Monday, April 30, 2012

Family Traditions

Good Morning Marzullo Here, I had the smells of my childhood through my house yesterday afternoon as my future wife and I for the first time attempted to make my grandma Marzullo's homemade pasta sauce and meatballs. The back story is that none of the men in my family really know how to make the sauce it was taught to all the women / wives so my mother knows how to make it and would make it just about every Sunday filling the house up with the smell of tomatoes, oregano, and garlic when we would grow up. A few months ago mom came down and taught my fiance' Leslee how to make the sauce. First off I have to say she nailed it yesterday afternoon the sauce was perfect with our ravioli that we picked up at Findlay market. I personally love the meatballs they were not dry at all consisting of veal and lean ground sirloin plus we added breadcrumbs, tons of garlic, and egg. The key to good Italian sauce is the pork, yes you heard me pork. We quickly brown some pork ribs in a pan and then place them in the sauce and slowly cook them with the sauce so they fall apart when you dig in and eat them. You add my new famous garlic rolls that I make and we had awesome dinner with friends last night. I have to give Leslee all the credit because she really nailed this family tradition as she is now part of the family!! We started a new tradition to with her recipe for Amaretto Ice Cream Balls!! WOW

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back To School

I went back to school on Monday.

Hi, it's Sheila.
It all started for me at the Scripps School of Communications at Ohio University - my love for broadcast news, that is.

I fell in love with Ohio U. the first time I set foot on the Athens campus. I was lucky to have many professors and mentors there who helped me along the path to my career and taught me skills I use every day on my job. But I didn't have a good handle on exactly what I wanted to do with my life until my classes with Journalism professor Don Shoultz. The news bug bit me hard in his newscasting classes. Students filled every role in a newsroom - producer, copy writer, reporter, news and sports anchor, editor, etc., and we put our newscast on the air on the Athens access channel. The channel was called ACTV, so we produced the "ACTV (pronounced Active) 7 News."

That's where I learned the acronym K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid! Even now, when I write stories I still hear Don's deep voice booming, "Talk to your typewriter!" Yep, that was before everything in a newsroom was computerized! And if your news copy wasn't clean, that was going to be a big problem when the anchor tried to read it live on the air. I have a confession to make. The first time I met Don Shoultz, I was terrified. He was a barrel chested guy whose personality hit you full force. I felt like he knew everything and I knew nothing. Turns out, he loved his students. He and his wife had all of us over to their house at the end of the quarter. And Don wanted us to know everything he did! He loved molding good journalists, strong writers who weren't afraid to ask hard questions, and who were just as nit-picky as he was about the proper style of writing broadcast news.

These days the students are on the public TV station, WOUB, and the newscast is called Athens MidDay. The beloved professor is Mary Rogus, a former TV news Executive Producer. She's not gruff like Don was, but Mary demands much of her students. Now I know how valuable it is to have a mentor like Don or Mary, who expects only the best. Mary invited me back to school this week to work with the students on a newscast and co-anchor it with them. I couldn't wait for that day to arrive! The young men and women on the job with me Monday were full of energy and questions. I quickly felt like a member of their team, writing my copy for the newscast, and talking with Mary and the students about writing style. It was a good refresher for me, but it felt so good to teach too. I loved talking with these young Bobcats about upcoming internships and what they want to do with their lives. Before I knew it, we were on the air with a good, solid newscast complete with bubbly weathercaster and Mercy HS grad Molly Nocheck. Sarah Tranelli was my co-anchor, and Paul Maier did sports. A Fairfield native named Adam Schrand directed, and made me feel like I was in my own TV studio. And here is where I will give them the ultimate compliment - every single one of the students with whom I worked on Monday was a professional. I know they will have no trouble getting into the business one day.

Unfortunately, the Athens MidDay class is about to become a casualty of Ohio University's switch to the semester system next fall. It will be replaced with some other classes to give students their hands on experience, but it won't be quite the same. Mary told me she's sad, but times change, and we all move on. Don't we all know that? My old friend Don went to work for CNN after I graduated from Ohio U., and he passed away a couple of years ago. But he's still alive in all of the producers, reporters, and anchors he helped mold. And he's part of the reason I will always go back to OU when I am asked - to pay it forward to the next generation of broadcast stars.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Italian Food!!

Frank hates it when I say this, but here it goes.  Italian food is all the same to me.   I can go out and spend a lot of  money or stay home and open a jar of Ragu.  Tastes the same.  It is all good, but one is not monumentally better than the other.  My opinion has changed though after my trip to Boston last week.  I traveled to the North End neighborhood after running 26.2 miles.  Not really expecting much, but feeling I deserved a plate of pasta.  My cabbie recommended this place called, "Antico Forno."  Like all of the North End, this place looked authentic.  Like there was a woman from the old world cooking in the back.

Since Boston is a coastal city, I decided to go start with them mussels.  Now, I have eaten a lot of food; eaten a lot of mussels.  These were the best mussels I have ever had.  They made me happy and excited for the rest of the meal.  I ordered "rigatoni salsiccia e ricotta."  It was homemade regatoni with sausage, sweet onions, in a plum tomato sauce.  The whole dish is topped with ricotta cheese.  It was out of sight.  I don't even like ricotta cheese.  Best pasta dish ever.  My meal made made the grueling, hot, 26.2 mile scorched earth death march worth it.  After dinner, we stopped be the world famous Mike's Pastry.  Some fellow runners got the cannolis.  Tried some.  Now those were just O.K.  Not  a big fan of cannolis, but a huge fan of Boston, its marathon and the North End.  So much so, I am trying to figure out how to re-qualify for next year.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Kind Of Town Chicago Is...

Good Morning Everyone, Marzullo Here...With our Reds coming back to town this week, it would be great to see us hit a more consistent stride. We did take two from Chicago this past weekend, however the one day I made the drive up to Chi-Town we lost. Yep, made the drive north to support our Reds in my second favorite city behind our Cincinnati. While the weather was very chilly and the outcome of the game was not that great, I still had a awesome time. You have to love Wrigley Field. Built in 1914 this is how a game should be watched, sure a lack of bathrooms and fancy scoreboards but it's about a the game and Chicago does it up right. I noticed they did add a new scoreboard down the first base line in the outfield but they did it right with mainly green video backdrops so it blends in. I feel with the Banks now downtown and the restaurants going in around Great American, that we are taking a page from Chicago. Cub fans make a day of it hanging around before and after the game in Wrigley-Ville. I went up with my father who met me after flying in from Cleveland and he was pumped for some of those famous Chicago dogs we get them every game we attend. After the game we met my brother for dinner at a awesome Italian Steakhouse. Open since 1941 Gene and Georgetti's is located downtown and sits right under a set of train tracks. This place is awesome, and many a celebrity and musician have entered the doors for steak and pasta. I opted for this veal with a white wine and garlic sauce, however my brother Nick went with the big steak! I highly recommend it on your next trip.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Buona Primavera

Happy Friday! Hope you got a chance to enjoy the beautiful spring weather this week! If not…bad news…Frank and Katy tell us it’s going to chill down this weekend.

What to do? Create a little sunshine in your kitchen with some mean, green spring recipes! Spring produces a wonderful array of produce….from artichokes to zucchini. Although most spring produce is available year-round, you get the best flavor (and the most bang for your buck) when you buy in-season. Look for deals at your local grocer. I just grabbed a 2-lb bag of haricots verts (that’s green beans in Fancypants) for only $3 at The Fresh Market. Not bad, right?

As good as spring greens may be for you, it can be a challenge to find recipes that are both simple and edible. My first attempt at making a Swiss chard salad came out tasting like lawn clippings. But no worries, I’ve compiled my favorite easy spring recipes below. While they cleverly sneak veggies into delicious dishes…these recipes are also idiot-proof. Good news for the clumsy chefs like me J

Avocado Asparagus Tartine
Recipe Courtesy Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks
You can actually slice each tartine into four or five bite-sized pieces for a nice appetizer option as well.
4 toasted slabs of whole grain bread, rubbed with olive oil and a bit of garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil1/2 lb of asparagus stalks, trimmed roughly the length of your bread1 clove garlic, thinly sliced1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 avocado, pitted and smasheda couple handfuls of arugula, tossed in a bit of olive oil
a handful of toasted pepitas, or almonds, or sunflower seeds
A few minutes before you want to eat heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add the asparagus, and a pinch of salt and cook for about thirty seconds. Add the garlic and caraway, and cook another thirty seconds, or until the spears are a vibrant green. Remove from heat, and assembly the tartines.
Give each piece of bread a generous slather of mashed avocado. Top that with a bit of arugula, a few asparagus spears, and a generous sprinkling of pepitas or seeds.
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min

Pasta with Ham, Peas, and Cream
Recipe Courtesy Nigella Lawson
· 200g farfalle or other short pasta
· 100g frozen petits pois
· 150ml double cream
· 150g diced ham
· 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Serves: 2-3 children
1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in plenty of salted boiling water, and then after 5 minutes add the peas to the pasta water.
2. When the pasta is cooked, drain with the peas.
3. Put the dry pan back on the heat with the cream, ham and Parmesan and warm it through.
4. Add the pasta and peas back to the pan, tossing everything together well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe courtesy Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?, Ina Garten
Prep Time:
25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings
· 4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced (4 to 5 stalks)
· 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
· 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
· 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
· 1 tablespoon cornstarch
· 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal, such as McCann's
· 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
· Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the fruit, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar and the orange zest together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
For the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt and oatmeal. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

- Stephanie

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Next Generation

Good Morning, happy Thursday! It’s Katy. Hope the week has been well to you! Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon, and I had the pleasure to spend my time outdoors at a fun event. I was at Milford Preschool for their Vehicle Day! This has always been one of my favorite things to do in my spare time. I love visiting schools to talk about weather! It never fails, when the Stormtracker shows up, the kids eyes light up in excitement to know that the Tracker chases tornadoes. Yesterday we talked about our Davis Weather Station that sits on top of the car and watched the anemometer spin.. ever so slowly. (it wasn’t very windy yesterday, but the kids thought it was the neatest thing to see a 3mph wind turn into a 1mph wind). And that’s why I enjoy this part of the job. It reminds me why I love weather and broadcast television. I can say that I have a pretty neat job, but it wasn’t an easy getting to where I am today. That’s the other part that I love about my job. Being a positive role model for kids, especially girls, and showing them that math and science can be fun and cool!
On a recent visit to Hopewell Elementary School in West Chester, I met a Junior Girl Scout Troop. We talked about what I do when I come into work, in the wee hours of the morning, and the types of things I do each day to prepare for the newscast. Looking at satellite loops, radar pictures, endless computer model runs… all in an effort to put together an accurate forecast. I realized then that being that positive role model for young women is important to me. Because math and science..well, mainly the math.. didn’t come as easy to me when I was in college. Calculus 1, 2, 3 and differential equations along with chemistry and engineering physics can put a lot of stress on one person, like myself. But I told the girl scouts that it was a mountain that I climbed, and reached the top! When I didn’t understand a math problem, I got the help I needed through tutors and professor office hours. And ultimately, it got me to the fun weather classes I had been waiting to take! Kinda cheesy, I know… but pushing that positive message of “you can achieve anything you put your mind to” worked for me! Now it’s my turn to pass it down!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Day In Pompeii

It's been nearly 200 years since a volcano wiped out Pompeii, and archaeologists are still working to uncover the lost Italian city.

Sheila here.
I got to experience A Day In Pompeii with some one who really has - my daughter Katie.

She was there last summer on a school trip, and seeing the exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center with her made it it a much richer experience for me.

Mount Vesuvius erupted in the spring of 79 A.D. The city's 20,000+ residents had been warned by a series of earthquakes, but they had no idea what the warnings met. A few of them were able to escape, and the exhibit includes descriptions of what that day was like - the rain of fire and the deafening blasts of the volcano. But most of those thousands who lived their did not survive. Pompeii was completely covered in volcanic ash and debris, and within a few years, the city was forgotten.

The archaeological dig began in the 1700's, and it continues today. The University of Cincinnati has a team on the ground in Pompeii, bringing new information to light on the ancient peoples' way of life, culture, and history.The exhibit holds more than 250 artifacts from Pompeii - from an ancient archway to jewelry, pottery to frescoes. The visitor can envision the businesses which once stood in the vast city. Bakeries which stood centuries ago were the first to use the brick ovens still used today to cook pizzas. Works of art and furniture depict what homes were like. I find it fascinating that people lounged on couches when they ate meals.

As Katie and I walked through the exhibit, I asked her questions about what it was like there.
She and her classmates only got to spend one day, but they walked among the ruins and saw many artifacts like the ones on display here. Katie's description gave me a better idea of how large a city Pompeii was -- they only could see a small part in a day. The temperature the day the girls were there was brutally hot.

Back here in Cincinnati, the exhibit features photos and video of the ruins which Katie toured, along with a movie which shows what that final day of in Pompeii must have been like as Mt. Vesuvius erupted.

At the end of the exhibit, visitors see body casts of the victims, preserved in their final moments of life. It's very sad to think about how frightened they must have been. And Katie said she saw more of them here than she did at the site her tour visited in Pompeii.

Pompeii's archaeological treasures rarely leave Italy, and it's only visiting six U.S. Cities. The Cincinnati Museum Center is only tour stop here in the Midwest. It truly is a unique window into the ancient past, and I am glad my daughter and I got to share a glimpse through it

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Landscapers For Hire

Two tons of rocks and 14 backhoe scoops of mulch later, it’s done.

Brad here and after seven and a half hours of manual labor that Dan Wells and I did at Sheila’s last weekend I’m beat, but she has the best looking yard in the neighborhood if you ask me.

We arrived around 3PM on Friday to find a giant pile of rocks…..two tons to be exact. Have you tried to shovel up rocks? It’s not easy. We came up with a solution, one person held the large wide shovel while the other raked the rocks into it with the other shovel. Then it was on the wheelbarrows. We loaded, hauled, dumped, and leveled off the rocks behind the swing set.

Also, because of water issues we created a small little wall to prevent runoff.

Here's the finished rock garden.

Two tons in two hours!

After the rocks it was on to the mulch. This took the bulk of the time, but at least it was lighter than the rocks. When we first saw how much mulch there was and the area that needed covered we immediately said “we need more.”

Ask and ye shall receive. Eight more scoops arrived from the Stone Center in Boone County. Wheelbarrows full, load after load we sweated through the afternoon. We were titans of the backyard.

We took a break after about three hours for dinner. Sheila cooked up some burgers. Very delicious. Actually tasted better than burgers I made at my place earlier in the week. After the dinner break, it was back to work. We continued through the night, finally stopping after 9PM when we could not see anymore and our backs could not take another wheelbarrow run.

We only had a little bit to finish up on Saturday and despite the rain, we completed our job. What a journey. It was actually a great full body workout and rather rewarding to see the finished product.

So, do you need some yard work done? Holla at the morning crew. I’m serious.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Marzullo Here: How was your weekend? After 78 and sunny on Sunday I would love for us to stay the course, however get ready for a rollercoaster of temperatures over the next 7 days from 70's to 60's and then 50's. It is Spring afterall

Speaking of Spring and getting out to enjoy the weather, I highly recommend taking a stroll along the mighty Ohio River. On Sunday evening after dinner we joined our friends for a lovely stroll through Sawyer Pointy and International Friendship Park. If you have never experienced this area of our city you are missing out. I had to refrain from making a stop in at The Boathouse for ribs and chips! I loved all the flowers and plants blooming, and the cool part all from different parts of the world. You can the see the flowers and plants represented with flags of there countries flying high over the park. People from all parts of our city were running and riding bikes along the river. Walking and taking it all in reminded me what a asset our city has and how we must preserve and nurture our natural treasure. Do yourself a favor next time you come down for a game or event or just have some free time, enjoy our parks.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Euchre Anyone?

Euchre Anyone?

The game has declined in popularity since the 19th century, when it was widely regarded as the national card game..but I say it's BACK!

If you're confused, read-on...this morning I'm blogging about the card game Euchre.

Good Morning everyone, Dan Wells writing. I played (or watched my family play) Euchre frequently as a child. I was taught by my aunts, uncles and grandmother.

Now that I'm writing this...I actually remember family birthday parties and holidays morphing into everyone sitting around the kitchen table watching the game unfold with small amounts of money changing hands and most importantly lots of laughter. I can't imagine I'm alone.

I continued to play in highschool and college with buddies and fraternity brothers, but then I hit the real world moved to Cincinnati from Pennsylvania and heard nothing about one of my favorite games for more than 10 years.

Until now, twice in the last month, I've heard the game mentioned in public, "on the street" So what is up? My guess is Euchre is making a comeback.

Since not everyone grew-up in the Midwest or on the East Coast you may not know how to play, so I've included directions below. My hope is to ignite some fun for someone out there this weekend.

How you play the card game Euchre?

1 Form two teams with four players. The teammates will need to face each other by sitting on opposite sides of the table. This is so the cards can be played counter clockwise and then easily switch off between teammates.

2 Play using a deck of 24 cards, consisting of 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace in four suits, to play conventional Euchre. One player needs to deals the cards evenly to all the players with the cards faced up. The player who receives the first Jack card is the dealer of the first hand.

3 Deal five cards to each player if you are the dealer. The remaining four cards should be placed face down in front of the dealer. Turn over top card of the four cards. This card is know as the up card and is used for the bidding.

4 Ask each player if they'd like to pick up the top card if you are the dealer. Often, the dealer will ask if the player wants the card to be "trumped." If the player asks to pick it up then the dealer has to add the card to their hand and discard another card. A suit of cards is trump when the order in ranking of the cards is higher than the other players' cards. A Jack is the highest ranking of any card. Having Jacks of the same color will make your chances for trump even higher.

5 Call your suit trump when no other players have to ask for the dealers decks to be turned up. If no one claims to have a trump then it is a misdeal and the dealer then becomes who ever is to left of that player. One point is earned if the trump succeeds and two points are given if the team gets both or their suits to beat the other two players' suits.

The game ends when a team has earned 10 points. I hope this simple card game gives you half the joy its provided my family with over the years.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thank You!

Yesterday, FOX 19 along with LCNB National Bank began our commitment to sell 9000 tickets for the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. YOU bought almost 1000! Way to go….THANK YOU!
Good Morning to you….Tracey Johnson here…..

Our first caller came in at about 4:10 a.m. This generous caller bought 15 tickets. An eruption in our call center among the LCNB volunteers and St. Jude staff. What a way to begin our campaign in raising awareness and fighting childhood cancers.
Throughout the morning, the stories got better and better….one more emotional than the other.
For me, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. One moment….so sad for the families that are fighting this disease, and then a moment of gratefulness for
The health of my children…and then guilt for being thankful.

Throughout the morning a large lump sat in my throat…holding back a flood of tears. With about 20 minutes left in our call-a-thon….my sweet little friend, Gracie, arrived in her princess dress. She was dancing and singing. I could no longer hold back. I was struggling wearing the “anchor hat” when all I could think about were Gracie’s parents. How do they do it? A very humble couple. Gracie’s dad spoke words that would forever pierce my heart. “We take one moment at a time. No longer do we plan ahead, but, enjoy the moment.” WOW!!!!

You can click on this link…. to watch Gracie and see some of the other stories I’ve done on families making the fight. Better yet….you can buy a ticket to the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. They cost $100. Only 9000 being sold. You can win a beautiful home nestled in Maineville. Better than that….100% of your ticket goes back to St. Jude to help these families fighting life’s worst nightmare.

You can call 1-800-537-1735 or go to to get your ticket.
For those of you that have already bought one…BLESS YOU!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Love This Town!

"Are you glad we went to the Zoo today?" I asked my four year old son, Eric.

His enthusiastic reply: "Yeah, we got the stink off!"

Sheila here.

I had a couple of days off for spring break, so Eric and I made our first trip of the year to one of our favorite places, the Cincinnati Zoo. You only have a few days left to catch Zoo Blooms. Many of the tulips are still out in full color, but we noticed the Zoo's gardener's digging up the bulbs which are finished.

In fact, it was a hub of activity, and work crews pounded nails on the roof of the Reptile House. We also noticed diggers and earth movers when we were on the train ride. It was chilly for spring break, compared to the weather we've had lately, but when I asked Eric to tell me his favorite part of the day, he said, "Everything!"

And even though it's been nearly a week since our hometown's biggest holiday, I have to give a nod to my Cincinnati Reds. Opening Day is my favorite day to live here in Cincinnati, and this year did not disappoint. I love hanging out with my Fox 19 friends at the parade, along with seeing, well, nearly everyone else who lives here! We grabbed hot dogs at Findlay Market, and we checked out the new Moerlein Lager House. I felt like I was in college again as Katy, Stephanie, and I waded through that crowd at the Reds' Block Party.

Then I met up with hubby Ric at the game. That's Joey Votto there behind us on the ground! (Our daughter Katie was there too, but I never saw her until after the game was over.)

That brat at Great American Ball Park tasted even better than I remembered, and when Jay Bruce hit that homerun the sound of fireworks coming out of the stacks in right field was music to our ears. Even better - a Reds win!

I'll say it again - I love this town!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Opening Day!

It was big this year.

Hey everyone. Rob here.

We all took part in the Findlay Market Opening Day parade again this year.

It sure was a lot of fun. The weather was warmer than last year. That's a bonus.

There were a record number of participants this year. More than 250. I think there were record number of people who came out to watch. There are always a lot of people there, but this year there was a sea of red. Fountain Square was packed. It was so good to see.

We started the day at Christain Moerlein Brew House. That's new because it wasn't open last year. In fact "The Banks" looked good this year. Last year, only the Holy Grail was open. This year was a much different story. There are all kinds of new places to visit before the game.

There was also a block party packing Joe Nuxhall and Freedom Way. So packed, it took us 20 minutes to get from Johnny Rocket's to the gates at GABP. Annoying but in a good way.

The Reds also won. As Ice Cube would say, "It was a good day."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring "Staycation" Anyone?

Gas prices that are hovering near the $4 mark could keep some of us from straying too far from home this summer.

Good Morning, Dan Wells writing I hope this note finds you well and in good spirits. This morning, I'm thinking high gas prices might work to promote tourism right in our own back yard.

I've never gone to a huge horse racing event.

I live in Kentucky, I know it's home to so many equestrian sports that have a long I'm vowing to make Keeneland my spring "STAYCATION."

Spring horse racing got under way Friday, April 6, at the Keeneland in Lexington, KY.

Here are some quick fun facts.

Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC. In the Roman Empire, chariot and mounted horse racing were major industries. Thoroughbred racing was popular with the aristocrats and royalty of British society, earning it the title "Sport of Kings."

I found this timely (below) information pretty cool.

The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) has released their Annual Racetrack Ratings. In 2012, for the fourth consecutive year, Keeneland is the number one rated Thoroughbred racetrack in North America.

"With takeout rates of no higher than 19 percent on any bet, a field size of 9.51 horses per race, and an almost 10 percent increase in handle in 2011, Keeneland came out on top." said HANA President Jeff Platt.

The top five tracks in 2012, are:
#1 Keeneland (last year 1st)
#2 Tampa Bay Downs (last year 3rd)
#3 Gulfstream Park (last year 5th)
#4 Churchill Downs (last year 2nd)
#5 Oaklawn Park (last year 9th).

Louisville Business First reports that the 15 days of Thoroughbred racing will include the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass race on April 14, a springboard to the Kentucky Derby in May.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't know much about horse racing but I'm willing to learn so here's to my spring STAYCATION.

I hope you too get out and enjoy all the Tri-state has to offer.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Child Was Not Born Perfect

Healthy kids are one of life's greatest blessings. So are kids who are born with challenges.

Sheila here.
All kids are angels sent from Heaven in my book.

I've been reading a book written by a mother whose son has a learning disability. JD's medical condition is known as hyperlexia (he could read before he could speak full sentences), and it's now categorized as a form of autism. Back in the 1990's when Kimberly Bell Mocini was raising her son JD, people didn't know much about autism, and precious few had heard of hyperlexia. The signs weren't widely publicized back then, the way they are now on every morning talk show -- or even Oprah (think Jenny McCarthy).

I picked up My Child Wasn't Born Perfect a few days ago after a mutual friend of mine and the author's asked me to give it a look. Kimberly sounds like so many moms I know, and even a bit like myself. JD was the second of three of Kimberly's children. She also had a teenage stepson, and she worked full-time. Like every mom, she learned how to juggle a lot of commitments.

When JD was three years old, Kimberly noticed that his development did not seem like it was on track. By that time she had given birth to her third baby, and as she describes it, "I did not have time or know what to do." Her husband didn't agree with her, the pediatrician didn't offer any suggestions, but Kimberly couldn't let it go. Good thing too. After a relative suggested having JD tested through her local school system, she was able find out she was right. Kimberly writes: "This was the beginning of what I labeled as my 'make the call anyway' method of matter how ridiculous my thoughts or actions might seem...I would follow them for the love of my son."

April is Autism Awareness Month. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimated that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder. That's a 78% increase compared to a decade ago, according to the new report. Mark Roithmayr, president of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says more children are being diagnosed with autism because of "better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, and better awareness." Now the CDC is working with the Academy of American Pediatrics to recommend that children get screened for autism at ages 18 months and 24 months.

It was very difficult for Kimberly Bell Mocini to find information and resources when JD was a child, and she's sharing her story because she wants to give other parents of learning disabled and autistic children some help. Each chapter of her book includes resources which parents can use right now. They say there's not manual for raising kids, but she gives parents a gameplan. It's also heart-wrenching to read about the many ways JD was isolated by other children and often ridiculed all the way up through his high school years.

But most importantly, I think, it gives the parents of learning disabled and autistic children hope. Here's a woman who can relate to what they are going through, and delivers a guide for how to help those children navigate school, social situations, and life. She doesn't make it easy -- I don't think that's possible -- but her work can show all of us that we must never give up, especially when it comes to our kids. And maybe best of all, the reader gets to find out how it all turns out for JD. By senior year he was getting calls from friends, dates for proms, and interest from colleges. Not only did JD graduate, he was one of three class valedictorians! He won several scholarships for college, and he played on his college golf team. Kimberly writes: "Dreams do come true!"

Now, at age 23, JD is a software developer for a Florida company which writes software programs for some of the largest law firms in the world. JD wrote the final chapter of his mother's book. "I have learned that if I keep believing in myself, despite what others think of me, they cannot get under my skin and break me down...I really believe that with hard work and dedication anyone can be a success." And he writes this to others who are living with a disability: "Remember that you have special qualities that others may wish that they had. Be thankful for what you do have."

Some wise reminders for all of us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Two Weeks Away!

Finally, the day is almost here. The Boston Marathon is fewer than two weeks away.

Hi everyone. Rob here.

Everyone keeps asking me, "Are you ready?" It is really too late to be anything else. I feel prepared and have done the work. Let me get my plug in for the Bob Roncker's training group. I think it is a great way to prepare and make some new friends.

There are other Boston qualifiers in the group, so there will be some familiar faces at the marathon.

People also ask me, "What's the big deal about Boston?" It is like the Super Bowl for marathoners. It is the only marathon in which you have to qualify based on time and age. It is also one of the oldest marathon in the world. I think it is the only one that runs on a Monday. That's Patriot's Day, a holiday in Massachusetts. The Red Sox also play at home. The crowd support is supposed to be awesomely enormous.

My hotel room is booked. In fact, I lucked out. I was able to get into the Charles Mark Hotel. It is at the finish line in Copely Square. I hear many runners gather at the bar after the race, so it should be fun.

This will be my 12th marathon. I actually thought it unlucky number 13. However, found out it was number 12 after checking again. My 11th was a disaster; my slowest marathon to date. I don't know what happened. Blowing up at a marathon is like a plane crashing. It's not one big mistake, but a series of small mistakes that lead you way off course.

Hopefully, I will stay on course for 26.2 miles in Boston. I'm nervous, but also getting excited.

Here's a look at the course in 8 minutes.