Friday Flip Offs 10/29: Halloween, Pre-Teen Drama, and Long Distance Relationships

Happy Birthday to Mommakiss the Flip Off Queen.

Yes, I know. Where have I been all week? Good gawd I wish I knew. I don’t think I’ve seen myself  let alone anyone else or my computer for that matter. So let’s just assume the position: left hand on hip, feet shoulder width apart, right hand flashing a one finger salute to the calendar. Again. This seems to be a re-occurring theme. “Second verse, same as the first…” I’m going to have to declare next week Pajama Week and make a point not to answer the phone, read a text, or leave the house. Fricker Fracker.

Foolishly I thought that pre-teen and teenage drama only happened once in your life. One of those, “this too shall pass” moments of your childhood. Why the hell didn’t anyone warm me that if you have girls, you can NEVER escape it? This week was definitely a tampon typhoon. Hormones and tears were running rampant not only here at the house, but at school as well.

Ring, ring.

“Sniffle. Sob. Sob. Mom?”

“Hey sweetie, what’s wrong? Are you sick?”

“Uh…yeah. My stomach hurts real bad and I have a headache.”



“Sore throat?”


“Then you can make it the rest of the day.”

“But, but…Mooooommmm! So-and-so did blah, blah, blah to me…”

It wasn’t pretty. I made her stay. She was pissed at first but then she decided to go talk to the school counselor and work it out herself. Perfect. The drama made for a very emotional week – girl “drama” can be hurtful for everyone involved. I am not a mom that calls other moms about their kids because as sure as shishkabob, it’ll be my kid screwing up and I’ll be getting the phone call. So, no thank you. And if you call me wanting to engage in some sort of tit-for-tat mommy-war about whose kid said or did what…well, just move along because I’m going to do my best to not hash out the squabbles of a couple of 12-year-olds. Besides, I’m quite sure that by next week they will all be friends again. What stinks the most though, is when you are friends with the mom ,because then you have to make some hard choices sometimes about where your loyalty lies: with your friend or with your kid.

One sticky, spider-ring wearing, black nail polish sportin’ middle finger flip off to Halloween and Halloween school parties. Do you really think it is necessary to serve donuts, rice crispy treats covered in orange frosting and topped with candy corn, sliced apples with caramel dip, apple cider and a take home bag of candy all at the same party? Why do we make such a big deal about Halloween? It would have been more than enough to have served one cupcake and some cider. The rest was not only excessive but expensive. And we wonder why American kids have such a high obesity rate. Pahleeeeezzzee!

And with such an emotionally draining week, it really highlighted the fact my best friend lives in another state. We try and call each other as often as possible, but life just gets in the way sometimes. What I wouldn’t give to just call her up and say, “Meet me for a glass of wine? It’s been a tough day.” Instead we have to pull out the calendars and try to figure a visit between all the sports schedules, volunteering, family needs and holidays. It has been almost 6 months since I’ve been able to wrap my arms around her and say, “I’ve missed you”. Flip you “life” for getting in the way and flip you long distance jobs. And there are so many more relationships I am going through withdrawal from that are all in Texas. It has been 9 and a half years since I moved to the Detroit area, but my heart hasn’t stopped longing for my friends. If my heart had fingers, it would be flipping you off too.

So, yes it is almost 10:30 at night and my eyes can barely stay open. I’ve hit my head on the back of the couch several times in the last few minutes. The day is really over, but technically it is still friday. So get over it.

Potted Mums on our porch

I would, however, like to end on a better note than I started. Thank you Girl Next Door for having such a great idea! Feel Good Friday. Fall makes me feel good. I love the smells of burning leaves and roasting marshmallows. I absorb the sound of crinkling leaves. Fall also has some of the most brilliant colors, I think. Fall makes me think of mums and trick-or-treating.

Ghosts in our garden

It makes me think about pumpkins and ghosts. I’m also feeling very thankful for my sweet DW. He has been traveling so much lately, but we are all very relieved he still has a job when so many others continue to be laid-off.

Me and my DW

Sleepy. That is the strongest feeling at the moment, so I will drag this tired butt up stairs and snuggle up next to my human heater. And go to bed.

Letters of Recommendation

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I’ve been asked to write a couple of letters of recommendation for college applications. The first one didn’t take me very long, but the one I am working on at the moment has been a struggle. A struggle because there are just too many great things to say about this young woman. I’m finding it hard not to write a letter that states, “Because she is freakin’ awesome, and we love her like family, so you better accept her college application or else!”

It has brought up an interesting question for me though. We request letters of recommendation for colleges, jobs, adopting or fostering children, adopting animals, sometimes to get a loan or volunteering. People do credit checks when buying a car or house and get background checks for most jobs. Then why don’t we require more when it comes to marriage or having children?

It seems like a reasonable request, letters of recommendation to support a marital decision. I think if I had asked family and friends for that kind of hard, tangible, in-your-face support in my first marriage, I probably would not have gotten married. There just wouldn’t have been enough people willing to say, “yes, he is the man for you”. Actually, maybe what we really need are letters of recommendation before we even start dating. Isn’t that what happens when you engage in one of those fancy, expensive dating services? I’ve heard that the application process is grueling and sometime your application isn’t even accepted if the selection committee doesn’t think you are a good candidate. There might be a lot less divorces if people had to make a life-long decision based on more than their heart. What if instead of having “pre-marriage counseling” we had to sit down with a financial advisor or a panel of peers? DW and I are not overly religious people, but we did want a very traditional wedding. I was friends with a Baptist minister at the time and had asked him to marry us. One session of “counseling” was required by his church to accept our request. It was such a joke too, because this pastor had never met DW before. The questions were simple:

  • For DW – they focused on him being a good provider and spiritual leader.
  • For me – they were more directed at being a “good” wife through submission and support.

All of the questions were pointless, to be honest, because we have a marriage based on equality not hierarchy. But in order to have a church wedding, we had to go through the motions. One session could some how determine that we were going to be successful. Not one questions asked:

  • Have you ever cheated on a girlfriend/boyfriend?
  • What is your current debt to income ratio?
  • Who is going to manage the money?
  • How many children do you both want?
  • How will you divide quality time with each of your families?

Believe it or not, these are all questions that DW and I asked each other. Before I met DW I had made a list of characteristics and qualities that I wanted in a partner. And I mean partner, not husband, because I wanted to make a commitment to a person that saw us as a team, respected my opinion and knew how to compromise. But on that list was also leadership skills, the ability to listen, a strong work-ethic, etc. Isn’t that what we hope someone would write in our recommendation letter? Too many times the things that make or break a relationship are unknown variables only because we didn’t think to ask. For instance:

  • An example of a difficult situation in their lives and how did they handle it.
  • How many people are in their support system?
  • What kind of relationship do they have with their immediate or extended family?
  • An example of a time when they thought of others before themselves.
  • How many jobs have you had? Have you ever been fired?
  • What is the biggest lie you have ever told?

I understand that through dating our hope is that we pick-up on all of these things even if we didn’t ask them directly. However, it will never be as clear as looking at it through the eyes of someone who isn’t as emotionally involved, someone who is more objective than we can be in the heat of the moment. At the very least, getting insight from people who know our partner outside of a romantic relationship would give us a better understanding of who they are at their core.


I can only hope that when our girls start dating, we’ve taught them to ask the right questions, get to really know their boyfriend’s families and friends, maybe even their colleagues  and make great mental notes of everything else.

As a parent, can we ask for letters of recommendation, references or maybe even a resume?

That’s my recommendation.

Savory Saturdays: Black Bean and Potato Breakfast Tacos

Growing up in Texas meant tacos for breakfast: bean and cheese, beef fajita, carne guisada, potato and egg…if you could wrap it in a tortilla, top it with cheese and salsa, then it was a meal. I have the best memories of eating bean and cheese tacos at Taco Cabana at 2am. They are open 24 hours, and there is nothing like sitting outside under the stars after a night of dancing with your friends and enjoying a hot hand-made tortilla. I didn’t realize what a luxury it was to live in a town where Taco Cabana are as plentiful as McDonald’s, until I moved to Michigan 9 1/2 years ago. There just aren’t as many choices of quality Mexican food here, and the ones that the locals rave about, pale in comparison to anything I grew up eating. Each Christmas we take a trek back to San Antonio to visit family and our very first stop in Texas is to the nearest Taco Cabana.

Just because I live in the midwest though, doesn’t mean I am willing to give up my southern roots. I have not mastered tortilla making myself, (and have tried to be healthier by substituting whole wheat for white), but I have managed to find decent store-bought tortillas at Trader Joe’s.  Saturday mornings frequently are taco mornings. A family favorite are potato and black bean, but it really all depends on what “left-overs” we have in the refrigerator.

The plan of attack is to raid the veggie drawer and just start chopping. I also prefer using freshly diced potatoes, but frozen hash browns will work in a pinch. If you are going to add breakfast sausage or chorizo, I would recommend browning the meat with the potatoes. This way the potatoes will brown in the meat’s “juices” (sounds so much better than grease, right?) and you won’t have to drain the pan before adding the rest of the veggies. Eggs should be added last since they don’t take as long to cook, just make sure you push everything else to the side of the pan so that the eggs can really rest on the heat. Once cooked, then you can mix your scramble into the veggies and meat.

Black Bean and Potato Breakfast Tacos

Olive Oil
2 Large Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 can of seasoned Black Beans, drained
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Fresh Salsa*

*We use Jack’s Garden Fresh Salsa found in the deli’s refrigerator section at Kroger, Meijer and in large quantities at Costco

In a large skillet, heat a splash of Olive Oil. Add diced potatoes to the pan. Once the potatoes start to brown a little, add the onions and peppers. Stir occasionally, making sure your potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. As soon as the potatoes are tender, add the beans until heated through. Serve in warmed tortillas. (Heat tortillas on top of the stove in a small skillet). Top with cheese and salsa.

Friday Flip Offs 10/22: Pediatricians, Selfish Moms and Parent Drivers

 I feel like I have been in a coma or something. My head is spinning and I literally had to take the calendar out to re-trace my steps. Last I remember it was Saturday night and we were gnashing on sushi rolls and taking the kids to the movies. When I woke up, it was Friday. WTH? This has to be the longest amount of time between my posts since my blog started, and believe me, it feels weird, like finding your keys in the refrigerator kind of weird. (Yes, it’s been that kind of week.) This week has been over-run with community needs, family needs, deadlines and drama. So what better way to wrap up it up than to flip it off?

What do you do when people in your life tell you very petty and exaggerated things, talk about you behind your back or cause unneccessary drama under the guise of “trying to be helpful”? You smile politely while it is happening and then you flip them off on your blog later. Yeah, I just did that. Biggest life lesson that I think I can teach my children? That women are just little girls with bigger boobs. (Well, most of them anyway, I’m still waiting.) Maybe instead of pushing our kids to get along with everyone we should be teaching them how to be more selective, build better boundaries, put up with less shiitake mushrooms. I loved the idea of the book He’s Just Not That Into You: The No Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys. Good gawd what I would have given to have had that kind of humorous resource when I was dating. But now that I am a mother, we need a handbook of our own, like Yes, She Really is Just a Bitch: The No Nonsense Guide to Understanding Girl Drama.

Normally I’m not in the habit of flipping off people whose job it is to help my family, however, if you keep me waiting for almost two hours with a vomiting, fevered, sick child in your office when I have an appointment, be prepared to see more than my signature when I pay the bill. The Hare started complaining of mild lower back pain and stomach cramps earlier this week. Based on her limited diet, and no other symptoms it seemed reasonable to assume constipation. The cramps became worse over a few days so we decided to keep her home Thursday morning to catch up on her sleep and then call the pediatrician to get some more aggressive advice. At 8am, The Hare woke up screaming in pain. Her throat was on fire, her head was pounding, the stomach ache was causing her to double over and now she had a fever. I called the doctor, got an appointment and talked to a nurse who determined that it probably wasn’t appendicitis and she could wait until her 10:40am appointment to be seen. We got to the office by 10:30am. My sweet little sickie threw-up hard in the parking lot. I rubbed her back and held her hair out of the way as the liquid splattered on the pavement. A man was walking by at the time and gave me a dirty look, like “You are going to clean that up, right?” I flip you off too, you obviously single man with no kids. Seriously? You are surprised a small child is throwing up outside a doctor’s office? (I did tell the staff inside what had happened and took The Hare to the bathroom to clean-up.) We sat. And sat. We sat for an hour after our scheduled appointment while babies poured in for well-visits, teenagers got sports physicals and random people were seen for flu-vaccines. We were trumped by healthy individuals while continuing to contaminate the waiting room, throw-up one more time in their bathroom and fall asleep in the uncomfortable chairs. Finally there seemed to be a reprieve when we were called into an exam room. Not so much. It was 12:20 before we were finally seen by the doctor. I would have gathered up my pajama wearing munchkin and headed to Urgent Care earlier if she hadn’t fallen asleep waiting. It took less than a minute to confirm from a rapid test that she indeed had strep. Almost two-hours, a one minute test, a prescription for amoxicillin and all I got was a lousy bill.

I’ve been coloring my own hair off and on over the last few years. Sometimes the $8 price-tag is just what my budget can handle, while other times having someone pamper me is too priceless to pass up. So when DW said, “From the back, your hair looks great. You don’t even notice the grey until you turn around” I decided this week it was time to pay someone. Fantastic Sam’s has been good to me over the years, and since I have the luxury to go first thing in the morning, I almost never have to wait. When the girls were small I would do a kid swap with another mom so that we could have time to ourselves at the “salon”. Never would I have thought to bring my children to hang out while spending a little time chatting with the stylist about husbands, in-laws and kids. I would like to flip off the mom that thought allowing their children to run rampant around the salon, bumping into my chair while I processed, or having to listen to them scream “I want McDonald’s” was okay. Maybe you are able to tune them out, but the rest of us certainly couldn’t. Wal-Mart has a nice selection of hair coloring products that you could do right in the comfort of your own home while Nickelodeon plays in the background. That “play” area in the waiting room is for your convenience while you wait for their haircut, not for your children to wait while you are getting your hair done. Where was the sign that said, “Any child left unattended will be sold”? And on the other side of my station was a mom with two well-behaved children, but I flip you off too for thinking it was okay to discuss with your stylist the size of your boyfriend’s anatomy and how much your girlfriend had to drink at some party the weekend before. If I could hear you, then so could your kids. Calgon, take me away.

And not only do I have to deal with the guilt of The Hare being upset she is missing her field-trip today, but I had to get over the guilt of not being able to volunteer my services as a parent driver for the field-trip. I’d like to flip off the brilliant minds that think parent drivers are a good idea for any public school field trip. Besides the fact that I don’t allow my child to get into some random stranger’s car in the first place, how can you be sure you will ever have enough drivers? If they weren’t already short on seats, now that The Hare got sick, they certainly are short at least 2 seats. Buses. And if the budget won’t allow it, then we just can’t go, or else people need to start passing bonds for a change and pay for the things that they want in their district. I’d rather pay a couple hundred dollars more a year in school taxes than worry about volunteering as a parent driver…or participating in school auctions and wrapping paper fundraisers, etc. Really? Who is able to find enough suckers in the same neighborhood or family members to buy Little Caesar Pizza kits to offset the needs of your school? The parents end up buying all of that fundraiser crap themselves anyway so that little Johnny can win some dumb prize. I bet they spend more on stuff they didn’t want just to put a couple bucks in the PTO account when they could have paid less per year in increased school taxes.

Overall, I flip off this week and look forward to catching up on my favorite blogging buddies today while I am home monitoring a sick child. Check out the other Friday Flip Offs over at Momma Kiss and raise those fingers high.

Savory Saturdays: Mediterranean Gratin

I’ve been cooking vegetarian dinners for almost two weeks now, and can’t understand why the weight isn’t falling off.

Salt and Vinegar Chips – vegetarian                                                 
Cheese Pizza – vegetarian                                                                  
Sweet Shiraz – vegetarian                                                                        
Pumpkin Cinnamon Donuts and Apple Cider – vegetarian, vegetarian

So what’s the problem? Perhaps trading carbs for meat wasn’t in my best interest. However, I have honestly not missed meat at dinner and have had a lot of fun trying new recipes. This week, my favorite was this one. I served it with black, seedless grapes and fresh crusty bread from our local bakery. (It also paired nicely with a Cabernet Sauvignon by Simi).  The recipe says it serves 4, but there was plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Mediterranean Gratin

Prep time: 15 minutes     Start to finish: 40 minutes

1 box (5.8 oz) roasted garlic and olive oil flavor couscous mix
6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (5 oz)
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers (7.25 oz jar), drained, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                        
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel                                                            
1 can (15 to 16 oz) garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make couscous as directed on box for version without olive oil. (It’s the same directions, just leave out the oil).

2. Meanwhile, spray  11×7 inch (2-quart) glass baking dish or gratin dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch skillet, place spinach and 2 Tablespoons water. Cover; cook over medium heat 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted.

3. Stir in cooked couscous, roasted red peppers, lemon peel, salt, beans and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Spread mixture in baking dish.

4. In small bowl, mix remaining cheese, walnuts and oil. Sprinkle over couscous mixture.

5. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Calories per serving: 530