Uh, Oh. I broke the bank.

The expenses of August can be staggering if you have kids.
Convenience meals
Spontaneous Vacation
School supplies
Fall clothes
Fall sports registration
Don’t even get me started on the obscene amounts of money I spend on my classroom that Man may or may not know the extent of.
Those are in addition to the normal monthly expenses. What’s a girl to do when she knows she’s breaking the bank?

Well, she comes up with this money saving menu, digs around in the freezer and pantry, and sees how long she can make it on:
Pre-paid activities like gym, the local museum, and the zoo
Free activities like weekly library time
Creates some at home fun with play dates
Avoids Target and Michaels like the plague (we all have that cart stuffing, money sucking, love to roam store)
Zero dining out

How long do you think we can go?
Let’s chat: What do you do to keep some change in your piggy bank?

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Pimpin Joy

We have seasons of life in which we witness people going through insurmountable troubles or we have seasons of life in which our troubles seem to pour down upon us.  I love Walker Hayes song Pimpin’ Joy.  It was inspired by an incredible story, and it reminds me of a sweet fellow teacher in my school every time I hear it.  The song reminds us that each of us have a voice and a choice daily.  We can choose to be bitter, or we can choose to make a joyful noise.  I think the best line, “we’ll be pimpin’ love like it’s our duty” may just be today’s version of what would Jesus do? – WWJD.

 

 

Emerson

I really enjoy the work of author Melanie Shankle.  She’s a Texas girl and I find her very relatable. She has made me laugh out loud, had tears streaming down my face, and made flights go by faster.  Then today, in Church of the Small Things this quote – love it!

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Inspiration and Wisdom from the Pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson

What goes through a mom’s head while she’s doing the dishes…

The house is finally quiet and still.  There’s the sloshing of the dishrag, soft popping of the bubbles, and occasional running of water.  The gentle clanking of pans.  Many would find it therapeutic.  I find it mundane, but a chore a cook never escapes, so my mind wanders.  Then it wonders.

Are we messing up our kids?

Are We Messing Up Our Kids? seemed like a good summer study book.  I downloaded it and read the intro and first chapter…and there it has sat, unfinished.  The title alone raises more concerns and questions over what my children will face than I can answer in a lifetime.  Worry and doubt over how they will be treated, opportunities denied to them, persecutions against them, and restrictions imposed on them stir.

Over the past few years, I have found myself questioning things I thought I had hashed out long before I ever “grew-up” and got married.  But, as you raise small children day in and day out, you discover they observe you.  They are little sponges that study every decision and action with surprising astuteness.  They question, prod, revolt, and desire to understand the how and why behind all of their little world.  It makes me examine my choices.  A lot.

They reflect you.  They are tiny mirrors catching your flaws, projecting your blind spots, and highlighting your vices.  If you raise your voice; they do, if you don’t wear your seatbelt, they catch it; Nothing in the world makes a person feel like a bigger hypocrite than when that inevitable parenting question comes, “You do it, so why can’t I?”.  It makes me examine my attitude and actions.  A lot.

Are we teaching our children to be hypocritical when we tell them not to be sneaky, but they watch us be secretive and evasive?  Are we confusing them when we buy from companies that aren’t responsible to their consumers or to our planet?  What does it say when we gripe about a corporation’s lack of quality but still buy their products?  When we grumble about lack of compassion, but won’t lend aid to others? What are we telling them when we get mad about lack of customer service or politeness, but are rude to wait staff?  What lesson do they take away when we don’t live a healthy lifestyle but then complain about our standards of healthcare?  What message does it portray when we don’t take time to know where our food is grown, what that term pink slime means, or how fair trade operates but we can update our Facebook 50 times a day, retell the highlights from E News, and give a play by play of the latest reality TV episode?

We are in an era with more information and more access to information than ever before.  If the Devil is in the details, then he should be doing a happy dance right now because we are inundated with details.  Obsessed with lives of people we will never meet or know.  Showcasing details of our lives that were contained to our homes just decades before.  Overwhelmed with news and world events we cannot predict, change or control.  I could do a whole posts just listing the details.  However, the average person is less educated at the root of their values than ever before.  They forward information, but don’t stop to check its accuracy.  They watch an entertainer, but don’t stop to listen to the lyrics or understand the message.  They support a political figure, but can only explain where they stand on one issue.  As a whole, we don’t question, don’t prod, don’t revolt or take the time to desire understanding.  We can list details, but lack the thesis.  The populous strives to affect change and set precedents, but fails to play out the repercussions of that change for years to come.

How will our children place value on honesty, integrity, and hard work if we are in massive debt, spend more time at work than home, and seldom are committed to a conversation with them?   Are we becoming so concerned with political correctness that we are screaming at our youth, have standards, have values, but have them in secret.  Have a sense of right and wrong, but don’t dare to stand up for what you believe in.  Have faith, but be sure that faith doesn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers.  Have convictions, but don’t share them with anyone lest you be called bigots, racist, sexist, or worse.

If we don’t take time to talk through issues that are pressing our country like the definition of marriage, women’s rights, gun control, drug use, genetically modified organisms….I could go on.  Then who is shaping their and beliefs on these issues?  At what point as adults do we examine our core values and compare them with what we have been taught, how we’ve been brought up, or what our parents believe?

I fear that with overbearing parents, micromanaging school systems, and mundane workplaces we will teach generations to stop being thinkers.  To stop questioning.  Our legal system has even introduced the defense of “affluenza” and it made me nauseous.

If we continue down this path of no expectations, no losers, no thinkers, no independence…Then what?

What will happen when we teach people not to think?  Not to question?  Just to oil the squeakiest wheel?  Maintain the popular?  I always thought what was popular is not always right.

What happens when we, as parents, are so ambivalent to the world around it that we leave the difficult lessons of life up to someone else?  Will their views be in line with our own, or are we just too lazy to decide what we stand for?  If it’s not laziness, how about complacency?  If not complacency, how about fear for how others will treat us when we take a stand?  Have previous generations spawned hypocrites by declaring lofty aspirations not backed by example?  Did we push one envelope too far and decide to let the others fall where they may?

How in this age do we balance respect for oneself, others, and authority with recognizing when those in positions of power are leading us astray? How do we help our youth navigate which institutions and traditions should be protected and when change should be demanded?

When we are forced to accept definitions, ordinances, laws, and ways of living that infringe on those unalienable rights we grew up believing in, then what?  How do we teach them patriotism, responsible citizenship, and functional adult roles when those ideas are being changed and redefined daily?

I don’t know all of the answers.  The best plan I have for not messing up my kids is this:  Be intentional.  I know who holds all the answers, that’s not for me to worry about or know.  I can be intentional.  I can go to bed and get some rest.  I can choose to unplug from the information reel, reduce the clutter and excess, and get around to finishing that study.  I can buy paper plates every once in awhile and forget about the dishes.

Married single parent

Most of us had 9-5 Monday-Friday in mind when we got married and envisioned having children. The truth is a lot of our families throw the schedule right out the window. Military families, the fire service, law enforcement, the oil field… the list goes on. I may as well be speaking Greek to some of the parents at school or practice – a lot of people don’t get not having a full conversation with your spouse over the course of the week, being unable to commit months in advance to holiday plans, or juggling a rotating schedule.  Forget trying to explain how one week Wednesday night is a great night to attend a meeting, but the next week the same night same time is a no-go.

As one sweet friend said to me after a particularly draining week, “Welcome to being a married single-parent.”

I had never really thought of it that way, but it does make a little sense. I honestly don’t know how people do the 9-5 weekday box schedule because the firefighter schedule allows our family to have a lot of freedom, but I also cannot fathom being a true single-parent. I can tell you, it takes one amazing superhero of a Man, the best family anyone could be blessed with, and some ridiculously cool friends to keep this mama from losing it when work takes Man away and the home starts to get the best of me.

Around Cowtown

I am always amazed when I hear how much Fort Worth has grown since I was a child.  It bewilders me people come to Cowtown for vacation, but if you are ever out in about in the wild west of Dallas, here’s some of my Fort Worth.  I grew up in Fort Worth, loved it so much that I stayed here for college and the next ten years.  Over that time I’ve found some hidden gems and wandered this metroplex end to end. This is my list of short reviews on amazing spots in DFW. It may be a family outing, date night spot, or just somewhere cool I’ve stumbled upon. Take it for what it’s worth, my two cents. I would consider the * spots iconic Fort Worth.

Just Us

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Celebrating with a Dinner Date

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

Old school charm. All of the class, taste, and finesse that you would expect from a grown-up’s steakhouse. The friendliness and brilliant customer service epitomizes Texas hospitality.

Grown Up Outing

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Firestone & Robertson Distillery

Mashd

 

Great Food for the Family or a Date

Food Truck Parks

Clear Fork Food Truck Park
Fort Worth Food Truck Park

Tim Love’s the Woodshed Smokehouse

Over the last year, the atmosphere here has changed somewhat from when it first opened. They cater to the TCU student/young working professionals in the area, and if dogs bother you while you eat…go elsewhere.

Family Outings

Fort Worth Zoo

Dallas Children’s Aquarium

Nostalgic for College

Torchy’s Tacos

Go any time and they will be buzzing. The line is worth the wait. Unique tacos, good breakfast, and seriously delicious queso.

Velvet Taco

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I seriously crave their food. So worth battling for barstools.

Yogi’s Café

You will catch the bike rider crowd on the weekends and college kids pretty much any time – good bagels, awesome French toast.

The Mellow Mushroom

Best crust ever.  Lots of beers on tap.  Don’t go in a rush.  Sit back and enjoy the hot cheesy goodness.

Café Brazil

Go get the crepes, you’ll be glad you did.

Blue Mesa Grill

Maybe not nostalgic for everyone’s colleges days, but I spent a lot of time here. Their happy hour bar & snacks are hard to beat and it was always a treat to meet a friend here for their brunch buffet.  Recently I stopped in for lunch with my little ones.  I was FLOORED by the extensive children’s menu – decent price, SO MANY side options and great variety of entrees.  SCORE!

Sandwiches, Burgers & Lunch Spots

The Lunchbox

I have eaten their chicken salad and fruit with poppy-seed dressing since I was a girl. What can I say, it’s engrained.

Galligaskin’s on Camp Bowie*

The oldest sub shop in Fort Worth, a hit with the high school lunch crowd, and always a welcomed stop by my kids.

Rodeo Goat

Sometimes packed, some times no parking…always so good. They have the BEST chili cheese fries. Period. Their unique take on burgers and caramel pretzel shake are good reason to keep coming back.

Treats

Bluebonnet Bakery*

Once upon a time on Old Camp Bowie in Fort Worth, a little girl fell in love with petit fours.

Sweet Sammie’s

This quaint TCU bred ice cream sandwich shop located in the West 7th complex. Seriously, what more do you need to know?

Curly’s Frozen Custard*

Just go. A fellow frog introduced me to this one, and I am grateful. My thighs, not so much.

Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery

Owned & operated by one of the sweetest girls I know, Sugar Bee is tucked in the Shoppes at Brownstone in Arlington, serving up whoopee pies, cupcakes, cake balls, pies, cookies…and very beautiful wedding cakes.

Worldly Cuisine

King Tut’s Egyptian

Greenwood’s German

Where else can you enjoy schnitzel made by a real life master chef?

Maybe you’re skimming and you will miss these Hidden Gems?

Magnolia Street in Downtown South. Eat your way down the street. Thank me later. You’re welcome.

These little restaurants are as eclectic as their owners. You usually have to show up before they open and wait. But, the food, coffee, and service are oh, so worth it.

Make a day of it, Revolver Brewing in Granbury, Texas…offering unique crafts and tours with live music most Saturdays, it’s no wonder this beer joint is expanding.

Don’t just take my word for it!

A Big Event or Out of Town Guests

To Eat:

Joe T. Garcia’s

Expect the wait that accompanies one of Cowtown’s biggest tourist’s spots. The margaritas will make the wait fly by…bring cash though – no cards here!

Cooper’s Pit BBQ

Texas de Brazil

To Stay:

Yep, all places I’ve actually stayed.  I am picky people! So, if they made the list, I was impressed.

Omni Fort Worth, downtown

Worthington Hotel by Marriott, downtown

Hyatt Place on Exchange, Stockyards

Hilton Hotel Fort Worth, downtown

Check ol’ FW out: http://www.zagat.com/b/dallas/10-places-worth-the-drive-to-fort-worth

Fort Worth has some iconic must see, do, and go to spots. It doesn’t matter if you are born & raised, on stay cation, or new in town…these places should be on your list.  What would make your list of Cowtown Classics?

The other night, we celebrated some old school diner food with twist.  Behold, the patty melt…

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Gather:
1# hamburger meat, divided into four portions
1# sliced mushrooms
1 sweet onion, sliced
And one icy Sam Adams Summer Ale for grilling in the 100+ heat (or it you’re me, a nice glass of iced tea)

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To make:
Season the meat with Penzey’s 4/S Special Seasoned Sea Salt & fresh ground pepper and form into patties.  Grill the patties through and top the hot patty with a nice melting cheese (we used pepper jack) . Then pile on the caramelized onions and mushrooms.  Half sandwich for easier chomping.

You could serve your ooey gooey melt with classic tater tots or try zucchini tots.  They were AMAZING!  Even the proclaimed squash haters gobbled them up.

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I think I will finish this diner meal off with a nice shake…
The Chocolate Milk Shake (or frozen hot chocolate)

 

What’s your favorite diner dish?