You know what I want?  Maybe even more than world peace?  Are quick healthy snacks my kids will actually eat!  Is that asking too much? As you all know, we follow a mostly Paleo lifestyle.  “Mostly” meaning about 85 percent. And to be totally honest, it drops to about 50% for the kids. I’m not going to lie; I buy mac ‘n cheese every trip to the grocery store. But I grab the all natural stuff… does that make it any better?  OK, fine, no! But it does make me feel better!  So anyway, when Whole Foods asked me to review some of their gluten-free, kid friendly snacks, I honestly thought maybe the Middle East was at peace!

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We first tried the Hip Chick Farms Chicken Wings.

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Eva liked them.  Dominic thought they were too spicy.  So of course I ate them! Next up, Applegate Naturals Gluten Free Chicken Breast Tenders.

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I have an excellent recipe for similar chicken wings… but I don’t have time to make them! So this was a perfect example of what I’m looking for to fill up my kids’ bottomless stomachs! I cooked them for 20 minutes in my toaster over. We paired them with Grama’s Sweet Chili Sauce (AMAZING!) and…. SUCCESS!  Both kids loved them! I even kept sneaking bites while they weren’t looking.  They are all white chicken meat “breaded” with rice flour. They even had a nice crunch, which is crucial for any chicken strip! So there you go! Some nice options for kids now that we are back in the “I’m home from school and I’m starving and there’s nothing to eat in this entire house” season.  Now, let’s work on that world peace thing!

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Last year was a big year for us.  “Us” being Darrin and me.  Excluded in that “us” is Eva and Dominic.  That’s because last year, “us” decided “they” would start doing their own laundry!  YES!!!!!!!!  I loved that idea!  I was fully onboard.  “They”… not so much.  But after threatening to take away football for the lad and pageants for the lass (yes, I said pageants.  That’s for another blog post I haven’t yet brought myself to write!) “they” agreed to add laundry to their list of chores.  That’s a good thing right?  Well, it was for about 13 months.  But then F35 entered our family.  F35 is a warning that started showing up on our Whirlpool Duet washing machine just moments before it would beep 3 times and shut off.  No matter the washing machine was full of sopping wet clothes.  Well,  I’m the type that just assumes it was a momentary laps in function of my washer.  So I rung out the clothes, threw them back in, and hit start.  7 minutes later, F35, beep, beep, beep, and another “momentary lapse of function.”  Damn it!  I called Darrin and he said he had no idea what F35 was so we agreed I would call our appliance guy.  So imagine my surprise when THIS is what I came home to that night after work!!


“What in the hell are you doing?  Just because you work on ranch trucks does not mean you can work on a washing machine!!” I sputtered out.  “No, I think I know what’s wrong. I found out the F35 code means the water pressure sensor switch it out.  I think I can get to it,” was his reply.


What I forget about my husband is his confidence he can fix anything and the fact he has a truckload of tools.  Check out this little flashlight! It even has little grabbers at the end in case you find a treasure! I bet if I told him my stomach hurt he would honestly think he could do a colonoscopy on me.


And low and behold! Check this out!  On his way to fixing the water pressure sensor switch he found a treasure trove  of kid stuff! A few rocks, some coins, candy wrappers, ABC gum, bobby pins… treasures from little kid pockets that were never emptied prior to washing! When this whole mess started my first thought was to start doing the kid’s laundry again.  But not anymore!  I can get used to having an appliance man in the house!



When my mom was alive, here’s how our Mother’s Day always went.  After a lovely home cooked brunch, we would go see a movie, grab a glass of wine afterwards, and meet our family at dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.  No presents.  No flowers.  Just time.  Time spent with one of my favorite people on the planet.  Munching on popcorn and hot tamales in the theatre.  Giving our best Siskel and Ebert review of the movie over a glass of Rombauer chardonnay.  Happily eating out because we didn’t have to cook… or clean!  It was always a day I looked forward to.  Not for the “thing” I might get.  But because of the intangible gift of time. When you lose THAT gift, you truly realize how precious it is.  So now that I’m a mom, time is all I want with my kids.  I wake them up early sometimes, just because I missed them overnight.  I sometimes deny their request for sleepovers simply  because I want them staying with me. I look forward to Darrin being out of town because the kids and I know this means we all sleep together in my big bed like a pile of puppies.  So like all of you moms reading this, I’m sure your request for Mother’s Day is the same as mine;  TIME.  NBA MVP Kevin Durant probably said it best:


I live in a zoo.  I guess ranch is more accurate, but it feels like a zoo.  Like a crazy zoo.  Like I’m the zoo keeper of a family of orangutans.  I can’t get control.  And it gets worse every year.  Allow me to explain.  We have a dog… who sneezed right as I snapped this picture.











two cats… we inherited from my mom.


a hamster… that was an 9 year old little girl’s birthday present.












thousands of cows… which constantly need to be fed.  Literally, they eat before we do.












Two 4-H pigs named Jerry and Henry.


and now this.


5 kittens and a mamma cat… that are incredibly difficult to take pictures of.


See, my over-achieving daughter decided she wanted to foster kittens from the Nevada Humane Society.  She went to her first introduction get-together and while she was there, I was busily preparing for the 6:30 newscast. I got a call at about 6:22.  Here’s how the conversation went.  “Mom, they have 6 cats I can bring home tonight.”  “What?  I’m reading scripts and putting on mascara and trying to talk to you.  You said they have hats for you?” “No cats.” “Well ok, fine, I’m sure we can find people to hand out these hats to.  Bring them home.  No problem.”  “Um, ok mom, I’m doing it.  I’m bring home the cats.”  “Ya ya, sure, ok sweetie, love you, my mascara is going all over my face because I’m holding the phone with my cheek.  Love you see you tonight.”

DAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT!  Not one hat did she bring home!  But instead 6 CATS!  So our zoo now has 5 two week old kittens and their mamma.  We are fostering them until they weigh 2 pounds.  Ok, these babies weigh 12 OUNCES!  We will have them for weeks!  This is a perfect lesson for me to stop multi-tasking.  Next thing I know, Eva will be calling me asking for the “keys” and I’ll say “no problem” thinking she wants “peas” for dinner!








What did you do this weekend?  I went to a swine auction in Fallon, NV.  I literally could end this post right there.  That sentence alone is enough to give you a good enough laugh for the day.  But you just know my San Francisco self has something more to say.  And it starts with the nose.   This was my first view of a swine auction.  Call it a hog or pig auction if you want.  It’s all the same to me.


What you don’t get from the picture above… is the smell.  Oh my lord!  It’s like walking into a wall of cobwebs.  It literally makes you recoil at first contact.  I live on a ranch.  Cow and horse manure are common place in my world.  Pig shit is another story!  It’s like no other smell I’ve ever smelled.  It literally assaults your nose.  It stopped my feet in their tracks.  It made my brain wonder if I could really enter this room.  Fortunately, like other smells, it passed… but not 100 percent.  You know how Thanksgiving dinner smells so good when you walk in the door, but after 30 minutes you can’t really smell it anymore?  Well pig shit stays with you.  It never completely dissipates…. but at least it did enough to get me in the door.









The day was quickly made better with these little guys.


Some were just 16 pounds… others were about 70.


Several 4-H clubs from northern Nevada attended this auction.  The kids buy their pigs in a real auction type of sale.











Then the dads had the fun of putting the purchased pigs into the trailer.  Oh this video makes me laugh.  Keep an eye on the pigs right hind leg… priceless!

Once loaded up, the pigs were taken home and will be raised by the kids until the Nevada Junior Livestock Show in May.


Last year, our kids raised lambs.  We made the jump to pigs this year because… well, I have no idea why.  But for the time being, our family has now grown by 8 feet… 8 little pig feet.









I was “that mom” this past weekend.  “That mom” who walked sheepishly up to the local haunted house with her elementary school age children in tow. No, I probably shouldn’t be taking them to a haunted house called Frightmare for at least a couple more years. But truth be told, I’ve waited long enough! I love haunted houses. They scare the crap out of me and IT’S GREAT! I’ve been dying for the kids to be old enough to go with me.  Well, I might have jumped that gun just a tad this year. Eva is 10.  Come on! 10!! Domi is 8. Make that 8 and a half! 8 and a half!! My God, how old do they  have to be now-a-days to scare the crap out of your kids??  Back when I was a kid, my Mom took us to the Walnut Creek haunted house starting at 5 and 7. Of course she’s the same woman who took me to see Jaws IN THE MOVIE THEATRE at age 3. Now that’s crazy. My parents didn’t have a child rated filter… for anything. We went everywhere with them. “Hey Honey, I want to go see Jaws tonight.” “Great idea! Throw the kids in the back of the Pinto and let’s go!” So that’s why I had no problem bringing my kids to Frightmare. Yes, I did take note they were the youngest kids there. And yes, I should have heeded the warning when a teenage girl right in front of us got out of line and left. But I really wanted to go! There, I said it. I was the one who wanted to go. Not my kids. I was the driving force behind this Saturday night activity. And I couldn’t wait!! At Frightmare, there are 4 houses you go through. We went into the Black Hole first. It was a mind tripping experience. You walked a plank while the room spins around you. We all wanted to throw up afterward.  Next up… Zombie Farm. Now it gets real people. Real creepy! We entered a run down shanty and all hell broke loose. Zombies popped out from behind doors. A bloody girl zombie with extra long zombie arms played the piano… until she got up and chased after us. Something horrible and bloody happened in the bathroom and every zombie in there went after us. At one point, I lost Eva because she just flat-out started running.  I couldn’t run after her because Domi was now clinging to my leg. And honestly, I was scared to death! Frightmare is a total understatement. This is living hell on Elm Street on Friday the 13th with Jason and Jaws coming after you.  And what’s worse, this house was huge!  We kept turning corner after corner and entering worse and worse torture chambers.  It just wouldn’t end.  Finally, Eva darted left, hit a black curtain and Praise Jesus, we were back in the parking lot.  As we stumbled to safety, I murmured, “I nearly peed my pants.” Domi replied, “Nearly??? I did pee my pants.”  Needless to say, we skipped the last two houses. Frightmare, you killed it this Halloween season!  Nice job!



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.






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!














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!