Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Simple" Search for Sitters

I am stuck. Almost literally. Since we got back from China, I've been scrambling week to week to get babysitters lined up for when I'm in class. Usually I end up calling on a friend who I know can back me up in a pinch, but after two weeks it's time to no longer be in a pinch.

The problem: We have no income.
If I had $1,000 a month to drop on childcare, my life would be so much easier. Of course a lot of things would be easier if I had that kind of money. Someone told me about the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program, which sounds so providential, but I can't seem to apply unless I have a caregiver lined up, and in any case need the assistance, like, now, so that doesn't really help. I'd like to go out on a limb and just hire someone and apply. I wouldn't mind paying for a few weeks, but what happens when evil bureaucracy slows down my application or even denies it?

I've tried finding someone among my friends to help out, but 95% of my unemployed friends are students at North Park, which is 20 minutes to a 1 1/2 hours from our apartment, depending on traffic. All of Meng's friends are full-time med students or young professionals, so that rules out most of his contacts and that leaves us with...

Taking her to class. That's not something I've had to do yet, but it's getting more and more likely that it's going to happen. On Wednesday. Unless I can find someone to babysit. So if you know someone who can come to my house (in Pilsen) and babysit, please please please send them my way.

Having emptied my brain of this issue, I am going to attempt to finish my homework.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food and Sanity: Aunt Cindy's Hashbrown Casserole

My Aunt Cindy was an amazing woman, who left us for a better world this last March. I don't know what got me thinking of her, I was probably doing something in the kitchen because Cindy was an amazing cook. Suddenly I wanted her hashbrown casserole. It's the kind of dish she would make for family gatherings or potlucks, the kind that weighs about 4 pounds when you put it in the oven and makes you gain 10 pounds after eating one serving. It's delicious. Whatever the function, there are never leftovers. Of course, since it's a HUMONGOUS dish, I couldn't just make it for Meng, his parents and myself.

Naturally, the solution was to have a bunch of friends over for a potluck! I baked a ham (my first non-smoked) and made the hashbrown casserole. Meng made baked sweet potatoes (that man is sexy). Our friends brought (3 cheese)Macaroni, roasted veggies, creamed couliflower (getting that recipe ASAP), veggie and fruit trays, and cake! It was a wonderful night, the kind that makes you want to hug the world.

So here is my virtual hug: Aunt Cindy's Hashbrown Casserole. Do know that if it does not clog every single artery you have, it will cut to the chase and stop your heart. You can cut down on some calories if you use Heathy Choice soup and substitute half the sour cream with greek yogurt. As always, make it with love.

Aunt Cindy's Hashbrown Casserole:

Preheat oven to 350

In a mixing bowl, combine:

2 lb frozen hashbrowns (found in the breakfast section)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom (or chicken or celery) soup
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 cup chopped onion
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb sour cream

Place in a 3 quart baking dish. Top with:

4 oz shredded cheese of your choice
1 cup crushed Cheese-its

Cover with tin-foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15 to make the top nice and crispy.

Hope you enjoy it!


Update! 12/01/2011

I passed this recipe along to my good friend, Karolyn, who made it for her family Thanksgiving dinner. She (is a goddess of awesome genius) added crumbled bacon to the mix. Why did I never think of that? She said that it was a huge hit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parenthood is...

...that moment when you realize that your kid doesn't have a brown fish bath-toy.