Winter Family Fun Vacation: Igloo’s, Swimming, Skating, Skiing, Music and Much More…

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INTRODUCTION

Having a hard time mentally surviving the Midwestern winters? Feeling a bit like Anna and Kristoff from the Disney movie Frozen? Minus the walking talking snowman, and plus or minus the temperamental sister with ice in her veins.

Well I’ve got a winter wonderland with action so hot it could thaw out a Yette (the mythical creature not the $300 cooler, you pretentious jag. But it probably could thaw that too :).

DAY 1

Wisconsin is a state known to have temperatures cold enough to freeze the nuts off a penguin. But when my family and I ventured to the Ridge Hotel for a weekend get away, we felt anything but cold.

The hotel located at 4240 State Road 50 in Lake Geneva WI, formerly know as “Interlaken Resort”, has undergone a complete remodel. The resort is just minutes away from of all the activities of downtown Lake Geneva.

The lobby is a large sprawling lounge featuring multiple fireplaces and “The Vine and Bean Coffee Bar”. It has numerous places to sit and relax, and the modern-day feel of a luxury hotel.

The check-in staff are very friendly and help get you oriented with all the hotel amenities. (restaurants, pools, spa, etc.)

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and headed to the main restaurant “Crafted Americana”.

The décor is very modern featuring a marbled bar top, quilted high back booth/chair seating, dark gray floor tiling with white accented table tops, hanging chandeliers and dark stained wood shelving. All of the preceding took a back seat to the stunning hilltop view of Lake Como and the encompassing landscape. The Restaurant boasts this view through nearly floor to ceiling windows that make up the entire North wall, and half of the East and West walls. This ensures a great view for all diners.

We took full advantage of the half price appetizers and half price wine bottle special featured Tuesday’s and Thursday’s 11 am – close.

The rooms have all been updated and remodeled. The North side of the hotel has rooms that look out lakeside and the lower level rooms feature a walkout patio and quick access to the outdoor pool (closed for season)/bar/fireplace.

DAY 2

Wednesday morning we hit the indoor pool. The water was warm and comfortable for long periods of time. There is a small island in the pool with an artificial tree towering from the center. The kids loved climbing up and jumping off the island back into the water.

The two televisions on the wall were playing ESPN and cartoons. Good for parents and kids, who when tired, floated around and spaced out to Sponge Bob and golf.

The hot tub was HOT and felt great on my sore muscles. It zapped the chill from the air and my bones due to hours in the pool with the kids.

The view through a steam covered glass wall facing Lake Como was exquisite. The Juxtaposition of a gentle morning snowfall and the warmth of the pool deck created a cozy winter feel. Almost as if looking into a snow globe.

We enjoyed a poolside lunch that we had packed and brought with us. The pool area supplies table tops and chairs for families to sit around and converse. There are also lounge chairs positioned against the glass windows for optimum sun soaking if that’s more your style.

After lunch we attempted to utilize the “Ice Rink at the Ridge” and were disappointed that due to the warm weather the ice rink was closed. I wasn’t too sad though, I’ll take the warm weather.

That being said, the warm weather won’t last long and the rink should be open soon. You can bring your own skates or rent them at the desk for $8.

In the early evening we headed back to the lobby to find a guitarist picking an acoustic guitar and singing to onlookers enjoying a glass of wine. It was of course “Wine Down Wednesday” (Live music and specialty wine every Wednesday from 5:30pm to 8:30 pm. A list of performers and dates are available on-line). *link below

After a glass of wine and a song or two we set our sights on the “Igloo Experience”. The kids were super excited about the igloos. This posed a problem when we were informed they had all been reserved for the evening. We walked away, heads hanging and sad, but with the prodding of my resourceful wife I returned to speak with the management.

I kindly explained to the manager that if we didn’t have an igloo to hangout in, that I would be forced to have my children hangout in the lobby. The manager took one look at my kids running wild and said “Right this way sir, one has just opened up”. (I AM TOTALLY KIDDING)

The manager met me in the bar and I inquired as to what time the reservations had been made for. The manager stated that the reservations began at 7 pm. It was only 5:45 at that time and I explained that my children would only last an hour in the igloo, maximum. And that we would promise to be out by 7 pm.

The manager was extremely kind and agreed to let us use the igloos. The igloos can be purchased with several package options and we chose the basic option – 6 pack of beer (spotted cow), cheese curds, and charcuterie platter ($55). The igloo came with blankets, a heater, lounge chairs and a very kind server. The kids absolutely loved the experience and the ambiance could not have been better. You can visit the Ridge Hotel website to view the package options. *link below

As we promised, we packed up and vacated the igloo prior to 7 pm, and allowed the next group of winter warriors enjoy a romantic (kid free) igloo experience.

DAY 3

We woke up early, grabbed a coffee at the Vine and Bean Coffee Bar in the lobby, and headed to Wilmot Ski Resort located at 11931 Fox River Rd.

Wilmot, WI 53192 (about a 20 – 30 minute drive from The Ridge Hotel) where we had booked our children for a full day ski school.

* I listed some of the ski school pricing and times below. Visit the website link below for further information.

If you ever wondered what the process of taking a couple of young children skiing is like. Take a couple of lawn darts (assuming you still can find them. If not, a couple of metal s ‘more sticks should do the trick) heat them until red-hot, and press them slowly into your eyeballs until you reach the back of your skull. And that should replicate the experience pretty well.

I am obviously over exaggerating but it can be rough. I have taken my children skiing several times now, but the first time is the hardest. The boots are awkward and can be uncomfortable at times. Bundling small ones in heavy clothes is never easy. And kids are often apprehensive to try something new.

As soon as I stepped out of the car I was impressed with the operation. When walking from the parking lot towards the resort, numerous employees directed us to the ski school.

We had registered on-line so once at the ski school we were placed in a short line where they gave us rental tickets and color coded vests to determine age groups.

We then walked a short distance to the ski school rental shop. This is usually where the nightmare begins. Often people are bumping and pushing in overcrowded dressing areas. Kids are screaming and yelling. People throw clothes everywhere. But to my surprise the process was organized and smooth. The fitting area was not crowded at all. There were nice benches for the kids to sit while fitting on boots, the staff was very helpful and the equipment was in good condition.

As soon as I returned to the ski school with my children fully equip, the instructors whisked them away to their assigned classes. I believe this is by design because kids will start to back pedal and resist if nervous. Once in groups with the other kids their age, I only saw a few unhappy campers.

Freedom! My children were in full day class. They even serve them lunch which allowed my wife and I a day of skiing alone. Something we love and haven’t done in 7 years.

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My youngest (5) did call us in about an hour before lunch. We fed her and sent her back to class and she enjoyed the rest of the day. Occasionally I would come across my oldest daughter (7) who before even lunch time was riding the chair lift with other girls in her class and going down the easy hills with the instructor. She was having a blast. I could see the smile on her face from a mile away. Proud she was skiing like a big girl.

After ski school was over we met the children back at the ski school building where their instructors gave us report cards and a general run down of how they performed for the day. The report cards can be saved so if you should return, the instructors know what level to place your child in.

From there we went to the cafeteria and ordered hotdogs and hot chocolate. The food is reasonably priced for a ski lodge and there was plenty of seating. The fountain drinks and hot chocolate were free refills so that was a bonus.

Wilmot Ski Resort made skiing easy and fun for the family. My kids loved it and definitely became better skiers because of it. The normal stress of the process or trying to teach the kids yourself is alleviated and I got to enjoy some alone time with my wife. The day was a win.

Back at the hotel I had to pack up and leave for work the next day but the wife, mother in-law and sister in-law enjoyed the half price appetizers and wine along with an early bed time due to exhausted kids.

I am in no way affiliated or paid by either The Ridge Hotel or Wilmot Ski Resort. I do however frequent both places because I truly enjoy them. I recommend them because I hope that I add some kind of value to your life via this blog and I believe you will find value here.

Conclusion

The Ridge Resort offers numerous activities for the kids from igloo’s to skating, swimming and music. Check the website for upcoming events such as an ice fishing tournament February 2, and the downtown Lake Geneva Snow Castle Festival.

I frequent The Ridge Hotel during the summer and the out-door pool is great. They have an outdoor bar, and waitresses to bring you drinks poolside. There is a live band most weekend days out on the bar patio which is easily heard from the pool. The out door fire-place is a beautiful place to spend the night-time hours enjoying the view of Lake Como and your favorite beverage.

I have also attended a wedding at The Ridge Hotel. The rooms were gorgeous and the food was great.

As a blogger I need to be honest in my observations so I will offer you one negative that you may encounter. If you are from a large city such as Chicago for example, like myself. You may notice that the service in Wisconsin (as well as almost anywhere else I have travelled outside the major city) can be much slower than you are used to.

This used to drive me nuts. I was always in a hurry. You want your order ASAP right?  I have since taken a different perspective on the slower service. In a way it forces me to slow down and enjoy the moment. While waiting for your drink to be poured, stare out the window and day-dream or get to know someone at the bar. While waiting for dinner catch up with a loved one. What’s the hurry ? You came there to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city anyway right?

Room prices begin at $125/night and the hotel offers a $25 gift card to their restaurants if booked through their website.

Wilmot was a great place for the children to learn to ski. They made the process easy and enjoyable. Wilmot Ski Resort is owned by Vail Resorts and if you purchase an “Epic” pass, you are granted access to resorts such as; Unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Perisher (2018 access) and Arapahoe Basin! No restricted dates. A definite bonus.

The Ridge Hotel http://www.ridgelakegeneva.com/

4240 State Road 50

Lake Geneva, WI 53147

United States

+1 (800) 225-5558

Wilmot Ski Resort – https://www.wilmotmountain.com/

Half Day Lessons:

Monday-Friday: 10am-12:30pm or 1:30pm-4pm

Weekend/Holiday:9:30am-12pm or 1pm-3:30pm

Full Day Lessons (includes lunch)

Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm

Weekend/Holiday:9:30am-3:30pm

Lesson Pricing

HALF DAY Lesson – $55

FULL DAY Lesson – $85

Lesson ADD ONS

3-4 yr old LIFT TICKET – FREE

5-12 yr old LIFT TICKET – $22

Ski Rental Package (includes helmet) – $25

Snowboard Rental Package (includes helmet) – $25

Helmet – $8

Phone: 262-862-2301

Hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and that you find love and luck in 2019. Stay safe out there and talk to you soon.

Sincerely,

Honest Eagle

Delicious, Easy and Inexpensive Recipe for Busy Parents: Mississippi Pot Roast

INTRODUCTION:

Hello troop!

Hope all of you are well during this hectic time of year. 

The purpose of this blog is to add value to your life, simplify where possible and have fun. That is why I thought this recipe would be a perfect post.

Mississippi Pot Roast – has become fairly popular on the Internet because of how easy it is to prepare, relatively inexpensive it is to make (approximately $20), and how amazing it tastes.

If you have never had Mississippi Pot Roast it is a perfect comfort food for the cold months. Holiday Season is in full swing and this recipe’s simplicity should help free up some time to spend on more pressing tasks.

Note: If you are brave, Mississippi Pot Roast is so easy you can occupy the kids by having them make it with minimal supervision.

For those of you familiar with this recipe don’t just leave the page. A lot of people tweak Mississippi Pot Roast to their own liking. Please leave what ingredients you add to make it your own special meal in the comments section. Those of you who have made Mississippi Pot Roast can be a testament as to how easy the roast is to make, and how delicious it is to eat.

INGREDIENTS:

Roast, butter, dry ranch seasoning, dry gravy seasoning, pepperoncici,

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 packet of dry ranch seasoning
  • 1 packet of dry gravy seasoning
  • Pepperoncici ( to your taste )

Note: I add 1/2 cup of water just to make sure the roast doesn’t get too dry but the recipe doesn’t call for it.

Cooking Method:

Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker / Instant Pot

I have yet to use my Instant Pot (just got it last week) but everyone I talked to says they are the bee’s knees. I researched a little on the cooking time for a roast using the Instant Pot and it stated that a roast could be cooked in approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. That frees up even more time for other tasks. 

Below I am posting an Amazon Affiliate (I get a small finders fee but it is seriously pennies on the dollar so go with the best price you can find) link to the Instant Pot. There are several versions of the Instant Pot with different options. These options drive the price up or down. I am listing a middle of the road unit. 

PREPARATION: Trim fat if desired – place roast into slow cooker

 

  • Pour contents of ranch seasoning packet into slow cooker

 

  • Pour the contents of the dry gravy packet into the slow cooker

 

  • Place the stick of butter into the slow cooker

 

  • Add pepperoncici’s

 

Turn that slow cooking mother lover to high for 6.5 hours.

 

After the roast has cooked you will be able to break it apart with a fork. Serve over rice or noodles. Make tacos with the meat. Or if you are Keto, then do what ever Keto do.

 

The recipe should serve approximately 4 adults. Or 1 alpaca.

CONCLUSION:

For a delicious, easy and cost effective meal, follow the above recipe.

Please leave comments about your own special way to make Mississippi Pot Roast in the comments section below. Please let me know if the recipe was worth your while and if you like it.

Please subscribe so that you are notified of further posts.

Have a safe week and continue to have fun and learn something.

Sincerely,

Honest Eagle 🦅

3 Cheap, Easy and Effective Ways to Increase Safety and Security for Your Home.

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Introduction

Yippie! it’s that time of year again. The holidays are right around the corner and they often bring with them work parties, travel out of town, school events, friendly get togethers, and enough eggnog to give you the squirts for a month.

Having to attend these numerous events can leave your home feeling very lonely and empty. The only thing to keep your home feeling full, is all the nice new stuff you stock piled to give away as gifts. 

Your neighborhood dope fiend understands this all to well.  There is nothing they hate more than an lonely feeling home, so they take every opportunity they can to occupy it for you while you are gone. As they say, “tis the season for robbin’ and thievin’ “.  

Theft (package theft big time), burglaries, and robberies typically see an increase during the holiday season. Cars and homes are filled with goodies, packages are left for the taking, people have cash and gifts on them. Low risk, big payoffs.


According to Illinois state law, Residential Burglary is defined as: 720 ILCS 5/19-3. “A person is guilty of residential burglary when they knowingly and without authority enter the dwelling place of another with the intent to commit a theft or another felony inside the residence”. 


In Illinois, committing a burglary when some one is home is referred to as a “Home Invasion”. A Home Invasion can be an extremely terrifying and life threatening event. Home Invasions are much less prevalent but I want you to be aware of the difference between the two events. 

On a positive note, According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for the year 2016, burglaries are the lowest they have been since 1997. 2016 recorded 468.9 per 100,000 citizens as opposed to 918.8 per 100,000 citizens in 1997 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-1, 12/06/2018).  That is nearly a 50% decrease in annual burglaries. 

I included these stats because I don’t want to cause anyone duress. You can lower the rifle, unbarricade the door, and remove the foil. As I wrote in a previous post, a good sense of situational awareness can save you a lot of heart ache. It is my opinion that this downward trend in crime will continue due to the constant improvements in technology. The world will be the safest it has ever been… until the Artificial Intelligence we created to help us, kills us all of course. (I will be the first to go for the way I verbally abuse my Alexa : )

2 of the three ways to better secure your home include that technology (sort of) and one is as primitive as can be. 

Strategy #1 – Security System (Kind Of)

Security systems are an obvious deterrent for crime. Burglars know that as soon as they breach a door or window, that super high end security system you installed is going to blast an alarm and call the police. The neighbors will come out with torches and pitchforks. Every dog in a city block will be howling. Pandemonium! 

In reality, they have 3-5 minutes to get in and out before the police arrive and they know that.

I know I don’t work well under pressure. I got nervous when my wife got us the Insta-Pot. “What do you mean I can cook a roast in an hour? That’s not enough TIME!! ahhhhh!” and I fell to the floor in the fetal position. 

These guys don’t like that either. They want to peruse the isles, a.k.a. your sock drawer and medicine cabinets. They want time to pick items they can pawn for dope money. Grabbing a handful of grandma’s costume jewelry and extra strength Tylenol does them no good.

Burglars have a tendency to “case” a location before they strike. When a burglar sees that a home is protected by a security system they will most likely move on down the block to a house with no signs of resistance. 

Security systems are expensive so HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS !

Just putting up signs that SAY you have a security system on the premise will work as a deterrent. 

These low level burglars are not the type to circumvent a security system. They are not outfit pro’s hitting a jeweler. They want to raid a medicine cabinet and pawn your carry away items. 

Nothing is 100 % effective, and if there is a will there’s a way, but having a sign that states you have camera’s or a security system in place will definitely act as a deterrent for most would be burglar’s. 

You can click on the Amazon Affiliate link (picture) I posted below to see some examples I have found.

Strategy #2 – Security Camera’s (also kind of)

No one wants to be caught on camera red handed. With the ease of information sharing someone is bound to recognize you. In court, having video often seems like the only way to secure a conviction (at least in Cook County). And even if you mask up, you can’t hide all of your identifiers. Cameras work and I highly recommend them if you can afford them.

Side note: I recently placed two “Ring” camera’s on my own home. The camera’s themselves are pretty expensive and beware of the monthly fee (nominal but still) if you want the capability to record.. I was pissed to discover this so I want to warn you. 

Most times these burglars are from YOUR neighborhood. Knowing they could be recognized, why would they choose your house if they think you have a camera? They could just as easily go down a house or two where there is none. Criminals love low hanging fruit. The easy score with the least chance of being caught. 

Camera’s are expensive too.

Just like the security system fake out above, we can cheaply and easily fake a security camera as well. 

Companies make mock security cameras that can be mounted on the interior or exterior of your home. These camera’s are cheap, look real, have blinking lights, and offer the same psychological effect on a would be burglar as real security system. 

Click the picture to view these items and more like them. 

Strategy #3 – Beware of Dog (maybe)

We are going old school, primitive, junk yard dog type Sh*t here.

It is well known that burglars hate dogs. There is an obvious primitive fear of a dog biting you for entering their territory, but the real reason burglars hate dogs is because of the noise. 

Dogs bark. Some of them bark A LOT! That noisy chihuahua next door that you wish would be carried away by a falcon. Well, it may be keeping burglar’s from your door step. 

When dogs start barking, neighbors start looking. I know I do. A barking dog is a tell tale sign that someone or something is near. 

Burglars know that if they have to contend with a dog it may bite them and it will most definitely bark. The noise will alarm the neighbors and the likelihood of apprehension goes up. 

Just like the other 2 strategies, it is more likely the burglar will to go to a house where the target is easy to hit. 

Good News for those who don’t want or can’t have dogs.

A beware of dog sign can deter a criminal just as well as a real dog.

A well placed beware of dog sign on a fence or door will keep a criminal passing by. Most folks don’t lie about having a dog. They place those signs on their fence for liability purposes. The fact that they reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim is a bonus.  

Below picture links are some examples of inexpensive beware of dog signs available on amazon. Even if you have the nicest dog, get a sign with a picture of “Cujo” on it. Psychological warfare!

Conclusion

With very little effort and very little money you can create a safer environment for your family and home by simply displaying signs:

  • Security System
  • Security Cameras
  • Beware of dog

If ever you come home and a door or window is unexpectedly open. DO NOT ENTER! Call the police and explain the situation. Wait at a safe distance or at a neighbor’s house for a police car to arrive. The police do not mind. They will help clear the house for any threats, preserve evidence in the case you were burglarized, and give you a peace of mind. If your home was in the process of being burglarized, putting yourself in the house with a burglar can end badly. Do not try to apprehend anyone either. They are only taking items that can be replaced. You on the other hand cannot be. 

 Stay safe and don’t forget to have fun and learn something,

Honest Eagle

 

Reduce Your Stress: 5 Creative Ways To a Stress-less life

There are numerous ways to reduce the high levels of stress in our lives. Here is my list of 5 creative ways to decompress. 

  1. Learn an instrument
  2. Cook
  3. Craft
  4. Color like a 7 year old
  5. Sweat it out
  6. Bonus tip at the end


LEARN AN INSTUMENT

From the moment I brought my first born home, I quickly realized life was completely different than it was two days prior. I was an adult, with real responsibilities. No more partying after work. No more working out at my leisure. No more spontaneous fishing excursions.

A very little person relied on me being around. 

Along with those responsibilities comes the stress. Stress from not sleeping (EVER). From not knowing what the F@$K you are doing. Crying, puking, boogers, baths, too hot, too cold, too much, too little, and everyone’s advice about how you should be caring for your baby (enter hair loss and gray beard). 

What did I do to relieve stress pre-baby? Party!

One night shortly after my daughter was born I was ready for some good old stress relief. It also just happened to be St. Patrick’s Day. A cherished day for all us green beer loving folks. Like they say “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”. Right? And I actually have a touch of the Emerald Isle in my blood so I was ready to sham-ROCK. 

I called up 30 of my closest friends and proceeded to paint the town green. Good times were had by all. I was thinking to my self “man, you still got it buddy. No baby’s going to rule your life…”

Fast forward 4 hours to 6:00 am when the baby starts crying. The only thing that was painted green was me. Sick as a dog. To all my parents out there, y ‘all know that a little taste of hell on earth is a hangover and a baby. The oddly sweet, yet still disgusting smell of (pre-solid food) baby poo. The warmth of fresh spit up slowly rolling down your back. The indescribable scent of a full and ripening diaper genie. Each one is unpleasant in it’s own way, but the combination of the elements is enough to gag a gnat.

That being said here I was, defeating the odds. A couple Excedrin migraine, some Gatorade and bowl of soup. I was coming back to life.

I had taken off my shirt due to a serious case of the hangover sweats. I was bouncing my baby in the chair position with her legs hanging over my arm and her back against my chest when I heard a suspicious noise. Much like the sound of an expresso maker. The once rough feel of the diaper rubbing on my chest was now a smooth gliding sensation. I slowly peered down to realize the atrocity that had occurred.

BLOW OUT !

From neck to navel it looked like a poo emoji had used my chest as a slip and slide. I ran to my wife yelling “take the baby, take the baby!” I handed her off like Jim McMahon giving the ball to “Sweetness” (Walter Payton) and it was off to pray to the porcelain god. 

It was that experience that brought me to the realization that I needed a new stress outlet. One that I could do from the comfort of my home. One that would not end in complete horror like my previous strategy.

That was the day I called my brother and asked if he wanted to take guitar lessons with me. We signed up at the Old Town School of Folk Music and I have been playing poorly ever since. This is no fault of the Old Town School of Folk Music. I actually loved the classes there and highly recommend them if you live in Chicago. I just suck at music.

That being said, playing guitar is my main source of stress relief. It takes so much concentration for me to play that it is nearly impossible for me to think of anything else. I love the sense of accomplishment when I work hard and play a note right, but my expectations are low so I don’t care if I mess up. I know I will never be Jimmy Hendrix but maybe someday, someone may let me play a set with them in their garage. 

I wasn’t able to keep up the Old Town School of Folk Music lessons due to moving, but I utilized the numerous videos available on YouTube as well as song books to help me learn. Because of resources like YouTube, learning an instrument of any kind is easier than ever.

Choose an instrument you have always loved the sound of and give it the old college try. You may find a hidden talent, and that would be music to my ears. 

COOK

I am no Emeril Lagasse, hell I’m not even Chef Boyardee but I do enjoy cooking. Not only do I find cooking relaxing, but it’s healthier and less expensive than eating out.

I’m not talking about the typical parent cooking. The hurry up and throw something together before basketball practice in-between piano and gymnastics but after scouts. I’m talking about getting a recipe and following specific directions. Chopping vegetables, cooking pasta, browning meat, smoking, grilling, sautéing. All the good stuff. I love the smells that accompany cooking in the home. I love the sense of accomplishment when someone says “Mmmm, that’s good”. I especially love the instant gratification of tasting and snacking along the way. 

If you don’t follow the YouTube channel AlmazanKitchen you are missing out. Listening to the sounds of nature and watching the chef at work is serene. I have included a link to one of his many videos below.  I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. 
(https://youtu.be/42Q3cNKoYxI) 

Get yourself a good glass of wine, a great recipe, perhaps some Coltrane, and a loved one to cook for. Lose yourself in the experience. RELAX…

CRAFT

I love to fish. It gives me an opportunity to get into nature and enjoy the scenery. I usually go fishing with family and friends. The water is a nice quiet place to catch up with the life events of a loved one, or reminisce about times past. As busy as I’m certain you are,  I know you are fully aware of how long it can be before seeing a good friend. We laugh the day away while the waves gently lap against the side of the boat. We sip the contents of a cold can and philosophize about life. I cherish those moments. 

My love for fishing inspired me to build custom fishing rods. Little did I know at the time that it would become a key source of stress relief in my life. As you can gather from the photo below, custom rod threading is meticulous. The need to focus keeps my mind engaged and my worries quickly fade away. 

Custom rod building is just one abstract example of crafting. There are countless activities to get involved in. I have friends who love to garden, crochet, paint, take photos, wood work, leather work, and brew craft beer. I even tried my hand at making Kombucha (fermented black tea). The process is rather simple once you grow a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY). You can make it for pennies on the dollar and create your own flavors. 

Choose a craft. Whether it is with the kids, alone or both. Like I stated earlier learning has never been easier thanks to YouTube videos. You can find endless ideas on Pinterest. There is no excuse. You may just find your self relaxing while you have fun and learn something. 

My newest custom design

COLOR LIKE A 7 YEAR OLD

I recently took a trip to the emergency room with my daughter.  
At the recommendation of my brilliant wife we had brought along a intricate coloring book and some colored pencils to pass the time.

We all know how long an ER visit can last and I was not in the mood to color. I blew off the idea of coloring as childish and boring. When I previously saw adults coloring on the train, in planes, or in waiting rooms I would laugh. I thought of it off as silly. 

While awaiting test results and after watching cartoons for an hour my daughter pulled out the coloring book. “Help me color” she said. “Ok” I replied. What else was I gonna do?  

We began to color and suddenly the tension and anxiety that comes from being in a hospital was gone. “Can I use the green?” I would ask. “Ok, I will try this neat shade of pink” my daughter would reply. “Great color combination” one of us would say. “I love how you did her scales” I told her (picture below). We were in our own world. We laughed, shared, and complimented each other. Coloring with my daughter was one of my favorite recent memories of our time spent together. We worked in unison to bring a dull group of black and white lines to life.   

I will never again laugh at adult coloring books. Got a long fight? Staying in a hospital for a few days or know someone who is? Grab a coloring book and some colored pencils. Coloring is a great way to occupy the mind and beautify the soul. 


We are not done yet and I’m pumped for the next session. : )

SWEAT IT OUT

Physical exertion. Pick your poison. Yoga, weights, running, rowing, boxing, cross fit, walking, biking, swimming, sports. Any which way you go offers stress relief. Choose one or ten. The more physically active you are the more energy you will have. Exercise boosts chemicals in your blood that improve mood and libido. How can you argue with that?

I try to exercise as much as possible, but finding the time is difficult. As a father of three with a full time job and a working wife who is busier than I, time seems to elude me. Sound familiar?  Probably sounds like your life too right? As busy as we are we still need to find the time to keep ourselves healthy so we can live longer for our kids. When we are interacting with our children it is equally important to have the energy to enjoy the time we spend together. 

Personally, I have always enjoyed martial arts. I really love Krav-Maga (an Israeli form of Martial Arts). During classes you focus a lot on cardio and conditioning. The level of intensity would leave me with extreme runners high by the end of class, and I would walk out feeling renewed and clear headed. I had so much energy I felt I could accomplish any task thrown at me. I also felt like I could kick some serious ass if the need should arise. 

I weight lift and run most often now but I found a new love. Volleyball! In my grade school days they only offered volleyball to the girls, so naturally I assumed it was a girl sport and carried that assumption well into my adult years. 5 years ago my father in-law signed the family up for a coed intramural volleyball league as a fundraiser for the local grade school (not mine).

I was guilt tripped into playing in the first game and boy did I suck. Between games I ran to the concession stand to grab a drink and realized they were selling 2 dollar beers. Suddenly my frown was turned upside down.

A beer or two into the game and my suck level was diminishing. I was less tense and self conscious. I was still horrible but I walked out of there wanting more. Why had I been lied to my whole life? This game was fun and lots of girls do play it. That could have come in handy years ago.

I still play to this day and look forward to every new season. I no longer need the beer to loosen me up and I suck way less. I am grateful to my family for dragging me along to play. If I had never tried something new, I would be missing out on an aspect of my life I love.

It doesn’t matter HOW you exercise, just that you DO exercise. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You may discover your new passion. Playing sports is a great way to meet people, boost your self esteem, and sweat away the stress. 

BONUS: WRITE

I am adding a bonus stress relief strategy.

Writing. 

Writing is a form of release. A release of ideas, concerns or feelings. Keeping such things bottled inside your head can be a source of stress in your life. Whether you are writing an email sharing your ideas, writing a love letter expressing your deepest desires, or writing a blog in hopes of sharing thoughts on life and a couple of cheep laughs. Writing will alleviate pressure from your soul. Just writing myself a grocery list helps take away the stress of potentially forgetting something from the store. Any way I can make my life a bit easier, a bit more interesting, and a bit less stressful I take it. You never know, you may be the next Mark Twain or J.K. Rowling. 

Write. 

CONCLUSION

Whether you learn an instrument, cook, find a craft, color a book, sweat it out, pour your thoughts onto paper or utilize any other means of relaxing. 
The common ingredient to all 5 of the listed strategies is that they all involve a great deal of focus. By paying attention to the task at hand you can’t think about your problems.

In the end try to remember that most of what we worry about is irrelevant. What really matters is our health and the well being of our loved ones. Without that everything else won’t matter. 

I hope you found these 5 creative ways to a stress-less life helpful. Please subscribe to my blog below. Leave a comment below. I would love to hear about your best methods for stress relief or any feed back you have about what I have written. stay safe and continue to have fun and learn something. 

Sincerely,

Honest Eagle

Active Shooter Survival

Scout Safety tip #2

I felt compelled to write this blog entry in the wake of thetragic incident that occurred yesterday (19 November 2018) at Mercy Hospital inChicago. During a domestic dispute turned active shooter incident, a gunmantook the lives of his ex-fiancé who was a doctor at Mercy, a pharmacy resident,and a responding police officer. The gunman was quickly confronted by policeand killed as a result of the ensuing gun battle. It is unclear at the point I amwriting this post if the offender died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshotwound or police gunfire. Regardless, it was the police response thatneutralized the offender.

I am writing this entry to help you plan for and respond to an active shooter incident. We can all wish that we would never be in such a situation. But as my father always told me, “you can wish in one hand and crap in the other, which hand will fill up first?”. I don’t mean to be vulgar, but I say this because it is true. If you develop no plan and simply wish nothing will happen to you, if an incident does occur all you will have is a crappysituation.

Proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

The FBI, State, and local Law Enforcement are currentlyteaching the RUN, HIDE, FIGHT! conceptof responding to an active shooter situation. If you are unfamiliar with RUN, HIDE, FIGHT, it is as straightforward as it seems. I have included the FBI’s training video link ( https://youtu.be/5VcSwejU2D0 ) so thatyou may have a visual aid as well.

If you are at workand you begin to hear gunfire take immediate action!

I have mentioned in a previous post that your lifetime of experiencetells you when something is out of the ordinary. This is referred to as your 6thsense. Trust it. During crisis, people often have a hard time believing the situationis real. Getting caught up in this mindset can cost valuable time and maybeyour life. Believe it. It is real. Workthrough it.

Step 1. RUN

If you hear the gunfire coming from a certain direction,  make every attempt to flee in the opposite direction. Don’t wait for the people mentioned above. The non-believers. Keep your ears open, listen for the gunfire and screaming. They will give you a good indication to the current location of the shooter. Communicate with other people who are fleeing. Warn people as you leave and others outside not to approach. Relocate to a safe location and call police. Give police the best information you can regarding the offender. Clothing description, last known location, type of weapon, amount of shots fired. If known, intelligence of this nature will aid in the response.

Step 2. HIDE

If the offender is too close or running is not an option, HIDE. Try to find a location with aheavy lockable door. Barricade the door to your room with heavy furniture,machines, wedge chairs in front of the door. Any means of slowing or denying entryto the offender.

When hiding, consider the difference between cover and concealment. In the Law Enforcementcommunity, we consider cover as anobject that can stop bullets from penetrating. These items include brick,cinderblock, heavy metal objects, dense wood like a big tree, etc. Concealment offers no ballistic protectionandsimply “conceals” your location.Concealment includes dry wall,hollow core doors, glass, sheet metal, etc. When hiding, choose cover whenever possible. Brick and cinderblock will stopmost handgun and rile fire temporarily, depending on the thickness.  Stay low. Bullets can penetrate dry wall anddoors.

Text a loved one your location within the building so theycan inform 911 dispatch and the responding police of your location. Some policedepartments utilize social media like twitter as a means of communication duringcritical events. Consider social media as an option. Wait for responding officers.Most officers are issued a credit card type identification card. If you feelthe need to verify the police are in fact actual officers and not the offender,request they slip an ID card under the door. You can also contact 911 to verifythe police are in fact who you are speaking with.

Step 3. FIGHT

Fight like your life depends on it. Ruthless, violent, combat.There is a reason the military and police use speed, surprise, and violence ofaction as a tactic. Because it works. Use it to your advantage. Improvise a weaponwhen possible. Pens, pencils, chairs, break glass and wrap a shirt around it,use the glass as a knife, throw a pad lock in a sock. Anything you can use toobliterate the offender. Use numbers to your advantage if in a group. Even ChuckNorris would have a problem fighting more than one person at a time in real life.Control the offender’s weapon if possible and go for the vitals. Throat, eyes, head,take his/her ability to see and breathe. This is a fight for your life. Completelyneutralize the threat. Self Defense Techniques

Planning

When planning a response to an active shooter incident besure to communicate with co-workers. Develop a plan that works best with yourbuilding security, layout, and resources.

Request assistance from your local police department. Manyagencies will send a representative to assist in the planning/training phase. Securityconsulting agencies will assist in developing a plan for a fee. Once a plan isdeveloped ensure all employees are trained in the plan. A systematic response helpsreduce panic and chaos during an incident.

DON’T FORGET THE DISABLED!!!!!

There are several people with disabilities working in ourcommunity. A hearing disabled person may not be aware an incident is occurring.A visually disabled person may not be able to traverse the building quicklywithout guidance. A wheel chair bound person may need assistance with stairs orfallen objects impeding the walk way. Regardless of the situation, people withdisabilities may need assistance during a crisis. Include them in the planning phase and create measures to assist themduring an incident.

Report domestic abuse.Don’t be afraid to speak up.  

Consider concealedcarry.

I know there is a need for tougher gun laws and increasedresources for mental health treatment and I hope we can find an answer soon.

In my 14 years working some of the most crime ridden neighborhoodsin the Nation, I have yet to see a law prevent a violent offender access to afirearm. Chicago touts itself as having some of the strictest gun laws in the Nationyet is devastated by gun violence daily.

Until a solution is found, the only way to stop a bad personwith a gun is with a good person with a gun.

My prayers go out to the families of yesterday’s victims.

God bless the responding Chicago Police Officers. GodspeedOfficer Samuel Jimenez. You have given everything for those you did not even know.You are a hero and you will never be forgotten.

Don’t forget to watch the FBI video – Run Hide Fight, in the link above.

Please subscribe to my blog and comment below. Contact mewith any questions you may have and thank you for reading.

Stay safe out there. Continue to have fun and learnsomething.

Honest Eagle

Safety Tip #1

“The Scout” Safety Tip # 1

Situational Awareness-

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a crime is to simply remain aware of your surroundings.

All to often I observe individuals with their heads down and their eyes buried in a phone, a book or a tablet. People exhibit this behavior while riding the train, crossing the street, and most cringeworthy, while driving.

I see runners trotting through the hustle and bustle of downtown wearing Beats by Dre larger than the headphones sported by the ground crew at O’hare Airport.

I once read a story about a man who was killed by an airplane while jogging with his iPod in. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35896336/ns/us_news-life/t/plane-kills-beach-jogger-emergency-landing/. This man’s hearing was diminished to such an extreme he could not hear an aircraft landing on top of him. His story, albeit tragic, proves to you how dangerous the practice of wearing earphones in public is.

For approximately a year and a half I supervised a Robbery Mission team in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

This just so happened to be at the time of the “Pokémon Go” craze. The neighborhood experienced an influx of fanatics, running around day and night. The only reason these players looked up from their phones was to see if Pokémon himself was living under the viaduct at Lakeshore Drive and Montrose.

These poor people didn’t know what hit ‘em. Quite literally. One minute they are playing a game, head buried in a phone. The next they are waking up minus their cell phone and credit cards, and plus one hell of a headache. They never saw the robbery offenders coming.

This phenomenon is not unlike what you observe in Africa’s Serengeti National Park.

When a pride of lions go on the hunt they almost never go after a fully grown, fully capable adult animal. They usually pick out the young, sick, injured or old. Those least capable of defending themselves. The path of least resistance.

Human beings are no different. We are all essentially animals down deep and we possess the same predatory tendencies.

Traversing the streets with head phones in or walking home reading a phone sends the same signals. Unaware. Can’t hear my approach, won’t see me coming. PREY!

You owe it to your self and to society to actively pay attention when you are out in public. Leave the electronic devices, books, music etc., for leisure time at home, in the gym, or somewhere safe. Protect yourself. Stay safe. Stay aware.

Conclusion:

  • Heighten your sense of awareness. Keep your head up and eyes searching. Be sure to occasionally check your 6 o’clock (behind you).
  • If you have to text or make a phone call, do so in a well lit crowded area.
  • Stay with your group.
  • Don’t jog or walk outside with headphones or ear buds in. If you absolutely must, keep one ear free and the volume down.
  • Use your sixth sense when observing body language or when finding yourself in uncomfortable situations. Your life time of interactions with people gives you a good sense of what is normal behavior and what is alarming. Trust it.
  • For the love of God and family… don’t text and drive.

Stay safe out there and remember, have fun and learn something!

Sincerely,

Honest Eagle