Optimistic and hopeful

by Ginger on April 8, 2016

in Random

I said this on Twitter, but it bears repeating for posterity on the ole blog: I’m unusually and happily optimistic right now. I have this vague sense that something good is RIGHT around the corner for me–what, I don’t know, but I feel like it’s there, just waiting–and I am fairly rolling around in the niceness of that feeling.

I have no idea how long the feeling will stick around, but I’m running with it for as long as it does. It’s made things so much easier this week: I bombed (like, hysterically so) a phone screen, but was able to laugh it off; I got a couple of rejections that just made me shrug my shoulders; I applied for a couple of things that feel like a stretch without breaking into a swirling mess of self-doubt. It’s been easier to pick myself up and go, “ok, this didn’t work, but what’s next?” I like it. It’s a welcome, WELCOME feeling.

It’s such a nice change, this lightness, this hopefulness, this OPTIMISM. I’ve spent a lot of the past few months feeling very heavy, and weighed down. It is hard being unemployed, to go from breadwinner to not that, and all the associated stresses, worries, and fears. And I don’t kid myself that I won’t feel that way again, or that this is magically the end of stress and worry. But *right now* I feel good. And light. I really do feel, for the first time in a long time, that there’s something good heading my way, and I’m holding on to those feelings with everything I have.

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Cilantro Lime Rice

by Ginger on April 6, 2016

in Random

A few weeks ago, we had 6 *pounds* of carnitas thanks to a rockin deal at the store. I love carnitas, (obviously), but I actually found myself tired of tacos, burritos, carnitas nachos, and eggs with carnitas after about a week. So, I decided to try and replicate a Chipotle burrito bowl. And, as anyone knows, the key there is the cilantro lime rice.

I found a few recipes that I sort of combined and adapted for what we had on hand, since that day the idea of another trip to the grocery store made me want to cry. The biggest thing I had to figure out from most of the recipes was how to adapt for minute rice (all we had) when almost every recipe called for basmati rice. Time to wing it. It worked, really well. (I maaaaay have upped the butter component. So there’s that too). It went so well in fact that we went through the rice in about 2 days and then made more. And then made some more.  And then we made some more yesterday. This stuff? Is delicious.

So here’s my cheater, minute rice recipe:

Cilantro Lime Rice

3 cups minute rice
2 & 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
Onion powder (I probably use about 1/2 – 1 tsp, but to taste)–you can use onions instead, but my kid won’t eat them. If you do that, I would saute them until soft before adding the rice.
Garlic powder (I probably use about 1/2 – 1 tsp, but to taste)–you can use fresh garlic instead, I was just out & I’m lazy. If you do that, I would saute a little bit before adding the rice.
Zest of 2 limes*
Juice of 2 limes*
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Heat butter in pan over medium high heat until melted. Add rice, onion powder, garlic powder and saute until rice just starts to turn golden, usually a 2-3 minutes (similar to when you’re making risotto). Add water & bring to a boil, then cover & remove from heat. Let stand according to cooking time on package (for mine, for 3 cups, it’s 10 minutes), or until all liquid is absorbed–I usually check it around 8 minutes.

Remove lid, fluff rice, then add salt to taste, stirring well.

Add cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, mix well. Let stand for a minute or two, then serve. Try not to fight for it.

*Note: we like things REALLY limey around here. If you are not similarly inclined for SUPER LIME ALL THE TIME, you can cut this down to 1 lime, and it’ll still be good, just not as limey.

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Spring Break experiment & results

by Ginger on April 4, 2016

in Random

Last week was the kid’s Spring Break, which I approached with a little excitement, a little “eh, whatever”, and, I’ll be honest, a little apprehension. A week with no school, no structure, and my fear was that it would turn into a battle about video game and tv time, non-stop.

Now, we’re pretty liberal in our approach to tv & video game time. The general way we handle it is: homework before video games, when we say it’s time to stop it’s time to stop, but mostly–when he starts being a butt about tv & video games, it’s time to limit them. Sometimes the limiting comes from time limits, sometimes it comes from limits on specific shows/games, it really just depends on WHAT he’s reacting to.

BUT, I did NOT want to deal with a full week of begging for video games and tv all the time. It’s a school break, he can totally play, but I figured we needed SOME kind of structure for the day that would also help limit the “Mommy can I play video games yet?” question.

So I came up with a little experiment.

I’ve seen a lot of the Summer Screen Time Rules type blog posts over the years, and I’ll be honest, they’re usually way more complicated than we’ll keep up with. I *know* this about us–even with the best intentions, if something is too complicated, we’ll keep it up for a few days, maybe, before it falls by the wayside. So I wanted something simple, and easy for all of us to follow.

This is what I came up with.

SpringBreakScreensPlan

 

Every day, J got a card that said:

  • Read
  • Learn
  • Make
  • Play
  • Read
  • Nice Behavior

There were boxes to put a little sticker for each item (boy loves checking off checklists, stickers, completing things, so I totally played that up). Before he could even ask about playing video games or watching tv, he had to have a sticker for each box.

The colored sheets gave options for each item.

For Read, he could read 15 minutes of chapter books or 30 minutes of non-chapter books/magazines/comics. He had to do 2 reading sessions per day.

For Learn, he could do 15 minutes of math worksheets (we have some he likes doing), or he could do 30 minutes of any of his homework/math website games (Lexia, Dreambox, Prodigy). (Now, this is totally a bit of a work around in his mind to the video game problem, because the computer games are GAMES to him. But I don’t particularly care, because they’re also math and reading. Yes it’s a bit of a cheat, but whatever, I’ll take it).

For Make, he could build something (legos, blocks, forts, etc.), color or draw, make Qixels, etc.

For Play, he could do any number of things, but it had to be at least an hour: play with friends, ride his bike or scooter, play pretend, do sports, etc.

And Nice Behavior had to be the last sticker, given my Mommy or Daddy, and only if (duh) he’d had Nice Behavior all day long.

Once he had ALL his stickers, he could play video games or watch tv *almost* as much as he wanted.

The only other rule was that every day was a new day–so no carrying over from the day before. Meaning, if he read chapter books for an hour the day before, it didn’t count as 30 min for day 1 and 3o min for day 2. It was just extra reading.

Overall, it was a fairly resounding success. Every single day, he did all those things. I believe only 1 day did he ask if he could play video games before he completed all the tasks. No days did he come into our bedroom at 7 am and whisper yell “MOMMY CAN I PLAY VIDEO GAMES?” which he usually does on weekends prior to this. Every day, I came upstairs and he had already started and/or completed some of the tasks, without being asked. AND, over the weekend (which I had not originally intended to be part of the experiment), he not only asked where his lists were, he was overheard telling a friend, “Oh, I can’t do that yet, I still have to make and learn today.”

Now, there are some things that didn’t work as well that I’ll change going forward (oh, yeah, we’re planning on trying to keep this up for weekends some, and will definitely bust it out over summer break). The first and main one is that I should have put more guidelines on the Make stuff–in particular, it needs more time. One day he wrote a poem and drew a picture…in about 5 minutes. Buuuuut, I didn’t specify, and he DID make something, so everyone agreed it counted. Another day, he built a lego “ship” but again, it took about 5 minutes and then he was done. So. I need to come up with some guidelines on time and/or complexity level.

Another thing I will do going forward is put more ideas for play and make. I forgot that my kid tends to think that a list is the be-all-end-all, while I meant for those two to be more…examples. So, ok, accounting for my kid’s personality, I need to put some more options for those. I’m also considering whether to split play into inside/outside lists, so have one list that’s play pretend, play board games, play cards, etc. and one list that’s play sports, go swimming, ride bikes, etc.

The last thing I’ll do is have clearer instructions for what happens with friends. A few days Jackson had play dates, and he was very worried about “what if they want to watch tv, but I haven’t done all my checks?” And honestly, I don’t want to dictate at THAT level, particularly not at someone else’s house. So I want to come up with guidelines for those instances.

But overall, the whole experiment was a success: he got some structure, was incentivized to do a bunch of non-screen stuff (homework computer games notwithstanding), took ownership of it all, AND, best of all, we had NONE fights about CAN I PLAY VIDEO GAMES?

SUCCESS!

 

 

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Friday Snippets

by Ginger on April 1, 2016

in Random

Ok, look, I want to start this whole blogging again thing right, buuuuuut, it’s Friday night and it’s the end of spring break week and basically I just want a beer and to not have anyone say MOMMYYYYYY for a few minutes, so we’re going to do some quick take snippets and call it a day.

***

I’m still on this crazy TV binge (sorry books, it’s not your turn right now). I’ve recently finished Happy Endings, Jessica Jones, and S1 of Daredevil. I’m caught up on Arrow, The Flash, and Scandal, and I watched the pilot of The Catch (so far, it’s like a Shonda version of Thomas Crown Affair, which I can dig). I started The Americans last weekend, and have mainlined all of s1 & half of s2–I had tried it when it first came out & couldn’t make it past ep 2, but I’m totally addicted now. We’re also watching s2 of Daredevil and (heaven help my delicate constitution) have started Hannibal. Clearly I need some 30 minute comedies to balance out alllllll that drama.

***

Job hunting continues to suck. That is all.

***

One of the things I seem to be doing during my unemployment is cooking and baking things I probably never would have before (or only rarely). I think it has to do with the fact that it provides me with both a feeling of accomplishment/completion, no matter how simple the food, AND gives me comfort food. While it’s not great for my waistline, it’s been nice. This week’s standouts were mashed potatoes (I always forget how easy they actually are. I think they get caught up in my mind with HOLIDAYS = HARD/EXHAUSTING, but really…they’re super simple. And delicious), strawberry shortcake (like from the Bisquick box), and pudding pie (crust made of ground up Annie’s bunnie crackers, vanilla pudding filling). None of these are revelations, or earth shattering, but it feels nice to start a project and finish it shortly thereafter.

***

Can you tell I need a job?

***

I am actually doing some consulting work–not this week, because see above re: Spring Break, and nothing gets done with the kid home all day–which is good, both financially and mentally. Plus, it helps keep me from getting toooooo rusty. I’m hoping to pick up a little bit more after I finish up this one project I’m working on (hopefully over the weekend), but if nothing else, this one project is doing me some good.

***

New favorite:

 

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I need a non-finding-a-job project (I mean, I *could* try to burn all my old cds to iTunes, or cleaning out my closets, buuuuut, nah), and I’d like to get back in the swing of personal writing, AND I actually have some things to blog about, so I had the crazy idea to do a blogging challenge for the month of April. Join me?

My plan is to shoot for 4-5x a week for the month, and actual word-making type writing, so we’ll see how that goes. If you want to join me, or do your own kind of challenge, let me know and we’ll see if we can support each other through it (although my comments section seems borked–I’ll see your comments on the backend, and they show on mobile, but they don’t seem to show up on the site otherwise. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on there, but feel free to ping me on Twitter or FB instead of my busted comments if you’d prefer!).

So. Let’s do some writing this April, yeah?

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