are your kids too clean?



Today’s generation of kids is called the hyper-parented generation.  Like never before, parents today attempt to do everything they can to protect their children.  In today’s world safety is a god.

I recently read a parody of the book Goodnight Moon in The New Yorker.  It is very funny!  You can read it here.  The last lines in the poem state:

                  Goodnight wipes warmer and yoga mat, HEPA filter and sun hat,
                    Sunscreen, sunglasses, sleep sack, outlet cap, sleep coach, G &T ,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     star charts, consumer reports,
                   Vitamin D, anything with Omega-3, French au pair, filtered air and—

                   Goodnight alpha parents everywhere.

Satire?  Maybe, but reality is not too far off.  Continue reading “are your kids too clean?”

where the family tree don’t fork

I live in New Jersey.  Now I know what you’re picturing when you hear “New Jersey”: big cities, lots and lots of people, gangs, the Thruway, garbage, the mafia, etc.  This is not the New Jersey I live in.  I live in rural New Jersey.  No, this is not an oxymoron, it really exists!  Way up in the Northwest corner of the state is farmland and mountains and lakes and…people without teeth!??  You see, while the rest of the country laughs at New Jersey, New Jersians laugh at us!  According to them, my county has more cows than people, family trees that don’t fork, and the dirt roads are full of lifted pick-ups with gun racks and dead deer hanging out the back.  In other words, we are a bunch of rednecks! Continue reading “where the family tree don’t fork”

life after sandy

Hurricane Sandy and I now have a one week relationship.  It started last Wednesday down in the Dominican Republic.  We were touring a school that the mission I was down there with ran when the rains came.  Monsoon like white sheets of driving rain.  The noise was deafening on the metal roof and the streets were almost instantly flooded.  We spent the next day and a half trapped in our hotel  due to flooding, wind, downed trees, and overflowing septics. Continue reading “life after sandy”

parenting after 9/11

This morning as I drove my children to school, I looked back at them in the rear view mirror.  They were all decked out in red, white, and blue as requested by their school.  They were going to spend some time in prayer and remembrance today, September 11th.  My eleven year old caught me looking and I smiled at him remembering that chubby 6 month old child that he was that day.    I decided to share with them, my memories of 9/11. Continue reading “parenting after 9/11”

blue moon and the jersey shore

Ever have one of those days where everything is perfect?  The weather, the company, the location, and activities.  You look back at the end of the day, tired and happy, and think “wow, this is a day I will always have with me!  This is a day that makes all the difficult things of life worth it.”  As much as we would like to, these days cannot be planned.  They just happen organically.  That’s part of what makes the day so special; you just can’t put a finger on exactly how it happened or even why it ended up being so unique.  It will never be recreated other than in your mind again and again during the mundane or hard times in life. Continue reading “blue moon and the jersey shore”

all the way! (with cranky kids)

What!  We have not hiked the Adirondacks most popular hike!  How can that be?

We were taking my oldest son to summer camp in the Adirondacks and decided to stay for a long weekend after we dropped him off.  If you have read other posts of mine such as conquering the mountain, you know that the Adirondacks are my favorite place visit.  It’s beautiful, rugged, rural, and there is so much to do!  I began to plan what we would do this time and I came across Blue Mountain in the town of Blue Mountain Lake.  We have been to the town a number of times but have never hiked the 2 mile trail to the top of the mountain which many websites stated was the most popular hike in the Adirondacks.  Guess it was about time that we hike it! Continue reading “all the way! (with cranky kids)”

pheasant drive bys and aggressive hiking for the non-rich

Are there any places in your town that you pass by on a regular basis that you would love to see more of but it is private or inaccessible?  The type of place that promises beauty and fun on the inside but you are stuck on the outside because you are not one of the privileged!  You are not a member.

There’s a place like that near me, it’s called Hudson Farm.  I drive by this private hunt club every once in a while and I can tell by the property that I can see from the road that it is a beautiful spot!  But it is private.  You have to be a member to use the property and in order to become a member you have to pay and in order to pay the membership fee you have to be filthy rich.  In fact I’m pretty sure that’s a question on the application, “Are you filthy rich?  Please circle yes or no.”  So, I look at it from the outside and wonder about the inside.  As my friend who lives down the road from the club put it, the only hunting she can ever expect to do there is hit an escapee pheasant with her car!

Then, last week, my friend called me up and said that the farm was actually going to be open to the public on Saturday!  Continue reading “pheasant drive bys and aggressive hiking for the non-rich”

our greatest fear

I live in Northern New Jersey.  If these words bring to mind crowded cities, pavement, and pollution, then you do not know northern NJ.  Where I live instead is rolling hills, dairy farms, lake communities, and lots and lots of wildlife.  More wildlife than you can imagine!  We have so many deer that they are only considered a nuisance because they eat all of your plants.  Everyone is searching for that “deer proof” plant for the backyard, but it really doesn’t exist.  We also routinely see (along with your typical groundhog/skunk/raccoon/rodents) turkey, owl, fox, mountain lion, and black bear.  Now, people do still comment when they see a black bear, but they are very common and another nuisance because of how often they get into your garbage.  With all of this wildlife, there is bound to be one that everyone fears, and there is, but is not what you think! Continue reading “our greatest fear”

thousand steps

It was late in the day, just a few hours before sunset, but we wanted one last adventure.  Early April is fickle and this day was no exception.  The day had dawned warm and bright, warm enough to wear shorts, but clouds had moved in, filtering the sun along with a stiff wind.  We drove on, passing small town after small town, joking “don’t blink…”, seemingly always following one train track or another.  Soon we reached our destination, Jacks Narrows. The Juniata River cuts the mountain, Jacks Mountain,  in two creating a rugged and wild looking area.  The highway and numerous train tracks join the river, all three rushing through the narrows. But we stopped and, looking up at the two mountains that rose almost 2000 feet above us on either side, we could feel the timelessness of the location.  We knew that we were about to embark on a unique hike! Continue reading “thousand steps”

into the wilds

Spring Break in New Jersey; where to go?  Literally every one of my friends has gone to Florida (aka Jersey South).  But no, not us.  We decided to go to Pennsylvania.  Yes, Pennsylvania!  What, PA is not your first choice as a spring break destination?  Okay, maybe not ours either, but we had an amazing time and discovered a beautiful, unique part of the state that we did not know existed!

It’s known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.  The area consists of 2 million acres covering 12 different counties in what I would consider north central PA.  The area is full of state parks, rivers, bucolic green valleys, and hidden dirt roads crisscrossing the Allegheny Mountains.  I love to explore areas that I have never been to; it really doesn’t matter where as long as it’s a new area.  This year we knew we could not travel far, but did want to get away.  So, after some research I came across the PA wilds, just 3 and a half hours from our home.  I began to plan what we would do each day and stumbled across what became the best find of the trip.  While looking at the various state parks in the area, I came across a page that listed the various places to stay in the parks.  I saw the word “yurt” and immediately searched for availability.  One of my dreams is to stay in a yurt, don’t judge!  Well, the yurt was a no go (someday…), but I found something better, The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle This is a 16 room “green” resort located overlooking a lake flanked by mountains in Bald Eagle State Park.  The Inn opened just a year and a half ago and  is the first of its kind in PA.  Our room was a small suite with a balcony overlooking the lake.  The room was spotless!  My husband and I even had privacy, which usually never happens on a trip, because the queen sized bed was in a separate room (the kids slept on a pullout couch).  The Inn is bird themed and has a lot of great extra touches such as binoculars in every room, various bird foot prints stamped into the walkways, neat displays of bird eggs and local finds, and a computer to log bird sightings.  There are also great outside areas like the large covered porch with chairs overlooking the lake, multilevel patios with interconnecting walkways, picnic tables, and a fire pit.  My husband’s eyes rolled when he learned that the hotel is promoted as “green”, envisioning  stinky waterless toilets, cold showers, scratchy hemp bed sheets, compost barrels, and toilet paper made from recycled cardboard.  Not to mention the degrading looks he thought we would get from all the hybrid car owners when we roll up in our 12 mpg Yukon.  But none of that turned out to be true.  Okay, he did say that the parking lot  looked like a used Subaru dealer, but the green aspects were mostly behind the scenes and pretty interesting to learn about.  We highly recommend staying here if you are ever in the area; it is such a unique spot!

Despite how nice the Inn was, we are not the type to hang out at a hotel all day.  We spent our days exploring the area.  One day we drove into the Allegheny Mountains on a road that followed the meandering Susquehanna River though small towns and wild looking forests.  Driving and hiking to the tops of these mountains provided amazing views of mountain after mountain sharply receding down to meet the crystal clear shallow river.  The tiny towns interested us as well,  it is difficult to imagine living in a town that  isolated!

Later that day we decided that we were finished with touristy overlooks on paved roads, it was time to do some real exploring!  We headed into the “black forest”, as this part of the forest is referred, due to its wild untouched quality on a dirt road.  Yes, we were only two hours from sunset, but we couldn’t resist!  The drive was a bit wild (you need a 4 wheel drive!) but so beautiful.  The road traveled up the mountains with nothing but a sharp drop off on one side of you then down into valleys with rhododendron lined creeks rushing into the Susquehanna somewhere far below!

As we headed further and further from the main road and climbed up to the top the mountain, we started to pass camp after camp after camp!  Little cabins, hunting lodges, and weekend getaways nestled deep in the forest.  It was work to get back here!  These were true retreats.  We finally stopped near one such camp to hike to our destination.  Our hike would not be far, but we were nearing sunset.  Of course, this did not stop us!  We piled out of the truck and began a quick hike down into a valley, following a little stream the entire way.  The hike was beautiful!  Large pines mixed with rhododendrons bordered the moss and stone covered path.  The creek flowed down over boulder after boulder creating numerous mini waterfalls and a delightful noise.  We reached our destination, 3 Falls, a beautiful three-tired waterfall!

My husband got to taking pictures while the kids climbed all over the falls, including behind it!  Soon we noticed that darkness was quickly falling, so I gathered the kids and began to head back up the trail through the now murky woods.  My husband stayed behind to take more pictures.  Time stands still when he photographs, so I really wasn’t sure when we would see him!  We made it back to the truck and waited ten minutes or so, straining our eyes into the darkness to look for him.  Soon, he came running out of the woods.  He had lost track of time!

Thanks to our gps, we drove off the mountain without incident, back to our hotel.  Dirty and tired, we knew we had managed to squeeze everything we could out of the day!