Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cup of Joe for a Joe

A few weeks back, I joined an amazing and inspiring facebook page:

"Say THANKS by buying a Cup of Joe.

Send it with your own personal message of encouragement to a deployed Soldier."

For the last several weeks, I've been buying a deployed "Joe" or "Jane" a Cup of Joe whenever I can... and this morning, I got to send another 5 cups off - thanks to several $2 donations from friends.

It's such a little thing to do for our brave men and women, in light of what they do for us - by putting their very lives on the line on a daily basis.

So please check out their facebook page - and buy a cup of coffee or tea for a deployed soldier... (or you can go directly to: ► ►

Let Our Troops Know You Care!

Buy a Cup of Joe for a Soldier Serving Far From Home And Have It Delivered With Your Own Personal Note of Encouragement...

In our travels to see the Troops, many share with us their sense of loneliness, isolation and feelings of being forgotten. Their commanders tell us that some Soldiers never receive mail from home. In response, Green Beans Coffee has launched Cup of Joe For A Joe to let anyone, anywhere in the world, say thanks to our troops through the simple act of buying a cup of coffee and having it delivered along with their own personal note of encouragement into the hands of a deployed Soldier.

Here's How it Works:

Step 1 - Choose Your Gift
You provide a different Soldier a Cup of Joe gift with each $2 you spend. Use the panel at the upper right to choose the amount you want, then click the Buy a Cup of Joe button.

Step 2 - Write Your Message
You'll see a simple form to write your message of support to the lucky troops who will receive your gift.

Step 3 - Enter Your Payment Information (they accept paypal)
It's simple, safe and secure.

Step 4 - We'll Deliver Your Gift
Green Beans Coffee will deliver your gift and message. We'll also give each Soldier a chance to respond – and most of them do, so watch your email for their letters!

I had another thought this morning while enjoying my first cup of the day...

I always have coffee available for when friends drop by, and let me tell you, I can go through a lot of it.

So... I've decided that from now on, I'm going to be asking for a $2 donation for that cup of coffee - bottomless of course - to put just a few more $$'s in the kitty that I can send even more COJ's to our wonderful deployed soldiers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Busy Baby Bakers... Crustless Quiche

I can't remember if I told y'all that I no longer work for the council doing child care.
Did I?
Oh, I'm still caring for children, but I'm doing it privately now... and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Several of my clients (parents) have mentioned that I look so much happier and care-free, and I know that they're right. I almost don't know myself.
I just wish they would tell me that I look 10 years younger, but although I've kind of 'hinted" in that direction, no one's said it yet.
But I'm sure they will.

And... I'm even sleeping better.
See, there are no more worries about ridiculous regulations, no more stressing over someone 'popping in' to do an unannounced evaluation... (which I absolutely hated, because it threw the kids off something awful ...and they tended to "act up" for company - figuring they could get away with it)
No programming for weeks in advance, along with multitudes of lists... and best of all, no more mind numbing, soul destroying office politics.

So, the kids and I can now just get down to the important things like playing - when and where we want to - and sometimes cooking.

Yesterday, I had 3 babies in care... a 17 month old, a 10 month old and a wee little 9 month old - as well as a *big girl* who will proudly tell anyone who will listen that "I'm sour years old now - and I know everything."
And since the day was cold, drizzly and miserable... and we had no intentions of going outside, I decided we would stay inside and do some baking.

The babies sat on the floor and quite happily played with wooden spoons and mixing bowls - and stirred everything 'round and 'round...
While the *big girl* and I got down to the serious business of measuring flour and butter and tearing curly kale, beating eggs and smooshing bananas.

And we had an absolute ball doing it!

At the end of the day, we ended up with 4 loaves of banana bread, 3 curly kale quiches, and 2 small apple tarts - and we were happily covered in flour and eggs and green speckles!

Now, I love, love, LOVE quiche at the best of times... but the ones we made yesterday were bloody fantastic!

Quick, easy - and completely crust less.
Which is probably a good thing, because I've been known to break off bits of the crust and eat it while waiting to serve dinner - leaving it looking less than perfect.
Okay, well ugly - if you really need to know.
(I always blame it on the cats though... and then the Old Guy is even less willing to eat it. Which is no major feat... since he doesn't really like quiche anyway. Fool that he is.
And then I get his share.)

Impossible Quiche

I used about 2 cups torn curly kale - or you can use your own choice of fillings. (see below)
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (any kind - or mix and match)
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter
4-5 eggs, lightly beaten (depending on size)

Combine all ingredients, and mix well.
Pour mixture into a lightly greased cast iron skillet, or pie pan. ( I use a skillet)
Bake at 180C (350F) for 40-45 minutes.
Filling is *set* when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serves 6.

I love this recipe, because it really lets you experiment and there aren't any hard or fast rules... Feel free to use ham, bacon, chorizo, shredded chicken, leftover meats...

You can try tomatoes, grated carrots, capsicums (bell peppers), cabbage, spinach, kale, corn etc ...
Actually, anything your sweet little heart desires!

Well, except maybe Skittles. "Sour year old" saw a bag of Skittles in the pantry and thought they would make a lovely and mouth-watering color combination, mixed up with the yellow eggs and green kale.
But I quickly put the kibosh on that one.

This recipe is so easy that you almost can't make a mistake.

Unless you're silly enough to use Skittles...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rats are eating my brains...

Oh Lordy... I had my first migraine when I was just about 2 years old, and I can still remember being scared that I would die or that brain stuff was going to come out my ears and I was too frightened to move.
My mama understood what I was going through, because she had them herself... but the good news was that I had what were called "juvenile migraines" - and the doctors promised me that I would outgrow them.

I guess in one way I did... but sadly, they just morphed into "adult migraines" with little or no let up.
Every few weeks, the black brain eating rats of death would come on me, and I spent far too many years laying on the bathroom floor, only rousing enough to stick my head in the toilet.

I learned that there were "triggers" and I learned to avoid them... but although avoiding the triggers 'sometimes' lessened the subsequent attacks, they never went away entirely.

I learned to pay attention to the prodromes... those funny little signs like flashing zig-zag lights, or smelling rotten oranges or numb dead feeling hands or feet or even burps that felt like they were coming from the very soles of my feet - that always told me that a migraine was waiting in the wings and getting ready to pounce.

flashing lights, wavy lines, spots, partial loss of sight, blurry vision
olfactory hallucinations (smelling odors that aren't there - like rotten oranges)
tingling or numbness of the face or extremities on the side where the headache develops
cold hands or feet
difficult finding words and/or speaking like you're drunk
partial paralysis
auditory hallucinations
decrease in or loss of hearing
reduced sensation
hypersensitivity to feel and touch
food craving
altered mood
hot ears
stiff neck muscles
queasy stomach symptoms
constipation and increased urination
and burping.

I learned long, long ago to lock myself in a dark room (and to always have a bucket handy) and to try and sleep it off.
Losing untold years of my life - and missing out on my children's lives, in the process.

Then when I was in my 30's, I was told that menopause would be the end of them. My hormone levels would change... yada yada yada.
Bring it on, baby!

But again... They lied.
That blessed, longed-for day came and went about 5 years ago.
And although I had a short break from the fortnightly or monthly migraines, they came back with a vengeance.

I've tried every cure known to man - from Cafergot suppositories stuck up my bum with 4 hour regularity, ('scuse me for being gross here, but I'm just being honest) to triptan medications, calcium channel blockers to beta-blockers, tricyclic anti-depressants like amitriptyline and nortriptyline to anti-epileptic drugs and steroids.

To soaking my feet and hands in near boiling water to pull the blood out of my head... to foot massages and back rubs to full-blown 2 hour professional massages.
Bio-feedback and acupuncture... I've done it all.

And some of 'em work.
And some of them don't work at all.

The best I've ever had is 6 months of being pain free after an acupuncture treatment.
So when they started coming back, I again rushed to the acupuncturist for ongoing treatments... and got no results at all.
The rats in my head had set up house, and weren't going to leave for any reason.

I've learned to live with my brain eating rats of black death.
But oh my sweet Jesus... how many years have I lost in the process?
How many years - not to mention open house at school nights, baseball games, or karate demonstrations or Saturdays at the pool, did I miss out on in my children's lives?
How many times did they have to get themselves off to school, or fix their own dinners while their mom was laid up in bed with a towel wrapped around her head trying to block out all light, sounds and smells?

How many times did other mothers have to step in on my behalf, so that my kids could go swimming at the pool or lake with their friends, or even get to their various activities?
How many dollars have I spent fruitlessly trying to at least "contain" the pain - if not trying cure it?
And how well do I know what the inside of my toilet bowl looks like?

This current "rats are eating my brain and I can't open my left eye" episode has gone on for 4 days now, and the latest pain injection (sumatriptan) has done absolutely jack sh**.
The anti-emetic injection (anti-barf stuff) is working though - thank God - because the only thing worse than a migraine is puking my toenails up while my head feels like it's about to explode and splatter my brains all over the porcelain throne.

This is a cruel disease, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Does anybody have a chainsaw I can borrow?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We will never forget...

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor.
We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “

~ President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

We will never forget...

Where were you when you heard the news? Please share your memories.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wicked weather this way comes...

We've had some wicked weather this weekend, but thankfully things seem to have settled down. for now.

After the wettest August in something like 37 years, September's also come in with a vengeance. It seems that we got half of our monthly rainfall total in less than 12 hours, and it's due to keep up for at least the next week. We didn't fare too badly here, but there was some pretty wide spread damage in town, as well as nearby towns - Creswick and Clunes - really bearing the brunt of it.

Bo Peep Creek near Lake Burrumbeet

Bo Peep

Near Lake Burrumbeet

Western Highway heading out of town

The State Emergency Service advises that people should not drive, ride or walk through flood water and keep clear of creeks and storm drains. Now read that again... Slowly...
people should not drive, ride or walk through flood water and keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

So this is what they do...

It's all fun and games, guys... until someone gets swept away!

Get away from me you young whippersnapper, or I'll hit you with my cane!

Now, I wanted to drive out and have a look at some of the damage... you know, take pics and all...
But the Old Guy? All the Old Guy really wanted to do was drive out to the surrounding lakes, to check to see if they were full.
For fishing purposes, doncha know.
We got out to Cancurran yesterday (okay I don't know if I spelled that right or not) but as soon as we drove down to the boat ramp and parked, about 6 other cars followed us. And before you knew it, there are like 10 other guys standing around discussing the fishing possibilities and sharing stubbies of beer.
In the pouring rain.
The women and children are sitting in the cars, while the men stand around drinking beers and pointing out the likeliest spots for Red Fin come warmer weather.




Brown Hill (a suburb of Ballarat)

Botanic Gardens, Ballarat

Just outside of town. I don't know if the pic will enlarge or not, but that's a guy on a horse trying to rescue his cattle.

That's it. I am officially declaring the drought over!

I think the guy next door is building an ark!

Friday, September 3, 2010

When one door closes...

Another one opens.

Now, I didn't know that the Old Guy had been praying that I would find a way to keep the $$'s rolling in - while I do what I have to do before leaving for home - but it seems that he's been asking God to bear me up... and for something to come along so that I can keep paying bills for the next 5 or so months.

Well, I got that answer yesterday.

Out of the blue, I got a call from Pinarc - which is the service agency that I do "family options" for.

Children and young people with a disability are matched with an alternative family who will provide care for them in the family home on a long term or short term basis, or on a shared-care basis with the biological parents.

They currently have 2 young boys desperately needing care - an 8 year old and his family, with a need for "shared care" (one week on, one week off - potentially leading to full-time placement) ... and a 16 year old who needs a permanent placement right now.

Since I only have the one bedroom available, it will have to be a choice of one or the other, (or maybe neither one) but hopefully, we'll meet next week to see which one of the boys will be the best fit.
Yeah, my needs do need to be taken into consideration, but to me, well... ultimately this is about who the boys feel comfortable with, and whether or whether not they'll feel comfortable here with me.

I was talking about it to a friend last night, and she said "well, I would go with the one who pays the most" - and I was a bit stunned at her comment.

I don't do this for the money.
I never have, and I never will.
I do it for the children, and for the families involved.
Yes... the funding helps, and I have to be honest about that.

But at the end of the day it's the difference that I can make in a child's life... or with a families' continued ability to function as a family unit, that makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Livin' the life of Riley...

That's me!

I'm now officially and permanently retired from Family Day Care.
Well, mostly retired anyway.
But definitely from "Family Day Care".

I'll still be doing care - and only on a part-time basis - but I'm doin' it on my own... and best of all, I'm out from under the yoke of oppression.
And unfortunately, to me, that oppression = depression.

I enjoyed my time with them... I really did.

But there have been so many (IMO anyway) unnecessary changes since I started 10 years ago, that in some ways it didn't even resemble "family" daycare anymore.
To my mind at least.
Nowadays, it's more like it's becoming a series of highly regulated, cold and impersonal, mini daycare centers.
Just in somebodies house.

I "officially" gave my resignation date as of August 16th, but because the office never seemed to manage to find new carers for my families, I agreed to stay on a little longer, while they looked.

Some parents made other arrangements, but the others were like me.
Waiting patiently for something that just didn't happen.

But I figured that 4 weeks from official notification was enough... and that it was no reflection on me that the office couldn't - or wouldn't - find alternate care for my families.

So, as of 4:30 yesterday afternoon, this little bird finally flew the coop.

No more 4 and 5 loads of laundry a day.
No more endlessly doing dishes.
No more constantly scrubbing the loo 27 times a day.
And best of all?
No more constantly ringing phone.

I can nap when I want...
I can read when I want...
I can kick back when I want...
I can garden whenever the mood takes me....
and the cats can come back in the house.

Yep... it's sure gonna be good.


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