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Archive for February, 2012

Catching up

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Kid 5 woke up oddly on Friday. He was completely zoned out with glassy eyes and dilated pupils but he was hiccuping for a good 30 seconds in the same way a kid does if they are crying really hard. It could be nothing. He could have been dreaming. He also could have been seizing. Since I don’t know what it was, I called the doctor Friday. It took until today to set it all up but he has a sleep-deprived EEG Friday morning. Then they will call with any abnormal results but we follow up with the neuro April 4th.

Hubby hit a small animal on the way home last night. It cracked the bumper and moved the radiator back 3 inches so the new car that we have had less than a month is in the shop. Good thing we have good insurance. I am not upset with hubby. It’s a country road. It happens. I am annoyed with Chevy, though. I know cars are made to crumple and blah blah but I would expect it to be able to handle a large rodent!

In the process of this, we also have rental car coverage on our insurance, so we intended to use it. Hubby set something up with Enterprise, then they tried to get us to pay a deposit. On an auto insurance claim? No. So he threatened to go to hertz and they offered to waive that. So we get to the office and they don’t have a car. They are supposed to call when one comes. Three hours go by, hubby calls, and still no car. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Nobody knows.

So hubby sets something up with hertz and calls back to cancel with enterprise. The guy launched into a guilt trip, then a speech about how our insurance has a contract with both rental companies so how dare they play favorites. It’s not favoritism. It’s a dissatisfied customer. We don’t intend to wait until the car is repaired to get a rental.

If I ever find myself renting a car for another reason, like vacation, I’m calling hertz.

I guess that’s all I have right now but that’s the important stuff.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Only you can prevent… A lot of things.

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I live in a rural area. Some of you already know that and maybe have even been here. For the rest, even though I live in the center of town, there is a dairy farm 6 blocks one way and a hog farm 4 blocks another way. The entire town is surrounded by field after field. This truly is corn country.

It’s February in corn country, and with that comes the first stage of prepping the ground for many of the farmers. While I rent from organic farmers (and the owners of the hog farm above) many around me are not organic and in fact have fields of corn planted with seeds from a certain company that starts with an M, ends with an O, and is overflowing with GMOs as a means of business success. (I’m just a blogger with no gain for them if they sued me but I’m not chancing it. They’re evil.)

So as I lie here, blogging before I go to sleep, I hear a steady hum of trucks. We don’t get much traffic here. The school has events and traffic picks up at the start and finish but otherwise it’s a car every few minutes. Until now, that is. The ammonia trucks are out.

Ammonia, you ask? Yes. Ammonia. If you don’t get to the country much and don’t obsess over documentaries like I do, you probably wonder how that relates to food.

See, over the past century, farming has drastically changed. Corn is grown from very strong seeds, planted closer together, and generally gives off a much bigger yield. The thing about this corn is that it is initially fertilized with anhydrous ammonia. The chemicals, which are petroleum based, are pumped into the ground as Spring draws near. As I understand it, the ground needs some time to disburse the chemicals before the plants go in the ground.

Then the seeds go in, the corn comes up, and it is fed to livestock or made into high fructose corn syrup. We have the largest grain supply in history but it isn’t fit for human consumption in its solid form. Instead, when you eat a steak or drink a regular soda, you are consuming this corn in a roundabout way. The corn that was once started off by being jump started in the soil with a petroleum product is now in your belly.

I don’t care how far removed the finished product is from the fertilizer. It still affects our food.

You can go by certain fields any time of year, but especially right now, and you can smell it. It seeps out of the ground and into the air. We have one field that is especially strong and it took a long time for me to realize my kids hadn’t passed gas at that exact locale every time we went by.

This brings me to my thoughts on it.

First of all, this only goes on because we let it. I’m not expecting you to run out and throw yourself on the ground in front of a fertilizer truck. I’m not even asking you to write a letter. All I’m asking is that you do what you can to get free range, grass fed meat (or even cut it out completely) and drop HFCS for your diet. You will feel better without HFCS in everything you eat and it will send a message to the company that you will not contribute to the demand for this chemical as it sits in their product. Easy enough, right?

Once again, we will have a garden when the weather stabilizes. We will skip the HFCS and cut way back on meat. We will compost. We will do what we can.

I hope you will do the same. You deserve better and so does your family.

Categories: Uncategorized

One lunch: Three ways

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

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I read an article this morning about a preschooler in North Carolina whose lunch was taken and the child was given a hot lunch in its place because the lunch supervisor didn’t feel her sandwich was healthy according to USDA guidelines. The child ate 3 nuggets and the mother was charged $1.25.

This wouldn’t happen where my children attend school but it still prompted me to check the menu, which I shamefully admit I had not done in a long time.

My middle and high schooler didn’t have terrible options but there was not nearly enough food for a typical teenager.

Even though the campus contains both schools and the board office, the elementary school has a different menu. I checked that one and was appalled. No wonder my child that eats almost nothing is starving every afternoon.

First on the list: a chicken sandwich. I’m certain that this sandwich is a fried, breaded patty of chicken paste and a white bread bun.

Then we have tater tots. That one needs no explanation.

Lastly, there’s applesauce. Applesauce that undoubtedly comes sweetened with some sort of sugar, in a can, and any vitamins in it are there because the manufacturer put them back in.

If it weren’t for the milk, she would have had no nutrients whatsoever. I don’t really blame the schools. They aren’t the only school serving this junk in the US by far. I blame the USDA in part because they won’t subsidize if food doesn’t meet their calorie criteria, and most fresh, healthy food does not. I also blame myself. I let this go on much too long when I knew the condition of school lunches in this country.

Sadly, some kids don’t have any other choice, because their families just can’t afford food that isn’t on the school lunch menu and provided for free. I have been there and I understand. I remember a time when I was sending my two oldest with popped popcorn, old fruit snacks, and peanut butter sandwiches on food pantry bread because we didn’t have the forms in for free lunch… I know how hard it can be and it saddens me that the poor are forced to eat garbage because they can’t buy better. It’s food, not cable tv or a new car.

But enough on that. Fortunately, we have enough that even without going to the store, I was able to make basic bento lunches for my kids. I’m not going to go out of my way to make panda sandwiches and rice ball paws, but I can be colorful and creative.

So that brings us to the photo above. Each container was purchased cheaply and already in my cabinet. Expensive bento boxes are cute but not needed. The divided plates were a dollar in the “new” section at Goodwill. I intended them for hubby’s leftovers and never used them. The third is a white container with a blue lid and the lid has a clear plastic whale on it. I don’t remember where I got it but I have had it forever.

Each lunch has one tortilla with nutella and orange marmalade, a hard-boiled egg, 4 heart-shaped jelly beans, 4 slices of cheddar, 5 cucumber slices, 10 black olives, and ranch dressing.

My kids are old enough to choose if they want to eat the school lunch but I will no longer leave them without a choice. I wouldn’t feed them that garbage at home. They shouldn’t have to eat it at school.

Categories: Food

Mmm cake

February 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I made a cake for Valentine’s Day. It was an experience that is blog worthy.

I made the cake around 11:30 and it was done by noon. I managed that part just fine. I took kid 5 to therapy and then came back home. I waited until the kids got home from school and then covered a pizza pan with red wrapping paper to act as a tray. Then I realized the pan would be too small once the cake was decorated, and I also got chocolate from the filling all over it. So I found a lid from a storage tote and covered that with paper instead.

I had taken a square cake and then a round one and cut the round in half. When pieced on the sides of the square cake, it makes a heart. So I got the bottom layer of heart cake to the clean “board” and put the second layer on. The corner of one of the square cakes fell apart so I had to glue it with frosting. It was fine though because it was just for us and I covered it with fondant, later. Minor setback…

So after it froze with the crumb coating, I pulled it out and pulled the fondant out that I also made earlier. I worked it and worked it and it just wasn’t right. Too sticky. Too brittle. A mess.

I managed to get a white strip out of it and then 12 colored hearts. The rest of the batch took all of my red dye and still wasn’t the right color, and when I tried to pick it up to take it to the cake, it broke in chunks. I used the same fondant recipe as last time and it just wasn’t the same result. I tossed it in the trash and started over.

That’s when I realized I read the recipe wrong the first time.

I was going for a reddish pink since my red was gone but I got mauve. It looked like old gum last night but it is better after sitting.

I was out of steam and didn’t really try for my original goal for a cake that looked like a candy box. So I put the fondant over it, smoothed it, and stuck the hearts to the top. One broke and another wouldn’t fit so out of 12, I used 10.

Then I dyed some canned frosting pink and used it to do stars around the edge. They came out great. At least something went right.

I got my Wilton book today and it seems that I did all of lesson 1 yesterday without knowing it. On to lesson 2…

Categories: Uncategorized

Maybe I’m the backwards one here

February 11, 2012 2 comments

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we bought a new car. I outlined some of the reasons and that my husband would be using this car to commute to work.

My mother-in-law sent me a text today (after we had a text conversation about something else) asking if Hubby took the car to work. Umm, yeah? Kinda why we bought it…

Long story short, I told her that was what it was for and that the cost of gasoline in the van was outrageous. She then said something about being more worried about breakdowns. In other words, while I’m in the van.

I have run into this line of thinking before, where it is expected that the woman, regardless of whether she has small children, takes the new car and the husband drives the hunk of junk to work.

While it isn’t always the case, the woman is typically not employed or not the main breadwinner in these situations. Much like me, they need a car to grocery shop, go to soccer games, and maybe meet with friends. While I do understand the desire to have the children in the better vehicle, it still seems backwards to me.

First of all, if my husband is stranded somewhere on the way to work, he isn’t earning an income. While I am at the local pacemaker, buying cabbage, he is risking being reprimanded and even possibly losing out on our livelihood.

If the lesser vehicle breaks down on the way to get cabbage, I just don’t get cabbage.

I have driven small children to Minnesota and Ohio, completely alone. This was before cell phones were what they are now. I never had a problem, even when I had car troubles. I am not a helpless flower that will wilt if the car overheats. I have all day to think of a logical plan, and then I deal with it. My husband, the person that works, not so much.

I have a cell phone. We have an emergency kit in the back that has flashlights, blankets, flares, snacks, and so on. I have basic mechanical knowledge (more than Hubby, to be honest), and parents and/or friends I can call for minor issues. For bigger issues, I have roadside assistance on my auto insurance.

It really bothers me that we have come so far in this society with female equality (we could do better but it has certainly improved) and a woman who otherwise doesn’t take any crap from anyone thinks that I am too helpless to drive a 10 year old van. Nevermind that I have been doing it for the past year. Now that we have a new car, I am suddenly too frail.

I’d rather know my husband is secure since he has time constraints and a job than to look cool with a new car in my driveway, since I never go anywhere anyway. Even if I did, where would I put five kids?

And besides, the van isn’t going to break anytime soon anyway. We just had it in the shop the other day. Other than a hose that we had replaces, it was running like new… Mike Tyson isn’t going down any time soon.

Categories: Uncategorized

You get what you pay for

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Almost 2 years ago, we bought a king-sized bed. We couldn’t afford a high end one so we took a clearanced floor model. It seemed firm and all four of us fit.

I am a believer in co-sleeping when the children are tiny. I still had two nurslings and expected many years of nightmares and thunderstorms to come.

Plus, hubby was close to 300 pounds at the time. A full-sized bed wasn’t cutting it anyway.

With tax included, we paid around $800 for box spring, mattress, and metal frame. The other beds started at that without tax so it seemed like a good deal.

Then I got home.

It felt like laying on the floor. My hips hurt. I had headaches. My back stung from tight muscles, and it was awful.

Eventually I adapted, or so I thought. Sleep, when not being crushed by two growing toddlers, hasn’t been bad. They are in their own room now but some nights that doesn’t last.

Kid 4 had a nighttime accident last week and we weren’t willing to stay up with a hair dryer. We blotted it with a towel and flipped the mattress. It feels like brand new again!

That would be worth bragging about if the floor weren’t more comfortable. I know you’re supposed to flip them monthly but I didn’t so here we are…

Lesson learned, again. Next time I will be more careful with my bargain shopping. Sometimes you get a great deal.

This time, I didn’t.

Categories: Uncategorized

Random Tidbits About The Week

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m really bad about updating this thing, I know. I have plenty I could say but I always feel like I should have some sort of angle, and not just a day log. I have Facebook for short blurbs and after I’ve posted a few of those, I’m out of things to write about in depth. I guess I’ll post a little daylog so I can at least say I updated.

We got our taxes back the other day so we put a down payment down on a 2012 Chevy Cruze. We were going to buy a used car outright so we didn’t have a payment but then you never know what has been done to it beforehand, there’s no warranty, the gas mileage is never as great as it could be, and it’ll probably have to be replaced in a year or two anyway. Better to have a car payment, in our opinion, and have a trustworthy car that’s good on gas that hubby can use for work. The savings in gas over driving our van makes up for at least half the car payment anyway. Plus, I won’t have to car shop with him next year. I love that. You have no idea.

So far, we love the car. It is easy to maneuver, is great on gas, and as long as the older kids are busy, we have plenty of room for the three youngest. Lots of trunk room, considering it’s a compact car, and it’s… well… cute. It came with 3 months of XM radio, which we’re really liking, and 6 months of onstar that I hope we never have to use.

In other somewhat-related news, kid 1 is in drivers’ ed. She passed her permit test and went out driving a few times with the teacher but now she has to go out at home for at least 3 hours or she can’t drive with the teacher again. Hubby does not want an inexperienced driver driving the new car, which I understand, so we took the van tonight. She did really well for an inexperienced driver that’s barely 5 feet tall and is driving a conversion van at night. Her only really big error was mixing up the gas and brake when we backed out of a driveway but there was a reason why I took her through the country. (Well, other than the fact that we live in a town of 500 and there’s not much other than country here.)

Hubby’s birthday is Saturday but he has to work so I made him a cake, complete with marshmallow fondant that I didn’t screw up. There were a couple of small errors but it was nothing like the last time. It’s a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and frosting (under the fondant) and the fondant is blue with white stars. It looks like it’s meant for Independence Day so I played it off because he thinks that me dressing up like Wonder Woman would be hot, so I told him it was a Wonder Woman cake that I didn’t have gold for. That, and that I always liked Abe Lincoln.

I also had a t-shirt made for him with the two littlest ones inside a tv and a caption that says “Our dad is awesome” and a keychain that says “The OURLASTNAME Family” and has a caricature of each of our faces. I got it all for the cost of shipping through Vistaprint. They always have awesome deals. If you get a chance to get one of their freebies, do it. They’ll constantly be sending you more freebies from there, or at least nearly free offers.

We went to the mall today and I got taken for way too much money for a case for my ipod touch, but I really like the case so I’m going to eat the cost that I didn’t have to spend and be happy about it. We stopped at Bath And Body Works and got some body wash and hand soap for the bathroom since we were running low. We wandered around a bit more, then let the little ones play in the play area for a half hour or so before we left. I had a bad headache and they have this little convenience store in the mall that sells those packets of two advil, tylenol, etc. I got a Scooby Doo sucker for kid 4 and a Penguin sucker for kid 5. When we were leaving, we were in the elevator and some woman was talking to the kids about their suckers. She said she watched Scooby Doo when she was a kid. I cracked a joke in which I said “I still do, but not by choice,” and everyone laughed except her. She said “Oh I have a choice. I sure do have a choice.”

First of all, lady, it was a joke. I am well aware that I can turn the channel. I don’t really even watch it myself because we play it in the van. I’m not in the back. Still, it doesn’t matter. It was a joke.

Second of all, I’d rather pick my battles. I don’t see the point in being a jackass about the tv and not sharing it if your children request watching a show. No, I’m not going to let them take it over, but if it offers me a little quiet time and it makes them happy, big deal. By showing me you’re the big, bad, tough parent that won’t take any shit, you really just look like a jackass.

Third, fuck you. That is all.

So that ruined the good time I had at the mall, even though it shouldn’t have because she was just an idiot.

All wasn’t lost, though, because we went to Goodwill after that and bought a bunch of records for our new record player, and I got some containers to put candy in for kid 1’s candy buffet for her Sweet 16. I only got 2 for now and I will need more but I have lots of time to keep my eyes open for more.

Speaking of that, I got her dress in the mail yesterday and I’m absolutely in love with it. I’ll have to shorten it about 5 inches because she’s so tiny but I expected that. It’s black and strapless with a bright pink sash around the waist. It has straps so she can have spaghetti straps if she prefers but it seems to fit her fine and I don’t think she’ll need them.

I still have a long way to go but that’s why we’re working on it ahead of time.

I’m sure I could come up with other random tidbits but this already got quite long, so I’ll leave it at that. Hopefully I can come up with an angle for a decent blog entry soon!