that is pretty damn heavy and a "tap" could kill a person you need to use your brain instead of listening to morons like Tony and RUN THEM OVER. If you saw another driver being an ass, you would honk, maybe. Why? Because they are in a car and car to car equals bad. Car to bike equals equals major injury or death for the cyclist and nothing for the driver. It is THAT mentality, that because you are BIGGER (i.e. a bully) that you deserve the road more than the cyclist, makes me so incredibly pissed. Sidewalks were suggested on the show as an alternative. Sidewalks are not always an option, a lot of places do not allow cyclist on them, and a lot of places simply don't have sidewalks, while a road is made for traffic with wheels.

So Tony, your obnoxious rant has ramifications. You are advocating hurting another individual, purposely, simply because you are driving in your car and they are on a bike. My husband was not going to his job at the local granola factory that October as you all would like to believe, but to Nellis AFB. That's right, the dude you are calling a poseur, who has ridden 210 miles in one day, was a solider that October morning 2001. I bet you had your big old American flag sticker on your car that morning. He was riding in because security was so tight it took almost three hours to get on base with a car. So you see, Mr. Cornholio (yes that is from Beavis and Butthead) these are REAL people, with real families, and real lives. It is NEVER ok to joke about hitting them, or anyone with your car on the radio. Maybe you should listen to Frank Deford, he makes his opinions about sports known in a much more intelligent manner. As an FYI NFL players wear spandex pants, the same "glistening" material as those cyclist you are berating. I might add, that my husband still rides to work. Twenty seven miles one way. On days that he doesn't, he takes mass transportation.

Here are some pictures of the bike. It resides in the attic, we have moved twice since and can't get rid of it. There is another picture as well of Mr. Man's jacked up shoulder.

the scar looks pretty, obviously the bone is still pretty nasty.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jennie can cook and so can you

I don't really like to cook. I think I have made that abundantly clear here. That being said I cook daily. I don't use prepackaged foods because they taste nasty, not at all cost efficient, and full of God knows what. I care about my family and believe in actual food for them, not cutting corners that will add up later. I had some friends in high school and their mother was a manager at a local grocery store. I remember being at their house and listening to them complain about there being no food, just food parts in their kitchen. (I remember in high school as having way too much Dinty Moore in the house and then wondering why I always had stomachaches.) Annoying as it is as a teenager not to have loads of snacks to just munch on, it is better for your body. Having some food company put together your food for you may seem convenient but in reality you're not getting much but chemicals, corn and soy. I am not a fan of soy at all! So in the Jennie household it is "food parts" and we put them together. I don't have a problem doing this daily, others find it to be difficult. I have a friend who recently made a ton of meals on a Saturday and froze them all, to which I say good on ya' mate. But if you are ingesting something you may want to put some effort and thought into what it is you are actually ingesting. Especially if you have growing kids. You have to look at your life and decide is it more important to run errands for things you may more may not need on a Saturday or spend time making food for the week? You can make healthy meals for your family daily, it just takes a bit more thought. In my personal, not so humble opinion, it is worth it.

We eat a lot of beans around here, sometimes canned, sometimes dried. The dried ones you find in a bag taste so much better. You just have to soak them overnight.

Jennie's very easy bean soup recipe:

1. purchase bag o' mixed beans at grocery store (or buy bean mix in bulk)
2. soak said bean mix overnight which means put beans into dish (I do about two cups) cover with water
3. next morning pour off water and put beans in crock pot.
4. I put in a ham hock (please be picky about your meat people it was a living being, don't go buying nasty cured meats and tossing them in just because they are cheap, your body will thank you) or some bacon strips you could put in some left over bacon grease if you have it. This adds wonderful flavor to the beans. (If you are vegetarian, sorry you can add fake bacon maybe, not sure how good it would taste. If I don't add the little piggy I put in onions, diced tomatoes, garlic, salt (all to taste), and a bay leaf. It is still good, but there is something about pork and beans.)
5. I add vegetable stock to the beans between 4-6 cups. You could do water. I wouldn't do chicken or beef if you have the ham in there.
6. Leave it alone all day on low. About a half hour before you are to ready to get dinner ready throw in some greens, I like collards or kale. I've never tried spinach but collards and kale are incredibly good for you. They take awhile to cook but are really quite nice and not at all bitter. My picky three year old eats them when boiled plain. You make have to add a bit more liquid to get the greens to cook properly. The consistency I prefer is not soupy but more scoopable.
7. Voila you have dinner.
~Yes there is EVIL greasy pig product in here, it is for flavor, like anything a little goes a long way if you eat too much and then sit on your butt for a week you will gain weight, if you eat just enough and move around you probably won't.
If you serve the beans with rice (I like brown) you have a complete protein which means all of your amino acids are covered. Costco has a nice precooked brown rice bowls (ingredients are brown rice and water) and take 90 seconds to cook if you don't have time to cook brown rice or plain white rice. Or you can serve as a side and freeze the rest.

I think serving it with homemade bread is rather tasty. Homemade bread is quite simple to make but is rather temperamental.

Here is my bread recipe that I can get to work every time. That being said some days it takes longer to rise than others. Like last night it took three hours because it was snowing.

1 3/4 cup very cold water
1/4 cup olive oil
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 3/4 tsp salt (don't leave out salt it won't rise well)
1 tbs of gluten *not sure if you have to do this at sea level but at altitude it really helps to add gluten. Sorry if you are gluten free, we don't have issue with it in the Jennie household so I use it in baking*
3 tbs of flax seed
*flax can be a little oily you may need to add a bit more flour*
There is no need to go to Whole Foods or similar to buy flax or gluten if that is not where you normally shop. I have seen both (Bob's Red Mill) at Walmart in the baking aisle.

I use a bread machine, but you could mix this together very easily, knead it and put it in a loaf pan. With the bread machine I let the bread machine mix and then when it is time to let the loaf rise I pull it out and put it in a pan. I am not a big fan of having the bread machine bake the bread. Depending on the weather it make take an hour to rise or like last night it may take three. Once it looks like an actual loaf in the pan it is time to bake. 450 degrees for 15-20 and it should be brown and crunchy on the top. Very easy, my kids love to help add the ingredients and then watch the bread maker mix.

None of this is difficult, if you cut out the processed food you WILL feel better. I certainly can tell a huge difference. Big food corporations are in it to make money and spend the least amount of money on the ingredients, they could care less about your family. Good health starts at home.

~For good nutrition info on beans and collars or any other food for that matter check out WH Foods. Also go rent Food Inc.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

amazon is not patriotic, but Jennie is and she is a *gasp* liberal

While listening to the radio this morning I learned that Amazon fired marketers in Colorado who promote Amazon. Why? Because Colorado passed bill HB10-1193 basically stating that Colorado residents are to pay taxes on items purchased online. Taxes could be collected at the time of sale or online retailers could let the purchasers (and the state) know how much tax they owe and to pay up. Obviously this second option is a bit more cumbersome to all involved and basically the state was hoping for people to just pay at time of purchase (like they do when they physically hand over their credit cards to rack up unsecured debt.) However, Amazon realizing that it could potentially lose their competitive edge (i.e. no tax is quite the incentive to wait a few days for an item that can be purchased at the local mall, taken home loved for 24 hours, and then unceremoniously cast aside as you covet your next item) isn't playing nicely, instead it fired Colorado marketers Amazon will still sell to Colorado residents but marketers based in Colorado, sorry "it's not you it's your state." About 4,000 CO residents got cut out of the Amazon marketing loop. States, however, are losing out on $23-$25 BILLION from online sales! Now I don't like to pay more money more than the next person for things, but seriously this amount is quite large and could be used for things such as EDUCATION! Spending on higher education in Colorado is pathetic, we rank 47th. If you look at actual expenditures for K-12 students we rank somewhere in the middle, however, when you adjust for Colorado's higher than national average personal income (13th) Colorado's expenditure on education ranks 49th. Now some people would prefer budget cuts and some would prefer privatization in order to deal with the states budget shortfalls. I personally do not mind paying a sales tax when I see that it actually benefits my kids, my community, and quite honestly my standard of life. Having an economy based on shopping only works if we tax that shopping.

Now climb into my soapdish with me and we shall splash together, no? It seems to me that this nation has become one of '"I want something for nothing." People love to bitch about the state of education but they are never willing to put their money where their mouth is; never mind that fact those kiddos in that failing school WILL be adults and will be changing your geriatric diapers. Also, not to mention they will be running the country one day which will more likely than not include seriously poor decisions about invading nations and bombing them. So why is it that people educating kids make such pathetic salaries, even when they have advanced degrees? Why is it that people who are the bottom of the education grade system totem pole are even allowed to teach kids? (I also agree that firing teachers is tactic that should be employed )

Now on to health care, yes I am going there. People love to bitch about health care but would rather have profit making companies in charge of their care than an actual reform where your health care is not tied to your job, but instead to the idea that you are a human being. I hear chatter about this would stifle innovation: um, by innovation do you mean the drug pushing that is now occurring every bloody time one goes to the doctor versus encouraging actual healthy lifestyles or do you mean a plethora of tests that one has done "just in case" and despite the results of the test the outcome is generally the same which is, "here take this pill" or if we can't find anything wrong with you "how about some vitamin P." Now about those wait times that everyone is just so sure we will have: My kids just waited a month to see a specialist, that is about the same as our Canadian friends where 57% of which report a month wait time to see a specialist. So that argument fails to hold water with me. Two out of my three kids are requiring procedures (we are calling them procedures because mentally I handle that better than surgery) and the wait time is six weeks! Six weeks, oh yes America wonderful health care you have here. Don't get me started on our global rankings. (Oh and ever wonder why that insurance you get at your job is called a benefit, me too since when is health care a benefit? So when you work for a large company you get good insurance and a small company equals crappy insurance. Nice. And for that matter WHY is it attached to you employment status?)

So when publicly traded companies, looking at you Amazon, who are making a net income of $902 million and net sales of $24.51 billion want to keep their competitive edge and not have their customers pay taxes, Jennie gets annoyed. Raise your hand if you have heard of such corporations asking for tax breaks? Taxes pay for things everyone in the community uses, taxes can put everyone on a level playing field when it comes to health care. Business is for profit. Why is it OK for them to make a profit, but not OK for us to pay taxes to provide better services for the people in our nation? Some say that people should be able to keep their money in their own pockets because they know what is best for their money. Now I ask you, how many of you would say, "ah yes today I am going to go out and fix that pothole because I don't like driving over it instead of taking the weekend trip to Vegas." Hardly. Also, does obnoxiously high credit card debt ring a bell to anyone, or how about that housing crisis because people thought their houses were ATMs? Bueller? Yep, we are a national full of fiscally responsible people.

Yes, certain companies give back to schools, local communities, and charities, some more than others. Yes companies drive innovation and people have jobs because of companies. I don't think that making a profit is a bad thing. However, when companies are laying off people, asking for bailouts for bullshit that was their own fault, the economy is still in the crapper, and states are failing, I get annoyed when all of the sudden we are to bow down to corporations. Corporations who lobby to get their way, who are not interested in people but rather their bottom line, and will fire workers or make accounting discrepancies when that bottom line is threatened. Why is it OK to show all the proverbial love to these corporations and not the the government who we elect? When was the last time you got to watch an Amazon, Goldman Sachs, or Toyota board meeting on CSPAN? Just saying.

To quote President Kennedy, "And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

sources for this rant: