Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tumalo Mountain Trail Hike

Those of you that know me, know I love hiking! There are some trails I could do over and over and others once is enough! My greatest joy in hiking comes from exploring new places. I haven't ventured to the unmarked hikes yet, just the marked ones. I'm not ready to be lost in the woods after all!
So my wonderful hubby bought me a book about hikes in our area. It has over 100 hikes within an hour and a half from where we live. My goal is to try them all! Some I'll do with friends, some with family. I won't go hiking by myself (except for the two heavily populated trails in town) just in case something happens or I get lost. Also we have bears, cougars and mountain lions in our area! And I don't want to come across them alone!
Today's hike was one that was listed as Moderate/Difficult in my book. It is only 1.5 miles/1.75 depending on what you read. So I figured it can't be too hard, or take too long. But before I tell you my thoughts on the hike, I'll tell you the facts about the mountain.
Tumalo mountain is what's know as a shield volcano (click on it to see what that means). It is located in the Cascade Mountain range, located just Northeast of Mt. Bachelor. In fact it is know as Mt. Bachelor's little brother. The trail is a climb of roughly 1400 feet to the summit.  It is an accessible hike year round.
The hike starts out with a darkened entry into the forest.  We put on jackets because it was actually cool at the start. You immediately start climbing, it's not a gentle climb that you don't realize. Throughout the first 1/2- 3/4 mile it's mostly forest. You do get occasional glimpse of Mt. Bachelor though. Eventually it opens up to a meadow. The hike itself is a steep, steady,  sometimes switchback climb. Like any steep hike, it feels longer and longer the higher you get. And since you are climbing a great elevation, the air feels thinner and thinner. We did have to stop a few times to catch our breath, oh and our jackets didn't last long! I'd like to believe I'm more fit than I am, but it did take us an hour and a half to make it to the summit. Now in all fairness we did stop to talk to a couple for a little bit. The hike was a clearly marked trail with slightly rough terrane. There were even signs directing you to stay on the trail to protect the habitat and respect the fragile ecosystem. 
At the summit, you feel like you are on top of the world! The 360 degree views are breathtaking!! It was a little hazy (probably from active fires), but still amazing!
The picture above is close to the summit of our hike.
 This picture is a view of Broken top Mountain. You can see the crater at the top so clearly! That's one of the hikes on my bucket list!
 Here is South Sister and the tip of Middle Sister. That's my big one on my bucket list! I was supposed to hike it with some friends this summer, but they had to cancel. I want to do that hike with people that have done it before, because people get lost up there every year!
Back to Tumalo Mountain. On a clear day you can see Bend perfectly, but this was the best shot I could get. This is one hike I want to do again. I may even brave it in the winter!!
I almost forgot to tell you about the couple we talked to. My friend and I had left our waters in her car (stupid I know). By the time we were close to the top, we were dying. I didn't realize it at that time, but I was feeling dehydrated. So along comes this really nice couple vacationing from England. They noticed we had no water and gave us a bottle. Can you believe how nice that is! We talked to them for a few minutes. They told us about their vacation. I asked them if they had been to a few particular places in town, but no one had told them about them. They had even asked people about where to go. Here people had not been overly friendly or helpful with them, but they still helped us. That kills me. I will make it a point from now on to pay it forward! First off by caring extra water just in case, but also by making visitors feel welcome.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm Back

I've been gone a little too long! I guess that's an understatement! Life got buy and stressful and my typical response it to shut down. I'm working on that. I have another blog I write and I discovered that blogging is a great option for release for me. So I'm going to try to blog a lot more! It helps to write out feelings for me, it puts things in a new perspective.
Life for me has changed dramatically since January, so let me catch you up. I'll make it brief and won't go into long details on the events.
January was a relatively easy month. I made a beautiful cake for a friend's birthday and the Victor and I spent a lot of time with friends.
February proved to be a little more challenging. One night I dumped a whole pot of spaghetti sauce all over my kitchen floor (that's actually pretty funny now). Victor left for almost a month and that proved to be a very stressful time for me. My youngest son acted up the whole time he was gone and even ran away at one point.  Our foster daughter acted out a lot! I thought I was going to lose my mind! Oh and my youngest son turned 14.
March brought Victor home and help with parenting the 5 teenagers again! I'd like to say the stress ended there, but our foster daughter ended up running away. We found out she was getting drunk and high all the time. It took a week to find her, at which point we had her put in another foster home. We had a little girl placed in our home that had lived with us before. She had endured torture after being returned to her parent. March wasn't all bad though. I made a cake for another friend's birthday. My middle son turned 16. I registered for college and we got our little man back (I blogged about losing him last year) with his baby brother. We even went snowmobiling for the first time ever!! That was a blast!
April was a turning point for us with our decision to do foster care. Our little girl's issues were more than we had the resources to help her with. They ended up putting her in a treatment facility with a year program to help her. That may sound bad, but she really needed that level of help. I hear she is doing really good now. Victor bought me a portable hot tub for my birthday. It was nice, but it's more like a really big bathtub. I had a girls night out with my friends (that was the last one I've done). We went to a fun dinner with our friends at a charity event. We rented a house for my birthday and celebrated with our friends! That was a blast. At the end of the month I made my first baby shower cake! That was a lot of fun!
May was a pretty good month. My baby girl turned 15. She wanted to go hiking and have a raspberry cheese cake for her birthday. I've never made a real cheese cake before, I've only made healthy alternative kinds. It turned out ok, but I wasn't super impressed with it. The hiking was fun though! She did get her learners permit though, that's a whole different kind of stress!! She had to take the test twice because she failed it the first time. She wants to drive all the time now! I had a cupcake order for a bridal shower and a birthday cake order for a 3 year old! Also in May my little brother and his wife had a beautiful baby girl!
June was quite eventful! Our two little boys went home to their mom. They were the last of foster care for us. I loved them and would have adopted them in a heartbeat, but I need a break from foster kids and the problems they bring into your home. My oldest son graduated from high school. I am so proud of him! He's a great kid and has a bright future ahead of him. My mom and sister drove up for the graduation, and Victor's dad and step-mom came up from Cali to be there! They stayed a few days and we had fun spending time with them. Victor decided that he wanted a real hot tub so he bough one! It's great to have a real hot tub to relax in! We also bought a new mattress for our bed. We haven't bought one since we were married 19 years ago, we've always used hand-me-downs. It's a memory foam and it's heaven!! June also had it's downs. My middle son (the one with a drug problem) had his dad arrested accusing him of child abuse. Victor went to jail for a few hours and we awaited court. The judge ended up dismissing the charges because my son's story changed several times. My son had to go stay with a friend for a little while and then my mom. That was one of the many things my kids learned from having foster kids in our  house!
July started out as the most stressful month. Actually it caused me to slip back into depression, which I'm still working on coming back from. I'll blog about that on another day. July 3rd Victor and I were let go from our job. There was a problem with one of our employees. He started having a really negative attitude at work and missing shifts. The final straw for me was one Sunday he decided not to come to work. So we let him go. He then called our boss and claimed that Victor had been sexually harassing him. He said he was going to sue. So our boss decided it would be easier to let Victor and I go. I was very angry! He had no proof and our boss refused to talk to the other employees about any of it. But that's the world we live in, people can sue for anything now! So July was spent keeping busy with our kids! Our son came home as did our daughter (she went to Cali to visit the in laws for a month). We spent a lot of time floating the river in our town. We watched the fireworks on the 4th with some great friends and went out for drinks and ping pong after. I also made my first wedding cake!
August was when it all started to hit me. We went to the fair and that was fun, but my friends haven't been around, my kids were gone a lot and Victor has been busting his butt find work and make money. I did register for my college classes and was approved for financial aid, that's a blessing! We also had a fun day white water rafting with some friends. I started to really pull away from everyone and push away the rest. So at the end of the month I started trying to get out more and keep busy.
Now here we are at September. The kids went back to school (can you hear me jumping up and down with joy). Billy is working really hard so he can afford to move to Mexico next month. I'm trying to keep busy. Being depress packed a bunch of weight on me (I'm a stress eater), so I'm focused on working out and eating right again. I've been to the college a few times. When I go there I feel so proud of myself. I have wanted to go to school for years, it's just never been the right time or we couldn't afford it. Now I'm doing it!
So I've caught you up! What shall I blog about next??

Monday, January 7, 2013

Another teenage girl

I realized it's been awhile since I've blogged about one of my foster kids. Our house has been a whirlwind of activity since last April. We've had 5 kids come into our home, 4 kids leave our home and our child come home from abroad (you can click to read that story). Between kids, work and everything else, I haven't been blogging as much as I want to.
So I figured I'd catch you up on one of the 5 kids (I'll tell you about the others later). After our little man left I was heart broken. But see that's how God is good. He knows what we really need and he sends it our way. Sometimes it means we take a break, sometimes it means he fills the void. This time he filled the void. He sent us a teenage girl. We got the call for a "temporary" placement. Another family was trying to get certified because they wanted her to live with them. It would just be a couple of weeks.....
Spunky K showed up at our door that afternoon. She was a chubby teenage girl with blue hair, lots of piercings and full of attitude. Oh crap, what did we just get ourselves into?? The first two weeks, she spent most of her time with the other family. She really wanted to live with them. She did not want to be with us. Then the news came that they were denied certification. So our "temporary" placement would be a little longer. However she had family out of state that was wanting her.
Spunky K decided to start to get to know us. She was determined to keep us at arms length though. She had a few issues with things like drugs. We handled them as they came up. The more I got to know her, the more I started to like her. She died her hair after about a month of being with us and the piercings slowly started coming out (at least some of them). We never said a word to her about any of it though. If that was what she needed to feel good about herself, then so be it.
Spunky started working out with me. It really boosted her self image. On Mother's day I wanted to do go on a tough hike. I love hiking and I can only get my husband to do it on special occasions. We hadn't done this particular hike for 2 years. I forgot how tough it really was. It's only 3 miles, but it's a steep switchback start and a long loop after. Spunky K had never been hiking in her life. She kept up amazingly. In fact our other foster teenage daughter quit 10 minutes into the hike and wanted to wait for us at the park. I really was impressed with Spunky. She did it and was so proud of herself.
I think our hike was a new start for her. She realized that she could do something hard.
After that Spunky and I started a new leaf. She is an amazing kid who has never really had someone believe in her. She loves babies and old people. She is a talker, and has to get all her words out everyday.
Spunky K is still with us. Her family has not been doing anything. So now the judge is talking about permanency options for her. She wants to stay with us. She is part of our family already.  I introduce her as my daughter. My other teenage daughter has moved on to another foster home, but my two teenage girls get along great, most of the time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hot spiced apple cider

Apple cider has never been one of my favorite drinks. It's one of those things I can take it or leave it. That being said, I came across a crock pot recipe I wanted to try. I have a love affair with my crock pot afterall. I'm always up to try new recipes involving my crock pot.
Our winter has been brutally cold so far. I wanted to make a warm treat for the kids when I found this recipe.
 2 quarts (64 ounces or 8 cups) apple cider
Six 3-inch cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving if desired
 1 medium orange
 ⅛ cup cloves
Additional cinnamon sticks for serving.

1. Pour apple cider into a 2.5-quart or larger Crock Pot or other slow cooker. Add cinnamon sticks to cider.
2. With a toothpick, poke holes all around the orange, about ½ inch to 1 inch apart. Carefully poke the cloves into the toothpick holes in the orange. Place orange into the cider in the slow cooker.
3. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Ladle into mugs along with an ounce or so of rum if using. Place a cinnamon stick in each glass. Serve.

It was yummy and warmed me right up! The kids even asked for seconds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

19 Years of Marriage

Yep that's right today is our 19th anniversary. We were married when we were very young. Most people we know said we wouldn't last this long, and to be honest there were times I questioned it too. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, but we have made it through! I love my husband with all my heart. He recently shared a little bit of our early story on his face book page. I want to share with you what he wrote

The story of us-

It was 1991. I was on the wrestling team and my friend was Javier Mejia. We had a wrestling match and Javier was over his weight limit. Coach Rodi told me to go find him and tell him if he wasn't cutting weight, that we were going to shave his head. When I found Javier I told him what coach said. From around the other side of him I heard a girls voice say "I don't think so!!" And that was the first time I saw the Girl that I would spend the rest of my life with.

I remember looking at her and thinking "be quiet woman, he has to make weight." She annoyed me but I was excited about the match so I got over pretty quick.

Two weeks later, at another wrestling match, She came up to me and said "Hi, I'm Jenise and this is my friend Janna. She thinks you re cute." And walked away. I was standing there, looking at this girl who I had never met. So we talked and started dating that night. Some time later I went to wrestling practice and Javier was sitting in our circle. "Dude, she broke up with me" he said. I remember being angry with her and saying "what the hell is her problem. Sorry, man. You can do better anyway" of course, I was lying. Even though I was angry with Jenise for breaking my friends heart, I remember thinking she was absolutely gorgeous. Not long after that, Janna broke up with me. When Jenise heard, she felt bad and gave me a hug. I was in love. She said she was sorry that it didn't work out and told me she would write me a letter. She said she expected me to write her back, so I did. My letter was longer than hers and she took it as a challenge. We went back and forth, writing each other about the dumbest things, always writing one more page than the last. She finally quit after my 21 page letter. It was a lot of fun because I felt like we were getting close. But I wasn't Jenises type. I was 6 feet 2 inches and I wrestled at 152 pounds. To put that in perspective, I am currently 230-235 pounds. I was skiiiiiiiiiiiiinny.
We ended up drifting apart a little. Jenise was now a senior and I was a junior. She was dating air force guys and wouldn't even consider a younger guy. We talked to each other in the halls between class and occasionally would talk about her boyfriends with me, but not much beyond that.

One day, Jenise walked up to me in the hall. I was talking to some friends and she pushed her way through them to get to me. She got right in my face and asked me "Do you want to go to prom with me?" At first, I couldn't speak. I didn't think it was real. Somehow I managed to say yes, and she threw her arms around me and gave me a hug. Then walked away. Obviously, my friends thought I was so cool because a senior girl had just asked me to go to prom with her.

Prom night was a dream come true for me. We went with some of her other friends and rented a limo. At the end of the night, I walked Jenise to her door and kissed her goodnight. It was May 2nd, 1992. It was our first kiss. I was so scared and nervous.
After prom Jenise graduated and enlisted in the Navy. We drifted apart again and I had assumed she went in the Navy. Her father had a heart attack right before she was supposed to go to boot camp and she ended up not going. I was enlisted in The Marines but had one more year of high school. I hung out at the recruiters office every day. One night while I was there, a friend of mine, Vanessa Bakeman was there at the Army recruiter. She said she had two more pictures left on her roll of film and wanted to take my picture. Apparently, several months later, Jenise and Vanessa were looking at some pictures and came across mine. Jenise said "Hey, that's my little Vic." Jenise called me her "little Vic" in high school because I was so skinny. Vanessa told her I worked at Vons and that she and I would be a cute couple. Jenise came and saw me at work. She brought her little brother, Matt with her who I think was about 10 years old. When I was bagging her groceries her little brother looked at me and said "my sister likes you." She hit his arm and said "quiet, Matty." I walked her to her car and she stood on the curb of the planter. She kept looking at my chest and shoulders. You see, I had moved out of my parents house at this time so I had to quit wrestling so I could work. When I quit wrestling my weight went from 150 to 185 in a very short time. Jenise started touching my chest and saying "Victor, you are so big now. I guess I cant call you my little Vic anymore."
We never "officially" started dating. After that night Jenise asked me if I wanted to get lunch one day and we did. For the next couple of days we just talked. I was so attracted to her. The problem was, I had a girlfriend named Rozz. And I was in loooove with Rozz. She was one of the most popular girls in school and somehow had taken notice of me when I finally filled out. Rozz and I soon broke up. I was still kind of a dork, even though I was big and had a nice physique and Rozz was still out of my league. Which is why I was so shocked Jenise was interested in me. She was graduated and only dated older military guys. As soon as I told Jenise that Rozz and I broke up, she came over to my house. I was living with my friend David. His family had an extra room and I rented it for $100 a month. Jenise came over and kissed me. She was always the one I wanted, but never thought I had a chance with. To say I was on "cloud 9" is the understatement of the year.

We were inseparable from March until a week before I graduated. I bought her a promise ring for $600 and promised that one day I would marry her. But Jenise was enlisted in the Army and I enlisted in the Marines. With only a couple of days left before I was supposed to go to boot camp, I broke up with Jenise. I didn't think it would work since there were no Marine bases close to any Army bases. She cried a lot. I was the first guy she ever dated who was younger than her and I was the first guy who ever broke up with her. We agreed to stay friends and keep in touch. We wrote letters to each other and stayed in touch.

One day when I was in MCT (Marine Combat Training) I got a letter from her. She said she was getting a medical discharge from the Army and was getting out. She wanted to get married and spend the rest of her life with me. This was in October of 1993. We were married on January 1st, 1994.

That was 19 years ago today. You have since then, become the most important thing in my life. You have brought me more happiness and joy than anything or anyone in my life. I love our story. I love our history together. I love our memories and I love you.

I had to edit it a little because he added some personal stuff that I would rather not share. I am loved by this man and he is loved by me!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hot chocolate cookies

Yesterday I told you I tried a new cookie recipe on my kids. Unfortunatly I did not get to taste it, since it has gluten, but the kids and their friends loved them. In fact I had a few kids begging for the recipe for their moms. So I guess that means they are good.
1 1/4 cup room temperature butter

1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
4 packages instant cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add in eggs and vanilla and stir until combined
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, hot cocoa mix, baking soda and baking powder.
5. Add in flour mixture to butter mixture until well combined.
6. Fold in mini marshmallow bits and chocolate chips.
7. Drop by 1 1/2 tablespoon rounds onto parchment lined baking sheet.
8. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
9. Remove to wire racks and cool.

They didn't turn out pretty, but like I said the kids loved them. I will have to try this recipe with gluten free flour and see how it tastes for myself.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Paleo chocolate chunk cookies

Being gluten free has not been a huge problem for me. There are a few things I miss though. Homemade chocolate chip cookies used to be a favorite of mine. I could eat almost a whole batch by myself. It took months to be able to make them for the kids again and not have it be a temptation for me. Now I can make them for the kids and I don't even want one.
Billy also has a problem with gluten. He really misses mom's treats. So he went out and bought a bag of coconut flour and asked me if I could make something for him with it. So I started researching recipes and found one for Coconut Chocolate chip cookies. Billy is also intolerant to milk, so I made a few adjustments to the recipe and came up with this.
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 TBSP honey
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup gluten free dark chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the honey and coconut oil in a small pot until the oil is liquid (about 1 minute). In a large bowl, combine the oil/honey mixture, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the coconut flour, coconut and dark chocolate chunks. Roll dough tightly about golf ball sized, or use a cookie scoop (a small ice cream scoop). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and slightly flatten (they do not expand or flatten on their own). Bake 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown.
They turned out pretty good. Billy loved them. I liked them better with a glass of milk. They didn't last 24 hours in my cupboard.
Since I made this treat for Billy, I made another new cookie recipe for the other kids. I'll blog the recipe tomorrow.
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