4 Quick Dinners for the Little Ghouls

Happy Halloween everyone! Prayers to those of you still without power or under water. I hope you all go Trick-or-Treating as soon as you are able. For the rest of us, it’s Trick-or-Treating on a school night. (Ugh) I always hate that when it happens, you can’t let them eat their candy while you are walking around the neighborhood (Ahh! Potential poisons/razor blades/allergens/oh my!!), which you are doing at an unreasonably early hour (it’s still daylight and only the toddler crowd and complete lame-os Trick-or-Treat before dark; ask any of my kids, they will totally confirm this fact), so you go home after, everyone gets one piece of candy then it’s teeth brushed, pjs on, and off to bed. (hurry, hurry) And the next day? Cranky, pissy, sugar-hungover kids; hanging out at school with other kids of a similar disposition. (an excellent reason to not teach elementary school, or to give your kids teacher an excellent gift prior to the “winter holiday”, however you want to interpret that) I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more fights at school the day after Halloween, I wonder… (To do: Google average day of school year with most fights…) Anyway so before the treating and tricking this evening you still have to feed the little dears (I normally wouldn’t refer to kids that way, but trying to get them to anything like eat a healthy meal prior to Trick-or-Treating? Psht, right), my mommy guilt gets on me and I’m all “a healthy meal before we indulge this evening” while they are all (picture short people vibrating with excitement) “but I’m not hungry for supper (same child is normally in the final death throes of starvation by this time in the afternoon), I just want to put on my costume and goooooo (whiney tone added to the physical vibration here)”.  Ahh, these are the days… Good times and all that. I have discovered a few (very fast) fairly appealing and yet moderately nutritional Halloween suppers. I thought I’d share (since most of them were ideas from cookbooks that I simplified or used as is). These are also fun for any busy night in October or, I suppose, if you go for the ghoulish, any busy night year round.

Ghost Soup and Graveyard Salad

*the trick to any Halloween dish is make it sound as gross/scary as possible*

Ghost Soup is actually low-sodium New England Clam Chowder topped with a slice of Provolone Cheese cut with a ghost shaped cookie cutter. (place cheese while steamy hot and your ghost will be more melty and less cookie cuttery-yes I just made that word up) Graveyard Salad is Base Salad with large wheat croutons (gravestones) and alfalfa sprouts (moss) and raspberry vinaigrette dressing (zombie blood), delish!

Wormy Sandwiches with Bug-Infested Logs

Wormy Sandwiches are hotdogs, sliced length-wise into thin strips and tossed in your fav BBQ sauce, served in a pile on a hamburger bun (or dinner roll for littler monsters). Bug-Infested Logs are a gross (er?) take on the classic ants on a log (aka the only way anyone has ever been excited about celery, ever). You cut your celery logs and fill the trough with cream cheese (maggots) or cottage cheese (if you kids are willing-mine aren’t & well, neither am I *shudder*) top with raisins (flys, bugs, whatever you wanna call them). Bon-appetit! 🙂

Vampire Soup and Fang Sandwiches

Vampire Soup is just classic tomato soup (blood) with a slice of Colby (or American, just orange cheese) cut with bat-shaped cookie cutter (you can usually get 2 bats per slice) floating on top. Fang Sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches cut into 4 triangles (arrange into a toothy grin on plate around bowl of soup). This one usually makes even the pickiest monster happy.

Mummies and Garbage Dip

The Mummies are hot dogs wrapped with crescent roll dough that is sliced into strips. (Make sure to wrap haphazardly so that it looks like mummy wrappings, also kids can do this part, if they want to help) Bake as directed on crescent roll package. When cooled enough to eat give your mummies ketchup (or mustard) eyes. Garbage Dip is Ranch veggie dip (get a kind that has chunks of veggies in it) with cut up veggies spread all around on a serving platter. The trick is you need 5 baby carrots arranged in the dip as though they are a hand reaching up out of the dip. Try adding to this “illusion” by putting a plastic spider ring on the ring ‘finger”. Mmmmm…

These are the easiest, I’ve seen others, but the whole point is quick and easy, right? Save the Spider Web Pancakes for breakfast, not between school and candy time Trick-or-Treating.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a fun (and safe) time!

An Angry Mouth

I need to start off with making sure everyone understands who this rant is directed at. This rant is NOT directed at mothers who neglect their health and well-being for their children. This rant is also NOT directed at mothers who don’t neglect their health and well-being for their children. This rant is also NOT for people who are not mothers and can’t fathom how/why a mom might feel like she should/has to/guilt because she did/didn’t neglect her health and or well-being for her children. To me all of the above positions are perfectly reasonable, acceptable, and a position I have held at some point in my life or another. (Sometimes wildly ping ponging between the first two during a single week) So who IS it I am mad at? The subgroup of category 3, those who want to be all judgey and lecturing and add to my maternal guilt (thanks, but I manufacture plenty on my own, but if you’d like to babysit while I go to therapy, well, hell , that would actually be helpful). See? Here I am, just full of steam and wanting to yell at someone, but my mouth hurts. (Oh & I vowed to yell less about 4 or 5 years ago, so there’s that too; I feel like getting a white chip every time I go a solid week, so it’s a work in progress… Argh! So much mouth pain I am having trouble thinking in any cohesive way… Sorry)

 Here’s the thing, I am not a wealthy woman (Like you hadn’t noticed or something) I live below the official poverty line for a family of 4. (I checked recently, just to see) But I pay (along with my nice grown-up lady job employers) for my health insurance, and dental and vision, for the four of us. Those co pays will add up quick (as I am certain you all know) so I often am making a call along the lines of say $100 + $25 for BoyChild II to get an eye exam and new glasses or pay the electric bill that is not overdue at all. (I can tell you in this rock-paper-scissors budgeting glasses beat electricity, as long as electricity is not overdue, but moving on…)Yeah It’s that tight around here, and 90% of the time (fairly good odds to my mind) I end up getting the necessities paid for ( we never go out to eat/buy brand new jeans/ video games, but that electric bill gets paid). But I don’t feel like I should have to draw a map of my monthly (or yearly) budget to anyone (see awesome things about being a single mom) I mean anyone, it’s my choice to share or not share my finances with you or with any service provider. So when I say (hypothetically speaking) “Well, I’d love to pay you $88 to pull the skin back from my teeth and clean (remove cracked tooth filling bits that are now “too old”)  inside the gum line on the left side of my face and then come back in 2 weeks to pay you $88 to do the same to the right side of my face, but unfortunately that ain’t happening this week, or any time soon. I will call to schedule the appointment as soon as I have saved up the money to do so.” This should be an accepted statement. No one should then go on and on (hypothetically speaking again) for say 10 to 15 minutes on how important my dental health is to my overall health. (Note: stressing over paying for  $176 and a total of 1 1/2 days off work is ALSO not good for my overall health) See, I have never had a cavity. My parents didn’t have any dental insurance until I was out of school so my first dental appointment wasn’t until I was 12 and I went about 3 times after that the last time being at the age of 16. I didn’t go to the dentist again until my wisdom teeth came in and my face swelled shut (not pretty), I was 21. My teeth are so crowded in my mid twenties they started cracking each other. Guess who had actual cracks in her teeth with no nastiness/etc  for the 4 years it took to save the money to pull/fill those cracking teeth? Yeah, so when they start getting on me about “this is a dental health emergency” I just smile politely and roll my eyes when they aren’t looking. (In case anyone is wondering? No I can’t fit floss between all my teeth, but I religiously am a CREST kid & I promise to update this post should I ever get a cavity)

So the day has arrived. Thursday I have an appointment with the dentist to rip open my left side gums and  really bleed a lot get them clean, I finally saved up the money to do it. The problem is when I called to schedule said appointment I was already hurting and swollen (I did not tell the receptionist this, however super sonic hearing is apparently her superpower) I was scolded again for not having made this appointment sooner. So in a pain/frustration induced haze I broke my own rule. I rattled off a list of the things I did this year that also cost between $100 and $200 instead of getting this cleaning done back in March.

My List:

  • Aforementioned glasses
  • Electric bill (every month thank you very much)
  • Extra $200 in gas every month we lived in the hotel (4) after our house flooded (to do completely frivolous things like get kids to school, me to work, etc)
  • Tires for Suzie (my 2001 Isuzu Trooper)
  • Carpet Cleaner (to get indescribable things out of flooded carpet)
  • $300+ per month co pays for meds and therapy for BoyChild I
  • Breaks for Suzie
  • School clothes (underwear/pants/socks/shoes) at about $60-120 per child x3 since someone grew 4 inches, 26 lbs, and 4 shoe sizes this summer. (& well, they can’t go to school shoeless and nekked, no matter how clean their teeth are)
  • School supplies
  • Inspection ready repairs to Suzie & then inspection/title renewal (old girl has had a rough year, but we still love her — & she requires no car payments)
  • Infected toe (I have a feeling the growing 4 sizes was bad for it too) decontamination and whatever else the pediatrician did along with antibiotics
  • 2 children’s birthday parties (ok, I know this is not necessity, but you gonna say “sorry hun, no birthday this year, Mommy is going to the dentist instead” ? Riiight)

 Now it’s not a crazy list, I’ve had worse summers, and I don’t own a credit card so there’s no debt, but it was enough that I just couldn’t fix it until now. I was telling a friend about this, the receptionist and her reaction and what I had to say to shut her up (again, not for sympathy, just shut up) when a stranger nearby says “sounds like you just shouldn’t of had kids if you can’t even take care of yourself.”

What?! Like in the cartoons when they turn red and steam comes out their ears? Yeah, like that.

 So that’s what this was, my rant to get off my chest exactly how asinine both those people were being. I hope if you have ever judged like that you are feeling a bit shame faced and will never do it again. I hope if you have been judged like that (after several Lamaze type breaths) you will know it isn’t you, it’s them. Do you have a story like this? Do you think I’m just needing a nap and a stiff drink calm down because I am overreacting? Let me know. Looking forward to it!

Dreading Back to School

Even the ads taunt & intimidate me…

This weekend we went Back to School Shopping. I hate back to school shopping. I love summer and to me it’s always the herald that rings in the end of our carefree days. A taunting voice echoing in my head “Back to School. Back to never having enough time. Back to feeling like you are missing out on their childhoods. Back to dreading phone calls. Back to always feeling just shy of good enough.” So obviously, I probably need therapy (or a stiff drink), but I am very careful to not push my hatred of the beginning of the school year, I pump it up in my excited I’m-trying-to-talk-you-into-being-thrilled about this voice. (You may have noticed I use this voice a lot) I’m all “Cool, new teachers! Awesome, new friends! Ooo, want to pick out folders? Yea, let’s get some cool new stuff for school! I wonder what cool things you’ll get to do/see/learn this year?” Blah, blah, blah. Inside I’m scared, every year I approach teachers all bight eyed, full of hope, maybe this year will be different, but by  November I am wishing I could quit my job and home school all three of them. Apparently I am not the only one who gets miffed with the school. All of this trauma starts for me every year with the supplies lists. It seems like that shouldn’t be such a horrible thing but, if you’ve never seen one of these, let me lay a little crazy on you for a minute…

These lists always contain the basics, stuff I have no problem, by the way, purchasing for my children. Items like loose leaf notebook paper, they specify a preference for Wide ruled vs College, but no worries, or book bags (always with this written beside it: NO WHEELS! Apparently wheels will be the death of us all) also no big, I buy them book bags every 2 years -saves money and helps teach that we have to take care of our things. Then they get sneaky. (they being whoever writes these lists) Pseudo basics. What you ask? The list will say: 1 box 12 washable Crayola Markers. That seems like a basic, right? I made this assumption with GirlChild in Kindergarten, I was so naive. I sent her with a box of RoseArt (you know the ones on sale right this minute for $0.50 a box as opposed to the $1.17 Crayolas at Wal-Mart?) 12 Washable Markers. I wrote her name on the box with Sharpie, stuck them in her book bag along with her other supplies and sent her skipping off to school. They sent them back. Along with a note. Have you been the recipient of many notes or perhaps emails that drip from their written word with judgment, disdain, and patronizing tone? I know a few teachers who are great at it. I will paraphrase the note (since it was 8 years ago now) but it is not the only note to the same effect I have received from a teacher regarding school supplies, so it goes about like this:

Please send the requested Crayola 12 pack Washable markers with your daughter immediately. I am sure it is important to you that she be adequately supplied each and every day of school in order to not hamper her learning this year.(that last sentence is a direct quote, BTW) As per ABC County School policy we place all school supplies in bins for the entire class. Do not continue to write GirlChild’s name on her supplies. All markers, etc will be placed in their appropriate bins and we do not want the children to argue over the quality of brand of their supplies, and after all, I am sure you would not want GirlChild to be the child who brought the inferior markers.

 If you can’t see what’s wrong with the above note, please stop reading, walk away from my web page, we can’t be friends.

For the rest of us… Really?! How many 5-year-old “brand snobs” do you know? Have you  ever heard (or read I suppose) such complete crap? And toss in a little Mommy Guilt, wow, f you too Mrs. Soandso. I have received a note along these lines any time I have not sent in exactly what was on the list, down to the brand. (At this point I have accepted defeat and just buy the damn Crayolas for the school and we use perfectly good whatever brand at home)

Other Pseudo basics (these items don’t belong to your kid, they belong to the whole class, which is my problem. I don’t mind buying supplies for my kid. I will even donate a few items to the “wish list”. But I don’t want to contribute an entire additional child’s worth of supplies to each of my children’s classrooms):

*BTW these are real examples & quantities requested on Supply lists for at least one of my children*

12 solid colored pocket folders-no fasteners (I have never seen one of my kids use more than 4 in a school year and that includes the year that BoyChild II lost his “homework folder” and I had to buy him another one, right, not  the teacher replaced it from the class bins, I had to buy another folder, in orange specifically)

15 glue sticks (I want to know who is eating the glue, cause if each of 30 children sends 15 glue sticks, plus the Elmer’s liquid glue on that year’s list, that’s a lot of glue)

12 pack Crayola Colored pencils (again with the brand prejudice)

7 Composition notebooks-black and white only (That is just lame, in my opinion)

6 packages of #2 pencils (again, who is eating these supplies, each package has at least 12 pencils, x 6, x 30 kids…)

Minimum 30 black/blue ink erasable pens (these are impossible to find & almost as hard to write with, why are we still bothering with them?)

That’s obviously not all, but you get the idea, I’m sure. Then they toss Non-supplies on the list. What are Non-supplies you ask? Things the children do not use, that are on the supply list, not the wish/donate/please list, the you-must-have-all-of-these-things-on- the-first-day-or-you-are-interfering-with-your-child’s-schooling list.

Again these are actual “supplies” and quantities from years past.

Non-supplies:

3 reams copy paper (this one has appeared many times, my problem is despite me sending the paper, none of these kids can operate a copy machine. Maybe this year I’ll send 4 and a request for extra practice…)

7 packages of Post-it notes (so that the teacher can send as many disdain filled notes as she/he likes)

4 bottles hand sanitizer (#1 I have a child who can’t use this stuff. #2 why is this ok but sunscreen is a dangerous topical drug? #3 And again with the supply drinking…)

Paper clips/staples/red ink pens/dry erase markers (again things I would totally donate, but be real, none of these things are being used at my kids desk)

And then the completely ridiculous: (I feel like these mostly stand on their own ridiculous feet despite their craft potential)

200 small-dessert sized- paper plates

2 boxes snack sized ziplock bags

4 boxes sandwich sized ziplock bags

Inexpensive small toys for our Prize Box- minimum of 10

2 packages Brown paper lunch bags

Saran Wrap

Aluminum Foil

See what I mean? I am poor. That’s no one’s fault but my own, I get that but why add to that burden? Each year I work extra shifts in order to pay for these lists. This is not even covering the new clothes that kids end up needing each year, I’m not talking expensive clothes, I mean the jeans I bought this weekend at $7.50 a pair at the consignment store (Once Upon a Child– I love them) for BoyChild I who gained 3 inches in height and 22lbs in weight this summer and no longer owns a single item of clothing for school that fits. All in all I spend an average of $125 per child. I make about $700 every two weeks, before I do things like buy $300 worth of meds and therapy co pays each month and even more frivolous things like rent for example. When I read this article and it said this was the second busiest time of year for retailers I believe it. After Christmas I start saving for back to school shopping. The rest of the school year has its own mishaps but damn do I hate Back to School Shopping.

Do you also hate this time of year? Am I overreacting to the supply lists? Does your local school system do the same? Also, someone make me a drink, it’s gonna be a long year…