Apparently I am a “Nuisance Mom”

The Genius decided he wanted to work in the Nursery at church this morning, and Joe Cool wanted to go to Teen Group to get ready for the annual Teen Service.  So I decided to take them and wait for Joe Cool to finish class, then he and I would go to the local Starbucks to wait for The Genius to be done working so we could pick him up and head home.

On the way to Coffee Heaven (aka Starbucks), I said, “Oh, maybe I will have time to write a blog post.”

Joe Cool was all, “that’s cool mom.”

I said, “What should I write about?”

Now while we were driving to Starbucks and I was trying to talk to Joe Cool he was listening to music on his phone.  So I would tap his knee so he could remove his headphones and listen to me.  So when I asked what I should write about, he said (a little too quickly I might add), “Why don’t you write about what a nuisance you are when you keep trying to talk to me when I am listening to my music?”

I was a little annoyed at first, and then decided this could be an opportunity for me to find out what I do that annoys him, so I could either:

1) not do it as much, or

2) use it to push buttons….  (hey, you would not BELIEVE all the ways this kid pushes mine, it is good for me to teach him how to handle annoyances in a positive way) That is my story and I am sticking to it.

So according to Joe Cool these are the ways I am a nuisance:

1) Bugging him when he is trying to listen to music by touching him or getting his attention in some other way and stopping him from his listening pleasure.

music

2) When he is playing Black Ops on the PS3 I will sometimes call him to come talk to me about “unimportant things” (his words).  Of course yesterday it was to talk about our vacation Spring Break, and to discuss school work.  But to him this is unimportant apparently.  He said I should come to him to talk instead of making him come to me.  HA HA he is a funny kid.

black ops

3) I am a nuisance when I talk to him about girls.  Saturday night the kid went to a movie with two girls.  One a sophomore and one a senior.  The Senior drove him.  He was annoyed that I wanted to meet the girls.  Um Hello???  I need to meet and lay eyes upon the person who is driving him around. Oh, and I need to know her name also.  I do not think that is overboard.  Inviting myself along is overboard.  However, when I asked him if he was “talking” to either of these girls (the new term for liking someone), he became annoyed with me for asking.  I had never heard of either of these girls before, of course I am going to ask if he is “talking” to one of them.  ESPECIALLY since one is a senior and too old for my almost 16 year old.  (Is that old fashioned???)

4) BIG problem for him: I won’t let him play PS3 during the school week.  That is a HUGE annoyance for him.  This is from the kid who has a D in Geometry due to low grades on quizzes and tests.  This is also coming from the kid who has missing assignments in almost every class.  DUH no PS3 during the week.  If he can’t manage to get good grades with NO distractions except TV and his guitar, how much worse will it get if he was jumping on the PS3 after school and getting lost in his Black Ops world??

5)  Making him clean his room annoys him. Let me remind you what his room usually looks like:

DSCF0684

Um, yes I want that cleaned.

That was all he was willing to tell me, because he really wanted to drink his drink and listen to his music.

zack drink1

So you tell me, am I really annoying, or just being a proper mom??

 

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It has been cold and dreary the past week or two here in Southeastern Virginia with a few days of sunshine mixed in.  Cold, and damp always lend themselves to soup in my mind.  Soup or stew.  So I polled the boys to see what kind of sop they wanted me to make.  What I heard was a resounding call for “Your awesome potato soup Mom.”  (Editor’s note, I threw in the awesome part, but they did ask for the potato soup).

I found this recipe years ago, and to be honest I can’t remember where I found it.  Over the years I have modified it a bit (you all know I NEVER) do that to make it more “mine”.  I have come across many recipes that call for the potatoes to be cooked in the microwave, but I feel to get that truly authentic “baked potato” taste you really have to bake the potatoes in the oven.  So you have to plan ahead s you can bake the potatoes for an hour before assembling the soup.  I usually bake the potatoes in the oven in the morning so the potatoes have time to cool and “re-solidify” if you will.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

1 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup onion, diced

5 large Russet potatoes

3 c. chicken stock

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 1/2 c. milk

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 cup light sour cream

1. Poke holes in the potatoes and cook in a 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes until soft.  Put aside to cool.

2  In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.

3. Add chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 10 minutes.

4.  While the stock and onions are simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into bite sized cubes.  Add them to the stock and let them cook about 5 minutes to get nice and hot.  With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.

4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, 1/2 of the bacon and the sour cream to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and have the following garnishes available:  Shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon and chives.

Since I have three hungry teenaged boys, I always double this recipe so it lasts for two dinners.  (Sometimes it only lasts for one). Adjusting the amount of bacon, cheese, and sour cream can reduce the calories of this soup.

Cook bacon until crispy
Cook bacon until crispy

 

Cook onions in 1 tbsp of bacon grease until soft
Cook onions in 1 tbsp of bacon grease until soft
Add 3 cups of chicken stock (I use low sodium bouillon)
Add 3 cups of chicken stock (I use low sodium bouillon)
Peel and cut baked potatoes into cubes and add to pot
Peel and cut baked potatoes into cubes and add to pot
Melt butter
Melt butter
add flour to butter
add flour to butter
add milk and stir until thickened
add milk and stir until thickened
shredded cheese to be added back in
shredded cheese to be added back in
Spip after we have all had a bowl.  (I couldn't snap the picture before the vultures dug in)
Soup after we have all had a bowl. (I couldn’t snap the picture before the vultures dug in)
What it looks like in the bowl
What it looks like in the bowl  YUM!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Sequestration will negatively affect my family.

I tend to lean towards the left when I am discussing social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right when discussing fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.

I am not extremely politically savvy.  I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc.  I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there.  Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and says the Republicans suck.  Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck.   The list of partisan websites goes on and on.  However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL.  THAT is what I want.  Something that gives me just the facts.  So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.

We are in terrible debt.  Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money.  We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security.  Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms.  The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes.  Not because I am jealous, but because if I was in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less.  I can only assume that others share the same ideals I do.  I can’t be the only one.

I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans.  That is a revenue.  I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.

Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress.  I believe he was using it as a bluff.  I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen.  Quote from CBS News.com: “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”

So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE.  Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation.  Seriously???  WTF???

If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22 day furlough.  That is 22 days off without pay.  In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. Unfortunately for us Bluebell is a Civil Service Worker.  She will get 22 days off without pay.

This is a BIG deal.  I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.

That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!

We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family.  It means No eating out.  No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day.  It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill.  No more snacks, just basic necessities.  No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income.  It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills.  No extras this year.  This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00.  That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid.  We need water and electricity and heat.  There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.

I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them.  In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family.  That was a very proud mama moment for me.

Congress, and the President could learn a lesson from my boys.  My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work.  We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on.  These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten.  Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.

There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia.  If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected??  The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.

I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep.  Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all.  I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these.  I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough.  They are Federal employees also.  Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?

I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions.  They need to know the American people are not happy.  Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them.  If you are willing ti put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers.  If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses.  Here is a list of Senators.  And the White House.

I am starting my email campaign today.  Will you join me?