Wednesday, October 15


Fall is here in the northwoods bringing with it all the beautiful colors along with the crisp cool air that helps us sleep so well at night. No matter how many autumns I have seen, I never take for granted the plethora of colors I can behold just by looking out my window. I love to see the ideas and crafts people decorate their yards with at this time of the year also.

Spencer and I took what will probably be our last walk for the year, this Sunday. We were delighted to wear shorts again and not have the bulk of a jacket to hold us down.

What's the weather like by you?

Monday, October 13

Lily and The Gang

This is Lily. Lily is a fire-bellied toad. Lily is sitting in the tank right next to me taking a bath as I type this. Lily and her three posse members have been distracting me constantly since John surprised me with them a week ago. He knew I would have an empty tank after I put my White's Tree Frogs in their new home. He knew I would fret and research until I could no longer see, on my next frog. He couldn't have made a better choice. Even though they are toads, they are just as adorable as frogs! Fire-bellies are active all day and hop around onto everything, even themselves. I find them quite entertaining and adorable.
Here is to give you a size comparison. This is Lily last week just before I transferred her to her new home. Isn't she the tiniest cutest girl?! She and her tank mates are full grown! They were skinny when I got them. Nice and round now though!
I say that she is my only female out of four because of how much bigger she is than the other three. She is a round little lady.
Here are the three boys. They are smaller and more slender. They do croak but so quietly that I have to stop and listen carefully. They sound like a small dog barking a long ways away!
They are a community toad and love to be around each other. They are also semi-aquatic (that is why the water dish is so dirty). I am looking forward to making 60% of their tank water, like a small pond.
One of the males posing. They are also very friendly. They do give off toxins as most colorful toad/frogs do, but I wash my hands before and after handling them. They really only cause a reaction if you try to eat them, which I don't plan on doing for at least a few years, LOL!

Saturday, October 11

Yummy Chili

One of my favorite comfort foods during the colder months is chili. YUM! When I used to snowmobile, I often stopped at this out of the way restaurant/bar. They had the most wonderful chili. I never did try anything else on their menu because the chili was so good! I have tried for years and years to replicate their recipe and have failed miserably. Finally last week, I got very close. Persistence does pay off!
2.5 lbs. ground beef (cooked, drained and crumbled)
46 ounces tomato juice
29 ounces tomato sauce
15 ounces kidney beans, drained (I substitute HOT chili beans)
25 ounces pinto beans
1.5 cups chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chili powder
Mix in crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Tip: If you like spicier chili, add 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper and adjust the cayenne pepper to a higher level to suit your tastes.

Thursday, October 9

A Woman and Her Frogs

As I mentioned earlier, finding a new hobby has greatly reduced my stress levels. While I call it a hobby, I consider my frogs a healthy obsession really. Since John is allergic to most mammals, I am limited to what pets we can have. Be it my decision, I may have a petting zoo worth of animals running around our house and yard! So having loved frogs since I was a young whippersnapper, I am actually grateful that a pet of a different kind found it's way into my heart.

I have added to my brood. This is Milo. Poor Milo was at the pet store for about a month in a tank with a beautiful but mean chameleon. I stopped to visit him each time I was in. The store owner said he was croaking all the time in his cage. Ironically, John and I were in separate rooms of the house calling the pet store at the same time to see if the frog had been sold or not! This is so typical at our house! Needless to say, we brought him home. He is very active and vocal. Here he is sleeping in the lagoon I bought for them.

After bringing Milo home, I realized how cramped the three frogs (getting bigger and fatter every day) were in their 25 gallon home. I searched craiglist every night looking for a bigger tank I wouldn't have to sell an arm or a leg for. Last weekend, we went to look and price out tanks. I wanted at least a 40 gallon permanent tank for these guys. Our luck was good; Petco forgot to take the sale price off a 60 gallon tank and stand. It was only a bit more than the 40 gallon. I was so excited, I started having hot flashes in the aisles! John, being the sweetheart he is, offered to get it for me for my birthday (early). WOOHOO! This picture does not do it any justice. It is gorgeous and huge! I have all live plants on the bottom and can't wait until they fill in the tank. I will be added many things to this as I figure out how to do new things. I have a lot of creative (positive) energy and can't wait to put it to use!

This is my first frog, incorrectly named Xander and she is most definitely a girl. She is a cuddle bug and loves to sit just below my elbow (a.k.a. weenus) and wrap her front legs under her. She is wider than my males also.
This is the incorrectly named Simone. HE is hiding under a leaf because he is a scaredy ape. Simone is very shy but has much bigger eyes than my other two, which makes him super cute.
You think this is bad...just wait until I show you what I filled my 25 gallon tank with after I moved the White's Tree frogs to their new home!

Monday, October 6

School Picture

This year

Last year

Look at this handsome little man. I am thinking he was talking the whole time the photographer tried to take his picture. I just love his expression.

Spencer is doing wonderfully in school. Every morning he starts jumping up and down when he sees his bus coming. His teachers are enthusiastic and positive. He absolutely adores the aide that works with him and she writes great reviews about him each day in his notebook.

Spencer is participating in music and art (just as I thought he would) with the main kindergarten class. Most days he can last the whole period without having to leave early. He has new songs he sings and goes around the house saying, "try again" and "hooray". He participates well during hello time and overall tries very hard to listen. That's my boy!

Some of the best news! School is potty training him! He is responding well to going at school and does so on a daily basis. I have yet to have him do this at him but we try a couple of times every night. I am trying to be firmer with him and would really appreciate any one's advice on this. I think the hardest part is not knowing if he understands what I am asking when I say "potty?".

His room, teachers and aide are doing some serious and successful positive reinforcement with him and it shows every day!

His art project. His contribution: the large brown lines across his face. I think he was going for the look he has after he eats dinner. I see the Picasso effect very vividly!

Lastly, thank you, dear friends and family for your support, caring and forgiveness. I love you all!

Sunday, October 5

Hello, My Friends!!

I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted! Wow!

Life is good; actually life is great and grand. I will be honest here about why I have been MIA recently. I was not healthy, mentally or physically. I could see some of my issues coming through in my blogging and realized I needed to make some changes. Grant you, nothing horrible is wrong with me (well, nothing that can't be prevented), I just was stressed and decided to take some control over that stress.

The stress I refer to stems from many things. Some I can control and some I cannot. Spencer's disabilities can weigh on my heart very heavily sometimes, the company I work for is struggling and many days I feel overworked and much underpaid, finances (who doesn't have this problem right now) and of course, the good ole self image.

First, I am completely and totally addicted to my sister's cooking/baking blog. I have made the majority of her recipes and my family is eating the best food (quality and flavor) that they ever have. Once I started, I couldn't seem to stop and now the time and energy I take to make a great dinner isn't the task it used to be for me. I mainly made boxed meals on the fly. Very rarely am I doing this now, if ever. Because of my new found desire to cook with care, I also plain all my meals for the upcoming week, set out the recipes and shop accordingly. No more running to the store (believe it or not, grocery shopping is one of my least favorite activities EVER) every other night. I also bake something every Sunday night and take half to work (one way to make more friends!). I get over half the office asking for my recipes. This new me is still basking in my baking sunlight with a very large smile.

I was also addicted to the weight loss drug, called Hydroxycut. I have a few extra pounds on me that I am always going to lose but don't get around to doing. Nothing a few days a week of exercise wouldn't cure but like a bazillion Americans, I think I pill can do it for me, so I spent too much money taking two pills three times a day. This pill in the beginning is fantastic. Large amounts of energy, you feel hungry, yet when meal times roll around, you eat little. This pill cost me hours of sleep I needed to function and eventually started to make me feel really crappy. Headaches, stomach aches, insomnia. Took me over a week to come down from the withdrawal, which was horrid, but I feel so so much better now. I feel normal as someone like me can feel! Woohoo!

I also have a hobby again. You may have guessed it right away. Amphibians! Spending time taking care of, watching and learning about my frogs has taken the place of stress many times over the last few weeks. I am enthralled, enthusiastic and downright smitten with my pets. I might have to sell some body parts on ebay to help finance my obsession but a great obsession it is!

Lastly, my largest stress source. My light, my purpose,my Spencer. I can only do what I can do for him and do it the best I know how. When I take the other stress factors out of my life, I can focus more on him and without distraction. How much more positive I can be is amazing.

Thank you for caring and stopping in, even though I didn't respond. I have a lot of catching up to do!!!

Sorry for the poor quality. This is scanned. Our family picture over three years ago. Seemed fitting!