Chicken Week 2.0

My oldest daughter loves chicken more than any other protein. So when I was making the grocery list for this week, since she is staying with us, I asked her to tell me a bunch of dinners she’d like to have. She chose things like Chicken Caesar Wraps, Chicken Sliders on Hawaiian rolls, Caprese Chicken and Chicken & Mushrooms… This didn’t surprise me or The GingerBeard Man, as these were frequently what she wanted to eat when she still lived at home.
Next week is her last full week here before we hit the road to Connecticut. This morning, I sent her a text and asked her what her dinner preferences were for next week. Her response was “Chicken Week 2.0”.
So I am scrolling through recipes on pinterest and hellofresh, trying to pick the last few chicken meals I will make for this girl before she heads off and has to make all of her meals herself.
When my kids were little and I was a crazy busy single mom, I rarely cooked anything that didn’t come out of the freezer and get popped into the oven. My life revolved around convenience and frankly, I didn’t really know how to cook. It wasn’t until they were neared to their teenage years that I was afforded the luxury of caring about what we ate and learning to cook things that were mostly good for us. It was even later that I realized that they needed to learn those same things and started having them help me in the kitchen and eventually cook meals for the family on their own.
It’s one of the things that I am the most proud of. I have raised children that can cook. And not just dinners that go from the freezer into the oven, but with the use of real, fresh ingredients. And not only can they cook, but they appreciate so much eating food that is good for them. And not good for them too! lol We aren’t the kind of family that ignores the awesomeness that is Famous Amos cookies 😉

Two weeks to Connecticut

Two weeks.
Like.. I can’t even.
My life is all my oldest daughter right now. Packing, moving, hanging out with… Because, in just 14 days, we are hitting the road. And three days later, we will arrive at her new home in Connecticut.
When you are getting started as a parent, you stare into a chubby little baby face and wonder what your children will look like someday… You watch them playing pretend and you wonder what they will decide to do with their lives. And during that especially terrifying teenager time, you hope that they won’t turn into delinquent hellions… and they mostly don’t.
My oldest daughter has passed all of those milestones and will turn twenty this year. Those small wonders about how she will look or what she will decide to do with her life are miles behind me as I look at a beautiful adult who wants to be a teacher. She is grown. And she is moving far away. And I’m gonna cry my eyeballs out.

Five years ago…

Five years ago today, I picked up my youngest daughter from her foster parents. I put the few small boxes of items that belonged to her in my car and strapped her into her booster seat. I put the Pink Panther dvd she had brought with her on the dvd player and drove away with my new daughter. The new daughter I had only met the weekend before and who I knew virtually nothing about.
I’m told that the adoption process is usually drug out more than a week of get to know you time, but her situation was different and it was necessary for her to be placed quickly. Personally, I think it was better for all of us. There was no gradual peeling off of the bandage. It was ripped off and we moved forward.
The day that I picked her up was a Friday. And on the way home I stopped at our local grocery store to pick up that week’s worth of groceries. I wanted to see what kinds of foods she liked and I thought taking her shopping with me would be a great way to do that. Little did I know, she would eat just about anything.
She was so tiny, a scrawny skinny little five year old. I wrapped her in my big knitted sweater and put her in the seat in front of the cart. She asked me if she could scratch out the items on the list as we shopped. She was proud that she could read. I gave her the list and she wrote “food” on it and proceeded to mark off the items as we got them. She called me “Mommy” that day in the store and every day since. She bought cotton candy for her new sisters. And at the end of shopping, when I took the list back from her, she had written “hug me” on it. So I did.
Back then, I was so shocked by the whole process that it didn’t really occur to me how brave this little girl was. How someone who had only spent five tumultuous years on this planet could hold her head up and take the hand of someone she had only just met and accept that person as her mother. Looking back, I am absolutely humbled by her strength and bravery. And so very proud that she is my daughter.

I am always available to answer question about adopting from fostercare. You can email me at ginger@talesfromthechicks.com

Selling the house & buying a new one…

Night before last, The GingerBeard Man and I were having a chat and once again visited the idea of selling the house and moving. We’ve discussed this a few times now but haven’t actually done much more than check out zillow and consider whether we should move the two remaining girls from their school or let them stay there.
There are two towns we’ve been considering. One is the town where I work and where both girls attend school. It is about fifteen miles away from our current home, in the opposite direction of the way The GingerBeard Man’s job. The other town is about twenty miles away, but towards where he works. The town where my job and the girls’ schools are is pretty small, it boasts less than a thousand people. The other town is a little bigger with a population of twelve thousand. Initially we were considering the bigger town. The girls are entering their first year of middle and high school, so it’s a good time to move them. But as a kid, I was moved every few years from school to school and I have such a hard time putting them through that.
The GingerBeard Man said that he thinks we should move into the smaller town. That the girls would both be able to walk to school, to activities, around the town itself and so could we. If we wanted to go grab a drink, we could. If we needed something from the grocery store, it’s right down the road. I think he sometimes misses the convenience of living in the city. He made a huge lifestyle change moving from a large city into the very small, very spread out, very country town that we currently live in.
So now, we are considering our options. The first step will be to get the house on the market. No small feat and not one that we are really prepared for right now. Not only have neither of us ever sold a home before, but the house has been in what can only be considered a constant state of disarray for the last few weeks. My oldest daughter has moved back home with her three cats and while almost all of her stuff has went into storage, I now have someone living in the living room. My second oldest daughter has started working on clearing out her room and packing all of her stuff for the move to Minnesota in a few months so that entire side of the house looks like a tornado has come through it. Oh and she is on a ten day trip to DC right now, so it’s probably not going to be cleaned any time soon. Unless I do it. And I probably will, lol.
I’ve just decided to put almost everything on hold until after the trip to Connecticut. Once that trip is done, I will reassess and see what our next steps are. Otherwise it just feels like we are fighting a losing battle against the house. And for what? In three months, it will just be us and the two younger girls with plenty of time to do everything we need or want to do. So for now, patience and planning.

Wednesday of Veggie week

*disclaimer – I am totally eating a donut as I type this… and it isn’t even a great donut, it’s totally subpar. And I’m eating the last bite right now. Damn you, donut.

Tuesday night I got home and I made the Oh She Glows Burrito Bowl which was super yummy. There was enough left over for three lunchboxes. The Gingerbeard Man and I each took one for lunch on Wednesday and he took the last one for lunch today.

Wednesday morning I had the Happy Digestion Smoothie sans parsley because I bought four bunches of cilantro instead of two cilantro and two parsley. And people, I know the difference. I don’t know what happened.

For dinner, we had falafels and cucumber salad with some warm naan bread. The falafel flavors were great but the consistency didn’t exactly hold together well. The cucumber salad was yummy but I had to skip the red onions because: kids…

I will post Thursdays food later but I wanted to mention here that I do feel great (donut and chocolate cake aside), but when I went to start my grocery list for next week I was immediately like ugh, so much work. Not necessarily the cooking part, I don’t mind that. More the planning part. Picking meals, making sure I can tweak them to be kid and husband friendly and then the list and the shopping and the prep and the cooking. I’m probably just being a whiny pants because we have been so busy with all of the end of school year stuff… but when The GingerBeard Man said he had already started the grocery list I was like YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS. So next week will probably not be a great healthy week in my household. In fact, it will probably be the junk foodiest week ever since the kids are free from prison school… but stay tuned because I anticipate once the craziness of moving two daughters across the country has commenced, I will probably take it on again 🙂

A week of Oh She Glows

I have been fully uninspired lately when it comes to food.
So much so, that I have broken some of my very basic food rules… things like making canned cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Which I don’t even consider to actually be a food. But I rationalize it by saying that at least I am making the kids breakfast, right? I’m a good mom, right?
I am chalking this up to the crazy busy schedule we have had lately, as well as the hustle and bustle of preparing to move both older girls out of state and all of the visiting we have been doing on account of that. I’ve been not allowing my anxiety to give me a hard time when I spend an entire day crafting with my older daughter and not cleaning my house because in like six weeks, she won’t be here any more. I’ll clean when she is gone.
I keep telling myself that come fall, we can hit the reset button and get back to normal. Or rather, get to whatever our new normal will be with only four of us at home. Even thinking about that raises my blood pressure. What will this new family dynamic be?
As with all times of stress it seems, I have gained some weight that I’d like to kick and I don’t feel like I have any energy. So I was thinking about how to make some changes. I know a big thing I need to do kick is coffee. I usually quit drinking coffee during the summer anyway because I live in Texas and it’s super hot here which doesn’t exactly make me want to sip on a hot beverage. I also need to get my regular eating back on track. I made a Stouffer’s lasagna and frozen pre-sliced garlic bread for dinner last night. Sure I sauteed some broccoli to go with it, but still.
Anyway, I started doing some googling and ended up on The Queen of The Green Monster‘s page, Oh She Glows. Deeply rooted in my soul is the knowledge that I should be eating vegan and avoiding all sugar and flour. I know it the same way I know that beer is no good for me, but I still pop open a Guinness on the regular and sip it’s foamy bad for me goodness. Because it’s freaking great.
When The GingerBeard Man and I met, I was a “pescatarian” who avoided just about all dairy products. But you know, the thing is, it’s hard to maintain that lifestyle when you share a home with people who don’t. And you have four daughters. And you work full time. Like I just got tired of always making a different dinner for me and making dinner for everyone else. I’m sorry, I’m gonna just say it though, cooking dinner every night is balls. It just is. I don’t roll up on my house at 6pm and think wooooo! Dinner making time! It’s more of a Jesus, can I put on my pajamas, ditch this bra, and watch netflix now? The day is long and when you get home on those nights where you splurged and grabbed a pizza, you feel like you won the relaxing lottery.
But we can’t have pizza every night…. wait… can we? No. Dang it. No.
Well in an effort to eat better next week and in an attempt to kick my 32 ounces of coffee every day, I pulled a bunch of recipes from Oh She Glows and I am hoping that the green smoothie mornings and veggie laden days will help me feel better. I’m adding chicken to just about everything to appease The GingerBeard Man and keep my daughters from starving to death since one of them thinks she is allergic to anything green, but other than that I am anticipating a lovely week of clean eating. I know there will be that whopper of a headache from the coffee withdrawals, but I’ll manage.

My daughter turns 18 tomorrow

I was reading back through The Old Blog today and found this post I wrote about her in 2005.. you know, just ELEVEN years ago. Here is a little snippet about my then seven year old daughter who tomorrow becomes an adult.

She has that light, that vibe, that something that makes you want to be around her. That goodness… there is no word for what it is. No way to describe it, only once you’ve met someone like this you just know. She has all kinds of friends. She has fifth graders come and hug her when we are at the grocery store. She knows more adults than I do. She will wave at people when we drive by them. She is happy and good inside… It’s so pure and so genuine that you have to love her. You can’t help it. I’m so very happy that she is my daughter and exceedingly proud of her every day. I just wanted to share that with ya’ll.

My last Mother’s Day

You know, sometimes you get super excited about a certain day… like your birthday or Mother’s Day and then when the days happens and it’s just another day, you get all bummed out? That used to happen to me a lot. It’s like the curse of being a single mom. Unless someone else steps in and helps your kids do some secret planning or shopping, then they really can’t do more than just be sweethearts. And that is enough of course, but sometimes they forget to be sweethearts altogether and you spend your Mother’s Day cleaning and doing laundry and trying not to kill them and at the end of it, you’re bummed because it was supposed to be a good day.
I’ve had those Mother’s days.. and I’ve had the ones where someone would step in and help the kids out and I would be surprised (or not, because – you know – kids aren’t all that sly, lol)… I’d come home to some cute little flower bouquet and some cards with handprints that were made in school or have the mornings where the kids brought me a practically inedible breakfast in bed. And of course it wasn’t the breakfast that you’d treasure, it was messy haired and beaming with pride little girls standing there while you ate it. Because those girls love you and they are glad you are their mother.
This year was different. I am so freaking hyper aware of all the time I am spending with my daughters right now. Having all four of my girls home on Sunday was more than enough to make everything right with my soul. Seeing their little sleeping faces and just being able to chat and hang out with them was so great. This is the last year that I know I will for sure have all of my daughters under one roof on Mother’s day. Gah. My heart.
I knew that the two older girls were up to something and when I woke up Sunday morning and crept out of my room for coffee, the sign in the photo was hanging in my kitchen. It is so perfect. I love it more than just about anything they’ve ever given me. For both the thought that went into it as well as what it symbolizes. These two are leaving me in the next few months and while I hope someday all of my girls will be close enough to me that we can spend weekends together like we did this weekend, I know it is unlikely. It is more likely that I will see them on Christmas and through facebook and we will catch up on phone calls and through photos. It brings my tears right to the surface.
I know I keep saying it. This is what is supposed to happen. I am so proud of these girls that they are courageously facing the new chapter in their lives. They are excited and happy and I’ve done my job. They are adults. They are leaving and that is exactly what is supposed to happen. They don’t need me and I am so grateful for that, but it is also kicking my ass a little. The closer we get to the end of June, when my oldest daughter and I make the trek to Connecticut, the more I feel my chest tighten at the thought. I’m going to miss her so much. I’m going to miss them both so much more than I even have words to express.

Some next level parenting stuff right here

My kids spend too much time on The Internet.
There. I said it.
I don’t want to be one of those parents but I also very much like it when I can escape to the peace and quiet of my bedroom and plug into The Internet myself.
I’m a bad parent.
Bite me.
Relatively frequently, like weekly-ish, I have a lightbulb moment where I think to myself Man, I super need to cut back on the kids internet time. But I don’t. Sometimes I even threaten them that I will. “Daughter, if you don’t have all of your laundry done tonight and this room cleaned, I am unplugging the wifi.” But I don’t. And on the rare occasions that The GingerBeard Man does, I’m usually the first one asking him to turn it back on. For Pete’s sake, man, I can’t be internetless. What if something happens? We won’t even know about it. Like there could be a war! Also: facebook.
As I’ve mentioned here like a half a dozen times, we are in a transitional state in my house right now. Older daughters moving away and cutting the amount of children I have at home in half and all that… It’s a good time to establish new rules, chores, expectations… It’s a good time to, you know, maybe cut back on screen time. Because holy shit, my kids spend like all their free hours online. And kids have a lot of free hours. My kids are even using some of their NOT free hours and shirking their responsibilities which is where I am headed with this whole thing.
This morning, my almost fourteen year old daughter didn’t go to school. Why? Because she didn’t put her clothes in the dryer Sunday or Monday and they were still sitting in the washing machine leaving her pantsless. Could she have still went to school? Yep. She could have reworn the pants she wore yesterday. But the fact is that she woke up late this morning, she wasn’t prepared and she gave up. And my thinking is that she just plain stayed up way too damn late on the internet fooling around last night. And it’s enough.
So I sent The GingerBeard Man a message this morning and told him we needed some kind of device to control their access to the internet. Could we do it with the wifi router? Technically, yes. We’re both in IT, it’s all configurable. But I wanted something easier. So he sends me the link to Circle. I’d had a grand total of five sips of coffee and I basically impulse ordered it. About an hour later, I was thinking maybe I should have done a little more research. But the more I researched, the more I like it. It’s a pretty awesome device and I am mega stoked about it arriving so we can set it up and start setting up some limitations.
Now my next major kid complaint is the lack of chores that are getting done. (I’m sound like a super great mom in this post huh?) There is a significant amount of ebb and flow when it comes to chores. And it’s usually directly connected to how enthusiastic I am about whatever chore method I have in place at the time. If you can find it on pinterest, I’ve probably done it. Check lists on the fridge? Yup. Chore charts? Oh yeah. Giant dry erase boards? Of course. There’s not much in the realm of chores and children I haven’t explored. And when I get all gung-ho about it, I roll in ready to MAKE CHANGES! Come on Family! This is EXCITING! Insert here the collective groan of said family as they buckle up for what will undoubtedly be yet another torture event sponsored by their mother and her need to change shit and make them do stuff in a New! Fun! way.
Well, buckle up, Family. Mommy found a new toy.
I downloaded an app today called Chorma. It’s for chores! And it allows you to set them up as recurring and assign points for them. Some can be assigned to a kid specifically, others can be “claimed” so whoever wants to do them, presumably to earn points, can grab them. So here’s my evil plan: super limited internet time regulated by the new Circle. BUT! They can “buy” more internet time with their chore points! Or, in the case of my youngest who may not care quite as much about the internet, we can put together other things she can get with points. Like going swimming or going to the movies or something. You can create individual rewards within the app. Which I think is pretty cool.
So, I will check back and let you all know how it goes once the Circle comes in 🙂 In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions or things you do in your home, I’d love to hear them.

Minnesota bound…

Well she chose Minnesota.
I’m not surprised.
I paid the enrollment deposit this week and she is officially moving in August.
I’m so excited for her and for this adventure she is about to embark upon. Just as I am excited for my oldest daughter who is headed to Connecticut in June… but man, it’s so hard to think about them being gone.

I had my first daughter when I was sixteen, and my second daughter when I was eighteen. We all kind of grew up together. They made me into a mom, but also into an adult. They taught me pretty much everything that I know. For the last twenty years, my life has revolved around those two girls and the idea that they are now moving off to start lives without me is so perfectly wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

My two younger girls will still be home for another four and seven years and that is wonderful but somehow doesn’t actually relieve any of the pressure on my heart. So for now, I am trying to enjoy the time before they leave. I’m trying to immerse myself in hanging out with them and spending as much time with them as I can.

This past weekend, I had planned to have the afternoon to myself. The GingerBeard Man had went off to hang out with a friend and all of the girls were busy with their own plans. I had spent the morning cleaning and doing laundry. Finished with my chores, I took a quick shower and started contemplating what I was going to do with myself for the rest of the afternoon. A chick flick? A nap? A walk?
But as I stepped out of the shower, I heard my dogs start barking. The bark turned from DANGER to EXCITEMENT and so I knew someone the dogs knew had arrived. A few minutes later, my oldest daughter walked in and asked me to make her pancakes.
She’d driven an hour from her apartment to my house, just for pancakes.
My initial reaction, and I think most moms would have this, was to be bummed that my free time had just disappeared. However, after a moment, I realized this could be the last time I get to make her pancakes. Or breakfast for that matter. And so, with a lump in my throat, I took down the pancake mix and turned on the stove.