Thursday, September 25, 2014

I've Come to Terms With the Fact That I'm Annoying

     Over the years, I've had to come to terms with the fact that some people find me annoying.  It's cool.  Not everyone can handle my brand of cheeriness.  I'm no stranger to being told that my happy-go-lucky morning-person attitude is revolting.  Probably because I heard it every morning from my mom as I tried to serenade her out of bed.  Friends at school would groan when I would be bouncing around at 6 am.  Coworkers would roll their eyes and keep walking when I would exclaim "Good Morning!" at 6:30 am.  My own daughter tells me to "go away" when she hears her door squeak open on a typical weekday morning.  I get it, but these days I have managed to find a whole new crowd of people to piss off with my happy.  I now have patients!

     This past week while working at the nursing home for school, I was asked to help feed one of the dementia patients who was not feeling too well that day.  I walked over to this sweet-looking elderly woman, who was holding her head in her hands and not even acknowledging that her food had been getting cold for the past 15 minutes.  I pulled up a chair next to her, sat down, and introduced myself.  The introduction was met with a groan, which was expected.  The woman clearly wasn't feeling well, so I gently asked her if she wanted to eat.  She shook her head no.  I prodded a little more, gently of course, and said that she needed to eat to feel better.  To that she snapped, "I'll eat when I'm darn good and ready to eat."

     Now, this was the first time my happy smile had been met with a grumpy retort, but I shrugged it off and walked over to the worker at the facility and told her that the woman clearly didn't want to eat.  She told me to go see if I could get her to at least pick her head up.  I steeled myself for more combat and return to my chair by the lady's side.  I asked again if she would like to try a little bit of her food.  She merely groaned at me.  That's when I was struck by a stroke of brilliance!  I would get her chatting with me, gain her trust, and then get her to eat!  Yeah, that would work.  So I began enthusiastically asking about her BINGO game I had seen her partaking in earlier in the evening.  That was met with more groans.  I asked about her family: more groaning.  I asked about her roommate, how long she'd been there, what she liked to do, anything to get the woman to acknowledge me and stop groaning.  Well, it sort of worked.  She stopped groaning.  In fact she stopped acknowledging me at all.  She just sat there with her head in her hands, ignoring her food.

     At this point I started to feel really bad for her.  I knew she needed to eat, but I knew she was probably getting sick of me flitting around her like an annoying fly, so I decided to quit beating around the bush and tackle the problem head-on.  That's when I asked if she wasn't feeling well, to which she replied that she wasn't.  I asked if she wanted to go lay down, and she said she did. That's when I offered a proposition: if she would eat a little bit I would help her to her room to rest.  I thought I had finally convinced her because she finally picked her head up and looked me in the eyes!  Then she said, "Would you just shut up?"  My classmate, who was sitting nearby feeding another patient, busted out laughing, as did the worker.  Not missing a beat I replied with a grin on my face, "I'll shut up if you eat for me."  (Yes, I was desperate at this point.)  To which, the patient simply put her head back in her hands and sighed.

     After my dismal failure with that particular patient, the worker rescued me, laughing that I would probably get hit if I kept trying to make her eat, and asked me to go feed another patient.  Something about the twinkle in her eye when she told me which patient I should feed next made me think I was being set up to fail again.  Then I saw my next patient.  She looked like she had led a rather rough life, and her wild eyes suggested she was a scrapper, so I knew I was in for it when I sat down next to her.  I introduced myself to her, and she looked at me like I was crazy when I offered to help feed her.  The guy across from us confirmed my fears about her when he said, "Now, don't go fighting this one, she's here to help you."  Great!  Well she couldn't communicate verbally, but I could tell right away by her body language the last thing she wanted to do was patronize me by eating that nasty-looking, foul-smelling, glorified baby food, but then I had another stroke of brilliance.  Eyeing the ice cream on her tray, I made her a deal:  eat your baby food, and I'll give you some ice cream.  Expecting the same reaction I had gotten from the previous patient, I was so relieved to see this patient break out into a huge grin and nod her head in agreement to my deal.  From then on out we were the best of friends, cracking up and laughing at each other, even when she threw her water across the table just for giggles.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

     Well now that you've sat through another silly story of mine, I'll share some lunch ideas :-)

Monday: Ballerina Bento Box

      This idea is straight out of Everyday Bento, which I love!  It has such cute ideas for be not boxes for your kids, and even a section about adult bentos.  The ballerina slippers come with a side of carrot sticks, cheese cubes, raisins, grape tomatoes, and cucumber "wands".

Tuesday: Sandwich on a Stick
(or if you're Jose Jalapeño, "Sandwich on a steek!")

     I don't know why, but every time I try to pack my daughter a simple ham sandwich, she won't eat it.  She complains that by the time she gets it at lunch the bread is soggy.  So, I decided to send her to school with these little "sandwich on a stick" kabobs, and she loved them!  She told me the bread wasn't soggy at all, which makes no sense to me, but whatever, she ate it.   Simply thread some bread cut into cubes, some ham rolled up, and some cubed cheese onto a skewer, and there you go.  I added some pickles (her favorite), some tomatoes and broccoli, half of a banana, and a bit of Ranch to dip her veggies in.  Typically I'm not big on Ranch for her veggies; I feel like it defeats the purpose of eating healthy veggies if you douse them in preservative-filled, saturated-fatty, creamy sauce, but she asked for it specifically, and I knew it would gather to eat more of her veggies than usual, so what the heck!

Wednesday: Princess Quesadillas

      This was a super simple lunch.  I made ham and cheese quesadillas for her that morning, and use cookie cutters to make the different shapes.  I cut some cucumbers into cute little hearts, added some grape tomatoes, and gave her half of an apple to go with it.  She ate all of this one too.

Thursday: Breakfast for Lunch

      I love breakfast for dinner.  We have that at least twice a month.  I like it because I typically have more time in the evening to make all the things I really wanted to eat for breakfast.  Plus, J's more awake, and more likely to help.  Well, this is the same basic concept.  I took a waffle, and cut it into strips for Monkey to dip in the syrup I provided (I only gave her a little bit, so her teacher wouldn't kill me for giving her a sugar rush at school).  I added some turkey bacon, a boiled egg, half of a banana, and some edamame.  Yes, the edamame has nothing to do with breakfast, but you know I like to throw a little green into her lunches.

Friday: Asian Chicken Salad
      This one is actually used some leftovers from the previous night's dinner of Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps from SkinnyTaste (recipe to follow).  I chopped up some lettuce, added the leftover chicken, and supplied the homemade Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce in these adorable little sauce holders to use as a dressing.  I then packed Monkey some crackers, tomatoes, and half of a banana as sides.  This was another one caused her to clean out her box, which makes Mommy happy :-)

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 TBS soy sauce, plus 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce (or more of the regular soy sauce)
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper to taste
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, ground
1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 TBS diced scallions
6 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed

Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce
4 TBS Hoisin Sauce
1/2 tsp chili sauce (I use Sriracha)
1 TBS warm water

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl filled with hot water to soften a few minutes.  Remove stems and chop fine.  Set aside.

Combine soy sauce(s), oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, and pepper in a separate bowl.

Combine ground chicken, mushrooms, and water chestnuts in a new bowl.  Add soy sauce mixture.  Mix and let marinate for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ingredients for Spicy Hoisin Dipping sauce, and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat.  Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Add chicken mixture, stir fry until brown, breaking chicken mixture up as it cooks, about 4-5 minutes.

Serve by spooning 1/4 cup of chicken into each leaf.  Top with scallions and hoisin sauce.

Enjoy :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

And That, Kids, is Why You Don't Let Your License Expire

     My birthday is July 4.  It came and went, and I celebrated it, and I had a good day, and I completely forgot that it had been 4 years since I got my license.  It expired, but I was in the middle of Adult Health I, and I didn't notice until it had been expired for about two weeks.  Being the responsible adult that I am, I procrastinated another week before making time to go to the DMV to get a new one.  I sat there for about 30 minutes before realizing that I had left my old license in my book sack at home.  I went home and decided to come back another day, as it was already afternoon at that point.  The next time I had time to go was about a week later, and I had been much more on the dot about calling ahead to make sure I had all the paperwork I needed.  Unfortunately, it must have not been the right papers, because the crabby lady behind the desk threw my papers back at me (literally) and told me to bring different papers.  After that, of course I wasn't too thrilled about going back, so I think it was about the second week of August that I finally dragged myself back in there.  J came with me at this point because his license was about to expire.  This time it seemed like smooth sailing.  I had not forgotten anything this time.  I had the correct paperwork, and we were only had to wait about 20 minutes for our turn.  The guy behind the desk was nice, and didn't throw things, but then he told me that there was a flag on my license and that I'd have to call the Louisiana DMV to get it removed.

     At this point I just decided that I was done with this, and I started venting my frustration to J about the injustice of ever having to need a license to drive in the first place, and then having to have said license to drive, even though I obviously knew how to drive, since I've been doing it since I was 17.  Unfortunately, venting to J doesn't get much accomplished, but I felt better.  Then I called the Louisiance DMV only to find out that the flag was on my license because the car I had sold 2 years ago didn't have insurance.  You know, because I had sold it!  Well that took another week to get removed, because not only did I sell it, but the guy I sold it to had totaled it, so none of us had kept the paperwork for it.  Because it had been totaled!!!  Anyway I finally got the flag off my license, and I went back the next week to get my license.  Because it was September by this point, I had to take the test.  And I frickin' failed it!!!!! 

     Leaving the DMV for the fourth time without a license, I just couldn't help but laugh.  (As I drove home, btw, license be damned!)  I'm 25 years old, and I failed the driver's exam.  In my defense, one of the questions asked, "If you are driving 55mph on the interstate, how much space should be between you and the car in front of you? a)200 ft b)300ft c)400 ft d)500ft"   My thought process was, Why the hell would I be driving 55mph on the interstate???  At any rate, I tucked my tail between my legs, and I asked the women behind the desk for a driver's manual.  I spent that night highlighting the fact that it's 400ft if you're going 55mph on the interstate (not that I ever drive that speed in order to put it into practice).  I can also tell you that your horn should be heard up to 200ft away.  And all that useless knowledge added nothing to my life, but I finally got my license.  Fifth time's the charm!

     Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, how about some fun kids lunches to lighten the mood?

Rose Bento Box

This box is very similar to the DIY Lunchables I posted about a while back, but instead of ham, I used turkey pepperoni to make the rose shape.  Basically if you fold several slices of pepperoni in half, and layer them around the outside of a cupcake liner, working your way in, you form a rose-like shape.  The final pepperoni in the middle is folded in half and rolled before placed in the center of the "rose".    I served it with crackers, cheese, pickles, pretzels, grapes and broccoli.

DIY Wraps

This one was quick and easy.  I simply put ham, cheese, sliced tomatoes, and tortillas in one part of the box for Monkey to make her own wraps.  I served them with cherry tomatoes, grapes, and carrots.  To make it a little more fun, I drew faces on the tortillas using food markers.

Elephant Sandwiches

      This was another simple one.  All I did was make a ham sandwich and cut it out into elephant shapes using my sandwich cutters.  I added the eyes and mouths using food markers.  Next I threw in some pretzels, a boiled egg, some grapes, and some grape tomatoes.

Breakfast Bento Box

     This one took a little more planning.  I baked these breakfast muffins using the same recipe I posted for Bacon Jalapeño Cheesy Bread.  Simply put the batter a muffin tin and adjust the baking time to about 35 minutes.  This recipe makes 12 muffins.  I threw one in Monkey's box with a banana, watermelon, broccoli (okay, not breakfast, but still healthy), and a boiled egg decorated to look like a happy sunshine.

Chicken Salad Bento

     This box was very easy too.  I shipped Monkey off to school with this yummy lunch of chicken salad (for the recipe, click here), crackers, cubed cheese, celery sticks, and half of an apple.

Pretzel Kabob Bento

     This one was a bit more fun than those simple kabobs I posted before because Monkey can eat the stick too.  I just threw in some pretzel sticks, ham, cheese cubes (in the fun princess box), grape tomatoes, and cucumbers (in cute little star shapes).  

     Now I have to go.  I have clinical.  And yes, I'm legally able to drive there now :-P