Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Busy Days Ahead

Life is about to get very busy. Redneck and I are getting married in a couple of months, on June 13th. Which happens to be a Friday....no we're not superstitious and no, it wasn't intentional. I just said I wanted to get married on a Friday in June and that happened to be the date we picked. I didn' t even realize what we had done until after I looked at a calendar. Now, we get a total kick out of telling people that we're getting married on Friday the 13th. We are about to move into our first home together. The process has been a nightmare. I had thought about blogging about it, but decided to wait until we are officially moved in and I have a glass (or bottle!) of wine to help me through reliving the nightmare. Sweet Boy is about to graduate from kindergarten. He is so excited about first grade. He also wants to try playing basketball next year. One of his cousins plays in an after school program and he got really into it after watching one of his games. He even asked if we could get a basketball goal set up at the new house. I recently signed Pretty Girl up for cheerleading. She will be on a non-competitive team since she's (obviously) just starting out. She will go twice a week, one day will be beginner tumbling lessons and the other will be team practice. They will perform at three competitions (they all get little trophies), which I think will be beyond adorable. She is very excited; the night before registration, she was running around in her little cheerleader costume and shaking her "shake-shakes" (pompoms) like there was no tomorrow. So that probably seems like a pretty full schedule there, right? Subbing; sharing custody of the kids with their dad and stepmom; kids' extracurricular activities; taking care of the pets; keeping the house in relatively neat order....(at least tidy enough for people to have a place to sit and not feel like they're going through an obstacle course)....oh and we may want to eat (I'm a fan of eating at regular intervals) and I just might want to spend some time with my (soon to be) husband. Buuuut.... like I said before, I am going back to school in the fall. I've already gotten accepted, now I just need financial aide to go through. I'm also looking to a new (part time) job. I still plan to keep subbing, but having something consistent will help us out. Plus, then I  could just sub for special needs and elementary school, and not have to sub junior high or high school. It's not that I don't like the older kids....I do....they just tend to drive me crazy sometimes. Depends on the alignment of the stars and planets I guess. Redneck just accepted a local job and will be on his way back from Oklahoma tomorrow. He had to return the rig to the main yard and will be taking a bus back to Texas. It will be an adjustment for both of us. For the majority of our relationship he's been an OTR (over the road...as in cross country) driver and we would go 3-6 weeks at a time without seeing each other. Now that's about to change. He's also planning to take classes as well. The company he's about to start working for offers tuition reimbursement, so he intends to take advantage of that. We have been taking ballroom dance lessons to prepare for the wedding. We've had a lot of fun with it and plan to try to continue taking lessons about once a month. It'll be like a date night for us. Hell, with everything else we'll have going on, that may be the most time we actually spend together. Maybe moving in together and the new job won't be as much of a change. Still need to figure out how to juggle everything. I've told Redneck I may just do a daily schedule for weekdays, but leave the weekends open. I'd probably go batty if every day was mapped out, so I think/hope leaving weekends open to play by ear will preserve at least some of my sanity. Right? Maybe? We'll see; I am open to suggestions, recipe ideas, and wine suggestions....in the meantime I really should try to get some sleep. It's about to be 1:00 in the morning and I have to be at work by 7:00 am.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This is balanced, right?

I keep saying I want to eat healthier and I do have my moments. I eat more veggies now, than I did before kids (BK)...but my love for sweets tends to come barging in. Take last Friday for example. In observance of Lent, I've been going meatless on Fridays. I had been wanting to try something different with spaghetti squash; so I went to the store to get one, along with some shrimp, pesto, lemon, mushrooms (not pictured), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper...I actually forgot to use the salt and pepper, but I think it turned out alright. The hardest part about preparing a spaghetti squash, in my opinion, is cutting that bitch in half. Next time, I think I may try using a machete...or a chainsaw. Once I hacked it in half, and wrapped one half to use at a later day, the rest of it was smooth sailing.

dinner ingredients, minus the mushrooms
Once the spaghetti squash was about halfway done baking (put it cut side down in a casserole dish with a few inches of water and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees), I sliced up the mushrooms and sauted them; then I added in the shrimp. I probably don't need to say so, but make sure to peel,de-vein, and remove the tails from the shrimp. I mean I guess you could leave it all in tact if you want, but I just think it would be easier to get all that crap off during meal prep so you don't have to deal with it while you're eating....or trying to eat, depending on how old the kiddos are, and how independent they are....or like to think they are.

sauted mushrooms and shrimp
After the spaghetti squash was done, I added it to the shrimp and mushrooms. Then I mixed in a few spoonfuls of pesto, a few lemon slices, and some lemon juice. If you feel inclined to add salt and pepper to taste....go for it. You're the one eating it, not me.

final product
It came out pretty good! It was just my dad and me for dinner and he had 3 helpings. Sweet Boy isn't that into spaghetti squash...but I wouldn't expect a six year old to be. I did get him to agree to eat half of his when I made some more for dinner tonight. He also agreed to eat at least six "Mom-approved" bites anytime I make it in the future (or any other food he doesn't care for too much)...please hold your applause; he did chase every bite down with a swig of kool-aid. But let's move on to dessert....Red velvet cake balls with dark chocolate centers and cream cheese frosting.

this will be dessert
I use a mold when I make cake balls, but for some reason they didn't rise all the way this time.

dropping the kisses into the batter
Okay so they're more like half balls, but you still get the gist of it. One day I'll learn how to decorate cake balls to make them look cute...but until then, this is good enough for being done on a random whim.....So there you have it; a veggie based dinner with cake balls for dessert. That's balanced right?

finished product

Friday, March 28, 2014

Going back to school

At the end of 2006, I stopped going to school. It had taken four years to get an associate's degree. It should have taken less time, but there were classes that I retook a couple times. Okay I took College Algebra more times than I care to remember. I'm horrible at math and needed a  'C' to transfer. I'd barely pass with a 'D'.Lucky for me, the school I had transferred to (for a semester) changed their pre-requisites to accept a D in College Algebra. Please note that, with the exception of elementary school math, I do everything I can NOT to sub for any junior high or high school math teachers. The last semester I was in school went okay. I didn't go back the next semester because of my work schedule at the time. I also had previous student loans in default, so getting financial aide was basically not happening. Things are different now. I have a job that's flexible and my old loans are getting out of default so I will be able to receive financial aide for school again. So I applied to go back to school, to finish the degree in psychology that I started so long ago. And I got accepted. I'm excited...very excited.....and nervous. It's been about eight years since I've set foot in a classroom as a student. I did work the majority of the time I had been going to school and my ex and I were living together, so I'm not too worried about that. I've juggled work and school and keeping the house (relatively) in order. But I didn't have kids then. I do now. They primarily live at their dad's house, but I am always available to them (unless I'm subbing). I want to get the kids involved in extracurricular activities and be able to be there to support them in those activities, so I'm choosing to take online classes. THAT is why I'm nervous...juggling being Mommy with online classes. My plan is to literally schedule out each day, Monday through Friday, to allot time each day in the afternoon for school work and house work. I plan to leave Saturdays and Sundays as "free days" to just chill out and relax, and maybe catch up on things I may have missed during the week if needed. I'm hoping that will work out favorably over the next couple of years, but we shall see I suppose. From my lips (or fingertips,lol) to God's ears.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saving a stuffed dog

As a mom, I had come to terms that one day, I may be asked to "fix" a beloved stuffed animal or a cherished blankie. For six years, that hadn't happened. Until the week before spring break. Only it wasn't for either one of my kids. It was for a class of eighth graders. Yeah...you read that right. Eighth graders. One kid kept saying "Someone slit Fido's throat! He's gonna die!" Another wanted to try to fix it with a stapler. Then there were the ones who were flinging poor Fido around, getting his stuffing all over the place. By the way, his stuffing resembled teeny pieces of Styrofoam and was a total bitch to clean up. I had one kid bring Fido to me, before he (in the words of one kid) 'bled to death'. Luckily the teacher I was subbing for had a needle and thread in her desk, so I assured them that Fido would be okay. After a few minutes, his neck was stitched back together and I re-stitched his collar on to cover his 'scar'.  I was only there for half a day and had eaten lunch before I arrived, so I spent my lunch break cleaning up the corner where all the stuffed animals were before the next class came in. Like I said earlier, cleaning up bits of styrofoam was a bitch. I'd get a pile swept up into a dustpan and about fifty bits would fly up and stick to my jeans. The next class came in and wanted to know why the stuffed dog was not with the other stuffed animals. I explained what had happened and lifted the collar up a bit to show them the stitches. After that I noticed one girl was in tears.Not just teary-eyed, she had actual tears rolling down her face. I asked her what was wrong and she said that all year, "terrible things had been happening to their stuffed animals". I'm scheduled to work there again next Friday (but for 6th grade), so maybe I'll see how the 'patient' has 'recovered'.
The injury

After sewing it's neck back together

Fixing the collar to cover the 'scar'

"recuperating" 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nutella filled strawberries

A few weeks ago, I made chocolate covered strawberries for the kids. Well, technically, they weren't actually covered; they were drizzled in chocolate. Still, the combination was a hit. A week or so ago, I saw a picture on Instagram of nutella filled strawberries. Once again, two things they like...so I figured, why not give it a try? I bought a strawberry huller while I was picking up a few groceries. As you can see, by the size of the blade, it scoops out a small amount. But don't let that throw you off. The amount of nutella that went into each strawberry was about equivalent to the amount of chocolate that would have been used to cover each strawberry. So how did I get the nutella in? I used a baby spoon! I used a rubber tipped baby spoon, one of the kind you would use when first introducing purees to your baby.I knew they would come in handy one day. As far as actually making this snack, it was pretty self explanatory. Hull the strawberries, then add a scoop (maybe a little more if desired) of nutella (or whatever filling you like) to each one. Simple! The kids loved it, so it will definitely be going on our list of snacks to make again.
I finally went and bought a strawberry huller

The finished product; the kids loved it!

baby spoons come in handy

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Princess is supposed to live happily ever after

I grew up in a small town. I love the town I grew up in. A few days ago I (along with countless others in Facebook land) heard the story of a little girl named Claire. Claire just turned five years old not too long ago. Like many other girls her age, Claire loves princesses. But there is something different about Claire. About a year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Last summer she was given a clean bill of health. Sadly last month, scans showed that the cancer has returned full force. Claire is terminal. Her parents were given the options of either treatment, which would include complete isolation, for a maximum of six months...or no treatment,and letting their only child spend what little time she has left, just being a little girl. A little girl who lights up at anything princess related. Last Monday, a friend of her parents came up with the idea to give Claire her own special Princess Parade
Princess Claire being surprised with her very own parade
Thanks to social media, word spread like wildfire. While just seeing a few dozen faces probably would have made her happy, she got so much more. Literally over a thousand people from my hometown and neighboring towns flooded the streets of her neighborhood. All to take a tiny bit of time to make one little girl feel like royalty. Claire's parents have a lot to deal with a head of them. While they want (and deserve) to cherish each moment with their only child, like any other parents, they are also faced with a challenge that no parent should go through: how to say goodbye. As you can imagine, the medical bills are quite staggering. Donations are being accepted to help this family so they can spend what little time they have left together, creating as many precious memories as they can. If you can (and feel so inclined), please feel free to make a donation to Princess Claire  via GoFundMe. And I know it's been said many times, but while you're at it, never miss a chance to tell the ones you love, how much you love them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Out on the road...kinda

My fiancé is a trucker; he drives a flat bed truck across the country and is gone for weeks at a time. We've spoken if me joining him on the road for a week or so, however after the wedding, he plans to take a local trucking job so he can be home more often. So we decided that since he would be swinging through Houston on his way to Laredo, he would pick me up to ride along with him for a few days. The kids would be with their dad; I can take time off whenever I like; and he was due home this week anyways. I had the kids this past weekend, so when he got home on Saturday, we took them to go see the new Lego movie that came out. Cute movie. Sweet Boy really liked it. Pretty Girl fell asleep right as the previews ended and woke up right when the movie ended. On Sunday, we took them back to their dad and stepmom about midafternoon. We would have liked to keep them til evening, as usual...but we had to get rolling. We had a six hour drive to Laredo. We normally talk on the phone to help him pass the time/stay awake. This time we actually got to talk face to face for a change! A rare, yet pleasant occurrence, lol. I also facebooked quite a bit on my phone and did a little reading on my kindle app. We reached Laredo some time after midnight. Jon, of course, fell asleep before I did. Then again, it does take me a long time to fall asleep...especially when I'm being held in a bear hug with a certain fiance of mine snoring directly into my ear. We had to hang around the yard for awhile, waiting to have a tire on the trailer of his truck replaced. We did use a company car a couple times to grab breakfast and lunch. While we were waiting for the tire to be replaced, we took the truck to the truck wash there at the yard. Okay, I'm going to sound like a total dork, but I thoroughly enjoyed using a pressure washer to help wash his truck. I even asked him if we could get one of our own. I also noticed a sign that said to please rinse out the wash area after use...yeah I'm pretty sure I'm the first person in a long time to follow those directions, because the ground was filthy with layers upon layers of dirt and grime that have built up. Okay, I admit, I secretly loved using the pressure washer to blast the gunk away. Soon it was time to take the load on the trailer to its destination a few miles away. We went over the scale, which piqued my curiosity over whether or not someone or something had to be a certain weight for the scale to register, so when we pulled around, Jon stopped and I hopped out to stand on a certain spot.Yes, it did read my weight. Anyhoo, we got to the receiver and I helped him get the tarps and straps off; folded and rolled up; and put away. It wasn't too bad; I've helped him a few times before, when he had to deliver in Houston. We went back to the yard and got the okay to head back to Houston for Jon's home time. We drove part of the way back, spent the night at a rest area, and made it home to Houston Tuesday morning. It was a short run, but I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind going on the road again.