Even the title of this post makes me laugh. And hang on, cause it gets better!

I came home the other night and was immediately told to sit down and shut my eyes. Ok, that makes me a tad nervous but I played along. So Eva, Domi and I sat on the couch with our heads covered with my jacket. Finally Darrin came into the room and said, “Surprise!” Well holy shit, this really was a surprise!! A huge stuffed beaver! It appeared to be swimming past a log.


My San Francisco self screamed, “And What In The Hell Do You Plan on Doing With That Thing?”

“Mounting it on the wall of course,” Darrin said while looking at me like I was from Mars.

Ok, I’m not the alien in this situation. Who the hell has a BEAVER mounted on their WALL???? Apparently I do.

Let me take you back to the summer of 2007. Darrin lined the road into our house with trees. When he planted them they were smaller than our 2 and 3 year old.


Now fastforward to 2012. The trees are more than 25 feet tall. They are gorgeous and the fruit of Darrin’s hard labor.


That is until Darrin noticed all of them were being eaten alive. He assumed a beaver was gnawing on them because a beaver’s front teeth never stop growing so they have to file them down. Our trees were suddenly emory boards.


So father and son went on a beaver hunt (did my San Francisco Self really just say that???).

One night, they took a flashlight and sat on the banks of the ditch that runs through our property and waited. It didn’t take long before a 60 pound mammal came swimming through a culvert and headed right for our trees. With one shot, Darrin and Domi had their beaver. (Note, we tried to trap the beaver several times.  It didn’t work.  This was truly our last resort)

Living on a ranch, Darrin buries animals when they die. So I just figured that’s what he had done with the beaver.  So now fastforward to the other night and imagine my surprise when there, in my family room, was a stuffed beaver.


The kids wanted to name it.


Donner went bananas trying to figure out if she should attack it.


Max figured it was a new friend to rub up on.


Even Cody, who’s rarely a part of my crazy family antics, made an appearance to see what all the commotion was about.


Days later it was mounted on the wall. Now for the rest of our lives, my husband’s beaver will be on display for all to see.   20130822-210933.jpg









 But you know me!  I’ve had a little fun with it as well.  Like when a couple we recently met came over and I grabbed the husband’s hand and asked, “Would you like to see my beaver?”







I came home to this in my family room.











No shit! A shitter 20 feet away from the kitchen.


And then my husband saying, “Did you see what I bought you today? See! I do think of you when I go shopping.”

Ok, now to be fair, we did just get back from a camping trip.



We tent camp. I refuse to buy a trailer… even though Darrin would give up a year of me making dinner just to have one. But I live indoors so when I camp, I want to sleep outdoors. I know! A tent has four walls, but ours has a netted ceiling so I can see the stars at night. I’m not moving into a trailer. Except for the bathroom issue. I may have mentioned a few times during our campout how nice it would have been to have our own bathroom while camping.

And waaalaaah! Essential camping gear parked out in my front room.


Here’s my next thoughts.  I changed thousands of diapers when our kids were babies.   I’m not changing the diaper on this new baby!

 (just one more random camping shot because my dog and daughter are such studs!) 




One of life’s greatest pleasures, ok maybe I just see it this way, is having an ice cold beer after a dirty workout. Now, I say dirty, because the beer only tastes sinfully good to me after a trail run, mountain bike ride or any other outdoor activity where you finish back at the car filthy. Mud on shoes, dirt like warpaint on your face, fingernails black. I love those workouts. And I almost love the post beer just as much. So imagine my pure pleasure when Darrin and I discovered The Brewing Lair.




It’s Blairsden’s (about 70 minutes outside of reno) newest gem. But unlike the bakery, which is right on mainstreet, the brewery is a bit harder to find. It’s off Highway 70 about a hundred yards to the east of the turnoff into Blairsden.




There’s a small sign on the highway…








and then this guy…


to assure you you’re on the right dirt road. And at the top, a beer lover’s haven.


The building is small, but hip. The conditioning tanks line the walls, beermaster Rich never stops moving as he does everything from pouring beers to washing the glasses, and then there’s the tour.








It’s a self guided tour that takes you around the property as you sip on 5 different beers Rich is highlighting. On our stop, one of them tasted like a bite of pizza! It was earthy and herby and finished off with a hint of oregano. Oddly delicious! The IPAs, which is my favorite type of beer, were all fantastic. Be sure to try the red. And you know why this is such a great brewery?? Yes, the beer… but because of this!








You got that right. A frizbe, or the cool cats call it disc, golf course.  And Rich even thought of things for the kids to do.










Eva and Domi love slack lines and sure enough, The Brewing Lair has one. Dogs are even allowed here, off leash! The property expands into the timber so there’s plenty of land to explore. But most, just sit at the picnic tables enjoying the beer. Oh ya, and there’s no food. But Rich is fine with you bringing in your own!








So here’s your plan the next time you head up to the Graelge area. Drive to main street Blairsden. On the left, there’s a new food truck (I’m guessing during summer only) that has great pulled pork sandwiches. Grab enough of those for your party, head back to the brewery ( a 2 minute drive) and enjoy your afternoon.


Stay thirsty, my friend.















“Mom, how are your boobs?”

“Mom, when’s your next mammogram?”

“Mom, what’s this lump on my chest?”

Those are common questions around my house.  And when I say common, I mean like every day.  I guess that’s the backlash from having elementary age children lose their beloved grandmother to breast cancer.  At age 8 and 6, my kids were old enough to understand my mom died of breast cancer, but not old enough to understand that I’m not going to die of breast cancer… at least not any time soon.  So conversations started about mammograms and self breast exams and, lately, dense breast tissue.  I’m sad because my kids are too young to even know what a mammogram is… certainly too young to literally have it marked on their calendar when I get mine.  But they do.  That’s our reality.  And today was the day.









I went to the Renown Breast Center because they also offer SonoCine.  This is an adjunct screening approved by the FDA to help see cancer sooner, especially in women with dense breast tissue.  That would be me.









SonoCine is basically a movie of your breast tissue.  A wand glides over your breast a couple of times and the computer makes it into a streaming video.

This technology uses ultrasound, so there’s no radiation exposure.  Unlike mammography, cancers show up like dark spots up against the white background of dense tissue.  This is easier for the radiologist to see compared to mammography where dense tissue and tumors both show up white.  It’s often referred to as looking for a snowball in a snowstorm.

This is my radiologist.  Dr. Susan Ward.

Dr. Susan Ward reading my Sono Cine

She was nice enough to let me barge in while reading my reports!  Yes, I’m that impatient.  She didn’t finish completely looking at them but she didn’t see any problem areas while I was there.  Phew!

There’s no pain nor compression with SonoCine.  It takes just a few minutes to get done.  At this point, it’s not covered by insurance.  Regular cost is $195.  Renown is running a special if you book in June for $150.  To me, it’s like insurance.  It gives me a little more peace of mind that I’m doing everything in my power to make sure I don’t have breast cancer.  And if I do, I’m catching it as early as possible.

And since SonoCine is considered an adjunct screening, I still walked down the hall and got my annual mammogram.

Getting a Mammogram

Along with monthly self breast exams, I really believe I’m doing all I can to stay on top of my breast health.  So the next time my kids say, “Mom, do you have breast cancer?” I can honestly look them in the eye and say “No.”



Have you ever opened your refrigerator to this sight?


After 13 years of being married to a Damonte, I’m still not used to this sight. A bag full of nuts. I guess it’s the same as being married to a fisherman and coming home to a frig full of crab. Oh wait. No it’s not. These are calf testicles. Not crab legs. Nope, hard as I try, I just can’t compare this to anything in the normal world. And I know what you’re thinking. “Did she really cook them?” “Have I ever been to her house and been offered an appetizer of mystery meat only to be tricked into eating testicles?” “I’m never eating over there again!” “Does she feed those to her kids?” OK, allow me to answer that final thought you’ve all had. No, I haven’t cooked them for the kids. But, yes, we did trick them into thinking they ate them. We are that mean. We look for every chance to humor ourselves, even at the expense of our children.   The other night, I made a Chinese dish with some chicken.  After Eva and Domi finished their plates Darrin said, “Wow you guys really like calf nut stir fry!”  Eva ran to the sink.  Domi looked at me with surprise and disgust on his face.  It was the same face I saw at his first communion last month when he finally got to take the host. For years, I’ve told my kids the wafers have flavors. And it’s a different one each Sunday. Chocolate, strawberry or my favorite coffee. Immediately after accepting communion for the first time, he glanced over his shoulder and slowly shook his head when our eyes met. I chuckled, he glared. Humor is subjective I guess.  You know what else is funny?  I just combined calf testicles and the holy communion into one post.   That is my life, people.





There’s one single key to enjoying eating out in Hawaii. Make sure your hotel has a kitchen and a BBQ!  Honestly, food is so expensive in Hawaii you can’t afford to eat out three meals a day every day for a week. We recently stayed at the Marriott Beach Club in Lihue… complete with full kitchen and community BBQs where the men hang out, smoke cigars, drink beer and discuss meat.  And now that you’ve saved some money by eating “in” you can really splurge when you eat out. And here are my recommendations starting from the north side of the island and working clockwise around it until we end up at Poipu.

Hanalei is a cute little town on the north shore. It feels like Hawaii 30 years ago. And smack dab in the middle of it is Tropical Taco.


 It’s a taco truck turned brick and mortar restaurant. Darrin and I had the fish tacos.


But the kids were the real winners. They each had not one but two orders of the ground beef burritos. Eat out on the porch, but watch for little Tweedy. He will snatch a bite if you’re not paying constant attention.


On the east shore is a little town call Kapa’a. We were told by our friend, Lori, as well as everyone else while on the island to eat at Bull Shed’s. There’s just a tiny sign off the main road so you have to look for it. We caught it at the last minute, drove down the long driveway… to this sign on the door.


Super bummed, but a good reason to return to Kauai someday.

In Lihue, there’s the famous Duke’s. Duke was a stud. Not only because he was an Olympic swimmer and is the father of modern day surfing… but because the dude made a helluva pie!



Hula pie was the perfect ending to our fabulous meal. And did you know Duke’s is owned by the same company that owns Sunnyside up at Lake Tahoe. I mention this because guess what’s on the Sunnyside menu? Hula Pie!!!






Also in Lihue, in fact right next door to Duke’s, is Portofino. We had mixed reviews about this legit Italian restaurant. The owner, the harpist and the waiter are all from Italy. The porch overlooks the ocean. And one night a week it turns into a disco for 21 and ups. The only nightlife in Lihue. Maybe even all of Kauai. Darrin and I both ordered the house specialty lasagna. It tasted as good as it looks.










Poipu is the main town on the south shore. And as you come into it, there’s a food truck that’s worth a stop. The Kauai Food Truck has great fish tacos and you pluck your own bottles of water from an Igloo cooler by the front tire.




There’s a pleasant grassy picnic area. We actually hung out here for a bit. I loved all the colors in this little corner of Poipu. Bonus suggestion! In the Poipu Shopping Village is Puka Dogs as seen on Food Network. Totally worth it and the kids will love it!



I’ve saved the best for last! Beach House in Poipu has an amazing location nestled into the best snorkeling cove on the island. That means you can send the kids snorkeling while you enjoy a coconut martini. The glass rim is an appetizer!


You can hear the waves while dining in any of their oceanfront booths. And when chef Marshall Blanchard plates his food he takes as much care with his presentation as he does the quality of the food. I got the grilled Hawaiian catch with coconut black Thai rice, green papaya salad and coconut red curry sauce.  











Darrin got something fabulous too…. but ate it before I could snap a photo!   And I was so impressed with the vanilla bean brown butter vinaigrette I called Marshall and asked for the recipe. Luckily he’s one of those cool chefs who doesn’t mind sharing his secrets. So here you go! Compliments of Chef Blanchard:

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Vinaigrette:  6 oz. Heinz gourmet malt vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Dijon, 1 1/2 vanilla beans split lengthwise, 1 pound butter (yes that says 1 POUND!).  Melt the butter in a pan until it browns.  Set aside to cool.  Mix all other ingredients together and allow vanilla beans to soak for a while.  When they are soft, scrape the seeds back into the mixture and discard the stalks.  Finally, slowly whisk the butter into the mixture.  Marshall says he thins the vinaigrette with 1/2 cup water.  I’m going full throttle, no water for me!

And maybe that’s why my next post is titled DETOX!  The scale was quite an eye opener upon our return to reality…. but it was so worth it!














For spring break, we splurged and took the kids to Kauai, Hawaii. I was nervous. All I’ve ever heard about the garden island is how quiet it is and slow and relaxing. Quiet, Slow and Relaxing are not adjectives that describe my children! So what in the world were we going to do in such a place? Scream, Run and Be Adventurous of course. Because those are words that nail the personalities of Eva and Domi. And to be honest, Kauai has a false reputation. We LOVED IT! I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but Kauai is how I picture that country. Zip lining, surfing, hiking, boating exercusions… you name it… and we did it. Well, except for the boating. We simply ran out of time! Here’s my list of must do’s with Kids in Kauai!




Marriott Beach Club in Lihue: We stayed here because we got a great deal on the room. So I didn’t really look around. But this is a great spot for kids! For someone who is terrified of sharks (have I told you my parents took me to see Jaws at age 3 IN THE MOVIE THEATRE!) the ocean here is manageable. The resort sits on a cove. And the cove has a pier at the end of it, making the opening of the cove much smaller. Here’s my thinking. Sharks would never come into such a small opening to swim in a cove they know has only one exit. Right? I had to constantly remind myself of this while Domi and I took surf lessons. The pool is huge. Circular in shape with 5 hot tubs right  inside the pool. No slides (except in the baby pool) or any of the fancy stuff pools have now a days but the kids didn’t mind at all. There are several great restaurants at the resort including the world famous Duke’s (which btw is owned by the same company that owns Sunnyside at Lake Tahoe. And yes Sunnyside has hula pie… Same as Duke’s!)



Tubing the irrigation ditches:  This did not sound that great to me when we signed up. Then again Kauai didn’t sound that fun to me either! This trip has you floating on an innertube through an 1800′s sugar cane plantation. You ride the alow current of the actual irriation ditches that fed 17,000 acres of crops. What I didn’t realize is there are tunnels. 5 of them. They are so totally pitch black you have to wear a head lamp. The longest is half a mile! In one of them, the guide stopped us, told us to turn our headlamps off while he told the history of the ditches. I literally had to count slowly in my head to stop me from screaming “SPIDER!!!” which is what I’m sure was about to land on my head. Apparently I don’t care much for small spaces in pitch black. Weird I highly recommend this activity! Like child birth, you only remember the good parts.



  Hiking: For a GREAT hike, seriously one of my top 10 of all time, drive up the east coast of the island literally until the road ends. Ke’e beach is there. It’s also the trailhead for the Kalalu trail. It’s a cool, rocky, mossy, jungly trail that takes you to a lookout of the Napali coast.



You can’t get to these amazing beaches by car. You can hike this trail and look down on them, or boat to them.  That  means they are prestine, empty beaches you only see on Survivor. And make sure you come prepared… Unlike me. I thought it was a beach day. This is no trail for flip flops!


There are also really cool caves right near the trailhead so make sure you want into them. Scary, but worth it!


Snorkeling: In the town of Poipu, there’s an amazing restaurant called Beach House. Not only should you go there for their incredible cocktails, food and vanilla bean viniagrette, you should also get there a few hours early and bring your snorkel gear. The beach to the right of the restaurant (if you’re back is to the Beach House and you’re looking out at the ocean) is GREAT for snorkeling! In fact, the local guys from the tubing trip even said it’s the best spot in the island. And yes, turtles like this spot too! And try this. While snorkeling, grab some sand and throw it in the water in front of you. The fish think it’s food and they come swarming! (If you have really young children, I recommend going to Lydgate State Beach Park on the east side of the island. There’s a snorkeling area there that’s completely surrounded by a sea wall. Super safe for babies)

A week on Kauai wasn’t enough! 10 days would be better if you can swing it.  Tomorrow I’ll write about the food on Kauai.  Amazing!  And then later this week will be a post called DETOX!!!!  I’m sure you can figure out why!  Aloha!

























Lots of things can go wrong when you’re dealing with live animals as your product. Seriously, why couldn’t I have married a shoe salesman? Instead, I got a guy who helps deliver calves in the middle of the night, doctors them all day… and yes, even bottle feeds them. Jimmy Choos do not take this much work! Sooo anway, last week Darrin pulled a calf out backwards. It couldn’t stand. Which means it can’t get high enough to suck from its mom’s teats. 20130329-142620.jpg

They even casted its legs to help make them stronger.




To save it’s life, the kids milked the heifer. This first milk is colostrum. It’s really important the calf gets this nutrient dense milk.

After filling 2 bottles, the kids went out to meet the calf. They named it “Rosie.” Yes, it’s a boy. No they don’t care.




Here’s the hard part… reminding the kids the calves aren’t pets… even if you do get to feed them by hand.







“Rosie” needed a few more bottles the next day but by the third day he was strong enough to suck from his mom. His casts came off a few days later. Currently, he’s frolicking in the pasture in front of my house. So many times things go wrong on the ranch. But Darrin and his family work extremely hard to make them right.


20130329-130859.jpgThe heifers are continuing to drop babies… CONSTANTLY! But as you’ve seen over the past few posts, things don’t always go smoothly. What was nice about the previous births you’ve seen is the fact the heifer took the baby. That means she’s allowing the baby to suck from her teets, she’s watching over it and Darrin doesn’t have to become a surrogate father. But at 11:36 one night last week, Darrin and I were out checking a calf he had pulled that day. You can tell I was thrilled.




He had to pull the calf out backwards, hind legs first, and the calf couldn’t stand. Hours later, he still couldn’t stand. This means he can’t suck on his mom. And that means the calf will die if Darrin do20130329-130924.jpgesn’t step in.






You can see his hooves are bent under.


The next day, Darrin’s brother Steve casted the calf’s hind legs. Who knew you could cast a calf! Thes guys will try anything to save their animals. The next step was to get the heifer into the squeeze chute so the kids could milk her. Just like in humans, the first milk in a cow is colostrum. It’s filled with anti biotics and helps the calf survive the first few days of life. The kids are milking out the colostrum so they can bottle feed it to the calf.



This looks fun, but your hands get 20130329-135823.jpgtired fast. Plus, you always have to be aware of the heifer’s legs. One quick kick and she could break your arm or worse. After milking her out, the kids put the nipples on the bottles and headed out to feed the calf. I’ll show you that tomorrow.












20130226-181759.jpg When can you start running with your kids?  I don’t know, but I recommend BEFORE THE AGE OF 7!!!  And I highly recommend this if you have ANY athletic pride at all.  Let me explain!  Last week, my kids were off from school for “winter break.”  It’s not a “break” at all!!  It’s a week when all us working moms juggle and struggle to figure out what to do with our kids while they get a “break.”  I NEED THE BREAK!  So along about Thursday, I was climbing the walls and so were they.  I said, “kids, get your shoes on.  We are going for a run.”  I had to get them out of the house!  So we started off at a slow trot. I gradually increased my speed… and so did Domi.  I put the pedal to the metal… and so did he!!!!!!  Finally he stopped and said, “Hey Mom, wanna race?”  I didn’t dare tell him I already had been.  So we identified a 20 yard dash race course.  From this tree to that tree.  And off we went.  The race started neck in neck, stride in stride… and it stayed that way the entire 20 yards.  I could not believe I couldn’t drop my 7 YEAR OLD!!!  So we did it again.  And again.  And one last time where I was really serious.  This time I got him!  By a nose.  Dammit!  Am I getting old or is he just that fast?  Or should I have started racing him when he was 4? Surely I could best him at that age… right?  Or maybe it’s just that he was more afraid of the Easter Bunny that was clearly chasing us.  So next question.  When should you stop running?  How old is too old?  I’ll answer that question tomorrow!