Roots

Appreciation of our culture and lineage is quite important to our family. In that vein, we do what we can to expose our children to our roots. This goal in mind we recently visited South America. Our daughter has had the pleasure of visiting previously, however for the boys this was a new experience. Luckily it seems as if they don’t really care where they are and will make themselves at home regardless.

Adjustments conquered, we decided to venture to a coastal town called Santa Marta. There we had the pleasure of beautiful accommodations and a trip to a secluded beach, where we had the best fish plate of our stay.

Similar experiences were instilled in my wife and I throughout our formative years. Having the chance to interact with extended family we don’t get many opportunities to see creates memories that will last a lifetime and help to shape our children’s perceptions and opinions of the world.

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Done!

When I started my cycling endeavors it was for selfish reasons. Since then it has become so much more. Today I rode for my Lolo and it made all of my efforts worth it. The pain and sweat , the early morning rise do not compare to the daily struggle you endure. I do this to Mimic your struggle which is incomprehensible to the rest of us. In facing this endeavor myself and my friends hope you will benefit. But even if you don’t we hope that you know we did it with you in mind.

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Training

Approximately a year ago, for several complicated reasons, cycling became part of my exercise routine. As a kid I remember being in separable from my bike and thought it befitting a try. Less than a year and not one, but two bikes, later it seems this was a long time in the making.
Seeking more than a commute or a weekend ride in the park, I registered for my first “century.” For those  unfamiliar with cycling terminology this means a 100 mile ride. However, this seemed too self-fulfilling, to make it more meaningful I found “bike to the beach,” a 100 mile ride from NYC to the Hamptons to raise money for autism research. Upon some friends hearing about my endeavor I was asked to partake in a second ride, raising money for juvenile diabetes “ride to Montauk,” however, this ride is 150 miles!
So I train. In comparison to what those afflicted with these conditions have to endure daily, this ride is cake, so I’m happy to do it.
If you care to assist me in fund-raising please feel free to click below for:

bike to the beach

And

ride to Montauk.

My trusty Fuji is pictured below while recently on vacation in South Carolina. Training doesn’t take a vacation.

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Bokeh

Bokeh: bōˈkā/ the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.

Recently, I was playing with some lighting set-ups. I wanted to have the opportunity to re-create an effect I envisioned and finally got my hands on the resources to make it happen. Below you will see  images that represent Bokeh.
The lighting was tricky but a lot of fun to figure out all the settings. The background of the image is created with aluminum foil and a gelled flash a second light is used to illuminate the subject. This is certainly for the advanced photographer, but I hope to be able to apply it during events next wedding season.
The subject of the images happens to be my wifes engagement ring which has been the subject of other tests as well. Besides having the opportunity to use it at will it also invokes great sentimental attachment to the images.

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Three

It seems our only apocalyptic snow storm of the season affected our family more than initially thought. Smack in the middle of the weekend that was, had the twins birthday party scheduled. In the interest of safety for all we decided to re-schedule. So this past weekend approximately four weeks later we were able to celebrate Mayhem and Chaos’ exit from the terrible two’s (not really but whatever.) The party was great despite one of our boys falling ill and sleeping for a while during the event. No mind he still took part in most of the activities and at the end of the day he did have a good time.

The past three years have been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. The most humbling time of my life by far and yet the crazy thing is, I cannot see our life any other way now. Three years ago we were gifted with two boys which have made us appreciate life in a completely different light. The dynamic of experiencing the interaction between both of them and their older sister is fascinating. Our family’s legacy is held with these children and it is amazing to watch it happen before our eyes. I try not to take these days for granted and soak up as much of their experiences as possible. Photography has provided me the ability to freeze these moments and therefore I do spend a significant amount of time taking pictures of them. Below you will see some of the most recent additions to this extensive catalog of images. Enjoy.

 

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George

Just before the end of humanity or the most recent snow storm, depending on who you ask (mom I’m looking at you). I had the opportunity to visit the MET with my daughter’s class. It was a great opportunity to share some time with her and her classmates and, of course, take in some of the best NYC has to offer. As is the norm my camera joined us and I managed to grab a few frames of George Washington crossing the Delaware. This iconic painting by Leutze is depicted quite often in publications and even movies, but until you view it in person you don’t understand its magnitude. Standing approximately 11′ x 22′ it towers over all other paintings we saw. It is massive and meticulously painted in oil. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it. While this was the main attraction of the class trip we also had the opportunity to view other works not directly related to the Revolutionary War but equally as interesting.

I have vowed to return to see at least some of what I missed on this trip.

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AMAZE-balls!

I have been dying to use this term in conversation or writing and I have finally found the opportunity to use it in both. As a quick follow up to the Superbowl post I present you with the aforementioned “dips.”

Firstly:

Buffalo Bacon Blue Cheese Guacamole

(Yes, it is as good as it sounds!)

Retrieved from: Laurenslatest.com

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices hickory smoked bacon
2 avocados {I used California Avocados}
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 large garlic clove grated
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup diced tomato
2 1/2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese + more for garnish
hot sauce, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Start by cooking bacon in a skillet until edges are crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Cut open avocados and scoop into large bowl. Mash together with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper until chunky. Stir in cilantro, tomato, blue cheese, bacon and hot sauce. Stir until combined. Spoon into serving bowl and top with more blue cheese, hot sauce and cilantro. Serve as desired.

*Refrigerate until service plus any leftovers.

Suggestions:

If you fry the bacon ahead of time this dip comes together in 30 seconds. I followed the recipe pretty much to a tee, with the hot sauce coming from a habanero hot sauce from Trader Joe’s which may burn your eyes out of their sockets so I used three drops, literally! In my opinion, this was the right amount since it was not overwhelming. This aside, the guacamole was insane! It truly is a completely different experience and, for those that arrived early enough, to the party, were able to enjoy it thoroughly. Let’s just say there was none left half way through our gathering.

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Next up:

Gooey and Cheesy Warm Bacon Dip

Retrieved from: kitchenmeetsgirl.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sour cream (I used light)
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion. Spoon mixture into a 1-quart baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and hot

Suggestions:

For this recipe I chose to use white and yellow cheddar cheese. I believe the combination added to the taste of the dip. The fact that this dip is baked makes all the difference in the world! You can probably have it room temperature, but it will not be nearly as good. Since this was made for the “Big Game” we skipped the crudité and resorted to scooping with a rosemary pita chip. Again, a fantastic dip, but keep it warm or you miss out on how awesome it really is.

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Superbowl

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Do I have to pay royalties now?! Anyway, one of the customs my friends I have are to get together on an annual basis to enjoy the “Big Game”…. Generally, one of our friends offers his home as the venue for such the event and there is a significant amount of preparation that is had, usually by the host. My group of friends being who/what they are generally, won’t do the legwork to provide sustenance. So there are many white castle “cases” and Doritos chips provided. However, me, being who I am, make it somewhat of an event. I will be making two different dips (probably reserved for a different post) and what I am presenting to you here which is a dark chocolate and white chocolate chip cookie.

Dark & White Chocolate Chip Cookie

adapted from: everybodylikessandwiches.com

1 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c white sugar
1 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 c semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c sliced almonds (optional – if not using, replace with chocolate chips)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel (optional), for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, blending well before adding in the second egg. Add in vanilla and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined, taking care not to over mix. With a spatula fold in the chocolate and the almonds (if using).

Using a tablespoon, roll into balls and place onto a prepared cookie sheet, about an inch and a half apart (I always line mine with silpat or parchment paper). Slightly flatten out the tops. If desired, sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt or fleur de sel.

Bake at 360F for 12 minutes until lightly golden but still a bit gooey on the inside. Cool on wire racks.

Suggestion:

So right off the bat, I need to explain that since I have been out of practice for some time I completely dropped the ball and forgot to include the granulated sugar. No matter because honestly I don’t think the recipe needs it. By the way my cookies finished awesomely and did not need any additional sweetness, maybe my finger in the batter was enough? I see you rolling your eyes, couldn’t resist. Anyway, I clearly opted for the white chocolate instead of the nuts which I think was a great way to go, just wasn’t feeling the nuts today, no pun intended. My goal was to make a straight- forward cookie that didn’t involve being gluten, GMO, vegan, vegetarian, paleo or whatever other new diet there is, proof. My friends are simple and unpretentious and that’s how they like to swoon!

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Long Road…

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I have been at war with myself for a long time whether or not to write this post. However, I have come to the realization that posting would do more good than anything else. Below you will see multiple images of one of my sons. He is a fraternal twin. He is the eldest of the twins. He is Autistic. That latter three-word phrase has taken me a long time to appreciate and accept. I did not know how to deal with this reality for a long time. While this diagnosis is difficult for me to handle, lest we forget what is at the heart of the diagnosis, but a little boy who has begun life with a tremendous obstacle in front of him.

The eventual diagnosis stemmed from a realization that our son was not reaching certain milestones in development. Primarily our concern centered on a lack of vocabulary, both quantity and quality of which were/are deficient. Since drawing conclusions from comparisons is not the best measure of development, we chose to have him evaluated. After a myriad of evaluations it was determined he is ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). As shocking as this was for our family, the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty of what was to come was, at least in my case, more frightening. Fortunately, we have a great team of providers who helped in explaining much of the process and expectations, but there has certainly been a large learning curve.

Our son has many therapists and several sessions with more being added from time to time. We have learned so much from our boy and this experience. We now have a proficient understanding of what the jungle of acronyms ABA, EI, CPSE, OT, and PT mean and where and when they are appropriate. But beyond that we learn from him directly in observing his interactions with his siblings and his environment. He is expected to enter a center based program shortly which will be another enormous step for all of us. God willing it will be a positive experience which will only help to improve and expedite his development.

Sometimes it can all be overwhelming for everyone, but when this happens I remind myself of a comment made by one of his therapists. She said, and I am paraphrasing, what if he is the “normal” one and we are the outliers? I think about that a lot, as his perception of the world must be so different than mine. How amazing must that ability be?

Additionally, my wife reminds me of a belief she has, God does not give you anything you cannot handle. To him I say, thank you for sending us our extra special boy.

I don’t care to come off all preachy. However, for families apprehensive or scared of having their child evaluated, think about the unknown. You may be doing your child a disservice by not providing them the opportunity to receive services they may benefit from. If it is not through the same services we sought, linked here, please do it through whatever services are available to you.

As for our little guy, we will strap in and enjoy the long road ahead and all that it will bring.

 

 

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