Monday, November 25, 2019

Convince me I'm wrong.

Convince me that letting your kid go to public school isn't implicit or explicit abuse.  Convince me that there are still arguments in favor of public education still being allowed to exist.  Convince me that "socialization" is more important than building a foundation of knowledge and understanding for a later development of critical thinking.

Oh, wait...

You can't.

Today, the neighbor's grandkid hustled up at 8:30 a.m. to see if my kids could go out to play.  When I asked him if he was aware of what day of the week it was, he got an utterly blank look cross his face, and he stuttered, "but...but...Thanksgiving Break!" 

My kids are in private school because of shit like this: the kid gets half days every fucking Friday, and full days off three or four times a month.  There's no emphasis on spelling or on math.  The kid doesn't know history, and barely started learning science my pixie learned last year (in 2nd grade, and this kid's in 4th or 5th grade).  So.  What are they learning? justice and brainwashing.  I don't think he reads on a 2nd grade level, either. 

And...he's not stupid.  He's actually pretty damn bright and creative.  BUT. 

That school system is geared below what I consider the minimum (my own education--he's behind where I was in the same grade in an utterly shit rural district).  I'd blame Common Core, but Joplin schools were already bad.  Common Core has simply exacerbated an already existing problem. 

And the area "good district?" 


Clearly, the middle school has been used as a pedophile grooming station for a while.  At the very least, this school year.  Someone was reported as having inappropriate sexual contact with their middle school students.  One--only one, but there's likely more--came forward.  The event happened last Tuesday.  The district called him into the office on Friday to allow the city police to arrest him. 

Not Tuesday, the day it was reported.  Not the next day after surveillance camera footage was reviewed. 


When socialization in public school districts starts Lord of the Flies style and devolves from there (and it does), when kids are warehoused rather than actually educated, when they're groomed for sexual cannot convince me that letting your kid attend public school is any less than negligence. 

And, anymore, the case can easily be made for outright abuse. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bad start to the week.

Last weekend was wonderful: the weather was beautiful (in the 60's on Saturday, and approaching 70 on Sunday).  I had some warning that all was not well on Sunday, considering I woke up whining in discomfort (and I don't whine), and it didn't get better all day.  But the weather was gorgeous.

And then...


The warmest it got on Monday was at midnight.  Then around two or three, the oncoming weather system hit, and the temperature started dropping.  And dropping.  And then it started sleeting and snowing while the temperature kept dropping. 

I'm thankful that the two days of really nice weather meant that the half to 3/4 inch of ice and snow we got didn't stick, but...this morning when I woke up, I still checked email to see if the kids had school or not.  (They did.)  Because it was forecast to have gotten down to 14 degrees this morning.  (It was actually 11 degrees when I got up at 6:30, according to the weather report--it's usually a few degrees colder here.)

The fireplace heater and space heaters in the bedrooms almost managed to keep up overnight, but not quite.  Yeah, the heat pump kicked on, and that means the emergency heating elements had to be used.  I'll see what I can do today to keep it from happening again. 

I did a lot  of baking last night.  Supper tonight is going to be made in the oven--I'm making tortellini pasta bake.  I use the dried tortellini you can buy in the pasta aisle at Walmart--usually get the spinach and cheese, because it sneaks extra veggies into the imp, who doesn't like most veggies.*  It's like normal pasta bake, but bakes longer--about ten minutes longer before you pull it out and add the cheese.

Tomorrow's supposed to be back up to 40. 

In the meantime, we're waiting on the plumber to get back to us--our sump pump went out last week, and we found out on Friday that that was installed all the way wrong, too--wrong pump, wrong kind of pump, and not hooked up correctly to either power or the drainage.  I got a quote, and it's doable.  Not comfortable, but doable.  He just didn't have what he needed to get it fixed Friday, and didn't know when he'd have the time in his schedule to get back out here to us. 

He did leave us with a loaner pump.

But yeah, Odysseus is right--they're probably swamped with emergency calls from people that didn't take precautions against frozen pipes last night.  I'll count myself lucky if I hear from them by tomorrow. 

Friday, November 8, 2019


Note to self: don't do a double-batch of beef stroganoff in the instant pot, then let the pressure off fast.

Last night, I made a big batch of beef stroganoff.  I'd asked my mother-in-law over, but she forgot, so I've got a lot of leftovers of the meat and sauce without noodles (makes an incredibly good gravy over a baked potato--yum). 

I'd decided to make it last month--and I decided yesterday morning to make it in my instant pot.  Because stew meat cooked in that turns out utterly perfect. 

So, I dumped in about 2 lbs of stew meat, 2 cans of mushroom soup, about a third of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a chopped onion, and a cup and a half of beef bone broth, and a couple of sprinkles of Knorr beef bouillon for a little extra flavor.  And then I thought about it, and set it to soup/stew, and left it running for half an hour.

When it was done, I turned the valve for quick release.

That...was a mistake.

It made a HUMONGOUS mess.  Sprayed stroganoff sauce through the pressure relief valve, and splattered the cabinet doors, the counter, the back side of the pressure cooker, the lid, the handle--the only reason nothing else got by mushroom soup and beef broth was because nothing else was close enough. 

And thankfully, the sauce was thick enough that it didn't hit the ceiling. 

So, yeah.  Sauce was thick enough I don't have a bigger mess to clean up than I could manage without help.  Still thinner than I wanted, and adding only sour cream/Greek yogurt would thin it even more.  So...I adapted.  I halved the amount of sour cream, and substituted in half a brick of cream cheese. 

It turned out utterly delicious, and even the imp liked it (the pixie liked the noodles, but wasn't happy with the rest of it).  It's going on the regular meal rotation for during the winter. 

But I do need to remember--next time, let the pressure come off naturally. 

I'm pretty sure that cleaning up that giant mess is going to etch that into my memory. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Planning ahead

As y'all know, I've been using the FlyLady's system for keeping house.*  I've been kind of using it, bits and pieces, on and off, for a few years.  Well, this past year, I really got stuck into it.  She has a habit a month she wants people to get used to, and get started using in their own lives.  November' menu planning.

I've been working on this for several years, now.  And it helps.  Not just with the grocery budget (and saving for tuition), but with my energy, both physical and mental. 

I have to admit, it's a lot easier to do in the winter--it's not so hot I don't want to cook.  I don't have to check to see how hot it will be in the coming week before I plan meals around prep method and daily high temperatures.

Sunday suppers are usually my make-a-lot-of-leftovers meals: usually chili or tacos, during cold weather.  And then those leftovers become lunches pre-packed for Odysseus to have during the work week.  If there's not enough for the whole week, I'll plan a pasta night (pasta bake makes another couple of lunches).  Sometimes on weekends, I'll make soup or stew, as well, and that's my lunches for several days (or, in the case of some soups which do well frozen, lunch here and there for weeks). 

At the end of last month, I looked at the trending temperatures (chilly, and heading colder fast--we had SNOW before Halloween, and we're in SW MO, half an hour from Oklahoma!), and then I got the kids' November lunch menus.  And I sat down and planned all the meals for November.  It's not hard, and planning ahead like that means you DON'T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT what to fix when you're tired and fried from trying to keep house, write, and keep the kids focused on what they are supposed to be doing (homework, studying, etc). 

Thing is, it helps.  It helps with everything.  It curbs the kids whining about wanting to know what's for supper--they know they can just go look at the calendar, and either eat what I fix (most of the time) or fix something for themselves.   It helps with the grocery budget because I'm not buying a whole lot of stuff that I forget about that then goes bad before I fix it.**  It helps us resist the impulse to eat out...or to eat junk.   It helps me know how much housework I can/should do before I start supper so that I have the energy left to actually make supper (and sometimes enough left after that to do a few more things that I put off to make sure I could cook).

Life is so much easier if you just plan what to fix for supper before it's time to actually start supper.  So much easier to just look at what's written on the calendar, as opposed to standing with the fridge hanging open, scratching your head and pulling a blank, while the kids are whining about being hungry.

*I heard a lot of "either do it right"--i.e., my way--"or not at all."  So I never learned how to keep stuff put up...or how to keep the house clean-ish.  Enough for company, at least.  I'm learning, and I'm at the point that some areas take minimal daily or weekly upkeep vs. massive efforts to get anything picked up.  

**I'm really bad about forgetting food...especially veggies, or stuff marked down for quick sale.