Clapping On The Down Beat

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Undivided Attention August 23, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 12:44 PM

Today is the second day of school.  Summer is over.

I think this has been one of out best summers.  It seems as the kids get older, the summer gets easier.  We picked a few camps for them to attend- now it’s more sleep away camps.  We planned some down days, and we planned some adventure days.

I have had a list of places I have wanted to go, but time has always escaped.  However, this year I planned ahead.  We did 2 museum days in Dallas.

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Dallas Heritage Village lunch at Angry Dog and then the Frontier Flight Museum

The second trip was inspired by the trip Kate’s girl scout troop made to Austin at the beginning of the summer.  The troop was working on a government badge and we visited the LBJ library, the UT campus, 2 tours of the state capital, Congress bridge bats, swimming, BBQ and lots of fun.  As we toured the LBJ library, I thought what a fun history lesson to connect to Dallas.  SO, I rented the 3 hour long documentary on JFK and we all watched it.  Then we went to Sixth Floor MuseumOld Red Museum and lunch at Klyde Warren Park.

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We also went to Turner Falls, OK for hiking and swimming, Waco to the Mammoth National Park Site The Magnolia Market Silos for lunch and Dr. Pepper Museum

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The best part of all these trips is the undivided attention I have from my kids and they have from me.  We have had some of the best conversations, funniest moments and we have no distractions.  There was one teachable moment that really stood out.

We took a trip to Lawton, OK to get a burger.  (yes, its part of my discovering the 5 best burgers in OK)  It was about a 3 hour trip one way.  Meers store and restaurant used to be a mining cabin, but now serves burgers.  It also serves a lot of service men and women due to Ft. Sills located a few miles away.  As we were eating lunch, we noticed a young man dressed in fomal military attire eating with his family.  The kids asked about him, and I told them that he probably came from the base we passed on the way in.  When it came time to checkout, I told our server that we would pick up the service mans bill.  The owner said that they were nervous about having time to eat since he had to be back for graduation ceremony.

For about an hour of the ride home we talked about creating a ripple effect of “doing good” or “paying it forward”.   Small things that we do for one another can have a great impact.  Just recognizing someone, eye contact and a smile, showing appreciation and gratitude can go a long way.  What is your ripple effect?



A side trip + quick meal March 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 10:26 PM

It was a very rainy Spring Break week.  We had already planned a quick trip down to San Antonio.  The last time we were down there- we only had 2 out of three kids and one was still in a stoller.

We hit Bluebonnet Cafe (pie), Guenther House (pioneer mill- great breakfast), the missions, Alamo, Riverwalk, Pearl Brewary (and CIA), a movie, HEB, Magnolia Cafe (another great breakfast), Natural Bridge Caves, and a short stop in San Marcos.




Upon returning, I had to work a catering event plus we had basketball games.  Here is a quick stew with ingredients I usually have on hand.

Chickpea Stew

In a skillet, soften:

1 diced onion

1 shallot

In 1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Add :

2 cloves diced garlic

1 tsp minced fresh ginger (I often keep a tube of minced ginger in fridge)

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp brown sugar

2 chopped carrots

(you could also add diced potato, frozen peas, eggplant….)

In a crockpot add:

1 can coconut milk

2-3 cans drained and rinsed chickpeas

Then add onion mix from skillet.  Simmer on low 4 hours.  Serve over rice.


In Action February 24, 2016

Filed under: Multiple Sclerosis,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:37 PM

The girl moves fast.                DSC_0348

As I watched the fast paced championship game, all I could think about was how fast life moves.  The game was such a metaphor.  Sometimes we get knocked down, hurt, pushed around.  Sometimes we aim for the goal and find success, sometimes not, but we rebound and try again.  Sometimes we get a fast break away or a great pass or assist.  Sometimes we lose, sometimes we win.  And it moves fast.

I also started brain training with a focus group from UT Austin school of nursing this week.  It was a stark contrast.  This is a MS study.  I was one of the youngest in the group and have been diagnosed the shortest amount of time.  It is the first time I have been in a group with others with MS.  Its a bit of a breath of fresh air to speak with someone who knows, who gets it, who has or is going through the same things.  Because no one understands.  No one knows- unless they have been there.  Right away when you mention the day you were diagnosed- they all know.  They had the same thoughts, the same tears, the fear, the same Dr. apts, the same tests, taking the same drugs.  Actually, when some of them were diagnosed there weren’t any drugs.

There are a few life changing events that have reshaped me and my view.  I move slower.  Because life is a marathon and not a sprint.  When there is a health scare or crisis, you change your view on what’s really important short term and long term.  My faith has put it all in perspective.  Yoga has taught me to be purposeful and intentional.  Learning about MS and then brain, I try to focus on one thing at a time and not multitask.  I listen to my body more.

I admitted to the group that I am in a bit of denial.  I don’t talk about the MS because I don’t define myself by it.  But I know it’s there.  I have 3x a week reminders (shots), bi-annual MRIs and nerve damage.  There was another woman there who has had MS for 20 years and could relate to me.  She said she doesn’t talk about it either and maybe only 5 people know she has MS.  I think the focus group will be good- for all of us.

The bike MS 150 is coming up.  Would you consider sposoring a rider for a worthy cause in my name?  Here’s a link:

10 Facts about MS

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system.
More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
Women are much more likely to develop MS than men.
There is no evidence MS is directly inherited.
It is challenging to diagnose MS.
No two people have exactly the same symptoms.
MS symptoms can be invisible.
The majority of people with MS do not become severely disabled.
MS has no cure.


Lazy Meals February 2, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Organization,Parenthood — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:29 PM

It takes me a little while to get back into the swing of the routine after a vacation.  I like to keep the pantry stocked with a few basics so I can pull together “lazy” or quick meal.  I love soup, so here is a rendition of Pasta Fagioli done the lazy way.  It’s a creamy bean and pasta soup.


I usually have dried beans and some canned beans in the pantry along with lots of canned tomatoes.  You’ll need 2 cans of great nothern beans or cannellini beans.  In a blender dump one can of beans and 1 cup of water and puree.  Set aside.

In a large pot, add 1/4 c. olive oil and 3 chopped garlic cloves (I usually add 5- I like my garlic).  Stir the garlic around and let it soften, but not brown.  Then add 2 Tbsp flour.  Stir the flour and let it cook for about 2 minutes, again do not brown the flour, just cook out the “flour taste”.  Next add 8 cups of water, 2tsp salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (if you have it) and the bean puree.  Bring to a boil and let simmer 20-30 minutes.  Allow soup to thicken.

Next add a can of tomatoes- either diced or whole.  If they are whole tomatoes, crush them in your hands.  Add the second can of beans and 2 cups of ditalini (or another small shaped pasta) and simmer for 10-12 minutes till pasta is cooked.  I stir frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Fish out the rosemary sprig and toss it.

Serve.  Creamy, comforting, lazy, soup.


I’ve posted before- but Monte Cristo sandwishes are always a hit and quick to make.  I explain to my kids that if a turkey sandwich and french toast had a baby, it would be a Monte Cristo.


I make the sandwiches first.  I like texas toast- thick white bread slices.  You can really build any sandwich you like.  I usually do mayo, turkey, swiss and a little dijon.  I wisk up 4 eggs and dip both sides of the sandwich in and then place on a butter skillet or griddle.  Toast both sides.  Traditionally, it;s served with powdered sugar and jam- but I don’t usually go that far.



Why is this lazy?  I really like Croque Monsieur- but it has more steps and you pour a cheese sauce over, its gets broiled ……..*sigh*  and this is the lazier version.





Week in Review- a vacation January 31, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Parenthood,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 8:57 PM

We spent the last week in Florida and it was a busy week.  Here is a recap and some highlights.

We flew in to Ft. Lauderdale and spent the weekend with my grandparents.  My kids haven’t seen their great-grandparents for a while.  Actually they hadn’t met my youngest yet.  Four generations.  My grandfather was born in 1920 and my youngest was born in 2010.


The kids were able to go to the beach.  It started with walking on the beach, putting our feet in the water, next thing they were swimming in it.  It was a little cold for me, but they enjoyed it.


We headed up to Orlando for the rest of the week.  In my opinion, a trip to Disney/Universal  requires some research and planning.

Day 1: Epcot


I picked Epcot first for a couple of reasons.  The last time I was at Disney (34 years ago) there was only Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  It was a bit nostalgic.  Secondly, I thought it would be a good entry into the week.

We bought 2 day magic your way passes.  With the passes we could pick fast passes for three rides 30 days in advance. (If you stay in teh park you can pick 60 days in advance, we opted for a condo 10 minutes away that had a kitchen, laundry, pool, movie theater…)  Our three fast passes were Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Spaceship Earth.  The fast pass was nice, but the lines in Epcot were low and we were able to ride other rides like Mission Space with no wait.  By far, Test Track was our favorite.  We rode 3 times.  If you have a Hot Wheels fan, this is the ride.  You are able to design a car within parameters and then you get in a car and it goes through performance tests.  The last test is speed, which whips you around the outside of the building.  The best part of The Seas with Nemo is the large aquarium, it was also a favorite.  We ate in the World Showcase- lots of good food options.  We added the fireworks/lasewr show as an additional fast pass.  This gave us front row seats.


Day 2: Free Day


We headed out to Gatorland in the afternoon.  This was only 20 minutes away, there was another gator place with airboats, but it was 45 minutes away.  Gatorland have hundereds of gators, gator wrestling, ziplining over the gator “pond”, and so much more.  We really enjoyed it.



Day 3: Universal Studios


Harry Potter, Transformers, Despicable Me, Rip Rocket, Men in Black, Shrek, Revenge of the Mummy.  My 11 year old was all over this.  He had a blast.  Most of the rides on this side of the park were 3D/4D rides or indoor rollercoasters or a combination.


This one is sometimes hard to get a “smiley” picture from.  Needless to say, we rode this ride 3 times.  We did not get the fast passes for Universal.  There were very little wait times for rides.  I highly recommend the aps for both Disney and Universal.  The aps have maps, wait times listed for rides, showtimes, and other great information.

Day 4: Universal Islands of Adventure


Harry Potter, Jurasic Park, Spiderman, X-men, Dr. Suess, Popeye.  This side had a lot more amusement park type rides.  Rollercoasters, log rides, free falls…





Harry Potter fans……this was soooooo much fun!

Day 5: Magic Kingdom


We had fast passes for Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride.  We did some classics like Peter Pan, Its a Small World and Pirates of the Carribean.  The “kiddie” rides had long wait times.  There were lots of strollers in the park.  I am so glad I did not have anyone in diapers, in a stroller or needing naps.

What worked for us is timing the rides.  We stood in line for 60 minutes to ride Space Mt, and then got right back on with our fast pass.  We watched part of the parade at 9pm and then headed back to Thunder Mt and Splash Mt.  There were no lines so we just kept getting back on.



We had a great week, lots of fun, great memories!


Experimentation January 19, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Parenthood,Uncategorized — clappingonthedownbeat @ 4:16 PM


I am now adding brewer to my list of roles.  I turned my oldest son on to kombucha tea.  At first it was a “treat”, then it became a weekly request, then I decided we would just make it at home.

Now you might be asking “what is kombucha”?

Kombucha refers to any of a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly used as functional beverages for their unsubstantiated health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY).

It is a lightly carbonated probiotic drink.

We start by basically brewing sweet tea.  It cools down,  then the SCOBY is added.  It’s the white thing floating in the jars.  This bacteria/yeast colony feeds on the sugar, and carbonates the liquid.  The tea ferments for about 10-14 days.  We taste it along the way.  When its ready, it can be flavored with a little juice.  Then the process starts over again.

Way cheaper and more fun to brew at home.  It’s a science experiment we benefit from.

And our SCOBY grows more SCOBYs.  We are up to brewing two gallons every two weeks.


One bowl meal January 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Parenthood — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:18 PM

If you can boil water, you can make this dinner.  I didn’t even use a pot or a knife.

Asian Rice Noodles


Start the water.  Assemble the ingredients.


In the fridge I had shredded carrots, green onions and some cooked shrimp in the frezer.  I have in the past also added broccoli, cooked (left over) chicken, tofu, chopped water chesnuts, bean sprouts…….Add what you like or what you have.  Next make the sauce.


I start with a 1 cup measuring glass.  Adjust to your preference- I add 1/4 c. soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar or honey, 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp grated ginger and a few dashes of sesame seed oil.  If you like some heat, add red pepper flakes.

I hear the kettle whistling……..


Put the noodles in a heat proof bowl.  My shrimp was frozen, so I added it on top and poured the hot water over.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Then drain the water.


I used my kitchen scissors to cut the green onions and I dumped in the carrots.  Pour the sauce over and give it a toss.


Dinner in a flash.  Easy clean-up.  Great meal to use up what you have.  No super skills necessary.  Asian Rice Noodles.