Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kitchen Heist

I'm going to have to go on a mission when I get back up to Fair Lawn at some point to go through old pictures of myself and Joe as young lads. While in Mrs G's Pre-K class at good old St. C's I have some vague recollection of playing at a little kitchen set up, I am almost certain there is some visual evidence to support this.

I am also fairly certain, though Grandma doesn't think so, that this Kitchen set up is precisely the one that I had played with some 27 years ago. We'll need the photographic evidence to prove it I suppose. Perhaps it was in Kindergarten with Mrs. Newland.

So this new piece of furniture arrived in my living room courtesy of Grandma, who rescued it from  the Island of Misfit Toys, or wherever it was destined for after falling of favor of the children at St. C's. It's in remarkably good shape for being so old, and Jackie seems to like it.

Let's Go Mets !

One of my insane theories, is that my lovely wife Alison, secretly dresses Jacqueline, and probably the dog in Yankees clothes while I am at work. That, along with an endless stream of Yankees baby stuff from well meaning Aunt's (although Aunt Elizabeth has certainly delivered the goods when it comes to Met stuff), leaves very little opportunity to exert my fatherly influence.

As a fan of the New York Metropolitans, full of enthusiasm of the recent repeated trouncing of the Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers (and before anyone makes a snide remark, I am fully aware of the major structural defects of the way the team is put together, the way it's managed, and the criminal ineptitude of the ownership group), when Alison was done giving Jackie her bath last night, and said "Pick out an outfit" I made my move.

Jackie and I are now ready to go for a weekend full of New York City rivalry, between the Mets and Yankees.

Look at those chompers!

I am virtually certain that as soon as this post gets published, and Alison sees it, the baby will be changed into some kind of Yankees onesie/bib get up... with a Yankee pacifier and Sippy cup to boot.

It's OK Jackie, I will still love you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bad Ideas Part II

 So maybe you've noticed I've added advertising to the blog. I'm experimenting to see what happens on a website that has a limited audience. To see if I can turn theoretical internet money into real money. The goal is to buy Jackie an ice cream cone or something when she graduates from college.

I also added Amazon targeted advertisements, I'm thinking as part of that I can post various product reviews. I'll see how I can do that with maybe stuff that I already bought, and reviewed, like the horrendous "General Barker" ballistic nylon dog toys that I purchased at COSTCO that Rocky managed to start shredding within minutes.

I'm not allowed to tell you to click all ads wildly, since that would be cheating, and they will be able to tell, but if something popped up of genuine interest, please feel free to investigate further.

Personally, I have no idea how any of this internet ad revenue type stuff even works... who clicks this stuff? It's like it's all one big ponzi scheme waiting to unravel, sort of like Social Security.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bad Ideas Part I

Perhaps this will be the first in a series of many, many, bad parenting ideas....

So Jackie has been a bit cranky with the food lately, finger foods yes, bottle yes, delicious baby food in a bottle... not so much. I happened to see a post by the good folks at Proctor and Gamble, on the Pampers facebook news feed about a similar problem with a baby of a similar age. Many of the suggestions seemed to indicate this might be a good time to let her experiment with feeding herself.

Hilarious and predictable results ensued...

I think this was my favorite one, because the dog snuck in there... he's like "where's mine?"

 Baby needed to go in the wash with the dirty clothes!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Good Morning Jacqueline !

You are sound asleep, so early in the morning. Daddy wanted to see you before he left for work. Right now you are 10 months old. You have grown so much. Soon we will be planning your first birthday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Here is the exciting tale of Grandpa's visit to the Glenn Beck program....

Well, several years ago I wound up on a blog, I believe thanks to James on the future of energy in the United States. Since then I have been contacted several times with "write your congressman" E-mails. Apparently there was a very last minute switch in topic for the Beck show. Yesterday, the 19th, I was called by someone from the Energy blog telling me they had a guest slot open at the Beck show on the 20th. Could I go? Once I cleared it with Mom, whom I thought I was going to have to drive to Newark for jury duty, I was free to sign up. I called the Beck people directly, left a message and was then called yet again from the Energy people. I said yes to them and this morning recieved yet another call from the Beck people asking yea or nay. I called back, answered yea and the rest is history.

It is an interesting experience. There are a number of people who have been there multiple times. You are encouraged to "shout out" or build on the comments of others. During the commercial breaks almost half the people are shouting something to Glenn which he will then accept or reject. If he likes it, if it fits, then he will indicate that when on the air you will be called on. About half way through the show, I realized that just sitting there was getting me nowhere so I broke all the Catholic school rules and instead of raising my hand and waiting there patiently until called upon, I pretty much blurted out what I said during a break. Sure enough, after the break, the conversation drifted in the direction of my comment so he called on me.

I must say that after looking at it I did pretty good. Yesterday, I was reading my Theodore Roosevelt book and I actually think that with the facial and hand gestures I was channeling Teddy a bit. Not a bad role model! Mustache fit too. Bully!

Regarding Glenn Beck, the guy is pretty sincere or a damn fine actor. For 15 minutes before the show he does his own warm up of the audience. He takes questions from the crowd. He remarked that he was reading a book, based on a true life incident where a Jewish family in Holland was celebrating the 100th anniversary of their watchmaking business. One of the two brothers missed the party but came in at the end almost carrying an Orthodox German Jew who he had found at the German border. the man had been badly beaten up by German boys and then they tried to set him on fire. He told his story to the guests , WHO DID NOT BELIEVE IT! Beck's point was to be careful when you say things like that can't happen because they do. A few years later those very same party guests were either in a Concentration camp or in hiding. In telling the story, Glenn broke up visibly several times exactly where I would have broken up had I been telling the same story. Those who know me, know I do not read my little Memorial Day tributes I write for our Scout meetings because I can barely get through writing them let alone reading them in public. So if you were to ask me if he is real, I would say a very loud yes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grandpa on TV

Who let Grandpa on the television?


Using the miracle of modern technology I recorded this...

I think I heard a little applause from the rest of the audience in there...

Now the mystery of how this guest appearance on the Glenn Beck program came to be..? Grandma says I sent a link to some energy blog that apparently Grandpa had commented on. I have no idea what she is talking about, so perhaps Grandpa will consent to a guest post for the blog to explain this situation, and possibly recount his experiences.


If you haven't seen it already this was a pretty great commencement address to the Dartmouth Class of 2011 by Conan O'Brien.

Separated at Birth?

Alison made this observation the other day.

I guess it's pretty mean to compare my beautiful daughter to a hideous beast from Jurassic Park, maybe they are not separated at birth, but distant cousins. I think at this point Jackie is able to spit her peas further than the Dinosaur though.

Cherry Bomb Jam

I found this recipe on a forum

Annie's Cherry Bomb Jam
36 oz. pitted, stemmed cherries
2-5 jalapenos (I used 3)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 box powdered pectin
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)
4 1/2 cups sugar
Chop or dice about half of the cherries using a food processor, or by hand, depending on how chunky you like your jams. Mix chopped cherries with remaining cherries. Remove seeds from jalapenos, being careful to wear rubber gloves for protection, and mince in food processor. I left the seeds in 1 jalapeno for extra kick.
Add minced jalapenos with cherries in a non-reactive pan, add vinegar, pectin, and butter. Bring to a boil and add sugar. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil for 1 minute. Ladle into prepared jars, process in a BWB for 10 minutes (or 5 minutes for sterilized jars). Makes 7 half pints.

I didn't bother adding the butter. 

I went into crisis mode during the last few steps when I realized that I only had a cup and a half of sugar, so Alison was dispatched to the sketchy grocery store down the block to acquire some. 

Pitting the cherries

Food Processor!

 Cherry Goop

Jalapeno's ready to go... I used all five from the recipe but only the seeds from one. I think in retrospect this may be a mistake. The initial taste test was a great sweet cherry taste with a kick at the end, the heat from the peppers. A few days later, the flavors have combined a bit more, and the jam still tastes good, but there is definitely a jalapeno smell, and hint of pepper taste. probably using only 3 peppers would have been a better bet. Still good, but I'm thinking people that don't enjoy spicy things might have liked it, now they probably won't. We'll see!

 Boiling the Jam

Jam in the jars... 

Processing the jam in a hot water bath. 

Since I had never done this before I did not know that cherries have very little natural pectin in them, making it one of the trickier jams to set. And I now have 8 jars of jam that have not set. So I'll probably reprocess this with some additional sugar and pectin in a couple of days to see if I can get it to set properly. The jam has been processed, so I'm in no danger of it going bad while I wait. We'll see if we can get it to do what it's supposed to do.

Next time I'll probably try something that is a little easier to work with, but this was one I had in the back of my mind for a while. I have a ton of fresh Mint, that we are trying to eradicate from around the house. I'm thinking of maybe doing mint jelly next. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good deal on cherries at the store today, going to attempt some cherry-jalapeno jam this evening i think... I will update everyone on the full scale of this culinary disaster later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I only want the best for you!

Sort of an odd post this evening. I saw this come across my twitter feed first thing in the morning, and I thought It was worth passing along to the 3 or so people that read this thing.

Religion and politics... things that aren't to be discussed in polite conversation. Thus far I've avoided controversial topics on this blog, and will likely continue to do so... though I am very tempted having just watched the terribly moderated cnn debate ( Newt  is toast, but I thought had a solid performance tonight) ahem... anyway, so I'll try to steer clear of politics and such, even though my political leanings are well known. That being said...
I'm not expecting Sarah Palin to run for President. I don't think she can be elected, as a result of the hatchet job that has been done on her for the last 3 or so years. I also think her resignation as Governor permanently damaged her electability as she will be seen by many as a quitter, despite the fact that is was probably the best thing for her family and the state of Alaska. I would be genuinely shocked if she were to announce an exploratory committee in preparation of a campaign for the 2012 GOP nomination.  
All that being said, I think the behavior of certain media outlets with respect to this recent email release has been reprehensible. Everyone is looking for the smoking gun, to prove what an inept, stupid governor Palin was, or any sordid details of her personal life. For the time being, it appears this muckraking exercise has failed, and if anything Palin will come out of this looking a lot better than she did last Friday before the release of the 24,000 or so pages of emails. 
This one item found in the release, touched a nerve with me though. After Jackie's 12 week ultrasound, the results we got back from the genetic screenings were not as expected. Alison had to go have additional testing done, because the preliminary results indicated a greater chance of some type of developmental disorder. Now... as first time parents, we of course freaked out. We didn't tell anyone, since we didn't want people to get worried, and we didn't have any conclusive information, but I learned an important lesson... the doctors, will get your head spinning with all sorts of possibilities. (another example... I thought the 38 week ultrasound had us expecting to deliver a fully developed adult!) In hindsight, my worries were probably silly, because we are at such a low risk for any of these things but, while we waited for the additional test results, my mind played all kinds of tricks on me. I had become convinced that we would have a special needs child. After admittedly a few moments of private despair, and worry,  I immediately found incredible peace and clarity knowing that it would all be part of God's plan for us. 
Now obviously the test results came back negative, and we have  a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby girl that confounds us sometimes with her stubbornness, appears to meet all of medicine and societies definitions of "normal" , but for that brief couple of days we were mentally preparing, and looking forward to facing these potential challenges head on. It was all so incredibly clear to us, as for us their was no alternative. We could have faced additional, potentially harmful testing, that for us served no purpose, because it didn't matter. We were looking forward to the arrival of our first child no matter what they turned out to be. 
So what does this have to do with Sarah Palin? Well, below is a letter she penned "from God" to her family in anticipation of the birth of their fifth child, who as we all know has Down Syndrome. We found it incredibly touching, and in really captured a lot of the things that were going through our heads at the time. 
So please forgive me for being overly dramatic with my story telling, but it really struck a chord when I saw it this morning, and I thought it was worth sharing. 
To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!):
I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I've heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I've answered them because I only want the best for you!
I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up.
Though another girl would be so nice, you didn't think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!
Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be 'Trig', because it's so fitting, with two Norse meanings: "True" and "Brave Victory". You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!
Then, I let Trig's mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news - that way Piper wouldn't have so long to wait and count down so many days - just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palmas look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days_ you all really like cake.) I know you, I knew you'd be better off with just a short time to wait!
Then, finally, I let Trig's mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for.
At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing. But I gave Trig's mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!
I've given Trig's mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that.
I'll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig's challenges, but I won't impose on you... I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig's life a great one.
This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters.
The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven't experienced yet. He'll show you what "true, brave victory" really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is "normal" or "perfect°.
You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will he born along with Trig.Trig will be his dad's little buddy and he'll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He'll love to be read to, he'll want to play goalie, and he'll steal his mom's heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did.
And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for_in fact Trig will - in some diagnostic ways - always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.
Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it "Down's Syndrome", and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!
Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!
Trig's mom and dad don't want people to focus on the baby's extra chromosome. They're human, so they haven't known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I'm giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family.
Many people won't understand_ and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won't be considered "perfect" in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider "perfect" or even "normal" anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as "perfect" on t.v.? Have you noticed I make 'em all shapes and sizes? Believe me, there is no "perfect"!)
Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.
I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: "My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts- for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!"
I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book! Look it up! You claim that you believe me - now it's time to live out that belief!
Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won't give you anything you can't handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can't wait to meet you. I'm giving you ONLY THE BEST!
Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father

This to me was something that I would want to read if it were to be our family, and it's really something that I wish I'd be able to write.

Very very sneaky

I am posting here a complete series of pictures captured on the phone. Apparently Jacqueline was very interested in the contents of the cheerios box.

I think this is a good lesson to remind us all to keep the poison out of reach.