Today I had a golf tournament for one of the regional associations I’m part of in San Antonio. Usually, when I go to San Antonio I will drive down the night before but I have been on the go so much lately I decided to just wake up early and drive this morning. And, boy, did four o’clock a.m. come early?!?
However, I really enjoyed drive. I got the opportunity to be let my mind wander and through anything and everything. No music. No audiobook audiobook. No podcast. No phone calls.
Just me and the open road, a beautiful sunrise, and miles and miles of beautiful bluebonnets.
The 130 loop around Austin is absolutely gorgeous right now. That might not seem like a logical place to go look at bluebonnets but there are miles of them in the huge median between the north and sound sides of the tollway.
Add to that, this afternoon I got to play golf on a beautiful course with some awesome customers, who made it a blast!
The only thing that would be better would be to be at home tucking my kiddos in tonight because I sure do miss them (and Garen too)! I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too, right?!? Thank goodness for FaceTime!
I have excellent babysitters/nannies that help us out. And, with four kids and both of us traveling for work, boy, do we need it?!? When I tell people that we have great sitters they typically ask me how I found them. It’s hard to find good help from word-of-mouth. If you hear about someone who’s great, guess what? They’re already busy helping someone else. Or they’re busy with school or extracurricular activities.
Moms and Dads, the struggle is real….
So here’s how we found our awesome helpers: We have used Care.com twice now to find regular babysitters/nannies for our litter. And we’ve been pleased with the result both times- in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve had our first babysitter that we found there for over two years now. Time flies when you have good help I guess!
We recently found another babysitter- only because our regulars are getting busier as they “grow up” (they’re nursing students and school and “real jobs” keep them from helping out as much). The process was good again.
I’ll admit that I was very leery of using Care.com. It seemed so unthinkable to find a babysitter online. I mean, they’re your kids!!! But, like I said above, the struggle was real. Really real. We need the help with our work schedules to maintain sanity in our household.
Here’s what I liked about it:
You can post a position with exactly what you’re looking for in a sitter from hours to age to experience, etc. Do you want them to have reliable transportation? Great. Add that to your requirements.
You can view their profile- not just their photo but also their experience and information. I sorted through these carefully. I don’t care what people look like but it is important to have that so that when you meet them, if you want to meet them in a public place, you’ll know who to be looking for. You can avoid awkwardly walking up to someone in Starbucks and asking if they are so and so there to interview for a babysitting job.
You can ask for certain certifications such as CPR and first aid. This is important to me if I’m going to leave my kids alone with them. Our sitters are all nursing students, so we feel very comfortable.
There is the ability to read and post reviews about the providers. This is very helpful in seeing what other families’ experiences were.
There’s the ability to message on the system with them without giving them your phone number or address, etc. (See below for the flip side of this too)
If you’re interested in Au Pairs as an option, you can look at different companies and some of the Au Pairs that they offer. We seriously explored this as an option but since we currently don’t want to pay for that level of care when the girls are still in pre-school, which would be an additional cost. Oh, and our extra bedroom is currently serving as my office too, so that would be something we’d have to work out. Maybe someday.
There’s a good search feature. That is an obvious must. As you are reviewing them you can add them to your favorites so you can easily find them later. See below image for these search filters available.
The app is pretty good as well. If you’re like me, the time in between errands, work, etc. is not at your computer so being able to quickly look at this on your mobile device is very helpful. You also have the option to get notifications. I personally hate phone notifications. My semi-ADHD personallity gets overwhelmed by them so I’ve got them turned off. It’s nice to have the options should I ever get in a position where I really, really needed help quickly though.
Additional options that I haven’t used but could also be helpful:
If you’re looking for child care centers, you can look at them online- although, there aren’t that many reviews online for that so you’d be better off reviewing them on another search engine than this site. I also would say that there’s a good chance they don’t have all centers on here since it’s likely the center has to pay them to be hosted.
Family childcare (what I always called in-home daycare) is an option you may want to explore. You can view their information, reviews, and whether they’re certified, etc.
If you’re in need of someone with experience with special needs, that is something that you can easily search for.
They have a search function for senior/elderly care, which is great if you have a family member you may need assistance with.
You can pay your babysitters through them. We don’t do this but if we were having someone full time this might be something we’d look into, so it could be a good feature if that’s what you’re considering.
You can schedule them online. Again, we don’t do that. I find that texting our sitters works just fine and I feel like it’s more personal. It’s always nice to have the option I guess though.
Do you need housekeeping or other help around the house? You can post a job or search for candidates on here.
Do you need help with your fur babies? You can get a dog sitter or walker or even someone to feed your pet lizard on here. Our cat fends for herself while we’re gone most of the time but we’ll be looking into this if we ever go on an extended vacation.
Not sure if you feel confident in their record? You can do background checks on here as a extra precaution.
You could put yourself out there as a caregiver/provider as well. I’ve not tried it but sometimes I feel like, hey, what’s a few more when you have four??? Just kidding but some extra money might be good.
What I would change:
I’d love for it to cost less. This year the subscription was $168.00 without tax. I’ll admit that I feel as if I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it just finding our gem of a babysitter and knowing that I can find additional help pretty easily, but still…. that’s a lot. The only good thing about it is that it automatically renews for me yearly so I don’t really have to think about it too much until I’m up for renewal and it shows up on my statement. I think there are shorter subscriptions but it’s nice to be able to find help all year long and the yearly subscription is the best rate available.
I had a hard time getting our sitter’s contact information outside of the site, which doesn’t allow you to share phone numbers. You can call them through the site but not text. Please, please correct me if this is “user error” on my part. I think this is a safety thing but it did make it harder than I’d like. I had to get her email to have her send me her phone number so I could text her. (You know us (barely) millennials and younger- we like to text each other rather than actually talk to someone on the phone)
There you go- Care.com- from a busy working mom. It’s been good to us. I’d love to hear your tips on finding good sitters/nannies. What has worked best for you???
ALSO: For the record- I am NOT getting paid or any discount from Care.com, although if anyone from there is reading this and wants to give me a discount, I’d take it!!!
Every time I cook cornbread, Garen and I have a little giggle over the quote “You gonna eat yo cornbead?” from the movie “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.
Yes, I am ALWAYS going to eat my cornbread. Every. Time.
Especially if it’s the sweet kind. I found this wonderfully tasty and easy recipe a while back from Kimber’s blog, The Pinning Mamma, which is fantastic and definetly worth checking out. The recipe is suitably called Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread. If you like a sweeter, more moist cornbread, you will LOVE this recipe. Did I mention it pretty inexpensive too??? The Jiffy boxes are always cheap. Plus, who can resist using those cute, classic boxes?!?
I’m one of those people that will often times alter a recipe to make it my own. This one, though, I didn’t because I feel like it’s perfect just the way it is. I did choose to make muffins vs using a pan/dish. This saved me a few minutes AND it’s easier for serving I think. Here you go:
Kimber’s Favorite Cornbread
2 Boxes Jiffy Cornbread
1 Can Creamed Corn
2 Tbsp Sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Mix all ingredients until combined (I always use my KitchenAid because that’s just what I prefer)
Scrape mixture into an 8 x 8 or 2.2qt- 2L (small rectangular Pyrex) glass baking dish that has been sprayed well with cooking spray. I used my muffin pan.
Bake 30-40 minutes or until center is just done. In my muffin pan, I baked them to 18 minutes but I would say probably 13-20 minutes would be the window, depending on your type of muffin pan. Mine is a thick non-stick.
There you have it: Cornbread that will make any dish just a little bit better. Enjoy!
Driving down (actually up but I always want to say I’m driving down somewhere for some reason) 35N on my way home today Carry On by Pat Green came on.
It’s a Texas Country classic, in my mind. Honestly, I’ve not ever put much thought into it besides that it reminds me of driving the backroads of Hamilton County in my high school days. I realize that dates me and I’m fine with that.
But today I missed the first of the song and only caught the end:
I’m OK, I’m alright,
I’m OK, I’m alright,
I’m OK, I’m alright,
Oh carry on, yeah –
As it finished, I thought to myself what a great reminder it is. I sometimes get caught up in negativity. But as I heard this song, I though we all need a reminder.
This recipe was Garen’s request for me to make in the Instant Pot so it was the first recipe that required more than 3 ingredients. I was a little leery since I’d never had Brunswick Stew and didn’t even know what to expect. As I always do when cooking something I don’t have a go-to recipe for, I went to Pinterest. I didn’t find an Instant Pot version I liked but I did find this slow cooker version from Rosie at i heart Recipes. I used this for an “outline” and tweeked it to work for what I had and to cook in the Instant Pot.
This recipe is fantastic. Really. I can’t make it up. Garen thought it was the best recipe I’ve ever made. The littles even liked it, making it even better in my book!!!
I used the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever recipe and shredded chicken that I made earlier in the day for it. You could easily use another recipe or even store-bought pulled pork.
Here it is- Brunswick Stew, Instant Pot Style
2 Cups Pulled Pork
2 Cups shredded chicken
1 Red onion, diced
1 Can Roasted Diced Tomatoes
6 Cups Chicken broth (I substituted 1 cup for juice from the pulled pork to use what I had)
Frozen okra, 12 oz
Frozen peas, 6 oz (half bag)
Frozen corn, 12 oz
Frozen lima beans, 12 oz
3 Small sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 Cup BBQ sauce (I used half Rudy’s and half Sweet Baby Ray’s since that all I had)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black pepper
Add all of the ingredients into the 8 qt Instant Pot bowl (if your Instant Pot is smaller, you may have to adjust the recipe to not fill it past the max fill)
Mix all ingredients very well
Put the lid on, close it completely, and close the vent
Press Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. It will take a long time to get pressured because it will be almost to the max fill line. It will shift from On to the number of minutes remaining to cook
Once time is up, let it natural release for 10 minutes before opening the lid. This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
Open the lid. Check to make sure the potatoes are cooked completely. The meat was already cooked so the main thing is that you’re letting the veggies cook and that everything soaked up the wonderful flavors.
Like I said, this stuff is wonderful. It’s not your typical soup/stew and I’m soooo glad Garen wanted me to try this recipe out!
I drive a lot. A WHOLE lot. It’s part of being in sales, covering the state of Texas. With that, my tires see a lot of wear. I buy my tires from Discount Tire. And I’m soooo glad. Here’s why:
You can buy certifications for them and they cover repairs and replacements for the life of the tire. What does this mean for me? Well, over the last two weeks I’ve managed to destroy two tires: one from a screw while driving on a jobsite and one today from what I think was a curb that totally popped up out of nowhere. Both were replaced and I just had to pay for the $30 to re-insure each of them.Yes, this is the family truckster earlier today.
They will do a free air check. You know how during the winter months your tire pressure warning will come on in your car and you don’t know whether a tire is really low or not? It happens to me and because there are so many Discount Tires it’s really easy to swing into one. And if it’s low, they’ll inspect it to make sure there’s nothing wrong.
They will rotate your tires for free too.
They have amazing customer service. I have NEVER had a bad experience with anyone that works there. They are all very kind, fast, and honest. Today, as I sit here, it’s packed so there’s a wait. They offered me fresh coffee and water. They told me where the restrooms are without me asking and even told me there’s a QT (gas station that has pretty decent food too) next door. They keep people appraised of their progress. Service with a smile.
They’ve got free WiFi, so I’ve got my laptop open and I’ve already gotten quite a bit of work done that I needed to.
I’ve yet to be in one where they didn’t keep it clean and neat. It’s a nice, open layout with comfy chairs. None of those loveseats that you sometimes get stuck snuggled up next to a perfect stranger. That’s something you can’t say about all vehicle service places.
They have great prices and give you plenty of options for tires- from super fancy to economy. They will tell you which ones they typically keep in stock, which helps me for cases like this where I am having to replace one.
There are a TON of these places. I realize if you live in a rural area it might not be as easy to take as much advantage of all of the benefits such as the air check and tire rotations.
I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about them. I am super-thankful for them today as the family wagon and I limped into their parking lot, knowing that they’d get us taken care of. I’m pretty sure Garen is glad too- especially that I made it here without having to call in backup since even though I know how to change a tire, it’s been a LONG time!
Happy Mommy Review Monday!
And, FYI, I don’t get any kickbacks from these guys…although that would pretty awesome. Ha!