Saturday, November 17, 2012


"A railroad car is not an acquired taste-
                 one takes to it immediately.”

Taking a train ride on the Strasburg Railroad was sandwiched in between taking an Amish Buggy Ride and Visiting An Alpaca Farm on our day of LIFE LIST fun- while we were on our second trip to Pennsylvania this summer. 

I wanted to take my little girl on the Strasburg Railroad because it's something she could identify (now she's talking up a storm but at this time just a few weeks ago her vocab was very limited and 'train' and 'cho cho' were words she already knew). It's one thing to show a child a picture of a train in book, but you can't really understand something until you experience it. It's true even with adults-that was how I felt on my trip to Valley Forge. After this train ride and actually seeing the massive Thomas The Train (the reason I didn't get a picture still makes me mad and is not worth telling)....(now I have to tell you-I was rushing from the Amish Buggy Ride to the Train and desperately had to go to the bathroom-I was not sure if there would be on the train-so frantically with sheer minutes to spare I had to FIND the bathroom and then hop on the train about 1 minute before it departed. The larger than life actual Thomas the Train was hiding quietly in the giant train barn and we got a quick peek. I wanted to poke around the train station afterward but we had to get on the road to get to the Alpaca Farm!  Anyways, after she got to see the trains and ride one I can see that she makes that connection when she watches Thomas the Train on tv. Also, there are bathrooms on the train-it was imbecilic to think they would hold hundreds of paying passengers bladders hostage for an hour.

The Strasburg Railroad was a working railroad in the 1800's transporting cargo and passengers.  It was turned into a tourist railroad in the 1950's by a group of people who loved trains and didn't want this station to fall by the wayside.

If you do visit I suggest making time to linger, there's a gift shop, a place to eat, and a train museum across the street that looked really interesting. I would strongly recommend planning to spend at least 3-4 hours minimum at this train station in order to fully appreciate all that it has to offer.

The ride lasted an hour which was long enough for my energetic 2 year old. I think this is a wonderful experience for kids, it is just that my child is more of an explorer. I think she would rather drive the train than be a passenger, so asking her to sit still in one place for an hour is a tall order. The nice thing about being on a train, she could walk around a little.

In order to keep her happy I did have to give in and very discretely nurse her. There's no food or drink allowed in the non dining cars...does breast milk count? After 2 years of breastfeeding, you better believe I've got it down to a science and thanks to my long hair I can do it anywhere unnoticed (including in front of the White House). It actually turned out to be a really beautiful moment, my sweet little girl snuggled in my arms, a warm breeze wafting in the window, as we watch horses and corn fields pass by-it was perfect.

The interior of the train was charming. It was impeccably clean and well maintained, the wood was freshly polished and the vintage velvet seats looked brand new. Oh, how I love trains! The allure of trains is so bewitching to me. Visually I think they are really something to see, nostalgically I appreciate the sentiments trains invoke as they make me think of my Grandpa when he was a self proclaimed 'hobo' and hoped on trains all over the U.S. with no real destination in mind. And practically, I know that trains are all but irrelevant these days but I don't really understand why. To be able to get from point a to b without the stress of driving, while being able to take in all the natural surroundings, all the while doing whatever you want-you can eat, have a cocktail, play cards, meet new people, read a book, it's like a dream! Not to mention it's substantially less terrifying than flying. Yes, it's a little slower, but think of all the activities you can do while you travel.

This is the actual reading railroad! How cool is that? 

I thought the ceiling of this train was so beautiful, old fashioned with character. 

Enjoying the breeze from the window- I couldn't really keep it open...she kept trying to climb out.
I saw an awesome train motel while on the ride that I have added to my LIFE LIST and I meet a quirky couple who were not only Civil War reenactors but also trainmen aboard the Polar Express in Ohio so those were quickly added to the list too! 

The Strasburg Railroad operates year round and offers a plethora of fun experiences such as a ride aboard Thomas the Train, Ride the train with Santa at Christmastime, stops along your little journey and there are also dining cars on the train.

This trainman in particular was my favorite!
These trainmen here are extensions of this majestic steam engine and exude the same air of poise, elegance, and class. 

A ride aboard the Strasburg Train is a great thing for kids,couples...really anyone, of any age! It is very affordable with many different price ranges, it is a must if you live in the area and worth making a special trip for the Day Out With Thomas The Train and/or Santa's Paradise Express

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weigh in Wednesdays-A year ago

One year ago today I weighed in at 191 and I was thrilled! I had just started recording my weight in my blogs and I remember I was just starting to feel good about myself physically. I know 191 does not sound like a great place to be but considering that at my heaviest at 9 months pregnant I weighed 70 pounds more- I was ecstatic just to be under 200! How my life has changed in the past year and weight of course has a lot to do with that. My confidence is much higher and my weight is no longer 'weighing' on my mind. I of course want to lose more weight, I do want to eventually reach my life long desired goal weight, but right now I feel good about myself. This time last year, I was constantly comparing myself to other women. Where ever I was I would look around and try to find someone chubbier than I and think ' ok, at least I'm not the only overweight person in the room'. Now I don't even think about it. Until a few days ago when I had my first flamenco lesson in about 7 months. I haven't had many since my daughter was born- but from the very beginning in 2009 I always felt like a giant heifer next to my tiny instructor. But when I had my lesson Saturday for the first time I felt like she and I were in the same category. My flamenco skirt looked good on me, and in fact it could have been a little tighter. Everything looked better, my dancing, my arm movements, my legs- I used to hate lifting my skirt to watch my footwork in the mirror but the other day I was watching myself and thinking 'dang-that doesn't look too bad at all!'. It has taken me 2 years to lose 100 pounds, which seems like a long time but it has flown by. If you are a person who wants or needs to lose some weight, start right now. Don't pig out and start tomorrow, start with your very next meal or go outside right now and go for a walk. Walking can do so much more than we realize.

That was about a year a half ago...about 235 lbs.

I have lost probably 20 or more pounds since my last flamenco lesson and my instructor was stunned. The neurotic side of me has been thinking 'uh oh, I'm not even "exercising" how am I losing so much weight-maybe there's something WRONG with me.' No, there's nothing wrong...I have a 2 year old. After I got married and immediately packed the pounds onto my 125 pound body I kept wondering how this was happening, I exercised a lot! And I did "exercise", with videos, aerobics classes, krav maga- lots of things-consistently at least 3-4 strenuous hours/week, which I though was really good. Even though it was 3 hours of very vigorous working out it took me 3 years later to realize what the problem was. The rest of my hours were spent sitting. Just sitting. Barely even moving. I was in class 12-16 hours/week-sitting. Then I would study about 20 hours per week-sitting. I worked 30 hours/week-mostly sitting. Then at night we would go to the bar with friends-and sit...sit, drink and eat. When we had people over we would play cards-and sit some more. Then when we weren't doing those things we would SIT and watch tv to relax. RELAX?! I say as a mother now, what in the hell did I need to relax from--I spent all my time sitting down!

Taken in August 1.5 years after the above pic-and about 60 pounds less.

Now as a mother of a two year old, I get to spend very little time sitting. I do not exercise, I just move. That is all I am doing- moving my body all day long. If my daughter is awake 12 hours/day I am moving 12 hours/day-we play, we take walks, I am constantly picking up after her, making her meals and snacks, and if she lets me sit, it is only for sheer moments before she takes off and I have to make sure she's not coloring on the walls.

I had to buy some more clothes last week since my jeans were starting to hit that ghangsta faze again. I'm not buying a lot of things nor am I spending a lot of money because every few months I've had to buy some new stuff as I start to swim in what I had, so last week I was able to buy a size 10 pair of jeans I remember how thrilled I was when I went from a size 16 to a 14 just a year and a half ago.

November 14 2012.......161 lbs
November 16 2011.......191 lbs

This was actually about 2 weeks BEFORE I got pregnant.

October 2012

October 2011

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Save Pan Am

If you've seen the show Pan Am you'll understand my strong desire to try to help bring it back, if this is successful then I can add SINGLE HANDEDLY SAVED THE GREATEST TELEVISION SHOW OF ALL TIME to my LIFE LIST. If you have not seen the show yet...then you have to at least watch this trailer on youtube. It was only on for one season and it was one of my most favorite shows I've ever seen! I wrote one of my silly little poems about it so perhaps the network could see how devoted their viewers still are. My poem will only make sense if you've seen the show, if you haven't seen it- it is all class all the way! Set in the 60's when people dressed up to fly and demonstrated poise and elegance while traveling. Unlike the current era where you see girls wearing stretch pants with the word 'juicy' written across their butt, and the ding dong next to you INSISTS on making the loudest phone call ever the exact moment the wheels hit the runway just to talk about what a bother it is to fly in an airplane. Flying used to have an air of style and grace that we may never see again. Granted, this period was 20 years before I was even born but I somehow long for it, like it was in my past life or something. Whether is an era which is familiar to you or not, you cannot deny the nostalgic charm of this show.

Here is my poem...let it speak to your soul...

Oh how I loved the show Pan Am
Bring it back, please sir, please ma'am.

The air of class lacking today
Makes us long for yesterday...

This show has everything we desire
The writing and acting we admire.

The excitement of travel 
While romances unravel.

The cast is strikingly cute
in their infamous Pan Am suite.

Colette, the belle femme francaise
With that accent, we enjoy everything she says...

The mystique of the spys
and their large web of lies..

A shocker that Ted's fiance was gay
no matter-he loves Laura anyway.

The intrigue of the tramp
flying all over the map-

but after all, Dean is a rather handsome guy
with him as my pilot I wouldn't mind to fly.

The dialogue is new, sharp and smart
The plot is unique and has lots of heart

Well, what more can I say...
I'd watch Pan Am EVERY DAY!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


"There’s nothing like a llama….well maybe an alpaca.”


Yes, I think I'll take two of these please.

When: October 3rd while we were on our second trip to Philadelphia. This was Mommy and baby's Day of LIFE LISTING fun! The day started with an Amish buggy ride, a Strasburg train ride and this beautiful visit to an Alpaca Farm set back in the country.

Kissing Alpacas!!! It looks like the cover of a Valentine's Day card!
Where: Eastland Alpacas in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. It was about a 30 minute drive from Lancaster (Amish Country) so there is plenty to do near by and you can easily make a day of outdoor activities.

Cost: Admission is free! I think donations are appropriate, deserved and welcomed-  if I had to suggest how much of a donation to make- I might say $20/family or maybe $5-$10/person. They do allow pictures and up close encounters so that would be more than reasonable. I think it best to make your financial decision once you arrive and then you could determine what this experience was worth to you. There are few places offering 'free admission' especially places like this. But if you cannot afford that, give what you can.

If you do plan a trip bring some cashola for the gift shop. Alpaca fur is so soft, it would make a very nice treat to indulge in for yourself. Also, everything I saw in that store would make such unique, special gifts!

The gift shop.
.Why this is on my list? While I was doing my travel research for my trip to Pennsylvania I found this and knew that this would be a perfect outing for me and my daughter. I love anything that involves animals and places like this where my child can run around a little, be loud, learn and have fun is an ideal place for us.

'What is this little girl doing with our leader?'

Something I would recommend? CERTAINLY! It is just a fun, lite hearted thing to do, great for kids and adults alike. If you do decide to plan a trip you just need to call ahead or email to set up your visit. Currently on their website they are advertising their open house coming up soon which is not only free but they will provide hayrides and food.The owners are wonderful people who welcome individuals and families as well as groups. They frequently cater to seniors or handicapped groups and if the individual cannot easily get off the bus, they will bring a baby on board so everyone can join in.

Sue and Kevin, the super friendly husband and wife duo who own and run Eastland Alpacas take excellent care of their animals and love each and every one of the 115 Alpacas at their farm. Each one is registered and named and Sue knows each one by name! After being married for 8 years I still cannot remember my husbands cousins names...and there's only five of them.

     If you are interested in owning or breeding Alpacas these services are offered for a fee and the owners are happy to provide all the information needed. I also would like to recommend that if you are a person who likes fur but strays away from it after hearing about the unfair treatment of animals- then check out Alpaca fur, it is incredibly cozy and comfy to the touch. It is commonly described as being "Soft like cashmere and stronger than wool"  It's the kind of softness that as soon as your fingers touch it your whole body kind of melts. There's a list of things I wish I could have bought or rather that I hope to buy one day from their gift shop. In my opinion it is just as soft as chinchilla fur and you don't have to feel guilty about a cute little critter dying for your coat, since Alpaca fur is so thick and long it can be simply be shaved off.

As a person who used to clean stables....this is incredibly impressive-I could not believe the cleanliness and with 115 the cats! 

What would I do differently? What would I do differently? Well, I must admit that I was a few hours late. I did call and leave a message but I'm sure it effected their plans for the day and I felt badly. It was all my fault, that night I had stayed up until 4h a.m. finishing my translation project, then had to get me and my 2 year old up and out the door by 8h, drive 2 hours to our Amish Buggy Ride, go to our train ride then the Alpaca Farm- it was just poor planning cramming way too much into a twelve hour time period.
   Although, in a sense the timing worked out perfectly for us (I can always find the silver lining). On the drive to this farm my daughter was telling me how much she missed her kitty (Koni) at home and I was starting to feel bad that I took her away from her kitty for so long but when we arrived and the barn to see it housed about 10 barn cats she was in heaven and I was so pleased to see her in her glory. When we were pulling out of the driveway my precious little girl said "Bye Kitties....bye Soup....bye Talpacas..." It was so cute.

Will I do it again? I enjoyed this so much, and I enjoyed getting to know the owners so it would be a real treat to be able to visit again and if I happen to find myself in Pennsylvania again one day I would certainly stop by. My baby could visit her surrogate kitties, and I could buy that Alpaca fur 'scarf' and some other goodies. And I have to admit that if there were not zoning issues on my street I would be picking up an Alpaca too. I assume there is some sort of zoning laws since there are no Alpacas on my street, but now that I'm thinking about it, I really ought to look into it! These animals are undoubtedly adorable, friendly, sweet, curious, gentle, docile, quirky and seemingly harmless. I felt NO fear taking my toddler into the pen with 10 of these animals. Unlike when I worked at the horse stable and had to go into one of the stalls with a horse in it, which always made me nervous. There was the possibility of being kicked, bitten, stepped on, pinned against the wall or that the horse would get spooked and rear up, but I felt totally safe with these little guys!

 Life changing? Perhaps not so much for me but I watched it change for almost two year olf! I watch her brain grow every time we do one of these experiences, it's incredible. For instance, somehow my 2 year old apparently knows the difference between a llama and an alpaca at a glace. When we look at the pictures from our trips she remembers things- for instance, when I show her the above picture she starts talking about the kitties- she doesn't have to see the pictures of the cats she just remembers that when she was at the alpaca farm she played with kitties (which is a big deal for such a little girl to remember that). She also will start talking about 'Soup' the owner...or as I'm sure she is more commonly known- Sue.

This gave me another lovely experience with my daughter which I will treasure forever. After about an hour we were ready to leave but a scheduled senior visit arrived by bus and without realizing it we were blocked in. It wasn't too big of a deal although by this time it was a very long day and we were hungry, tired and hot but my baby got to play a little more with her new furry buddies so I didn't mind too much. Then luckily as it turned out I am SO GLAD we were blocked in because I was also able to take my absolute most favorite picture ever of my sweetie....

My baby with an Alpaca baby.

They seemed very taken with her.

Where she went so did this little black kitty.

How do cats and children communicate? Like this.


The entire property was very well kept, they also run another business so I don't where they find the time but it did not go unnoticed and little touches like flowers at a farm turn a' fun thing' into a lovely afternoon.

The throw I want in my living room to sit on with a good book and a hot cup of coffee...

Stuffed animals made from Alpaca fur- I think this would be an adorable baby gift!

The scarf I want-it's only $119 if anyone is at a loss of what to get me this Christmas.

Sunday, November 4, 2012



When: October 3rd, 2012- Our day of LIFE LIST fun! We did 3 LIFE LIST items in one day while we were on our second trip to Philadelphia. After our buggy ride, we went on a train ride, then we visited an Alpaca Farm, all these were within 2 hours from our hotel so it was a long day for us!

Where: AAA Buggy Rides in Lancaster Pennsylvania in the Kitchen Kettle Village.

We got to sit up front and she got to drive the buggy!
Cost: $18/adult and free for kids under $2 for a 35 minute ride (ours was a little longer). There is also the option to pay more for a private buggy ride which is longer and you get to go through a covered bridge.

It was gorgeous- and no ugly power lines! 
Why this is on my list? I have always been fascinated with Amish culture, it is incredible that we could live in a country that comes out with new mind blowing technology every day and yet there are the Amish who choose to live among us by their rules. No phones, no cell phones, no smart phones, no internet, no texting, no flat screens, no blue ray, no high def, no skype, no electricity, no cars, no indoor plumbing, i.e. no inside toilets. They are amazing people whose beliefs, culture and every day way of life is fundamentally simple yet rich. My Amish interest was peaked when I was 16 and went to Shipshewana in Indiana with my Grandma. I have treasured memories from that day trip I took with a bus full of senior citizens but other than being at the outdoor market we really didn't partake in anything Amish.

What would I do differently? It was a wonderful perfect experience and the only thing I would have done differently would be to schedule things farther apart. This took a little longer than expected and I had to rush to the next thing- a train ride because it only ran at certain times- where I was supposed to visit the alpaca farm next, so I ended up being late to the Alpaca farm and had to forfeit spending more time in Amish country. There's a ton to see and do you could very easily spend a whole weekend there. Also, I really wanted to ask Elsie, our driver, a question- as I'm sure you know by now I am a strong advocate of breastfeeding and I am dying to know (which I am sure they do) if Amish women breastfeed and for how long? I didn't want to embarrass her nor make the others on the buggy uncomfortable but I wish I would have pulled her aside or something- not knowing this is really bugging me.

Something I would recommend? Yes! Everyone HAS to do this!!! You get to learn so much about such an interesting culture- I never could have received such insight from any book or documentary. This is also an opportunity to see such pristine and beautiful land and Lancaster is an excellent destination for families with kids, there are many nature based activities and provides an invaluable learning experience.

Will I do it again? Yes, when my daughter gets a bit older I think it is so much better for kids to learn outside of the classroom and I will always be adamant that my daughter understands and appreciates what other cultures have to offer. Other than that, what I would really like to interview an Amish woman---this experience left my mind spinning with thousands of questions.

4 mules lined up side by side passing us by.
Was it life changing? Yes. This experience left me feeling like I SHOULD HAVE BEEN BORN AMISH!!!! There are countless attributes to the Amish lifestyle which I admire and wish I could apply to my daily life. Namely, no talking on the phone! As much as I love my iphone, I do not like talking on the phone (unless it's to one of my out of state family members).
 This was such a fulfilling experience, even though it was a hot day it was a refreshing fall activity. We were very lucky to have had a young girl, Elsie, as our driver who was genuine, kindhearted and did not mind having her picture taken. She probably gets asked all the same questions several times each day yet you wouldn't know it. Not once did she seem pestered or irritated, she seemed glad that myself and the others on the buggy had an interest in her way of life and was very happy to answer every question. If I could leave you with something that perhaps you didn't realize about the Amish, it would be that these are a people of MANY talents. Even though Elsie had completed her studies at the 8th grade level, I was highly impressed with the LONG list of her abilities (certainly she was in NO fashion bragging, but as I said we all were asking a lot of questions and this was my personal takeaway). Just to name a few, these included being fluent in 3 languages, quilting, cooking, sports, and not to mention- remarkable horsemanship. I have to say, I was a little envious and wished that I had her skills at my fingertips. I now have the utmost respect for this culture, I am even more interested than I was before, and eager to search out more information-actually I wish they would let me live with them for a week!!! OH PLEASE AMISH COMMUNITY - TAKE ME, I'M YOURS!!!!!

Kitchen Kettle Village- Lots of little shops and a free petting zoo. We didn't really go in the shops but we did take advantage of the free petting zoo-it was the cleanest petting zoo I have ever seen. 

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