I don't proofread my posts before I publish them... cause I keep my thoughts au naturale.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MOTR Recipe: David's Junk

I don't know if this is a real recipe or not, David said someone told it to him and called it "shipwreck" but when I googled recipes for shipwreck, it wasn't even close.  Plus we tweaked it a bit from what he was told, so... I'm calling it "David's Junk"... if you are okay with eating KFC famous bowls, you should not mind this.


1 lb. ground beef, browned, drained

2 packages instant potatoes, four cheese flavor (betty crocker is good)

1 can corn

Doritos (any flavor, but I prefer nacho cheese)

Shredded cheese such as cheddar or colby jack

Find a casserole dish and start layering with ground beef, then mashed potatoes, cheese, corn, more ground beef, potatoes, cheese.  Then crush Doritos on top and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes.

There can be lots of variations to this, but this flavor combination is by far the best in my opinion!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

Due to a "lack of support" (if you will) and the dwindling school days left before summer and impending inability to substitute teach until the end of August, I have been scrambling to come up with an income to pay my share of my bills, pay my car payment and all the other goodies that come from being an independent single mother of two.

So, I have three talents that I believe I am best at (that are legal) and those are: acting, interacting with animals and faking my way through enjoying the company of small children (which I guess goes along with acting.)  Oh, I guess I like to think I am good at writing, but the grad advisor at Western Illinois University would probably beg to differ.

Anyway, I am constantly looking for drop-in babysitting for my kids, occasional babysitting if you will.  You know, they always say that if there's a niche out there that needs to be filled, it will be a lucrative and worthwhile venture to fill it yourself.  Well, since moving to the second largest city in Iowa (move over Los Angeles, you've been p'owned) I have been annoyed with the lack of options for childcare.  Part time is pretty much unheard of.  Transportation to and from school is even less of a possibility unless you wanna pay a thousand bucks a month, which is not in a substitute teacher's budget.  And what about those occasional times when you need to go to your psychiatric appointment or visit your favorite ob/gyn?  Neither of these are kid-friendly situations and living 100 miles from my parents/most reliable babysitters makes for a hard time for this mom.  I have occasional reliability in friends, but that is a rarity. 

So, on my quest, I have discovered that other parents have this quest as well: affordable, occasional babysitters.  Add this to my recent obsession with craigslist and VOILA! - I have a supplemental income.  I currently have 9 kids in my roladex of children I watch, with more inquiries each day and occasional interviews.  They range in ages 1-9.  (Thankfully the majority are 5 and under because the older they get, the sassier and less afraid of my dirty glares they get.)  Whether it's 3 days a week while a parent works 9 hours, a day here and there for 2-4 hours, before and after school or overnight on the weekend, you name it, I make myself available.  My biggest day was getting up at 6 am, having 5 kids by 8, 6 kids until 4, a two hour break and then two kids overnight from 6pm until 9am the next day.

And in case you are wondering, no I am absolutely not getting rich from this venture... can I get an Amen from my fellow babysitters?  Just like being a stay at home moms, in-home daycare providers, teachers and babysitters are underpaid and under-appreciated. And in case you are hoping to turn me into the state for being an "unlicensed daycare provider," suck it, cause I already checked and what I am doing does not constitute being a daycare provider... (na na na boo boo).

I'll admit, some kids annoy me far worse than others, but in general, the worst behaved out of the group is my son, so it makes the other kids much more tolerable.  And I will be honest and admit that when one of them tells me they love me, my heart melts a little... (but if you tell anyone about this, I will kill you!)  And I can never pass up a hug.  I'm working on getting over my fear of snot and boogers and wiping noses  Plus, who needs a day off?  That's what death is for, right?  And I'm pretty sure other than my own kids, I have Memorial Day free from hitting, biting, kicking and pinching over the fact that someone else had a toy first... which is when the jekkyl side of me wants to just set the freaking toy on fire...

As I'm sure you all care immensely, I will keep you posted on how long my nerves can last with this venture... and if you don't hear from me in five days, assume I have been duct taped to a chair and please alert the local authorities...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What is a friend?

You know, over the past couple days, I have heard the word "friend" used in several different contexts that have left me questioning what a friend is.  What is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance?  What makes someone a true friend and at what point can/should someone be downgraded from a friend?

Dictionary.com defines a friend as: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Urban dictionary defines a friend as: A real friend is someone who:

a) it's okay to fart in front of.

b) you don't mind talking to on the bus for at least 20 minutes.

c) can borrow $5 and never has to pay it back

d) you'll actually call up do stuff.  

Interesting.  So, basically I would sum it up as a friend being someone that is giving, you have affection towards and that you can tolerate being around for lengthy amounts of time.  I like this because I can't stand selfish people and if you have ever had a selfish friend, you can feel my pain.  I have spent my whole life trying to stop being a doormat, but on the inside it infuriates me when I give and give and give and my "friends" don't give back in return.  I'm not talking about material things, I'm talking about favors, friendly gestures, shoulder to cry on, you name it.  

I used to say that it was funny that someone wanted to be my "friend" on Facebook, but when I would see them in public, they would never acknowledge me.  But, do I have affection for all of my Facebook friends?  No, not even close.  Would I give them things if they were in need?  Probably, if I was able to.  And would I spend lengthy amounts of time with them all.... eh, maybe not.

But I think that friends should not stress you out.  They should not fragrantly blow you off or make it clear that on their list of priorities you are not in the top 100.  They should not expect you to be their friend despite the fact that you ...................... (omitted because divorce shouldn't involve public mudslinging.)  

I love the friends that I do have though!  Whether it is a smile on a day that I am completely down, loaning me money when I can't afford toilet paper, watching my kids so that I can see my psychiatrist, recommending that I have a much needed night out when I am ashamed of how ugly my face is or even putting me in my place when I'm being absolutely ridiculous.

Am I expecting too much of a friend?  Do you consider many people to be friends, no matter what they give in return or how much they show you are not needed?

I have a hard time putting forth effort in a friendship when the other person does not.  I can only text so many times, stop by so many times or smile so many times before it just doesn't seem worth it anymore.  But the friends that I do have... make my life so much better... and I thank each and every one of them... 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

MOTR Video: Easter Cake Fun

A, L and David finish decorating a homemade Easter cake and decide to eat some sprinkles too.

Bindi Irwin's Wildlife Adventure series book review

If you're unfamiliar with Bindi Irwin, I'm thinking you either live under a rock or are a youngin'.  Bindi Irwin is the smart and adorable daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter who had a fatal and unfortunate encounter with a stingray.

Bindi has since attempted to fill her father's big shoes by letting the world experience the wonderful animal world.  Bindi has made it clear that she shows her father's passion for everything animal.

In that regard, Bindi has began co-authoring a series of books featuring "the characters of Bindi, Robert (her brother), Terri (her mom), and the Australia Zoo (where they live!). The stories are based on Bindi’s real-life adventures, and include animal fact files at the end.  Bindi likes to say that kids will “accidentally learn something” after reading her books!  She also believes that kids will come away with a better understanding of wildlife and what they can do to help conserve and protect the world’s endangered animals."

My 5 year old is enjoying having these books read to her as she loves animals.  They are chapter books geared towards ages 7-10, so as she gets older, she will be able to read them to herself.  
MOTR Grade: B

Liking Myself and The Mouse, the Monster and Me by Pat Palmer book review

Two long time children’s book favorites completely modernized - The Mouse, the Monster, and Me and Liking Myself

Two long-time favorite children’s books, Liking Myself and The Mouse, the Monster and Me are being completely revised and updated.

The original versions of these two heartfelt and powerfully written children's books were uniquely designed, charmingly illustrated in black and white, and hand-lettered on traditional lined elementary school paper. They became international bestsellers in six languages, selling over half a million copies around the globe.  They went out of print in 2000.

Boulden Publishing, in conjunction with Uplift Press, have updated them with bold, new colorful characters and vividly illustrated and revised content, bringing these valuable life skills lessons to a modern generation of kids.

The Mouse, the Monster and Me focuses on the importance of finding a balance between one's aggressive inner "monster", one's passive inner "mouse", helping young readers identify these behaviors in themselves and others. Other issues include: getting in touch with your own strengths; respect, rights, and responsibilities; how to say “no” to trouble; receiving criticism and compliments; and being yourself.

Liking Myself offers advice on how to handle oneself when feeling depressed, upset, or overwhelmed.

Topics include: liking yourself, feeling talk, allowing, letting go, and body talk.

MOTR Review: These books were really perfect for my daughter!  She has a lot of issues with dealing with her emotions and these books were very on target.  And as someone who grew up with no self-esteem, I think it is VERY important for children to have this kind of positive encouragement.  My only complaint is the books were a little long and intimidating for children.  I would have liked to see them made in a larger book than the wide rectangular version they came in.
MOTR Grade: B+

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Great Forward: Redneck Turtle Burgers Recipe

Red-Neck Turtle Burgers
Handmade ground beef patties, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, then the next step, add hotdogs as the heads, legs with slits for toes and tail.   Next step.  Place on an oven rack, covered loosely with foil and baked for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees.  A little crispy, not too crunchy...just how a turtle should be, no?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Hy-Vee Debacle

So, I'm one of those moms that would rather have blood drawn than take my kids to a store... any kind of store.  They want, want, want and I am broke, broke, broke.  Well, even if I had money, I would refuse to spoil them rotten.  Anyway, this was one of those occasions that my boyfriend insisted that we all go together.  He's one of those strange people that enjoys spending time together, be it the grocery store or shoveling manure off a highway...

Anyway, so we go to Hy-Vee to pick up a couple things.  I was planning to make chocolate chip cookies and was thinking all I needed was the chips, so after grabbing a couple things, the boyfriend realized he forgot his wallet at home and needed to run back to get it.  I panicked like a deer in the headlights thinking, "you want to leave me alone with children in a store?!"  But, seeing as how they were MY children, I couldn't say anything and pretended I could handle it without going crazy.  Anyway, I pushed the cart to the baking ingredients aisle.

Oh, I forgot to mention that when I do take the kids to the store, I prefer to push them both in one of those carts that seats 2 kids, like the little cars and what not.  Normally this Hy-Vee has a couple, but upon entering I saw none with the other carts.  So, that left L to ride in the seat part and A to follow along on foot.  Now, A likes to play this thing where when I'm pushing the cart she pretends it's a bus and jumps on the side.  No biggie I tell myself.

Well, on this particular day whilst looking at the options for chocolate chips (because as you bakers know, there are many kinds!) I leave the cart a foot behind me.  I hear a loud commotion, look back as I notice the cart falling forwards on its front!  Apparently A decided to hang from the handle and tipped the whole thing over onto herself.  I shrieked and grabbed the cart and put it upright.  Both kids were crying and a manager and an employee came running to make sure everyone was okay.  I felt a mixture of emotions.  One was mildly embarrassed that it would seem as though I was being negligent, but A has never done anything like that and being 5 and a half and pretty mature, it would have never crossed my mind.  I was also a little frustrated that A had done this.  I felt as though I should be concerned about their well-being, but I didn't see blood and they could walk, so I wasn't too worried.

The employee and manager seemed frantic and worried, however.  I assuaged their fears as I checked over the kids for injuries.  A had a little scrape and bruise from the cart handle, but was otherwise okay, save for her complete embarrassment (she has issues about looking bad in public.)  The employee went to track down one of the two child carts and we went on our "merry" way.

However-- the manager was very kind and concerned and took down my name and number so he could check on us later, which he did.  I assured him all was well and forgotten.  Then today I received a call from Hy-Vee's insurance company and the pleasant man on the phone wanted to make sure the kids had no lasting repercussions.  I assured him all was well and the bruise was fading.  He gave me the number to call in case anything changed.

Long story not short, but concluded: I was impressed with how the Hy-Vee manager and employee handled the situation.  I know they are also covering themselves in case of a lawsuit, but I could also tell they genuinely cared... which felt good.

Moral of the story:  I forgot to buy flour because I thought I had some, so I haven't been able to make the cookies yet.

Got a Spunky Mom?

***Mother's Day Gift Idea***

Do you have a cool mom that is a little on the feisty, spunky or fun side?  Buy her something that will make her laugh, smile and guarantee you to be her favorite child!  Just look know further than EdenFantasys!

Now, you may look at this site and think, "whoa, my mom is pretty cool and down to earth, but I think this is a little much for me to handle!"  Well, don't be scared, they have some pretty quirky stuff along with their risque line of products.  For instance, if you're a huge dork like I am... er, used to be, you know what mad libs are.  Well, get this, they have adult mad libs!!!

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

They also have gift cards if you want mom to have a choice on what she gets.  And hey, while you're there, feel free to buy something for yourself!  I mean, who likes to shop when they get nothing out of it?  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be their best customer... okay, so that's an exaggeration, but repeat customer is more like it!

Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill by Lynda Wurster Deniger (book review)

Louisiana author and storyteller Lynda Deniger has published Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill, a very special and beautifully illustrated children’s book that focuses on teaching and inspiring children to respect and appreciate the environment . 

In this thoughtfully written children’s book, Patti the Pelican and Sammy the Seagull share what happens to them along the shores of Louisiana following the Gulf Oil Spill.  When the oil slick comes ashore, Patti Pelican and Sammy Seagull find themselves in trouble.  With their feathers covered in oil, they are at risk. Their firsthand experience reveals the environmental impact of the dark oily mess that hit the shores and ruined their beautiful habitat.

My Thoughts:  I thought this was a really neat idea to create a book that actually teaches kids about events in the news that don't personally affect them, but are important things to know about.  The illustrations were great and the story was interesting, although it didn't really keep my 3 year old's attention very well.  Plus there are a lot of concepts that will need to be explained, but hey, is there ever a bad time to teach your kids?
This book comes with an audio CD as well.

MOTR Grade: B

4 Ingredients by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham book review

***Great Mother's Day Gift Idea***

I love to cook... okay, I take that back... I like to eat tasty things and if I want this to happen I have to buy them or cook them.  And being broke, that leaves dining out opportunities at a minimum.  Well, I like to think I'm good at following recipes.  But, I hate when you realize there are 50 things on the recipe that you don't have and even if I think to take the recipe to the store with me, I always end up forgetting one of the key ingredients.

So, I was super excited to check out this cookbook because it is called "4 Ingredients" and touts itself as having "more than 400 quick, easy and delicious recipes using 4 or fewer ingredients."  Now, in case you are asking yourself this question, salt, pepper and water are not counted as part of the 4 ingredients.

So, I started thumbing through the book, looking for a couple recipes to try.  There are many awesome advantages to only having 4 ingredients, such as less of a mess, cheaper, and easier overall.  They have the book divided up into breakfasts, appetizers, sauces and salsas, light lunches, sides, mains, desserts, for the children, drinks and great combination meals.

I have tried several of the recipes so far, such as Cheese & Garlic Stack, Beer Batter for Fish and Homemade Krispies Squares to name a couple.  This is quickly becoming a staple in my kitchen because it is helping me to add variety to my family's dining experiences as well as being so much healthier for us than getting fast food.  As I mentioned, everything is easy, written for even the novice of cooks, and chances are you have lots of these ingredients already!

Only negative comment is that some of the recipes sound unappealing, but not that many and I mean, who expects to enjoy every single recipe in a cookbook!

MOTR Grade: A