Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stepping Up to the Plate

My little Nana is something else. A little over two years ago I might not have thrown that compliment out as easily as I am now. In March of 2006 I was standing at my own front door and when I turned to come into my house I dislocated my knee. (I swear I will blog this story one day) Long story short I also herniated three discs in the process due to the fact that I hit tile when my knee gave way.

My children got a crash course in housework and mild cooking. My daughter learned to hate me more then. But she has come full circle. My injury has not healed itself or been healed by any means we have tried thus far. Steroid injections directly to the back...Nada. Traction...Zip. Physical Therapy...No way Jose. So I am progressively getting worse. The only method I have not ventured into is acupuncture. Do not think it is fear of needles, it is not. Insurance does not cover it and we are in debt up to our eyeballs, and mostly from things that were done to me that were deemed as a pre-existing condition (Don't even get me started. I was insured at the time of the fall and was insured constantly for over one year before any of these doctor visits took place).

But this past weekend we had a garage sale. But on Friday and Saturday. Now, for me, the more active I am the worse my injury treats me. I get in such a bad way that I become hunched over like an eighty year old lady. It looks is painful. I ice twice a day and take Aleve twice a day and when I am not busy with garage sales I roll out on my three wheeler. But the heat from the hot days in Florida and sitting so long for these two days with the garage sale, took their toll on me.

I did all the right things, but it was still too much for my body. But I still had my measly check to pick up. $100 for two weeks...Woo Hoo. Cash that check, then run to get produce then off to the grocery store. So after being up form 5:30 AM, I finally made it home by 5:30. I ran to my ice pack and let my daughter and husband unload the groceries.

As soon as that was all done, my daughter dove into action and made dinner, without even hesitating. She knew I was in a bad way and that I miss doing the things I love to do and yes, housework was one of those things. To me, there is nothing more rewarding then having my home clean to entertain in. to be able to have someone over for coffee or iced tea. But now, I struggle to maintain the home I have loved for the last 9 years. It pains me. I love my home, it is my calling card, but I am finding more and more, that I am having to rely on my children, and that bothers me. For when I was there age my mother used me to do many chores. I swore I would never make my children my personal. Yes, I now they see that I am not stuffing my face with bon bons, but I am still not happy with how things are unfolding.

I am thinking that surgery my be my only option to get some relief, and yet, the part of my back that needs the surgery is not the best place to get cut. I got this straight form my neurosurgeons mouth. Now if he says it, then I am not looking forward to getting it done. Most people with back surgery either get worse or feel no relief what-so-ever. I just want to be normal again. I am not looking to be superwoman.

But I just wanted to say that my little Moo Moo, has become a fine young little lady and started doing so much around here. OK, so I still have to be subjected to thee occasional eye roll, but oh so worth it when you have tasted her sushi roll.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Our Own Backyard

Well, if ever my decision to homeschool came into question, it was just the other day. I was having a cup of tea, watching CNN Headline News, when a piece about a child being voted out of the classroom came on. I thought right then that the act was deplorable. It flashed me back to being the last kid picked for a team sport in elementary. That stunk to high heaven. Draw straws, pull numbers out of a hat, but don't let Mr. & Mrs. popularity decide who gets to stay and who gets to go. Well that very thing happened here in our own backyard in a local elementary school.

You can read the article here:

What kind of shenanigans is that? Does that teacher have any clue as to what damage she has done to that child's self esteem? She should not be allowed to be around students, no matter the age.

When I saw this article I ran to inform my local homeschooling group. But alas one of the other parents had beat me to it. And low and behold, it was our chairman. Come to find out that it was this very same teacher that pushed Mrs. G into homeschooling. This teacher ridiculed and made fun of Mrs. G's daughter to the point where she felt the need to pull her out. Mrs. G's daughter learned differently and maybe even a bit more slowly, but so what. Who's to say that we have to know our ABC's by such and such a time. That is hogwash...100%

We all learn at different levels and different time frames. the public school system is geared for the middle 80%. The top 10% is not catered to, and the bottom 10% is left out. so for those children who may need a bit more coaxing, they are left behind. Well not in my school. We do whatever it takes, and for how ever long it takes for my children to 'Get it'. My cooking skills did not take off until I hit my 40's. that is not to say I could not cook at all, they just got fined tune a little later on in life. Hmm, guess I would have been voted off straight away if I were in her classroom.

Is this a plug for homeschooling? Yes and no. It is more of an awakening to let parents know to keep on top of what is going on in your child's classroom. But many a parent these days see the public school system as a babysitter. I feel it is not anyone elses job to raise my children or maybe even educate them. Does my child know every single tidbit of trivia out there? No, and I am fine with that. Will either of my children win on Jeopardy? Probably not, but all I ask is that they love what they do and do it well. If you don't have it in your heart you will never succeed. But that teacher who asked her students to vote a child out, is squelching any spark that child may have had about himself. I honestly do not know how she sleeps at night.

Monday, May 26, 2008

That's It, I'm Taking the Plunge

Well, I am going to do it, no, not that. After reading Skippy's blog about not eating meat (which I was a vegetarian during Skippy's pregnancy) I have decided to head back in that direction. And I will explain why.

I know eating meat is taxing on our environment, but I can save that for another post. But bottom line, I know how much better I feel when my body does not have meat in it. I am not a cold turkey type of person, so I will start to eliminate things as I see fit. And due to the fact that I do the grocery shopping, then I have control (Insert evil Frankenstein laugh here). Here was what jolted me into thinking I could do this.

I went to the grocery store, with my measly $??.?? and had to adhere to a strict budget (Nothing new these days). And we did not have the luxury of a 9-5er job that would give us Memorial Day of to BBQ with our families so we usually improvise and have our meal when the most of us are at the table at one time.

So I picked up a package of ground turkey instead of ground beef. Ground turkey is not a new concept to me, it's just my in-laws have been helping us with some groceries here and there and they are staunch supporters of beef. I asked my husband the last time they offered to help, if he could only purchase poultry. He did and I was happy. Now back to the ground turkey. My daughter and I were preparing potato salad and burgers (Turkey of course) and I spiced those puppies up, for I know that turkey has less fat, less fat means less flavor. Never fear, my spice cabinet is filled to the brim with things I can barely pronounce, let alone know what to do with them (Just kidding). They don't call me the Cooking Lady for nothing. So in went wasabi paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, a bit of cumin and a few other things. Put them in my manual patty maker (Wow is that thing cool), which makes them perfectly sized so they actually fit the bun...what a concept.They went on our generic George Foreman grill and whamo!, they were deeelicious.

I knew then that I could curtail my red meat and eventually give it up. There are nights when my son and husband both work the evening shift and me and my daughter do not have to consume meat. Well she never does...duh! But we are nearly giddy when meat is not on the table, and trust me when I tell you, we do not go hungry.

Years back I had vegan friends who lived up north (As did I) and I put together a vegan Christmas meal. No, I did really, and man oh man, were we all full. I had to do a bit of research, but I had a blast. It definitely stretched my culinary skills.

So keep tuned into see how I manage this task. I think I will be successful. I have given up white sugar and white flour, the rest should be a breeze.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Multi-tasking in Florida

It's official, I am an old lady. Let me explain. I have MS (Story for another post) and herniated discs in my back (another post as well). Well, I know that I need to exercise to try and keep the pain level in my back to a minimum, but you are in pain all the time, it becomes a vicious cycle. I can't exercise because my leg hurts so I don't, then it gets worse because I don't... Anyhow, a friend of mine has moved recently and had to get rid of her three wheeler bike. I told her how I would love to have one, but there was no way I could even think of buying it, when we don't even have to nickels to rub together. That was when my husband said, why don't I barter with her. My lightbulb went on.

I used to be a hairdresser and I can cut hair...duh. So I called my friend and made thee offer. She loved the idea. She thinks she is getting the better of the deals and I feel I am, so I guess we are both winners.

Well my daughter and I have been utilizing my new/old bike. She takes the pooch out on the leash while I sit my hiney on the bike. And let me tell you, that bike seat is massive. they must think that only retired broad-butted women need to ride three-wheelers. Clue in folks. Even those of us who are average sized need to exercise.

So, today I had an epiphany. As we were making our trek back to the house, I looked to my shoulder and realized I could wear my bathing suit (with shorts attached, as not to embarrass my daughter more than I already am by riding a three-wheeler) and get exercise. My daughter about had a kaniption fit. I told her that I would wear short, but why not kill as many birds with one stone as you possible can. So tomorrow, I will don my bathing suit and build a tan on the Lucille Ball white skin.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's In a Name

How do we come to name our blogs? We all have stories, and I think mine is a bit interesting.

We are a home schooling family, and I have taught cooking classes for the last 4 years. I used to teach all age groups, but I got a bad taste in my mouth from a few disrespectful teenagers and I quit teaching that age group. I felt bad for those who wanted to learn, but I was angry. I then decided to teach only the youngest group. They were innocent and would not say in the middle of class, "That is not how my mommy does it!" And they are like sponges and bring no attitude to class.

But as time wore on, they too got comfortable with me and their personalities would come out. That's another description for attitude. So I would politely stop the class and wait for them to finish what they were babbling about. Now, you have to remember, this was not an art class, or a P.E. class. We were in the kitchen, with hot pots and pans, boiling water and sharp knives. I needed their undivided attention, and for one hour, it needed to be...All about me.

This phrase caught on so much that it stuck, and so much so that one of my classes had a shirt made for me and had it embroidered with that slogan on it. And to this day if I ask my class, "For this hour, who is it all about?" They know. It's not ego, it is safety and time crunch. I only have 1 hour to show and prepare a meal with these children and listen to their stories, and hopefully get something taught to them.

I love cooking. And thee only thing I ask for in return is that they 'get' something...anything. I want them to be with a girlfriend, or a wife, 10-15-20 years form now, and be in the kitchen and they be doing something and all of a sudden they stop and say, 'Hey, I remember the Cooking Lady teaching me that."

That's all I ask.

So the name for my blog came form one of those lovely vivacious teenagers who is just a ray of sunshine. She is goofy, quirky and a pure joy to be around. So, credit for naming this blog goes to KC. Thanks KC!!

When Do You Draw the Line?

We have been, as a family, trying to better our eating habits. And we have been doing fine and dandy. We have gotten rid of boxed cereal (save grapenuts, and puffed rice or wheat), and are losing our bottled salad dressings. I can't even think of any processed food we 'do' use. Yes, we have the occasional can bean, or box of pasta, but other than that we are eating pretty darned healthy.

So my my dilemma is this, do we give up our healthy eating lifestyle, just because we are pinching pennies. I mean have you compared a can of organic tomatoes to a can of regular tomatoes? And if you are a family who does not eat out, which we don't, at all, then all your money goes to the grocery bill. I am not complaining about not eating out, I can cook way better than many of those restaurants, and I can wear my slippers to the dinner table as well.

I know that cooking our own food is far better than eating out. No one would argue that fact, and if they do, they need to have their head examined. But again, where do you draw the line? Do you stop buying organic, do you start buying some processed foods, because you cannot afford the better items?

Some of the bloggers I have been reading have posted about deals from local supermarkets. Buy ones, get one frees. they are great deals, trust me, I know, I used to work at said grocery store, and my son and husband still does. but many, if not all of these BOGO deals are of processed foods. they are never on a can organic beans, or healthy style chips or bags of apples, it always junk style or less than quality food. I mean come on, Pop Tarts, got to be the ultimate junk food.

I will, for as long as I can, hold to my healthy guns and eat healthy, until I can no longer do so. Keep us in your thoughts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Feeling the Pinch

Well, it has finally caught up with us. Yes, I am referring to the crunch of trying to live on one income. We are barely one step ahead of the foreclosure proceedings. I was downsized about 6 weeks ago, one hour before I was to punch the time clock. I knew the minute I saw my bosses wife's phone number that it was going to be one of two things. Either come to work early or don't bother coming in. It was the latter.

So we did what any hard-working family would do, look for another job. My husband cannot get a second job. He works for Publix Supermarket and when you are full time with them, you are theirs for life. Someone tell me how you can survive on the salary they dish out. Oh yeah that's right, you have to have a two income family. Well what about those families who want to stay home and do something new and different, like raising their children, instead of letting some daycare do it for them. Those families are the ones who are suffering.

I am lucky in the fact that my children are older and do not need to be babysat like toddlers. But my disadvantage is that my 19 year old son still does not drive. So if I don't drive him to work my in-laws will pick up the slack. But two things, they have a life of their own and they will not be here forever. So if I am to get a job...and keep it, I would need one that is flexible and willing to bend if needed. Not all employers are that willing. You are being hired to work, not work your schedule around your life, you knew the rules when you got hired, and they would be right.

I just want to find a job that pays enough to pay my bills. I am used to not having much more than what is necessary to survive on, but I would like a little cushion. The financial experts tell you that you should have 2 months of all your bills set aside for emergencies. HAH! I laugh in the face of these experts. I just want to get to the end of the month and have everything paid and food on my table, nothing more...nothing less.

Being homeschoolers and gas rounding out the $4 mark, we are not becoming literal homeschoolers. We leave the house rarely and when we do there are a few errands tacked on to each car ride. We all do what we have to do. I just want to be able to survive without the stress of wondering if the bank will be knocking on our door.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Next Step

Last night was a transitional night for our family. My son graduated. Now remember, we are homeschoolers so we do not have the traditional cap and gown service and I was the one who stood and spoke about his life. Even if he wanted to give a speech, he does not have that creative process in him. He is autistic. He will be 19 next month and still is not doing things that most normal 19 years old are doing.

For one, he doe snot drive and has no desire to do so. He knows his ability to concentrate is limited. He is easily distracted and I would not want someone like that on the roads. We have enough teenagers already and they won't admit they are easily distracted or preoccupied doing other things that they should not be doing while their hands are on the wheel or should be on the wheel. So in that aspect I respect and admire him for seeing what his capabilities are at this time in his life. Things can change, who knows what the future holds.

The evening was filled with family and friends. My sister drove up from Miami with her husband and two girls, my son was elated. My in-laws were able to make it as well as my father. Two friend attended, one he works with and one he used to work with. Both have known us since we moved to this city, and have seen him grow...and grow he has. He now stands at a nearly 5'10" and close to a 170 frame, which I need a second job to feed him with. That boy, I swear, has what, a four compartment stomach like a cow.

He was confident and sure of himself, something he wasn't 4 years ago when we joined this local support group. My speech was not intended to be about his autism, but I somehow made it about it. I do not think I made it an in your face speech, but I wanted to let everyone know how many people treat kids and then adults with disabilities. They are treated differently. People will say they treat them the same way, but trust me when I say this is not true. I don't know if it is fear or ignorance, but for whatever reason, people avoid those who are different.

now I am the complete opposite, I find them, and go right for them, for I know how it feels to sit with your child (who is now an adult) and be avoided. It hurts. And if people would just give them a chance, many of them have something to offer and can be interesting. My son is one of them. Can he banter about the latest in politics? Probably not, but there are many a things he knows his stuff about. Trust me, I have been wrong on more than one occasion.

He is polite, and well mannered, which many of his age bracket are not, so for that he is liked greatly. Plus, I would knock him silly if he did not act respectfully towards his elders.

All in all we had a wonderful evening and look forward to next year.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Remind Me Again...

We celebrated my husbands Birthday a day early at my in-laws. She made all his favorite foods and his brother brought over a cake from Cold Stone Creamery. Now, we have been changing our eating habits and doing pretty darned good. But last night, after we had dinner, I wanted to see if dear old hubby would indulge in the cake with white processed sugar, and white processed, and sure as I am typing about it now, he took a slice. All I asked was..."You're going to have a slice?" And he said yes.

We had Cuban style pork and black beans and rice. It was delicious as always. When we returned home, we were all sitting around just relaxing and I looked over to hubby ans said, just very matter-of-factly. When your stomach starts to flair up in a day or two, I do not want to hear one single word about it. You ate that cake and you will pay the consequences. when we people ever learn? Why do they feel the need to eat things that will knowingly disrupt their stomachs and do bad things to them, just for the sake of fitting in. I say, be the rebel, and go against the grain of society. Sure you will get odd looks, but I could care less.

While on my mini-vacation this last week I chose not to eat certain things. Some of my family questioned my motives, but I stood my ground, and I am a better person for it. I used to judge people for not wanting to make changes to better themselves, and I guess in a way I still do, but now I have pity for them. I wish they could feel what I feel in freeing myself from the chains of the garbage we have been putting in our bodies. Does that mean I will never ever again eat anything that is processed? I am not sure, but I would hope that I would hopefully be able to step away and so 'No thank you.' My daughter has been doing it for years about her vegetarianism. So I feel, if she can do it so can I.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


It's a love-hate relationship. You can pick your friends, but family you are stuck with. I was with my family, minus a husband here and there, and a nephew. When there are that many people together, it is tough to keep everyone happy. And I still prefer smaller gatherings. But there are times when it is a necessity to do familial thing and do your duty.

In the last few weeks, I have lost 4 people I have known or been acquainted with. Some were expected and some came out of the blue, regardless of their age. So to say I saw my parents in a different light would be a slight understatement. They are aging and not in the best of health. That is not to say I could not be gone tomorrow, but the odds are in their favor that they will go first.

I remember as a younger woman, not wanting to grow old and take on the odd ways and habits of our parents, grandparents and others in that age bracket. But eventually we all become them. Oh, we say we won't get like that, but it is inevitable. We all get old. I see myself doing things, that I know for a fact get under other peoples skin, but that is how I conduct things in my life.

I did not bicker with them as I normally do, but this makes me wonder. By not discussing things with them, or presenting my side of a debate, am I, or any other child, giving in to our parents and admitting defeat, telling them they are right and we are wrong. I do not like that feeling. I am passionate about many a topic, and I know you should be able to walk away and be the better person, but this past weekend, I become part of a new demographic, the ever popular silent, submissive child.